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Streets Of Fire – 35th Anniversary Edition Steelbook (Blu-ray Review)

One of Shout Factory’s biggest and most popular releases of its Shout Select line has been Walter Hill’s Streets Of Fire. It was a pretty impressive release that was loaded to the brim with bonus materials. A film that fittingly serves as a musical cult classic of sorts turns 35 years old next year, but they are making way on putting the anniversary edition for it out now. The film is not only getting some fresh new steelbook packaging, but a new audio track from the original mix is going to be presented here as well. The rest of the release and video transfer remain intact. If you’re an audio nut, Streets of Fire completionist or simply haven’t picked up the film yet, now you have a new version to drop your dollars on. Streets of Fire – 35th Anniversary Edition Steelbook was released on November 20t, so you can order a copy now.

Film 

Amid a brooding rock & roll landscape, the Bombers motorcycle gang, led by the vicious Raven Shaddock, kidnap diva Ellen Aim. Her hope for rescue lies with unlikely heroes: soldier of fortune Tom Cody and his sidekick, the two-fisted beer-guzzling McCoy. Joined by Ellen’s manager, Billy Fish, the trio plunges headfirst into a world of rain-splattered streets, hot cars, and deadly assassins.

Walter Hill’s Streets of Fire is a luscious visionary adventure that blends past, present and future into one rocking journey. Its almost as if Buckaroo Banzai was grounded in some reality then slapped on the right cheek by Blade Runner and then slapped on the left by Hill’s own The Warriors.  And I love the fact that this film doesn’t have to over explain the world that its inhabiting and we get this one story from it. There’s something to be said by just accepting “Another time, another place” and running with it. Things feel much more “lived in” and genuine when the film doesn’t feature a ton of info and exposition dumps just on the world alone and allows it to just “be”.

Its a film that seeps up nostalgia in the music and noir aspects of the 1950s while also lambasting it with some good power 80s.  I’m pretty sure they came up with their own music for this as well. And out of it, the most notable number was “I Can Dream About You”. Which, ask a general person they may remember this song more than they do the film. That’s not a knock against the film, its a cult movie that bombed and a song that charted at number 6 on the Billboard 100. Also, while they don’t appear performing on the soundtrack, Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty did some songwriting for it.

Kids today probably don’t remember Michael Pare, but for a time in the 1980s Hollywood was trying to make him a thing, it just didn’t pan out. Maybe the Taylor Kitsch of his day. I mean, the guy was supposed to be the Janet Leigh of John’s Carpenter’s Village of the Damned. You only do that if you’re “somebody”. But, this is his best all around movie for sure when it comes to performance plus film. Diane Lane gets to lip sync a lot of the soundtrack, but she’s here in a really tough role to sort of embrace her, but she does come around. She was only just finished with high school when she shot this too. Oddly, young Diane Lane looks almost exactly like Mandy Moore. Rick Moranis gets to play something very different than what you’re used to. Willem Dafoe is great as always. If anyone can steal this movie from any of the aforementioned names its Amy Madigan who truly can take over this movie with one of the more fun characters in it.  There are also plenty of recognizable faces in the crowd with this movie too that pop up time to time.

Streets of Fire isn’t perfect, there’s a dull patch or two, but that’s what helps give the film character and its simple journey through a more complex world works wonders. It features some really fun action to go along with a nice rocking soundtrack. Walter Hill really shows his skills as a visionary director, taking one step forward from The Warriors.  Its his most crazy vision, but yet one of his most successful. He also continues his work on making interesting characters with interesting occupations and the dramas and relationships that come through that, his hallmark. If you’ve never seen Streets of Fire, fix that now.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail:  Streets of Fire differs itself from the overseas releases by being a brand new 2K scan of the interpositive. The result are pretty fun and really give (and I mean this as a compliment) a nice tough and weathered look that helps the overall feel of the film. It’s sharp as its going to be and features plenty of good color and crisp details throughout when looking around at the beat up, grissled city. Dirt, rust, decay and wear is all pretty present to your eyes here. While this transfer isn’t going to be greatest in the world, I really like the look and think it suits the film very well here. Another job well done from Shout! Factory.

Depth:  For a mid-80s film with the sort of look and condition of the print, its nice to say that the dimensional work and depth on here is pretty impressive. There is a real good sense of spacing, notably during stage performances, between character and background. Said backgrounds feel plenty distanced while the characters are free and move cinematically and smoothly with no real blur or jitter to report.

Black Levels:  Blacks are pretty deep and accurate to the intended look. Normally in a film like this, darkness or black will usher in heavier grain but that wasn’t really apparent here for the most part. No crushing was witnessed on this viewing.

Color Reproduction:  Colors come on looking just as lovely as intended. Filters are able to strongly give off their color while still giving crisp definition to the image. Neon signs all shine brightly and pop off the screen. All the super 80s fashions come on strong too. Orange fire from explosions look very nice as well.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and maintain a consistent appearance throughout, give or take a scene with a filter here and there. Facial details like stubble, make-up, bruises, blemishes, make-up, dirt and more all come through very well in close ups and decently in medium shots.

Noise/Artifacts: There is some welcome grain to go along with some specs/dirt that happens throughout. It actually retroactively really compliments the look of the picture and helps to add to the aesthetic and overall feel of the film.

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 4.1 DTS-HD MA,English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics:   Created From The 70mm Six-Track Magnetic Audio, this 4.1 track newly minted for this release is pretty awesome. I was already a big fan of the 5.1, but taking this one step further is a real treat. There’s a bit more raw feeling to the film with this track and it feels true and fresh. The mix is a loud one and the concert sequences remain the ultimate highlight. This isn’t a massive jump, mind you, and the commoner isn’t going to care, but the incremental work to improve it is appreciated and apparent for those who can hear. Making a fantastic release just a little more fancy.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  A lot of the bass from the music in the film really thumps here as does effect noise like crashing, engine rev’ing, glass shatter, punches, gun blasts and more.

Surround Sound Presentation:  This is a fun and well thought out affair. Rear channels are used for ambiance but also help with some traveling and environmental intricacies from time to time. Sound travel and overall musical performer location and output is pretty impressive as well.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp and just a hair down in the mix so at times it adds to the realism of loud arenas and such when people are conversing.

Extras 

Streets of Fire – 35th Anniversary Edition is a 2-Blu-ray Disc set that comes with steelbook packaging.  Bonus materials are found on Disc 2.

Shotguns & Six Strings: The Making Of A Rock N Roll Fable (HD, 1:40:23) – A feature length documentary.  This one features a lot more crew players to go along with hill and less cast, though Pare is here. This discussion is very in depth and really takes its time and gives you the focus on each individual line or part of production you’d want to hear about. You get script, pre production, casting (Character by character and then some nods to little parts), shooting, stunts, design, costume, songs…its all here and all very candid, honest and incredibly entertaining.

Rumble On The Lot: Walter Hill’s Streets Of Fire Revisited (HD, 1:22:29) – This looks to be an older feature length documentary carried over featuring many of the same, but plenty of different speakers that tell the tale of the film. Its really a shame Diane Lane appears in none of them, but oh well. With over 3 hours of documentaries on making the film, I’m pretty sure most corners aren’t left unturned.

Vintage Featurettes (SD, 10:43) – These are EPK shorts covering basic ground on aspects of the film with interviews from Walter Hill and cast (During the shoot) titled Rock N Roll Fable, Exaggerated Realism, Choreographing The Crowd, Creating The Costumes, From The Ground Up

Music Videos (SD, 8:39) 

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:25)

On-Air Promos (SD, 13:12) – Studio made EPKs on the film for promotion when it came out.

Still Gallery (HD, 10:22)

Summary 

Streets of Fire had a great release before and now its had one ever so slightly better. The new audio track is a really cool bit of house maintenance and I personally love steelbook packaging. The art is cool, but I think I do prefer the modern art used on the original release if I were forced to choose. I’m not sure that if you have the film already you really need to rush the upgrade to this one, but if you don’t own the film yet, this is the one to pick up.

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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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