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Robert Berlinger
Jonathan Bennett, Randy Wayne, April Scott, Christopher McDonald, Willie Nelson, Harland Williams, Joel Moore
Writing Credits:
Shane Morris

When mischievous teenaged cousins Bo Duke (Jonathan Bennett) and Luke Duke (Randy Wayne) are arrested, both boys are paroled to the care of their Uncle Jesse (Willie Nelson) in Hazzard, sentenced to a summer of hard work. It's not long before the Duke boys learn of Boss Hogg's (Chris McDonald) plans to foreclose on Uncle Jesse's farm. Together, with help from their frumpy cousin Daisy (April Scott), Bo and Luke vow to save the family's property and its storied history of producing the best moonshine in all of Hazzard. Driving through Hazzard in the "General Lee" blasting its famed Dixie horn, the Duke boys join forces to make Boss Hogg's life miserable, concocting one crazy scheme after another.

Rated NR

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 95 min.
Price: $27.99
Release Date: 3/13/2007

• “Hazzardous County Featurette Gallery”
• Music Video
• Trailers


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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The Dukes Of Hazzard: The Beginning (Unrated) (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 16, 2007)

When you see a sequel that features almost no cast members from the original flick, expectations become low. When that sequel goes straight to video, those expectations plummet even more. In that spirit, we greet 2007’s The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning, a prequel to the 2005 theatrical release.

As implied by the title, Beginning takes us to a period prior to that movie. We meet 16-year-old Bo Duke (Jonathan Bennett) and his 17-year-old cousin Luke (Randy Wayne). Bo loves cars, while Luke craves the ladies. Both approach their affections the same way: with reckless abandon.

When both get apprehended by law enforcement authorities, they receive the same sentence: a summer of hard labor on their Uncle Jesse’s (Willie Nelson) farm. They get to know each other as well as prim and proper – soon to be scantily clad and sexy – 18-year-old cousin Daisy Duke (April Scott). This reunites the cousins after many years, and they learn that slick politician Boss JD Hogg (Christopher McDonald) rules Hazzard County in a corrupt manner.

Boss Hogg demands money from Uncle Jesse or he’ll foreclose on the Duke farm. The boys propose to make up the payments themselves, so they find illicit methods to generate the cash. The flick follows their adventures as they battle Hogg and his minions.

By no means did I consider the 2005 Dukes flick to be great – or even good. However, it exceeded expectations and provided a reasonably entertaining piece of fluff. The same cannot be said for Beginning, however. It’s a piece of fluff, but not an entertaining one.

Beginning is everything I feared Dukes would be: loud, crude and stupid. The theatrical flick was often loud and crude, but it winked at itself too much to become truly stupid. It served as a parody more than anything else. That choice probably didn’t make the fans terribly happy, but I think it allowed the flick to become watchable and sporadically amusing.

Unfortunately, Beginning takes a significantly more literal view of its source material. It attempts to generate laughs and excitement without any form of self-knowledge. The first flick mocked the inherent stupidity of the source material, while Beginning embraces every insipid hoot, holler and fart joke.

This makes the prequel nearly unwatchable. Any movie with some decent female nudity can’t be all bad, and we see some very attractive women on display here. Does Scott make a good replacement for Jessica Simpson? To my surprise, I don’t think so. Neither can act, and though I’ve always preferred brunettes to blondes, I think Simpson is more attractive than Scott. That’s largely because Scott has some of the worst breast implants I’ve ever seen. She never gives us a full view of the goods, but it’s patently obvious that she doesn’t sport her original equipment. It’s pretty bizarre that this formerly repressed country girl would have implants, but I guess the filmmakers didn’t think we’d notice.

Overall, the flick is a loss. It exists for no reason other than as a piece of product. It attempts to capitalize on the theatrical film’s moderate success but it doesn’t work in any other way. There’s no inspiration or creativity to be found in this dud.

I kind of like the movie’s concept, as the idea of the Dukes’ “origin story” possesses some charm. Unfortunately, Beginning quickly eradicates any potential fun that the topic might generate. Humorless, crass and unfunny, this is a terrible movie.

The DVD Grades: Picture D+/ Audio C+/ Bonus D+

The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Even for a cheap, direct-to-video production, Beginning looked weak.

Sharpness took a significant hit. Much of the movie looked flat and ill-defined. The softness was a nearly constant issue, as the flick usually seemed fuzzy. Some jagged edges and shimmering popped up as well, and a little edge enhancement marred the presentation. Source flaws remained absent, at least.

Colors tended to be drab. At times the hues came across with reasonable vivacity, but usually the tones lacked much life and pizzazz. Blacks were similarly muddy, and shadows seemed thick and dense. Part of me thinks that a “D+” is too low for a transfer without print defects, but so many other issues arose that I didn’t think it warranted a higher mark.

While the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack fared better, it came with its own problems. Audio quality seemed inconsistent. Speech was decidedly lackluster. The lines tended to be stiff and listless, though they remained intelligible. Music showed passable range but not a lot more than that; the score and songs were perfectly acceptable and that’s about it. Effects worked okay, as they showed decent clarity and some punch in the smattering of louder sequences.

Those action pieces brought the soundfield to life in a moderately satisfying manner. Much of the film focused on stereo music and some general ambience. Occasionally the flick brought out greater breadth and used the surrounds in an active way, but not a lot of these sequences occurred. Overall, this was a satisfactory track that failed to become better than average.

In terms of extras, seven programs appear under the banner of Hazzardous County Featurettes Gallery. Taken together, these fill a total of 31 minutes, 47 seconds. Rather than look at them separately, I viewed them as one decent-length documentary. Throughout, the pieces, we get film snippets, behind the scenes elements and interviews. We hear from costume designer Tricia Gray, director Bob Berlinger, art director Handy Stern, co-producer Robert Benjamin, stunt driver Rick Seaman, stunt coordinator Richard Farnsworth, producer Bill Gerber, animatronics and puppets creator Jim Boulden, and actors April Scott, Christopher McDonald, Adam Shulman, Jonathan Bennett, Randy Wayne, Harland Williams and Willie Nelson. The pieces cover Daisy’s costume selections, the General Lee, stunts, Nelson and Williams on the set, the fake pig, and dressing the lead actors in drag.

The first featurette – “The New Dukes” – gives us some in-character meanderings. After that, matters fail to improve much. The snippets that look at stunts and the animatronic pig offer decent information, but the rest of the pieces are forgettable. They throw out puffery and happy talk without much substance.

A music video for “Duke Boys Swingin’” comes next. Performed by Cowboy Troy featuring John Anderson, it mixes movie clips, shots from the set, and footage from the recording session. It’s a dull video and a simply atrocious, amateurish song.

A few ads open the DVD. We get promos for all seven seasons of the original Dukes series, Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny, and Undisputed II. The DVD also includes a trailer for Beginning.

Though The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning could have been a moderately fun exploration of its heroes’ early days, instead it goes for the lowest common denominator. It boasts a script that seems dumb even for this series, and it generates nary a laugh. The DVD presents problematic visuals, mediocre audio and weak extras. Beginning is a truly atrocious piece of piffle.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 28
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