Heaven's Burning (Blu-ray) (1997)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 7-Nov-2018

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Audio Commentary-Writer Louis Nowra and producer Helen Leake
Interviews-Cast & Crew-(22:45)
Script To Screen Comparison-(5:10)
Deleted Scenes-x 5 (8:22)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-(34:24)
Theatrical Trailer
Short Film-Craig Lahiff Shorts (2) + Trailers (4)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 99:10
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Craig Lahiff

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Russell Crowe
Youki Kudoh
Kenji Isomura
Anthony Phelan
Ray Barrett
Robert Mammoni
Petru Gheorghiu
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Graeme Koehne
Michael Atkinson

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

†††† Japanese couple Yukio (Kenji Isomura) and Midori (Youki Kudoh) are on honeymoon in Sydney. Midori is unhappy, to say the least. She only married Yukio because of her parents but had arranged to meet her Japanese lover in Australia, but he has got cold feet and decided not to leave Japan. Midori sneaks out of the coupleís hotel and sends a message that she has been kidnapped, sparking a police hunt for her led by Bishop (Anthony Phelan). When Midori goes to a bank to withdraw money she finds herself in the middle of a robbery; when it goes wrong she is taken hostage and bundled into the robbersí car driven by Colin (Russell Crowe). The other robbers are Afghan hoods Mahood (Robert Mammoni) and his younger brother Gullbuddin (Salvatore Coco); they are about to execute Midori when Colin intervenes and kills Gullbuddin, driving away with Midori.

†††† Colin initially decides to leave Midori by the roadside but she has no intention of going back to her husband and, indeed, she provides useful when Colin is being beaten up while trying to steal a truck. The two head into outback NSW and slowly form a bond, even going so far as to rob a bank together to gain money. Mahood and his father Boorjan (Petru Gheorghiu), intent on revenge, are soon on their trail, as is Yukio who is determined to kill Midori to assuage his honour, the police a poor last place. Will Colin and Midori escape to a better life or will one, or more, of their pursuers get to them first?

†††† Heavenís Burning is directed by Craig Lahiff and written by Australian playwright, author and screenwriter Louis Nowra, possibly best known for the play, and later film, Cosi. However, the main attraction of Heavenís Burning is a young Russell Crowe; he had been around for a couple of decades and had made a splash in Australia with Romper Stomper (1992), becoming noticed in the US the same year as Heavenís Burning for his appearance in L.A. Confidential. His subsequent career needs no further comment but it is great to see him here in a role in which he is funny, rather naÔve and not as tough or in control as he thinks he is. Singer, teen idol and actress Youki Kudoh is delightful; her Midori, a young woman lost in a strange country, is vulnerable and bewildered, but far more resourceful and determined than anyone, including Colin, expects.

†††† For the first two-thirds of its running time Heavenís Burning is a black comedy, segueing into a road movie where the couple on the run meet quirky outback people and find romance. Then the tone changes abruptly with a scene of torture before meandering around for a while, including a visit to Colinís father Cam (Ray Barrett) and a strange sequence at a B&S ball, as if the film did not know quite where it wanted to go. The climax is very Wagnerian in tone, deliberately so as it is played out to music from Wagnerís Tristan and Isolde.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


†††† Heavenís Burning is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

†††† The print looks beautiful. Shot on film, colours are deep and rich with brilliant blue skies and the dusty yellow and brown of the outback landscapes and outback towns. Detail is strong and clean, blacks and shadow detail great, skin tones natural, brightness and contrast is consistent.

†††† There is an occasional tiny mark and at 49:21 a vertical scratch. Otherwise I did not notice any artefacts or marks.

†††† English subtitles are available. Small white subtitles translated sections of non-English dialogue.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


†††† The audio is English DTS-HD MA 2.0, surround encoded. The audio commentary is Dolby Digital 2.0.

†††† In a number of scenes dialogue was recorded at a lower level and was hard to hear; either turn it up or use the subtitles. Effects, such as car engines and shots, were sharp, while music and some effects, such as a helicopter, occurred in the rears. The music by Graeme Koehne and Michael Atkinson used guitars and the Japanese flute, the shakuhachi, to give the film a Japanese feel. Added to the score were songs by artists including Brian Ferry, Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons, Procol Harum and The Bee Gees plus music by Mozart and Wagner.

†††† There are no lip synchronisation issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Audio Commentary

†††† Writer Louis Nowra and producer Helen Leake watch the film. They make comments and ask each other questions but there are silences and no flow or depth to the answers. They do mention the script and some of Nowraís intentions, the fact that the script was based on a true story, the funding and budget, shooting locations in South Australia, the cast.

Cast & Crew Interviews (22:45)

†††† These interviews were done during the shooting of the film. A text screen explains what they will talk about; nothing said is particularly insightful.

†††† Russell Crowe speaks about meeting the director, his character and roles he likes.

†††† Youki Kudoh talks about her role, how much she enjoys acting and working with the director and Russell Crowe.

†††† Director Craig Lahiff speaks about the style of the film, the complex characters and Russell Crowe.

†††† Producer Al Clark talks about the script, the casting process and the cross-cultural appeal of the film.

†††† Producer Helen Leake speaks on how the film came about, the supporting cast, Youki Kudoh and the look of the film.

Script to Screen Storyboards (5:10)

†††† This can be selected with the directorís commentary on or off. Using a script page, storyboards and film footage Craig Lahiff talks about what he was trying to achieve in the opening sequence and the bank robbery getaway.

Deleted Scenes (8:22)

†††† Five deleted / alternative scenes; the condition of the scenes is indifferent. They can be selected with the directorís commentary on or off; Lahiff explains his reasons for cutting the scene.

Behind the Scenes (34:24)

†††† Unstructured on set video without captions or voiceover showing the filming of scenes including a couple of parts of the robbery getaway and Colin and Midori abandoning the getaway car.

Theatrical Trailer (2:08)

Craig Lahiff Shorts + Trailers

†††† Two early short films and four trailers directed by Lahiff. There is no menu; they play one after the other. The shorts and earlier trailers are in poor condition with hiss in the audio and numerous artefacts.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

†††† Heavenís Burning has been released previously on DVD but this Blu-ray from Umbrella is the only one currently available.


†††† It is hard to know what to make of Heavenís Burning. The film is stylish and funny in places and Russell Crowe and Youki Kudoh are both great to watch, but the tone of the film is uneven and the filmmakers seem to be unsure of just what kind of film to make. Still, we must be thankful that Umbrella is giving these Australian films a fresh lease of life with restored video and audio and extras.

†††† The video and audio are very good, the extras vary in quality. This Blu-ray is a vast improvement in all aspects on the previously released DVD from years ago. For fans of the film, Australian cinema or Russell Crowe, this is a worthwhile pick up.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, December 27, 2018
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE