It Was the Swan

Inserting American action values into prim, proper, and friendly rural Britain is a comedic masterstroke. As Hot Fuzz picks up energy, Simon Pegg chases down an escaped swan, the scene cut with 20+ edits in a few seconds as to laugh at the absurdity of Michael Bay’s output. Later, a goon throws Pegg over a grocery shelf, no less than nine edits before Pegg hits the ground.

The finale’s pay off sends Hot Fuzz to classic status, a winding tribute and teardown of tropes, played up with never less than an ear-to-ear-grin. Diving gunshots and ludicrous chases destroy Hollywood’s penchant for extremes, so outrageously elevated as to unravel the absurdity of American action movie heroism.

Sometimes, it takes a different perspective to make things obvious – here it’s Pegg and writer/director Edgar Wright staging a mass police shoot-out against two meat counter workers. Paired with co-star Nick Frost, Pegg goes for gusto, charging at the criminals with a mass of shopping carts, this after multiple minutes of close-range traded gunfire. This mockery of gun glorification in Bad Boys winks at action cinema, while laughing at the indifference shown toward police militarization. Satire is strong with this one.

Unknowingly, Hot Fuzz predicted easily agitated Facebook neighborhood groups a decade in advance

Hot Fuzz seems so utterly banal prior, if fitted with utter incompetents in every bit part. At the center of it all, an idyllic British town. Everyone knows one another. There’s the flower shop, a neighborhood watch, the beautiful fountain, and cozy cops who sustain themselves on chocolate cake. Maybe ice cream too.

If only things stayed that way – nothing is as it seems, or else Hot Fuzz doesn’t have a plot. Absurd murders pile up, suggesting something sinister. Turns out it’s old people who hate street performers and kids in hoodies. Hilariously virulent as Hot Fuzz is, the ultimate joke lies in preserving peace against paranoid elders who think a living statue is a threat to their way of life. Unknowingly, Hot Fuzz predicted easily agitated Facebook neighborhood groups a decade in advance.

Hot Fuzz, like Shaun of the Dead before it, wastes nothing. Although Hot Fuzz has a paunchy middle act, it’s with purpose. No line of this precisely calibrated dialog, no phrase, no clue goes unused. The snap and timing of gag delivery is rarely better, with a touch of British wit to bring international flavor. And, the sheer obviousness of everyone outside of Pegg lets Hot Fuzz make sense – of course someone(s) can get away with with murder if no one willingly notices the clues when blinded by newcomers who paint themselves gold.

Video

Remember the days when Hot Fuzz’s HD DVD was top tier reference quality and one of the best discs on the market? Good times. Those times are over though. This UHD transfer is generally awful.

Lacking sharpness for the entire runtime, Hot Fuzz looks streamed through a filter. Softened imagery never rises above a hazy quality. Mediocre grain reproduction struggles to reproduce film stock. While close-ups hold marginal detail – what’s left of that once great HD DVD – distance smothers the imagery in a smeary, ill-defined appearance.

It’s even questionable if Universal did anything in terms of HDR. Light reaches a minimal intensity, while shadows crush most visible detail. Sure, black is pure black, but in doing so, turns into pockets of black holes; no light escapes.

One positive (and only one) is color, keeping the intended heavy orange/blue contrast, varying scene-to-scene to mimic the era’s contemporary grading. The UHD keeps this intact with minimal change. Again, Universal issues this disc with no real changes, and as such, there’s no reason this is on 4K.

Audio

Bombastic shoot-outs certainly mimic the best US blockbusters in terms of sheer force. There’s further comedy here. After shotgun blasts attempt to destroy the subwoofer, Pegg gets into a fist fight where each blow lands with equal force, mocking overblown action cinema to an extreme. With this DTS:X track, that’s all kept intact.

Like the video, not much changed. It’s as if sound mixers were giving limited time, using added channels for only the most obvious instances. Say, a helicopter overhead or voices panning into the far back rears. It’s as lively a track as it ever was with plenty of power, paired with exceptionally rich positional activity. In terms of an upgrade though, it’s teetering on false advertisement.

Extras

Five (!) commentaries make the transition to 4K, while the other bonuses stay on the Blu-ray. It’s a monster disc, still one of the great examples of bonus work on this format. While nothing is new (and it’s hard to imagine anything missed the first time) the package brings everything over, from a litany of behind-the-scenes featurettes to Edgar Wright’s first cop flick from 1993 that runs 40-minutes – and even that includes making of material and commentaries. It’s perfect. And quite frankly, if this is a disc you haven’t seen to now, this bonus set makes the whole thing worthwhile.

Hot Fuzz
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
5

Movie

Hot Fuzz sends up the action genre as much as senior paranoia and police escalation – doing so with remarkable consistency.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our Patreon-exclusive set of 41 full 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: