I can’t believe Fight Club is ten years old. Not for the usual reasons (ie: time flying by, getting old, etc.) but because it’s one of those films that just feels like it’s been around forever. It’s such an integral part of my pop culture makeup that I can’t imagine life without Fight Club. It’s the film that introduced me to the literary genius that is Chuck Palahniuk, solidified Edward Norton’s place amongst my all-time favorite actors, and, after Se7en and the criminally underrated The Game, elevated David Fincher to the status of cinematic god. It’s the ultimate metaphysical “guy” movie; a brainy bare-knuckled bruiser that pummels the mind, body, and soul, and it’s finally available on Blu-ray, where it can kick a new generation’s ass in glorious high definition.
A sleep-deprived insurance agent (Norton) finds himself questioning the validity of his own existence after a chance meeting with a lascivious soap salesman named Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt). The two form an immediate bond after a night of drinking ends in the pair slugging it out with each other in a parking lot just to see what it feels like. This leads to the formation of Fight Club, an underground gathering where men of all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities converge for a good old fashioned bout of fisticuffs, rediscovering that primal inner being that’s been forced into dormancy in the name of progress and capitalism. Fight Club is more than just a place to get your ass kicked – it’s a place where bonds are formed, decisions are made, and plans are set into motion, and, as the membership grows, so does the club’s two founders’ sway of influence. Soon, though, it becomes apparent that Tyler’s been working on some things behind our narrator’s back; mischievous things, terrible things. Things that go boom!
Complicating matters further is Tyler’s tenuous relationship with recovery group junkie/drama queen, Marla (Helena Bonham Carter). She doesn’t seem to know whether she’s coming or going, but, to Tyler, that’s already too much. She’s a threat to Tyler’s new world order, and, with his most outrageous scheme looming and Marla’s life in danger, our narrator’s decision is made; Tyler Durden must be stopped.
I can’t tell you anymore, of course. I’ve already broken the first rule of Fight Club, and that’s not to talk about it. I will say, however, that I envy anyone who has yet to see this remarkable, game-changer of a film, as it’s truly a special experience. I won’t go as far as to suggest it’s a life-affirming one, but…well…it sort of is. It’s a manically paced, utterly mind-blowing piece of cinema – a film that, much in the spirit of Tyler Durden, himself, defies categorization. The book is at once a black comedy, dark drama, and oddly charming love story, and, in the hands of David Fincher, it becomes one of the most stylish and visually intoxicating films of all time. Norton and Pitt absolutely nail their respective roles, displaying an electrifying chemistry together, while Bonham Carter, oozing thrift store sex appeal, makes for a brutally efficient female foil in this otherwise heavily guy-centric masterpiece.
Fox unleashes Fight Club onto Blu-ray with a stellar 2.40:1 print that preserves the film’s down and dirty aesthete. Make no mistake, Fight Club is a film that is meant to look as bloodied and battered as its protagonists, with desaturated colors, over-exposed negative, and a gritty, grainy film stock that perfectly captures the films grungy vibe. It’s all lovingly recreated here, with an exceptional level of fine detail and a sense of depth and dimension that truly brings the cinema experience home. This is an enormous upgrade over previous DVD releases, and, for a Fight Club fanatic like myself, a visual revelation. Simply superb.
The audio is equally remarkable, with an absolutely thunderous and expertly articulated DTS-HD Master Audio track that is nothing short of reference quality. I remember being blown away by the DD 5.1 mix on the collector’s edition DVD years back, and this just destroys that mix, with throbbing bass, crystalline highs, and a wholly immersive surround mix. The dialogue is crisp and natural sounding, and The Dust Brothers’ pulsating electronic score is aggressive as hell. From deafening explosions to subtle ambient effects, this mix delivers the goods.
Fight Club debuts on Blu-ray with a nice assortment of extras, many carried over from the DVD, but there are a few new features created specifically for this release, and presented in 1080p. New features include A Hit in the Ear: Ren Klyce and the Sound Design of Fight Club, an interactive piece that allows you to remix the audio to selected scenes; Flogging Fight Club, a short segment from the Spike TV awards where the film won a “Guy Movie” hall of fame award, which also features some choice soundbites from Fincher, Pitt, and Norton (as well as Mel Gibson in a Viking helmet!); and Insomniac Mode: I am Jack’s Search Index, a sort of A-Z “search” option that allows you to look up certain places, characters, and other references from the film.
Carryovers from the DVD releases include four (yes, FOUR) commentary tracks, the first with Fincher, the second with Fincher, Pitt, Norton, and Bonham Carter, the third featuring Palahniuk and screenwriter, Jim Uhls, and a fourth track featuring director of photography, Jeff Cronenweth, and an army of behind-the-scenes folks! These four commentaries offer nearly 8 ½ hours worth of Fight Club tutelage, and more than make up for the lack of any in-depth making of.
Standard Definition extras also ported over from the DVD include sixteen short behind-the-scenes featurettes broken down into three categories; Production, Visual Effects, and On Location. Deleted scenes, trailers, faux PSAs, art and ephemera galleries, and stills round out the list of extra goodies.
As you can see, Fox pulled out all the stops with this important release, and for good reason; they know how rabid and loyal a following Fight Club has, and they also had a hard act to follow in terms of the excellent collector’s edition DVD released a few years back. Gladly, they incorporated those great extras (although I wish they were upgraded to HD, but, hey, what are ya gonna do) into this set, added a few Blu exclusives (and surprises...hehe) to the mix, and put together what is easily the definitive version of this film. Fight Club has never looked or sound as good as it does here, and, for that reason alone, this release would get my approval. Factor in all of the extra goodies, and Fight Club on Blu gets my highest possible recommendations.