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Streets Of Fire – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Walter Hill’s cult classic rock n’ roll fable Streets of Fire is finally making its way to Blu-ray in the United States after previously only being available in the UK and Germany among other countries that seem to get the cool stuff way before us. But, for the patient (Or not region free), the waiting has paid off as Shout! Factory wound up being the people to introduce it to the format in the United States and slapped it with its still fresh Shout! Select label and a Collector’s Edition at that. With some serious sick new key art on its slip cover, the release comes loaded with two discs to rock out with plenty of classic bonus features as well as a brand new feature length documentary (Yes, that’s 2 feature length making of documentaries on here). You’ll be able to check it out for yourself on May 16th, with the pre-order below, but stay tuned for my review in the meantime.

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 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics:  Streets of Fire comes with a very loud and impacting 5.1 mix, that turns out to be one of the best ever from Shout! Factory on a vintage film. The sound effects are very upfront, loud and carry some good layering with little pieces and echoes picking up. Songs in the film have a real center stage feel, and can give a nice live concert vibe. Balance is a strong suit here in the blend between vocals, musical scoring and sound effects with nobody stepping in the others spotlight.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  Explosions, shotgun blasts, bass and drums in the music, punches and more have your subwoofer really bouncing the floor. An especially awesome sequence with Pare constantly blasting gas tanks with a shotgun proves a huge highlight and an impressive moment for Shout! Factory with subwoofer usage in an older film.

Surround Sound Presentation:  While not a full on 5 channel blast, this mix does not leave the rear channels hanging and includes them with their own unique sounds as well and providing some good ambiance. Front channels take most of the fun with accurate sound travel and placement in relation to screen presence as well as a real intense punch in the big action moments.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp. Singing takes on its own sound and feels recorded different than the dialogue in the mix.

Extras 

Streets of Fire – Collector’s Edition is a 2-Blu-ray Disc set with reversible cover art featuring the original poster.  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 

You can stop singing “I Can Dream About You” regarding a Streets of Fire Region A Blu-ray release in the US. Its here, its loaded and its well done. The transfer here is a really cool looking one that absolutely suits the film to go with a pretty impressive audio mix.  Throw in some cool vintage extras and TWO full length documentaries on making and looking back at the film with a lot of the major players and this is just the best release this film is gonna get and a nice labor of love toward it. Another big win for Shout! Select!

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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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