Sleeper: A great movie, lost in the crowd of hundreds and never receiving the credit it deserves. See also: Brokedown Palace, an outstanding courtroom/prison, drama/thriller (take your pick).
Starring Claire Danes and Kate Beckinsale, Brokedown Palace has the two young actresses playing longtime friends, taking a trip to Thailand for one last summer together before college. There they meet a man who they both fall for. What happens next cannot be spoiled since the endless twists and turns the story takes are what make this film so great.
Those surprises are not the only positive point either. The performances here are superb, even from the rest of the cast including Bill Pullman and Lou Diamond Phillips. The two girls run the entire emotional gauntlet during the 90 or so minute running time right up until the surprise ending that still has some people baffled.
Some people have called this one derivative of a few other prison films (not to mention almost a blatant copy) and this is probably true. However, none of those movies works on the level of Brokedown Palace. This is a wholly underrated movie with great photography, performances, and story. (**** out *****)
Brokedown Palace is available the only way it should be, 2.35:1 widescreen. This is a big "color" movie. Things start bright and cheery with great location photography up until the twist 20 minutes in. Everything then become nothing but reds, browns, and flesh tones.
The DVD couldn't handle it all any better. This is a great transfer with hardly a bit of grain or color bleeding. The black levels never seem to stay constant, straying wildly from one scene to the next. This may very well be intentional to keep the tone of the film however. (****)
The 5.1 surround mix here is rarely used to full effect, but being a dialogue driven movie, it's not supposed too. There is a nice kickboxing scene a ways into the film that has a great crowd cheering on the fight, but that's pretty much it. The dialogue is all clear and understandable, never overpowered by anything else happening. That's where it counts in a movie like this. (****)