An orphan who learned to survive in the cauldron of the war-torn Balkans, Modesty Blaise(Alexandra Staden) now runs a casino in Tangiers for kingping Mr. Louche. But her boss iskilled, and armed men invade the casino, taking Modesty and fellow employees hostage.Modesty plays for time by engaging the leader of the gang (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) in endlessrounds of roulette, with the prizes being the liberation of hostages versus the truth of herbackground.
This is an…odd release, made as a side-project to a yet-to-be-completed theatrical ModestyBlaise adventure. Here, our heroine is not yet the super-spy leader of The Network. This is theincident that will lead her there. And then there are all the flashbacks to her childhood in theBalkans, so what we ultimately have is a backstory with an embedded origin, a rather staticintroduction to one of the great action heroines. (Peter O’Donnell felt no such need to hit us withthe full backstory when he wrote the first Modesty Blaise comic strip.) The one-set setting is a bitlimiting, too. Still, Alexandra Staden isn’t a bad Modesty, and the respect given the characteris obvious, making this a definite step up from the 1966 film.
The music has a decent surround mix, but could use a boost in energy and volume. Thesurround effects, on the other hand, are excellent. The opening scenes, for example, have awonderful background noise of combat, and the gun battles send bullets whizzing around theroom. The placement is very strong, and the left-right separation is among the best I’veencountered in a while.
The colours show a fine range, from the muted opening in the Balkans to the bright colours athe (strangely small) casino. The blacks are good, and the reds are particularly strong. There isvery slight grain, but not enough to be a problem. The aspect ratio is 1.85:1 anamorphicwidescreen.
Two commentaries here. The first is by the writers (Lee Batchler and Janet Scott Batchler),and their focus is more on the story, its themes and the goals than the more behind-the-scenestalk by producer Ted Nicolaou and director Scott Spiegel. Interestingly, here and elsewhere thereis an acknowledgment of the film’s peculiar status, as essentially the companion piece to a largerwork yet to appear. “Creating the Ultimate Heroine” is a fairly standard promo featurette, butis put together as a rather stylish montage. “A Conversation with Peter O’Donnell” is a very in-depth (almost an hour long!) interview with Modesty Blaise’s creator. Scott Spiegel and QuentinTarantino talk about their own relationships with the character in an interview that is also prettydamn long (42 minutes). The still gallery is an incredibly comprehensive summary of all 95Modesty Blaise adventures. The menu is basic.
The extras are very useful from a historical perspective. The movie, though a nice try, isnothing more than average, at best.
Special Features List
- 2 Audio Commentaries
- Making-of Featurette
- A Conversation with Peter O’Donnell
- A Conversation with Quentin Tarantino and Scott Spiegel
- Restrospetive Gallery of Modesty Blaises Comics and Artwork