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on 31 May 2011
There is one inescapable fact that the apologists for the poor Blu Ray transfer of 'The French Connection' seem determined to ignore. While The Blu Ray of 'The French Connection II' is superior to the DVD release, the Blu Ray of the first movie is noticeably inferior to the DVD release. You'd have to be blind not to notice this.

Friedkin has overly tinkered with the transfer resulting in a distinct change to the colour timing, an overabundance of digital noise and a wiping out of fine detail due to ham-fisted application of Digital Noise Reduction.

A prime example of the latter is a long focus shot down a New York street showing the skyline and apartment building rooftops at the rear of the shot. Far more fine detail is visible in the DVD - in the Blu Ray there has been so much DNR applied that the television aerials have disappeared from the rooftops whereas they are clearly visible on the DVD. I thought one of the ideas behind Blu Ray was greater detail and resolution, not less?

This is not the first back catalogue title that Fox has managed to screw up for Blu Ray, several of which are so bad they are to be replaced with newly remastered versions. Moaning that people are being picky or overly technical is simply not good enough - your moaning should be directed at the studios producing sub-standard product. We also had this debate with the Blu Ray release of 'Gladiator', another DNR disaster, with apologists saying "Stop moaning it's fine!". In the end enough people complained and Universal withdrew the original discs and replaced the release with a brand new transfer that showed the original release up for the botch job that it was.

I'll leave the last word on the 'French Connection' Blu Ray transfer with the man who actually shot the film, cinematographer Owen Roizman...

"Billy [Friedkin] for some reason decided to do this on his own. I wasn't consulted. I was appalled by it. I don't know what Billy was thinking. It's not the film that I shot, and I certainly want to to wash my hands of having had anything to do with this transfer, which I feel is atrocious."

He later called it an "emasculated" and "horrifying" transfer, and said "it would be a travesty to see The Exorcist [which Roizman also shot] transferred in this fashion."

Following this controversy, Warner Brothers removed supervision of the Blu Ray transfer of "The Exorcist" from Friedkin's control and handed the reins over to Roizman.

Be patient - the controversy over this title has really hit sales in the USA. Fox will eventually replace it with a new release as they are in the process of doing with other problematic Blu Ray transfers.
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on 3 February 2013
Gene Hackman as the American cop who tries to do things his way in France is super. There is laughter and frustration. You have to feel for him. He knows no better than the way things are done where he comes from and these foreignors don't even speak good old american . Don't mistake this for a light hearted film. There is violence and determination from beginning to end.
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on 7 July 2014
Two classic 70's cop films that helped define the gritty anti-hero protagonist role, along with other such classics as Bullitt and Dirty Harry. This came way before, it seems, every protagonist was mass produced from the same blueprints.

You won't find any flashy effects or choreographed action scenes here, instead what you get is a fresh serving of tension, class dialogue and excellent writing, which go together to create a great pair of films in a fantastically priced box.

I was surprised with the sequel, having become accustomed to today's standards of trash that get the go ahead for rebooting from Hollywood producers for quick dollars. This film, although fictional, unlike its predecessor, provides a great experience for fans of the original and gives some closure to the story after the first films brilliant, yet frustrating ending.

The complete antithesis to today's standards in (big budget) film, and all the better for it. Buy it. Buy it now.
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on 29 November 2011
The transfer to Blu-ray of this otherwise excellent movie, is spoilt by the woeful quality in the transfer. I already had both movies on DVD, bought when they were first released. The DVD transfer is vastly superior in quality to the Blue-ray version. Take my advice and buy the films on DVD instead.

J A Sellin, Port Kembla, New South Wales
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on 4 April 2016
The transfer of The French Connection presented here, as has been discussed plenty by now, is disappointing. I knew this, and bought this set anyway, whilst also purchasing the signature series copy of the first film. The signature series lacks the BBC/Kermode documentary. This set has a 10 min doc of Friedkin explaining the process for his vision of the muddled transfer, which is entertaining in its baffling wrongness! The transfer of FC II ( a lesser film but an good film nonetheless) is decent. I'm happy that I've ended up with a feast of French Connection ephemera to gorge on: they just don't make 'em like that anymore.
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on 12 March 2016
Utterly disgusting! This is an unbelievable mastering on blu ray. 20th Century Fox home video should be sued for producing this rubbish and failing to recall all of these affected Blu-ray Discs and not offering remastered replacements! It is tantamount to fraud. The copies of French Connection are utterly unwatchable. The speckling is like watching a VHS copy of the film broadcast on a 1970s tv where you can't quite get a good clear reception! Please, if you are curious--only buy from amazon, because you will most definitely want to send this crap back to Fox. In the New York scenes, Popeye is chasing a guy dressed in a Santa suit and you can actually see the red colour bleeding out of the edges of his costume, like you are watching some bad, primitive colourisation process!

Very angry and let down! Fox, you can have it straight back!
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on 7 May 2014
FC1 is one of the greatest films of all time and came during a period when Hollywood's output probably peaked (the 70s). The two disc, 5-star US collectors release was the first DVD I ever bought about 15 years ago and I still watch it regularly. I also hate it when directors tinker with their releases: the blu ray of The Warriors is almost unwatchable now that Walter Hill has ruined it with terrible comic interludes.

So I was concerned about all the criticisms of the blu ray. Having finally bought it, I have to say the carping is - almost - much ado about nothing and is definitely out-weighed by the increase in sharpness.

The images do at times look too washed out, I will admit that. The scene where Doyle drives over Brooklyn bridge following and eventually losing Sal Boca is very washed out with the colours of the NYC skyline drained. The exterior of Sal's cafe is also too drained and loses too much of the green and red colouring in the store front. The worst scene for me was probably the sequence in Washington DC - this was really pale and washed out and really lacked punch. It was unnecessary and looked like an accident.

In other places, I thought the colder palette worked - when Doyle is waiting outside the NYC restaurant while Charnier and Frog2 eat a three-course meal, the exterior is a much colder blue than before compared to the interior. But this works - it highlights that Doyle is staking out Charnier in the cold while the French enjoy haute cuisine. So at times it works.

But leaving the issue of colour aside, people who say the blu ray is inferior to the DVD are well wide of the mark. From the outset, the blu ray is sharper (taking account of the generally very grainy and night lit nature of the film). The scenes in Marseilles are much sharper and punchier, close ups of Charnier reveal the texture in his beard, you can clearly read the Hot Dog lettering on Sonny's hot dog stall at the start, you can read the slogan on the Canada Dry dispenser in the Narcotics Bureau HQ etc. The best example comes at the end of the famous chase sequence. When Frog 2 tumbles down the steps to the feet of Doyle, there is a sign above the gantry: the smaller wording is hard to decipher on the DVD; on the blu ray version, the entire signage is legible. Small points that don't add much to the film, but there is no question the blu ray is the sharper of the two films.

I thoroughly enjoyed the blu ray version of FC1, particularly the added sharpness, which made it more enjoyable than the DVD. The washed-out colour palette was a little jarring in a few places, but overall did not detract from the viewing experience. I think some people have gone overboard saying this is the worst transfer ever.
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on 31 January 2015
This is a very good film package you get 3 Blu-ray disc. both the French connection films and the third disc is extras about the film. why have I given 2 stars? well, I only wished I read the other reviews FIRST! the picture quality on the first disc is awful it is grainy and looks more like a cheap video transfer. the second disc is only slightly a little better. a shame because both of these films are great masterpieces of a good thriller and good acting spoiled by appalling cheap transfer and to say you have to pay a expensive price for a Blu-ray copy of these films I feel very cheated over this. so do read the other reviews of people who give this 1,2,3 stars.
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on 17 June 2016
These two DVD's are well worth buying. Gene Hackman's performance as" Popeye Doyle " in both movies is up to his usual high standard. First DVD is based on a true story with the second DVD an excellent work of fiction.
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on 3 June 2013
The French Connection absolutely re-wrote the book on cop thrillers when it was released in 1971. Its depiction of New York, of crime and of cops was unlike that in any film prior (or in many since). William Friedkin had made a handful of minor films (four, I think) prior to starting pre-production on this. The stories of him and his cast spending time with cops and junkies have now passed into film legend. This kind of attention to authenticity may be fairly common now, but in 1971 it was almost unheard of. With the possible exception of Bullitt (also produced by Philip D'Antoni), cop movies were essentially about thrills and fun, not about real police work.

New York is portrayed as a living hell. No other film had ever been so unforgiving in its choice of locations or its tone. The violence was disturbingly explicit, following in the footsteps of The Wild Bunch in throwing the book of Hollywood acceptability out of the window. As for the infamous character of Jimmy Doyle, this was the first time a cop was seen as a truly flawed human being. Doyle isn't interested in justice, he's more committed to being right and proving it. He's racist, violent and generally pretty unlikeable. Definitely not your average movie cop, or your average cop movie. I won't rehash the plot here, as this film is more about its characters and its environment. The pace is deliberately restrained, so don't come into this expecting wall-to-wall action, but you can look forward to one of the greatest chase sequences ever committed to celluloid.

French Connection II is a mixed success. It kills the ambiguity of the first film's final moments and sees Doyle relocated to Marseilles in pursuit of "Frog 1". The absence of Friedkin could have sunk the ship entirely, but replace his grim realism with John Frankenheimer's trademark paranoia and the shift in tone actually works rather well. Again, the film is surprisingly dark and graphic for its time, with a dedicated but unpreachy focus on the perils of drug use. The film's final act is punctuated by some excellently handled action sequences which genuinely serve the story at the same time as being exhilarating entertainment. The deeper insight into Doyle manages to enhance the character without overegging the pudding and the film's ending is just about as perfect a summation of Doyle as one can imagine. While it's not up there with its predecessor, FC2 is certainly echelons above most of the cop genre films which came flooding out of Hollywood in the `70s.

The blu ray discs themselves are excellent. The picture quality on the first film - which seems to be the focus of almost every review here - is quite deliberately very grainy and washed out. The fact that Friedkin revisited the colour timing to make the film look "as he always wanted it to" was met with outrage by some fans (as well as the film's cinematographer), but film purists will appreciate the authentic look of the presentation, though it would be nice to see an alternative closer to the original look. FC2 is far easier on the eye; its transfer is up there with the best blu ray upgrades of `70s films. Sound quality is good on both discs and the extras are plentiful, the pièce de résistance (pardon the pun) being an isolated score on the first film, as Don Ellis' wonderful and evocative soundtrack is long out of print.

Very highly recommended for fans and newcomers alike. Just don't complain about the video transfer.
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