Jul 292015
 
Split Second Blu-ray packshot
Title: Split Second
Genre: Action, Sci-fi, Horror
Starring: Rutger Hauer
Certificate: UK: 18
Picture: 1080p
1.78:1
Audio Format: LCPM Stereo
Runtime: 1 Hours 31 mins
Extras: Deleted Scenes
Studio: 101 Films
Release Date: UK: Jul 20 2015
See If You Like: Total Recall,
Predator 2
Nana nana nana nana Rat-Man…

 

Set in the dystopian future-world of 2008, where global warming and a Noah-like downfall of rain has flooded most of London, an elusive serial killer is back on the hunt; ripping the hearts out of its victims, and killing at will; and now, it’s up to one renegade cop to stop the man/monster/killer who’s prowling the rat-infested streets. Enter… Rutger Hauer!

A name now synonomus with B-movie cheese, tat, awful dialogue and pointless plots, back in 1992 (when Split Second was originally released), Rutger Hauer was a much bigger deal; the Blade Runner (’82) star had gone on to appear in Ladyhawke (’84), The Hitcher (’86), and even Blind Fury (’89); but Split Second must have neared the beginning of his descent into the B-movie basement.

There are so many things wrong with Split Second it’s difficult to know where to start; the title has absolutely nothing to do with the events of the film (there’s not a single race-against-time element in the entire movie); the dialogue is God-awful (and poorly delivered for the most part); every set/location and/or prop looks immeasurably cheap (being made in 1991 you’d expect it to look dated by now, but it looks too dated; more like a micro-budget 1983 feature); the low-rent British cast are, being polite,  utterly dire; and the plot is contrived and incoherent nonsense which ties itself in knots attempting to come up with some reason for this monster to exist and taunt Stone (Hauer’s renegade cop persona), rather than simplifying into a traditional mystery/hunt movie with solid doses of horror and action.

Yet on some level, it works. True, mixing all kinds of mutant talk with discussion about religion, the occult, star signs, etc. just to explain one supernatural creature (which could’ve much easier been realised with a base explanation of mutation cause by pollution) was over the top, the whole madness element of the Stone character (which at the beginning has you wondering if it’s actually him doing the killings) is tossed aside too quickly, and the buddy-cop elements (Stone’s a hard-faced renegade, partnered with a philosophical, educated, desk-jockey, do-gooder) don’t quite gel, but the mystery does suck you in to start, you begin to find the characters/setup amusing (there’s actually a fair amount of comedy thrown into the serious backdrop of Split Second) and, as long as you can put aside/accept the film for what it is, you’ll soon come to enjoy it.

Split_Second_07

Picture:

With a rather hit-and-miss transfer, the Split Second Blu-ray doesn’t look the best it could. Clearly lacking a remaster which could’ve improved it greatly; delineation is a problem, blacks often look grey, there’s evidence of aliasing and a few prominent scratches, as well as an overall flat-looking appearance to the image which isn’t helped by the white-balance being totally off base (shrouding the whole image in an all-to0 bright sheen which is far from pleasing to the eye); there are plenty of problems with this upgrade, but once again it’s not all bad.

The thick layer of grain covering the image does give it a more film-like appearance, textures are acceptable, colours are surprisingly good (despite the white-balance problem, and the fact almost the entire movie is presented in shades of grey), and there’s a fair amount of detail. Meaning while this might not be the most polished Blu-ray available today, it’s likely a fair jump from previous Split Second releases, and could’ve been much worse.

Audio:

Sound-wise however, Split Second does fail – to a point. With only an LCPM Stereo mix bringing the audio mix to Blu-ray it wasn’t likely to wow many listeners, yet delivers what limited information it has with ease. Levelling is never an issue and the bass is weighty (if a touch overblown and echoey), though problems come when you delve into any effects, and especially the dialogue; thankfully there’s never any drop-out or instances where dialogue gets lost, but what does stand-out, massively, is the cheapness of the recorded sound; dubbing often fails to fit the movement of the actors’ mouths perfectly, and often sounds obviously studio recorded.

Granted, the problems given are nothing to do with the new transfer/release (they all stem from the low-budget original material), but they are worth noticing. Though, on the up side, many fans may appreciate the low-budget sound/feel created here, as it simply adds to the schlock ’80s B-movie feel which brings the entire appeal of Split Second.

A cheap, rough-n-ready mix, which was less than perfect back in ’92 and sounds its age here, but comes to Blu-ray sounding as good as, if not better than, when it was originally recorded.

Split_Second_06

Extras:

You shouldn’t expect too much in the special features front from such a low-budget movie, and it’s true Split Second doesn’t come with a heap of bonus features, but what it does have are a small selection of uncut deleted scenes from the Japanese release of the film (including the finding of a body), meeting the partner’s girlfriend, and discussing the investigation in a car); all scenes which were rightfully cut, but do provide fans with a little extra glimpse into this world, and a reward for purchasing again.

The Bottom Line:

With average picture and audio quality, and not much in the way of special features, the technical aspects of this Blu-ray release are nothing to marvel at (it certainly won’t be anyone’s go-to reference disc), yet Split Second knows its market, and caters to its fans perfectly with a B-movie monster flick which has everything a fan of cheap ’80s action/sci-fis could ever want; a dystopian future, a funny-looking monster, stop-motion, cheesy dialogue, big guns, murder, boobs, blood and Rutger Hauer.

It was never going to be a awards-winner, but you get what you pay for and it’s easy to see why Split Second has become such an underground cult hit (particularly in the US where old DVD copies go for a mint on eBay); a cheap, fun, Rutger Hauer monster movie. What more could you possibly want?

Matt Wheeldon@TheMattWheeldon.

Film:
Ratings 7 table test Buy from Amazon.co.uk
Video:
Ratings 07
Audio:
Ratings 06
Extras:
Ratings 06
Overall:
Ratings 06