HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:69
Asian martial arts/action movies with White actors in them have been around for ages in American cinema. We’ve seen it with “The Forbidden Kingdom” and countless others, although few of them fall into the DTV category as it’s hard to blend the two genres considering the budget needed for a good Asian action movie. Still, it seems that it can be done if you infuse it with the power of Nick Cage and some decent use of quick cuts. I’m a firm believer in the world of DTV, as many times you can find some awesome action gems that get lost along the way, although you DO have to wade through the muck and the mire to find said gems. “Outcast” fails to be a hidden gem, but it’s not a totally awful piece of garbage either, somehow managing to hover in between the two extremes with a surprisingly palpable tale to boot.
Gallain (Nick Cage) and Jacob (Hayden Christensen) are two knights in the crusades who end up getting disillusioned with the blood and hardships that a brutal war imposes on a man’s soul. Gallain decides to go awol and abandon the fighting after watching a butchering of Arabic innocents under the brutal command of Jacob. Jumping ahead in time we shift focus to the East, where another war is brewing in the Chinese empire. The king is dying and bequeaths his rule to his youngest son, a boy of 14. This does not go over very well with his oldest son, Shing (Andy On), who is furious at spending his whole life waiting for the throne, only to have it stripped from him. Killing his father, Shing sends his black guards after the boy and his sister (played by Yifei Liu).
On the road, the children as easy targets, but soon are rescued by a reluctant, and opium drugged out Jacob. It seems that Jacob has spent the years after the war wallowing in booze and opium in the Far East, only to have one more chance at redemption. Upon realizing that he can gain a reward for the prince and princesses safe passage, he decides that he might as well accompany them as their bodyguard. Dodging the usurping Shing’s black guards turns out harder than he thought it would be and strangely enough Jacob feels a piece of himself stir that hasn’t in some time. Tracked to the point of no death, Jacob and the children find refuge in a band of outlaws, led by the mysterious “White Wolf” (and we can all guess who that other white man is). Now Gallain and Jacob have a chance to redeem part of themselves, a piece of their souls that was lost those years ago in the battles over Jerusalem.
Admittedly, “Outcast” isn’t a great movie. In fact it’s not even a really good movie, as it stars Hayden Christensen. An actor who’s more wooden than the fighting dummies that Donnie Yen practices on in “Ip Man”. His mumbling knows no bounds and we all struggle to hear the dialog that fumbles off of his pouty lips. The dialogue is poorly written and the acting is done mostly by subpar actors and stunt men who are given a few lines to speak. The saving grace for this movie comes in the form of Nick Cage hamming it up like no other and some pretty decent fight choreography. Most action/martial arts movies these days are hacked up by quick cuts and herky jerky camera work, and this one is really no different. There’s plenty of quick cuts, but the herky jerky motions have been kept to a minimum and the amount of quick cuts is decidedly less than others of its ilk. I had to tip my hat to the person who did the choreography as it wasn’t half bad and left me impressed considering the standards that the DTV action movie has to live with.
Nicolas Cage, where do I begin? The man is an enigma wrapped in a riddle and then dipped in a vat of crazy. Cage was once a highly sought after actor who had a run in with some poor money management skills and is now forced to take on whatever dreck comes his way so that he can make a living and pay off his tax debts. He’s always been a bit crazy, looning up the screen with some of the most quacked up antics that I’ve ever seen. Even though he always contained himself a bit in his bigger budget films, he’s really just letting loose now and having fun. The horrible (and I mean HORRIBLE) English accent that he tries to adopt as a knight of the realm is so funny I was dying laughing in just the first few minutes. Then cut to a few years later and he’s decked out in full cave man garb with twin snakes on his arms, almost shaman like in his leadership of the bandits. The scenery doesn’t stand a chance as he chews and chews and then maniacally laughs WHILE chewing said scenery with such gusto that a psych evaluation might be necessary for the actor and his famous receding hairline.
I giggled, I laughed, I groaned, but I was decently entertained by the DTV flick. Nick Cage was the main reason for that, as Hayden still can’t act any better than he did in the “Star Wars” prequels and shows why he’s relegated to these low budget films in his career. Truth be told I’d watch the movie all over again just to see Cage go bananas while kissing snakes that are wrapped around his hand, so on that subject alone you can color me entertained (despite the laughable acting and writing of the rest of the film).
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=42434[/img]“Outcast” comes to Blu-ray with a solid 1080p encode that looks good, but not spectacular. Colors are earthy and desaturated most of the time, with scenes of bright color, mainly in the Asian countryside. The desaturated look and earthy colors don’t lend a whole lot of pop to the image, but there is a decent amount of detail present on screen, both up close and far away. Some of the wide angle shots of the Chinese countryside look expectional, giving off a much sharper and brighter picture, even though much of the interior and flash back shots look a bit murky and dim. Black levels are adequate, but aren’t the greatest compared to big budget blockbusters, as there is some washing out of the colors to an almost grey color at times. The main thing I noticed in the dark spots is some fairly egregious banding that shows up from the opening credits and is sporadically shown throughout the rest of the movie.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=42442[/img]Strangely enough we have TWO English 5.1 tracks. One, a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 track, and the other being a full DTS-HD MA track. Had there been a lossy track in another language, or perhaps a 2.0 track, I might have understood, but two identically channeled tracks with one being lossy and the other being lossless made me raise an eyebrow. Still, the lossless track is quite good for a DTV release. There’s plenty of punch in the mid-range and the LFE channel get a good workout. It’s not wildly over powered, but the battles will rattle the cage walls quite nicely and the softer moments sound good with a softly powered low end. Dialog is clean and clear, with the only downside being Hayden Christensen mumbling into the mic the whole time. Surrounds are active and show some good ambient noises and adding a rousing sense of dimensionality when the swords are clashing and shields are rent asunder. It’s pleasing, simple and does the job quite nicely, actually surprisingly nicely for a DTV film.
• Interview With the Cast and Crew
• Making of "Outcast"
• Theatrical Trailer
“Outcast” is a mediocre Asian/Gaijin epic, but it serves as decent entertainment for when you want that type of thing. The action sequences are above par for the budget and the actor decidedly sub par, but the real reason anyone wants to see this is to watch Nick Cage loose his bananas on screen as only Nick Cage can do (with an another awful looking hair piece for the balding actor). I can’t say I was horribly offended or overly pleased with the movie, but it certainly gave me a chuckle at some points and at other points I had to give a nod of appreciation to whoever choreographed the fights. Video and audio are above par for the budget levels and despite the anemic extras is worth a rental/Netflix if you’re bored and the wife/hubby is out gone for the evening. Rental
Starring: Nick Cage, Hayden Christensen
Directed by: Nick Powell
Written by: James Dormer
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English Dolby Digital 5.1
Studio: Entertainment One
Runtime: 98 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: March 31st 2015
Buy Outcast Blu-ray on Amazon
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