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Born To Fight (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Born To Fight (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: December 13th, 2022.
    Director: Bruno Mattei
    Cast: Brent Huff, Mary Stavin, Romano Puppo, Werner Pochath, Massimo Vanni
    Year: 1989
    Purchase From Amazon

    Born To Fight – Movie Review:

    Is it possible for one man to singlehandedly blow up every hut in The Philippines? It can be done, and in Bruno Mattei’s 1989 Rambo knock off, Born To Fight, the man for the job is named Sam Wood (Brent Huff). When we meet him, he’s napping in a dive bar, his feet comfortably resting up on a table. He’s the type of guy who drains cobras of their venom and then shoots it back down his throat for money. His nap is interrupted by Maryline Kane (former Bond Girl Mary Stavin), a pretty blonde American television journalist who wants to hire him to accompany her back into Vietnam, to the same area where he was held captive and tortured by Vietcong forces during the war. He’s not into the idea, but Maryline knows that money talks and soon enough, he’s on a boat with Maryline and her small crew heading deep into the jungle.

    When they arrive at their destination, they’re greeted by a man clad in black prison clothes who is promptly shot dead by Vietnamese soldiers. The man seems to know Maryline, whose crew is also promptly killed, which seems odd to Sam. He decides to head back to safety and get out of the country but she throws more money at him and eventually he learns that she isn’t working on a news report at all but is actually on a weird self-funded mission to save her father, General Weber (John Van Dreelan). Sam isn’t into this idea either, because years back when he escaped from the Vietnamese prison camp, Weber was the man who told him he couldn’t go back to save his buddies.

    In cahoots to keep Weber locked away is an Austrian ex-pat now working for the Vietnamese named Duan Loc (Werner Pocath, who kind of looks like Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers) and a C.I.A. guy named Alex Bross (Romano Puppo). When Sam finds out what’s really going on, he straps up a load of bullet belts and grabs the nearest heavy duty machine gun to burst into slow motion, hut blasting action and save the day.

    Born To Fight might be a ridiculously unoriginal movie but that’s half the fun. Huff is in very fine form here, his character a cross between The Man With No Name, Indiana Jones and Rambo, and he handles the action scenes, catch phrases and one liners perfectly. Strutting about with perpetual five o’clock shadow and with a cigarillo permanently glued to his bottom lip, his grouchy demeanor contrasts in strange ways with his surprisingly ‘can do’ attitude but he’s absolutely the guy you want on your side when it comes time for machine gun battles or finding a surprise stash of grenades at the bottom of a river littered with mines. Mary Stavin’s Maryline isn’t quite as useful – she can’t swim underwater and she can’t drive stick – but she’s fun to look at and, like Sam, we don’t mind her so much. It’s fun to see them back together working for Mattei after collaborating on Strike Commando 2. Werner Pocath is awesome as the redheaded European sadist turned red commie sadist, while Romano Puppo plays his part with a surprising amount of reserved compared to the rest of the cast, but somehow looks really cool doing it.

    It’s all brainless, derivative nonsense, of course, but the fairly endless string of insane dialogue, logic gaps, completely unnecessary slow motion and epic explosions matter more than anything else, and on that level, Born To Fight completely delivers.

    This disc also includes both the extended cut (1:33:11) and the theatrical cut (1:30:16) of the film.

    Born To Fight – Blu-ray Review:

    Both versions of Born To Fight are presented on a 50GB disc with the extended cut of the feature using 23.5GBs and the theatrical 23GBs. The AVC encoded 1080p high definition image is framed at 1.66.1 widescreen and is taken from a 2k scan of the original 35mm negative. Overall this looks really strong. Colors pop really nicely, especially the greens, and there are a lot less obvious lower quality stock footage inserts here to stand out. There’s pretty strong depth and nice detail present throughout and the transfers is free of any noticeable noise reduction or edge enhancement. Strong black levels are a constant throughout and flesh tones always look proper and accurate. No complaints here, this is a really solid picture.

    Audio options are provided for the film in English and Italian language 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo tracks with optional subtitles provided in English audio only, translating the English audio track. Audio quality is solid regardless of which option you choose. The tracks are clean, clear and nicely balanced.

    Extras start off with an audio commentary with Actors Brent Huff and Mary Stavin that plays out over the Theatrical Cut of the movie. Moderated by Severin Films’ own David Gregory, it’s an interesting and sometimes humorous look back at the making of the movie, with the film’s two leads talking quite jovially discussing how they came to work with Mattei, where ADR was done without Huff’s actual voice, and what he was like as a director, getting along with the other cast and crew members involved in the production, some of the stunt set pieces and explosions, when and where the same Filipino stuntmen and extras are killed more than once in the movie, what it was like on set, the locations and their own personal experiences living in The Philippines while the movie was being made and plenty more.

    Mr. Cobra Dundee is an interview with Screenwriter/Assistant Director Claudio Fragasso running twenty minutes and going over how Mattei always wanted to do his own version of American films every time that he watched one, creating the Sam Wood character, using real snakes during the shoot but having to have their mouths sewn shut, how the film serves as a showcase for Brent Huff, memories of the different crew members and actors who worked on the shoot, filming the explosions from multiple angles to get more mileage out of them, why there was never a sex scene included in the movie, where he directed specific scenes as opposed to Mattei, why he came to stop working with Mattei in the early 90's, and what Mattei was like as a person outside of a film set.

    Cigarettes In Heaven is an interview with Screenwriter Rossella Drudi that runs for twelve minutes. She talks about the influence of Crocodile Dundee (which you can see in the cover art!), getting along with the two leads and really enjoying working with Huff, changes that were made to the original version of the script, pushback she got as a woman from male screenwriters who resented her for writing macho action movies, the film's rushed production schedule and quite touchingly her memories of Mattie's final days.

    Finishing up the extras on the disc is a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection options.

    Born To Fight - The Final Word:

    Every bit as ridiculous as it sounds, Born To Fight is as entertaining as it is mind-numbing. The Blu-ray release from Severin looks excellent and includes more extras than anyone probably needs, but which do a solid job of exploring the film’s making and the lives of those who made it. Lots of fun to be had here – recommended!


    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Born To Fight Blu-ray screen caps!

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