• Red Heat (Lionsgate) 4k UHD/Blu-ray Combo Pack Review

    Released by: Lionsgate
    Released on: October 29th, 2019.
    Director: Walter Hill
    Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Belushi, Peter Boyle, Gina Gershon, Ed O’Ross, Laurence Fishburne
    Year: 1988
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    Red Heat – Movie Review:

    The eighties were a good time for action movies and while Walter Hill’s 1988 picture Red Heat isn’t the cream of the crop, it’s a solid take on the ‘buddy cop’ genre with some impressive action set pieces, effective humor and interesting, quirky characters.

    The setup? In Russia, Ivan Danko (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a Russian officer sent to Chicago to quietly track down and return a cocaine dealer named Viktor Rostavili (Ed O'Ross). Lou Donnelly (Peter Boyle) assigns a smart-mouthed cop named Art Ridzik (James Belushi) to escort him, and he begrudgingly obliges. This mission goes pretty smooth at first, until it doesn’t, and Ivan is injured by some men in Rostavili ‘s employ while trying to wrap things up. Ridizk kills one of the men and saves Ivan’s life, but at this point, it’s essentially become an international incident and there’s no way the Chicago Police Department is going to let Danko go this alone.

    Soon enough, Danko and Ridzik have teamed up to track Rostavili down and ensure that he sees justice. This’ll involve a lot of shooting, some car chases, cooperation from Rostavili’s gorgeous wife Cat (Gina Gerson) and a whole lot of snappy dialogue and gleefully gratuitous violence.

    The premise of Red Heat isn’t all that original, it borrows from other buddy cop pictures made around the same time, but the whole ‘Russian angle’ allows for some interesting back and forth between our American and Soviet odd couple. Schwarzenegger plays his Danko as ruthless and cold, devoid of emotion – almost a Terminator – and only out to see that his mission is accomplished by any means possible. Belushi is, of course, a foil to his, the polar opposite – not even close to cool and calculated but rather a hot head with a big mouth, the kind of guy who refers to diner waitresses as ‘sweet cheeks.’ We know that they won’t get along… at first… and we know that they will get along... eventually. there aren’t a lot of surprises here, but it doesn’t matter because Red Heat delivers the right mix of action, suspense and laughs.

    Walter Hill keeps things moving at a good clip. The supporting work from Boyle, Fishburne and Gershon is solid. This isn’t deep or all that original but it works and it works well – grab a beer and some popcorn and enjoy.

    Red Heat – Blu-ray Review:

    Red Heat makes its debut on 4k UHD from Lionsgate on a 100GB disc in an HEVC encoded 2160p transfer with HDR and Dolby Vision and framed in 1.85.1 widescreen. No info on the restoration has been included here but regardless of the source or whether this is a 2k scan upscaled to 4k or not, the picture is vastly improved over the previous Blu-ray release. Detail is quite strong here, not just in the lighter scenes but in the darker scenes as well, much better than what we’ve seen before. Colors, while they lean towards the cool side of the spectrum (there’s a bit of a teal tint here), are reproduced very well even if skin tones look just a tiny bit redder than maybe they should have. There’s a lot of depth and texture here and the image is free of issues like compression or edge enhancement, though there are a few spots where maybe some very light DNR was applied? Either way, that’s not a deal breaker here, it’s quite minor. The source used was clearly very clean as there isn’t any obvious print damage to note at all, while a natural amount of film grain is present throughout the feature. Some mild banding is evident in a few spots but otherwise, no complaints.

    Audio options are provided in English and German DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio tracks and a French language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track with subtitles offered up in the same three languages. This seems to be the same track that was on the Blu-ray but it holds up fine. There’s plenty of solid surround activity here and the action scenes make nice use of the surround channels. The score has good range and depth to it, the dialogue stays easy to follow, the levels are nicely balanced and there are no issues with any hiss or distortion worth complaining about. Would have been nice to have an Atmos track, but that didn’t happen.

    Extras start with Arnold Schwarzenegger – The Man Who Raised Hollywood, a fifteen-minute retrospective that looks back at the man’s career by way of interviews with people like Edward Pressman, Peter Hyams and Arthur Allen Seidelman but sadly not the man himself. Still, if this isn’t going to teach the Arnold devotees anything new, it’s interesting enough that you’ll want to check it out if you’re a fan. Up next is The Political Context Of Red Heat, a ten-minute piece that interviews Dave Saunders, author of Arnold Schwarzenegger And The Movies, about the era in which the movie was set and the political backdrop over which it takes place.

    Also found on the disc are some archival featurettes. East Meets West is a ten-minute featurette with producers Mario Kassar and Andrew Vajna who speak about the rise of Carolco Pictures after they had a few hits in the eighties, the decision to produce Red Heat, Walter Hill’s involvement, the star power of Schwarzenegger and Belushi and the quality of the film over all. A Stunt Man For All Seasons is a twelve-minute tribute to stunt coordinator Bennie Dobbins, who passed away during the marking of this film, by way of interviews with some of the people that worked with him on this and other projects. I’m Not Russian, But I Play One On TV spends five-minutes with actor Ed O'Ross, who talks about how after playing the villain in Red Heat people typically thought that he was Russian and what went into helping him create the character he plays in this film. We also get a sixteen-minute vintage Making Of Red Heat featurette that is hosted by Schwarzenegger and Belushi. It’s more of a promotional EPK style featurette than anything else but it is worth including here regardless since it contains some interview clips with Schwarzenegger, Belushi, O’Ross and Gina Gershon.

    Rounding out the extras are the film’s original trailer, menus and chapter selection. As this is a combo pack release we also get a standard Blu-ray version of the movie that uses the new restoration as well as an insert containing a code redeemable for a digital HD download version of the movie.

    Red Heat – The Final Word:

    Red Heat might not be the best movie Schwarzenegger made in the 80’s and at times it might feel like it’s borrowing a little too much from Lethal Weapon or 48 Hours, but it’s a damned entertaining picture in its own right. Lionsgate’s 4k UHD release offers a pretty substantial upgrade over the previous Blu-ray release and has some nice extra features as well. Lots of fun to be had with this one – recommended.

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