A DVD REVIEW: BAD BOYS - SUPERBIT EDITION (Columbia/TriStar) [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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08-19-2005, 10:35 PM

This is Michael Bay at his best. Okay, perhaps that status should be reserved for material like Armageddon, but there is no doubt that when you get Michael Bay together with Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, you have a recipe for downright off-the-wall lightning-quick editing techniques, over-the-top action sequences, and just about anything that can be blown up, blow up. When Bay paired Martin Lawrence together with Will Smith for this first film, the production team had no idea that they were stumbling upon a tremendously successful matching of these two characters that are taken even further over the top in the sequel; the magnetism between Smith and Lawrence in these films is simply magical --- the two of them spewing line after line of trash-talk and sarcasm at each other as partners in the Miami Police Department can get literally addicting where you can't take your eyes off a scene for a moment --- and that's where the Bruckheimer/Bay action factory has succeeded so well here. More than Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in the Men in Black films, Smith and Lawrence seem to have been born to play these roles together.

1995's Bad Boys starts off with a bang, depicting a rich-by-family-association Miami detective (Smith) driving his black Porsche through the Florida streets along with his somewhat annoying, always-complaining partner (Lawrence) who is proceeding to eat fast food in Smith's $105,000 limited edition Porsche. The bantering between these two from the very beginning is downright hilarious; when Smith pulls over to the curb after Lawrence drops a french fry between his seats to rip into him about it, a car pulls up behind them with the intention of carjacking Smith's Porsche; their decoy is a sexy brunette with a really short mini skirt on who slithers past Smith's car and distracts the two detectives still arguing about the french fry. Smith and Lawrence end up pulling their guns on the two carjackers, with the opening title sequence of the film flying right into the center of the screen, and was a brilliant spark to the film on Bay's behalf.

The plot of this original film in the two film "series" splinters off into a group of drug dealers who steal a tremendous amount of heroin from Miami Police headquarters, indicating this had to be an "inside job." It seems this was the "bust of their careers" for Smith and Lawrence, and they are called in to investigate before Internal Affairs gets too close to the case (any of this sound awfully familiar to one of the Lethal Weapon films?). It appears a crooked ex-cop, Eddie Dominguez, is now working for this drug kingpin (played by Tcheky Karyo of The Patriot; ironic that I purchased that title in Superbit also today) and he was behind getting Karyo and his goons into the police drug impound. Dominguez throws a "party" of his own, getting high on Karyo's own drug supply and ordering a high-priced call girl to his place while he is stoned out of his head; along with this hooker is her friend, Tea Leoni (running around in awfully skimpy outfits in this) who comes along on this "call" just to accompany her friend. Unfortunately, Karyo finds out about his missing drugs, crashes Eddie's party, and kills the hooker he called --- all while Leoni watches from an upstairs bathroom.

Of course now, she is a witness to this murder, and these guys are hunting her, and she seeks the help of Smith's character, who was good friends with her hooker friend that was murdered. The problem is her desperate call for help to the police, claiming she just witnessed this murder, comes when their hysterically sarcastic police captain is alone with Lawrence's character, and Lawrence must pretend HE is Smith in order to calm Leoni down and get her to be let into protective custody as the only witness to the murder. There's another problem here: Smith is a single playboy, living the ultimate bachelor lifestyle while Lawrence is a married family man with children --- a role he must quickly reverse in order to imitate his partner, Mike Lowry (Smith) to convince Leoni. What I still don't understand about this plot in this now somewhat legendary action film is.....why couldn't they just be straight with Leoni in the first place about who was who instead of making up this story that Lawrence is Smith and Smith is Lawrence; it could be suggested that perhaps this was only because their captain was caught off guard with Leoni's call and simply had to get Lawrence to pretend he was Smith, but still.....couldn't they have just told her who was who? Did it matter? She was being protected anyway. I guess we wouldn't have a film then.

What results is Lawrence bringing Leoni to Smith's luxury apartment, pretending to own the place himself, and keep the lie going just for her protection. In the meantime, Smith is staying with Lawrence's wife and kids, as Lawrence has to make up a story about leaving town for a federal case to his wife. The film relies on this premise throughout the running time----that Leoni thinks Lawrence's character was really her dead hooker's friend's "pal" and that Smith is the family man, but of course, too much happens to make her suspect the opposite. Inbetween humorous scenes including Leoni's dogs messing up Smith's entire apartment, Leoni thinking Lawrence is gay because of all the pictures of Smith in the apartment and other hysterics, there is still the underlying plot of this drug kingpin and their pursuit of him. It is discovered that this "Eddie Dominguez" who was the ex-cop behind the whole robbery of the drugs from the police headquarters, had a girlfriend working in the police station; after questioning her, Smith and Lawrence manage to uncover a plot of a massive drug exchange that is scheduled to go down between Karyo and some other character who is irrelevant; their mission: at all costs to get this heroin back before the cops are blamed by Internal Affairs and the FBI for robbing the drugs....but Smith has a personal vendetta against Karyo for murdering his hooker friend that goes beyond just "busting him" for the drug stealing and deals. As the plot develops, Karyo and his thugs eliminate all possible ties to the murder of the hooker in the beginning, including the madame she was working for and then hunting, for the remainder of the film, Leoni's character, who was of course, the witness.

But forget all that, because this recipe is simply repeated again in Bad Boys II --- and you're not really watching these films for their synchronized, cerebral plot developments but rather the hysterical way Lawrence and Smith interact with each other and, of course, for the eye-popping action sets. And Bay delivers here, big time. When onscreen together, I cannot stress enough just how funny Smith and Lawrence are, and this is taken to a completely different, even more satisfying, level in the sequel.

Columbia's original release of Bad Boys came packaged, if you were so inclined, along with the sequel in a "double pack" which I originally owned, but now have replaced with these Superbit versions. The results, when comparing this FIRST film (I have not yet reviewed the sequel on Superbit) in Superbit to the original TriStar release was just as I expected......that is to say, I didn't notice much difference between the two; don't ask me why, but I just had a feeling the Superbit version was not going to "up the ante" of quality for the first film all that much; not that it was INFERIOR in any way to the original release, it just felt....well....a little lacking.

For those of you not yet familiar or comfortable with the Superbit technology available only via Columbia/TriStar titles, the studio claims that eliminating all supplements such as extra features, trailers, etc. from a DVD presentation frees up a whole lot of room for bit rate expansion, allowing the video and audio to "breathe" much easier, hence, delivering a better home theater experience. There is also a choice of both Dolby Digital AND DTS 5.1 soundtracks on EVERY Superbit title, and each are presented in their original widescreen exhibition ratios. The inclusion of a DTS track is the draw for most home theater enthusiasts to the Superbit label, and I confess I succumb to being guilty of this. Hence, I jumped on this "sale" Best Buy has been running on many of their Superbit titles and have begun replacing discs in my library with their Superbit counterparts, hoping for an increase in quality. It DEFINITELY happened with Black Hawk Down and somewhat with Spider-Man 2, but while impressive, this Superbit edition of Bad Boys didn't "wow" me all that much (but as I said, I somewhat expected this) as compared to the original release.


Housed in the typical beautiful metallic-like silver SUPERBIT slip case, the packaging of the disc was impressive, but let's take a closer look at the video delivery: this 1:85:1 transfer filled my 55" screen with no letterboxing and while remaining sharp most of the time, it seemed as if there was little difference between this transfer and the one on Columbia's original release; the very opening moments don't look the cleanest ---- and there's certainly nothing "wrong" per se in terms of grain or dirt --- but it seems that as the transfer goes on, the picture becomes more vivid and "stable." This was the exact same experience I had with the original release; I am sure there are some Superbit benefits going on here, but they are so minuscule that even on a gigantic 16X9 set, they're going to be hard to pinpoint when comparing it to the original release. Other video notes include a smooth overall look to the print, but times when it gets rather "flat" and "colorless" and even "smoky" --- but these may be film elements baked into certain scenes.

Overall, NOT a night and day difference between the so-called "digitally transferred" original release and Columbia's "digitally transferred" Superbit release video-wise. Yet, something tells me this is the best this film will probably look pre-high definition, as is the case with most DVD product on the market currently (save for a few exceptions).


Of course, as aforementioned, the inclusion of a DTS soundtrack is the usual drawing card of a Superbit title, and was the reason I personally upgraded from the original release. But, like the video transfer, again I was not floored by a night and day difference which I didn't really expect anyway; from the moment the film opens, the DTS track seemed, to my ears, to exhibit similar tonal characteristics of the Dolby Digital track of the original Columbia release.....the entire track starts off a bit on the low side in terms of volume, even with Smith's Porsche racing through the streets, but begins to heat up a bit as the presentation goes on. What I did notice was a clearer dialogue channel on this DTS mix, where I was able to make out things I actually never heard on the Dolby mix. Yet, although clearer, the dialogue track had some slight problems by getting a tad, tad bit crackly at times --- something I experienced, again, with the original Dolby mix. Bringing my receiver's master volume back a notch or two or three solved this; but, there DID seem to be a louder dialogue track here over the Dolby mix.

Let's talk effects. Surround usage seemed slightly more defined here over Columbia's original release, with more material making it to the rear channels than I can remember on the Dolby mix, but still, with all the gunfire going on during this picture, surprisingly, little gunfire makes it into the rears.....the track stays up front for most of the shootout sequences, which it did on the Dolby mix, and this was a bit disappointing. Explosions still sounded a tad bit bass-shy, and also had a hard time making it into the surrounds; in sum, this was an audio experience much like the original Columbia release of Bad Boys with its Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, with the DTS encoding system not really "improving" much of the experience, to MY ears at least.

This was one of those instances, indeed, where the Dolby Digital track sounded very much like the DTS track of the same film, and from the little that I have heard so far of the Superbit DTS mix of Bad Boys II, the same characteristics apply: the DTS track, while I expected to be out-of-control in terms of dynamics, delivered what I ULTIMATELY suspected would happen: Columbia simply couldn't do much better than the already-wild-sounding Dolby mix on the two disc original release, and the end result is a DTS mix (from what I have heard SO FAR in viewing it) that IS virtually indistingushable from the original Dolby 5.1 track for Bad Boys II. Upgrading these TWO titles to Superbit status may indeed not be necessary here; but I don't want to have the last word with that........

While I WAS ultimately expecting a much better experience with Bad Boys II, which I will officially review after I watch ALL of it, I have to say this going into that one: Columbia did an OUTSTANDING job with the audio and video on that original release, the video being mastered in high definition and looking nearly flawless and just oh-so-rich in color and the Dolby Digital 5.1 track being one of the best I had ever heard --- next to Warner Brothers' Terminator 3. There was just SO MUCH directionality on the Dolby 5.1 mix for the sequel's original double disc release, with bullets, gunfire and exploding cars ripping wildly from every channel around you. So it's going to be interesting to see what I find at the end of the day with Columbia's addition of a DTS track to the sequel which already packed quite a wallop with its Dolby Digital mix.

For this first film, though, I can recommend sticking with the first disc if you already have it, unless you MUST have the definitive version of Bad Boys from a technical standpoint, in which case the Superbit version will give you the DTS mix and what seems to be a perhaps slightly cleaner transfer than the original, if not almost identical. If the extras on the original are more important to you, I can honestly say this upgrade is not ABSOLUTELY necessary.

Stay tuned, friends, as I analyze the better (in MY opinion only) sequel.....

steamboy 2
08-21-2005, 05:51 PM
I own the special ed. version & i'm happy with it, despite the superbits DTS track. the picture & sound of my version is fine i will stick with this.

anyway good review lex !


08-21-2005, 08:44 PM
I own the special ed. version & i'm happy with it, despite the superbits DTS track. the picture & sound of my version is fine i will stick with this.

anyway good review lex !


Thanks a million for your kind words, Mike, as always, and for taking the time to read the review. Yes, with the first BAD BOYS, this Superbit doesn't really up the performance all that much over the version you have and which I have sold; perhaps in slight areas, but I upgraded just to take advantage of the Best Buy sale and was curious to see just how much "improvement" the DTS track made on this title.