Ravage is a highly entertaining yet ultra violent micro-budget action thriller from director Ronnie Sortor. This 1997 SOV powerhouse follows a criminal psychologist out for bloody revenge against the maniac who murdered his family. It’s an incredibly entertaining action film that punches far above its weight class. The Blu-ray from Saturn’s Core provides an excellent A/V package given the analogue source material and a bevy of special features. Recommended.
“You realize we’ll go to one more funeral before this is all over with.”
Criminal psychologist Greg (Mark Brazeale) witnesses the murder of his children at the hands of psycho killer Charles (Dan Rowland, PMS Cop). He turns vigilante with the help of co-worker Lydia (Dina Harris) to hunt down the maniac in a tale of bloody revenge, twists, and surprises.
Ravage is an ultra-violent revenge thriller that never wears its SOV heart on its shoulder even when the technical limitations are evident in the production. With an array of well-staged set pieces and an engaging story, the film follows a typical arc of revenge culminating in a predictable twist. However, the film is a rousing effects display that will please low-budget action fans. Think of it as a Michael Mann tribute through the eyes of a discount Hong Kong action fan. Thankfully this ambitious thriller pulls off some serious action scenes without fumbling too often.
Where Ravage falters is within detailing Charles’ underground legion of cop-killing goons. Sortor and co-writer Bryon Blakey smartly invite the audience into the investigation of Charles’ life, but only give us a brief glimpse of this mafia-inspired network thugs with him at the top of the food chain. It’s an interesting angle that would certainly raise the stakes against Greg and Lydia if it were explored better.
Performances are flat from Mark and Dina with Rowland offering the best attempt at conveying the depth of a character. What I appreciate about Mark is that he looks like your average dad rather than a bulked-out monster or just a pretty face. I don’t know about you but I never mess with a dad sporting white New Balance sneakers and a mustache. However, the MVP award goes to the actor playing David who nailed the complicated police station shootout choreography. A tip of the hat to John Woo, I presume? Overall the action sets and locations are all interesting and never look like somebody’s apartment which is often the case in these SOV micro-budget features.
While it follows a predictable trajectory Ravage goes all out to entertain and engage with the audience. Technical merits are high on this one with a well-conceived series of shootouts and the ability to produce a well-thought-out edit of complicated action set pieces. While it may not reinvent the wheel the film is an entertaining SOV feature for fans of bloody action flicks regardless of the budget.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Ravage arrives on Region Free Blu-ray thanks to the maniacs at Saturn’s Core. The BD-50 disc is housed in a transparent keepcase with reversible artwork. Loading the disc presents the rockin’ Saturn’s Core logo before landing on the Main Menu screen with stills from the film adjacent to typical navigation options.
Saturn’s Core presents Ravage in the film’s original 1.33:1 aspect ratio in 1080p sourced from an original VHS. As expected the HD image is fuzzy with minimal detail. Colors are quite muddy but reds and blues are prominent within squib bursts and set dressing. Blacks are deep swallowing up anything it touches leaving nighttime scenes and darkened interiors hard to watch.
The film was previously released on home video in 2002 from boutique label Sub Rosa on a DVD that was sourced from an original VHS copy. This release from Saturn’s Core improves upon the image quality and compression resulting in a fine looking presentation. In the special features menu you can select this original version of the film which runs 82 minutes.
The main feature is technically a “Director’s Cut” on this Saturn's Core disc which includes a number of edits to the shootout sequences and CG enhancement to various blood squib explosions. Thankfully none of those changes are noticeable unless you’ve compared the two cuts frame by frame.
Ravage slashes onto Blu-ray with a decent DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio mix. Ominous synth tracks pepper the film complete with bizarre warping effects. Rock tracks layer in behind signaling the villain's presence or a dynamite blood effect. Dialogue is clear and discernible without hiss or pop detected but there are noticeable sync issues. Gunshots thump nicely as the sustained shootouts get ugly. On set audio is uneven especially with large sets providing an echo chamber for dialogue. English subtitles are available.
Saturn’s Core provides a heap of special features for fans of the film. I’d recommend starting with the new commentary track before working through the featurettes. Super fans will surely check out the original version and its respective commentary tracks.
Ravage achieves modest results attempting to balance grim revenge themes with blood splattering shootouts. Fans of Hong Kong action flicks and psycho killer procedurals will enjoy the film even with its SOV limitations. Performances are as expected but the real talent here is within the ambitious crew who craft an engaging thriller with confident action scenes. The Blu-ray from Saturn’s Core provides a solid A/V package given the film’s technical limitations. Thankfully there are plenty of commentaries and featurettes to appease fans of this SOV classic. Recommended.