Wednesday, October 12

CAGE (1989) - 2001 Sterling Entertainment vs. 2004 Trinity Home Entertainment DVDs

Watching Lang Elliot's Cage again reminds me of a charge in one of the unsigned "letters of criticism" this blog received awhile ago. Apparently some take issue with the action genre sometimes sampled on this self-professed "horror flick blog". Heaven forbid, right? The last complaint called the usually trashy action covered here "stupid movies for lonely people."

In some ways, I can see their point. I hate to say this, but my main competition while out hunting for flicks such as Cage are old scuzzy dudes hobbling around alone looking for war pictures and John Wayne westerns. I can't tell you how many times it's just myself and one of these guys hovering over rows of tapes. I pick out the horror while they clutch the Seagal and Norris flicks I already own. Well, if enjoying and sprinkling in commentary about such movies on my own "horror flick blog" makes me stupid and lonely, then let me hitch up my loafers, fixodent my dentures, drive my Datsun fifteen miles under the speed limit, and finally get to the swap meet to find my special ointment, plain shredded wheat, and maybe a movie or two.

don't tempt Reb.
Being horrible by sensible standards and outmodded by UFC fighting on daytime television, Cage is still entertaining and perfect rainy day material. Seeing Lou Ferrigno valiantly attempt to emote a mental handicap from a headshot in Vietnam who's taken under the wing of Reb Brown is a sublime pairing. Big Lou is tricked into cage fighting to pay off the hefty debt of two mafioso with Reb on the chase with his patented scream in pursuit. The awesome is only compounded by cheeseball credit ballads and immediately recognizable character actors like James Shigeta, Al Leong, and Mike Moroff. It's a bit long at a hundred minutes, but like a Hungry Man TV dinner, it's best not to concentrate on the nutritional breakdown on the back. The '94 sequel, Cage II: The Arena of Death, teams Ferrigno and Brown back up but is much less fun.

So how do the DVDs fare? Each has their own share of problems. Both companies are el cheapo fly-by-nighters and these discs may or may not be in-print anymore. Both transfers are the same, notice the fine horizontal lines covering these captures, with the Sterling disc dimmer and greener compared to Trinity's brighter and bluish image. The Sterling has rapid dot crawl while the Trinity has poorer encoding with digital blocking showing up in motion. It's pretty much a wash between the two, a DVD player with good performance will be able to clean up both images well enough to equate to a LaserDisc-like presentation. No extras of any worth on either release. The Trinity disc seems easily found online but Orion Home Video's VHS wouldn't represent much of a downgrade from either disc.

Sterling - TOP | Trinity - BOTTOM


Explosive Action said...

Interesting comparison. This is a Reb I've not seen but do want to. Maybe VHS is the way to go for me in this instance if I can find it locally. And I for one want to see MORE action in the Basement :)

robotGEEK said...

Oh man! I remember this one and digging it a lot after reading about it in a magazine (no internet). All I knew about Brown was that he was the old Captain America but I was all into Ferrigno after watching Pumping Iron around this time. I'll have to look for this one as well!

David A. Zuzelo said...

ARGH!! I have the Sterling disc and I will actually upgrade on this flick. Thanks for the heads up, this is why I love coming to The Basement! you dare tread upon the staircase?

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