• Walking Tall (MVD Marquee Collection) Blu-Ray Review

    Released By: MVD Visual
    Released On: August 14, 2018.
    Director: Kevin Bray
    Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Johnny Knoxville, Neal Mcdonough, Kevin Durand, Ashley Scott
    Year: 2004
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    Walking Tall - Movie Review:

    Long before Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was a celebrated bad-ass of an international film star, he was bad-ass international film star, "The Rock", and he made a little movie about a man pushed over the edge by corruption called, "Walking Tall", which was a remake of a long-ago film called, "Walking Tall", based on the life of Buford Hayse Pusser, a man pushed over the edge by corruption. And while the camp of, "No Remakes" is often one I pitch my tent in, how can you disagree with a film about a man pushed over the edge by corruption?

    The Rock plays Chris Vaughn, a brick wall of a US soldier returning to his small town after two duties of service in the Middle East. Things have changed in eight years; the local mill, the town's number one source of employment has closed down, there's a new Sheriff in town, and his sister's little baby is all growed up. Chris is welcomed home by his surprised family, given his old room, and doesn't take long to meet up with his best friend from his old life, Ray-Ray. Ray-Ray's changed a bit as well, having learned the hard way that being a drug-addicted Seattle grunge superstar doesn't make for a sustainable lifestyle, proudly announcing his sobriety.

    But sobriety doesn't extend to a game of football with the old gang down at the park, and Chris and Ray-Ray head there to toss the pigskin around with some old buddies whose names don't matter. Another face from the past makes an appearance as well; Jay Hamilton (Neal McDonough and his dreamy blue eyes), who made millions selling off the family mill (yes, that one) when his dad passed away. Sinking all of his money into building the Wild Cherry Casino proved to be profitable, and Jay makes sure that he and his high-society fashion are walled off by his burly entourage, including the big and nasty Booth (Kevin Durand). It is, in fact, Booth who takes down the mighty Vaughn during the game and lays the hurtin' on him, which Hamilton smooths out by offering the gang VIP treatment at the Wild Cherry. Chris and his buddies take him up on the offer, with Vaughn getting a surprise visit from his long-ago ex-girlfriend in a strip booth, but things take a nasty turn when Chris notices his friend whose name doesn't matter getting ripped off by a shady dealer with loaded dice. The situation escalates quickly into violence, which ends when Vaughn finds himself in the back room of the casino being tortured and eventually dumped and left for dead by Hamilton's goons.

    Hamilton either tries to make amends or keep things under wraps by offering Vaughn an apology and a job as head of security, but nice-guy advances from his old buddy are not on Chris' list of things to appreciate, especially after his nephew overdoses on crystal meth, dealt to his group of friends by Booth and his guys. But with the law in his back pocket, Hamilton operates, er, outside of the law, and Vaughn takes it upon himself to bust up Booth, the drug ring, and the casino after trading in a shotgun for a four-by-four piece of cedar. Charged and placed on trial, Vaughn defends himself, promising to the jury that on acquittal he'll run for Sheriff, and put Hamilton and his evil ring of corruption out of business...permanently.

    How can you disagree with a film about a man pushed over the edge by corrupt, drug-dealing baddies, who switches out a firearm for a giant wooden bat to lay waste to everyone who's wronged him? You can't. The Rock is perfect for this role; he's likeable, he's a giant, ass-kicking monstrosity who can believably snap limbs and smash faces, and the ladies love him. He's Patrick Swayze in, "Road House", and he doesn't play outside of his depth. Neal McDonough is likewise perfectly suited for Hamilton; he's good-looking enough that you believe him as the super-rich jerk whos got influence in all of the right places, but those sneaky, magnificent, inhuman eyes also betray him as a scallywag who's got fingers in dirty pies and doesn't mind spending a few bucks on a giant drug lab. And Durand as Booth; he's just big, mean, greasy and gross. Oh, and you can't forget Ray-Ray, with Johnny Knoxville pretty much playing Johnny Knoxville as he does in every film; a wacky, kinda brain-damaged but loveable witty sidekick who you know is going to get hurt and it's probably going to be funny.

    High cinema be damned, Walking Tall is just shy of an hour-and-a-half, with some very solid action scenes that harken back to the day of straight-ahead ass whoopin' stuntwork, and everyone here is up to the task. Bray's direction might not dazzle anyone, but he puts the camera where it needs to be and draws the action to it. It's by the numbers, there's nothing tricky to it, but Walking Tall finds a perfect balance of good and bad guys, sets up some slightly-stretched but still believable scenarios, and comes through with satisfying bone breaks and killshots. No, you won't have to look for a deeper meaning, but you may find yourself occasionally grunting, "YES!" through gritted teeth when somebody gets what's coming to them.

    Walking Tall - Blu-Ray Review:

    MVD brings Walking Tall to blu-ray as part of their, "Marquee" collection, in a 2.35:1 AVC-encoded transfer. While this transfer isn't going to particularly dazzle anyone, possibly having been taken from an older master, it manages to look very good for the most part, with decent blacks and an overall lack of print damage. Grain structure is present, compression doesn't seem to be an issue.

    Audio is handled via English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, or PCM 2.0 track; both are fine, with the 5.1 opening things up a bit more, but the 2.0 providing a lot of punch for a stereo track. Neither track showed signs of distortion or hiss, pop, etc, and dialogue was up front and centre on the surround with effects and score balanced nicely around it. The lower frequencies and surrounds are used tastefully, but definitely get a bit of a workout during the action scenes. A French track (Dolby Digital 5.1) and Spanish option (Dolby Digital 2.0) are also available, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Korean.

    Fight The Good Fight (SD, 8:44) is the first up in the supplements, featuring The Rock and Kevin Bray as they look at the fighting sequences in the film, with The Rock talking about the need for old-fashioned, fresh ass-whupping.

    Alternate Ending - The Porch (SD, 1:20) is, in fact, an alternate ending to the film that takes place on the Vaugns' porch.

    Bloopers (SD, :48) and a Photo Gallery follow those up, as well as just under two minutes of Deleted Scenes which are actually so useless that it's amazing they were included.

    First up in the commentaries is one with The Rock, which is actually quite amusing and covers a fair bit of material. He talks about his love of the original film and Buford Pusser, shooting in Vancouver, the different characters, and how the ladies love him shirtless, as well as other topics. The Rock is into it, and there are few gaps.

    Next up is a commentary with director Kevin Bray, Editor Robert Ivison, and Director of Photography Glen MacPherson that starts off rather dry, but gets better as it goes. They talk about the credits and the music, Pusser and the original film, and covering up tattoos, with lots of info shared.

    It is worth noting that this menu is horribly authored; choosing one of the audio options basically sits there until you scroll down to go back and hit play, not giving you any indication that you've actually chosen the audio or subtitles.

    Walking Tall - The Final Word:

    The Rock smacks people around with a giant piece of wood because bad guys messed with him and his family. What's not to like? The MVD blu-ray is a nice way to see the film.

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