'Red Heat: 4K Ultra HD + BR + Digital'
(Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Belushi, Peter Boyle, Ed O'Ross, Larry Fishburne, et al / 2-Disc + Blu-ray + Digital / NR / (1988) 2019 / Lionsgate)
Overview: A tough Russian policeman is forced to partner up with a cocky Chicago police detective when he is sent to Chicago to apprehend a Georgian drug lord who killed his partner and fled the country.
Blu-ray Verdict: Lionsgate is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of the always-retro-brilliant-to-watch 'Red Heat' in the expansive 4K Ultra HD video format this October 29th, 2019.
For my money, this 'Red Heat: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital' combo pack's sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.
So, what we have is 'Read Heat' presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: Native 4K (2160p), HDR: Dolby Vision + HDR10, and Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1.
Featuring Dolby Vision and HDR10 for brighter, deeper, and way more lifelike colors, as with most all 4K UHD's, everything that we watch features these qualities - but somehow, this film gloriously shines within them all.
Noticeably crisper with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what's more is that it's enjoyably noticeable. For as well as some new nuances to the somewhat drab palette courtesy of Dolby Vision we also get to witness sudden bright pops of color; like the scenes shot at night on the streets of Chicago and all those chase scenes! It just all comes more vividly to life now, which is amazing to see, in truth.
Indeed, the picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out the aforementioned extremely fine facial and some of the yellow graded material (notably the scenes where Danko is striding around like the Terminator - come on now, he has exactly the same walking stance to him here! - and firing off bullets at his nemesis like they are going out of fashion), as those guns fire back and forth they now have a kind of honeyed amber appearance at their tips. Which is interesting, and at least a little different from the 1080p Blu-ray accounting.
As for the audio, well we have just English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1.
Overall, this is a very strong 4K HDR Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.
Phew! OK, so, as for the movie itself, well, an extremely disciplined and businesslike Russian cop Ivan Danko (an earnest and effective performance by Arnold Scwarzeneggar) and sloppy, but competent Chicago detective Art Ridzik (a nicely coarse portrayal by James Belushi) have to put their differences aside and work together in order to catch ruthless drug smuggler, Viktor "Rosta" Rostavili (superbly essayed with smack on the money snarly relish by Ed O'Ross).
Director Walter Hill, who co-wrote the familiar, but still perfectly serviceable script with Harry Kleiner and Troy Kennedy, handles the enjoyable premise with his customary tight and streamlined manner: the quick pace rarely flags for a minute, the style is slick and polished, the action set pieces are exciting and expertly staged (a wild climactic bus chase rates as the definite stirring highlight), and there's a funny sense of crude humor sprinkled throughout.
Big Arnie and Belushi display an engagingly relaxed and natural chemistry; the begrudging respect and friendship that develops between these two radically contrasting police officers gives this picture a substantial emotional heft and helps the movie transcend its formula plot.
A fine cast qualifies as another major asset: Gina Gershon as Viktor's foxy and unsuspecting dance instructor wife Catherine "Cat" Manzetti, Peter Boyle as the stressed-out Commander Lou Donnelly, Laurence Fishburne as the nerdy, bespectacled Lt. Charlie Strobbs, Richard Bright as Ridzik's gabby partner Detective Sargeant Gallagher, and, in a truly stand-out cameo, Brent Jennings as smooth and assured blind jailbird criminal kingpin Abdul Elijah.
Popping up in nifty bits are Hill film regulars Peter Jason, Luis Contreras (reprising his Lupo character from 'Extreme Prejudice'), and Brion James (the latter in a deliciously wormy part as a slimy and sniveling snitch).
Further enhanced by Matthew F. Leonetti's glittery cinematography and a rattling and spirited score by James Horner, 'Red Heat' may not break any new ground, but it does overall still today size up as a solid and satisfying outing.
As for the Special Features, the two stand outs are also the most engaging given todays times: both the “Political Context of Red Heat” and “East Meets West” Featurettes. They both, albeit skimmingly, delve into the logistics of Russian vs. America stand points from back then and now, along with wonder aloud as to how things would play out now between the big Ruskie and the lackluster Chicago cop.
Another good pairing are both “I’m Not Russian, But I Play One on TV” and the behind-the-scenes look at “Making of Red Heat" Featurettes. The former is a quick expose of Arnold "perfecting" his Russian accent before going on set, explaining a little that begin Austrian helps him "perfect" the Russian accent a lot easier, the latter a fun look back at how a late'80s classic was prepped for its now-infamous scenes.
• “Arnold Schwarzenegger – The Man Who Raised Hollywood” Featurette
• “Political Context of Red Heat” Featurette
• “East Meets West” Featurette
• “A Stunt Man for All Seasons” Featurette
• “I’m Not Russian, But I Play One on TV” Featurette
• “Making of Red Heat" Featurette
• Original Trailer
'Red Heat' Trailer