xXx: 15th Anniversary Edition - Blu-ray Review - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

 
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post #1 of 4 Old 01-19-17, 02:19 PM Thread Starter
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xXx: 15th Anniversary Edition - Blu-ray Review


Title: xXx: 15th Anniversary Edition

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Audio:
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HTS Overall Score:80



Summary
Has it really it been 15 years since “xXx” came out? I remember being between my sophomore and junior year of college when the movie came out and my friends and I just HAD to see it. This was back when Vin Diesel was the next big action star and he was dominating charts after “Pitch Black” and “The Fast and the Furious”. I can still recall thinking “xXx” wasn’t the GREATEST of his movies, but still having a great time. I wasn’t a huge fan of extreme sports, so the premise of an extreme sports James Bond wasn’t the pull for me that it had for my friends, but any excuse to watch a big muscled guy blow things up set to Rammstein and Disturbed was fine by me. I will say that this 15th anniversary edition gave me the perfect opportunity to open up my old 2006 Blu-ray edition to do some A/Bing for the review. What I found out was twofold. A) The difference between the old release and this one video was is quite an eye opener. And B) “xXx” has NOT aged as gracefully as I would have hoped.

Vin Diesel was still riding the high of “The Fast and the Furious” and “Pitch Black” in the summer of 2002. He could do no wrong so he chose the passion project of integrating the extreme sports that was so popular back in the early 2000s and a sort of hip James Bond in one film. Xander Cage (Diesel) is the bottom of the barrel in society. He’s a bit of a nut job who pulls Robin Hood like stunts on big name people and destroys their property in epic ways (like driving a sports car over a bridge and then parachuting off of it). Things change for the tattooed stunt man when he’s kidnapped by our good friends the U.S. government. Xander is given a choice. Accept the role of secret agent and get information for good old Uncle Sam, or go to Ft. Leavenworth for quite a few years.

Naturally Xander chooses the route of pure awesomeness. Go to an Eastern European hellhole and get information about Anarchy 99, a group of Russian mercenaries who have turned into terrorists in the modern age. Lorded over by Yorgi (Marton Csoskas), a crazed leader with dreams of 100% anarchy in the streets, Anarchy 99 is poised to deliver the goods in a big way. The only thing is that 007 with tattoos is about to open up a whole other world of hurt on the situation. That is until he gets involved with Yelena (Asia Argento) and finds out that not everyone in the organization is worth extermination by the good guys. Now he has to save the girl, get out alive AND get rid of a biological weapon that can destabilize the entire world if Yorgi has his way.

Blah blah, one liner, blah blah, boom, blah blah, rinse repeat. That’s pretty much the story of “xXx” right there in a nutshell. Rob Cohen and crew set out to create a newer, hipper, cooler James Bond for the 21st century, and what we got was “xXx”. I’m not sure he exactly got what he set out to make, but “xXx” is a horribly hilarious action movie that could only have been made at the turn of the century. Muscle cars, guns, hot women, bad one liners that feel like MST3K could have had a FIELD day with the script, and more high flying stunts than you can shake a stick at. Basically, it’s an excuse to play heavy metal music and mix in extreme sports with action (You actually have shots with Xander Cage doing a midair stunt on a dirt bike WHILE shooting a bad guy in the air!). I can’t say that it’s the best action movie, but it is probably one of the most hilarious macho man movies of the early 2000s.

With all that being said, I still had a wildly good time revisiting “xXx”. All of those negative cheesy moments are just as much positives as they were negatives. Guns, knives, hot babes, fast cars and heavy metal. What’s not to like? I fully admit that “xXx” has not aged well, but that’s part of the charm. I was grinning from ear to ear by the end of the 2 hour and 4 minute runtime and was begging for more. Especially with the third film in the franchise coming out this weekend after almost a decade of Vin Diesel begging the studios to let him make it.






Rating:

Rated PG-13 for violence, non-stop action sequences, sensuality, drug content and language





Video
“xXx” was one of the very first Blu-rays out on the market back in 2006, and the original Mpeg2 encoding on a BD-25 single layer disc was NOT kind to the movie. In fact, it was considered one of the worst entries that the format had, giving it a bit of a bad name (this and “Ultraviolet” were pretty bad for Blu-rays). With modern encoding techniques and the third movie on the horizon we naturally got a boost in the video quality department. Supposedly the film was scanned at 4K and then transferred to a 2K master, but the increase in quality from using a newer encode and utilizing a BD-50 dual layer disc really helped out a LOT. I would personally rate the 2006 Blu-ray at about 2/5 for picture quality (yeah it was bad), so the 4/5 I’m giving it here should let you know that the increase is definitely there. Colors are rich and well saturated, and the mushy gooshy softness that plagued the previous release is gone. There are some weird optical effects where things get soft for a moment here and there, but the details are crisp and the lack of any aliasing or macroblocking from an over compressed Mpeg2 release are not likely to be missed. Blacks are deep and inky, but I did notice some digital noise here and there along with a few wonky blacks that sometimes look purplish. It’s not as sharp and clean as 4K remastering with all the trimmings, but this new encode is light years better than the crummy release we got 11 years ago (was it really that long ago?).






Audio
While the video was given a new encode, the mix for “xXx” appears to be the exact same track as the original release, but instead of 5.1 LPCM, it’s been re-encoded into the standardized DTS-HD MA 5.1 format. Same candy, just a different wrapper, so to speak. That is in no way a negative point though, as the 5.1 track was and is a killer mix. Guns, knives, explosions, Vin Diesel’s grating voice oh my. Things go boom here and they go boom quite frequently. The surrounds are rocking with all sorts of crazy extreme sports activity, as well as the all famous avalanche at the end of the film (well, along with lots and lots of bullets whizzing by overhead). LFE is deep and powerful, giving a throaty roar to the car engines and booms that are littered around the few words that are actually spoken beyond one liners. It’s a fantastic action track, and I still love the cheesy early 2000 inspired heavy metal track as it lights up all 6 speakers with a ferocious bellow.






Extras

• "Origins of A Renegade" Featurette.
• Deleted Scenes
• 10 Featurettes
• Audio Commentary
• Multiple Music Videos









Overall:

Most people who want to see “xXx” have already seen it. The movie was a staple part of my college years where we spent too much money on horrible beer and watched Vin Diesel, Wesley Snipes and Van Damme blow things up. Fast forward 15 years later and I have to admit that “xXx” has not aged as gracefully as I would have hoped. I have to look back at my 20-year-old self and wonder just WHY I thought this was one of the coolest things I had ever seen. Still, it’s a hilariously bad action flick, and with that territory comes a sort of cheesy fun that is definitely more than enjoyable. Knock back a few cold ones, grab a bucket of popcorn and set the home theater to overdrive, cuz xXx is back in town, and just in time for a new film in the franchise too. Still recommended as a stupidly fun watch.


Additional Information:

Starring: Vin Diesel, Samuel L. Jackson, Asia Argento
Directed by: Rob Cohen
Written by: Rich Wilkes
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Czech, French, French Canadian, German, Hungarian, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai DD 5.1
Studio: Sony
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 124 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: January 10th 2017



Buy xXx: 15th Anniversary Edition On Blu-ray at Amazon




Recommendation: Stupid Fun Watch


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post #2 of 4 Old 01-19-17, 05:51 PM
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Re: xXx: 15th Anniversary Edition - Blu-ray Review

Guilty Pleasure Much??? lol I am right there with you. It was a terrible movie when I saw it back 15 years ago, but it was just a whole lot of stupid fun. I remember watching it in theaters, buying the DVD, then buying the Superbit. So I have seen the movie a few times now. Thankfully I did not pick up the original blu-ray version, since I remember the video transfer being rated pretty low even at that time with only a handful of titles out at that time. So I'm wondering if a triple dip is warranted for this terrible guilty pleasure... I've not seen the film since the Superbit version was released, so I wonder if it will still hold up for me. Hmmm.

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post #3 of 4 Old 01-22-17, 01:02 PM Thread Starter
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Re: xXx: 15th Anniversary Edition - Blu-ray Review

Quote:
Jon Liu wrote: View Post
Guilty Pleasure Much??? lol I am right there with you. It was a terrible movie when I saw it back 15 years ago, but it was just a whole lot of stupid fun. I remember watching it in theaters, buying the DVD, then buying the Superbit. So I have seen the movie a few times now. Thankfully I did not pick up the original blu-ray version, since I remember the video transfer being rated pretty low even at that time with only a handful of titles out at that time. So I'm wondering if a triple dip is warranted for this terrible guilty pleasure... I've not seen the film since the Superbit version was released, so I wonder if it will still hold up for me. Hmmm.
yeah, it was a TOTAL guilty pleasure. However, I still wanna see the new one ... and you didn't miss much with the original Blu. barely better than the superbit. This one is a significant improvement
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post #4 of 4 Old 01-25-17, 09:44 AM
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Re: xXx: 15th Anniversary Edition - Blu-ray Review

Thanks for the review and for the tips. Now? More about me!...
I'm very pleased with my BD player's upscaling performance, so I could just watch my DVD copy. But I like turn-up-the-sound-and-turn-off-your-brain action movies enough to buy it again, especially if it's much improved. Sold! (and thanks again)

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