Reviewer's Rating 2 out of 5   User Rating 3 out of 5
xXx: Xtreme Edition DVD (2004)

Boasting a new breed of super agent in the brawny shape of Vin Diesel, xXx is an exercise in "dumb fun" that scored big at the box office. Critical reception was predictably mixed, but most agreed it was the perfect showcase for Diesel's unique blend of muscles, multi-ethnic appeal and sense of mischief. As Ice Cube preps himself up to step into those big shoes in xXx: State Of The Union, the folks at Columbia release this special Xtreme Edition.

Diesel Fuelled Vehicle

This is one of those rare cases where the Special Edition is actually inferior to the original DVD release. Taking away the deleted scenes, director's diary and specialised featurettes, we're left with a distinctly ordinary package. A 'making of' featurette is amped up with thrash guitars and fast cuts, otherwise it's the usual breakdown of concept and characters with a peppering of silly soundbites. Diesel warns, "This isn't your daddy's secret agent," while director Rob Cohen brags about having "visual effects up the ying yang". That sounds painful and after a few minutes of this yammering, you'll also be reaching for the aspirin.

We're treated to a CG-animated portrayal of a pumping heart and coursing adrenaline in The End Credit Sequence - Raw And Uncut. If Professor Robert Winston ever made a documentary under the influence of LSD, this is what it would look like. Essentially though, this is a pointless bonus feature especially because it doesn't differ noticeably from the existing credit sequence.

Hands down the most baffling extra is The Final Chapter: The Death Of Xander Cage. It's a four-minute addendum to the movie that's especially naff because Xander Cage is filmed entirely from behind. That's to conceal the fact that stuntman Khristian Lupo is standing in for Vin Diesel. The makers of this short are evidently counting on the fact that you'll be too distracted by fast cars and explosions to notice this discrepancy. Sadly the healthy hair follicles give it away.

xXx Extreme DVD

X-tortion

Agent Shaver's Gadget Presentation is another throwaway feature hosted by actor Michael Roof. Among Xander Cage's high-tech survival kit are a pair of Eagle Eyes to help you "see through women's drawers" and Samuel L Jackson In A Box for when you need a quick fix of "cool". In reality, this is merely a chance for Roof to showcase his bizarre little comedy routine - perving on the cameraman using his x-ray specs...

Of course this timely DVD release wouldn't be complete without a plug for the sequel - or two. A Sneak Peek offers a few behind-the-scenes snippets and interviews with the cast, headlined by Ice Cube. "When I saw the first one," he says, "I thought, 'that should have been me.'" (At least he's honest.) Also included is a scene from A State Of The Union. It finds Cube's character in jail where Samuel L Jackson attempts to recruit him for a perilous mission. Yes, it's "all-new and exclusive", but you can't escape the feeling you've seen it before.

The highlight of the package is Rob Cohen's director's commentary (available on the original disc). For a film so dumb he's very articulate, although he opens the commentary by stating, "This was the f****** greatest idea I ever heard!" He's referring to the concept of tackling the well-worn spy genre through the subculture of extreme sports, but also talks about a post-9/11 Hollywood where intelligence people are being redefined as heroes.

As well as a Hatebreed music video and a couple of multi-angle stunt sequences, that's it for this so-called X-treme Edition. It's hardly worth getting X-cited about.

EXTRA FEATURES

  • Audio commentary by director Rob Cohen
  • The End Credit Sequence - Raw And Uncut
  • The Final Chapter: The Death Of Xander Cage featurette
  • Starz On The Set - The Making Of xXx featurette
  • Agent Shaver's Gadget Presentation featurette
  • Two multi-angle stunts
  • Sneak Peek at xXx: State Of The Union
  • Scene from xXx: State Of The Union
  • I Will Be Heard music video by Hatebreed
  • Technical Information

    REGION SOUND MENUS RATIO
    2 Dolby Digital 5.1 Animated, with music 2.35:1 (anamorphic)
    CHAPTERS SUBTITLES AUDIO TRACKS
    28 English, Dutch English
    CAPTIONS EXTRAS SUBTITLES CERTIFICATE
    English The special features are subtitled 15

    End Credits

    Director: Rob Cohen

    Writer: Rich Wilkes

    Stars: Vin Diesel, Asia Argento, Marton Csokas, Sammuel L Jackson, Michael Roof

    Genre: Action, Adventure

    Length: 127 minutes

    Cinema: 17 December 2004

    DVD: 18 April 2005

    Country: USA