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The Quiet American [UK Release] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Subtitles: N/A
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Certification: 15
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: StudioCanal (UK)
  • Run Time:
  • Blu-ray Release Date: September 19, 2011
  • RRP: £24.99

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B005EKHEGE[/amazon-product]

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Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:2.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4/5]

The Quiet American, taken from Graham Greene’s novel, is sort of a throwback to the films of the golden age of Hollywood, like Casablanca. Set in the Vietnam of 1952, it mixes romance, political intrigue and film noir against the backdrop of failing French colonialism to tell the story of the beginnings of how the United States got involved in the affairs of Vietnam.

The aging British journalist Thomas Fowler (Michael Caine) and naïve new arrival, American aid worker Aiden Pyle (Brendan Fraser) square off for the affections of the beautiful young Vietnamese woman, Phuong (Do Thi Hai Yen) against the beautiful backdrop of Vietnam. Fowler can’t get a divorce from his wife back in England due to her Catholic beliefs and Pyle can offer Phuong marriage and a life back home in America, but there is something amiss. With the communist rebels stepping up their attacks, Fowler begins to suspect that perhaps there is more to “the quiet American” than first meets the eye. Could he be working against French interests to destabilize the region? All of these things lead to a series of unbelievable revelations, changes in everyones lives, and, ultimately, murder.

The Quiet American is one of the better thrillers I’ve seen recently and it sheds a great light on the origins of the American war in Vietnam. This one is a must-watch film, with a brilliant latter-career performance from the great Michael Caine.

Video Quality

[Rating:2.5/5]

Some films’ masters just age better than others, and while 2004 is hardly very long ago, it is obvious that The Quiet American hasn’t aged too well and that StudioCanal hasn’t put too much effort into restoring it for Blu-ray. This AVC encodement is terribly inconsistent. It is swarming in grain and video noise, flesh tones range from too reddish to very pale, and detail is soft, especially in backgrounds and distance shots. Dark scenes look the worst, showing either too much black crush and noise, or being really washed out and greyish. It may still offer an upgrade over DVD, but it is ultimately a third-tier catalogue Blu-ray release.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

There is one option on this disc, and that is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. While the lossless mix has its moments where the surrounds come alive and the low frequencies are nicely extended, particularly during the cafe bombing scene and the scene where Fowler (Caine) and Pyle (Fraser) are in the trench together hiding from the communist rebels, mostly the mix is rather dull and dry, with the surrounds fairly silent. Also, even during those active scenes the high frequencies seem harsh and the midrange a bit pushed and unnatural.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2.5/5]

There is a lot of carryover on offer here, all in standard definition, but if you haven’t seen any of the interviews before or heard the audio commentary, they are all well worth going through.

The supplements provided with this release:

  • Feature Commentary by director Phillip Noyce, actors Michael Caine, Brendan Fraser, and Tzi Ma, executive producer Sydney Pollack, and producers Staffan Ahrenberg and William Horberg, co-writer Christopher Hampton, and interpreter and adviser to Phillip Noyce, Tran An Hua.
  • Anatomy of a Scene (1.33:1; PAL; 00:21:32) – The Sundance Channel special dissects the film’s bombing scene with comments from the actors and filmmakers.
  • Original Featurette (1.78:1; PAL; 00:05:19)
  • Interviews:
    • Michael Caine
    • Brendan Fraser
    • Do Thai Hai Yen
    • Director Phillip Noyce
    • Executive Producer Sydney Pollack
    • Writer Christopher Hampton
    • Cinematographer Christopher Doyle
    • Producer Bill Horberg
  • B-Rolls:
    • Fox Studios (2.35:1; PAL; 00:03:39)
    • Vietnam (2.35:1;PAL; 00:10:46)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

Even with the lackluster video transfer, this one is still riveting to watch. Michael Caine is brilliant, Brendan Fraser does well to keep up, while the beautiful Do Thi Hai Yen is also a stunner to watch. Excellent all around and recommended as a rental due to the third-tier video quality. Hopefully one day they will remaster this one properly.

Additional Screen Captures


[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B005EKHEGE[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:2.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

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