It has been twenty-five years since John Woo's (Silent Night) Face/Off premiered in theaters and made almost $250 million worldwide based on an $80 million budget. The movie garnered critical acclaim and both John Travolta (Pulp Fiction) and Nicolas Cage (The Rock) were praised for their performances. Previously released on both DVD and Blu-ray, it has now gotten a 4K release, thanks to Kino Lorber, With upgraded video and audio quality, this high-intensity film looks and sounds even better than before and, since it is selling out fast, you should grab a copy while you still can.
Sean Archer (Travolta) and Castor Troy (Cage) have been nemeses for a long time which only intensified five years prior when Troy, in an attempt to assassinate Archer, accidentally murders Archer's son. Since then Archer, an FBI Agent, has made it his mission the arrest Troy - to no avail. When Troy is finally caught, Archer is ready to move on with his life until it is discovered that Troy planted a bomb that will level parts of the city. When Archer can't find out where the device is hidden, he is forced into the last resort - swapping faces with a comatose Troy to get Troy's brother to tell him where the bomb is located.
Face/Off is a Woo film in every way. The action sequences are classic Woo with bullets flying every which way and a plethora of guns to go around. He keeps the plot moving and adds plenty of blood to the mix. His utilization of the score enhances both the violence and the drama throughout the film.
The gem of this film is its two leads. Watching Travolta play Archer and then Troy and Cage play Troy and then Archer is like sitting through a master acting class. They take on each other's character's mannerisms like it is as simple as a walk in the park. It is no wonder both were praised and it is easy to see that the film might not have been as successful with other actors portraying Archer and Troy.
The technical upgrades presented in this new release are hit or miss. The Dolby Vision Master from a 4K scan of the 35mm original camera negative starts off a little blurry but clears up about 10 minutes into the movie. From that point, the quality improves so the details and the color palette look better.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is also merely okay. Much of the time the audio sits in the front and speaks - dialogue, score, and effects alike - but occasionally there is some surround sound, mostly in the effects. For example, in one of the opening scenes, the plane engines, gunshots, and dialogue only use the three front speakers but when the helicopter comes into frame the rotors are clear from all angles including the rear speakers. The mix is so odd that it becomes slightly distracting.
The combo pack includes the 4K disc and the Blu-ray Disc. Unlike some other combo packs, there are extras on both the 4K and Blu-ray Discs but, sadly, not only are none of them are new but some are the same extras on both discs. They include:
4K UHD Disc extras: Audio Commentary by Director John Woo and Writers Mike Werb and Michael Colleary, Audio Commentary by Action Film Historians Mike Leeder and Arne Venema, Audio Commentary by Writers Mike Werb and Michael Colleary, 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio
Blu-ray Disc Extras: Audio Commentary by Director John Woo and Writers Mike Werb and Michael Colleary, Audio Commentary by Action Film Historians Mike Leeder and Arne Venema, Audio Commentary by Writers Mike Werb and Michael Colleary, Seven Deleted, and Alternate Scenes, The Light and the Dark: The Making of Face/Off - five-part documentary about the making of Face/Off, John Woo: A Life in Pictures - 26-minute documentary on the life of John Woo, Trailer - Face/Off, Hard Target, Staying Alive, The Experts, Fire Birds, Ronin, Out of Sight, The Usual Suspects, 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio.
Kino Lorber does a good job with this release and the decision to choose Face/Off is part of the reason why. When one starts off with an action film directed by Woo that stars Oscar-nominated actors it is hard to go wrong. The movie holds up twenty-five years later and I wouldn't be surprised if it is still loved twenty-five years from now. My recommendation... take those gift cards you got for the holidays and splurge on the 4K combo pack of 1997's Face/Off.