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Priest: Unrated (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 12, 2011 by  



Based on the Korean graphic novel, “Priest: Unrated” is a straight-up popcorn action film that relies heavily on the action  and visual effects versus a strong plot.  I will say that if you enjoyed the film, you’ll definitely enjoy “Priest: Unrated” on Blu-ray!

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Images courtesy of © 2011 Screen Gems, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Priest: Unrated

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2011

DURATION: 87 minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (widescreen 2:40:1), English, French , Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English – Audio Descriptive Track, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French and Spanish

RATED: UNRATED

COMPANY: Screen Gems/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: August 16, 2011

Directed by Scott Charles Stewart

Written by Cory Goodman

Based on the graphic novel series “Priest” by Min-Woo Hyung

Produced by Michael De Luca, Joshua Donen, Mitchell Peck, Shareena Carlson

Co-Producer: Nicolas Stern

Executive Producer: Josh Bratman, Glenn S. Gainor, Steve Galloway, Stuart J. Levy

Music by Christopher Young

Cinematography by Don Burgess

Edited by Lisa Zeno Churgin, Rebecca Weigold

Casting by Rick Montgomery

Production Design by Richard Bridgland

Art Direction by Andrew Max Cahn, A. Todd Holland, Christa Munro

Set Decoration by Robert Greenfield

Costume Design by Ha Nguyen

Starring:

Paul Bettany as Priest

Karl Urban as Black Hat

Cam Gigandet as Hicks

Maggie Q as Priestess

Lily Collins as Lucy Pace

Brad Dourif as Salesman

Stephen Moyer as Owen Pace

Christopher Plummer as Monsignor Orelas

Alan Dale as Monsignor Chamberlain

Madchen Amick as Shannon Pace

In a post-apocalyptic world, a savage war between man and vampire raged for centuries. A warrior priest (Paul Bettany) receives word of fresh attacks but now it`s personal, his niece has been kidnapped by a new hive of merciless vampires. To save her, he must break his vow of peace and hunt down the hive before it’s too late. Based on the acclaimed graphic novel and packed with bloodthirsty action, this full throttle crusade takes you on the hunt for a deadly new breed of killer.

Back in 1998, a manhwa  (Korean comic book) titled “Priest” was created by Hyung Min-woo and was released in the United States.  The comic book was inspired by the PC video game “Blood” and in 2005,  a loosely-based adaptation by Cory Goodman (“Apollo 18”) was bought by Screen Gems in 2005.

In 2009, the film was directed by Scott Stewart (known for his visual effects work), “Sin City”and would star Paul Bettany (“The Da Vinci Code”, “Iron Man”, “A Beautiful Mind”), both men previously worked on the film “Legion”.

With the film set for release for 2010, because the film was being converted to 3D, “Priest” would receive its theatrical debut in North America in May 2011 and now, “Priest: Unrated” is set for release in August 2011 on Blu-ray and DVD.

“Priest” revolves around a time where humanity and vampires were at constant war with each other.  Because of the war, the world has been devastated and with humanity nearly killed off by the vampires, an elite spiritual warrior organization known as the Priests who had the special ability to slay the vampires, manage to kill most of them.

Those who were alive were kept in reservations and for the humans that were still alive, the Church created heavily guarded cities for humans to live in.  But those who live in the guarded cities, must live and obey the Church’s law.  Going against their rules, is going against the Church.  So, those who are tired of the rules, some have decided to live outside of the cities to live a free life away from the Church.

And as for the Priests, the Church truly believes that the Priests are no longer needed, so they disbanded the organization.

Meanwhile, Priest (played by Paul Bettany) has been having nightmares of his fellow priests being killed by vampires.  He tries to communicate with Monsignor Orelas (played by Christopher Plummer) about his dreams, but is told that its probably evil thoughts and to pay it no mind.

That same day, a sheriff named Hicks (played by Cam Gigandet) tells Priest that his brother Owen (played by Stephen Moyer) and his sister-in-law Shannon (played by Madchen Amick) were killed by vampires and that his niece named Lucy (played by Lily Collins) was killed.

Hicks wants to find Lucy but needs Priest’s help but the problem is that if he does so, it goes against the rules of Monsignor Orelas and the Church.  Stuck in a hard place, he is able to get support from one of the Monsignor, Monsignor Chamberlain (played by Alan Dale) who warns Priest of the ramifications but for Priest, its important for him to save Lucy.

So, as the soldiers of the church try to stop Priest, Priest breaks the rule and leaves the city to find Lucy and Monsignor Orelas sends out four other priests lead by Priestess (played by Maggie Q) to capture him, dead or alive.

Meanwhile, we learn that Lucy is still alive and a mysterious person with a black hat is using Lucy as bait for Priest to come.

And as Priest and Hicks go to find Lucy, they realize that they must not only deal with an infestation of vampires but that they are up to something.  With the vampires and the priests going after both Priest and Hicks, will the two be able to successfully save Lucy?

 

VIDEO:

“Priest is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1) and this dark and gritty vampire-killing film that looks fanastic on Blu-ray.  Blacks are nice and deep, detail for the film is fantastic as we can see various objects, landscapes with clarity.  Closeups of the detail on the skin of the character’s faces is quite clear and there is also a layer of grain included as well.

I didn’t notice any problems with artifacts, edge enhancement and for the most part, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has constantly given Blu-ray fans awesome picture quality and it is no different for “Priest: Unrated”.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Priest: Unrated” is presented in English, French, Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD MA and English – Audio Description Track.   I have to give high marks to “Priest” for its lossless audio.  Audiophiles will love how effectively the sounds were mixed for various directions.    There is good amount of LFE, dialogue is crystal clear and also good use for ambiance through the front and surround channels.  Especially weather elements of wind and rain but also just that eerie vibe that you get from the look and feel of the film and just hearing the music and the various sounds, the sound editor did a great job on the soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Spanish, French and Portuguese.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Priest: Unrated” comes with the following special features:

  • PS3 Theme – If you have a PS3, you can install a “Priest” Ps3 theme.
  • movieIQ – View information online for the film while watching “Priest”.
  • Bullets and Crucifixes: Picture-in-Picture Experience – While watching the film, hear from the director and cast on the making of “Priest” and other details related to the film.
  • Commentary with Director Scott Stewart, Writer Cory Goodman, Paul Bettany and Maggie Q – While details can be found on the picture-in-picture experience, hear the director, writer and actor Paul Bettany and actress Maggie Q giving viewers insight on the making of the film.
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes – (12:31) Seven deleted and extended scenes.
  • The Bloody Frontier: Creating the World of Priest – (12:49) The challenge of creating the alternate world of “Priest”.
  • Tools of the Trade: The Weapons and Vehicles of Priest – (11:25) Featuring the weapons and vehicles of “Priest” and bringing it to the world on film.
  • Twisted Metal® Uncut Trailer – (2:31) Trailer for the upcoming Sony PlayStation 3 video game “Twisted Metal”.
EXTRAS:
Comes with an insert with a code to download a “Priest” skin for “Twisted Metal” on October 4, 2011.

I’m probably much more accepting to “Priest” than the film critics were because I read a lot of graphic novels, especially from Asia and I’m also into alternate universe in a steampunkish way and the fact that introduces vampires that are not pretty boys and are just downright fugly and ferocious, I was digging it!

I have to say that I was quite skeptical at first because the last time I watched a film with Scott Stewart and Paul Bettany together, it was “Legend” and it was all visual effects with a bad story.

Not to say that “Priest” is great when it comes to storytelling but I enjoyed this film much more than “Legion” and the concept of the priests and vampires at war and the fact that the overall look of the film managed to look gritty and dark but the use of blues and warm colors to separate the church cities and what was taking place outside with the vampires and humans, for me it was quite intriguing.

It’s a short film at 87-minutes and I’m going to be truthful, outside of the main storyline between Priest and him breaking the rules of the church, I felt the whole movie was a bit of a blur and I was focusing more on the visual effects and action.  Suffice to say, seeing Maggie Q with Paul Bettany was a pretty cool collaboration and because I watched “Legion” and was expecting something along the lines of visual eye-candy with no substance ala “Legion”, I came in expecting somewhat the worst and so, I was pretty surprised that I enjoyed this film much better than what I was expecting.

As for the film, I can’t tell you what difference there is between the unrated and normal version of the film.  I think that for me, the lack of including both films on the Blu-ray release was a bummer!

For the Blu-ray release, I was impressed by the picture and audio quality and that there were a good number of special features and that they got the talent involved for the audio commentary.  But what about the film?  The film was good in a popcorn action kind of way.  When it comes to vampire films, in this day and age, it’s been overdone and you just want to see something different.  So,  I did like the fact that “Priest: Unrated” made the vampires really ugly and ferocious.

I will say that for an “unrated” release, I was expecting more violence or even blood or more dismemberment.  I thought this was going to showcase something disgusting along the lines of horror and it never happened in this film.    If anything, we see families getting thrashed by the vampires but instead of showcasing any of those scenes, we hear it instead of see it.

Overall, “Priest: Unrated” was an enjoyable film that was not necessarily great but comparing it to Stewart and Bettany’s last work together on “Legion”, “Priest: Unrated” was much more enjoyable and if it was visual eye-candy, I preferred “Priest” over “Legion”.

If you are the type who likes action films with a lot of fighting and a lot of visual effects and doesn’t have a strong plot, you can’t go wrong with “Priest: Unrated”.  Otherwise, if you are looking for a deeper film and plot is much more important than visual effects and action, then “Priest: Unrated” is definitely not for you.

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