When hearing Robert Duvall was starring in a western mini-series, made for cable, this reviewer had great anticipation. Duvall had already made one of the best tv mini-series of all time, "LONESOME DOVE," and with the fact that the series' director, Walter Hill, has done some great work in the past, things looked good. Well, "BROKEN TRAIL" is good, very good! Hayden Church plays Tom Harte, whom together with his uncle,(Duvall)Prentice Ritter, come to the aid of 5 young Chinese Women, left to fend for themselves, and most likely destined to be sold into white-slavery. Of course, at first Prentice and Tom are reluctant to get overly involved, but they both have real character and end up taking on more than a few really bad men and even a bad woman before their adventures and that of the Chinese women have ended.
Walter Hill has crafted this series with wonderful, contemplated pacing. Never too aggressive so as to feel forced, and never slow enough to feel overly artistic and reflective. He also shows great restraint. The actors are all given room to act, and even for the small screen, these actors don't ever ham it up, something easy to do, when trying to project big on tv.
SONY has provided the correct 1.78:1 aspect ratio for this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 blu-ray. Hill uses compositions with great impact, and they look terrific in this presentation, scene after scene. Colors are often bold and contrast offers deep blacks and grays. There is some mild noise appearing sporadically, but never enough to be overly distracting. The softness that also appears at times, is consistent with the original cable presentation.
SONY has provided a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix. While it's a decent mix, without any distortion, surrounds are underutilized, bringing disappointment, as "BROKEN TRAIL" looks like a big film, and a "big" mix could've helped make it feel more sweeping in tone. Bass effects pop up on occasion and surround effects happen every now and then, but this is mostly a front and center mix.
A decent featurette is offered, although it's only in standard resolution.