Warner presents Cradle 2 The Grave in an anamorphically enhanced transfer in the film’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. As usual, Warner has given DVD viewers another top-notch transfer that exhibits very little in the way of flaws. It looks as great as you’d expect such a recent release from a major studio to look and Warner has added another entry into their long line of outstanding transfers.
The picture was amazingly sharp and detailed at all times and there was hardly a moment that passed in the film where detail wasn’t crisp and very well-defined – even on the smallest and most subtle of objects. Warner’s transfer contained excellent depth, with superb shadow detail and delineation. Black levels were consistently strong and never exhibited any signs of breakup or murkiness at any time and really allowed the image to maintain a very film-like and three-dimensional appearance.
The color palette in the film was natural, albeit rather unremarkable, as the film contained dimly lit nighttime sequences, as well as sequences that took place in brighter outdoor conditions. The palette remained very rich and well-defined, with balance and saturation looking to be right on the money at all times. Fleshtones were accurate and natural as well and from all indications, Warner has another winning transfer on their hands.
Flaws were run of the mill and limited in quantity, as edge enhancement and shimmer were noted at points during the film, as was a very slight amount of pixilation in one area. Other than that however, Warner has master print that is relatively free of flaws, dirt, scratches and other defects. Ultimately, Cradle 2 The Grave was one great looking DVD.
The film also received a nicely authored Dolby Digital 5.1 that is on par with the fine video transfer the film received. Seeing that Cradle 2 The Grave staunchly sits in the action genre, Warner made sure to give it an audio transfer to match.
Featuring a heaping of rap songs for the soundtrack, Cradle 2 The Grave always manages to find something for your .1 LFE to do, although it never reaches very forceful or antagonistic levels. It’s a very solid, deep, rumble throughout that really adds to the viewing and listening experience for Cradle 2 The Grave. Effects were pretty abundant in the film and Warner did an excellent job of making sure they made great utilization of your surround sound setup. There was some excellent panning, as well as some smooth directional cues and transitions, as your front and rear surrounds really opened up the soundstage in an ambient and enjoyable manner.
The film’s soundtrack was quite active and Warner has given each of the songs and funky orchestral moments excellent clarity, presence, and fidelity with some nice reinforcement from the rear surrounds. LFE usage, as mentioned previously, was quite strong while reinforcing the score and it added another nice aural element to complete Warner’s excellent 5.1 mix. Dialogue was front and center and easily understood at all times, as problems such as harshness or edginess never found their way onto the disc.
The studio has also included a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in French, as well as subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.
There’s not really a whole lot to talk about in the way of extras for Warner’s Cradle 2 The Grave DVD, as the first supplement we run across is entitled Ultimate Fighting Champions (8:21). Here, we get an in-depth look at the cage fight sequence seen in the film and see how the principals staged the fight with actual participants from the UFC. Slightly interesting and worth a look.
Following is Choreography of the Camera (4:30) and here, we hear from the principals, including the director, producer, cinematographer, editor, and stunt coordinator. They discuss using multiple cameras on the set to record a single scene, angles used to achieve certain shots, and so on. Nothing you haven’t seen or heard elsewhere, but still slightly interesting.
Next up is The Descender Rig (3:02) and it introduces us to a certain device – the descender rig (duh!) – that allowed the crew to achieve certain shots during stunts. While short, it’s still an interesting piece.
Finishing off the disc are a Music Video for the song “X Gon’ Give It To Ya” by DMX; a text-based Cast & Crew section featuring Filmographies for Jet Li , DMX, Anthony Anderson, Kelly Hu, Tom Arnold, Mark Dacascos, Gabrielle Union, John O’Brien, Channing Gibson, Joel Silver, and Andrzej Bartkowiak; and a Theatrical Trailer for Cradle 2 The Grave. While definitely not a whole lot to write home about, it’s doubtful that many more viewers would have embraced Cradle 2 The Grave had Warner gone to the effort of giving it a true “Special Edition” treatment. Hard to blame the studio for not wanting to spit-shine a turd.
If you’re interested, a couple of Easter Eggs can be found on the disc. First, place your cursor on the Music Video item and press –RIGHT-, Li’s knee will turn green and then press –ENTER-. We get a 1 minute and 40 second time lapse of certain sequences in the film (using footage from the set), with occasional pauses used to display text-based factoids about the shoot. The second egg can be found by placing your cursor on the Cast & Crew section and pressing –RIGHT- again. Gabrielle Union’s necklace will turn green and then you’ll hit –ENTER-. Here, we get 2 minutes and 56 seconds of footage showing us a bit of detail on how Rear Projection was used to create certain sequences in the film. We also get some decent discussion from those involved with this old, but tried and true process.
Cradle 2 The Grave was another bad film with good intentions and it’s unfortunate that Jet Li hasn’t found his breakthrough vehicle in America to really showcase his talents. Fight scenes in Hong Kong are choreographed like a Fred Astaire dance number and unfortunately in the States, in most cases, they’re shot and edited like an amateurish music video … not to mention the fact that Li hasn’t really had a good, competent script to bust his chops on either. These, along with other aforementioned factors, all boil down to the simple fact that Cradle 2 The Grave just isn’t that great of a movie.
Ultimately, Warner has given fans of Cradle 2 The Grave a top-notch DVD where it counts – the audio and video areas – and if you’re a Jet Li (or DMX) completist, you’ll be happy with Warner’s disc. Worth a rental for action freaks, but very hard to recommend site unseen simply based on the weaknesses of the film itself.