Bad Country (Blu-ray Review)

Bad Country - www.whysoblu.comWhen Baton Rouge police detective Bud Carter (Dafoe) busts contract killer Jesse Weiland (Dillon), he convinces Jesse to become an informant and rat out the South’s most powerful crime ring. So when the syndicate orders Carter’s death and Weiland’s ID’d as a snitch, the two team up to take down the mob and the crime boss (Berenger) who ordered the hit. Matt Dillon, Willem Dafoe, Neal McDonough. Amy Smart, and Tom Berenger star in Bad Country, a gritty action thriller from director Chris Brinker, a producer of The Boondock Saints.

 Bad Country - www.whysoblu.com


Bad Country aka Whiskey Bay is the story of contract killer Jesse Weiland (Matt Dillon) who gets flipped and turns on his boss, Lutin (Tom Berenger), and is ultimately handled by Bud Carter (Willem Dafoe). Carter had been going undercover for a long time trying to gather evidence and intel on Lutin’s crime ring. This involved drugs, money, and murder. Busting some low-level informants was what got the ball rolling as that eventually came back around and implicated Jesse, who is pretty much the point man in Lutin’s organization.

Once Jesse is released from prison bud essentially becomes Jesse’s handler as he tries to continue to make nice with Lutin and get back to work. The problem is that most of the low level thugs that worked for Lutin that were busted early on by Bud are ending up dead for the simple fact that they were free while Jesse was serving time. How were they free while someone like Jesse is doing a stint? It doesn’t make much sense from a criminal standpoint. Once Jesse is out he’s assigned some low level work before being put back into the “game” of contract killing.

This leads up to a “hit list” that Lutin has established with 12 individuals on that list of varying degrees of social and political influence. One of those people is Attorney General Nokes (Bill Duke) who has inserted himself into Bud’s investigation. This obviously doesn’t sit too well with Bud as rookie FBI agents, fellow police superiors, and Nokes himself continuously undermine him. All Bud wants to do is use his leverage of Jesse to shut Lutin down for good. Is that too much to ask? Amy Smart stars as Jesse’s wife and his supporter – she’s also the mother of his child, which is why he goes through great lengths to keep his “informer” status on the down low. He has too much to lose should he be discovered. Neal McDonough is Lutin’s slimy right hand man and advisor who is mainly there as Lutin’s confidant and yes-man.

Bad Country was entertaining as hell. The cover art alone is worth the price of admission, because you really do have a stellar ensemble cast. The final product on the hand has its pros and cons. The good news is that as a drama-police procedural Bad Country works really well. As a police action vehicle it does not and it’s not because the film doesn’t deserve to have action scenes it’s mainly due to the budgetary constraints the film probably went through. I’m assuming that most of the money for Bad Country probably went to actor’s salaries and other amenities. The action scenes, mainly the gunfights, looked really cheap and not too much above what you would see on a bad television, which sucks, because everything else was pretty awesome. I wouldn’t say it took it me out of the film completely but it was very noticeable.

Bad Country had been in the works for sometime, as Chris Brinker, who was a producer on Boondock Saints and wanted Dafoe from the get-go, directed it. Brinker unfortunately passed away shortly after completing the film. I’m sure this is why the film sort of slipped through the cracks as it may have been originally going for a theatrical release but was scaled back by the studio. In closing I will say all of the actors involved pull it through with what they had and that alone is why I give Bad Country a hearty recommendation. If you can get past the choppy action bits then you will be all right.


Bad Country - www.whysoblu.com


Encoding: AVC MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail: The Louisiana bayou looked pretty incredible! What brings the score down just a notch is that there more than a few scenes where softness creeps. The scenes featuring a gunfight are even more problematic as it looks like someone took a butter knife and spread the print (or digital file) around a bit. Outside of those scenes the Blu-ray looked great.

Depth: Scenes featuring the swampland and woods really benefited the film on Blu-ray. Certain interiors and certain outdoor static shots also looked great in high definition.

Black Levels: Black levels were normal for the most. I only detected a smidgen of crush but it was no big deal.

Color Reproduction: The color palette on Bad Country is absolutely stellar. Check out he opening scene as the camera tracks through the swampland. Those greens look outstanding! Banding was also never an issue.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones were normal and no one ever looked sickly or unnatural. Even during scenes of sun and humidity, as this is Louisiana, everyone looked normal and didn’t sweat through their make-up.

Noise/Artifacts: I did not notice any scenes of intrusive noise or artifacts. Again, the most problematic scenes would have to be during the gunfights.


Bad Country - www.whysoblu.com


Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio, French Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

Dynamics: The lossless track on this Blu-ray was succinct and I never detected any hints of distortion, hiss, or anomalies. It’s an above average soundtrack and the Blu-ray does a great job at reproducing all of the drama that lays hidden in the bayou.

Low Frequency Extension: LFE levels were great and even better during the scenes of shotgun blasts. You could feel the buckshot in those scenes, which was very much appreciated.

Surround Sound Presentation: Lots of ambient sounds during the shots of beautiful scenery, indoor club noise, and during the gunfights. Nothing that was rear focused ever came around to mess with the front stage during playback.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue levels were clean and clear. This was a police procedural that one would need to listen to carefully without any distractions. The Blu-ray handled dialogue levels well.

Bad Country - www.whysoblu.com


Bad Country only has two extra features. Deleted scenes and a short featurette with some cast and crew interviews.

  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 7:53) – Under 8 minutes of deleted scenes are included that were trimmed due to pacing issues. You can tell that the removal of these scenes tightened up the finished product.
  • Taking Down the Empire: On the Set (HD, 11:53) – This is a standard making-of featurette with some added cast and crew interviews. Everyone seemed to have a good time making the flick.


Bad Country - www.whysoblu.com


Bad Country is an enjoyable little romp of a crime thriller with an excellent cast. The only things that bog the film down in terms of quality are the gunfights. The film works much better as a drama than a drama with action elements, because those elements don’t hold up well. The Blu-ray is above average in terms of visual and audio presentation, with below average extras. With all its shortcomings Bad Country is slightly recommended.

Order Bad Country on Blu-ray!

Bad Country - www.whysoblu.com


Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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