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The Package: Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack Review

The Package (2013) Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com The Package

Video Debut: February 19, 2013 / Running Time: 95 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Jesse V. Johnson / Writer: Derek Kolstad

Cast: Steve Austin (Tommy Conolan/Wick), Dolph Lundgren (The German), Eric Keenleyside (Big Doug), Mike Dopud (Julio), John Novak (Nicholas), Kristen Kerr (Darla Conolan/Wick), Darren Shahlavi (Devon), Paul Wu (Dosan), Lochlyn Munro (Eddie Conolan/Wick), Mark Gibbon (Jake), Peter Bryant (Ralph), Monique Gamberton (Monique), Michael Daingerfield (Anthony), Jerry Trimble (Carl), Patrick Sabongui (Luis), Lindsay Bourne (Gary), William B. Davis (Dr. Wilhelm)

1.78:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English); DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish / Not Closed Captioned
Suggested Retail Price: $29.99
Two single-sided, single-layered discs (BD-25 & DVD-5) / Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available as standalone DVD ($26.98 SRP)

Buy The Package from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD DVD

Not that long ago, Dolph Lundgren and Steve Austin were big deals. Lundgren, a Swede, became the face of the Soviet Union at the 1980s' height of the Cold War for his portrayal of the deadly boxer Ivan Drago in the blockbuster Rocky IV. American Austin was one of the biggest stars of pro wrestling in the 1990s and early 2000s.
These days, both men have maintained the muscular figures for which they are known, but middle age finds each on the short list of tough guys willing to repeatedly star in no-budget, direct-to-video action movies. The two men have gained some exposure from works like The Expendables, Lundgren's Universal Soldier series, and Austin's collaborations with Adam Sandler (next stop: Grown Ups 2). But at the end of the day, their contributions to cinema are minor, as is the niche audience they continue to serve.

The Package has all the class and grace you'd expect of a Steve Austin-Dolph Lundgren pairing. IMDb claims that the film opened in Japanese theaters yesterday, distributor Anchor Bay gives a presumably limited US theatrical release date of February 15th, and, for sure, the film hits American stores on February 19th in a DVD and Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack.

The film casts each of its stars as the kind of men against whom groups of heavily-armed assassins stand no chance. Austin is Tommy, a forceful collector for Pacific Northwest mobster Big Doug (Eric Keenleyside). Tommy's brother Eddie (Lochlyn Munro, whom it's sad to see in two scenes) is in jail and Tommy is slowly paying off his debts to Doug. Lundgren is "The German", a culinary connoisseur you'll catch monologuing to dying hitmen about the fruit in his smoothies.

Sparks fly along with the fists of Stone Cold Steve Austin. Though his fists are weapons of mass destruction, Dolph Lundgren saves some time and effort with a machine gun.

Big Doug entrusts military veteran Tommy to deliver the titular parcel to The German, who decades ago ran in the same crew. It's no midnight run. The bald, goateed, eyebrowless Tommy, who is being paid not to know the contents of the valuable billfold, soon sees curiosity kill his partner. Overturned cars and determined men with automatic weapons are no match for Tommy. Nor for the wolfen German, who reminds us he's apparently sick with the occasional cough.

The Package seems to be setting up some big showdown between the two strongmen with historical tension, but it's doubtful you'll care. Relying on their usual limited styles, the two leads offer a study in contrast. Austin takes his typical non-acting approach, while Lundgren chews scenery with comedic material he delivers with nary a knowing wink. Before crossing with an hilarious explanation regarding rare blood types, their paths include fast reflexes, pain endurance, and slow-motion photography. Tommy threatens a bowler delinquent on paying back his loan, wrestles with a counterterrorist agent, and delivers a lethal headbutt. The German waxes upon the history of the martini to a business associate.

Most of the threads and characters do not connect or add up in a meaningful way. This is the kind of movie that the descendants of "Mystery Science Theater 3000" need to be skewering. It's so egregiously terrible that you have to wonder what the person who rents or buys this and enjoys it has been watching in the recent past. And then wonder how many people like that hypothetical fan are out there and able to offset the costs of authoring these discs without most of the ancillary streams from television and the like. Do these movies play well overseas? Are Japanese theaters really exhibiting this?

If the action movie star thing doesn't keep up, Dolph Lundgren can always fall back on hosting a cooking show "Cooking with Dolph." On Blu-ray and DVD alike, the menu montage shows just how badass (and heterosexual) Steve Austin's Tommy is.

VIDEO and AUDIO

Terrible though the movie may be, it looks sharp in Anchor Bay's pristine 1.78:1 Blu-ray transfer. The often dark images remain clean and detailed throughout. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack is also no slouch,
delivering the engulfing action and atmosphere you expect of such a film.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The discs opens with trailers for Lundgren's One in the Chamber and Austin's Maximum Conviction. Neither these nor a trailer for The Package are found on the menu. There are no other extras either; what a bummer for those wanting to hear about the stunts and shenanigans of the oh so charismatic stars.

The menu plays four small clips (all of them action-based save for one romantic scene establishing Tommy as a married heterosexual) in front of the rear cover's Steve Austin still. The Blu-ray disc does not resume playback, but does support bookmarks.

The silver DVD and full-color Blu-ray claim opposite sides of an eco-friendly Blu-ray case that is not joined by insert or slipcover.

It's an armed Dolph Lundgren versus an empty-handed Steve Austin in the mansion-set climax of "The Package."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

I can only speak for myself, but I know that the ill-conceived Dolph Lundgren movie about a crime-sniffing scientist pitched by characters on an episode of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" holds far more interest than a generic piece of crap like The Package. The business model for films like this relies on an audience that I can't believe would really flock to such dopey, mindless action with its boring routine fight scenes and tired tropes. And yet, here it is, in high definition, no less.

Buy The Package from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD / DVD

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Reviewed February 10, 2013.



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