Violent Night certainly has its fair share of bloodshed with David Harbour at his best as Santa; the script isn’t as funny as it could have been but there are still plenty of brutal beatdowns and gruesome kills to make for a fun watch. The 4K is the best the film has ever looked or sounded where we can now see all the action clearly making this the definitive format to watch the film.
Plot: An elite team of mercenaries breaks into a family compound on Christmas Eve, taking everyone hostage inside. However, they aren’t prepared for a surprise combatant: Santa Claus is on the grounds, and he’s about to show why this Nick is no saint.
Review: I reviewed Violent Night last year after seeing it one time in the theatre and although I had a fun time with it, I couldn’t help but feel that it wasn’t quite as funny as the crazy concept should be. I recently got the movie on 4K and finally watched it for a second time. Many of the flaws with the film I still maintain but I did enjoy it a little more as there were pieces of dialogue, I’d missed but picked them up better with the subtitles on.
David Harbour is perfectly cast as Santa with the right amount of world weariness where he has essentially given up hope for mankind as we’ve all become so selfish and hateful. Harbour plays the role seriously and gives the story some heart and the little girl Trudy is also sympathetic. John Leguizamo is suitably nasty as our villain Scrooge but aside from that every other character is mostly obnoxious, annoying, or just felt like a cartoon.
One of the gripes we had about the film in the theatre was that some of it was too dark to see what was happening but that is thankfully not an issue with 4K where I could witness every gruesome moment. The sound is also much improved where I could hear some more of the dialogue which was hard to decipher initially.
I was hoping for a sharper script as I was expecting the film to be laugh out loud funny and although it has a few such moments there could have been more. I was looking forward to hearing the “It’s time for some season’s beatings” which is said in the trailer but it’s not in the film which is disappointing.
Violent Night feels like a mish mash of various other movies where it’s got hints of Bad Santa, meets Die Hard, meets Home Alone. There are multiple references to Die Hard and the line “Jean-Claude Van Dipshit just ditched us” is one of my favourites.
This is a mild spoiler, but the coolest aspect of the entire film was showing Santa’s origin where he was like this Viking warrior which explains how he knew how to fight so well. I would have watched a film just focusing on the origin as that was a far more interesting idea. Perhaps we could get a prequel…
The score features lots of Christmas tunes and sounds reminiscent of Michael Kamen’s work on Die Hard working perfectly with the film in creating the holiday atmosphere.
While watching some of the special features it was cool to see some familiar faces which I hadn’t noticed on the first viewing like Phong Giang and Can Aydin who not only play henchmen but also worked on the impressive fight scenes. The film is well-paced, and the action is as slick and brutal as you’d expect from 87 Eleven.
I also found I was a little more emotionally engaged with the story this time around however, there is a deleted scene on the 4K which adds a bit to the ending of the film that I wish they’d kept in. It was an important character moment for for Jason (Alex Hassell) and his mother (Beverly D’Angelo) and gives proper closure to their story. It was only a matter of seconds, so it would hardly kill the pacing.
Overall, Violent Night is destined to become a cult Christmas classic in the coming years, and I know after this viewing that I will happily watch it any Christmas period in the future. The 4K is the best way to watch the film as everything is clearer to see in terms of action and there were a few more humorous lines of dialogue I hadn’t noticed the fist time. I still think more attention was paid to the action rather than the script, which should have just landed better but it still makes for a fun and bloody Christmas actioner.
Includes 4K UHD, Blu-ray and a digital copy of Violent Night (Subject to expiration. Go to NBCUCodes.com for details.)
Features High Dynamic Range (HDR10) for Brighter, Deeper, More Lifelike Color
Deleted and Extended Scenes
Santa’s Helpers: The Making of Violent Night
Deck the Halls with Brawls
Feature Commentary with Director Tommy Wirkola, Producer Guy Danella, Writer Pat Casey and Writer Josh Miller