• Black Moon Rising (Kino Lorber) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Kino Lorber
    Released on: May 21st, 2019.
    Director: Harley Cokeliss
    Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Linda Hamilton, Robert Vaughn, Richard Jaeckel, Lee Ving, William Sanderson
    Year: 1986
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    Black Moon Rising – Movie Review:

    Based on a script from John Carpenter and directed by Harley Cokeliss in 1986, Black Moon Rising follows a man named Sam Quint (Tommy Lee Jones), a professional thief by trade. He’s the best of the best – even the Feds know this – so when he decides to ‘acquire’ a cassette containing data important to the F.B.I., well, he figures he can hand it off for a huge chunk of cash and retire to a life of luxury. So he breaks into the building where the tape is held and makes off with it pretty easily.

    That’s the only easy part of this mess for Quint. See, he knows he’s trailed when he leaves the building so in order to keep the tape safe, he stashes it in the bumper of a concept car called the Black Moon. It just so happens that this car is en route to a rich guy in Los Angeles, because of course a rich guy in Los Angeles would want to get his hands on something like this. Things get complicated when Ed Ryland (Robert Vaughn) hires some thugs to steal the Black Moon and bring it to his super secure compound. Quint knows he needs to get his hands on that car so he can retrieve the tape. To do this, he strikes up a relationship with one of Ryland’s thieves, Nina (Linda Hamilton), and after they do the deed, she helps him figure out how to get into the compound. Quint doesn’t realize that Ryland also has a thing for Nina, which just adds to his troubles – and then there’s the fact that those guys who were tailing him haven’t forgotten about him, nor has the F.B.I., specifically FBI agent Johnson (Bubba Smith), who makes it pretty clear to Quint that he’s got to pick up the pace if he wants to make this work.

    Black Moon Rising is blast. Yeah, fine, you have to mightily suspend your disbelief, realism isn’t really a factor here, but it’s the right mix of Carpenter cool and eighties absurdity to work really well. Harley Cokeliss, the man responsible for Battle Truck and Malone, does a pretty solid job of pacing the picture. It never feels slow or dull, and the action scenes are nicely staged and, at times, genuinely impressive. The car design just screams eighties, when sports cars looked like wedges – this one basically is a black wedge with a giant spoiler and a red stripe, but it’s rad (and it can go 300MPH!).

    Tommy Lee Jones is effortlessly cool. Linda Hamilton is all big hair and blue eyes. You just know they’re going to do it, and they do, but their respective performances here are pretty entertaining. They treat the material seriously and suit their characters pretty well. Robert Vaughn is well-cast as the main villain, and Lee Ving makes a great machine gun totting bad guy. Throw in supporting work from William Sanderson, Keenan Wynne, Bubba Smith and Nick Cassavetes and you can easily start to see how the cast would be able to carry this one as well as they do.

    Black Moon Rising – Blu-ray Review:

    Kino’s transfer of Black Moon Rising is taken from a ‘brand new 2K restoration of the film from the Original 35mm interpositive’ and is framed at 1.78.1 widescreen. Presented on a 50GB disc in AVC encoded 1080p high definition, this is quite a solid picture. Some minor print damage does show up here and there but it’s small white specks. Occasionally some larger instances of print damage and stains do show up. Otherwise, top marks all around. Detail is quite strong throughout, although darker scenes don’t fare as well as brighter scenes do. Still, there’s impressive depth to the picture. Texture looks quite nice, we get solid black levels too. The film’s color scheme is nicely replicated and the transfer is free of compression artifacts, edge enhancement and noise reduction issues.

    Audio options are provided in an uncompressed LPCM 2.0 stereo audio mix and a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track with subtitles provided in English only. The 5.1 track sounds a tad thin in spots but it does do a nice job of playing around with channel separation in the rear channels. The 2.0 track, which would seem to be the more authentic of the two, sounds very good. Either way you slice it, dialogue is clear and the levels are nicely balanced. There’s good power behind the score and sound effects used in the film and neither track suffers from any noticeable hiss or distortion.

    Extras start off with an audio commentary by film historian Lee Gambin, the author of Hell Hath No Fury Like Her: The Making of Christine, which clearly makes him a man who knows his way around funky cinematic cars! He spends a good bit of time detailing Carpenter’s involvement in the movie, which makes sense given his resume, but also details the state of New Line Pictures at the time the film was made, the stunts featured in the film, what Jones and Hamilton bring to their respective parts in the picture, the supporting cast, Cokeliss’ direction, the score, the editing, the effects and much more. It’s a good track, well-researched and delivered in a very listenable manner.

    From there, jump into the first of a host of new featurettes starting with Black Moon Ascending - An Interview With director Harley Cokeliss. Here, over the span of thirty-four-minutes, the director of the film talks about how he got his start in the film industry, some connections he made early in his career, different people that he collaborated with and then, specifically, the making of Black Moon Rising, what it was like to work on the picture, thoughts on the cast and crew and more. Thief In The Night: Producing Black Moon Rising - An Interview with producer Douglas Curtis sees Curts in front of the camera for fifteen-minutes to discuss how he came to acquire Carpenter’s script, casting the film, Cokeliss’ directing, the film noir influence evident in the finished product and more. Sound Of Speed: Composing Black Moon Rising – An Interview With Composer Lalo Schifrin And Film Music Historian Daniel Schweiger is just that, an eight-minute piece in which Schweiger talks to Schifrin about his work on the picture, what he tried to bring to the film with his music, his career to this point and his thoughts on the film.

    Kino also supplies a featurette called Carpenter’s Craft, which is a video essay on co-writer John Carpenter’s screenwriting career by Troy Howarth that runs eighteen-minutes. In this piece, Howarth talks about the pictures that Carpenter wrote rather than directed, offering up some history and opinion on the quality of these projects before doing a fairly deep dive into his work on Black Moon Rising.

    An interesting twelve-minute archival featurette called, appropriately enough Making Black Moon Rising, is also worth checking out. Contained in this bit are some very cool interviews with cast and crew members as well as some neat behind the scenes footage.

    We also get thirteen-minutes’ worth of alternate footage from the Hong Kong version of the movie. Interestingly enough, much of this material features different musical cues and sound effects. Rounding out the extras are some radio spots, a theatrical trailer for the feature, bonus trailers for a few other Kino Lorber properties available on Blu-ray, menus and chapter selection. Kino also packages this release with some cool reversible cover sleeve art.

    Black Moon Rising – The Final Word:

    Black Moon Rising is…. Awesome? Yeah, it’s awesome. A killer cast, a fantastic score and a pretty bad ass car all under one roof with some unexpectedly effective neo-noir trappings all adds up to a good time at the movies. Genre fans ought to eat this right up, and Kino has really done an impressive job rolling out the red carpet for this one. The movie looks and sounds very good and has way more extras than most fans would have ever expected – highly recommended!

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