Four Lions on Blu-ray – The DVDfever Review

four lions

Four Lions, the feature-length directorial debut for Chris Morris (here listed as Christopher Morris), takes a sideways look at suicide bombers supposedly focussing on being part of the mujahideen, i.e. terrorists, and wanting to blow up the kuffar, aka disbelievers, which, to them, is generally anyone who isn’t a muslim.

Omar (Riz Ahmed) works as a security guard overnight in a warehouse, alongside Matt (Craig Parkinson), who boasts about how much keeping fit he does. When telling his colleague that he suddenly needs the next two weeks off as he has to go to a wedding in Pakistan – which is actually a trip to go training as a terrorist and suicide bomber – the response comes, “I thought you were serious about this job, Omar. I mean, where do you see yourself in five years’ time?”

He’s joined in his task by Waj (Kayvan Novak, aka the Fonejacker), an utter simpleton; Barry (Nigel Lindsay), one of a few Caucasian terrorists who have joined the cause – and is clearly a few sandwiches short of a picnic; and Feesel (Adeel Akhtar), not quite a stupid as Waj but still not firing on all cylinders. Along the way, they’re joined by Hassan (Arsher Ali), who Barry spots at a conference being… ‘disruptive’ in the audience, shall we say…

As the eventual plan comes together, taking in a local fun-run – hence the first picture, Omar and Waj go off training, which doesn’t exactly go to plan but I won’t say here what happens, and it causes them to return home early, where Barry has had to stay home with Faisal, recruiting Hassan along the way.

Other stand-out moments include the fact that Waj has a prayer bear, which “does my prayers for me”; later, Waj and Hassan try to avoid their picture being taken when out and about, by shaking their heads from side to side as it “makes the photos come out blurry”; Faisal straps explosives to a crow, telling him to fly to a toy house on a bird table, which he refers to as a sex shop, and then “sends him to heaven” – and not in a way that results in a happy finish. Finally, out of this bunch, Barry’s car breaks down. He blames Jewish parts on the car’s demise after he allegedly got it fixed, saying that the Jewish invented the spark plugs to control global traffic.

There’s also a couple of interesting cameos with Kevin Eldon and Darren Boyd as police snipers and Benedict Cumberbatch as a terrorist negotiator. Meanwhile, there’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearances from Preeya Kalidas as Omar’s wife, Sophia, The Thick Of It‘s Alex MacQueen as an MP and Julia Davis as oddball neighbour, Alice.

Overall, a lot of this is priceless stuff. Note that it doesn’t glorify suicide bombers in any way, it just points out what a complete bunch of fucking morons they all are. People who blow themselves up because it’s God’s plan? Yeah, tell that to your shrink(!)

Presented in the original 1.85:1 anamorphic theatrical ratio, the picture is fine with no major problems whatsoever. It has a slightly grainy look, but For the record, I’m watching on a Panasonic 37″ Plasma screen via a Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray player.

As for the sound, this is in DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1. It’s mostly used for dialogue and ambience, with occasional explosions, but there’s nothing out of the ordinary in this.

The extras are as follows:

  • Deleted/Alternate Scenes (17:32): Seven of them here. I’d put Nos.2 and 5 back into the movie as it gives Kayvan Novak a couple of great extra scenes.
  • Background material: Two things here. First Lost Boys (8:27), is a short film made by producer Afi Khan, about muslim lads in cities across Britain and their social lives and relationships with white boys and girls. Then comes an Inteview (13:01) with caucasian Mohammad Ali Ahmad, awaiting trial for “preparing an act of terrorism”, following over a year on remand.

IMDB states that “On the DVD wait in the deleted scenes menu until the seagull appears and then press enter. This will take you to a further menu featuring more bonus materials.” There’s no such thing appearing on this Blu-ray, and the extras I’ve seen reviewed elsewhere are the same as above, so I’m presuming that’s it.

The bizarre menu shows footage of three of the ‘lions’ walking across a hill, against a dismal weather backdrop, pretending to be in training. There’s no mention of the title during this. Next, they’re shown standing by a van above a motorway, while a roadsign alternates between showing ‘5.1’ and ‘2.0’, which are the Dolby Digital options on the audio setup sub-menu. Then it cuts to Waj, giving one of his ridiculous speeches-to-camera. Next up is simply Barry, standing outside of the van and screaming loudly, while everyone inside looks bemused. Omar starts to drive off, Barry stops and gets in the van. Omar switches the engine off, Barry gets out and so it goes round again (this one gets quite annoying when it keeps popping up, actually). The segments then alternate at random. In fact, on going back to these another time, they alternate at random anyway.

There are subtitles in English but the chaptering is typically lazy of Optimum/Elevation Sales with just 12 over the 98-minute running time. There’s also trailers, from Optimum that you can’t skip past or pause! This is NOT the age of the rental video and this is VERY annoying! STOP IT!

Four Lions is available now on Blu-ray and DVD.


Detailed specs:
Running time: 98 minutes
Year: 2009
Distributor: Optimum
Region(s): 2, PAL
Released: August 2010
Chapters: 12 OPTBD1814R0
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
Screen ratio: 1.85:1
16:9-Enhanced: Yes
Macrovision: Yes
Disc Format: BD50

Director: Christopher Morris
Producers: Mark Herbert and Derrin Schlesinger
Screenplay: Jesse Armstrong, Sam Bain, Simon Blackwell and Christopher Morris

Omar: Riz Ahmed
Waj: Kayvan Novak
Barry: Nigel Lindsay
Hassan: Arsher Ali
Faisal: Adeel Akhtar
Matt: Craig Parkinson
Sophia: Preeya Kalidas
Alice: Julia Davis
Malcolm Storge MP: Alex MacQueen
Snipers: Darren Boyd, Kevin Eldon
Nabil: Adil Mohammed Javed
Heimlich man: Toby Longworth