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The pain, the pain!


This morning, I was looking through some of the DVDs I haven’t blown the dust off in a while, and I came across the Region 1 Deluxe Edition of Luc Besson’s Léon, a favourite of mine. This is a film that, to the best of my knowledge, has never been adequately represented on DVD, with every release falling way short of decency standards. Every release I’ve seen for myself, or have seen screen captures of, has suffered from a crippling lack of detail, not to mention massive amounts of ringing and mosquito noise. The overall look is that of an ancient master that has been trotted out again and again over the years, which makes the Superbit logo and claim that it has been “mastered in high definition” on the back of the Deluxe case completely absurd.

Even so, I wasn’t prepared for the utter horror of just how bad this transfer, from a major studio who have done some absolutely stellar work, looks:

Léon DVD - 1920x1080 blow-up

Now, bear in mind that this has been blown up to 1920x1080 resolution, but I wanted to do this to give you an example of just how bad the ringing is, and to approximate how this might look on a large display. Even at its default resolution (see here) it looks pretty outrageous, more like what you might expect from a crummy DivX bootleg downloaded from one of the dubious sites that offer such material.

“Deluxe” my left wallnut! This film is crying out for a re-release - a proper one, not just the same old master hauled out and run through the blender again.

Posted: Monday, May 05, 2008 at 1:07 PM | Comments: 7
Categories: Cinema | DVD | Technology



I agree that this film deserves better.

I have the Japanese edition with dts sound which i believe came from a master supplied from Besson's own collection.

It still doesn't look great and has some edge enhancement and specks on the print but to be honest i think it looks better than a number of films i own ( certainly looks a million miles better than Cutthroat Island - Japanese edition which is riddled with bad edge enhancement and also deserves better because its so much more entertaining than Pirates of the Caribbean )

I certainly think the version of Leon i own looks decent on a 106 inch projection screen - not great but decent and watchable.

Posted by: FoxyMulder, May 5, 2008 9:27 PM


For Cutthroat Island you should consider the german release by Kinowelt. It's based on the same master as the UK Momentum disc, but without the BBFC-cuts. Still just okayish, but much better than the old Pioneer master from 1996.

Posted by: Peter von Frosta, May 6, 2008 7:23 AM


Hi Peter

I have been kinda holding out and waiting for an announcement that Cutthroat Island would get a high definition release. The fact it flopped at the box office doesn't make it likely anytime soon but MGM being sold that year did destroy a number of good films and Cutthroat was one of them.

Do you know the audio bitrate for the German release....Is it 448kb/s Dolby or 384kb/s ?

I'd love to see this and Leon get high definition releases.

Posted by: FoxyMulder, May 6, 2008 9:07 PM


Most of the time I am not as bothered by some of the transfer issues that you discuss in your reviews. This is one time that I agree 100% that the transfer is a step above dog shit. I have bought way too many editions of Leon and everyone has left me wanting more transfer wise.

Posted by: Meddle, May 7, 2008 4:21 AM


I have to check on that, I can't remember.

Posted by: Peter von Frosta, May 7, 2008 7:50 AM


The german Cutthroat Island DVD has 448kbit english audio (it's really good, I just tuned in a moment ago, great soundtrack) and an audiocommentary with Mr Harlin.

Posted by: Peter von Frosta, May 7, 2008 10:47 PM


Thanks Peter for finding out.

I may be tempted to dip on this as its a film i really enjoy and like you say the soundtrack really is fabulous and well mixed ( great rousing music score )

Posted by: , May 8, 2008 3:43 PM

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