Plot: What’s it about?
When the government needs a data tape stolen from a large corporation, they know they can’t send in one of their own, as that would be against the law. So in order to secure the data tape and still be able to use it in court, an outside force must be brought in to handle the mission. And when you need the job done well, then you go to the best and in this case, it is master thief Sam Quint (Tommy Lee Jones). So they persuade Quint to enter the company’s headquarters and access the tape, which they can then use to prove criminal action with the corporation. As usual, Quint seems to have the situation under control and he breaks into the place, soon getting his hands on the data tape. But when a former acquaintance, Ringer (Lee Ving) catches him in the act, Quint is forced to hide the tape inside of an automobile. But this was the wrong choice, as the car is the rare prototype Black Moon, which is soon stolen by Nina (Linda Hamilton), who works for the main car fence around. Now everyone thinks Quint still has the tape, so unless he can pull off an impossible break in and get the tape back, he is as good as dead.
I found Black Moon Rising to be an average overall film, but the storyline and acting were both very impressive. It just seems like the direction and budget limits kept this down, although the cast does bring it up a few notches. Of course, Tommy Lee Jones is terrific and the supporting is also good, with such names as Linda Hamilton, Robert Vaughn, and Bubba Smith. The cast has some good material to work with, but I found the direction here to be weak, which weighed down the performances somewhat. Also, a film like this one needs to have some cash on deck, which does not seem to be the case here. If there would have been some cool action sequences, I think this would have turned out better, but as it stands, the lack of impressive action brings it down a rung or two. I liked a couple of the ones present and the gunfights were ok, but on the whole, this one lacks the action it needs. So I think this one is best taken as a rental, although fans will want to pick up this disc for the new anamorphic widescreen transfer and 5.1 surround sound remix. In any case, I recommend this one as a rental, as it is a decent film, but it should have been much better.
With the bulk of his experience coming from television shows like Xena and Hercules, it is no surprise Harley Cokliss’ direction here is less than impressive. I suppose he has more to work with on those shows however, as at least they provide the budget for some action, no matter how cheese laden it might be. Here, Cokliss is unable to keep all the elements in check, which in turn, causes the film to suffer more than a little. Perhaps with a more gifted director on the case, Black Moon Rising could have thrived, but I feel Cokliss is a main reason it didn’t work as well as it should have. Let’s just hope he sticks with television shows from now on, so this doesn’t happen again. The cast tries to compensate for the flaws, but in the end, even they can’t bring this up above average. Tommy Lee Jones (U.S. Marshals, Natural Born Killers) is very good here, though not as commanding as his later work would be. The cast also includes Robert Vaughn (Bullitt, BASEketball), Richard Jaeckel (The Dirty Dozen, Herbie Goes Bananas), Lee Ving (Flashdance, Clue), Nick Cassavetes (Face/Off, Black Rose of Harlem), and Linda Hamilton (Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Dante’s Peak).
Video: How does it look?
Black Moon Rising is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. I’ve seen this film on the full frame laserdisc until now, so this new widescreen transfer is a real improvement. The image looks a little dated and some grain is present, but is this the finest home video edition the film has seen. The color seem solid at all times, with a hint of fading at times, while flesh tones look natural and warm also. I do think the contrast is on the soft side, but detail is strong and shadows are good, so no real complaints. This is not the best transfer I’ve seen, but it is a vast improvement over previous editions.
Audio: How does it sound?
I mentioned the visual improvement over the film’s laserdisc, so now I will discuss the audio improvement. The laserdisc sported a mono track and here, we have a great Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound remix. This one isn’t loaded with surround use, but when the time comes, the track lights up the speakers and that enhances the experience a lot. The music sounds rich, the sound effects are active, and the dialogue is crisp and clean. These remixes don’t always pan out, but I think one worked out very well. This disc also includes a 2.0 surround track, if that better suits your home theater system.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes the film’s theatrical and teaser trailers, which are cool to watch.