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October 11, 2012
Underbelly: Badness Uncut Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
20125/10/2012Village RoadshowTony Tisle (4 eps)
David Caesar (2 eps)
Ian Watson (2 eps)
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MA15+Jonathan LaPaglia

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Underbelly: Badness starts with Anthony Perish disposing of a body, in pieces.

On February 13, 2008 Channel Nine launched a new series called Underbelly which charted the rise or Carl Williams and the gangland War in Melbourne. Now, four years later Underbelly: Badness, the fifth main series, has screened on TV and is now available on Blu-Ray. This 8-part series, which is smaller then the four previous 13-part series, focuses on the criminal Anthony 'Rooster' Perish between 2001 and 2012.

Involved in kidnapping, murder, and drug running, Anthony Perish (played by Jonathan LaPaglia) was not just a criminal mastermind based in Linfield, but a man who was unknown and virtually untraceable by police. This is the story of that man, and Strike Force Tuno led by Detective Sergeant Gary Jubelin trying to track him down.

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This is the fifth Underbelly series; it's still great.
Despite the shorter run time this series didn't seem short as there is a lot more focus on the police hunting down the criminals and with a much more restricted cast, and fewer deaths, then in previous series' it allowed the filmmakers to focus on each character in more depth. To me, something like the first series of Underbelly, could have been expanded out by several more episodes to flesh out some of the characters.

Of particular note this series focuses on Detective Sergeant Gary Jubelin (played superbly by Matt Nable), Tim Browne (played by Ben Winspear) and Seniro Constable Camille Avaloine (played by Ella Scott Lynch) as the three primary people who spent the better part of a decade hunting Anthony down to fact a court for his crimes - which needed to be established themselves. It really was fantastic to see an Underbelly series focus on law enforcers as much as the criminals.

One aspect of this series that I was a little surprised about was the lack of violence and nudity - well there are certainly a few moments of each, but nothing near the levels of past years. It must be pointed out though that there is plenty of swearing. That doesn't make Underbelly: Badness any less a series, but compared to previous years this is a lot tamer in that department.

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Underbelly: Badness looks great on Blu-Ray.
While this is a shorter series with only 8 episodes, and 360 minute runtime compared to the usual 13 episodes and near 600 minute runtime, this doesn't feel like a truncated story. In fact we very much enjoyed this series and it's well worth checking out.

With each new series the production values continue to increase and Underbelly: Badness sees another step up for many aspects of production not least of which being the video quality which is, for the first time, given the full 1920 x 1080p resolution at the series' original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Admittedly the 1080i resolution of previous series was never terrible by any stretch of the imagination, but having a progressive image just adds that extra amount of detail that the Blu-Ray format is capable of.

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Ella Scott Lynch as Senior Constable Camille Alavoine from Strike Force Tuno.
The transfer has a natural look with plenty of fine detail, but when bold colours are needed, including scenes in night clubs or on the Gold Coast, the colours pop out and look fantastic. Contrast levels are good, and detail remains great even in darker scenes.

Ever since the first Underbelly series on Blu-Ray it has been presented with lossless audio and while the first two series' were encoded in Dolby TrueHD (and we did have issues with the audio at the time with variable volume levels), this latest series (as with Underbelly: Razor) is presented with a wonderful DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (24-bit/48Khz) track that has none of the inconsistencies of the earlier series'.

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Jonathan LaPaglia is superb as Anthony Perish.
In fact, the audio quality on this TV series is as good as any other series we've heard on Blu-Ray. Dialogue is clear at all times, including Caroline Craig returning to narrate for a fifth time, with the music sounding lively and with suitable bass when required. Much of the series if front heavy due to the heavy dialogue based nature but the surround sound channels liven up at times particularly in nightclubs and other crowded scenes.

There is only one other audio track - Descriptve Narration for the Hearing Impaired which has been encoded at Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224kbps. Of course the lossy audio track lacks the clarity of the primary track, while the drop to 2-channel sound is more impactful. Still, if you have a need for descriptive narration it will get the job done.

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Some of the police force tracking Anthony Peresh in Underbelly: Badness.
There is only one single English subtitle track on this release but it gets the job done with accuracy to the dialogue, and with the subtitles coloured according to who is talking or the audio on-screen.

Unfortunately Underbelly: Badness is pretty lacking in the extras department with only some deleted scenes and cast interviews. It would have been nice to have some commentaries or behind the scenes documentaries as per previous series'. Still, this is what is on this 2-disc set.

Deleted Scenes (11:53/HD): Despite running for 6 hours there are only 10 deleted scenes with a total runtime of under 12 minutes. These scenes expand the story a little or have some decent character moments and could have been edited back into each episode to expand them over their TV airings. Video quality is superb, but audio is only 2 channel DTS-HD Master Audio.

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Underbelly: Badness is out now on Blu-Ray.
Interviews (15:51/HD): Sadly these interviews are very short and lacking in any real detail. Interviews are conducted with Jodi Gordon (2:04), Aaron Jeffery (2:54), Ella Scott Lynch (2:37), Matt Nable (3:25), Josh Quong Tart (2:49) and Leeanna Walsman (2:02). Sadly the main actor in the series, Jonathan LaPaglia, isn't interviewed.

Underbelly: Badness is yet another gripping series in Screentime's real-life crime franchise. Production values are superb and the audio visual transfer is excellent. The only negative about this 2-disc Blu-Ray set is the lack of extras, but it's still a release that fans will love, and those that missed the original airing on Channel 9 should check out.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Village Roadshow. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.