• Walking The Edge (Fun City Editions) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Fun City Editions
    Released on: June 29th, 2021.
    Director: Norbert Meisel
    Cast: Robert Forster, Nancy Kwan, Joe Spinell, A Martinez, Aarika Wells
    Year: 1985
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    Walking The Edge – Movie Review:

    Norbert Meisel’s 1985 film, Walking The Edge, opens with a man named Brusstar (Joe Spinell) and a few of his armed cronies make their way into the home of Christine Holloway (Nancy Kwan, who was married to Meisel at the time) looking for her husband. It seems he was involved in some drug-related criminality and these guys are looking for payback. The husband arrives and is shot dead along with Christine’s son. She survives and winds up doing a stint in a hospital.

    Elsewhere in the city, a cab driver named Jason Walk (Robert Forster), who works as a collection agent for a numbers runner known only as the Fat Man (Bernard Erhard) is having a bad day. He can’t get people to pay up and when he comes home he finds his girlfriend in bed with another man. He heads to the local bar to drown his sorrows and lucks out when he brings shapely bartender Julia (Aarika Wells) home for the night, but when it’s time to make love to her he can’t get it up.

    A short time later and Christine is back. She hires a Walk to drive her to an office where, unbeknownst to him, she shoots a man dead in cold blood. From there, she has him drive her to a mechanic’s shop where Brusstar and his crew are working. She kills one of them but is injured in the process. She and Walk make a quick escape but Brusstar spots them. The event is all over the news and the pair decides that Christine will hang out at Jason’s grubby apartment for a little while, evading nosy neighbor Mrs. Johnson (Ivy Bethune). Jason’s best, and seemingly only, friend, Tony (A Martinez) tries to talk him out of helping Christine and when he won’t relent, lets him borrow his car so he can get his can fixed. Meanwhile, Brusstar and company go all out to try and figure out where Jason lives so that they can pay him, and Christine, back in kind.

    The performances in this film are great. Forster is the perfect lead here. He has such a weary, perpetually exhausted look to him in this picture that we have no problem at all buying him in the part. He also handles himself pretty well in the action scenes and delivers a couple of really solid lines with just the right amount of enthusiasm, without ever overdoing it. Joe Spinell is also fantastic here, the perfect villain for this picture and seen here at his absolute greasiest, chewing just the perfect amount of scenery as he does his thing. Nancy Kwan is pretty solid in her role as well, she looks great and has an interesting reserved quality to most of her performance, but is also able to be believably pissed off when the movie calls for it.

    Shot from a screenplay by Curt Allen, Walking The Edge was shot on location on the streets of early eighties Los Angeles and has an authentically seedy feel to it that goes a long way towards making this as interesting a film as it is, since it has the same sort of ‘time capsule’ quality that movies shot in New York City in the seventies and eighties have. It offers a look back at a city that has changed a lot, sometimes quite drastically, in the years that followed and that helps to keep things visually interesting. The score, from Jay Chattaway, gives the film a pulsing rhythm that helps keep things moving and while the movie is as much a dramatic character study as it is an action/revenge film, it still manages to offer up enough violence and grit to appeal to the grindhouse crowd.

    Walking The Edge – Blu-ray Review:

    Fun City Editions brings Walking The Edge to region free Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen with the feature taking up 27.7GBs of space on the 50GB disc. Taken from a new 4k restoration of the original 35mm negative, the transfer is pretty impressive. There’s some minor print damage here and there but it’s nothing more than small white specks and it’s pretty infrequent. Generally the image is very clean, while retaining the expected amount of natural film grain. Colors look really good here, nice and natural, and we get strong black levels and good depth and texture. Detail is strong throughout, flesh tones look good and the picture always looks like film, showing not issues with noise reduction or edge enhancement problems.

    The 24-bit English language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track on this disc, which comes with optional English SDH subtitles, sounds very good. Dialogue is clean and clear and the score sounds really nice, demonstrating some good depth throughout. Sound effects, gun shots in particular, have a nice punch to them. Levels are fine and there are no issues with any hiss or distortion.

    Extras, and there are a lot of them, kick off with a new audio commentary by film historian Chris Poggiali and film producer Matt Verboys. They start by noting the quality of the score and how it sets the mood before then covering details on the careers of pretty much every actor in the film, big or small. There's also insight here into the rhythms that exist in certain scenes between the characters, how the film focuses more on character than action at times, the importance of keeping Forster's character likeable, the odd chemistry that exists between Forster and Kwan on screen, the possibility of there being a product placement deal for Dr. Pepper in the movie, notes on Meisel's directing style and more.

    The archival audio commentary by director Norbert Meisel and stars Robert Forster and Nancy Kwan has been carried over to this release as well. In this piece, which is moderated by David Szulkin, Meisel goes over how he wanted and got Forster for the role, shooting the film fast and with a modest budget, getting along with the cast and crew, thoughts on the script, the use of violence in the movie and how it was seen as a commercial commodity, the quirks that were put into the characters of Spinell and his crew and quite a bit more.

    As to the featurettes, Scoring The Edge is an interesting thirteen minute video interview with composer Jay Chattaway who goes over some of his earlier scoring jobs such as Lustig's Maniac and a few of his other collaborations with that director, working at Columbia Records, the influence of Ennio Morricone, befriending Spinell and Forster, how he came to score Walking The Edge, what went into creating the music for the film, and working with both electronic instruments and, when he could, a small orchestra.

    Detective Jurgensen Remembers Forster And Spinell is a new video interview with "French Connection Cop" Randy Jurgensen that runs twenty-four minutes. In this piece, Jurgensen talks about how he moved from working in law enforcement to getting into the film business, getting along with Spinell while working on Lustig's Maniac and then Spinell and Forster on Vigilante. He talks about what they were like to work with and what they were like as people, sharing memories from the set of a few different films that they worked on together. It's interesting stuff and a nice tribute to the two late actors.

    Breaking Point is a new video essay by filmmaker Chris O'Neill that clocks in at just less than eleven minutes in length. The focus here is on Forster's acting skills, notes on his character in the film, where Forster's career was at this point, his television work in the seventies, his work in low budget genre films, details on the Jason Walk character and what Forster brings to the part. Interesting stuff.

    Finishing up the extras on the disc is a theatrical trailer for the feature, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection options. This release also comes packaged with some cool reversible cover sleeve art and a full color insert booklet that has an essay inside penned by filmmaker and writer Jim Hemphill that offers some interesting insight into Robert Forster’s life and career as well as cast and crew credits for the feature.

    Walking The Edge – The Final Word:

    Walking The Edge is gritty mix of action and suspense as well as some well-handled drama and moments of character study highlighted by an excellent performance from Forster and a memorably sleazy turn from Spinell. Fun City Editions’ Blu-ray roll out is a good one, presenting this cult classic in excellent shape and with a strong selection of supplements to accompany it. Highly recommended!

    Click on the images below for full-sized Walking The Edge screen caps!