Reviewed by
Colin Jacobson

Title: Blind Fury / Omega Doom: Double Feature (1996)
Studio Line: Columbia TriStar

Blind Fury:
Blinded and left to die in Vietnam, Nick Parker (Rutger Hauer) has been missing in action for more than two decades. Finally home, he sets out to find and forgive his old Army buddy, Frank Deveraux (Terrance O'Quinn).

Forced to cook up designer drugs for a corrupt casino boss, Deveraux balks, putting his ex-wife and son in danger. Caught in the middle and with henchmen in close pursuit, Nick uses his highly tuned senses to escape in an action-packed cross-country battle.

Omega Doom:
In the post-apocalyptic world that is Earth, machines rule. Having killed off their human adversaries, the Roms and the Droids have squared off against one another in the search for mankind's last and most fatal element of war: guns.

When Omega Doom (Rutger Hauer) strides into the fray, the machines hone in on the stranger and the slaughter intensifies. As combatants are decimated and the survivors get closer to the mythical stash of guns, the question becomes, "Will there be anything left to kill?"

Director: Philip Noyce, Albert Pyun
Cast: Rutger Hauer, Lisa Blount, Randall Tex Cobb, Tina Cote, Terry O'Quinn, Norbert Weisser, Shannon Whirry, Noble Willingham
DVD: Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9, widescreen 1.85:1/16x9; audio English Dolby Surround, Spanish & Portuguese Dolby Surround; subtitles English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai; closed-captioned; double sided - single layered; 56 chapters; rated R; 168 min.; $24.98; street date 4/25/00.
Supplements: Theatrical Trailers; Talent Files; Production Notes.
Purchase: DVD

Picture/Sound/Extras: Blind Fury A-/B-/D-

It's come to this: the DVD equivalent of "shovelware". In case you don't know, the latter refers to those software packages you'll find that toss in masses of less-than-hot titles. They go for quantity over quality and get by just through those sheer numbers.

If this DVD, which combines two forgettable and forgotten Rutger Hauer films, 1989's Blind Fury and 1996's Omega Doom. These movies share little other than their general action tenor and the fact that Hauer stars in them.

Oh, they also both are pretty crummy films. BF is little more than a variation on the standard action flick of the Eighties. There's lots of over-the-top action with plenty of sinister and stereotyped villains and the requisite wisecracks from the hero. Granted, that summary could match many action pictures of the Nineties as well, but there's something about the style of BF that seems uniquely Eighties.

The only semi-innovation found in BF comes from the fact that our hero Nick (Hauer) is blind. However, when one considers that superhero Daredevil did the unsighted crusader thing 25 years earlier - and did it much better - then BF seems less noteworthy.

Other than that factor, BF in no way distinguishes itself from other mediocre action films. The plot is slight and silly, the characters are weak and thin; only some halfway-decent action scenes prevent the film from becoming unwatchable.

Even worse is Omega Doom, which creates a very inane Terminator-inspired tale of a post-apocalyptic world in which the robots rule the roost. These mechanoids form opposing tribes, and in between them strides Omega Doom (Hauer), the baddest of all the bad-ass droids. He tries to unite them in a cause, but ends up just shooting a lot of them.

Or something like that. OD really makes little sense, and that might be okay if the other portions of the film were worth a damn, but since they're not, the cumulative effect is one of boredom. This is a very silly robot Western that wears its Sergio Leone influences on its sleeve, from the main character through the music. Ultimately, the whole thing seems insanely pointless. The action is quite dull and the characters - especially Norbert Weisser's "Head" - are fantastically annoying.

This movie features sexy B-movie queen Shannon Whirry - who currently appears as the lactating mother in Me, Myself and Irene - and yet she never removes any clothes! Why cast Whirry and keep her dressed? She has no other talents! And thus Omega Doom misses its one opportunity to actually interest me. Without any shots of naked Whirry, the movie remains a complete waste of time.

Blind Fury appears in its original theatrical aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this double-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The movie looks simply great and features only a few minor flaws.

Sharpness seems extremely crisp and well-defined, with virtually no instances of softness; the image appears very nicely focussed and clear. Moiré effects aren't an issue, but I did see a moderate amount of jaggedness that resulted from the anamorphic downconversion on my 4X3 TV. The print showed a little dirt and grit on one or two occasions but it seemed clean than that.

Colors appeared bright and well-saturated, with no signs of bleeding or noise. Black levels were deep and rich, and shadow detail seemed appropriately opaque without becoming overly heavy. All in all, the DVD presents an excellent picture.

Satisfactory but less compelling is the movie's Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtrack. The forward soundstage provides reasonably broad imaging, with generally good stereo separation and localization of audio. On a couple of occasions, it seemed as though the mixers got a little careless; some explosions that should have come from the left came more from the right. Other than those mistakes, the remainder of the track seems well-placed. The surrounds kick in with a nice layer of reinforcement but don't offer anything more than that.

Quality appears good but not great. Dialogue largely sounds clear and natural, but sometimes it becomes a bit harsh and rough; I didn't have any intelligibility problems, however. Effects are clean and fairly realistic, and the music seems smooth and lively, but both of those aspects of the track suffer from a lack of much bass. During early parts of the film, I noticed some nice low end, but that fades as the movie continues and most of the audio sounds disappointingly bland. For a moderately old movie, the soundtrack of Blind Fury works acceptably well, but it seems slightly disappointing because it comes close to being very good.

Picture/Sound/Extras: Omega Doom A-/B/D-

Omega Doom appears in its original theatrical aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this double-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. It's another terrific transfer from Columbia-Tristar, one that features almost no problems.

Sharpness seems immaculate, with an image that appears consistently crisp and accurate and virtually no signs of softness. Moiré effects don't cause any concerns, but I did see a fair number of artifacts from the anamorphic downconversion. As far as defects go, I noted one or two tiny nicks at one point, but that was it; otherwise I saw no evidence of grain, speckles, scratches or other flaws.

OD utilizes a rather limited palette, as it sticks to a combination of nuclear-winter blues and apocalyptic oranges, but they seemed very rich and accurate and displayed no blotching or noise. Black levels looked dark and full, and shadow detail seemed correct. Put simply, the movie appeared fantastic.

Less strong but acceptable is the film's Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtrack. It offered a pretty good soundstage that gave us a reasonably lifelike impression. The forward channels were fairly broad and put sounds within their logical locations. The surrounds backed up the music and effects to a light degree but didn't make a huge impact.

Quality seemed decent. Dialogue could appear a bit rough but was generally natural and always intelligible. Effects were passably rich and realistic, though they lacked much heft, and the music seemed acceptably bright and clear. The mix works fairly well for the movie, though it's a bit bland and lackluster for such a recent film; it really could have used the extra punch possible from a full 5.1 soundtrack.

The DVD lacks many supplements. We find a brief and weak "Talent File" entry for Hauer, plus we get trailers for OD, BF and fellow Hauer movie Arctic Blue. Finally, the DVD includes an insert card that lists each side's chapters and provides some short but decent production notes.

Although with a list price of only $24.95 for two full-length movies, this DVD may appear to present a bargain, it's not exactly a steal when both the films stink. Blind Fury offers a couple of thrills but fails as a whole, while Omega Doom provides absolutely nothing of interest. Both films look great and sound good but the DVD includes virtually no significant extras. Unless you just can't get enough of Rutger Hauer, these clunkers should be avoided.

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