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DVD Review: PERTH

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PERTH

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 111 minutes, two audio commentaries, deleted scenes with commentary, set design featurette, original trailer

STUDIO: Tartan Asia Extreme/ Singapore Film Commission/ Working man Films/ Ground Glass Images

RELEASE DATE: 1-16-2007

PERTH is an unsettling and disturbing film. Harry Lee (Lim Kay Tong) is an unhappy man who is almost as bad as the people he works for. He dreams of moving to Perth and being a simple man, Australia, but he also won't hesitate to beat his wife who has a gambling problem (that ended up with Harry losing his life savings), drink, or steal a dog. He has two friends- Angry Boy Lee (who is more brutal than Harry) and Selva (from India). He goes to work as a driver for high class call girls in Singapore. He thinks his second chance comes in the form of a Vietnamese hooker that reminds him of a Cambodian girl he was pressured to leave behind when he was in the Army in the 1960s. He takes liking to her and feels for her because she had to pay for her family's gambling problems. The big question is if he frees her, will he be really helping her.

PERTH has parallels to Taxi Driver and the earlier films of director Abel Ferrera like KING OF NEW YORK and BAD LIEUTENANT. PERTH begins as a tale of an unhappy man going nowhere. It becomes a journey into the heart of darkness for a man who may never be redeemed or ever change. He will always be a guy who beats his wife, be hated by his son, and haunted by nightmares when he drinks too much. His unhappiness has made his own life into hell. PERTH isn't for everyone. Some scenes linger on. Few may see it as a film that drags on, but those brutal scenes that linger on and on have a purpose- they are supposed to unsettle you. In a way, PERTH is a tale of a flawed man looking for a better life by moving to Perth, Australia only to be dragged down by his own anger and unhappiness. I think Djinn would be a perfect director for the US remake of OLDBOY. Lim Kay Tong is riveting as Harry Lee and I hope PERTH on DVD in the USA paves the way for many roles for him in the US film world.

VIDEO: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen)

The image detail is excellent, but my copy of the DVD just wasn't anamorphic. I hope it is just a glitch in the disc I received for review.

AUDIO: English/Mandarin/Vietnamese/Hokkien/Malay 5.1 Dolby Digital, 5.1 DTS, 2.0 DS

Subtitles: English, Spanish

The audio sounds very hollow at many times during the film. I wish a better sound mix was done for PERTH. The audio quality is the best for Kay Lim Tong's audio commentary. I do wish they didn't subtitle all of the English dialogue because I can understand what the characters are saying when they speak English (the language spoken for the majority of the film and by Harry).

SPECIAL FEATURES: I sampled the two audio commentaries and I love the one by director Djinn better as he talks about the production of PERTH with stories during the filming and events that inpired scenes in PERTH. On the other audio commentary, actor Lim Kay Tong talks about the character of Harry Lee.

The six minute of deleted scenes have forced audio commentary by Lim Kay Tong and I wish he would talk a little less as I want to hear more of the scenes (Harry is the focus of many them and one scene focuses on an expensive set piece cut of the film) despite his interesting insights. Just like the deleted scenes on the 16 BLOCKS DVD, presentuing deleted scnes with commentary as the only option isn't a good thing. It should have been optional commentary for the PERTH deleted scenes. Djinn talks about production design of PERTH in the set design featurette. He isn't a bad talker at all. Then the excellent tralier for PERTH si also included. All the above extras are presented in English.

FINAL ANALYSIS: PERTH is a disturbing film that is a mix of TAXI DRIVER and an Abel Ferrera film like BAD LIEUTENANT. The DVD has good extras despite the forced audio commentary for the deleted scenes.

Director interview:  http://enterline2.tripod.com/djinn.html

this review is (c)12-31-2006 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission (except for excerpts and a link to the review). Look for additional content at http://enterlinemedia.livejournal.com and send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com