To tell you the truth, I think Warner Brothers is really on to something with their recent series of direct-to-DVD sequels. The studio offers a familiar story in a quality package, often at a discounted price. Some of these direct-to-DVD films are actually pretty good, such as the studio’s new Raw Feed line of horror features. Unfortunately, this title is not one of the good ones.
While The Dukes of Hazzard â€“ The Beginning is supposed to tell the story of how the Duke boys first got together, much o… this film appears to take place in the present day. Buses are from the 70’s, but cars have modern alarms. Wardrobe choices are either going for a throwback look, or really are supposed to be period. I never really figured it out, and maybe that is part of what annoyed me so much about this film; it’s lack of focus and forethought. I understand that the point of this product is to put something low-budget out into the marketplace to make a quick buck, but at least a little effort could have gone into the plot and character development. This film feels more like yet another American Pie sequel than a serious attempt at another story in the Hazzard series. The plot is one that has been told over and over again. Boss Hog is going to foreclose on Uncle Jessie’s farm, so the Duke Boys (with Daisy’s help), raise the money to save the farm, and have a wild and crazy good time doing it, complete with random naked women for no good reason.
Willie Nelson is back as Uncle Jessie, and Christopher McDonald (Shooter McGavin from Happy Gilmore) and Harland Williams play Boss Hog and Rosco P. Coltrane, respectively. Williams is as quirky and funny as ever, but his brief scenes are the highlight of this 95-minute exercise in futility.
Audio quality is decent. In fact, the dialog is almost a bit too clear. In once scene early in the film, a â€œ110-year-oldâ€ man speaks with subtitles for comedic effect. Unfortunately, it is perfectly easy to understand what the old man is saying without the subtitles, making the whole gag worthless. The General Lee sounds nice, though, with plenty of throaty low-end filling out the room as the car zooms across the screen. All told, a pretty decent soundtrack.
Video quality, however, is simply marginal. While this film was shot using modern equipment, and disc mastering obviously took place using the same equipment that WB uses for all their releases, it is clear from watching the final product that this was not a transfer that the studio particularly fretted over. Pretty much however it came out was fine. Now, that’s not to say that it is particularly bad, it is just that the picture is not quite as sharp as I would have liked to have seen it. Colors also seem to be a little off from scene to scene. There are no glaring problems, but the whole presentation has a bland â€œho-humâ€ look to it.
I was really surprised to see how many extras there are on a low-budget disc such as this one. There are seven featurettes packed on this disc, each one running about 2 to 5 minutes in length. They cover topics such as animatronics and the casting of the new Duke boys to profiles on each of the main characters.
Also included is the film’s trailer, and a music video for the song Duke Boys Swingin’ by Cowboy Troy & John Anderson (which, incidentally, may quite possibly be the worst song of all time. Seriously. You can’t say I didn’t warn you.). All told, however, a pretty nice set of extras on a disc that I was fully expecting to be a movie-only affair.
The nice thing about titles like this one is that the viewer pretty much knows what they are getting themselves into before they even pick up the box. It’s going to be a sub-standard film based on pre-existing characters that will probably serve as a guilty pleasure at best, but more likely a Tuesday night rental for most viewers. Video and audio quality get the job done with no major complaints, and there are actually more extras included than I was expecting to see. If you are a fan of the franchise, this disc is just passable as an amusement. However, if like me, you are not a fan of anything else brandishing the Dukes brand up until this point, this disc is only going to confirm your pre-conceived notions of mediocrity.
Special Features List
- Hazzard County Character Featurettes: The New Dukes, Daisy’s Dukes, The Birth of the General Lee, A Moment with Uncle Jesse, Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane, The Duke Boys in Drag and Dainty Hogg
- Duke Boys Swingin’ a music video by Cowboy Troy & John Anderson
- Movie Trailer