• The Last Action Hero/Hudson Hawk (Umbrella Entertainment) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Umbrella Entertainment
    Released on: September 13th, 2019.
    Director: John McTiernan/Michael Lehmann
    Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, F. Murray Abraham, Austin O’Brien, Art Carney, Charles Dance, Bruce Willis, Danny Aiello, Andi McDowell, James Coburn
    Year: 1993/1991
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    The Last Action Hero/Hudson Hawk – Movie Review:

    Umbrella Entertainment offers up a double dose of early nineties action on this double feature Blu-ray release.

    The Last Action Hero:

    A fun mix of action, comedy and satire, The Last Action Hero should have been an action movie fan’s dream come true, what with Arnold Schwarzenegger, then the biggest star in the world, getting in front of the camera for director John McTiernan for the first time since they made Predator. The guy who made Die Hard directing the guy from the Terminator? Sign me up! What the made together, however, was a PG-13 rated kid friendly comedy that at the time seemed to take a lot of people by surprise with its playfulness and its flat-out goofiness.

    The movie follows a kid named Danny (Austin O’Brien) who loves the action-packed Jack Slater movies so much he’s seen the third one six times in the theater. With the release of the fourth film just around the corner, Danny’s pretty stoked, especially when the local theater’s weird old projectionist invites him to a special advance screening of the movie. What kid wouldn’t want to see the summer’s hottest film before everyone else on his block? What Danny’s doesn’t realize is that Houdini once played in this same theater and that his magic is still alive and well. Before you know it, Danny’s in the film with Jack Slater (Arnold Schwarzenegger) himself. Once he realizes he’s in the movie, he’s able to help Jack solve crime after crime but Jack, not knowing anything outside of his movie life existence, doesn’t believe Danny when he continually tries to prove to him that what’s happening to them isn’t real. Soon, however, Jack starts to realize that Danny really does know more than a kid should and starts to give his theories a bit more credence. The two pair up to stop the criminals in Jack’s world from ruining the day while trying to figure out how to get Danny back to his own world without bringing any of the villains back with him.

    The film is full of references to Hollywood blockbusters, action films specifically but not wholly. Watch when Danny and Jack show up at the police station for the first time and you’ll see Sharon Stone and Robert Patrick reprising familiar roles and Jean Claude Van Damme pops up in a small cameo as do MC Hammer, Chevy Chase, James Belushi and more. The scene in the Blockbuster Video store features a cardboard stand up display with Sylvester Stallone in place of Schwarzenegger promotion Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Arnold uses pretty much all of his catch phrases, ‘I’ll be back’ in particular while on the shelves in the video store VHS boxes for Die Hard and The Hunt For Red October, both directed by John McTiernan, are prominently displayed. There’s even a reference to Amadeus. Little bits like this make the film a lot of fun for movie fans, as much of the referential humor is on the subtle side and isn’t always obvious. Referencing everything from buddy cop movies like the Lethal Weapon films to The Twilight Zone, there’s always something going on in the movie, be it an appearance from Humphrey Bogart himself or a fun poke at one of Schwarzenegger’s own filmography.

    The film suffers from pacing in some spots and maybe runs a little longer than it needs to, but Schwarzenegger and O’Brien have a surprisingly good chemistry together there, both handling the comedic aspects of the picture better than you’d probably expect them to. The plot is interesting in that it takes all of the action movie clichés we all know so well and essentially turns them into a large part of the story, but there are still enough fun twists and surprises worked in the script, which was rewritten twice before filming started, that the movie works quite well.

    Lots of big, dumb action ensures that the film is a pretty exciting one while some fun supporting performances from the likes of F. Murray Abraham, Sir Ian McKellen, and Art Carney round out the cast nicely.

    Hudson Hawk:

    In the second feature, Bruce Willis stars as Eddie "The Hawk" Hawkins. He was once the world's most famous cat burglar but then he got caught and, well, he did a decade or so of hard time to pay for his crimes. Now that he’s a free man once again, Eddie says he’s going to stay on the straight and narrow – no more crime for him! But you know where this is going, right?

    Eddie’s partner and pal, Tommy Five-Tone (Danny Aiello), is in trouble. He’s being blackmailed by the mob and the F.B.I. both of whom have got some pretty heavy dirt on him that he’d prefer not be exposed. What do they want in return? The theft of three paintings done by Leonardo DaVinci, currently held in the world’s most prestigious art museum. And who does Tommy need to help him pull this off? Eddie, of course. So, he gets roped into this scheme but hey, on the way he finds romance with a beautiful nun named Anna Baragli (Andie MacDowell) and winds up getting chased by Minerva (Sandra Bernhard) and Darwin (Richard E. Grant) Mayflower, two villainous types out to take down the world’s economy.

    Featuring supporting work from Frank Stallone and James Coburn, the cast makes this nonsense watchable enough. There’s no depth here, but there doesn’t really need to be. This film was made around the peak of Willis’ popularity and the filmmakers are clever enough to just kind of let Willis be Willis. As such, he’s does the whole ‘smirky, smart-ass’ thing here MacDowell is lovely as the love interest and Bernhard and Grant are funny as the foils. Aiello is Aiello, watchable in anything, even a much-maligned picture like this one.

    And the truth is, while no one will likely ever argue that Hudson Hawk is a great movie, it is more than passable entertainment. It’s more the cast than anything else, but the cast is enough to help us get through it. The film doesn’t ask much of you, it’s breezy and fun, occasionally injected with some doses of effective humor and moderate charm. Once the end credits role you’re not left with anything to really think about, but you won’t hate yourself for having watched it. The whole thing is done with a wink to the audience – we’re not meant to take this seriously or see it as high art, just to enjoy the silly ride that it takes us on.

    The Last Action Hero/Hudson Hawk – Blu-ray Review:

    Both films share the same 50GB disc. The Last Action Hero crashes onto Blu-ray in a nice AVC encoded 2.40.1 1080p anamorphic widescreen transfer taking up just over 30GBs of space. The film is kind of odd looking in that in Danny’s real world, colors are bleak and drab, but in the movie world that he finds himself in, things are bright, bold and colorful. Hudson Hawk is framed at 1.85.1 and takes up just over 17GBs of space. This transfer is also clean and colorful with decent enough detail, though some minor compression artifacts can be spotted here and there. Nothing too serious though, and generally speaking both movies look quite good here.

    English language audio options are provided for both features in DTS-HD 5.1 for The Last Action Here and DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo for Hudson Hawk. Both tracks are 24-bit, there are no alternate language options or subtitles provided here. The tracks are clean and nicely balanced, no problems with any hiss or distortion to report.

    There are no extra features on the disc at all.

    The Last Action Hero/Hudson Hawk – The Final Word:

    Umbrella Entertainment’s Blu-ray release of The Last Action Hero and Hudson Hawk is devoid of any extras but it offers up two entertaining slices of early nineties Hollywood action goofiness in nice shape for a fair price. Lots of light entertainment to be had with this one.

    Click on the images below for full sized The Last Action Hero/Hudson Hawk Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Darcy Parker's Avatar
      Darcy Parker -
      I really enjoyed Hudson Hawk, but I readily admit it isn’t for everyone.

      The Last Action Hero would have been so much better if they had just kept it as a satire of action movies and left out the kid/real world shit.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      I also liked Hudson Hawk, and agree with you on the Last Action Hero.
    1. Darcy Parker's Avatar
      Darcy Parker -
      LAH was originally just the Jack Slater movie stuff, with Slater slowly becoming aware that he wasn’t real. Very interesting, high-concept stuff. Arnold took it to the studio, wanting to do it as it was, but the studio didn’t think audiences would get it, so they had the script rewritten to add the kid and the real-world plot line. Goddamn Hollywood morons.
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      Quote Originally Posted by Darcy Parker View Post
      LAH was originally just the Jack Slater movie stuff, with Slater slowly becoming aware that he wasn’t real. Very interesting, high-concept stuff. Arnold took it to the studio, wanting to do it as it was, but the studio didn’t think audiences would get it, so they had the script rewritten to add the kid and the real-world plot line. Goddamn Hollywood morons.
      Didn't know this. Now I'm sad.