A band of soldiers is dispatched to war games deep in the woods. When they stumble across a rival team slaughtered in camp, they realize they're not alone. Something deadly waits in the darkness; something not animal and not human. Holed up in an abandoned farmhouse, the soldiers start a bloody battle against the beasts. Dawn is only a few hours away, but they may not live to see it.
'Dog Soldiers' is quite possibly one of the best werewolf movies to ever grace the screen. It's a non-stop action horror film with a bit of comedy mixed in for good measure, one that can be watched over and over again. Part 'Predator,' part werewolf could be the best description, as it features an elite team of military personnel who come across a pack of vicious werewolves in the woods. There's tons of violence, guns, and enough blood and guts for two films. This is horror moviemaking at its finest.
We focus on an elite group of Scottish soldiers who are out in the woods for a military training exercise. They stumble across a gruesome scene of what seems to be the remains of a special forces unit that was packing very high-tech equipment and enough weapons to take on another country, which includes tranquilizer darts. Unaware of what has happened, the find one sole survivor, Captain Ryan (Liam Cunningham) who can only muster out the words, "There was only supposed to be one." As fast you can say transformation, the soldiers are ambushed by werewolves. But these werewolves run on two legs and stand over 9 feet tall, and are quite muscular. They have very long claws and very sharp fangs and are only out for one thing. Blood.
Though it seems like the entire soldier squad is about to meet their untimely and grisly doom, a truck pulls up driven by Megan (Emma Cleasby) who rescues the surviving soldiers and brings them to a cabin in the woods so that the soldiers can regroup and tend to their Sergeant (Sean Pertwee), who has had his guts ripped out by one of the werewolves. It is here that the rest of the film takes place with few showdowns between man and werewolf. From here on out, the giant werewolves try to break in the house while the soldiers think of new ways to escape with their lives.
Each character is given a good back story to distinguish each of them throughout the film with the Captain, Sergeant, Private Cooper (Kevin McKidd) and Megan being the main leads. Much of the banter between the soldiers is comical as they discuss girls and soccer games, as well as unique ways to kill werewolves. Neil Marshall's directing is impeccablee.
The climax has quite a few twists and turns that you won't see coming and one brutal scene involving a sword and teeth. I'll never get that image out of my head. 'Dog Soldiers' is a an absolute crowd pleaser. The costumes and make up on the werewolves are top notch and still look like some of the best monsters I have seen to date. There was no CG in this movie. Everything is organic and real. This was a perfect mix of action, horror, and comedy all rolled into one with a heavy dose of werewolves. Make sure you see this movie.
'Dog Soldiers' comes with a sub par video presentation that has a 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio. There are just tons of problems with the quality of this video. Although it was shot on 16mm and was made to look gritty and rough, there is no excuse for the poor job on this video image. The use of colors in the film are mostly browns, dark greens, grays, and black. There isn't really any bright vibrant color anywhere to be seen, with the exception of a few seconds of a fire and some red blood, but even then it doesn't pop.
The detail looks somewhat decent on the soilderss uniforms and close ups of their faces, but it's difficult to make out all the imperfections as the image is a bit soft throughout the film. There is also quite a bit of dirt and even scratches presented here too. And unfortunately there is a lot of edge enhancement that is very noticeable and is distracting. The blacks are not as deep as they should be either. I know this was done on the cheap, but given the technology today, this image should have looked much better on blu-ray.
This release comes with a bit better audio presentation as it has a lossless Dobly TrueHD 5.1 audio mix and sounds pretty good once it gets going. Through the first 20 or so minutes of the film, most of the audio if not all of the audio is only situated on the fronts, but after that, the full surrounds and rears start pumping out noise. The dialogue is clear, but sounds a bit muted here and there, and with the actor's accents, it can be a little difficult to understand. The ambient noise is fairly decent, with gun shots ringing through the rears, doors being broken in on all sides, and howls. This too can be a bit muffled, but nothing too underwhelming, although it's not as powerful a sound as it should be for a horror film. This is much better than the video portion, but still not top notch.
'Dog Soldiers' is an amazing horror film. It's one of the best werewolf movies to ever come out in fact. Sadly, this Blu-ray release didn't get the treatment it deserved and there are no plans to re-release this with better audio and video presentations. I'm inclined to say skip it, but the movie itself is so good that despite all of that, it is completely worth owning if you can get it for the right price.