It is hard to figure out where to start on Wrong Side of Town. It is easy to pick on the abysmally edited, slow fight scenes, where elbows and kicks clearly miss their target.
It would not be a stretch to begin shredding the cardboard delivery of Rob Van Dam, who inside the pro wrestling ring was one of the best high-fliers. In the movies, he should never speak, apparently having learned little from his years of amped-up WWE and ECW promos.
Maybe the inclusion of another pro wrestling star, Dave Batista, would be a nice launching pad. He graces the Blu-ray cover, yet is included in three scenes. One of them is to allow for blatant nudity (including porn star Stormy Daniels), one of them could have been written out with any sensible script, and a third is purely to extend a fight scene.
Maybe an even better choice to begin would be the non-existent production values. Rob Van Dam runs around the city, chased by various thugs without another single soul in sight. While the movie takes place in the early morning, even a street bum might have added some credibility, but funds for extras were apparently limited.
Continuity would be fun to pick on too. Early in the movie, Bobby Kalinowsky (Van Dam) is shot in the leg and falls off a ladder. There is no bullet hole or blood, although he does limp. By the end of the film, even though this all takes place in one night, he’s running away from his foes and keeping up with his previously kidnapped daughter.
Of course, those are just potential starting points, although hopefully enough to discourage anyone from watching this direct-to-video schlock fest. Wrong Side of Town was created solely to take advantage of an audience willing to soak up anything with rappers (Ja Rule stars here as well), busty porn stars, and pro wrestlers. At least their bases are covered. [xrr rating=1/5 label=Movie]
Shot cheaply and obviously digitally, where the problems lie with this encode are unknown. Artifacting is atrocious, first noted inside the club near the 12-minute mark. The background, suits, and weak black levels all show significant blocking. Banding is a constant struggle, at its worst inside the interview room at 21:45, but it reappears later when the group is brought back.
Black levels are never truly black, settling into a murky gray, which further makes the artifacting a problem as mentioned above. One hilarious example occurs early as Bobby and his wife are in the back of a car. At 9:52, the blacks are so washed out, the shot appears to be artificially brightened. One edit later at 9:55, they are significantly deeper, although nowhere near satisfactory.
Colors are dim, apparently diluted by the weak contrast. Facial details are the sole positive, producing some defined, textured skin. All close-ups perform admirably (even flawlessly), although at a distance, things fall apart, revealing their digital origins. The video is undoubtedly clear, although artificial given the source. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Video]
A DTS-HD effort is presented in 5.1, not the usual Lionsgate offering of 7.1. Apparently, the two extra channels cost too much, or they would have been utilized as the two available surrounds are here anyway. There is little to this sound design, even in the crowded club. The music catches on the low end with some satisfactory thumps, but ambiance is flat.
Gunfire delivers almost nothing in terms of a subwoofer push, and stereo separation is rare. Some mild vehicle tracking during a chase scene is evident, and you’ll get to hear the interview room door close in the surrounds, if that is worth anything. Dialogue is fine, so you can catch every syllable of Van Dam’s hilariously stilted performance. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Audio]
Three featurettes run a total of eight minutes combined, one focused on the stunts, another on Van Dam himself, and another containing interviews with the cast. Some martial arts training with Batista is a mish-mash of footage set to music. Trailers remain. Also note the special features are significantly louder than the main feature. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Extras]
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