After its release in 1991, Point Break seemed to take on a life of its own, leaving a lasting legacy as it etched itself a place in our collective cultural memory. Directly, it inspired Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg in the writing of their comic-action homage Hot Fuzz (2007) and spawned the popular, touring stage play, Point Break Live! Let’s not forget of course that Point Break was also the fourth, and perhaps the most universally beloved, feature film by Kathryn Bigelow, who, in 2009, would become the first woman to win an Academy Award for Best Director. More importantly, and here’s what I’m getting at, Point Break‘s iconic skydiving sequence made quick work of popularizing skydiving in action films. No fewer than three action films with major focuses on skydiving hit theaters in 1994 alone, the most prominent of which being Terminal Velocity and Drop Zone. Granted, I can’t prove that Point Break directly influenced the writing of these films in any way, but for Hollywood to produce that many skydiving movies in the wake of Point Break‘s success surely can’t be a coincidence. After all, Hollywood goes where the money go!
Terminal Velocity, which recently made its way to Blu-ray thanks to the folks at Mill Creek Entertainment, opened in American theaters nearly three months before Drop Zone. However, just because it got the drop on Drop Zone (you see what I did there?) doesn’t mean it has anything over Drop Zone, per se. In truth, Terminal Velocity is no Drop Zone! If one can indeed make such a value call having seen Drop Zone last a decade ago, I would certainly declare Drop Zone the superior film. And yet, despite Wesley Snipes filling Drop Zone‘s lead role, I would say that Terminal Velocity ultimately has the better cast. Charlie Sheen and Natassja Kinski star in the film alongside costars James Gandolfini, Christopher McDonald, and Sweet Sweetback himself, Melvin Van Peebles. Sure, Drop Zone has Gary Busey, but Busey didn’t play Sweet Sweetback, did he? In addition, Terminal Velocity features a screenplay by David Twohy, just off The Fugitive (1993), and direction by Deran Sarafian, who would go on to a rather impressive and prolific career directing for television.
The narrative of Terminal Velocity starts out strong as daredevil skydiver, Ditch Brodie (Sheen), finds himself immersed in a mystery involving the death of one of his skydiving students (Kinski). Once Brodie uncovers the truth behind her death, the film quickly devolves in to a series of mindless chases and shootouts with the Russian mafia, out to capture some MacGuffin or another. The important thing to note, for those of you who have come to expect Charlie Sheen to do nothing but regularly spout quotable nonsense, is that Charlie Sheen indeed spouts some quotable nonsense here. Maybe there aren’t as many quotable lines here as one might like, but I can assure you that Sheen makes the claim herein that “I’m much more than a walking penis. I’m a flying penis.” And if that’s not good enough for you, try “Yesterday, this wet dream walks in” on for size. Or how about, “Run? I haven’t even stretched!” Well, okay, so maybe that last one’s a bit lackluster, but we are talking about a pre-winning Charlie Sheen here, after all.
On Mill Creek’s Blu-ray release of Terminal Velocity, the film looks better than it probably has any right to, as they’ve apparently maintained the film stock’s grain structure in an overall surprisingly crisp and clean, HD transfer. Moreover, Mill Creek’s presentation of the film boasts an impressively dynamic audio mix to match the stellar visuals. Now, I’ll be the first to admit, nobody needs to own Terminal Velocity on Blu-ray, but to me, that’s really what make this release so great. With Mill Creek’s budget pricing of this high-quality BD, it’s ultimately affordable to even those who possess but a modicum of passing interest in the title. The only drawback to this release hitting stores as a budget title is that the film’s theatrical trailer ultimately accounts for the entirety of the release’s special features.