Wednesday, October 17, 2012

30th Anniversary Special Edition Review

August 21, 2012 marked the re-release of Kill And Kill Again on DVD, this time in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen format and including some special bonus features not available on previous releases.

Special Edition DVD Contents:

Main Feature:
Brand new 16x9 anamorphic (1.78:1) widescreen HD master from the original InterPositive

Bonus Features:
Isolated music track from the original 3-track Mag sound
Audio interview with star James Ryan
On camera interview with writer John Crowther
Original trailer

Main Feature

The movie itself is what it is. You're either a fan or you're not. Other than the new screen format, there is not much in the way of improved quality in the look of the film. In fact, at first viewing, I wondered why everyone appeared to be suffering from mild sunburn.

The overall color balance of the image appears weighted toward red. Here is shown the original DVD release in 4:3 beside the new 16:9 print:

To demonstrate the level of red present in the newly re-mastered print, here is the same image with the red channel fully desaturated:

You can see by this how nearly the entire image is graded in red. Admittedly, the original 4:3 DVD print is probably likewise graded a little too much toward blue, but still preferable to a lobster-skinned film cast.

At first, I thought perhaps it was just a case of shoddy grading. After all, a couple of quick tweaks to the still image in Photoshop yields much better results:

Surely any professional grading software could easily color correct the new print better than what we see on the new DVD release.

But then a little research on the term "InterPositive" could explain the reddish grading:

An interpositiveintermediate positiveIP or master positive is an orange-based motion picture film with a positive image made from the edited camera negative. The orange base provides special color characteristics that allow for more accurate color reproduction than if the IP had a clear base, as in print films.
From a traditional photographic perspective, an interpositive is essentially a negative processed in a positive process. An original negative is exposed to film in-where the film is processed creating a like image, 'a negative', in a positive process, an interpositive.
Photographers that create photographic art by 'contact printing'; i.e. Platinum, AZO, need to create interpositives to create large negatives. The final art work is the size of the contact negative produced. Interpositives are also the best means of archiving or copying old image libraries. Reversal B&W processing can also be achieved by various kits and published recipes.
The interpositive is made after the answer print has been approved. All lights and opticals from the answer print are repeated when striking the interpositive, and once the IP exists, the original negative can be vaulted.
The interpositive is printed with a "wet gate", contact print that has been done in "liquid", and historically has had only one purpose, namely, to be the element that is used to make the internegative.
It is sometimes referred to as a Protection IP, which is a good term since the only time the IP is touched is on the occasion of making the first or a replacement internegative. Since interpositives are used so rarely, they are usually the film element that is in the best condition of all the film elements.
Interpositives are usually element of choice for film-to-tape transfers for several reasons:
  1. They are usually in better physical condition than the other film elements. The original camera negative is often checkerboarded on several rolls, or may be chemically unstable if stored improperly.
  2. They are very low-contrast and therefore help to preserve shadow detail.
  3. Scratches or dirt on the IP appear as black defects on the transfer, which are generally less objectionable than white defects, which would be the case if the camera negative or internegative were used.

Still, whether intentional or an unavoidable part of the process, the red/orange hue is distracting:

In particular, the reddish grading clashes horribly with Marloe Scott-Wilson's neon pink coiffure:

However, the grading issue is not a deal-breaker. The fact that the title was chosen for re-mastering and re-release at all is a testament to the cult following the film has built over the last 30+ years. These days, no media company does anything unless it promises profit. Although there's currently not a widespread fan-base presence on the web, the sales records must speak for themselves.

So, fellow fans...enjoy our beloved KKA in all its new widescreen HD glory!

Bonus Features:

Isolated music track from the original 3-track Mag sound

This proved an interesting feature I have never encountered on a DVD release before. Upon first discovering the release and reading the content description, "isolated music track" led me to believe a single musical selection from the soundtrack would be made available--possibly with an identifying title.

Actually, "isolated music track from the original 3-track Mag sound" means the entire music/sfx track played in sequence and timing of the film (I believe "3-track Mag sound" refers to a 3-track magnetic sound recording, similar technology to what eventually became known to consumers as 8-tracks).

Choosing this bonus feature means you will be watching the movie with no sound except that of the music and some sound effects.

A little disappointing to me that the music remains unidentified and so the blog is no closer to fully cataloging the stock music used in the film, but perhaps the isolated track will assist in identifying additional cues and tracks as I continue combing through the KPM music library.

Audio interview with star James Ryan

Who couldn't like James Ryan? The guy is so genuine and sincere. If you can look past the fact that the audio quality is just a half-step above two soup cans connected by a string, this little commentary by Ryan is a gem.

Hearing him talk about everything from his affection for the cast to production of the film to his own experience in acting and martial arts adds a new dimension to the Kill franchise.

Like with the isolated music track, you will be watching the film as James Ryan gives his interview (oddly, a one-sided interview as you can't hear the interviewer--presumably producer Walter Olsen--but you can hear Ryan responding directly to questions).

Just a heads up, the interview ends about the time the team arrives at the Wildwood Saloon, but the film will continue to play normally to the end if you wish to ride it out.

On camera interview with writer John Crowther

Simply stated...WTF?!

Either the camera settings were completely out of whack or the interview team decided to rely entirely on natural daylight to shoot the segment and clouds kept passing in front of the sun that afternoon.

The 24-minute interview might be a bit more enjoyable without the distraction of the image continually changing from light to dark:

Nevertheless, writer John Crowther shares some truly interesting anecdotes about the creation of the the film and reveals a curious, albeit slight, relationship between KKA and The Magnificent Seven.

Original trailer

Nothing really notable about this particular feature other than it starts right off the bat with the now famous "bullet time" sequence. Groundbreaking in its day, it was clearly a proud accomplishment for the production team.

The trailer is nice to have as part of the overall collection for posterity. And it's always enjoyable (for me, anyway) to compare the movie trailers of yesterday with how they're produced today.


Overall, this is a nice DVD for fans of KKA to have in their possession. The playback of the new format should work well with today's widescreen HD televisions. And possibly, the orange-ish nature of the InterPositive print could be corrected by adjusting your television's color settings a bit to compensate.

Compared to the first DVD release which had no bonus features, and not even a menu screen, the 30th Anniversary Special Edition is a jewel!

Could it have been better? Absolutely. Could it have not been produced at all? Absolutely.

Again, the fact that any media company decided to pick up the title and incur the production expenses of re-mastering and compiling additional content speaks to the number of us who know this film, love this film, and continually seek out more and more about this film.

If you don't already own a copy, scoop one up as soon as you can at the current price (about $15 on before they become both scarce and expensive.

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