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xXx – 15th Anniversary Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 19, 2017 by  



For those who want to prepare themselves for the theatrical release of “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” will no doubt want to watch “xXx – 15th Anniversary Edition”. Action-packed from beginning to end, the original “xXx” film would eventually catapult Vin Diesel to action hero status! If you love adrenaline-pumping, action films, “xXx – 15th Anniversary Edition” is recommended.

Images courtesy of © 2002 Revolution Studios. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: xXx – 15th Anniversary Edition

FILM RELEASE: 2002

DURATION: 124 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Arabic, bulgarian, Chinese (Traditional), Croation, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovene, Thai, Turkish

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Revolution Studios

RATED: PG-13

RELEASE DATE: January 10, 2017


Directed by Rob Cohen

Written by Rob Cohen

Produced by Neal H. Mortiz

Executive Producer: Vin Diesel, Todd Garner, Arne Schmidt, George Zakk

Co-Producer: Creighton Bellinger, Derek Dauchy

Associate Producer: David Minkowski, Matthew Stillman

Music by Randy Edelman

Cinematography by Dean Semler

Edited by Chris Lebenzon, Joel Negron, Paul Rubell

Casting by Kate Dowd, Ronna Kress

Production Design by Gavin Bocquet

Art Direction by Phil Harvey, Jonathan Lee, Brad Ricker

Set Decoration by Marina Morris, Hilton Rosemarin, Chris L. Spellman

Costume Design by Sanja Milkovic Hays


Starring:

Vin Diesel as Xander Cage

Asia Argento as Yelena

Marton Csokas as Yorgi

Samuel L. Jackson as Agent Augusts Gibbons

Michael Roof as Toby Lee Shavers

Richy Muller as Milan Sova

Werner Daehn as Kirill

Petr Jaki as Kolya

Jan Pavel Filipensky as Viktor

Tom Everett as Senator Dick Hotchkiss

Danny Trejo as El Jeffe

Chris Gann as T.J.


From Revolution Studios and and Sony Pictures, Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) is a notorious underground thrill-seeker who, until now, has been deemed untouchable by the law. But when crack NSA Agent Gibbsons convinces Cage to infiltrate a ruthless Russian crime ring, this new breed of secret agent (codename: XXX) takes down the enemies of justice with a vengeance in this high-octane, turbo-charged thrill-ride from the acclaimed director of The Fast and the Furious. Synopsis for 15th Anniversary Edition Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) is a notorious underground thrill-seeker who, until now, has been deemed untouchable by the law. But when crack NSA Agent Gibbons convinces Cage to infiltrate a ruthless Russian crime ring, this new breed of secret agent (codename: xXx) takes down the enemies of justice with a vengeance in this high-octane, turbo-charged thrill-ride from the acclaimed director of The Fast and the Furious.


With the success of “The Fast and the Furious” back in 2001, director Rob Cohen and actor Vin Diesel reunited for the action film “xXx” which earned over $277.4 million in the box office.

Unfortunately, for the sequel, both Cohen and Diesel dropped out due to prior commitments and “xXx: State of the Union” would feature Ice Cube as the next Triple X agent.  With Diesel’s character Xander Cage, supposedly been killed.

But with the new film “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” slated for release in theaters in January 2017, Vin Diesel returns.

The original “xXx” was written and directed by Rob Cohen (“The Fast & Furious”, “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story”, “Stealth”, “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor”) and would star Vin Diesel (“The Fast & Furious” films, “The Chronicles of Riddick” films), Asia Argento (“Land of the Dead”, “Marie Antoinette”), Marton Csokas (“Lord of the Rings” films, “The Equalizer”), Samuel L. Jackson (“Pulp Fiction”, “The Hateful Eight”, “The Avengers” and “Captain America” films) and Michael Roof (“The Dukes of Hazard”, “Black Hawk Down”).

And with the 15th anniversary of “xXx”, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will be releasing “xXx – 15th Anniversary Edition” on Blu-ray.

The film begins with Xander Cage (portrayed by Vin Diesel), an extreme sports professional and host of his own TV show, being arrested for stealing and destroying a California senator’s car as an act of protest.

NSA Agent Augustus Eugene Gibbons (portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson) puts Cage through two major tests (a diner robbery and to escape a drug cartel’s plantation in Colombia).  As Cage passes the test, Gibbons tells him that if he takes on a mission for the NSA, his criminal record will be wiped out.

The mission, to infiltrate Anarchy 99, a mercenary group of former Russian soldiers.  And also to find out about this biochemical weapon known as “Silent Night” that has gone missing since the fall of the Soviet Union.  And the reason Xander has been chosen is because he has no ties to the U.S. government.

Cage reluctantly agrees and goes to Prague to meet with the NSA support team which includes a Czech agent named Milan Sova (portrayed by Richy Muller).  But Cage blows Sova’s cover in order to be trusted by Anarchy 99 leader, Yorgi (portrayed by Marton Csokas) and it helps that Yorgi’s brother Kolya (potrayed by Petr Jaki) is a big fan of Xander Cage’s TV show.  But for some reason, Yorgi’s girlfriend, Yelena (portrayed by Asia Argento) looks at him with cold eyes.

As Cage tries to get in closer with the group and obtain data to be sent to NSA Agent Gibbons, can he succeed with this difficult and deadly mission?


VIDEO:

“xXx – 15th Anniversary Edition” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). For a 15-year-old film, “xXx” looks great in HD.  The film features a good amount of grain and outdoor scenes are vibrant, while closeups show great amount of detail.  I didn’t notice any dust or banding issues during my viewing of the film.  If anything, “xXx” looks great on Blu-ray.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“xXx – 15th Anniversary Edition” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio,  Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital.

As the film is full of action, surround channels take advantage of all action sequences, from the avalanche scene, from the various chase scenes, ambiance at a dance club and so much more.

Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish, French, Arabic, bulgarian, Chinese (Traditional), Croation, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovene, Thai, Turkish

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“xXx – 15th Anniversary Edition” comes with the following special features:

  • Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with director Rob Cohen.
  • Origins of a Renegade – (6:25) The cast of “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” discuss the original film.
  • xXx: A Filmmakers Diary U.S./Pre-Production – (15:24) Rob Cohen’s discussion of documenting the pre-production phase of the film.
  • xXx: A Filmmakers Diary U.S./Post-Production – (25:25) Rob Cohen’s discussion of documenting the pre-production phase of the film.
  • Diesel Powered – (6:49) Director Rob Cohen talks about Vin Diesel being cast for “xXx” and the cast talks about working with Vin.
  • Visual Effects How Two’s – (3:02) The visual effects supervisor discusses the making of action scenes with the utilization of visual effects such as the avalanche scenes.
  • Deleted Scenes – (15:44) Featuring ten deleted scenes with optional commentary.
  • Starz! On the Set – The Making of xXx – (14:31) Starz! featurette on the making of “xXx”.
  • Agent Shavers’ Gadgets Presentation – (3:54) Michael Roof discusses the gadgets featured in the film.
  • Designing the World of xXx – (14:35) Production designers discuss creating the espionage world of “xXx”.
  • Building Speed: The Vehicles of xXx – (6:55) A featurette about the vehicles used in “xXx” and creating some of the vehicles in 3D.
  • Avalanche Scene – (5:37) Storyboard and final film cut comparison for the avalanche scene.
  • Drug Farm – (5:01) Storyboard and final film cut comparison for the drug farm scene.
  • The End Credit Sequence – Raw and Uncut – (3:32) Featuring the uncut ending sequence.
  • “I Will Be Heard” Music Video by Hatebreed
  • “Adrenaline” Music Video by Gavin Rossdale
  • Theatrical Trailer – The original theatrical trailer of “xXx”.

EXTRAS:

“xXx – 15th Anniversary Edition” comes with an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


It’s been over a decade since I last watched “xXx”.  The Rob Cohen film that would elevate Vin Diesel to become an action hero and no doubt, help cement his “cool factor” as a no-nonsense character for all the “Fast and Furious” films.

Rob Cohen and Vin Diesel had a great working relationship at the time and while Vin Diesel would benefit from both Cohen films, surprisingly, Vin Diesel hadn’t done an “xXx” sequel until 2017, with the upcoming theatrical release of “xXx: Return of Xander Cage”.

Watching “xXx”, this was a straight-up adrenaline charged, popcorn action movie.  Featuring insane stunts, creative chase sequences and you can’t help but think that Diesel shown way back then that he is a bonafide action film star.

The film was also fun to watch for Xander Cage’s quick return verbal jabs and no doubt, Cohen making sure that Xander Cage is a different man compared to the role that Diesel is best known for today, as Dominic Toretto in the “Fast & Furious” films.

As the original was driven by its action sequences and no doubt an earlier work of Diesel, as he has improved a lot as an actor since this film was made.  But now that the third “xXx” film is coming out, I’m expecting this newer action film to deliver and see Diesel in a much better developed role and that a solid storyline accompany’s all that action.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is fantastic and losless audio is also wonderful.  For this 15th Anniversary, you get a special feature titled “Origins of a Renegade” featuring Diesel reminiscing of the past and his co-actors of “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” discussing their memories of the first film.  And all the other special features that were included in the older DVD release are featured on this Blu-ray release.

If you owned the older 2007 Blu-ray release, you probably will not have to upgrade unless you really want to see the newer “Origins of a Renegade” special feature.

Overall, for those who want to prepare themselves for the theatrical release of “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” will no doubt want to watch “xXx – 15th Anniversary Edition”.   Action-packed from beginning to end, the original “xXx” film would eventually catapult Vin Diesel to action hero status!

If you love adrenaline-pumping, action films, “xXx – 15th Anniversary Edition” is recommended.

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