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Daredevil (Two-Disc Widescreen Edition) (2003)

Action & Adventure and Art House & International movie directed by Mark Steven Johnson

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An alternate cut that actually is an ALTERNATE (not to mention better) cut!

  • Jun 15, 2010
Superhero movies have become one of the highest-grossing genres in the moviemaking business and for good reason. They provide fantastic escapism and bring the fantasies from the pages of comics to life. One such film was the 2003 adaptation of Marvel Comic's character Daredevil.

Now, I'm sure I'll take some heat for this from fans of the comic, but I've never really enjoyed the Daredevil comics all that much; a red-horned wearing Stan Lee/Marvel rebuttal to DC's Batman. This kept me from being interested in the comics, but I always enjoy a good superhero movie so I gave the film adaptation of Daredevil a shot. Like many, I found the product disappointing...but then I discovered there was a Director's cut many claimed to be drastically different from the theatrical release I had witnessed...

That is correct. The Director's Cut is indeed a whole other film that stands on its own as an engaging superhero flick. I'll just have to summarize both versions without giving away too much- just so you can understand the differences.

Theatrical Cut: 2.5/5 Stars

This is the version of the film most people have probably seen and found to be severely disapointing. It clearly tries to follow up Spider-Man with wall-to-wall special effect fights with gravity defying, Matrix-influenced fights. The only real highlight is Colin Farrell as assassin Bullseye, whose over-the-top antics and remorseless killing make for quite a show. Matt Murdock's (Daredevil) daytime career as a lawyer who stands for the little-man is totally glossed over in order to increase the action percentage and the Kingpin (played outstandingly by Michael Clarke Duncan) is so underdeveloped and unintimidating that he seems more like a glorified CEO than a prominent crime lord.

In its theatrical format Daredevil is a fairly typical superhero movie. Wall to wall fantasy action with minor character development, but little soul; only good thing to be found here is the soundtrack which features some contemporary songs and a stylish directing style.

Director's cut: 4/5 Stars

Most of the flaws of the theatrical cut are resolved in this grittier version of the film. This isn't one of those director's cuts like Alien Vs. Predator where they splatter some CGI blood but the final result still blows chunks. No, this Director's Cut truly is an alternate cut that bears only a vague resemblance to the theatrical cut.

Allow me to list some reasons why this cut is vastly superior to the edition many of you saw in theaters back in '03.

1. Character development: Matt Murdock is developed as a character and a lawyer instead of being simply the man in the red costume. He is a conflicted individual who doesn't quite know yet what he wants to be; only that he wants to take down crime in whatever manner possible. The Kingpin is shown as a brutal crime boss who rules without remorse. Electra is cut-back in this version, but this version of the film she really is only a supporting cast member (which I prefer because her character was the weakest part of the theatrical cut, in my personal opinion). Only character without improvement is the over-the-top Bullseye, but this is for the best seeing as Farrell's character really does work best as a whimsical enigma (Farrell does however get to drop the film's single F-bomb).

2. New Scenes: An entire subplot cut from the theatrical cut involves Matt Murdock represented a drug dealer (Coolio) who has been framed by the Kingpin for the murder of a prostitute. This entire subplot works in developing a reason for Daredevil to want the Kingpin while in the theatrical cut it turns the hunt for Kingpin a simple revenge story of Daredevil getting angry over his murdered romantic lead. Because of this the film takes on a new emotional depth.

3. Alternate Scenes: Scenes such as the love scene between Affleck and him in confession have been removed from this cut of Daredevil . Those tacked on, crowd-pleasing moments that seemed to drag down the pacing of the film have been removed from the director's vision of the film creating better flow along with giving the hero a more tragic story.

4. Fight Scenes: Now, if you hated the Matrix/Spider-Man fight scenes from the theatrical cut I'm sorry to say those are still here. I liked most of these fights (except the unnecessary one between Matt and Electra in the park which is just worthless filler) but the one that improves the most in this version is the climatic fight between Daredevil and Kingpin. In the theatrical cut Kingpin is a pushover (in the theatrical cut you might as well turn the film off after Bullseye is taken out). In the Director's Cut Michael Clarke Duncan takes the opportunity to remind us he was a professional bodyguard prior to breaking into the acting scene. This is a brutal fight between a David and Goliath that doesn't let you down considering the way the film has built it up.

5. Tone: This film is no Spider-Man. Action scenes might be similar, but the tone of this Director's Cut makes a fine attempt at following the footsteps as such greats as The Crow.

6. Humor: Even though this cut is far darker than the theatrical cut it also manages to insert a fair dose of brisk humor. This allows leveling out the tension and making for a more exciting experience. Action scenes are fun, but without interludes they just become boring, which was a primary problem with the theatrical cut.
Now, the Director's Cut is not without faults (hence why I only give it Four Stars). It still suffers in the believability of its action scenes and the weak performances from Jennifer Garner, but overall it wins my approval. Does that mean you'll like it? Well, to put it in perspective I didn't necessarily "hate" the theatrical cut. I just found it generic and dull. Now, if you absolutely HATED the theatrical cut for its unbelievable action scenes, and the presence of Ben Affleck simply for being...Ben Affleck, odds are you will still detest this film.

If you thought the theatrical cut was only a missed opportunity? I suggest you pick up a copy of the director's cut and prepare to see this film in a whole new light! It isn't perfect, but it is a magnificent improvement!

What did you think of this review?

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May 26, 2012
Wow. You've made a good case. After seeing the theatrical version I had no interest in seeing a revision, but you've piqued my curiosity. Thank you, and well done.
More Daredevil (2003) reviews
review by . May 26, 2012
Justice is not this blind: Darevil as a drug-addicted killer
         The comic book Daredevil once saved a man from being hit by an oncoming truck. The movie Daredevil leaves a man to die under an oncoming subway train, making innocent victims out of both the dead man and the subway car driver who must live with the traumatic memory of having crushed someone to death.      Simply, the would-be hero of Daredevil (2003) is no one to root for.         PLOT SYNOPSIS:   …
review by . December 30, 2009
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The Daredevil delviers blind justice ....
This film for me  was not a favorite of mine until I hit about the age of  fifteen. Seeing as  before that I could never grasp the idea of a blind guy kicking  some serious criminal  butt. But now that I'm much older and have  read up on daredevil(the comics and anything else I can find on him.)  He is  a favorite  of mine as well as the movie.            Daredevil  is dark,  gloomy, smart , intense and  …
review by . April 29, 2009
This well-cast movie packs a lot of story into one film.  I remember growing up that Daredevil was always different than other comics after all what other hero was sightless?  Also, the artwork of Gene Colon was much more like the artwork of the Dark Knight versions of Batman that come out in the mid-80's.  The movie had the same feel.  It was a heck of a lot better than the Val Kilmer/George Clooney Batman films but nowhere near the Spiderman movie.   As in the comic, Matt …
review by . October 18, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
I really didn't think I was going to like DAREDEVIL all that much. I'm not a fan of Ben Affleck and when I heard he had been cast as the vengeful Matthew Murdock, I thought "Well, the movie is doomed." Fortunately, this is one time where Affleck rises to his potential and adds to a film's value instead of decreasing it.      Matt Murdock (Affleck) is a powerful lawyer who has given up all opportunities to make a fortune in corporate law and instead has returned …
review by . February 05, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
This well-cast movie packs a lot of story into one film. I remember growing up that Daredevil was always different than other comics after all what other hero was sightless? Also, the artwork of Gene Colon was much more like the artwork of the Dark Knight versions of Batman that come out in the mid-80's. The movie had the same feel. It was a heck of a lot better than the Val Kilmer/George Clooney Batman films but nowhere near the Spiderman movie.As in the comic, Matt Murdock grew up in Hell's Kitchen …
review by . August 05, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
"Daredevil" has always been one of my favorite Marvel characters. It truly was a surprise to me when I first learned that a film was actually going to be made about him. He teamed up with Lou Ferrigno's "Hulk" when that TV series was used to crank out a few TV movies, but that particular flick was wretched. It did no justice to the "Daredevil" character.  This "Daredevil," however, stays fairly true to the comic book, although I felt the story dragged somewhat. The worst part of the movie …
review by . July 07, 2003
An awful lot of people spit blood. Even the hero wrenches a bloody loose tooth from his mouth after one bout of fisticuffs. Daredevil is an orthodontist's dream.     But for fans of the comic book, Daredevil is more of a nightmare. Conceived initially as an adult flick, the R rating was trimmed to PG-13 before hitting theaters -- but still, the movie that remains is darker and more brutal than I expected from the optimistic Marvel hero.     As is expected …
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About this movie


Darker than its popular comic-book predecessorSpider-Man, the $80 million extravaganzaDaredevilwas packaged for maximum global appeal, its juvenile plot beginning when 12-year-old Matt Murdock is accidentally blinded shortly before his father is murdered. Later an adult attorney in New York's Hell's Kitchen, Murdock (Ben Affleck) uses his remaining, superenhanced senses to battle crime as Daredevil, the masked and vengeful "man without fear," pitted against dominant criminal Kingpin (Michael Clarke Duncan) and the psychotic Bullseye (Colin Farrell), who can turn almost anything into a deadly projectile. Daredevil is well matched with the dynamic Elektra (Jennifer Garner), but their teaming is as shallow as the movie itself, which is peppered with Marvel trivia and cameo appearances (creator Stan Lee,Clerksdirector andDaredevildevotee Kevin Smith) and enough computer-assisted stuntwork to give Spidey a run for his money. This is Hollywood product at its most lavishly vacuous; die-hard fans will argue its merits while its red-leathered hero swoops and zooms toward a sequel.--Jeff Shannon
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Genre: Action, Adventure, Foreign
Screen Writer: Mark Steven Johnson
DVD Release Date: July 29, 2003
Runtime: 103 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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