Plot: What’s it about?
Axon Ray (Mirko “Cro-Cop” Filipovic) was a war hero and decorated police officer, but now he works for a covert government agency. He was given the codename Sphinx, trained in high tech weapons and the elite martial arts disciplines, then sent out as part of the State Anti-Terrorist Organization. As a member of the Sanction Division of SATO, Sphinx is part of an assassin collective, a group of elite government assassins. He is the best of the best, SATO’s top assassin, but when he is unable to complete his latest assignment, even he faces the consequences. Any other failed assassin would be killed, but Sphinx is sent to Gulag 7, where his skills will be tested by fire. He must do battle with other government assassins, ones as vicious and cold as he is and if any of them refuse to fight, death is assured. With his life on the line and his back against the wall, can Sphinx defeat the others and somehow survive to escape this treacherous situation?
As a huge fan of the Pride-FC mixed martial arts promotion, I have seen Mirko “Cro-Cop” Filipovic numerous times and his fights are almost always a highlight of the show. So when I saw Cro-Cop was in an action movie, I knew I had to see it, if just to see if his real life fighting skills would translate well on film. I didn’t expect a blockbuster action epic, but I figured some fun B movie thrills would be on showcase. I have to be honest, Ultimate Force was a disappointment. The story was thin, the performances were bad, and I just get couldn’t get into the movie. I can deal without a high end plot and I can even cope with wooden performances, but even the action here isn’t that memorable. I will say this though, just the experience of Cro-Cop in a movie held my interest, even if his fights here weren’t that remarkable. So if you’re a fan of Cro-Cop, I think Ultimate Force is worth a look, but don’t expect much beyond the novelty of his presence.
Video: How does it look?
Ultimate Force is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This HD-DVD transfer is identical to the Blu-ray transfer, so my same comments have been ported over. This is the first high definition release from BCI Eclipse and while the 1080i transfer isn’t flawless, the movie looks quite good. I found the transfer on the standard disc to be rather bland, but here we have a sharper, more refined presentation. The close ups in specific show off impressive detail, even the smallest pores on faces are clear, which is good stuff. The longer shots don’t fare as well and can be inconsistent. Some look good, with solid depth, while others don’t seem to be better than the standard release. The colors look a little washed out, but that seems to be intentional and I found contrast to be accurate.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio on this HD-DVD release mirrors the Blu-ray version, so again I ported over my comments. This is where some fans are sure to be let down, as the lone soundtrack is a two channel stereo option. The movie sounds decent of course, but we’ve been so spoiled by uncompressed soundtracks these days, so this was a disappointment. Even so, the basics are covered and the audio is never bad, but it seems like a new mix could have done wonders. After all, this is an action movie and it could have benefited from some extra power. But the dialogue is clear and the sound effects are fine, if limited, so its not the movie sounds bad here.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The same extras remain intact, so overall, the HD-DVD and Blu-ray releases are identical, aside from the color of the cases. The extras here include footage of Cro-Cop’s training routine, an interview with the man himself, a seven minute promotional featurette, and the film’s trailer.