• Soldier, The

    Released by: Kino Lorber Studio Classics
    Released on: March 27th, 2018.
    Director: James Glickenhaus
    Cast: Ken Wahl, Klaus Kinski, Alberta Watson, Jeremiah Sullivan, Steve James
    Year: 1982
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    The Movie:

    Written and directed by the great James Glickenhaus – the man behind The Exterminator, The Protector and McBain – 1982’s The Soldier begins when a gang of KGB operatives steal some plutonium from a top-secret facility in the United States. The goods are then turned over to a man named Ivan (Jeremiah Sullivan) so that he can build a nuclear device that will be detonated in Saudi Arabi unless the Isrealis abandon their West Bank settlements. There’s a whole lot of oil in that area, so the world best pay attention to Ivan’s demands or KABLOOEY! The Israelis refuse to bow to Ivan’s demands, even when put under increased pressure from the United States.

    Understandably, the world is on edge and the American government in particular is frantically trying to solve this problem before Ivan and his cronies blow everything up. This is where we meet The Soldier (Ken Wahl), a C.I.A. agent who is basically the best of the best. Not only is he a man of action and danger but he’s highly skilled the ways of international politics. He’s sent out into the world to globetrot and solve the problem but things get even sticker when his director is murdered by the Russians. Soon enough he winds up in Israel where he teams up with foxy Mossad agent Susan (Alberta Watson) to put together the team he’ll need to beat these terrorist KGB agents at their own game!

    This is one of those eighties action films where it’s best to just ignore the politics of the situation and enjoy it for what it is – mindless escapism. Glickenhaus clearly didn’t have a particularly massive budget to work with and at times there’s some more than obvious padding that sees the pacing stumble a bit. That said, Glickenhaus manages to keep the action tight, allowing less discerning viewers and fans of B-grade action pictures to forgive some sometimes sloppy and obvious mistakes (watch carefully when the stunt person gets hit by the car in the opening scene!). There’s enough consistent forward momentum on screen throughout most of the film (things surprisingly run out of steam a bit in the last third) to keep us entertained, even if we realize while it’s happening that things could and should have been a bit more polished than they are.

    A fun cast helps a lot. Ken Wahl as the man known only as The Soldier plays the lead well. Recognizable from movies like The Taking Of Beverly Hills, Fort Apache: The Bronx and his big screen debut, The Wanderers, he has enough charisma to work in the part. He handles himself well enough in the action scenes and never seems out of place as the character. It’s also great to see Steve James show up in this, cast quite well as one of The Soldier’s teammates out to stop Ivan, and Klaus Kinski shows up for a few minutes as a KGB agent named Dracha that The Soldier has to deal with while in the mountains of Hungary. Jeremiah Sullivan is fairly hammy as Ivan, but he’s entertaining enough in that way that hammy guys playing terrorists can be, while Alberta Watson is underwritten but attractive enough that most won’t mind.


    Kino’s AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer of The Soldier is framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and it looks quite good. Colors are nicely reproduced and if fine detail is a stop or two shy of reference quality, it’s generally quite strong. There’s good texture and depth to the picture and the image is quite clean, free of all but minor print damage. There are no problems with compression artifacts worth noting, nor are there any issues with noise reduction or edge enhancement. Fans should be pretty happy, this is a good-looking picture.

    The English language DTS-HD 2.0 mix isn’t quite as solid as the video, but it gets the job done even if it is a bit flat in spots. That said, dialogue stays clean and clear and the levels are properly balanced. No alternate language tracks or subtitles are available on the disc.

    Extras on this release kick off with a commentary track from the man himself, James Glickenhaus, who speaks at length about writing and directing the picture, the action and stunt scenes, his involvement with the cast and the crew – including Kinski – as well as the locations and more. A second commentary gets film historian Jim Hemphill behind the mic to offer a talk that is part historical analysis and part appreciation. He offers his thoughts on what works in the film, where it connects to other action picture and where it stands apart, as well as insight into the performances, the quality of Glickenhaus’ direction and more.

    Aside from that we get a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Fans of eighties action films should find a lot to love about James Glickenhaus’ 1982 film The Soldier. It’s Bond-esque at times but it definitely takes things in its own wonky direction. The pacing is quick and the action frequent, with Ken Wahl and the mighty Klaus Kinski delivering fine work here. Kino’s Blu-ray looks very good and sounds okay, and we get a pair of interesting commentary tracks as the main extras on the disc. All in all, a fine release for a fun film.

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

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Matt H.'s Avatar
      Matt H. -
      It's a nice transfer but, unfortunately, it looks like the negative has permanent damage in the form of little white pin hole marks that are there for the majority of the film - they disappear for about 15 minutes in the middle - and they are distracting once you spot them. You can see what I mean if you blow up screencap #4. Too bad, really.