Trancers III: Deth Lives! Blu-ray Review
Written by ZigZag
Blu-ray released by Full Moon Entertainment
Written and directed by C. Courtney Joyner
1992, 75 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on September 13th, 2016
Tim Thomerson as Jack Deth
Melanie Smith as R.J.
Andrew Robinson as Col. Daddy Muthuh
Tony Pierce as Jason
Dawn Ann Billings as Jana
Stephen Macht as Harris
Helen Hunt as Lena Deth
Megan Ward as Alice Stillwell
R.A. Mihailoff as Shark
For anyone unfamiliar with the Trancers franchise, the premise is pretty cool but requires a bit of explaining. Jack Deth is a 23rd century cop on a mission to stop an army of bizarre zombie-like creatures called Trancers. Time travel becomes a necessity and Jack finds himself in the 20th century fighting monsters alongside his future wife, Lena. His mission is a success and Jack opts to stay in the past and build a life with the girl of his dreams. The next few years find Jack as a down-on-his-luck private investigator with a strained marriage and a lot of other problems too. He’s got it rough at the moment, but fate isn’t done with him yet and is about to intervene once again.
Time-jacked to the year 2352, Jack is surprised to find the war on Trancers has resumed despite his earlier efforts. Faces are familiar but their relationships with him have changed over the ensuing years and the council has decided it’s best to send Jack back to 2005 for a strike on the original Trancer program. His first goal upon arrival is to track down his ex-wife Lena, who is now a successful journalist. She has taken in a girl named R.J., an escapee from the new Trancer training camp, as a source for her story on governmental malfeasance. Jack must protect the cadet as he tracks down Colonel Muthuh, the military leader responsible for starting the testing.
The Trancers franchise is a fun ride that raises the stakes with each new installment. Jack Deth is a nice hybrid character crossing the genres of science fiction with film noir. Tim Thomerson (Near Dark) plays our hero throughout the series and wears the character like an old suit. His weathered face and white hair convey a sense of weariness that is surprisingly absent from his portrayal. Thomerson is full of life and good in a fight as Deth takes on an army of soldiers half his age. He has no time for bullshit and wants nothing more than to rid the world of the creatures that have taken so much of his time and to get his life back in order. Facing off against Jack this time is Andrew Robinson (Hellraiser) as Col. Muthuh, the scene-chewing villain of the film. He is wonderful in the role and brings a maniacal glee to his evil deeds.
Trancers III serves as a closing chapter of a trilogy that sees a lot of friendly faces returning to wrap things up. Chief among them is Helen Hunt (Rollercoaster), who plays Jack’s love interest Lena in all three films. Hunt’s star was on the rise by the time this sequel came to be and yet she maintained a loyalty to the character. Jack and Lena’s relationship has been bumpy but ends on a positive note. Returning from Trancers II is the always welcome Megan Ward (Freaked) as Jack’s first wife, Alice. Her character has undergone the most profound change in which she has become a rebel soldier. She’s tough as nails and has a nice history with Jack as her trainer, making her quite the fighter. Surrounding Jack with two strong women has been a highlight of the series and it’s nice to see them hold their own when challenged.
Writer/ director C. Courtney Joyner (Lurking Fear) keeps things lively with this second sequel. He closes out the original series while introducing new characters for future installments. This comes with ease and he maintains the general tone of the previous installments. Trancers III is darker than its predecessors but never mean-spirited. Some of the supporting characters are a bit more aggressive, but Jack Deth remains true to his roots. He stands for what is right: protecting the weak and fighting evil. He is a flawed character, but a decent one. Fans of the franchise will leave this third chapter satisfied and ready for more.
Video and Audio:
Trancers III looks terrific presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, filled with bright colors and rich black levels. There’s a lot of fine-object detail here and it is pleasing to the eye. There has not been a full restoration by any means but the source elements provided are in fine shape and everything looks great.
Both a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and a 2.0 audio presentation are offered. The expanded surround mix fares better for the dialogue levels and benefits from some expanded music cues. This is the best a 2.0 mix has sounded on recent Full Moon Blu-rays and bodes well for future releases.
Courtney Joyner and Tim Thomerson provide a relaxed and conversational audio commentary filled with production anecdotes. The two have sharp memories twenty years on, and are quick with an entertaining story or bit of trivia.
Next up is the classic Videozone (10 minutes) featurette that serves as an extended EPK with members of the cast and crew promoting their new film with laughs and compliments. While essentially a fluff piece that returns from the earliest VHS release, it is a nice addition here.
Deth’s Reckoning (15 minutes) finds Joyner in fine spirits as he reflects on the picture in an extended interview for this new featurette.
Rounding things out is a collection of trailers for Trancers II and additional Full Moon features, but oddly not Trancers III.