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Harley Davidson And The Marlboro Man (Blu-ray Review)

Harley-Davidson-And-The-Marlboro-ManThis spring, rev up your engines and get ready to relive the explosive action, daring stunts and high-octane thrills when the 1991 action smash hit HARLEY DAVIDSON AND THE MARLBORO MAN arrives for the first time on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory.  Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler, Sin City) and Don Johnson (A Boy and His Dog, TV’s Miami Vice) star in this genre collision of biker movie, heist thriller and buddy flick that will take you to the hardline of action and adventure! Co-starring Tom Sizemore (Natural Born Killers), Chelsea Field (The Last Boy Scout), Tia Carrere (True Lies) and Vanessa Williams (Shaft), this relentlessly explosive actioner just may prove that “it’s better to be dead and cool than alive and uncool.”

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Film 

When their favorite bar is threatened with closure, outlaw biker Harley and modern-day cowboy Marlboro hatch a scheme to save the day – by robbing the corrupt bank behind the bar’s shutdown! When the robbery yields not money but a shipment of drugs, Harley and Marlboro find themselves on the run from the bank’s sinister president (Sizemore) and a posse of seemingly unstoppable hit men. Now wanted dead or alive, the hard-riding heroes must fight for their very lives… and learn that when the going gets tough, the tough take the law into their own hands.

I’d never seen Harley Davidson And The Marlboro Man before.  I never really actively avoided it, it just had a ridiculous title.  Also, Mickey Rourke was someone who I didn’t really find my a fan of until I was in college.  He was a sort of acquired taste, and I always mistook him for Bruce Willis on the VHS covers.  That sounds crazy now, but the youthful Mickey Rourke, pre-boxer era, very much looked like Bruno.  It also had Don Johnson, who at this time was a bonafide television superstar seen on the coolest show Miami Vice every week.

This film probably has aged itself into decency.  Its been a cult movie for many year, but pure action fanatics may glance back at this one more favorably now for different entertaining reasons.  Its almost a parody of that era of bro-buddy action movies.  The film is basically two badass just trading one-liner jabs at one another while escaping hairy situations and firing off guns.  Oh, and driving motorcycles.  I’ve also never heard two characters addressed by name so much in a film in my life.  Seriously, you can’t play a drinking game to this because it’d be no fun before even the 20 minute mark.  We get it…he’s HARLEY DAVIDSON and the other guy is THE MARLBORO MAN.  The title even told us that before we watched.  I did like that Marlboro’s girlfriend was Virginia Slim though.  That was cute (er, wait, macho time, “FRIGGIN’ AWESOME, BRO!”).

There are some pretty decent shootouts in the film and some nice stuntwork to accompany it.  Those who yearn for the days of choreography and real stuff getting blown up and shot at are in for a treat here with this one.  The highlight is a super tall leap off of a Vegas hotel building straight into a pool.  Yeah, its bullshit, but its fun, works and hey…its a friggin’ silly action movie.  Let it have it.

Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man is a silly movie and I don’t think the film itself takes itself all that seriously either.  There’s plenty of fun to be had here.  In addition to enjoying Don Johnson and Mickey Rourke, you’re also treated to early performances by Giancarlo Esposito, Tia Carrere, Vanessa Williams and Kelly Hu.  And who doesn’t love Daniel Baldwin with a fashion sense to inspire The Matrix?  With the right mindset going in, you’re sure to find this film worth your while.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1o80p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail:  Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man gets a pretty solid and safely above average transfer.  Detail is pretty good and the film looks the best it ever has.  Kinks and cracks in leather show through as well as dirt and blad spats on clothes.  The whole film has that 90s smokey room look to it, but detail still looks nice.  Don Johnson’s hair is well defined here in this print.

Depth:  Solid work here.  Characters move cleanly through every environment.  While its not going to look wildly 3-D ever, it still looks pretty nice.

Black Levels: Black levels are accurate and have a bit of a smokey look to them.  Not much detail is lost in darkness and no real crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Colors look very natural.  Nothing really pops out, but everything has its place, works together and never topples over one another.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones look accurate and consistent.  Detail on close ups reveals pores, stubble, scars and scratches.

Noise/Artifacts:  Grain and minimal specs.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  This 2.0 track is pretty awesome.  From the opening reving of the Harley engine accompanied by a really crisp, loose Bon Jovi to the gunfire and explosions, this track kicks a whole lot of ass.  Movements and volume placement is very accurate.  This mix is loud, lively and very fun.

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Loud, clear and clean.

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Extras 

Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man‘s inside cover features an addition promotional photo.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:51)

Vintage Featurette (HD, 6:55) – Sort of hosted by the film’s writer, this “behind the scenes” from when the film was shooting featuring interviews with the director, Don Johnson, Mickey Rourke and some others.

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Summary 

Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man wasn’t well received upon release both by the critics and by the box office tallies.  However, those who did get to it and liked it have remained a strong little cult.  And in hindsight, I think this movie actually stands up quite decently.  Its a nice piece of buddy action/macho trash that’s perfectly fine and goes really well with a beer or two.  This Blu-ray has the moving looking better than it ever has before and sounding outstanding.  Extras could have been epic had Rourke or Johnson been commissioned for a new interview, but the important part is the movie made the jump to Blu-ray in the first place.  An easy recommend for fans of this movie and fans of 80s/90s pure action flicks.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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