Ultra HD
Highly Recommended
4 stars
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$35.97
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$17.74 (51%)
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$11.43
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Overall Grade
4 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
4.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
3.5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4 Stars
Supplements
0 Stars
High-Def Extras
3 Stars
Bottom Line
Highly Recommended

Brawl in Cell Block 99 - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Street Date:
December 26th, 2017
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
December 21st, 2017
Movie Release Year:
2017
Studio:
Image Entertainment
Length:
132 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
R
Release Country
United States

Editor's Notes

Previously, the Video portion stated that this 4K UHD release was upconverted from a 2K master. We've just been informed that in fact, this 4K video presentation was from a 6K master, specifically being shot on 6K Redcode Raw.

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

You've never seen Vince Vaughn like this in a movie before. Usually, he's the confident, funny man in comedies, but with this new film from S. Craig "Bone Tomahawk" Zahler, Brawl In Cell Block 99, you get a brutal, violent, and bald-headed Vaughn who is capable of more than just jokes and a punch or two.

Vaughn stars as a man named Bradley who has a famously bad temper (he's known to literally destroy cars with his bare hands when he's pissed off). Desperate to make his marriage work after some tough times, he returns to a life of crime running drugs for a childhood friend until a deal goes bad and he winds up in prison.

One day, a creepy man (Udo Kier) informs Bradley his wife and unborn child have been kidnapped and that parts of them will be mailed to him in prison if Bradley doesn't kill another inmate. But the catch is this inmate isn't even in Bradley's prison. So, to save his wife and child, Bradley not only needs to kill a man, but also find a way to get transferred into, and then survive, a maximum security prison lead by the brutal Warden Tuggs (Don Johnson).

This 132-minute film flies by in what seems like an hour. There are no side storylines or tangents. It's all straight and to the point with Vaughn at the center, portraying one of the best roles he's ever played. He's actually the only good man in the story, but what makes him so fascinating is that he's also the most brutally violent. With Vaughn's size and stature, it's easy for him to take on any opponent and for us to believe it too (though Zahler does add some great jokes about his size throughout the film). For those wondering about the blood and guts aspect, you can definitely expect some nasty fight scenes that will make you wince and curl up in your viewing seat. With that harshness though, comes with an almost angelic ballet of fighting from Vaughn that we've never seen before.

Brawl In Cell Block 99 won't be for everyone, but it's certainly not one to miss, particularly for Vaughn's performance.

Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Brawl In Cell Block 99 comes with a dual-layered UHD66 Disc and a Blu-ray Disc of the film. The Blu-ray is Region A Locked. There is no insert for a Digital HD copy. The discs are housed in a hard, black plastic case with a cardboard sleeve.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

Brawl In Cell Block 99 fights its way into the 4K UHD arena sourced from a 6K master and without HDR10 or Dolby Vision with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. There isn't a big upgrade from the standard Blu-ray version in terms of color or detail, but there are some minor noticeable upticks here and there. The color scheme, for most of the film, has a blue filter on it, so warmers colors, reds or oranges like the prison jumpsuits, are vague and have a decaying look. The other blues, silvers, and various greens do look good though, especially in the interiors of the prison. 

Towards the end of the film, the color palette switches to a much warmer setting where oranges and reds dominate the screen, almost to a fault. With these harsh filters, some of the detail can be hindered. Still, close-ups show off facial pores, makeup wounds, five o'clock shadows, and details in the prison uniforms for the most part. You'll be able to see the dents and intricate details of the tattoos on Vaughn's head as well. Wider shots also look great, as do the fight scenes, which never go soft. The only murky elements here come with the black levels, which tend to produce an orange glow at some moments, but it doesn't really take away from the viewing experience. Skin tones are as natural as they can be with these filters applied. Lastly, there were no problems with banding or video noise. 

The Audio: Rating the Sound

This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix. Just like the film's visual style, the audio is very subdued. Punches are muffled, but more realistic than most action movies. The other gooey sound effects -- bone crunching and face smashing -- are quite impressive and won't soon leave your thoughts, while larger effects -- gunshots and jail doors -- echo with powerful reverb.

Other than that, the sound is quite soft most of the time. Ambient noises of other prisoners talking come up, but it isn't much. Dialogue is crisp, clear and easy to follow along with Vaughn's unique southern accent. The bass kicks in with gun blasts, but with other fist fights, it's rather complacent, but still adds a subdued layer of depth. With this type of movie and it's original style, this audio mix does a great job. 

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

Journey to the Brawl (HD, 15 Mins.) - The cast and crew talk about making the film with quite a bit of behind the scenes footage, discussing the story, Zahler's style, working with each other, the stunts, and prison life. It's better than EPK material for sure.

Beyond Fest Q&A (HD, 32 Mins.) - The entire unedited Q&A session from the genre film festival with the cast and crew. 

Final Thoughts

Brawl In Cell Block 99 is a great and unique film that is, somehow, sweet and ultra-violent all at the same time. The fight choreography isn't stylized at all, which brings in a very realistic feel to the movie. Vince Vaughn shines, giving one of his best performances yet and I can't wait to see him in more roles like this one. As a 4K Blu-ray, it's not a huge upgrade over the standard Blu-ray, but it does look a little better. Regardless of format, though, you don't want to miss this one. Highly Recommended!

Technical Specs

  • 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 2160p HEVC / H.265

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.85:1

Audio Formats

  • English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles/Captions

  • English, Spanish, French

Supplements

  • "Journey to the Brawl: The Making of Brawl in Cell Block 99?
  • Beyond Fest Q&A with Cast and Crew

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