Renegade (Blueberry: L'expérience secrète) (2004)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 23-Aug-2006

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure Main Menu Audio & Animation
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 123:55 (Case: 89)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Jan Kounen
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Vincent Cassel
Juliette Lewis
Michael Madsen
Temuera Morrison
Ernest Borgnine
Djimon Hounsou
Hugh O'Conor
Geoffrey Lewis
Nichole Hiltz
Kateri Walker
Vahina Giocante
Kestenbetsa
Tchéky Karyo
Case ?
RPI $9.95 Music Jean-Jacques Hertz
François Roy


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

The Good

Renegade (2004) is an ambitious film which is a descendant of Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man (1995) and incidental of the acid western but visually it is chaotic and somewhat in the vain of Terry Gilliam's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) due to the strong depiction of shamanism. Renegade, which is also known in Europe as Blueberry: L'expérience secrète (2004), is 'loosely' based on a French comic strip titled Blueberry by Jean-Michel Charlier and Jean "Moebius" Giraud. The award wining comic strip chronicles the adventures of Mike Blueberry, a Lieutenant in the United States Cavalry shortly after the American Civil War.

The eclectic cast of the film is one of the positive reasons to view this film. The character of Blueberry is inhabited by Vincent Cassel and he brings an eccentricity to the role of the US Marshall. What is interesting about the characterisation of Blueberry is as a youth he is adopted by Chiricahua Indians and initiated into their rituals and way of life. As an adult he is a small-town sheriff and exists between the two worlds which remain divided from one another. Juliette Lewis is Maria, a young woman besotted with Blueberry. Lewis's real life father Geoffrey Lewis plays Maria's father Sullivan, the patriarchal figure of the town. Character actor Colm Meaney is McClure, Blueberry's hard drinking Deputy. Michael Madsen is Wallace Sebastian Blount, a man who haunts Blueberry, as Blount is responsible for the death of a girl in Blueberry's youth. Blount is once again pitted against Blueberry as he wants to find gold in Indian Territory. Eddie Izzard is Prosit, a double crossing Prussian geologist also in search of gold in the Indian mountains. Prosit's partner in crime is Woodhead played by Djimon Hounsou. The cast also includes cameos by Ernest Borgnine as Rolling Star, Tchéky Karyo as Blueberry's Uncle and Temuera Morrison as Blueberry's Indian Brother.

The Bad

Unfortunately, besides the international cast the film has a script which owes more to B grade sci-fi than the western genre. It is a shame as the source material itself is intelligent material focused on the conflict between violence and serenity, nature and society and the strong who are indebted to defend the helpless. Instead Danish director Jan Kounen has opted to create a cryptic tale of shamanism. As the film begins a chant is heard over the opening credits and we see an adult Blueberry leaning against a cave wall, near death. This dying character effetely says "I... see... the kid... I was". From this first scene the audience understands what we are seeing is Blueberry's story told in the language of the dead, a story told in tongues. Consequently the narrative is convoluted and the images are hallucinogenic. It is a mystical world and as an audience we can only immerse ourselves in the beautiful imagery and incoherence but we cannot question it nor understand it. I can appreciate creativity but with no foundation and strength of character the film seems hopelessly flawed. Renegade is also provocative for no reason other than to be innovative and challenging. The film isn't necessarily awful - it has its moments of style and intelligence but then becomes a complicated mess, lost in its own significance. Nevertheless, it is an appealing film and should be viewed by those who have an interest in the thematic concerns.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

The Ugly

The transfer is unfortunately not one to recommend. Tetsuo Nagata's lush cinematography is sadly limited to a non 16x9 enhanced 2.35:1 widescreen. Secondly, the transfer is heavily marred by MPEG artefacts as the 2 hour (123:55) film has been compressed to fit a single layer DVD. Consequently, the transfer has been encoded at the low bit rate of 3.87 Mbps and there is reduced sharpness in the image. The poor DVD mastering process is also the cause of meagre black levels and as the film is mostly set at night it is very hard to actually interpret what is happening onscreen. The colours remain clear and distinct but the overall image quality is undefined and hazy. Another issue is that the film is composed of English, German, French and Spanish dialogue and the original English subtitles for the various scenes appear on a forced subtitle stream which is bright yellow and appears low on the image. These subtitles cannot be removed.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

Thankfully the original soundtrack is on hand and not the dubbed soundtrack which has 'apparently' marred the R1 release. Although the menu lists the soundtrack as English Dolby Digital 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 2.0, it is in fact the original English/French/Spanish soundtrack. The soundtrack is most encompassing during the volatile action scenes and remains subtle during the dialogue scenes. Subwoofer usage is minimal. The soundtrack composed by Jean-Jacques Hertz and François Roy is well suited to Jan Kounen's original vision. It is largely guitar based and but also employs the use of atmospheric synthesizers.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio & Animation

The Main Menu is very well themed to the concerns of the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

R1 America - (Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment)

R2 CE France - (Warner Bros Home Entertainment)

Summary

A peculiar film which has its moments of greatness but is unfortunately a disappointing film as a whole. It should be noted that the film begins with the unusual title card 'A Jan Kounen Session' rather than 'A Jan Kounen Film.' With such a knowing credit the film is to be interpreted as a trip, an experience, rather than a conventional western. The local release is sub-standard.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Vanessa Appassamy (Biography)
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1910, using DVI output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE 700. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha DSP-A595a - 5.1 DTS
Speakers(Front) DB Dynamics Polaris AC688F loudspeakers,(Centre) DB Dynamics Polaris Mk3 Model CC030,(Rear) Polaris Mk3 Model SSD425,(Subwoofer) Jensen JPS12

Other Reviews
Michael D's Region 4 DVD Info Page - jeffreytaos

Comments (Add)
i liked it - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
One Of The Best And most Misunderstood - Anonymously REPLY POSTED