Ultimate Force

Ultimate Force (2007)
BCI Home Entertainment
Cast: Mirko "Cro-cop" Filipovic, Ruza Madarevic, Igor Gallo
Extras: Featurettes, Interview, Trailer

"Ultimate Force" is a an action film starring Mirko 'Cro-Cop' Filipovic, a man who got his reputation fighting for UFC. He started his kickboxing career in the nineties, when he also worked in Croatia for an anti-terrorist organization unit called Alpha. This is where he received his nickname 'Cro Cop'. While excelling as a K-1 style fighter, he eventually decided to move on for financial reasons and ultimately became something of a legend among fighting enthusiasts, winning many titles in PRIDE fighting and UFC. In 2003, he ran for a Parliamentary seat in Croatia and won, and reportedly returned to the anti-terrorist squad once his term ended a few months ago. His life is obviously far more interesting than his short film career, which began and possibly ended with "Ultimate Force", one of the worst movies I have ever seen. 'Directed' by Mark Burson, who recently directed something called "The Courier", the film is from 2005. It has a -1 rating at Rotten Tomatoes, I have never seen that before. If I submitted this review it would have a -2, which is probably something in and of itself.

Filipovic stars as Axon Rey, ex war hero and tactical police officer, a trained killing machine who works for the state taking out terrorists and any who oppose it. SIN (State Intelligence Network) gives him the nickname Sphinx before they train him not just in martial arts and super lethal fighting tactics, but also with some of the most state-of-the-art terrorist hunting gizmos the film's budget can conjure.

When SIN hires you, there is no turning back, if you fail one of your lethal missions you will be exterminated by the state, and that is that, game over. But something is different about Sphinx, he's good, but he doesn't play by the rules. This makes him dangerous and crazy like a fox, so when he fails an ultra secret and high priority terrorist disposal mission, we have a sense the film could be cut short, but it isn't. You see, the powers that be, namely Janus (Igor Galo) are convinced they can still use him, but first he will be sentenced to an island called Gulag 7, where other failed killers are going through a lethal form of therapy. He is to go against five other ex top assassins to fight to the death to live to kill again. If he turns down a fight he will be killed, if he accepts the fight he will emerge victorious, or be killed. Being trapped on this island, there aren't a lot of options for Sphinx, except obviously kill or be killed.

This film is simply a talentless piece of trash. And when I say talentless, I mean it. The so called 'acting' is simply unwatchable, the fight scenes are lame and unimaginative, the whole film is just an ugly mess. Filipovic should stick to fighting, because the five scenes where he actually talks are laughable, and the fight scenes (presumably the only reason to even watch such a film) are simply terribly choreographed and boring. It looks like they made this film in five days.

The transfer on this Blu-ray suffers from every conceivable video problem known to exist and could definitely be used as an example of how not to present home video. Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, the back of the cheaply put together case readily admits the transfer is 1080i. To start with the colors are over-saturated, the reds bleed through and the black levels are inconsistent. Although some scenes retain a certain level of detail, the edge enhancement is a major problem, because it is so evident in so many scenes. Seriously, whoever quality checked this disc, if anyone did, they did a poor job of it. It is simply the worst looking high definition disc on the market, hands down. I understand that the increased resolution of these new formats can reveal limitations of budget among other things, but this could have looked better, I'm sure of it, and if it couldn't then why release it on Blu-ray? There is so much edge enhancement in so many scenes (especially the fight scenes) that I thought I was seeing tracers. It is an embarrassment for BCI Entertainment to have put this shoddily prepared product to market. The brightness contrast is also way off, so much so you will think you have to readjust your settings.

The audio is equally as poor, coming to us in Dolby Digital Stereo. Nothing fancy here, but for that I'm actually kind of grateful, because the score Jon Parfitt is dreadful. It sounds like the score from "Missing In Action 3" converted to elevator music. The sound is muted and the fight scenes are drowned by the overly aggressive music. The sound effects of the fight scenes are exaggerated terribly, filled with unconvincing crunching sounds and the like, even the gunfire sounds fake somehow. The music is up way too loud and the sound mixing sounds like it was done by a high school film class. This is easily the worst sounding Blu-ray I've ever heard.

Thankfully, the special features are short and brief. None of them are in high definition. First up is 'The Making Of Ultimate Force"' which clocks in at 6 minutes 49 seconds and is basically an EPK but in Croatian. It is like watching Borat visit a film set. Mark Burson is obviously a hack and he knows it, judging from the short interview. We also talk with the star himself, who seems genuinely excited since he could be the next whoever. Next up is 'Mirko Cro-Cop Interview' which lasts about 3 minutes 20 seconds and is actually quite fascinating, it delves into his past with the anti terrorist organization in Croatia and you can see he is passionate about it. 'Footage Of Mirko Training' is 14 minutes 10 seconds and is just like it sounds, he is obviously a talented fighter who can handle extreme situations, you will enjoy this feature if you enjoy watching men practice fighting on poorly shot video while a radio plays in the background; if not, steer clear.

So this is a disc you should probably stay away from, I'm sure there are fans of Filipovic out there who will want to own it, he is certainly an interesting person. Perhaps he should brush up on his acting skills a little before he tries this again. Either way, this is a sorry excuse for a high definition title, terribly put together and cheaply made. I believe it is the first bargain bin Blu-ray.