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Enemies Closer (Blu-ray Review)

Once upon a time there was a boy, who in the early nineties became infatuated with the world of martial arts.  As a small, skinny and frail boy, who grew up in a culture with heroes like Chuck Norris and even Ralph Macchio in the Karate Kid films with bullies abound, he wanted nothing more than to protect himself and most importantly, be respected.  His whole world changed when a meat butcher at his part time grocery store job asked him if he ever saw Bloodsport.  Being the naive and gullible kid he was, constantly protected by his parents, of course the kid’s immediate answer to that question was no, what is Bloodsport?  Well thankfully, Billy (R.I.P.) let him borrow his copy on VHS and history was written as the boy went onto to fight in tournaments and earn belts in Kenpo karate, kick priests in tae kwon do and flip college students in aikido, which by far was my favorite one to practice.  Oh!  Did I mention this boy is me?  Well, I guess I should say was since I don’t unfortunately practice martial arts anymore due to various time commitments and injuries, but there’s still not a bigger worshipper of 1988 through 1995 and 2012 to present day Jean-Claude Van Damme anywhere to be found.  If I had a big tree in my back yard, I’d be kicking it with my shin right now.  You know it!

Film 

So let’s get this out of the way already.  Yes!  You read it right!  I gave a modern day action film starring Jean-Claude Van Damme (referred to as JCVD here on out) a score of a 4 out of 5.  I know.  I know.  I know.  You must have a million questions and probably wondering if I lost my mind?  And that’s all valid since I am the only critic in the world who had any kind words for the Christina Aguilera vehicle Burlesque years ago and didn’t absolutely hate last year’s Getaway, which 97% of the population tried to get as far away from as possible.  So yes, I understand your concerns.  But hear me out.  Perhaps I can redeem myself here as I cautiously step through all the reasons why I had such a good time with Enemies Closer.  Deal?  Well, anyway, let me give it my best attaboy try here.

First thing’s first…let’s get all the formalities out of the way here.  Enemies Closer marks the third outing between Director Peter Hyams and JCVD.  That’s a lot, huh?  But perhaps maybe the third time’s a charm.  I think so here.  They previously collaborated together on 1994’s Timecop and 1995’s Sudden Death.  In addition to the duo, Enemies Closer also stars Tom Everett Scott and Orlando Jones.  Now let’s talk about the plot real briefly.

While the plot may sound a wee bit familiar to most action films, it’s the way the flick hits all the beats and closely adheres to the rules of screenwriting that hooks me right in like a kid in a candy store.  So we have this forest ranger, Henry (Scott), who happens to also be an Ex-Navy SEAL.  He’s a loner and rightfully so as we find out as the plot develops.  Then there’s this drug cartel, fronted by Xander (JCVD), who are after…you guessed it…drugs!  The beginning of the movie, much akin to the likes of Into The Blue, begins with a splash as a plane goes down into a body of water that just so happens to have a shipment of drugs in it worth a lot of money to people.  But wait!  Things get a little more complex!  Not only is there a suspicious new love interest suddenly in Henry’s life (Linzey Cocker), but there’s also a man name Clay (Jones), who mysteriously shows up and wants him ten shades of dead.  However, that’s when things get even more interesting when Xander crosses their path and both Henry and Clay must work together to stay alive, but that’s kind of hard when just moments ago they both were fighting each other to protect their lives.  I absolutely LOVE the hurdles put in front of Henry that he must overcome and deal with in order to fulfill his character’s journey and ultimately accomplish his endgame.  And JCVD?  Well, he deserves his own paragraph.  Come on!  Let’s do some splits between chairs and talk JCVD, shall we?

I’m going to go out on a limb here (more about that in a minute) as I assume that everyone reading this review has previously seen Skyfall, right?  We all remember the crazy psychopath that Javier Bardem played, right?  I bring him up solely because that’s the closest description I can give you of JCVD’s character here even down to the afro-like hairdo.  If you like what he brought to the fold in Expendables 2, then there’s no reason you are not going to love JCVD’s outing here.  I dare you to tell me where else are you going to see the bi-polar eccentricity of a killer who’s a vegan that’s into organics picking berries every chance he gets and saving the environment/nature?  My answer to you is only in Enemies Closer will you be presented with such a rich, over-the-top, charismatic bad-dialog driven baddie…and you’re going to love every minute of him right down to the very last frame.  I guarantee it!  The 53-year old Belgian doesn’t disappoint.  He may not perform all his own stunts anymore, and he’s never going to play the good guy ever again in a mainstream flick, but there’s no reason we can’t all rally around him as a villain each and every time out, right?

I mentioned “out on a limb” up above on purpose.  Of course, everything I do is on purpose because I always have an ulterior motive.  But anyway, I digress.  What’s new and exciting here in this low-budget action feature are the creative fight and death scenes.  Just to name a few we have a fight scene between JCVD and Scott in the treetops, JCVD killing someone with the shard of a CD he broke in half right down to the legendary line of “looks like you brought a knife it a gun fight.”  This flick has it all and embraces it’s B-movie cheesiness in all its glory complete with cliche genre dialog, but done so in a classy way, if that makes any sense, with a decent script.  However, don’t let me sway you and be the ultimate judge here.  Let’s allow the people talk and voice their own opinions.  Enemies Closer has been met with mostly positive reception and currently exhumes a fresh score of 75% on Rotten Tomatoes.  If you don’t believe me, you can check it out here.  Not too shabby, huh?  I don’t think so.  But how does it look and sound on Blu-ray?  Now that I can be the authority on.  Come on!  I’ll show you around the place.

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Video 

Whether you like the film in discussion up above or not, there’s no denying the thrilling audio/video package Lionsgate Home Entertainment has thrown together here for all of us to relish.  So without further ado, let’s move onto talking about some of the deepest and inkiest black levels I’ve seen on a home video release in a long time.

  • Encoding: AVC MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Clarity/Detail: I really love the detail in this presentation from the stubble and pores in actor’s faces in closeups to the individual twigs, brush and wilderness in the woods.  Heck, you can even read all the patches on the National Park uniform worn by Tom Everett Scott.
  • Depth: The blurred backgrounds gave way to some superior three-dimensional depth of field for prominent onscreen figures.  You definitely know you were watching a Blu-ray presentation throughout here.
  • Black Levels: Due to the way this one was shot with complicated lighting scenarios not only during the night, but also in the shadows, this one has some the deepest and inkiest black levels that Blu-ray has to offer.
  • Color Reproduction: While film was mostly shot during the night and therefore in the dark, there are some scenes that take place in the daylight and they look superior, especially the lush greens and vibrant red uniforms.  Otherwise, for the most part, the color palette here is pretty muted, but rest assured, that’s intentional.
  • Flesh Tones: The skin tones all look natural throughout.  I have zero complaints here.
  • Noise/Artifacts: There is not a single white speck, noise, artifact, crush or distraction anywhere to be found in the presentation here.  Thanks Lionsgate!  You consistently continue to put out some of the finest Blu-ray presentations.

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Audio 

So likeI alluded to in the Video section above, you’d be hard pressed fine any faults with this surround sound presentation we are going to talk about in more detail below.

  • Audio Format: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH, English, Spanish
  • Dynamics: Truth be told, I couldn’t be happier with this surround track.  This one’s as loud and aggressive as the onscreen abrasive action is.  From the quietest moments to the loudest, things always sound authentic, pleasing and rousing here.  Take the little nuisances like traversing over the water to the squeaky docks.  I love it all!
  • Low Frequency Extension: Boom!  Boom!  Boom!  If the planes flying overhead in the beginning don’t do it, then the bullets spraying everywhere here will vehemently engage your subwoofer, which in turn will transform your living room into a true life war zone.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: Where to start?  Where to start?  From the quaintness of the birds chirping behind you to the river water filling the rears and the engaging score, things are quite awesome in here just like in The Lego Movie.  Everything is awesome!
  • Dialogue Reproduction: I have to be honest with you all.  This one has some of the loudest and most intelligible dialog I have ever heard on a Blu-ray release.  Rest assured, you won’t have a hard time hearing what’s said here.  Now understanding JCVD, well, that’s a whole other ballgame.  That’s your problem!  Lionsgate just makes it audible.  That’s what the subtitle options are for up above.  LOL.

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Extras 

If you’re keeping score up above, things are looking quite good here for this new Lionsgate Blu-ray release.  However, that’s all about to change in this department as it’s actually quite barren.  But worry not!  We’re all gathered here today for the film itself and its audio/video presentation on this HD format of choice.  Thankfully, that’s all great!  I treat Extras like a bonus at a job.  It’s not a given, but you won’t refuse it either.  Will you?  I didn’t think so.  So let’s take a closer look at the minimal assortment we have here.

  • A Closer Look: Making of Enemies Closer (HD, 7:31) -This featurette takes us behind the scenes with interviews from the cast and Director Peter Hyams as he talks about this being his third time around with JCVD.  But perhaps, nothing is better than just sitting back and listening to JCVD speak about the craziness of this role, growing his hair long and about the new moves he employed here and his wanting them to be efficient.  We also bear witness to some of the stunt work, most notably the fight scenes in the trees.  There’s some good stuff here, but way too short!
  • Audio Commentary – This audio commentary track features a solo appearance with Director Peter Hyams.
  • Trailers (HD) – These assorted trailers can either be accessed via the disc’s main menu or upon insertion of the Blu-ray into your Sony PlayStation 4 or Blu-ray player of choice.
  • Digital HD (HD) – Inside this Blu-ray package you will find a redemption code to access your UltraViolet Digital HD copy of the film on your favorite media player.  So it enjoy it on the road up or up in the friendly skies.

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Summary 

So essentially what we have here is one hell of a surprise that provides its viewers with one heck of a good time, in my opinion.  Just like this past weekend’s box office surprise of Non-Stop (although there’s not much else out there), Enemies Closer is a fun time that reminds us how The Expendables series really should have played out with some serious double-crossing script moments, creative fight sequences and our boy Van Damme rocking a French-Canadian fro, like only he can.  And best of all, things couldn’t possibly look and sound any better than what Lionsgate delivers here in this action packed Blu-ray release that packs a 1-2-3 knockout punch in your living room.  So listen up, yo!  Enemies Closer releases on Blu-ray and DVD March 11th.  Pre-order your copy here and bring this bad boy home ASAP!  Enjoy!


Enemies Closer Blu-ray Cover

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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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