Blast – Blu-ray Review
Film Title: “Blast”
Release Date: 1997
Runtime: 105 minutes
Region Coding: Region Free
Studio: MVD Marquee Collection
Audio Format(s): Liner PCM Stereo
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Formats Available: Blu-ray
Versions Available: Blu-ray Disc
Release Date: 8/28/18
Director: Albert Pyun
Cast: Linden Ashby, Andrew Divoff, Kimberly Warren, Rutger Hauer
“Blast” is what most would call an obvious rip-off of another film, especially just in judging by its current artwork. I’ll get into more of what film it takes some plot points from a bit later, but let’s first get into the basics of this low budget film. The film was both directed and written (under a pen name) by a man pretty well known in the indie filmmaking world, Albert Pyun. Albert Pyun‘s credits as director include the films: “The Sword and the Sorcerer” (1982), “Cyborg” (1989), “Captain America” (1990), “Nemesis” (1992), and that film’s three direct-to-video released sequels. Pyun has a total of 52 credits for directing on IMDb, at time of writing this.
The film has us first introduced to our leading man “Jack Bryant” (Linden Ashby) who has just started a job as event staff, specifically as a janitor. Jack is working as event staff (doing janitorial duties) at an aquatic facility where the U.S. Olympic women’s swim–team is practicing. The film is supposed to take place during 1996 in the town of Atlanta, which in real life actually hosted the Olympic Games that year. That’s vital to this film and its plot, but not at all based on any true events, despite its cheesy three paragraphs shown before the opening credits. It is worth noting however, that in real life, there actually was a domestic terror attack during the ’96 Olympic Games. You can read about that actual event on Wikipedia. Just remember that this film has absolutely nothing, I repeat nothing, to do with that real event. It’s a pure work of fiction.
The film’s protagonist Jack is divorced, and the long story short is that he also has just had some personal trouble that he’s been going through, likely that caused problems in his failed marriage. Jack’s ex-wife “Diane” (as mentioned) just so happens to also be the assistant coach of the U.S. Olympic women’s swim-team. She’s working in the very same facility, knowingly as her ex-husband, while her male co-worker is constantly hitting on her. As all this is going on, we see in the very opening of the film (no “spoilers”), a group of terrorists. Our group of terrorists here taking over the aquatic facility are headed up by a sunglasses wearing man named “Omodo” (Andrew Divoff). The terrorists take the swim team hostage with plans to detonate explosives, if their demands are not met by the authorities.
Does any of this plot sound a bit similar to another action film you might have seen around 1988 perhaps, theatrically? A lot of people, long before its current cover art, have called this film a bit too similar to “Die Hard” over the years, and they are right for doing so. Perhaps it was originally intended by the filmmaker as a homage or tribute, but it came across to movie-goers as a very low budget rip-off of that film. That’s sadly the truth. So, why would you want to watch a film like this? I’ll tell you why. Sit back.
This hero here, a janitor named Jack Bryant, isn’t like some “equalizer” type guy. He’s more like the lump sum of another equation carried over, and divided by a smaller budget. Still, he [“Jack”] proves to be a bit bad ass at times, but not so much can sadly be said for the film. Jack sure as hell was no “John McLaine”, I’d say. He is nothing even comparable to that hero, despite the film blatantly trying to use some of “Die Hard” in its plot. A man in a building with his ex-wife and terrorists. Even a sleazy male figure exists in the swim team’s coach, who doesn’t like “Jack the Janitor” because he’s trying to sleep with his ex, who just so happens to be assistant coach of the swim team.
To give you an idea of how silly the film can be at times with its storyline, one of my favorite lines comes from the offscreen dialogue during a news report claiming “the president just landed by blimp” – which is extremely believable. Right?! That type of dialogue and campy plot make these worth the watch for the attempt at action and such. It’s something you’ll like end up riffing on like an episode of MST3K (“Mystery Science Theater 3000”). Still, sometimes (being in my Blu jumpsuit) I have to actually enjoy some of the films that the mad scientists send me. This is one of them, in its own unique way.
“Blast” proves to be just that, with a campy B-movie goodness feel to it. It has some really classically bad lines of dialogue, as said. Regardless of its at times pure laughable dialogue and campy plot, the tiny explosions make it have more bang for its buck visually, and by tiny explosions I mean a miniature explosion that was detonated to look like that of a larger scale. There’s one explosion in particular in this film that actually proves to be impressive for a miniature, almost seeming (as said) full scale, like you’d seen in a much bigger budget film. This film did not have a budget even comparable to a large studio film. Yet, this proves to have a its share of action at times.
Even with its campy nature and all, “Blast”, does tell a story, with a plot a bit too ridiculous – admittedly. This isn’t even your typical popcorn action flick, it’s more along the lines of something you would see at drive-in or have rented and/or bought on VHS. That gives it all that extra more of an B-movie vibe to it, just looking back in hindsight. “Jack the janitor” was a good man, sure, and he fought hard (even at times wearing shoulder pads?), however I doubt anyone remembers this much every year as they do the events that transpired at the Nakatomi Plaza, in a much stronger film (“Die Hard”). Rutger Hauer in as small a part as he plays (as “Leo“) absolutely steals the show with his incredible acting skills. It’s worth mentioning that Shannon Elizabeth appears in a non-speaking role here: as a member of the frightened and kidnapped women’s swim-team. The film has its share of actors in it that have done much bigger films, that should prove recognizable.
Movie Rating: 2 (out of 5)
According to the technical specifications on IMDb “Blast” was shot on 35MM film. The film is presented here in its Blu-ray Disc debut in its original theatrical 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Distributor MVD Entertainment Group has really started off their new label (MVD Marquee Collection) quite well here with a solid video presentation.
There’s a very nice, healthy amount of film grain to be found here from the original 35MM print. This comes with a nice HD presentation. Fans of the film can rest assured any visual imperfections from the previous home video release(s) have been cleaned up. You really get a good HD presentation here, with a nice amount of detail to be found in almost every shot. The black level is solid, the fleshtones are accurate, and the color palette can at times be vibrant – thanks mostly to wardrobe, such as the red swimsuits worn by the swim team. There’s no signs of any compression or other problems here visually or such. Overall this holds a solid visual presentation in high def that is sure to leave fans of the film pleased with its debut to Blu-ray Disc.
Video Quality Rating: 4 (out of 5)
Audio here is presented in Linear PCM Uncompressed Stereo 2.0 sound. According to IMDb technical specifications for this film, it only ever had a Dolby Digital mix, and there’s no real indication it was anything more than that of a 2 channel Stereo nature. That being said, it comes as very little surprise that this film comes to Blu-ray in just Stereo, without a 5.1 surround mix. Sure, it was a 1997 film, but keep in mind this film’s budget.
This lossless Stereo mix is actually pretty solid and does the film justice. Dialogue is distinct in nature all throughout the film. The music (score) and sound effects are both mixed pretty well, which at times offer a decent amount of bass. If perhaps the stereo isn’t enough for you, and you decide to up-convert this 2.0 sound source to something like 3.1 or 5.1 surround (via your AVR) you will likely notice a bit of action in terms of low-end on several occasions. It works. Those listening just on two speakers or a sound bar with a 2.0 configuration aren’t going to notice too much of a difference though, in all due honesty. It’s not really the most action-packed mix despite the film’s attempts at action. Stereo is pretty much good enough for this film. No complaints at all about the audio presentation here, as it proves (as mentioned) to be solid enough. It’s nowhere near as solid as the video presentation, that’s for sure.
Audio Quality Rating: 3.5 (out of 5)
Bonus materials only exist in the form of Trailers on this Blu-ray Disc release. Audio here primarily is in Stereo, as well as Dolby Digital 5.1 (noted below). The Trailers included consist of this film’s trailer and three other films coming soon to the MVD Marquee Collection:
- “Blast” Trailer (2:14 – SD)
- “Lionheart” Trailer (2:06 – SD)
- “Walking Tall” Trailer (1:16 – HD) /w 5.1
- “Crazy Six” Trailer (2:06 – SD)
Overall, there’s nothing here aside from Trailers. Looking back on the film itself, it was a very low budget 1997 film, and well, there’s really nothing to speak of in terms of an EPK (electronic press kit) bit of typical extras. If you’re really looking for more information on the film itself I’d suggest IMDb, Google, Wikipedia or YouTube.
Bonus Materials Rating: 0.5 (out of 5)
“Blast” is very, very likely a film that most of you have never heard of, let alone actually watched. However, this 1997 attempt at action proves to be worth the watch for its campy B-Movie nature, and its effort. The film’s debut to Blu-ray via the folks at MVD Entertainment Group, via their new label, is solid on both the visual and audio sides of things. Sadly the bonus materials section is somewhere the release is way weaker than the film itself. Still, it was low budget and not many folks expect much, if any bonus material. That said, this leaves me excited to see what the MVD Marquee Collection on Blu-ray will bring us.
In terms of Blu-ray release, this gets:
4 (out of 5) for video quality
3.5 (out of 5) for audio quality
0.5 (out of 5) for bonus materials