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DIRTY DEEDS

Review by Chastity Campbell

Starring: Bryan Brown, John Goodman, Toni Collette, Sam Neill
Director: David Caesar
Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital, Surround
Video: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen & 1.33:1 Standard Fullscreen
Studio: Paramount
Features: See Review
Length: 97 Minutes
Release Date: November 4, 2003

Film **

Dirty Deeds, done dirt cheap!  Ahh yes, between that song, and Shook Me All Night Long, I came very close to finding out what the limit of a parents’ endurance with an extremely loud stereo is when growing up. 

What does an AC/DC tune have to do with a DVD review?  Everything, when the movie you’re reviewing is Dirty Deeds, which is a film that takes the phrase going down under to a whole new level! 

John Goodman, Bryan Brown, the beautiful Toni Collette and Sam Neill put on their brown derbies and roll the dice of fate in this visit to the dirty underbelly of Sydney, Australia’s mob scene.

Barry holds all the cards in town, and has a few extra aces up his sleeve for good measure, if you get my meaning.  He’s a family man, who is trying to hold onto the gambling racket he has running.   His nephew comes home from Vietnam and is immediately recruited into the family business.  

Two Americans, Tony and Sal, hop a jet plane bound for the land of OZ to present their boss’s business plan to Barry and attempt to buy him out.  Barry listens to the offer, and proceeds to tell them where they can stick it.  He’s got the corner market on the dingoes over here, and they aren’t going ruin his fun.  

Now here’s the score:  if Tony doesn’t close this deal, then Sal gets to pop a cap in his…oh wait, this is the 60s, rewind…Sal gets to bump him off, yeah…dat’s da ticket, boy!

With a nephew who’s never going to fit into his uncle’s world, and two yanks out to strip him of his hard earned place in mob society, Barry fights back, and boy, is it fun to watch!

I’ve never been a big fan of Bryan Brown, who plays every part he lands with exactly the same delivery and emotion.   This movie was fun to watch him in because for the first time, he seemed to bring a little depth to the character he was portraying.

John Goodman and Sam Neill both have a similar approach to acting, in that they each try to bring as much of themselves into the character as the script will allow while giving each role its own personality.  They pull it off rather well in this film, and between the two of them alone, you know you are in for a treat when you pop this DVD in and push play.

Toni Collette is a very talented and beautiful actress.  In The Sixth Sense, she was absolutely brilliant as the stressed out mom trying to make ends meet and keep her son sane.  She flows into the role of Barry’s wife Sharon Ryan with equal amounts of ambition and playfulness, with a little bit of toughness thrown in on the side.   While she doesn’t have a lot of screen time, her character feels well rounded and grounded, which for Hollywood, is saying a lot these days.  She’s definitely got a bright future ahead of her if film choices of the past are any indication.

The setting for this film is Vietnam era Australia, which I admittedly have little knowledge of considering I wasn’t even a glint on my mommy’s eye at that point.  I can say that I felt like I was watching a film encompassing a completely different era, and it never once seemed as though it was straying even remotely close to present day.  

With an all-star cast, low budget action, and romance, this DVD delivers Dirty Deeds, done dirt cheap!

Video *** 

The video quality is where this disc shines in my opinion. 

The print transferred nicely to the digital realm with a minimal amount of scarring or dirt visible.   The 1.85:1 widescreen version, while being the better transfer in my mind, didn’t outdo the 1.33.1 Standard version by much.   You don’t need a wide panoramic sweep of the action when everything is done up close and personal.

Over all, the colors seemed crisp and vivid, with just the right balance between shadow and light to give them life. 

Audio ***

The 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround track, while not being the best I’ve ever heard, did manage to impress me a bit.  The balance between the speakers seems to resonate well particularly when things go BOOM!  There were a few audible problems that could have been corrected easily enough during the mixing process, but nothing that detracts from the over all audio quality of the DVD. There wasn’t a lot of difference between the 2.0 and 5.1 surround sound mixes, however, the 5.1 did carry better from speaker to speaker. 

This dialogue, background music beds, and sound effects all fleshed out nicely, without one seeming to overpower the other during any specific part of the film.

Features *

This Dirty Deed was only slightly muddy when it came to the extra features.

You have the option to watch Dirty Deeds, in Widescreen or Standard Fullscreen format.  

You also get the movies theatrical trailer and the language options of Spanish 2.0, or English 5.1& 2.0 Surround.  

Summary:

This Dirty Deeds doesn’t need to clean up its act before coming home with you.  Good acting, fun scripting, and nice production value help this DVD become more than it first appears.  Grab a copy, and settle in for a wild and exciting ride!