Team America: World Police – 20th Anniversary Limited Edition (4K UHD Review)

  • Reviewed by: Bill Hunt
  • Review Date: Jun 21, 2024
  • Format: 4K Ultra HD
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Team America: World Police – 20th Anniversary Limited Edition (4K UHD Review)


Trey Parker & Matt Stone

Release Date(s)

2004 (June 25, 2024)


Scott Rudin Productions/Braniff Productions/Paramount Pictures (Paramount Home Entertainment)
  • Film/Program Grade: B+
  • Video Grade: A
  • Audio Grade: A-
  • Extras Grade: B-

Team America: World Police - 20th Anniversary Edition (4K Ultra HD)




In this time of reactionary political correctness and extreme, self-important voices on both sides of the ideological isle, leave it to Trey Parker and Matt Stone (of South Park fame) to fearlessly cut through the crap, noise, and BS to call things like they are. If you’ve seen South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut (4K review available here), you’ll have a very good idea what to expect from Team America: World Police. The main difference this time, is that rather than using deliberately bad looking animation, Trey and Matt endeavor here to offend half the planet with puppets on strings in the style of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s Supermarination classics instead.

The story is driven by North Korean nut-job/president Kim Jong-Il, who it seems has been supplying terrorists with weapons of mass destruction as part of a secret plan to plunge the entire world into chaos. Working to counter this effort is Team America, a Thunderbirds-like international strike and rescue team headquartered deep inside Mount Rushmore. Team America’s plan is to infiltrate the terrorists’ organization and foil the plot... but they’ll need the talent of the world’s best actor, Gary Johnston, to do it. And once Gary’s on board with the idea, Team America will spare no amount of bullets, missiles, explosives, and cowboy gusto to prevent a disaster the likes of 9/11 times a hundred.

“9/11 times a hundred? Jesus, that’s—”
“Yes... 91,100!”

One of the things that makes Team America work so well, is that it takes its absurd premise completely seriously. Better still, no one is spared from Parker and Stone’s savage wit; Liberals, Conservatives, terrorists, French people... all are made to look foolish here, which is fair and as it should be. Team America is quick to shoot first, ask questions later, and wave the flag to rally the cause, even when they’ve just blown up half a foreign city to kill the bad guys (hey—it’s a lousy job but who else is going to do it?). Naturally, anyone who isn’t with Team America is against Team America, if you get the drift. Particularly scorned in this film are self-important Hollywood actors (like Alec Baldwin, George Clooney, Tim Robbins, and Sean Penn) who spout their opinions and signal their virtues at inappropriate times, unwittingly playing right into Kim Jong-Il’s plans. But they’re scorned not so much for being Liberal, but as Parker notes in one of the featurettes on the disc, “No matter how big or small the actor, they all have such an attitude and think that they’re all rad. There’s no lamer thing you can be in the world than an actor.” But the boys don’t stop there. Hell, even director Michael Bay gets boned pretty good here.

Far and away the best things about Team America, however, are its depiction of Kim Jong-Il (as a lonely, misunderstood evil genius) and its outrageously funny soundtrack. If you give Parker and Stone credit for nothing else, you must admit that these two can write a savvy, biting tune like nobody’s business. Remember how the South Park movie’s Blame Canada became Oscar-nominated... and it wasn’t even close to being the best track from that film? Well, the songs here are even better. When Gary initially wavers in joining the cause, he takes in a puppet’s-eye view of various Washington memorials as a country singer twangs: “Freedom isn’t free, no there’s a hefty fuckin’ fee…” As Team America blasts into action the first time, the soundtrack blares: “America, Fuck Yeah! Coming again to save the motherfucking day, yeah!” Kim Jong-Il mourns his sad little existence by crooning: “I’m so ronery, so ronery, so ronery and sadry arone…” Parker and Stone are even tongue-in-cheek about film conventions. When Gary trains frantically to save his friends late in the film, we hear: “In anything if you want to go, from just a beginner to a pro... you need a montage! Even Rocky had a montage!”

By the way, if you’ve gotten the sense that you might be offended by a little profanity in this film... boy, you haven’t seen anything yet. This film’s dialogue is the least of the things you could take offense to. There’s surprisingly graphic (though completely absurd) violence and there’s a pretty outrageous puppet sex scene that’s not for the faint of heart, even in the R-rated Theatrical Version. The Unrated Cut of the film on Blu-ray goes even farther with this scene, adding a standing 69, rimming, urination, and defecation. (Puppet scat. No kidding.) The unrated naughty bits add nothing to the film (in fact, few will be able to resist cringing), but it wouldn’t be a Trey Parker and Matt Stone production if the boys didn’t try to push things well past the limits of good taste in an effort to piss off the MPAA. Bless their disgusting little hearts.

Paramount’s new Ultra HD package is a 2-disc set that includes the Theatrical Version of the film for the first time in actual 4K, as well as the Unrated Cut of the film on HD on a separate Blu-ray (note that this version debuted on Blu-ray last year from Shout! Factory).

Team America: World Police was shot on 35 mm photochemical film in Super 35 format by cinematographer Bill Pope (Army of Darkness, The Matrix, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) using Arriflex 435 cameras with Panavision Primo Lenses and it was framed at the 2.39:1 scope ratio for theaters. Though digital visual effects were obviously incorporated into the film, it was not originally finished as a Digital Intermediate. (2004 was right on the bubble of the advent of DIs—only about half of all Hollywood films were finished digitally at the time.) In any case, a 4K scan of the original camera negative and master interpositive was completed in 2023 and that’s the source for this release. The film has also been graded for high dynamic range in Dolby Vision.

The resulting 4K presentation is very handsome, with fantastic color and contrast, and more refined detail and texturing than the film has ever exhibited before at home. That said, you’re going to notice some soft focus issues here and there (the kind of thing you see occasionally with miniature work), as well as lower resolution VFX shots (the opening titles for example), and the sort of generational detail loss that’s apparent in titles and transitions when they’ve been run through an optical printer (or when they’ve been done digitally in lower resolution). An example of this is the entire Freedom Isn’t Free montage, which was shot on location in Washington and includes many dissolves. It’s also true that while this is technically a live action film, all the characters are puppets. But their hair, costumes, and props are still nicely detailed. And there are many shots here without digital effects where you’re looking at actual OCN—those are impressive indeed. HDR adds a bit of depth to the shadows and pop to the highlights, while expanding the color palette as well. The Unrated Cut on Blu-ray also looks very good, obviously without the slight enhancements of 4K and HDR. So while I wouldn’t call either presentation reference-quality, there’s no doubt that they represent the best possible versions of Team America on disc.

Audio on the 4K disc is available in lossless English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, as well as English Audio Description, and German, French, and Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital (note that the previous 2.0 Stereo mix is not included). The 4K disc includes optional subtitles in English, English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, German, French, Italian, Japanese, and Dutch. The Blu-ray also offers its audio in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and that’s it. (Again, the previous 2.0 Stereo mix is not included.) Subtitles are available in English and English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Both 5.1 mixes are excellent, again not reference quality but a perfect match for the visuals. The soundstage is nicely wide across the front, with smooth and natural panning, good direction effects, and pleasing immersion. Bass is surprisingly robust, dialogue is clear and readily discernible at all times, and the score is rendered in excellent fidelity—it really sounds great.

In terms of special features, here’s what each disc in this set offers…

Disc One – Theatrical Cut (4K UHD)

  • Team America: World Police (4K UHD – 97:41)

Disc Two – Unrated Cut (BD)

  • Team America: World Police – Unrated Cut (HD – 98:19)
  • Team America: An Introduction (SD – 5:10)
  • Building the World (SD – 12:41)
  • Crafting the Puppets (SD – 8:00)
  • Pulling the Strings (SD – 10:08)
  • Capturing the Action (SD – 6:43)
  • Miniature Pyrotechnics (SD – 4:50)
  • Up Close with Kim Jong-Il (SD – 5:10)
  • Dressing Room Test (SD – 2:04)
  • Puppet Test (SD – 4:09)
  • Deleted/Extended Scenes and Outtakes (SD – 10 scenes – 5:56)
    • Gary Outside of the Tavern (SD – :53)
    • I’ll Never Be a Racist Again (SD – :53)
    • Gary Fights the Guards (SD – 1:03)
    • You’re Puppets! (SD – :23)
    • You’re Gay Now (SD – :34)
    • Choreographing “Lease” (SD – :18)
    • Anytown, USA Explosion (SD – :18)
    • More Seriouslyer (SD – :30)
    • Tonight’s News (SD – :33)
    • Team America Ate My Baby (SD – :28)
  • Animated Storyboards (SD – 6 scenes)
    • Paris Opening (SD – 3:52)
    • Gary’s Flashback (SD – :47)
    • A Member of the Team (SD – 2:39)
    • Kim Jong-Il’s Underwater Lair (SD – 1:30)
    • F.A.G. Meets Team America (SD – 2:05)
    • Kim Jong-Il’s Bedroom (SD – 1:08)
  • Theatrical Trailer #1 (SD – 1:34)
  • Theatrical Trailer #2 (SD – 2:19)

As you can see, that’s everything that was included on the original 2004 DVD releases of this film—both the Theatrical Version SKU and the Unrated Cut, which was available on DVD separately. As such, all of these features are in SD resolution and most are full frame as well.

They include a series of behind-the-scenes featurettes that offer insights on how the puppets were designed and created (by our old friends the Chiodo Brothers), how the miniature effects were accomplished, etc. There’s a particularly good look at the development of the Kim Jong-Il puppet and the character’s personality. There are also a number of deleted scenes and outtakes (watch that giant statue of Kim in the palace closely—it’s actually a full size person in a costume!), along with animated storyboards, puppet test footage, and a pair of theatrical trailers. There’s no new content here, but I’m not sure the film really needs it. About the only thing that would really have added to the experience is an audio commentary, but I don’t believe Parker and Stone have ever recorded one. You do at least get a Digital Copy code on a paper insert, though it only redeems at Fandango at Home (ex Vudu).

In America circa 2024, personal and cultural sensitivities (which are completely natural and valuable to society within reason) seem to have been taken to such an extreme in some quarters that they’ve essentially been fetishized (and that’s as unhealthy in its own way as the prejudices they’re meant to combat). So thank goodness Trey Parker and Matt Stone are here to pop all of our bubbles, let in a bit of fresh air, and give us all room to laugh, not just at each other but especially at ourselves. If you’re thin-skinned, quick to take offense, or an actor, Team America: World Police is probably not for you. On the other hand, if you’re sick of political blow-hards and PC hyper-correctness, Team America is just the ticket. Two decades after its original release, it’s still the silliest, most absurd, offensive, and kick-ass puppet film that Hollywood has ever produced, and the soundtrack simply rocks. You’ll be singing these songs for days after the final credits roll. This film was an instant cult classic back in 2004, and we need it now more than ever. Recommended!

- Bill Hunt

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