Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Deadly Code DVD Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
Based on the novel Siberian Education by Nicolai Lilin, Deadly Code arrives on DVD (plus Digital UltraViolet), Digital HD and Video on Demand May 13 from Lionsgate Home Entertainment. Two-time Academy Award nominee John Malkovich (Best Supporting Actor, Places in the Heart, 1984; Being John Malkovich) stars as the patriarch of a Siberian criminal clan banished to live in the punishment town of Transnistria in 1985. There, he schools his grandson on the "honest criminal" code of their community, which must never be broken. The film also stars Peter Stormare (Pain and Gain, The Last Stand) and is directed by Gabriele Salvatore (I'm Not Scared).

Film (3 out of 5 stars)
When I first started watching Deadly Code I was a bit bored.  But as it went on, I began liking it more and more and realized the story was more than just John Malkovich’s character teaching his grandson the “Code.”  It became a story of friendship and honor and by the end; I realized how much I enjoyed the film. Grandfather Kuzya (Malkovich) is a Russian mobster who lives in a Siberian town after his people were banished there during the Cold War.  He lives with his daughter-in-law and his grandson, Kolima, and every day reminds him of the code to live by.  

Kolyma’s best friend, Gagarin, is the troublemaker of the group of local kids and after taking the blame for some shenanigans and thefts, he is sent away from seven years. When Gagarin returns, Kolyma and the others meet him at the train station.  While there, Kolyma sees a young lady get off the train with her father.  She sees him as well and watches him as she walks away.  When Gagarin arrives, he gives Kolyma a hard time about the girl.  The boyhood friends, now grown men, fall back into their friendship, though Gagarin changed over the years and has become more resistant to the “code.” 

After a day in town, the group of friends are trying to return home when they are stopped by another gang.  A fight breaks out and Kolyma is stabbed.  He is rushed to the town doctor, who happens to be the father of the young woman he saw at the train station.  As he recovers, he and Xenya form a friendship and Kolyma becomes her protector. One night, after an argument with Gagarin over some new friends, Kolyma is busted for breaking curfew.  He is thrown into the gulag, where he does what he can to survive.   When he’s released, he returns home to find out the Xenya has been hurt and Grandfather Kuzya sends him to find out who did it.

Deadly Code grows on the viewer.  I thought it was going to be more action-packed and more about the Russian mob in Siberia.  Instead, it was a story about life in a poor town, friendship and growing up.  The “code” is something everyone lives by… take what’s fair, don’t steal from anyone but the police and be honorable.  John Malkovich always does a good job in his roles and I really liked seeing him as a Russian mob leader.  The other actors were also good and I enjoyed watching them.
Video (3 out of 5 stars)
The 16x9 widescreen presentation of Deadly Code was good.  There were a lot of dark scenes that were difficult to see the action in – the blacks blended too much and I couldn’t see what was happening.  In daylight scenes, the colors were muted appropriately and believable.  The tattoos on the characters seemed a little too blue, though they were supposed to be home inked, so it wasn’t too much of a stretch of the imagination that they would be too blue. 
Audio (3 out of 5 stars)
Deadly Code is available in English 5.1 Dolby Digital audio with English and Spanish subtitles.  The sound was good and I didn’t need to adjust the volume at all.  Dialogue was clear and intelligible and the accents weren’t hard to understand.  The only issue I had was that once in a while, the accents were stronger than at other times, and faded in and out.
Extras (2 out of 5 stars)
I liked the extras included… if you can call trailers “Extras,” and enjoyed watching the one behind-the-scenes look at the film.  As I watch more and more movies, I find myself wishing there were more to see.
  • The Making of Deadly Code – an almost seven minute behind the scenes look with interviews by the cast and director of the film.  This feature is in English and Italian, as the director is Italian.  It was interesting to learn the film is based on a book and is also called Siberian Education in its original form.
  • Deadly Code Trailer --  I enjoyed watching it and it really make the film interesting.
  • Also from Lionsgate – Previews of other films from Lionsgate Pictures:  Red 2, The Last Stand, Rounders and a commercial for the Epix channel and website.

Summary (3 out of 5 stars)
Deadly Code is a good film about friendship and the paths life takes different people.  Seeing how Kolyma and Gagarin grew apart and what happened to their friendship was interesting and I enjoyed watching them grow.  Though I thought it was a much different film, I liked the story it told and thought everyone did a good job with their parts.  Deadly Code teaches a good lesson in life, honor and how to be an “honest criminal.”

Order your copy today!

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