4K Ultra HD
Face/Off: A thrilling blend of action and surreal premise, celebrated in stunning 4K.
Disc Release Date:
Face/Off's 4K Blu-ray dazzles with its native 4K, HDR, and Dolby Vision upgrades from original negatives, presenting the best visuals of Woo's classic with vibrant colors, deep blacks, and sharp details, despite minor quibbles.
Face/Off's 4K Blu-ray delivers with its DTS-HD 5.1 track, offering clear, dynamic audio with potent LFE and precise mixing, making for a memorable action-packed experience, even without Dolby Atmos.
The 4K Face/Off release offers rich commentaries by filmmakers and critics, delving into its making, casting, and historical context, alongside exclusive extras including deleted scenes and featurettes on the Blu-ray.
John Woo's Face/Off blends over-the-top action with melodrama, showcasing iconic performances by Travolta and Cage in a uniquely bombastic and entertaining Hollywood stint.
The 4K UHD Blu-ray presentation of "Face/Off," released by Kino Lorber, represents an extraordinary revival of John Woo’s 1997 action classic, far exceeding prior home video encarnations. Utilizing a brand-new 4K remaster directly from the original camera negative, the film shines with an astonishing native 4K resolution (3840x2160/24p) image, maintaining its original widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Enhanced by HDR, including Dolby Vision, this transfer is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec, which breathes new life into the movie’s dynamic visuals. The high dynamic range brings out remarkable detail, with vibrant primaries and healthy skin tones, resulting in images that burst with color during explosive action sequences and maintain fine object details and filmic textures. Despite some stylistic choices that lead to haziness in specific scenes and minor color off-balance in the closing coda, these issues do little to detract from what is an overwhelmingly impressive presentation.
Screencapture comparisons indicate that while there may be slight advantages to the 1080p presentation in revealing nuances within darker areas, the 4K UHD disc, especially when viewed with Dolby Vision, offers superior brightness and clarity in daylight scenes, with more convincing color interactions and stability. The disc's impeccable sharpness and the preservation of the film's natural light grain structure underscore its visual integrity. Furthermore, the excellent black levels and shadow detail ensure that the movie's depth and dimensionality are consistently engaging.
In conclusion, "Face/Off" on 4K UHD Blu-ray from Kino Lorber marks a significant milestone in the film’s visual history. With its absence of digital correction issues and a fluidity that enhances its fast-paced action, the release ensures a robust and organic viewing experience. The implementation of Dolby Vision HDR not only amplifies the vibrancy and liveliness of the palette but also revitalizes John Woo’s masterful action sequences with a newfound brilliance. Whether scrutinizing the lush primaries or the detailed landscapes, viewers are rewarded with a visual feast that celebrates the film’s aesthetic achievements while rectifying past home video injustices.
The audio presentation of Face/Off's 4K UHD Blu-ray, primarily through its English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, offers a robust and impressively dynamic auditory experience that is sure to satisfy enthusiasts. Despite the lack of a cutting-edge Dolby Atmos track, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 fills the auditory space with a clarity and depth that makes every dialogue, explosion, and subtle background noise crisp and distinguishable. The balance between action sequences and quieter moments is handled with finesse, ensuring clarity and sharpness in dialogue without sacrificing the visceral impact of the film's frequent high-octane scenes. The mix leverages the lower frequency effects (LFE) channel effectively, providing a solid bass foundation that enhances the overall viewing experience.
Not to be overlooked, the soundstage set by the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is both expansive and meticulously detailed. The use of rear channels is both thoughtful and immersive, allowing environmental sounds and score elements to extend the cinematic space without overwhelming the central action or dialogue. Listeners can expect an enveloping sound that is as precise as it is engaging, with gunshots and sparks notably utilizing the surround channels to full effect, creating a realistic sense of spatial positioning. Such attention to detail extends to quieter scenes as well, where ambient sounds are given depth and texture, demonstrating the mix's versatility.
While some may lament the absence of an object-based surround option like Dolby Atmos, this release's DTS-HD MA 5.1 track stands as a testament to high-quality mixing and mastering, proving that engaging audio experiences are not solely the domain of the latest formats. Optional English SDH subtitles are provided for inclusivity, ensuring all audiences can enjoy the film's auditory splendor. From thunderous explosives to the nuanced beeps of surgical equipment, Face/Off's audio is a stellar example of how sound can elevate the cinematic experience, even within the constraints of more traditional surround sound formats.
The 4K UHD Blu-ray release of "Face/Off" provides an exceptional array of extras, catering to both fans and cinephiles with an interest in the film's production and legacy. The collection kicks off with three insightful commentaries on the 4K disc, offering a blend of perspectives from critics Mike Leeder and Arne Venema, director John Woo, and writers Mike Werb and Michael Colleary. These commentaries dive deep into the film’s conception, casting decisions, and its unique place within 1990s cinema, blending personal anecdotes with professional analysis. The Blu-ray disc complements these with a mix of archival content including seven deleted and alternate scenes accompanied by optional commentary, a comprehensive five-part making-of featurette titled "The Light and the Dark," a documentary on John Woo's influence in film, and the original U.S. trailer. This compilation offers an enriched viewing experience that sheds light on the creative process behind "Face/Off" while paying homage to its cinematic significance.
Extras included in this disc:
- Commentary One: Exclusive new audio commentary by critics Mike Leeder and Arne Venema.
- Commentary Two: Archival audio commentary recorded by John Woo and writers Mike Werb and Michael Colleary.
- Commentary Three: A second archival audio commentary by Mike Werb and Michael Colleary.
- 7 Deleted and Alternate Scenes: With optional audio commentary.
- The Light and the Dark: The Making of Face/Off: A five-part making-of program.
- John Woo: A Life in Pictures: Documentary exploring John Woo’s life and career.
- Trailer: Original U.S. trailer for the film.
Director John Woo, renowned for his mastery in crafting action masterpieces in Hong Kong cinema, interestingly juxtaposes his unique flair within the Hollywood landscape through "Face/Off." Woo's foray into the Western action cinema primarily showcases his adeptness in choreographing high-octane, stylistic sequences that echo his Hong Kong classics. Despite transitioning into the Hollywood sphere, Woo manages to retain elements of his signature style – particularly in "Face/Off," a film that is both celebrated and critiqued for its flamboyant violence and breathtakingly choreographed action. This 1997 blockbuster encapsulates Woo's ability to blend audacious action with intricate storytelling, something his Eastern works were lauded for, albeit with an unmistakable Hollywood gloss that sometimes overshadows the purity of his action sequences.
"Face/Off" not only pushed the boundaries with its avant-garde premise but also with the performances of its lead actors, Nicolas Cage and John Travolta. Their embodiment of each other's characters offers a meticulous study in contrasts, magnifying the film’s thematic core of identity and revenge. Cage, with his eccentric portrayal of Castor Troy, brings an electrifying edge to the character, while Travolta’s nuanced depiction of Sean Archer adds a compelling layer to the narrative. Their on-screen dynamism is pivotal to the film's enduring appeal, showcasing Woo’s capacity to extract profound performances amidst a cascade of ballistic showdowns. The involvement of elements such as the melodramatic undercurrents and Woo's characteristic doves, whilst occasionally jarring, do not detract from the film's inventive action sequences.
However, "Face/Off" is not devoid of its Hollywood-induced idiosyncrasies – an element that both distinguishes and somewhat dilutes Woo's directorial potency. The introduction of melodrama amidst the explosive narrative sometimes conflicts with the film’s action-centric ethos, hinting at a compromise between Woo’s visionary ambition and Hollywood’s formulaic demands. Yet, despite these thematic and tonal discrepancies, "Face/Off" emerges as a cinematic spectacle that singularly represents Woo’s transitory yet memorable imprint on Hollywood cinema. The film delivers a frenetic pace, punctuated by inventive set pieces and a narrative that daringly navigates through its over-the-top premise without losing its stride, solidifying its place as a unique fixture within both Woo's filmography and the annals of action cinema.
Face/Off," despite its potentially divisive reputation, firmly stands as an iconic action-packed thrill ride that marks a pinnacle in both John Travolta and Nicolas Cage's careers. This film, compellingly directed by John Woo, is an illustrious example of Hollywood creativity fused with Woo’s unmatchable Hong Kong action cinema flair. It's highlighted by its 'so-bad-it's-good' charm for some, yet for others, it is a guilt-free pleasure that epitomizes blockbuster filmmaking at its finest. The 4K UHD Blu-ray presentation by Kino Lorber in the US underscores this clash of titans in stunning detail, offering an upgraded visual feast that notably surpasses all previous editions. Despite Kino Lorber's mixed track record, this release is on par with their exceptional Ronin 4K upgrade, albeit with minor flaws that hardly detract from the overall experience. Enhanced with Native 4K and Dolby Vision HDR, the film explodes with more pyrotechnics and crisp visual effects than one could have anticipated in a mainstream action film.
The film's transition into 4K UHD Blu-ray breathes new life into Woo's magnum opus, ensuring that every explosion, intricate face-swapping sequence, and balletic gunfight are rendered with immaculate clarity. Fans and critics alike will find the visual presentation to not only do justice to Woo's vision but also elevate the enjoyment of this cinematic masterpiece. Despite certain hesitance concerning its high-octane and at times ludicrous premise, "Face/Off" revels in its audacity, making the sheer enjoyment of its concept a worthy spectacle enhanced by the technical prowess of its 4K transformation.
In conclusion, the 4K UHD Blu-ray release of "Face/Off" is a recommended addition to the collections of action aficionados and cinephiles who cherish both the nostalgic value of '90s cinema and the technological advancements in film presentation. Its impressive visual quality ensures that John Woo’s distinct blend of action and drama is showcased at its absolute best, making it an essential experience for existing fans and newcomers alike. Despite minor issues, this release proves to be a triumphant homage to the creativity and boldness of one of Hollywood’s most entertaining offerings.