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Blu-ray Review: Violent Night (Collector’s Edition)

February 28, 2023

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

David Harbour stars as a drunk, badass Santa Claus in Violent Night, a Christmas action comedy from Norwegian director Tommy Wirkola (Kill Buljo) that is at it’s best when embracing being a goofy, unabashed B-movie

We first meet Harbour’s Santa in a bar on Christmas Eve, taking a break from delivering presents to get drunk and rage against consumerism. This Santa has become disillusioned with his job, but he rediscovers his sense of purpose when he ends up stuck in a mansion that is under siege.

Santa has to protect a little girl named Trudy Lightstone (Leah Brady), who is caught in the middle when her family is taken hostage by a gang of mercenaries led by the self-named Scrooge (John Leguizamo), who are after a fortune acquired by the Lightstone family matriarch (Beverly D’Angelo).

In addition to being a very bloody action movie featuring a profane, heavy-drinking Santa wielding a sledgehammer, Violent Night also tries to be a heartfelt family Christmas movie, but it struggles to have its fruitcake and eat it too. Sure, there are a few mildly amusing riffs on Home Alone and Die Hard, but the film can feel like it is trying too hard to be a future classic instead of just a cheesy gorefest.

Wirkola struggles at times to balance the tone between bone-crushing action and the stuff involving Trudy’s rich, dysfunctional family, who are all squabbling amongst themselves. None of the characters are particularly sympathetic, and the film is also somewhat too long at nearly two hours, when it feels like a faster pace was needed.

The film is never quite as subversive as it seems to want to be. But Harbour is the main attraction, and he is fun to watch as Santa, especially in a variety of well-staged action set-pieces. With Scrooge’s gang played by actual stunt people, many of the action scenes are entertaining, with the highlight being a comically brutal fight in a barn set to the Bryan Adams song “Christmas Time.” It’s moments like this when Violent Night is at its most fun, without trying to be anything more.

Bonus Features (Blu-ray):

The Blu-ray includes the usual array of bonus features; deleted scenes, a few featurettes, and a commentary track. A regular DVD is also included in the package, which ships with an embossed slipcover.

Deleted and Extended Scenes (Play All – 19 minutes, 2 seconds)

Family Arrives at the Mansion (57 seconds)

Jason and Linda in Bedroom (3 minutes, 2 seconds)

Krampus Sees Trudy’s Radio (1 minute, 10 seconds)

Santa on the Roof (48 seconds)

Walk to the Manger (1 minute, 35 seconds)

Family Resolution (2 minutes, 3 seconds)

Bad Dad (1 minute, 34 seconds)

Cast Call Back (1 minute, 12 seconds)

Extended Scenes (6 minutes, 42 seconds)

Quarrelin’ Kringle (3 minutes, 45 seconds): A brief overview of the film’s mix of holiday cheer and hardcore action, as well as the decision to cast Harbour in the role of Santa.

Santa’s Helpers: The Making of Violent Night (5 minutes, 56 seconds): An overview of several different aspects of the production, from the stunt team, to designing the costumes, and building the sets.

Deck the Halls with Brawls (6 minutes, 4 seconds): Wirkola and the stunt team take us through the choreography behind several of the fight scenes in the film.

Feature Commentary with Director Tommy Wirkola, Producer Gur Danella, Writer Pat Casey and Writer Josh Miller

Violent Night is a Universal Pictures Home Entertainment release. It’s 112 minutes and rated 14A.

Street Date: February 28th, 2023

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