48 Hrs – Paramount Presents (Blu-ray Review)

July’s contribution to the Paramount Presents line is kind of a beautiful two-fer. One is a film that had a prior release with a subpart transfer and the other has never been on Blu-ray before. And together, they both make and complete a series of film. Walter Hill’s 48 Hrs and Another 48 Hrs starring Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy will be getting the fancy editions featuring new interviews with Walter Hill. Both are getting brand new 4K restorations as well. This early edition of what would become the buddy cop genre will be landing on shelves (maybe?) on July 6th. This review will cover the first film, 48 Hrs. You can pre-order using the paid Amazon Associates link below to land yourself a copy of this new Blu-ray if you so please.


Renegade cop Jack Cates (Nick Nolte) pulls bank robber Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy) from a federal prison on a 48-hour leave to help him capture Hammond’s old partner, Albert Ganz (James Remar). Having escaped from a prison work crew, Ganz is on a killing spree around San Francisco, on the trail of half a million dollars that went missing after one of his robberies. The cocky Reggie knows where the money is, but spars with the hotheaded Jack as he enjoys his temporary freedom.

Lethal Weapon gets a lot of credit for being the breakout buddy cop film that all would model after. Since technically 48 Hrs is about a cop and criminal they aren’t a pair of “cops” per se, but the film does more than enough to establish itself as the prototype for that formula. All of those motions of being at odds and slowly coming to form the perfect team for the cause is right here. The back and forths, the harrowing shootouts and action, well established with Walter Hill’s film before Richard Donner and Shane Black made it a staple. If anything, this is the Black Christmas to Halloween so to speak.

48 Hrs features a lot of Walter Hill’s classic style and characters on display. At one point, this was probably considered one of his best. However, with passage of time and the re-evaluation of many of his “lesser” efforts along with their cult status, its perhaps slid quite a bit down that pole. Its a rough and punishingly honest film that feels like a writer hashing out some aggression and working through some stuff at times. Some of the language and brute nature of Nick Nolte’s character in the film isn’t going to date it well for some younger audiences. However, the arc and intention behind it are seemingly good natured even if the language used is ugly.

Speaking of Nolte, he’s an absolute brute in this movie. Its absolutely a site to behold as he barrels through many of his scenes with either his body of the gruffing of words. I’ve never realized how much of a giant he is to his costars but he’s rather hulking over them in this film. We know Nolte has had some turns and bouts in his career, so this might have been a role that easily came out of him, but for an action or a cop movie this had to be a bit of a surprising run for both him and the type of “hero” he plays. Opposite Murphy, they really work as that – opposites. This is Eddie relishing in his first big lead opportunity in a film and able to be a chameleon between is co-stars. His leash would come off with Beverly Hills Cop a couple years later, but here is a terrific audition for him and his ability to elevate a cop or an action movie as well as being able to carry it.

Walter Hill’s 48 Hrs still works through and through in its characters, the style, the crime investigation and the big action sequences. There’s a fantastic bus vs convertible chase that is so expertly crafted it feels every bit as effective and dangerous today. Ditto many of the shootouts. There are lot of funny moments with Murphy as well as exchanges with Nolte that showcase why this movie was such a big hit. There’s a smoking Annette O’Toole supporting role in here, James Remar as a baddie and a little part from Denise Crosby to boot. While I’m not sure the film plays as big as it once was, it still plays pretty well today.


Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: 48 Hrs returns to Blu-ray with a brand new 4K restoration. Now, I have not seen the old Blu-ray for it, so I am unable to compare. This new one looks quite stellar to be honest. And its equally impressive considering Walter Hill’s style and some of the more darker, smoky type aesthetic he likes to put on. This has a nice light layer of grain, features a good sharp look that is full of detail and great color saturation.

Depth:  Terrific depth of field work. Many good camera swings portray some good foreground and background spacing of objects/people all around. Movements are cinematic and smooth with no motion distortions present.

Black Levels: Blacks are natural and beautifully displayed here. There are a lot of night scenes, club scenes and darkened room sequences in the film that look well saturated and quite lovely here. No details are lost in the shadows. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are quite strong with good bold displays on clothing and room upholstery. Great contrast coming from the black levels provide a nice pop on some more flashy fabrics and cars as well as neon signs and lights that really glow off your screen.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish. Stubble, sweat, wrinkles, dried blood, make-up lines, lip texture and more facial features and textures come through quite clear from any given distance in the frame.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.


Audio Format(s): English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, German 2.0 Dolby Digital, French 2.0 Dolby Digital, Japanese 2.0 Dolby Digital, Isolated Score Track

Subtitles: English, English SDH, German, French, Japanese

Dynamics: 48 Hrs carries over the Dolby TrueHD track its had on all its Blu-ray releases. However, that’s a good thing as this thing is pretty loud and in your face. Right from the start you get the rip roaring effects that command the room and go along, blended well with the score that likes to take front and center. It has terrific depth and layering with a good, accurate feel for what is happening in front of your eyes on screen.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer punches pretty good with…well, punches, gunshots, crashing, blasts, engines roaring and bumping music.

Surround Sound Presentation:  The speakers feature a nice dynamic showcase around the room in some of the more action or club oriented scenes. Much of it hangs out front, but rear channels are not left in the dust. Sound travel is accurate to what is happening on screen.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Vocals are clear and crisp and manage to pick up some rather specific actor mouth sounds and diction.


48 Hrs  in first pressing, comes with a slip cover that folds open to reveal the original poster art for the film. It also comes with a redeemable digital copy.

Filmmaker Focus: Director Walter Hill on 48 Hrs (HD, 19:08) – The legendary director gives a rather detailed, honest and specific rundown of the film from early pre-production through the whole shoot. He’s got plenty to share regarding Eddie Murphy and some interesting anecdotes on Nick Nolte as well. This is a rather well done and informative interview.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 3:03)

Space Kid: Original 1966 Animated Short (HD, 5:03) – An interesting and rather playful inclusion for this disc. This is the full cartoon of what James Remar is watching in the hotel room during the film.


48 Hrs is a rather rough and tough movie in both its action and comedic elements. Paramount’s “Presents” edition flourishes with a rather stellar transfer of the film and a loud and raucous 5.1 track to pump the engagement factor. While extras are light, they are quite worthwhile and even fun (The cartoon!). A definite pickup for buddy cop and Walter Hill fans as until there’s a 4K UHD version, its not gonna get much better than this!

This is a paid Amazon Associates link


Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com). He is also the Moderator/MC of the Live Podcast Stage and on the Podcast Awards Committee for PopCon (popcon.us). In the past 10 years at Why So Blu, Brandon has amassed over 1,500 reviews of 4K, Blu-ray and DVD titles.

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