• Wild Geese, The



    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: December 11, 2012.
    Director: Andrew McLaglen
    Cast: Richard Burton, Roger Moore, Richard Harris, Hardy Kruger
    Year: 1978
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    The Movie:

    The previous (and only) domestic DVD release of Andrew McLaglen’s 1978 film The Wild Geese from Tango Entertainment in 2005 was pretty screwed up. Sure, it had some nice extras (which are carried over to this disc) but the transfer was completely buggered up (it was a non-anamorphic low quality PAL conversion) and action fans in the know quickly realized that the film deserved better. Well, outside of import releases, it didn’t get it – until now, thanks to Severin’s efforts in bringing the film back to North American audiences and now in high definition.

    For those who haven’t seen it (likely anyone too young to have caught it on TV in the eighties where it seemed to be a staple), the movie begins when a British corporation directed by Sir Edward Matherson (Stewart Granger) hires a gang of mercenaries to head into South Africa to help put a nasty dictator named Colonel Mboya in his place. It seems the Colonel has kidnapped African President Julius Limbani (Winston Ntshona) who was to help Matherson gain access to some copper mines

    The group is lead by Colonel Allen Faulkner (Richard Burton) and made up of Captain Rafer Janders (Richard Harris), Lieutenant Shawn Fynn (Roger Moore), R.S.M. Sandy Young (Jack Watson), Lieutenent Pieter Coetzee (Hardy Kruger), Jock McTaggert (Ronald Fraser) and a few others. The quickly make their way to South Africa and set about exacting their plan to save Limbani from Mboya’s clutches and succeed with the task fairly quickly – but it all hits the fan when Matherson strikes a deal with Mboya at which point the group is left to fend for themselves with enemy forces all around them.

    Solid entertainment from start to finish, The Wild Geese is about as manly as a movie can get. Filled to the brim with macho men doing macho things, it makes for an interesting precursor to popular action star ensemble movies of late, Stallone’s Expendables films being the most obvious and recent example. Though the cast are a little on the old side to be completely believable in their respective roles, you get the sense that they’re all having a great time playing the part and that comes through in the finished product.

    Made long before CGI, the film features some excellent stunts and action set pieces, plenty of explosions and shoot outs and enough tough guy dialogue to keep most film fans happy, the script by Reginald Rose (he of 12 Angry Men fame) based off of Daniel Carney’s book moves at a nice, quick and efficient pace. Though it’s a bit on the predictable side there’s no shortage of violence and excitement and even a few moments of legitimate suspense and tension. The story is smart enough to throw in some tensions among the mercenary group so that they wind up having the kind of distinct personalities that the actors can cash in on. As such, this allows the movie to let the cast play to their strengths – though how much of this is due to the caliber of the cast compared to the caliber of Rose’s script is probably debatable. It’s all played with just enough seriousness to work but is not without a somewhat self aware sense of humor.

    If the movie isn’t hyper stylized the way everything post John Woo seems to be, it’s nothing if not efficient. If the movie was made to cash in on the success of The Dirty Dozen, a movie that it carries some similarities to, so be it – The Wild Geese remains relentlessly entertaining and a load of fun.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Severin presents The Wild Geese on Blu-ray in a 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 that generally looks pretty good despite the infrequent presence of some obvious compression artifacts and even some macro blocking (you’ll notice them during explosions more than anywhere else). Some softness is inherent in the photography but detail is above and beyond what standard definition could provide and the colors are reproduced very nicely here. Black levels look good, texture and skin tones look fine and overall the movie looks pretty good here.

    Unfortunately, there’s no lossless audio option offered, just an English language Dolby Digital Mono track. The levels are properly balanced and dialogue sounds fine. The explosions don’t pack as much punch as you might hope for and sometimes things lean a little towards the flat side of the spectrum but there aren’t any issues with hiss or distortion to note. There are no alternate language options or subtitles provided here.

    Extras start off with an audio commentary track that gathers together Producer Euan Lloyd, leading man Roger Moore, Second Unit Director John Glen and moderator Jonathan Sothcott. It’s a solid and well rounded track that covers the film’s success, notes where it fell short and which offers up all manner of trivia regarding the specific involvement of various cast and crew members and more. Sothcott keeps the group on target and talking at a good pace as we learn about location shooting, stunts and quite a bit more.

    Also included here is a ten minutes featurette entitled The Mercenary: Military Advisor Mike Hoare in which Hoare talks about his real life experiences working as a mercenary and how these experiences lead to his career as a writer and in turn how that translated to his work in the movies. Also included is a thirty-seven minute mini documentary called Last of the Gentleman Producers which gives us an interesting career overview of Euan Lloyd that includes not only interview footage with the man himself but also a few of the people he has worked with over the years. The twenty-four minutes Stars' War is a vintage promotional film that shows off some great on set footage and behind the scenes clips of the movie as it was being made interspersed with some fun cast and crew interview clips. Andrew McLaglen is interviews in The Wild Geese Director, a sixteen minute piece in which the man who helmed the film offers up some interesting stories from the set including what it was like to be involved in some of the more complicated action set pieces and what it was like working with some of the stars assembled for the picture.

    Rounding out the extras is a seven minute clip of the film’s premiere and its original theatrical trailer. Menus and chapter stops are included. As this is a combo pack, a DVD version including identical supplements is also included inside the case with the Blu-ray disc.

    The Final Word:

    One of the most enjoyable action movies you’re ever likely to see, The Wild Geese holds up very well thanks to some great pacing, some exciting set pieces and a great cast who are all obviously having a blast. Severin’s Blu-ray offers the movie up in very nice shape and with an impressive selection of extra features as well.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!




















    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Nolando's Avatar
      Nolando -
      G-damn but I loved this movie as a kid. Sounds like it holds up nicely, too - thanks!