*½/**** Image A- Sound A-
starring Blair Underwood, Debbi Morgan, Michael Beach
screenplay by Eric Lee Bowers
directed by Tim Reid
by Walter Chaw A courageously unpleasant role for "L.A. Law" heartthrob Blair Underwood, Tim "Venus Flytrap" Reid's derivative Asunder is only otherwise brave for its remorseless abuse of otherwise innocent pregnant women--crossing a seldom-crossed line of taboo in American film unless it's to punish a heroine (see: High Crimes, Crossroads, and so on) for having the child of a bad man. Billing itself as "In The Suspenseful Style Of Fatal Attraction And Unfaithful," Asunder is every bit the rushed, formula production moldering on a shelf somewhere until either one of its stars hits it big (see: Ordinary Decent Criminal and Colin Farrell) or, as in this case, a higher-profile film with a similar theme makes an impact, thus giving the folks in marketing a hook.
Chance (Underwood) loses his wife in a freak Ferris Wheel accident, leading to his mental decline and related stalking of his best friend Michael (Michael Hubbs) and Michael's wife Lauren (Debbi Morgan), with whom he may have had an affair once upon a time. Distinctive in that it's the first "all-Black" production in fifty-five years (save one Latina one-night stand and the stray extra) Asunder, based on a novel by an African-American author, is actually little more than a rote infidelity opera with carefully-timed stings and exceedingly predictable plot points gaining some consideration for its minority-friendliness. In its mediocre way, it reminds of last year's homosexuality sitcom All Over the Guy, proving that true equality, sadly, lies in the democratization of all niche films into the same sort of pre-digested pabulum white males have been making for decades.
Complete with the standard false-alarm dream sequence, the dismissal of the efficacy of the authorities, and the avenging woman restoring the family unit with a well-placed bullet, Asunder's strength, such as it is, lies in Underwood's gloomy performance. A nice, virile presence in the middle of something otherwise underwhelming, Underwood has a star quality about him. Now it's a matter of finding him a role to showcase it.
Asunder finds its way to DVD courtesy Dimension and a well-balanced 1.85:1 anamorphic video transfer. The smooth greens and blues of Reid's workmanlike vision are preserved to fine effect as are the jarring, regularly timed musical cues of the film's Dolby 2.0 audio mix. Sparse while featuring a series of spoilers as back-of-keep-case summary, the only special feature on the disc is a "Sneak Peeks" section featuring trailers for Undisputed, Tangled, Halloween Resurrection, Ordinary Decent Criminal, and a Dimension Films reel with clips from The Crow, From Dusk Till Dawn, Mimic, Scary Movie 2, Hellraiser, Halloween H2O, Supercop 2, Senseless, etc. but oddly enough, the disc includes no trailer for Asunder itself. Originally published: March 3, 2003.
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