UNDERWORLD [2003 / 2016] [Unrated Extended Cut] [Blu-ray + Digital HD] An Immortal Battle For Supremacy! When The Battle Begins, Which Side Will You Choose!
In the Underworld, Vampires are a secret clan of modern aristocratic sophisticates whose mortal enemies are the Lycans (werewolves), a shrewd gang of street thugs who prowl the city's underbelly. No one knows the origin of their bitter blood feud, but the balance of power between them turns even bloodier when a beautiful young Vampire warrior and a newly-turned Lycan with a mysterious past fall in love. Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman star in this modern-day, action-packed tale of ruthless intrigue and forbidden passion and all set against the dazzling backdrop of a timeless, Gothic metropolis.
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Michael Sheen, Shane Brolly, Bill Nighy, Erwin Leder, Sophia Myles, Robbie Gee, Wentworth Miller, Kevin Grevioux, Zita Görög, Dennis J. Kozeluh, Scott McElroy, Todd Schneider, Sándor Bolla, Hank Amos, Zsuzsa Barsi, Richard Cetrone, Mike Mukatis, Sándor Boros, János Oláh, Andreas Patton, Danny McBride, Jázmin Dammak, Atilla Pinke Judit Kuchta, Vanessa Nagy, Ildikó Kovács, Pierre Peters-Arnolds, Ekkehardt Belle, Claus Brockmeyer, Reinhard Brock, Pascal Breuer, Kathrin Gaube, Madeleine Stolze, Brian Steele, Kurt Carley, Rana Morrison (uncredited) and Zoltan Papp (uncredited)
Director: Len Wiseman
Producers: Danny McBride, Gary Lucchesi, Henry Winterstern, James McQuaide, Kevin Grevioux, Richard S. Wright, Robert Bernacchi, Skip Williamson, Terry McKay and Tom Rosenberg
Screenplay: Danny McBride (story/screenplay), Kevin Grevioux (story) and Len Wiseman (story)
Composer: Paul Haslinger
Cinematography: Tony Pierce-Roberts, B.S.C.
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 [Anamorphic]
Audio: English: 5.1 LPCM [Uncompressed], English: 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround, French: 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround, Italian: 5.1 LPCM [Uncompressed], Italian: 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround and English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French and Italian
Running Time: 133 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Lakeshore Entertainment / Screen Gems / Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘UNDERWORLD’  is a fantastic over the top slick presentation with a hint of a sci-fi action packed Vampires Vs Werewolves franchise brilliant film. In the shadows of the real world, war rages between the aristocratic neck-biters and the losing Lycans. But leather-clad warrior vamp Selene [Kate Beckinsale] suspects the furry fighters may battle back, and defies coven creep Kraven [Shane Brolly] to pursue the apparently harmless human Michael [Scott Speedman] she believes is involved.
At the start of the film we are informed “The war had all but ground to a halt in the blink of an eye. Lucian, the most feared and ruthless leader ever to rule the Lycan clan, had finally been killed. The Lycan horde scattered to the wind in a single evening of flame and retribution. Victory, it seemed, was in our grasp, the very birth right of the vampires. Nearly six centuries had passed since that night, yet the ancient feud proved unwilling to follow Lucian to the grave. Though Lycans were fewer in number, the war itself had become more perilous, for the moon no longer held her sway. Older, more powerful Lycans, were now able to change at will. The weapons had evolved, but our orders remained the same: Hunt them down and kill them off, one by one.” And so we begin the story of ‘UNDERWORLD’ which is a surprisingly-good horror action adventure romp, where vampires battle for werewolves for survival in a centuries-long war.
‘UNDERWORLD’ was the first of four films so far in this franchise series. The first film was a joint British-German-Hungarian-US production with a mostly British cast. The setting is not said throughout the film, but it is pretty obvious it is Hungary and nearby Eastern European countries. This is probably the best in the series, but the next two films are equally great as well. Only the fourth tended to slightly lets it down but I will talk about that in future ‘Underworld’ franchise film Blu-ray reviews. Throughout the ‘UNDERWORLD’ film we are introduced to very interesting characters and despite criticism of the film that I have read, I think the story is character-driven despite a hell of a lot of visually-exciting action. It is an action film but the action isn’t what makes it great, it is the screenplay and the characters we view throughout the film.
There is plenty of plot throughout the film, especially with the roots of the war scenario, cross-breeding, and vampire elder Viktor [Bill Nighy] but it's too complicated to unravel here. Attempting to explain the environment and undead genealogy, the makers offer an interesting new angle on old age myths, though the information-overload begs questions: Why do elders hibernate? What's wolf-warrior Lucian [Michael Sheen] been doing for 500 years and especially waxing his claws?
Of all the films about vampires, werewolves, or vampires versus werewolves, I suppose ‘UNDERWORLD’ is one of the better ones. Without much regard for the story, but it definitely has an incredible passion throughout the film. The Set Decoration production by Malcolm Stone and Costume Design values by Wendy Partridge were clearly a labour of love. Considering the basis for the story is definitely a Gothic reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It is also has a really fantastic and an enjoyable adventure in exploring an alternative reality world and especially a blend of gunmetal glamour of gloomy Gothicism gives the ‘UNDERWORLD’ film that absolutely beautiful to view we so admire with this film. Director Len Wiseman has a background in the art department and although dress sense and sets are styled or stolen from other successful sci-fi series like ‘Blade’ and ‘The Matrix’ most blatantly, Len Wiseman slides from scene to scene with an arresting comic book style performance that we greatly admire.
‘UNDERWORLD’ is really exciting, engaging and totally perfect in my opinion and also to the massive amount of fans out there that love and admire this film. Of course the best moments come from stunning cinematography and set design that looks so good and stunning that I cannot recommend it enough. Director Len Wisemen knows what he was doing in making this film, and what's more does it on a comparatively small budget; especially with the totally brilliant fight scenes in the sewers are totally ground-breaking. And if you are looking for some fun in a dark disturbed world of a gothic scenario, heavy metal loving gods, and then this film ‘UNDERWORLD’ definitely delivers 100%.
UNDERWORLD MUSIC TRACK LISTING:
AWAKENING [Performed by The Damning Well: featuring Wes Borland, Richard Patrick, Josh Freese and Danny Lohner]
REV 22:20 [Performed by Puscifer: featuring Danny Lohner]
THROWING PUNCHES [Performed by Page Hamilton]
ROCKET COLLECTING [Performed by Milla Jovovich and Danny Lohner]
NOW I KNOW [Performed by Renholdër and Amy Lee]
BRING ME THE DISCO KING (Danny Lohner Mix) [Performed by David Bowie: featuring Maynard James Keenan and John Frusciante]
OPTIMISSED [Performed by Skinny Puppy]
DOWN IN THE LAB [Performed by Renholdër and Amy Lee]
JUDITH (Renholdër Mix) [Performed by A Perfect Circle]
SUICIDE NOTE [Performed by Johnette Napolitano]
BABY’S FIRST COFFIN [Performed by The Dillinger Escape Plan]
HOVER (Quiet Mix) [Performed by Trust Company]
FALLING THROUGH THE SKY [Performed by Renholdër]
WEAK AND POWERLESS (Tilling My Grave Mix) [Performed by A Perfect Circle]
WORMS OF THE EARTH [Performed by Finch]
FROM A SHELL [Performed by Lisa Germano]
DEATH DEALER’S DESCENT [Performed by Renholdër and Amy Lee]
ON THE LASH [Performed by The Icarus Line]
ALL OF THIS PAST [Performed by Sarah Bettens]
Blu-ray Video Quality – Sony Pictures Home Entertainment have brought us the ultimate 1080p encoded image. This Blu-ray disc brings you great reference image transfer that really gives you a near 4K quality image. Practically continuous sharp images with excellent inspirational quality detail. Despite the consistently dark shots, always gives you a feel of a three-dimensional image resolution that is spot on. On top of all that you get totally perfect contrast throughout the film. Also the colour palette throughout the film is totally excellent and the picture exhibits a level of stability that rivals the ultimate image transfer on the market. What is also impressive is the fine details of objects that are totally astounding at times, especially the bristled hairs on the back of the actor's neck, tiny chips in a werewolf's claws, and brickwork on distant buildings all provide a brilliant surreal level of clarity that occasionally makes the picture quality gives you a near 4K high-definition demonstration material.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – Sony Pictures Home Entertainment brings you this ‘UNDERWORLD’ Unrated Extended Cut Blu-ray disc in a totally mind blowing 5.1 LPCM [Uncompressed] audio experience that is by far the best audio presentation I have heard in a very long time, that is definitely an audio reference title that we experienced on the original DVD release for its sound audio mix and this upgraded Blu-ray title continues the tradition of giving us the ultimate audio enhanced sound experience, which is totally fantastic and also giving us a very aggressive performance, particularly in the action sequences throughout the film that gives all of your loudspeakers lots of amazing booming sound effects that never overloads the speakers. Even with the violent shoot outs, there is more than enough in this film that locates the sounds precisely with all of your speakers. Atmospherically, the sound mix scores 100% with its perfectly converted soundscapes, which through discreetly used surround effects puts the viewer centre of the world of the vampires and werewolves that creates an amazing and wholly convincing sound field that is totally accurate and spot on. The surround channels movement is totally natural, and conversations are nicely natural to give a really nice acoustic atmosphere all round. So all in all, fans who owned any of the previous inferior DVD edition releases will be extremely pleased with this ultimate upgrade and especially a must purchasing of this 2016 Blu-ray release if you want to get the ultimate visual and surround sound experience.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Audio commentary with Director Len Wiseman and Actors Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman: This is a brand new recorded commentary from director Len Wiseman, actress Kate Beckinsale and actor Scott Speedman. Len Wiseman, Kate Beckinsale, and Scott Speedman are viewing the new Unrated Extended Cut of the film, but what really annoyed me about this audio commentary is that I had to crank up the sound quite a lot, to get some idea whatever they were talking about certain things about the film. The director Len Wiseman makes a point to note that this is not a "Director's Cut" of the film, but simply a reworked cut of the film that includes some moments that were cut from the previous original film release due to pacing reasons. When you get to the scene with the shoot out on the Underground station, you see Kate Beckinsale pick up the digital camera, but then point out when Kate Beckinsale jumps out of the door at the end of the underground train, the digital camera is nowhere to be seen. When we get to see Kate Beckinsale enters the apartment of Scott Speedman, the number on the door is 510, well they point out is all types of films that shows doors, they usually have a combination of the numbers with the figure number 5, but point out they do this because they do not want to use other numbers for apartments, so they do not relate to a real person’s apartment. I found at times comments by Scott Speedman to be totally vacuous and most of the time does not seem to know what is going on in the film, so cannot understand why they had him there for the audio commentary, as it was totally pointless with his pathetic comments. Also I also found most of the time the comments by Len Wiseman and Kate Beckinsale also vacuous at times while Scott Speedman was there. Actor Scott Speedman had to leave the recording session about 73 minutes into the film as he had to rush off for an audition for a film he was to appear in that was set in Paris, but we are not informed of the Title of the film, and so the audio commentary between Len Wiseman and Kate Beckinsale continued but when there is just the two of them, the audio commentary started to improve slightly, but only slightly. But to my mind, most of the time all three of them talk about nothing in general and also nothing of great interest and also has to be one of the worst audio commentary I have ever heard, and what makes if worst is I have read other reviews of this particular audio commentary, saying it was totally hilarious and extremely funny, well those particular reviewers must have been watching another audio commentary, but not this one and as far as I am concerned this definitely get a one star rating.
Special Feature: Outtakes  [480i] [1.33:1] [3:43] With these typical “outtakes,” they are really nothing more than a glorified gag reel of goof ups, bloopers and you even get to see a Lycan do a silly dance routine. We unfortunately get to see poor Brad Martin [Stunt Coordinator] slip while carrying the step ladder, I do hope he didn’t hurt himself too much. In the background in some of the “outtakes” you get to hear the following music tracks, which consist of ROCKSTAR [Composed and Performed by Mark David & William Tabanou of NBS] and RED TAPE [Performed by Agent Provocateur].
Special Feature: Featurettes [2003 / 2004] [480i] [1.33:1] [1:13:38] Here we have a brilliant selection of Seven individual supplement special features and they are as follows:
01. Special Feature: Fang Vs. Fiction  [480i] [1.33:1] [47:18] Here we have a documentary exploring the mythology and lore of vampires and werewolves throughout history. Using clips from classic horror films and contemporary interviews, this in-depth cable-TV documentary tries to separate truth from fable in discussing vampires and werewolves. This documentary also looks into the myths behind werewolves and vampires, mixing in occasional film footage with interviews with knowledgeable experts on the subject. It's an interesting, generally well-done look at some of the possibilities behind the creatures. Contributors include: Tatyana Yassukovich (Narrator), J. Gordon Melton (Author: Vampire Book: The Encyclopaedia of the Undead), Daniel Cohen (Author: Werewolves), Brad Steiger (Author: The Werewolf Book), Katherine Ramsland (Author: The Science of Vampires), Nicolae Paduraru (Head of the Transylvanian Society of Dracula), Gypsy Zanval (Lycanthrope), David Farrant (British Psychic and Occult Society), Kalila Smith (Author: Journey Into Darkness), Freddie Salazar (Boat Captain of Cajun Pride Swamp Tours), Linda S. Godfrey (Author: The Beast of Bray Road), Crudelia (Vampire) and Morditha Kalavera (Vampire).
02. Special Feature: The Making of ‘UNDERWORLD’  [480i] [1.33:1] [13:02] This feature introduces the film with a lot of talking heads and footage from the feeling of the film to the script and production. This one is kind of basic, but essential if you love the film ‘UNDERWORLD’ and of course have not seen this extra yet on the previous Blu-ray releases. Everyone in this extra that talks seems to thinks this one is slick and interesting and as a massive fan of this film I would totally have to agree. Contributors include: Kate Beckinsale [Selene], Len Wiseamn [Director], Richard Wright [Producer], Bill Nighy [Viktor], Scott Speedman [Michael], Shane Brolly [Kraven], Kevin Grevioux [Raze/Co-Writer], Erwin Leder [Singe], Michael Sheen [Lucian], Danny McBride [Screenwriter], Sophie Myles [Erika], Guy Himber [Patrick Tatopoulos Designs, Inc.], Scott McElroy [Soren/Assistant Stunt Coordinator], Brad Martin [Stunt Coordinator] and Gary Lucchesi [Film Producer].
03. Special Feature: The Visual Effects of ‘UNDERWORLD’  [480i] [1.33:1] [9:56] This feature is all about the CGI world and also exploring and explaining in-depth about what goes into the CGI computer generated visual effects employed in the film. I very much liked how they showed that one of the car flips into the water was actually a model and other special effects that you do not realise they were such effects. Contributors include: James McQuaide [Executive producer/VFX Supervisor], Payam Shohadai [VFX Supervisor/Owner of Luma Pictures] and Martin Hunter [Film Editor].
04. Special Feature: Creature Effects  [480i] [1.33:1] [12:30] This feature is all about the in-depth look at the detail, design, movement and intricacy of the creatures on display, namely the werewolves. It was really interesting to see the moulds being made to make the said werewolf suits the stunt artists have to wear, especially with their running blades. Contributors include: Patrick Tatopoulos [Creature/Production Designer], Len Wiseman [Director], Danny McBride [Screenwriter], Guy Himber [Creature FX Supervisor], Steve Wang [Creature FX Art Director], Gabe Bartalos [Lab Technician Supervisor] and Bill Nighy [Viktor].
05. Special Feature: Stunts  [480i] [1.33:1] [11:43] This feature is all about the amazing stunts you get to see in the film ‘UNDERWORLD.’ The stunt coordinator Brad Martin talks extensively on how he wanted the stunts to look good in the film. The director Len Wiseman said he shot things the way they were drawn in the storyboards. We get to see Kate Beckinsale doing a lot of stunt wire work practice which was quite interesting to view. Contributors include: Brad Martin [Stunt Coordinator], Len Wiseman [Director], Kate Beckinsale [Selene], Scott McElroy [Assistant Stunt Coordinator], Richard Wright [producer], Danny McBride [Screenwriter], Michael Sheen [Lucian], Scott Speedman [Michael] and Bill Nighy [Viktor].
06. Special Feature: Designing ‘UNDERWORLD’  [480i] [1.33:1] [10:46] This feature goes into great detail on what they based the look of the film ‘UNDERWORLD’ and especially the locations chosen by the director Len Wiseman to be filmed in that he specifically wanted the film to have that authentic look where vampires and werewolves would reside, the actual locations were in Budapest, Hungary, Gozsdu udvar, Budapest, Hungary, Budapest Subway, Budapest, Hungary and Mafilm, Budapest, Hungary. Contributors include: Bruton Jones [Film Art Director/Production Designer/Conceptual Artist] and Len Wiseman [Director].
06. Special Feature: The Look of ‘UNDERWORLD’  [480i] [1.33:1] [19:12] This feature explores the cinematography of the film ‘UNDERWORLD’ and the post production process that wanted to try and give the film that unique, gritty, graphic novel realistic look as possible. Len Wiseman also wanted to not have any scenes that had supermarkets or see a gas station where people are filling their cars with petrol, as it would not have been very cool, as it does not really exist in the real Underworld scenario. Also Len Wiseman points out that when it comes to the telephone, you will of course see no modern digital phone, it has to be the old fashioned type of telephone. On top of all that, Len Wiseman could not make the film with celluloid film, but had to be filmed with the digital format camera, as the director wanted to achieve a washed out look, especially relating to the world of the vampires and werewolves, and especially the fact that Len Wiseman hated the thought of the film being made in colour. Contributors include: Richard Wright [Producer], Tony Pierce-Roberts [Cinematographer] and James McQuaid [Visual Effects Supervisor/Co-Executive Producer].
07. Special Feature: Sights and Sounds  [480i] [1.33:1] [9:07] Here with this final feature we have a great deal of behind-the-scenes clips from the actual filming of ‘UNDERWORLD’ and the in-depth preparation to seeing the laughter and good times had by all on the film set. Unfortunately once again we get to see poor Brad Martin [Stunt Coordinator] slip while carrying the step ladder, sadly we do not find out if he hurt himself too much.
Special Feature: Music Video: Worms of Earth by Finch  [480i] [1.33:1] [2:45] This music video of the song called “Worms of the Earth” by Finch is complete with footage from the film. The song in my opinion is something that is well over the top and definitely over rated, which you may enjoy or hate and it is entirely up to you to choose. To my mind, if this was the best group available at the time for the video shoot, so why is it I have never heard of them or if they had any more hits in the future?
Special Feature: Storyboard Comparison  [480i] [1.33:1] [6:42] Here we have a side-by-side comparison of a few key scenes with their original storyboard sketches. If you’re interested in sketches of this calibre, then this one is for you. What you get to view is that at the top of the screen is the black-and-white storyboard images and below it you get view scenes from the actual film and in that way you can compare the two images on view.
Finally, ‘UNDERWORLD’  is a totally wonderfully over the top and its caveats remains so totally engrossing, and totally compelling at the same time, especially with the very dramatic spooky atmosphere, enthusiastic action packed film that never gets boring, and at the same time maintains a mysterious watch ability, and has now become a totally unabashed scary cult classic. The last act sees the film finally living up to its potential and finding out whether Michael can survive being bitten by both a werewolf and a vampire, in finding out if he will be turning into a superior hybrid. The final battle scenes are genuinely thrilling, and the conclusion is very satisfying, which of course leads us to leaving the door wide open for a definite sequel, which of course makes the prospect of a sequel totally tantalising that eventually came to fruition and I cannot wait to review the other Blu-ray disc Vampires Vs Werewolves franchise. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado
Le Cinema Paradiso