Constantly tinkering with pet projects, by way of making sequels, director's cuts, or other special editions, has been something of a common practice for certain filmmakers, ranging from wildly successful people like George Lucas to those with a less lucrative product on their hands like Richard Kelly ('Donnie Darko') and, most certainly, spasmodic directors like 'Boondock Saints' creator Troy Duffy. While the young, brash filmmaker's endlessly juvenile revenge fantasy failed to please most critics it certainly struck a chord with a small, vocal segment of the film going population when it was initially released in 1999.
10 years after Duffy's egotism got the better of his burgeoning career – which was captured in the fascinating documentary 'Overnight' – the director, sans a new story, or having appeared to learn anything new about the art of filmmaking, made his return with the redundant sequel: 'The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day' – a film that can be summed up as 117 minutes of half-baked religious pontification, ethnic stereotyping, rampant homophobia, slow-mo overindulgence, and a series of musical cues straight out of a South Boston strip club.
Whereas the first 'Saints' film was simply overwrought, amateurish and the kind of "cult" movie that legitimately earns all the negative connotations normally associated with the word, its sequel sought to augment everything with more over-the-top action, crude humor and inelegant morality, to go along with Duffy's propensity for sponging off other filmmakers like Tarantino and Scorsese, to name but a few. And while there certainly is more of everything, the scripting efforts here sadly offer laughs with little success and action sequences that are little more than actors flailing about in slow motion. In fact, almost all of the comedic elements fall so ridiculously flat 'All Saints Day' begins to suspiciously feel as though the director is satirizing himself. Unfortunately, that's not the case, as this film lacks the smarts to satirize anything, let alone its own ineptitude.
So how, then, does Duffy choose to maintain the relevance of 'The Boondock Saints' while spouting rumors of an inevitable third film and possible television series? By releasing a Director's Cut, of course. Considering the span of time between the first and second films, it makes sense from a business standpoint to offer fans the semblance of something new, while simultaneously whetting their appetite for more. Unfortunately, the "more" that is offered here is roughly 21 minutes of additional footage inserted into the film – delivering a 138 minute cut and a handful of special features.
As far as the additional footage is concerned, the benefit to the overall film is nominal at best. It's longer and there's more exposition in certain areas, but generally it's the same film as before – which could certainly be something fans are looking for. If you were hoping for an alternate ending or additional sequence that offers up something compelling or new to the 'Boondock Saints' mythology, you're out of luck. Primarily, the 21 additional minutes provide a longer opening scene, a longer version of the fantasy sequence and an extended elevator bit that leads into the shoot-out in the Prudential Building. These additions will likely be evident to those who have watched the film more than once, but for those who thought one viewing was more than enough, the new footage will, for the most part, sneak by unnoticed.
The question, then, is: What does this Director's Cut truly offer fans in terms of serviceable material that's integral to the story, or otherwise enhances the film in a way the theatrical cut did not. The answer: nothing. Unless die hard fans are just looking to sit for over two hours, instead of just under that amount, each time they watch 'All Saints Day' there's nothing here to necessitate the purchase, and a single viewing is only necessary to satiate the curiosity brought forth by the promise of "new footage."
'The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day' is perhaps the ultimate in-joke, as it and its predecessor's appeal remain largely imperceptible to anyone outside the faction of devoted followers. To their credit, however, those passionate voices have been sufficient in keeping the brand alive, and to inspire Duffy & Co. to release what is, at the end of the day, a superfluous Director's Cut that only adds to the film's runtime, rather than making any substantive changes that would better justify this release.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day' is released through Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on two 50GB discs containing the theatrical version and the new cut of the film. The set comes with an outer sleeve that features new artwork on a striking black and white cover that will likely attract consumers wandering the shelves at Best Buy. Before the film starts there is an In-Memoriam segment for producer Chris Brinker, who sadly passed away prior to the release of the new cut.
Like the additions to the original cut of the film, the new version doesn't offer much in the way of enhancement to the image – which was actually pretty good to begin with. Here, the same 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer was used on both versions of the film and although too many of the scenes come off feeling much too bright for the location and tone of the film, that's only an issue in regard to the filmmaking and cinematography. Here, the overall image is appreciably bright (obviously), but with that brightness comes a nice amount of fine detail in everything from the textures on characters clothing to the facial appearance of the actors (some of whom look noticeably different from the first film).
There is also a good amount of detail in the background elements, as scenery here plays a big part in making everything feel authentic, from dingy, rundown portions of Boston, to its ports and even the luxurious penthouse of Judd Nelson's character. Here, everything looks good, if not great. Additionally, contrast level is strong throughout – though there are some noticeable discrepancies in certain areas – producing deep, rich blacks and an even white tone that helps with the aforementioned brightness in certain scenes.
This is a solid-looking picture that despite a few issues with contrast levels and some dull colors makes the most of its high-def package.
There's no word on whether or not the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is also the same as with the initial release of the film, but the mix here comes across as rather weak and inconsistent, creating an issue of balance between the dialogue, sound effects and score that is somewhat off-putting. For the most part, each separate element comes through sounding clear, distinct and, on occasion, resonant. However, when the elements are asked to occupy the same moment in time, they often tend to gang up on the dialogue, producing a lower-than-expected volume on character voices, which is then accompanied by bombastic elements from the sound effects, score or, horrible, horrible music cues.
Dialogue issues aside, the other elements do sound particularly striking. The imaging in most of the action sequences is relegated to the front speakers, but it still manages create a nice atmospheric feel to the gunplay and violence this film hinges on. LFE is resonant in most cases, adding a distinctive punch to explosions or thunderous blows from the characters' furious fists and feet. Sadly, aside from picking up the occasional bit of dialogue or music, the rear channels don't seem to have much to do on this mix.
While one can see why the sound effects and music might take precedence over the dialogue on a film like this, it is still disappointing to have there be such an issue regarding the proper balance of dialogue and other sound elements.
These are the same commentaries that accompanied the initial release of 'The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day.'
Not every Director's Cut needs to feature some radical change or additional scene a la James Cameron's 'The Abyss,' or even the extended cut of 'Avatar,' but it should be compelling enough to justify the purchase of another disc. Sadly, 'The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day' Director's Cut is just filler to what is already an overlong film. However, there are a few new extra features that may be of interest to fans, and since the purchase comes with the original theatrical cut, it could be considered a worthwhile upgrade. Overall, this is a release that's intended solely for hardcore fans of the franchise, as they will likely be the only ones to benefit from it. For fans only.