The Tenth Victim
Sci-Fi / Action / Comedy
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THE ORIGINAL SEXY '60s CULT CLASSIC IS BACK! It is the 21st Century, and society's lust for violence is satisfied by “The Big Hunt,” an international game of legalized murder. But when the sport's two top assassins (Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress) are pitted against each other, they find that love is the most dangerous game of all. As the world watches, the hunt is on. Who will become THE 10TH VICTIM? THE 10TH VICTIM is the international cult classic whose wild action and sexy style has influenced a generation of movies, from THE RUNNING MAN to the AUSTIN POWERS series. Remastered from original archival negative materials, this outrageous satire is presented here in its original Italian language with optional English subtitles.
"An Inventive, Witty Sci-fi Extravaganza!" --Pauline Kael, The New Yorker
"An Unhinged Chunk Of Satirical Sci-Fi Kitsch!" --Mondo Digital
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Ursula Andress (at the peak of her beauty and animal sensuality) and Marcello Mastroianni (the epitome of jaded cool) play hunter and victim, respectively, both vying for a million-dollar prize if one can murder the other, and each also lining up a corporate sponsor who will pay out if the killing can be timed to happen during a live commercial for their product. But love, of all things, intervenes (not to mention his ex-wife and mistress), seriously complicating their cat-and-mouse game of death. Along the way we are treated to some great futuristic pop-art set designs and decor, terrific, catchy Eurojazz soundtrack, and breezy satire of the media, society's fetishization of violence, religion, marriage and divorce, Bondian intrigue, television, and shameless, opportunistic corporate advertising. Several future fads are accurately predicted, including robotic pets and tawdry reality TV shows, and a number of elements from the film are recognizable as being "borrowed" by Mike Myers for the Austin Powers movies, most notably Andress's ballistic bikini top.
I have found that The 10th Victim actually improves with each viewing, as each time I pick up on more details or bits of dialogue that had previously escaped me. *Spoiler Alert* The only disappointing aspect of the film, in my opinion, is the "comic," slapstick ending tacked on at the insistence of American distributor Joseph E. Levine. I'm about 99% sure that the movie is really supposed to end just after Mastroianni shoots Andress, but Levine apparently considered that ending too downbeat. It's pretty obvious that the final scenes amid some ruins and on an airplane were added after the fact as they are completely at odds with the tone of the rest of the movie and attempt to provide the film with a wacky, screwball "happy ending." But other than the denouement ringing false, the film is nearly perfectly realized.
When I heard that Blue Underground was releasing this on Blu-ray I wondered if it would really be worth the price of an upgrade. Thankfully, the answer is a resounding "yes!" The brightness, color saturation and balance, sharpness, and detail are vastly improved over the Anchor Bay DVD. While the word "revelation" gets thrown around perhaps a bit too freely when describing Blu-rays in comparison with their previous DVD incarnations, in this case it is apropos. The BU transfer makes the Anchor Bay disc look positively sick in comparison--dark and muddy, with faded, poorly balanced color and mushy detail. The difference here is literally like night and day; it's astounding how much better the Blu-ray looks when compared side-by-side with the DVD. The 1080p transfer does bring out the grain a bit, but never to the point of distraction. Fleshtones are natural, detail is crisp, and the muted hues of the Anchor DVD give way to sizzling, neon-vivid greens, yellows, and fuchsias. If you are a big fan of this movie, you really need to upgrade to the Blu-ray; it's almost like seeing the film again for the first time, and easily the biggest improvement in a Blu-ray over a previous DVD release I have yet seen. (Note that Blue Underground's 2009 DVD release is merely a repackage of the Anchor Bay edition, so the Blu-ray is the only way to see the much-improved remaster.)
Blue Underground also up the ante with some enticing supplements, including a somewhat washed-out U.K. release trailer (1:47), which is the same one as on the Anchor DVD, and a superior, gorgeous-looking Italian trailer (2:31), with English subtitles, that actually gives you a much better idea of what the movie's about than the rather inscrutable U.K. trailer (both are presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen). A gallery of stills, posters, and pressbook art and a Mastroianni still gallery are also present, as well as an hour-and-a-half documentary on Mastroianni (which I haven't watched yet). But even without these extras, the far superior transfer makes this a more than worthy upgrade. If you love this film as much as I do, I guarantee you will be delighted.
It isn't interesting, it isn't engaging and it isn't remotely frightening, it isn't Futuristic, it isn't sci-fi, and it isn't a dark comedy.
It was almost thirty years before I actually saw it, and I found it to be, in spite of all those film school reviewers who think it is brilliant, one of the worst and most boring movies ever made.
As for the Blu-ray, the film has never looked or sounded better. It's almost like seeing the film for the first time. Bonus features include two trailers, stills and poster gallery, and a second film (the feature-length documentary about the film's leading man, Marcello Mastroianni, MARCELLO: A SWEET LIFE). The only quibble about the Blu-ray is that there must have been a slight problem with either the source material or the transfer process. One sequence has a tight shot of a gun aimed right at the camera. When the trigger is pulled the gun makes a "popping" sound as a bouquet of flowers pop out and fill the screen. While the scene plays correctly on both DVD versions, on the Blu-ray the close-up of the gun uses a freeze frame for some reason. We hear the pop and, after a brief pause, the film resumes and the flowers rush out. There should be no delay between the popping sound and the flowers popping out. Why this sequence is presented properly on the DVDs but not on Blu-ray is unexplainable and inexcusable. Were it not for this oversight, I would have readily given this five stars instead of four.