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Fight Club

"Fight Club" DVD Packs a Wallop

by Jim Bray

The DVD release of “Fight Club” is clear evidence that 20th Century Fox Home Video has learned how to offer incredible bang for the movie watching buck.

First, Fox unleashed a special edition DVD of “The Abyss,” a video masterwork that included two versions of the film as well as a second disc worth of goodies.

The precedent being set, Fox obviously decided to top itself with the “Fight Club” DVD.

Available in what could be called a “super deluxe” collector’s edition, the DVD is a new benchmark for DVD content and packaging.

Based on a novel by Chuck Palahniuk, “Fight Club” is director David Fincher’s extremely “Kubrick-esque” look into the modern male psyche. The film follows Edward Norton’s character, “Jack,” on a journey from tightly wrapped insomniac to, well, you really have to experience the movie to see where his journey takes him.

Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter co-star in supporting roles to Norton’s “Jack,” though “support” probably isn’t the most accurate term for what they give him. These people are from a generation whose parents were too busy indulging their whims to bother raising their children, and the kids resent it.

“Fight Club” is definitely not what one expects, and the commercials don’t come close to hinting at what it’s all about. Words, in fact, don’t really lend themselves to describing a buddy film without buddies, and a movie that’s as much a mind game as it is entertainment.

It’s a finely crafted masterpiece, and my earlier comparison to Stanley Kubrick wasn’t made lightly. “Fight Club” brings to mind the late master’s “A Clockwork Orange” with a healthy dose of “Eyes Wide Shut” thrown in to further mess with your already spinning head.

It’s probably fitting that, while “Fight Club” wasn’t a huge smash at the box office, Fox Video has chosen to bestow upon it such loving treatment. Regardless of the money it made theatrically, “Fight Club” is an important and thought provoking film and it’s almost sure to become a huge hit – and an eventual staple – in its video incarnation.

The DVD is an experience right from the time you remove the shrink wrap.

Unlike “The Abyss,” you only get one version of the movie, but that version has been beautifully mastered to the Lucasfilm THX standard and the exquisitely shot film looks better than it did in my neighborhood theater (which can’t seem to focus correctly). The Dolby Digital audio is so good that, during scenes in which the director has chosen to include a deep, nearly inaudible bass track to heighten the mood, I could feel a breeze from the movement of air emanating from the subwoofer.

It’s the extra material, however, that really makes the “Fight Club” DVD so much more than just a high quality audio/video experience.

The package itself simulates a plain brown paper wrapper tied together with string and when you slide the inner package out you’re greeted by a colorful, three-part cardboard sleeve that contains the two DVD’s and an 18 page color booklet.

Disc One contains the movie, and the disc is also blessed with four audio commentary tracks in which director, cast, writers, and key crew members share their thoughts and experiences about working on the flick. Commentaries like these are quite common, and they’re almost always fascinating, but FOUR?

These commentaries are also “must haves” for film students, and they take the DVD from the realm of entertainment and make it educational as well.

The second disc is loaded with wonderful goodies, including six clips shot during “Fight Club’s” production that use the DVD medium’s “multiple angle” feature to give you different perspectives on key sequences. There are also nine behind the scenes vignettes (with commentaries) on how the film’s special effects were created, a collection of original storyboards, some deleted scenes and bloopers, and a gallery of still pictures.

Fox also throws in original artwork, publicity material, a music video narrated by Brad Pitt, and more.

My hat’s off. Fox has done a magnificent job with “Fight Club” and deserves a lot of credit.

So how about “Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace?”

Fight Club, from Fox Home Video
139 minutes, Widescreen (2.35:1), Dolby Digital
Starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton Helena Bonham Carter,
Written by Jim Uhls, directed by David Fincher

Jim Bray's technology columns are distributed by the TechnoFILE Syndicate. Copyright Jim Bray.


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Updated May 13, 2006