• Split Second (MVD Rewind Collection) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: MVD Rewind Collection
    Released on: August 11th, 2020.
    Director: Tony Maylam
    Cast: Rutger Hauer, Kim Cattrall, Michael J. Pollard, Alastair Duncan, Pete Postlethwaite
    Year: 1992
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    Split Second – Movie Review:

    Set deep in the future of the year 2008, Split Second takes place in a London flooded with water (global warming really is a bitch) and seemingly in constant darkness. Here we’re introduced to a renegade cop named Harley Stone (Rutger Hauer. He’s the kind likely to shoot first and ask questions later, but you can’t argue with his results. Unfortunately, he lost his last partner in the line of duty, and that left some emotional scares, so when the top brass hooks him up with new recruit Dick Durkin (Alastair Duncan), he makes it clear that he’d rather work alone.

    But it isn’t up to him, and so Harley begrudgingly starts working with Dick, the two of them trying to crack a bizarre case wherein someone or something is slaughtering people around the city and using their blood to paint cryptic clues as to what’s really going on. Meanwhile, Harley is making time with his hip and hot girlfriend, Michelle (Kim Cattrall), but the death of his late partner is never far from his mind, as he knows that the killer is still on the loose. When Michelle gets attacked by whatever it is that’s wreaking havoc across London, Harley starts to take things personally, at which point he and Dick arm themselves to the teeth and head underground to see that justice is served.

    Directed by Tony Maylam, the man who gave us The Burning, Split Second simultaneously rips off Blade Runner while seeming to have influenced The Matrix. Written by Gary Scott Thompson, who for better or worse gave us The Fast And The Furious franchise, this was clearly made on a modest budget but despite some cost cutting measures that are more than obvious in the finished product, it works quite well. Yeah, if you think about this too much, it does start to fall apart but for those who are sated by simple ‘good guy versus monster’ films, Split Second will cure what ails you. It isn’t deep, or even all that original, but it is a Hell of a lot of fun, borrowing from Predator a fair bit, though relocating the action from the jungle to the gutters of a very wet London. Which, admittedly sounds kind of dumb, but Maylam and company turn an old jam factory into a ‘convincing enough’ set for all of this ridiculousness to play off of and the world is a better place for it.

    Hauer is basically playing Deckard from Blade Runner in this movie but it doesn’t matter, he’s got the screen presence to make it work. In fact, the movie pretty much entirely relies on the man’s charisma and natural coolness to succeed, but it is a bet that pays off. He’s got decent enough chemistry with Duncan, they do the buddy cop thing pretty well, there’s effective comedy here and we like them together. We like Kim Cattrall more though, and not just because she takes off her top. Her natural sense of cool matches Hauer’s and they make a fun, if somewhat unlikely, couple. Ian Dury, of Ian Dury And The Blockheads, appears in a supporting role.

    This might be a B-grade creature feature that borrows more than it puts in, but it doesn’t matter. Split Second is slick, stylish, cool and fun.

    Split Second – Blu-ray Review:

    Split Second comes to Blu-ray presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, “newly scanned, restored and color graded in 4K from the 35MM internegative” taking up 22.7GBs of space on the 50GB disc. The presentation is decent enough and certainly a marked improvement over the old DVD release, but don’t go into this expecting a visual miracle, because you aren’t going to get it. This is a very dark movie, visually, and it looks like brightness has been turned up in a few spots to compensate for that, which results in a few spots where contrast blooms. Colors are uneven, with reds and skin tones looking a little pink at times, but then looking just fine in other scenes. This is the best the movie has looked on home video, however, as we get decent detail levels and a consistently filmic presentation. There’s some mild print damage here and there but it’s never more than white specks, the source used was obviously in decent enough shape. This won’t floor you, but it looks good.

    The only audio option for the feature is a 16-bit LPCM 2.0 Stereo option, in the film’s native English. The track is clean, clear and nicely balanced with some good punch given the sound effects used in the film and the score as well. Dialogue is always easy to understand and follow and there are no problems to note with any hiss or distortion to complain about. The audio here is just fine. Optional English subtitles are provided.

    Extras start off with a new audio commentary by action film historian Mike Leeder and filmmaker Arne Venema. These guys are having a whole lot of fun with this track, describing it as a ‘vintage slice of Hauersploitation’ and then going on about how to properly pronounce his name (Venema is Dutch so he nails it). They point out how the opening shots don’t match the rest of the movie, how and why Roberta Eaton wound up in the credits but not in the theatrical version of the film, the different names that the picture is known as around the world, how Gary Scott Thompson went on to write The Fast And The Furious, how the shooting title was known as Pentagram and was originally set in Los Angeles, the inclusion of ‘page 3’ girl Tina Shaw (who also worked with Mats Helge on Blood Tracks!), how Ian Dury of Ian Dury And The Blockheads wound up in the film, Papillon Soo’s appearance in the film (she’s the ‘love me long time’ girl from Full Metal Jacket), bizarre dubbing featured in the film, the film’s connection to Benny Hill and The Two Ronnies, how obvious it was that the filmmakers had very limited locations to use in the picture, the use of the Chinese Zodiac in the movie and how it looks like Ikea furniture being used in the target practice scene. They also talk about the film’s attempts to make Hauer’s character as eccentric as possible by bringing in elements from Eastern culture, Hauer’s navel service in his native Holland and his real life aversion to firearms, Kim Catrell’s inherent sex appeal, the ‘uncomfortable beats’ that Hauer’s character has with every female in the movie making us wonder if he’s slept with her, the ridiculousness of the caffeine and sugar fueled over-armed finale and how so much of the movie is based on making everyone simply look cool. It’s a fun track, not always super-packed with information and trivia and occasionally more akin to watching the film with a couple of friends, but it’s entertaining.

    There are also five new featurettes included here, starting with Great Big Bloody Guns!, which interviews producer Laura Gregory and actor Alastair Duncan on Split Second that runs for twenty-seven-minute. The pair speaks about how they started in commercials and music videos before then getting together and making a feature together with some help from a woman named Susan Nicoletti. They cite Corman as an influence and wanting to do a horror film in London, changing the script and the title to make it work, what went into getting the cast and crew assembled to put the film together, the importance of the creature effects, shooting on location versus on a soundstage, what it was like working with Hauer on the feature, how pretty much everyone except for Pollack was very easy to work with, how the film was received theatrically and the effect that the Rodney King riots had on the box office and quite a bit more.

    Call Me Mr. Snips! is a twenty-two minute interview with composer Stephen W. Parsons. He notes that this is one of those rare occasions where the score he created is exactly what was used in the movie before then going on to talk about how he got into music, joining a group after being heard singing at a jukebox in a pub, where he got the nickname 'Snips' from, performing in the band Sharks and how that didn't quite go the way he had hoped, working with Ginger Baker, getting into film scoring with his work on The Howling II, how technological changes affected film scoring and having to adapt to those changes, how he wound up working on Split Second, influences that have worked their way into his scores over the years, how he did the work on this film with no spotting sessions or input from its director and how he and producer Laura Gregory decided when and where the movie should use music at all!

    Line producer Laurie Borg gets in front of the camera for twenty-three-minutes in Stay In Line! wherein he talks, on a very squeaky chair, about how he got involved in the production simply by being available at the time, how he thought the script was simply 'cool,' how he hadn't done much before this movie except for The Commitments, getting along with Laura Gregory, working with Tony Maylam to ensure his vision was up there on screen while still sticking to the budget that they had to work with, working to create a flooded London using basically one building (which was an old jam factory), how Hauer was nothing but a 'nice man' and never a problem on set, the quality of Clyde Tickner's cinematography, how Maylam's forte was not action at all and how Ian Sharp came in to 'fix' a lot of this, having to really amp things up for the film's finale and what he learned by working on this production.

    After that, we spend thirty-two-minutes with creature effects designer Cliff Wallace in More Blood! Here we learn about how he got his start in the industry after completing a media studies course where he was writing a lot of horror and sci-fi material that involved him creating a puppet to use to convince his teachers! He then talks about how he was completely self-taught after reading a couple of books and then putting himself out there and trying to get involved with effects-heavy film productions that were going on in London. He notes the influence of The Howling, how he got his first proper job after sculpting for Hellraiser, getting to see Rick Baker ply his trade on Greystoke: The Legend Of Tarzan, how he came to get the job working on Split Second as a way to get back in after taking a 'proper job,' having to get the effects done using a small team and a smaller budget, how there was minimal design work to work off of on the film, how he crafted some of the effects set pieces featured in the film, his very vague memories of the director, how effects technology has changed over the years, memories from the set and his feelings on the film all these years later (he doesn't speak too kindly about it even if he understands why people like it!).

    The last new interview is Shoot Everything!, which is a nineteen-minute interview with cinematographer Clive Tickner. In this segment we learn how he got into film after studying painting and sculpture and not being able to find work in that field. He took a one year film course after that and found work pretty quickly after meeting Peter Brook who was shooting Tell Me Lies. He then talks about honing his craft in documentary work, starting a company called AKA Films, working with Stephen Frears on Bloody Kids, other career highlights like Hidden Agenda, how he wound up getting assigned to work on Split Second and how much he hated spending the day up to his stomach in waders, what Hauer was like on set and the influence that he had on the finished film, how it was a grueling shoot that occasionally required working twenty-four-hours straight, intentionally keeping the creature hidden for most of the movie, working with Hauer again years later on Voyage where he got along fine with Hauer who was trying to 'out bad boy' Eric Robert and his thoughts on the movie, both good and bad.

    There’s also a wealth of archival material included here as well, beginning with the original Split Second Making Of Featurette from 1992. This six-minute feature includes interviews with Rutger Hauer, Kim Cattrall, Neil Duncan, Michael J. Pollard, Gary Scott Thompson, producer Laura Gregory, SFX guy Steve Norrington, production designer Chris Edwards. It’s basically and EPK but the vintage behind the scenes footage included here and interviews with a few people who aren’t in the other featurettes gives it plenty of value.

    The disc also contains an original 1992 behind the scenes featurette. There's no interview clips here, it's just footage of the cast and crew at work, but it's cool to see it and we get a look at some of the storyboards used on the shoot as well as a nice look at the sets used for the picture and some of the effects being worked on.

    MVD has also included the Japanese Cut of the film, which features just under five-minutes of footage exclusive to this version that isn’t seen in the theatrical cut. Presented from an analogue tape source, in a full frame aspect ratio with English language dialogue and burned-in Japanese subtitles, it isn’t very pretty but it’s great to have it included here. For those not motivated enough to watch a second version of the movie, you can watch the exclusive Japanese cut scenes on their own. Most of these scenes involve a woman named Robin (Roberta Eaton), who is Durkin’s girlfriend. Interesting to see this material!

    Rounding out the extras on the disc are seven short promotional TV clips, the U.S. VHS home video promo, the original theatrical trailer, bonus trailers for a few other MVD properties (Ironheart, Mikey, My Samurai and Nemesis), menus and chapter selection options.

    As to the packaging, MVD gives fans a reversible sleeve that features the original VHS art on one side and some newly commissioned artwork by The Dude Designs on the other side. Inside the case is a collectible mini-poster featuring the VHS artwork, and all of this fits nicely inside a slipcover featuring the new artwork.

    Split Second – The Final Word:

    Split Second is a lot of fun thanks mainly to Rutger Hauer’s unapologetically bad ass performance and a pretty solid supporting cast. It’s a schlocky B-picture that rightly puts entertainment front and center. MVD’s Blu-ray isn’t going to win transfer of the year but it looks pretty solid overall and the disc is absolutely stacked with extra features, making this one pretty much definitive.

    Click on the images below for full sized Split Second screen caps!

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Jack J's Avatar
      Jack J -
      It should be added that the MVD release is basically a USA version of 101's blu-ray set that came out in the UK recently.
      The contents of the two releases are exactly the same. The packading is slightly different, though.
      I received the UK set yesterday:

      It has a sturdy slipcover and a 32 page book.
      There's no poster and, I'm dissapointed to say, the cover art is the same on the slip and on the inner case.
      There is no alternative cover on the flipside of the inner cover.
      The set is a two disc set (I get the impression from the above that the US release is a one disc set)
    1. Darcy Parker's Avatar
      Darcy Parker -
      Anybody got a pen?
    1. Paul L's Avatar
      Paul L -
      Quote Originally Posted by Darcy Parker View Post
      Anybody got a pen?
      I've got some guns. Big fuggin' guns.