From the author of Wild At Heart and the director of Day of the Beast comes Perdita Durango - the timeless romance of a woman and her scamming double-dealing criminal lover and their journey from Mexico to Las Vegas. Starring Rosie Perez and Javier Bardem, it doesn’t get much weirder or wilder than this and now we get to enjoy it in full 4K UHD Blu-ray from Severin! With an excellent native 4K transfer with HDR10, solid audio, and great bonus features - if you’re an Alex de la Iglesia fan, this isn’t one to miss. Highly Recommended.
Mourning the loss of her sister, Perdita (Rosie Perez) gets her kicks in the streets of Mexico when she’s approached by thief and conman Romeo Dolorosa (Javier Bardem) to hang out, have a few laughs, maybe do a little crime on the side. The two quickly become embroiled in the lucrative scam of transporting frozen human fetuses to Las Vegas to be turned into cosmetics. Now with the DEA lead by Agent Dumas (an awesome James Gandolfini) on one side, Romeo’s old betrayed partner (Santiago Segura) behind them, two suburban kids in their backseat, and current employer in front, Perdita and Romeo are cornered into a deadly game of kidnapping, betrayal, and murder.
As I mentioned in my review for The Day of the Beast - Alex de la Iglesia’s filmmaking style takes a little getting used to. You’re either all in or it’s just not for you. I’ve seen many a willing compatriot dive in only to jump right out. Something about his films’ manic energy, the unrelenting unrepentant characters, and bizarre high-concept plots just don’t connect with folks. For me, it’s why I want to see his movies. I may not understand a lick of what the hell is going on in some of them, but I’m all in for the ride. Usually, it's a ride worth taking.
Now with two 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray releases available from Severin, of the two I would rank Perdita Durango his best movie but The Day of the Beast is the most accessible. I feel like most people can deal with the clever insanity of Beast. Perdita is a different animal and that’s because of the source material. Based on the novel by Barry Gifford (who also contributed to the screenplay), this is technically a follow-up to David Lynch’s bat-guano-crazy Wild At Heart. Take an intricate plot of likable criminals with an intriguing crime/heist framework of an Elmore Leonard story and drop some ayahuasca and that's the recipe for this film. This movie moves fast and frankly doesn’t really care who gets left behind in its wake. That’s what you’re in for here.
This is also one that’s very difficult to pin to a specific genre. It’s a comedy, it’s an action movie, it’s a crime thriller, and it’s a psychedelic horror movie all rolled into one. My first outing with this movie was while I was still living in Chicago and I rented the severely cut R-rated version. I thought that version was alright, but you absolutely feel like you’re missing something. Now for the first time in the States, we get to enjoy Iglesia’s full 130-minute unrated Director’s Cut and the film actually feels complete. Previously there was a 120-minute extended cut, but I’ve never seen that version to know the differences here beyond an extra ten minutes.
Central to this madness are impressive turns from Rosie Perez and Javier Bardem. Perez at this point was largely stuck in romantic comedies as the friendly side character or something like Nicolas Cage’s brash wife in It Could Happen To You. Here she gets to roll her full range as sexy, slick, and at times outright evil! Backing her play is another amazing early turn from Javier Bardem. He brings the charisma and the physical intensity that’s defined his career, but it’s dialed up to 11. His Romeo is bonkers ready and willing to do anything for a buck - even dismembering a body while rolling cocaine pretending to be a shaman. He’s all in, and his Romeo even rivals his Anton Chigurh for memorable hairstyle choices. Drifting in the background is a great appearance from James Gandolfini. He brings the crazy and delivers as the heavy.
To that end, I'm barely scratching the surface of the insanity this movie has to offer. There’s a lot to this movie, and much like its cinematic sibling Wild At Heart - it may be a little too much. As the film unfolds it becomes a game of “and then” as if it were improvising plot events and character beats on a whim. It’s a bit disjointed and all over the place so if you’re someone who wants everything to “make sense,” Perdita Durango may not be for you. However, if you want something that’s absolutely bonkers where you have no idea where the film is going to go or how it's going to get there while still being shocked and surprised, this one is for you. It’s often horrifying - but at the same time hilarious.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Perdita Durango arrives in a two-disc 4K UHD Blu-ray + Blu-ray set from Severin. Housed in a standard black 2-disc case with o-card slipcover, the disc loads to an animated main menu with traditional navigation options. The bulk of the bonus features are found on the included 1080p Blu-ray disc.
If you want a key example of how HDR can benefit a film, it’s the black levels. Perdita Durango is a very dark movie with the bulk of the film taking place at night or in dark shadowy locations. And with most of the cast wearing shades of black and gray clothing crush could have been a serious issue for a subpar release - but Severin knocked it out of the park here. Their standard Blu-ray is very good, it holds its own nicely, but with HDR10 and the expanded clarity and resolution, this film looks phenomenal on 4K.
Details are impressive throughout most of the film with a natural grain structure to deliver a rich film-like presentation. There are a few soft spots here and there, some purposeful, others can look like they were run through a filter of some kind as they stand out notably from the rest of the film. Thankfully those moments are fleeting and far between. You’re able to fully appreciate the intricate costuming - especially for Javier Bardem’s Romeo. When things move to Vegas, all the glitz and glam of 90s City of Sin is on full display.
Colors offer some amazing pop, the daylight sequences in particular bathed in golden yellows and offer more notable color range than being a solid uniform color. The rest of the film delivers primaries in clever ways - red gets a lot of splash especially when the body count starts to rise. Whites are also well balanced without any blooming issues to contend with. For a moderately budgeted mid-90s film that hasn’t really been treated well in the U.S. - this is a hell of a gift for fans. Severin again brought their A-Game for this release. Hopefully, they have more 4K UHD Cult Classics lined up - the world needs more of this kind of film looking better than ever on home video.
Both the 4K UHD Blu-ray and the 1080p SDR Blu-ray land with a robust package of audio mixes to choose from. You get an English DTS-HD MA 2.0 mix and 5.1 mix and a Spanish Dubbed 5.1 track. As this is a predominantly English language movie first, the 2.0 and 5.1 mixes are the strongest. My Spanish is rough at best so rolling the Spanish dubbed version without subtitles was a test that I gloriously failed - but it sounded pretty good! My hat tip recommend is the full English 5.1 track - it delivers terrific surround qualities engaging the sides and rears when/where necessary while providing ample atmospherics. The 2.0 mix is still very good, but it lacked some oomph and LFE qualities that the 5.1 mix punched in nicely.
True to form, Severin delivers a nice package of bonus features well worth picking through. We get a variety of new interviews with Iglesia, Gifford, and Rebekah Mckendry, as well as a couple of featurettes. All of the bonus features are found on the included 1080p Blu-ray disc. Only trailers are on the actual 4K disc.
Perdita Durango is a wild ride and one most folks may not be too keen on taking. That said if you’re reading this review at all you probably know what you’re in for with Alex de la Iglesia’s first English language film. With excellent performances from Rosie Perez and Javier Bardem, this film is never boring and rarely slows down for long. Buckle up and enjoy the ride.
Severin delivers another excellent 4K UHD Blu-ray release with Perdita Durango. Following their excellent The Day of the Beast - they’re granting fans of the weird and wild a big wish delivering an excellent A/V presentation with a solid package of bonus features that are actually informative and worth watching through. Highly Recommended