• Streets Of Fire

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: May 16th, 2017.
    Director: Walter Hill
    Cast: Michael Pare, Diane Lane, Willem Dafoe, Rick Moranis, Lee Ving, Bill Paxton, Deborah Van Valkenburgh
    Year: 1984
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    The Movie:

    When Walter Hill’s Streets Of Fire begins, a biker gang called the Bombers motorcycle gang, led by a nasty greaseball named Raven Shaddock (Willem Dafoe), successfully kidnaps beautiful pop chanteuse Ellen Aim (Diane Lane) smack dab in the middle of her performance! Her manager/would-be beau Billy Fish (Rick Moranis) is none too pleased about this, but hope arrives in the form of Ellen’s former flame, Tom Cody (Michael Pare). He’s back in town after a stint away, living with his sister Reva (Deborah Van Valkenburgh) and hanging out with his new pal McCoy (Amy Madigan), a heavy armed former soldier type who needs a place to crash.

    When Tom gets word of what’s happened, he talks to Fish at Reva’s diner and offers, for ten grand in cash, to head into the bad part of town straight into the Bombers’ hideout and get Ellen back home in one piece. Fish agrees and for 10% of the cut, McCoy rides shotgun. Soon enough, bikes are exploding, Raven is running around in PVC overalls and we get car chases, musical numbers, a weird strip tease, a hammer fight and Lee Ving yelling at people.


    This is, like a lot of Hill’s films basically a western transplanted to a different location and delivered with a comic book aesthetic but hot damn if it doesn’t work really well. The movie is quick in its pace, essentially ninety straight minutes of momentum, and it carries itself with a good sense of humor and a whole lot of stylish swagger. The sets are as tough, gritty and quirky as the characters that populate them and Hill’s penchant for cinematic machismo is on full display (with, interestingly enough, the female McCoy standing tall as one of the most macho characters in the movie – savvy enough to continually tell Cody that he’s not her type!). Riding high off of the success of 48 Hours, Hill decided to make the kind of movie he wanted to watch as a teenager and if you look at it as geared towards a teenager that would have grown up in the fifties, well, he nailed it. The biker gang members are all decked out in leather a la Marlon Brandon in The Wild One while Tom Cody stands tall alongside the best urban cowboy’s you can name.

    The movie also works well as a semi-musical too. We get Diane Lane, looking ever so lovely here, doing some pretty convincing lip synching to the opening and closing numbers (both of which were written by Jim Steinman and some like outtakes from Meatloaf’s Bat Out Of Hell album song by a female vocalist). Not enough? The Blasters perform two tracks in the bar that serves as The Bombers’ hang out and Ry Cooder provides most of the background tracks, including a cover of Link Wray’s instantly identifiable classic instrumental, Rumble. A track by The Fixx plays over the end credits and some of the songwriting on the picture was done by Stevie Nicks, Tom Petty and Bob Segar. An interesting array of musical talent to give the film the eclectic soundtrack that it deserves.

    As to the acting? Pretty solid. Michael Pare does the strong silent type thing really well, perpetual five o’clock shadow and a bad attitude reminding us that he’s a consummate tough guy. He’s got an interesting chemistry with Amy Madigan, equally tough but more of a motormouth, they make a great team. Rick Moranis plays the same kind of dopey, oblivious type you’d expect him to but like Rick Moranis tends to do, he handles the film’s comic relief nicely and is great in his part. Supporting work from Lee Ving, Bill Paxton and Deborah Van Valkenburgh is all noteworthy too, but it’s a young Willem Dafoe who steals pretty much every scene he’s in. He stops just short of really chewing the scenery but he’s such a greasy, dirty, sleazy screen presence here that you can’t help but love him.


    Shout! Factory offers up Streets Of Fire on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p presentation framed at 1.85.1 taken from a new 2k scan of the film’s inter-positive on a 50GB disc. Aside from some really minor print damage that pops up throughout the movie (and it is really minor, just white specks and the occasional tiny scratch) this is a genuinely impressive transfer. Colors look really nice here, bright primary hues providing some fantastic contrast against darker backgrounds, while black levels are nice and strong while avoiding crush. The film moves along with a strong bit rate ensuring that compression artifacts are a non-issue, while detail and texture impress throughout. Really, there are no real issues here, the picture quality is beautiful and the transfer appears nice and film-like, showing no edge enhancement or noise reduction problems.

    English language options are provided in 24-bit DTS-HD tracks in both 2.0 and 5.1 flavors with removable subtitles available in English only. The stereo track sounds great, the 5.1 mix sounds better. This is some really impressive work with great use of the surround channels in every one of the action scenes and some nice directional effects adding to the fun. The concert scenes keep things mostly up front, which was a bit surprising, but anytime there’s a brawl or a fight or some biker action going on the sound stage lights up accordingly. The music used in the film sounds great, dialogue is always easily discernable and there are no problems at all with even a trace of hiss or distortion.

    There are no extras on the first disc, just menus and chapter selection, but the second disc (also a 50GB offering) in this set is pretty stacked starting with an all new feature length documentary on the making of the movie entitled Shotguns And Six Strings. This thing clocks in at an hour and forty minutes and is made up of interviews with Walter Hill, producer Lawrence Gordon, cast members Michael Pare, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, Richard Lawson, Elizabeth Daily, Lee Ving, screenwriter Larry Gross, editor Freeman Davies, associate producer Mae Woods, art director James Allen, costume designer Marilyn Vance, assistant director David Sosna, choreographer Jeffrey Hornaday, editor Richard Anderson, music producer Kenny Vance and a few others. There’s no sign of Lane or Dafoe, unfortunately, but pretty much everyone else is accounted for. This is pretty interesting stuff with Hill and Gross talking about where some of the inspiration came from, what they were going for by mashing genres the way they do and how they feel about the end product while the cast members all share interesting stories from the set. This is well put together and very thorough. Anyone interested in learning more about the film would do well to check this out, it’s great.

    Also included on the disc is a second documentary (originally made for the film’s European Blu-ray release and made in 2013) running over eight minutes in length entitled Rumble On The Lot: Walter Hill’s Streets Of Fire Revisited. Here we get interviews with Hill, Pare, Madigan and art director James Allen. This isn’t quite as comprehensive as the longer piece and it does cover some of the same ground but this one includes Madigan’s involvement which makes it unique and worth checking out.

    If that weren’t enough, there are also some short but sweet vintage featurettes here: Rock And Roll Fable, Exaggerated Realism, Choreographing The Crowd, Creating The Costumes, From the Ground Up. These run roughly eleven minutes in combined length. The material in here is also used in the two documentary pieces included on this disc.

    Rounding out the extras are a few music videos for some of the songs featured in the picture, an original theatrical trailer, thirteen minutes of ‘On Air Promos’ (which are basically EPK type promotional segments), a nice still gallery and some menus. Both discs fit inside a standard sized Blu-ray keepcase that makes use of some reversible cover art with Shout!’s newly created image on one side and the original poster art on the reverse. This in turn fits inside a cardboard slipcover with the newly commissioned artwork on the front panel.

    The Final Word:

    It’s just as easy to see why Streets Of Fire of fire was a major flop when it hit theaters as it is to see how it’s become such a beloved cult hit in the years since. It’s a vibrant, colorful and quirky film mixing action and music in strange but effective ways told with loads of style and with a great cast. If you don’t need to take this one too seriously, you can have an absolute blast with it – and Shout! Factory’s two-disc collector’s edition Blu-ray release not only presents the film in beautiful shape but with a genuinely impressive array of supplements as well.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      LEE VING!