• Deadlock (Subkultur) UHD/Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Subkultur
    Released on: July 20th, 2021.
    Director: Roland Klick
    Cast: Mario Adorf, Marquard Bohm, Anthony Dawson, Siegurd Fitzek
    Year: 1970
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    Deadlock – Movie Review

    Directed by Roland Klick, 1970’s Deadlock begins when a young bank robber known only as Kid (Marquard Bohm) walks alone across the desert carrying only a machine gun and a suitcase. He’s clearly injured and in rough shape, the inhospitable terrain doing his health no favors. It isn’t long before he completely passes out on the side of a rocky hill.

    Kid, unconscious but still alive if only barely, is found by Charles Dump (Mario Adorf), a one local recluse who just happens to drive by Kid and who isn’t at all above taking advantage of what his basically been dropped in his lap. He opens the suitcase and realizes it contains a 45 rpm record, a pack of smokes, a toothbrush and a whole lot of American cash. He brings Kid back to the run down house that he calls home, figuring that he’ll die from his gunshot wound and whatever else is wrong with him at this point. He figures wrong and as Kid slowly but surely starts to recover, he starts making plans of his own to get the money back from Mr. Dump.

    The situation gets more complicated when a hitman named Mr. Sunshine (Anthony Dawson) arrives on the scene expecting Kid to handover to him the suitcase full of stolen loot. If that weren’t enough, Dump’s neighbor, Corinna (Betty Segal) and her daughter Jessy (Mascha Rabben), get involved. This might not end well…

    Clearly inspired by Sergio Leone’s The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, Klick’s neo-western is an effective and tense exercise in cat and mouse styled suspense, with each of the three core players in the game trying to outwit one another with the intention of keeping, and not sharing, the stolen cash. It works really well, the movie pulls us in right from the start and keeps us engaged right to the finish. The sparse desert locations make for the perfect backdrop for this and with Dump’s ramshackle house serving as he film’s primary location, this turns out to be a case of less is more. You can almost feel the dirt and the sweat in the film, it just has this remarkably arid feel to it that really lets you get a handle on how unforgiving this desert really is. This is accentuated by the cinematography, with lots of bright, natural and very intense sunlight used in key scenes very effectively. In short, the whole just feels uncomfortably hot. Klick paces the film really nicely, building tension from the beginning and managing to keep adding to it as the story progresses.

    The performances are also really strong here. Italian genre regular Mario Adorf (of The Tin Drum, The Bird With The Crystal Plumage and Milano calibro 9 to name only a few) is fantastic here, bringing that same sense of weird, twitchy, mania to the part that made his work in Milano calibro 9 so great. It’s easy to draw comparisons here to Eli Wallach’s work in the Leone film and there are similarities but Adorf brings enough originality to the role that it stops short of aping Wallach. Marquard Bohm, who worked with Fassbinder on Berlin Alexanderplatz, Satan's Brew and Ali: Fear Eats The Soul, is also really good here. He doesn’t have tons of dialogue here and spends the first chunk of the movie basically an invalid but the physicality of his work here is very convincing. Anthony Dawson, of From Russia With Love, Dial M For Murder and somehow Ghoulies II, brings a quiet, calm, cool and collected sense of icy menace to his role and both Betty Segal and the beautiful Mascha Rabben are very good in their supporting roles.

    Deadlock – Blu-ray Review:

    Subkultur offers up Deadlock in a nice 1.66.1 widescreen HEVC encoded 2160p high definition transfer with HDR. The transfer is excellent, detail is very strong throughout and the picture is perfectly filmic from start to finish. The close up shots are almost shockingly crisp and the image, while naturally grainy, is virtually spotless and clearly in excellent shape showing no real print damage of note. The film’s color scheme is reproduced perfectly, black levels are nice and deep and skin tones look nice and natural. Really, there’s nothing to complain about here at all, Subkultur’s UHD is a true thing of beauty.

    Fans are given their choice of English or German language audio in 24-bit DTS-HD 1.0 Mono with optional subtitles offered up in English and German for each track. Both tracks are clean and nicely balanced, with a bit more depth than you might expect for an older single channel mix, particularly when it comes to the music used in the film.

    The main extra on the UDH is an audio commentary with director Roland Klick and Ulrich Von Berg, who wrote a book on Klick's work and who serves as moderator on the track. Note that this track is in German with optional German or English subtitles provided. They talk about how Klick came up with the idea for the film and the locations used in the movie after his wife was killed in a car accident. From here, they go over casting the film and working with Mario Adorf who was quite a big star at the time, using music from Can in the background of certain scenes, what sets his films apart from contemporaries like Fassbinder and Herzog, the simplicity some of the effects used in a few scenes, getting Israeli actress Betty Segal in the movie, influences that worked their way into the movie, the film's budget, the difficulties in getting a car appropriately dusty for a movie that takes place in the desert, what some of the different crew members were able to bring to the production, his personal vision of how he likes to make movies, why Mascha Rabben's tears are real in the scene where she chases after the truck and lots more. It's a pretty informative track with a lot of interesting stories in it.

    The UHD also includes English and German restored theatrical trailers, menus and chapter selection.

    The included Blu-ray contains a 1080p version of the restored film in AVC encoded 1080p with audio options that mirror the UHD and with the same commentary track included. It also contains some extra features that are not on the UHD, starting with Truth And Sensuality. This is a new video interview with Roland Klick that runs for nineteen-minutes. He speaks here about how he'd wanted to be a director ever since he was in school, getting involved with stage productions, making contacts once he got out of school, shooting his first short film and then moving on to features, some of which won awards and did quite well. he then talks about where he got the ideas for Deadlock after travelling to Israel, choosing the locations for the film, working as his own producer more often than not, almost bringing Fellini on to work as a producers on this picture, the influence of spaghetti westerns on Deadlock, his thoughts on genre cinema and cinema as an art form and his thoughts on the desert as a metaphor. He also covers what it was like on set during the shoot and how the weather was a factor, how the audience reacted to the film versus the critics (who he doesn't care for), why he considers Italians more sensual than Germans and the importance of sensuality to life, his experience going to Cannes, the loss of his wife, becoming a father and philosophy. This is a pretty highbrow talk, Klick is an interesting and eccentric subject!

    A second interview with Klick is also included on the disc. Titled Movie As Adventure, this archival piece runs eight minutes. In this talk Klick goes over the merits of including risk and adventure in your films, how he feels these elements are connected to his personality, needing to control danger, his own personal development as a filmmaker, some of the real life dangers they encountered while shooting in Israel, making movies to make money, receiving subsidies from the state to get his projects going and why Deadlock resonated with German audiences the way that it did.

    The thirteen-minute Portrait: Roland Kirk is an archival piece from the seventies that shows off the director's office and interviews him about his thoughts on making movies, shooting Deadlock and finding the right locations for it, the cinematography featured in the movie and the influence of spaghetti westerns, his editing techniques, the use of violence in the film and how he uses violence to cultivate his own aggressions and the language of cinema. Along the way we get plenty of clips from his films up to this point in his career.

    There are also some interesting shorter extras here including a silent German ending with dedication, silent English opening credits and insert, a silent English ending with dedication, a silent textless credits sequence, restored and unrestored German theatrical trailers, an English theatrical trailer, a still gallery, menus (in both English and German options) and chapter selection options.

    This release is also packaged with some very cool reversible cover art and, if purchased direct from Vinegar Syndrome, comes packaged with a nice embossed slipcover designed by Earl Kess that is limited to 2,000 pieces.

    Deadlock – The Final Word:

    Deadlock is great stuff, a tense and exciting picture with some great cinematography and even better performances. Sunkultur’s done an excellent job bringing this unsung gem to UHD and Blu-ray with a beautiful presentation and some pretty strong extra features as well. Highly recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Deadlock screen caps (from the Blu-ray disc because reviews without screen caps are boring)!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Jack J's Avatar
      Jack J -
      That's a great run-down of the new release, Ian.

      No other comments? It's a shame that DEADLOCK (and Roland Klick!!) is so ignored by genre fans in the English speaking world. It's an awesome neo western! Hell, I'm in the country next to Germany and the film and its director are ignored here as well!! I first saw DEADLOCK on an unsubbed German dvd (from a pretty cool Roland Klick dvd box set that came out a few years back). I've been waiting for this bluray ever since Subkultur began talking about it (that's at least 5 years ago!) and I'm extremely happy it's here now. I got the box set with bluray, UHD and photo book.

      PS: I can't find the Subkultur facebook page - do any of you know if it's gone? I'm aware of their site but I'd like to check their fb page.
    1. Paul L's Avatar
      Paul L -
      When funds allow, I'll buy this. Big fan of the film.