Flashdance – 40th Anniversary Edition (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Three years ago, Paramount Presents released an upgraded edition of 1983’s Flashdance with a brand new transfer. Upon reviewing that edition, the film shot up in my esteem by plenty of notches. The film isn’t just a flash in the pan 80s nostalgia dish, it serves as sort of that decade’s Saturday Night Fever from a female perspective. Now, Paramount will be presenting that transfer as it was intended to be seen, on a 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray disc. Coming on April 11th, it’ll feature the same audio and extras that were on the Paramount Presents disc. You can order yourself a copy now, to upgrade or own for the first time, by using the paid Amazon Associates link that follows the review at the bottom of this page.


Originally published 5/6/2020

Alex Owens (Jennifer Beals) is a beautiful young woman who works a day job in a steel mill and dances in a bar at night. When Alex discovers that her handsome boss, Nick Hurley (Michael Nouri), is both interested in her and supportive of her performing career, she renews her efforts to get accepted into a prestigious dance conservatory. Although Alex is frightened of failure, she is cheered on by Nick, as well as by her mentor, former ballet performer Hanna Long (Lilia Skala).

Flashdance shares a lot in common with 1977’s Saturday Night Fever. Its in many ways a gender reversed spiritual sequel set in a different era. Unfortunately, one of the things it shares is the same bit of pop culture awareness for the film that leaves everyone thinking they know everything about it (Without having seen it) and in truth they’ve barely scratched the surface. Whereas with Fever, people think its all John Travolta strutting on the street to the Bee Gees and swinging his disco fist into the air with fancy movies at the club. Flashdance has people recalling “What A Feeling” and “Maniac” with images of Jennifer Beals dousing in water on a chair or working her ass off in leg warmers. All of this (for both films) literally happens in the first 15 minutes. There is far more character (and movie) to them.

There’s a pretty solid story here in Flashdance, one of a woman who truly busts her ass for her art and livelihood but with the hesitation of moving forward. A fear of her friends and family around her falling apart without her contribution. One who’s done so much herself, its hard for her to accept a helping hand or be appreciative of it. These ideas and relationships are all here, but there might be one too many, as it doesn’t quite hit dramatic impact enough as they each need a tad more focus. But for the sake of the picture it does absolutely what it needs to do, just not as deep as it could. If anything, the romantic subplot could be the one dropped as it finds itself a bit tired and doesn’t feel like the right voice to get Alex to push on and make the big step. Its not awful, but its a step in a generic direction when this film has more interesting and unique territory to focus on.

This was Adrian Lyne’s second film and boy does he flash some visual flair and talent. He admittedly said he wasn’t much interested in the in betweens, but moreso the dance numbers. And those are certainly the prime highlight of the film. They are a wild, crazy and intoxicating visual jolt with some bold choreography and breathtaking athleticism. Yeah, Jennifer Beals clearly has a double with a wig on, but you’ll forget that once you see the moves performed. The film has a brilliant, lightning in a bottle harmony of bringing the dance, visuals and songs/score together in a film. It works and carries the film quite a bit and makes it something more than just any coming of age drama or even any given dance movie in the 1980s. This is the one that nailed it and this is the one the others wanted and were striving to be. Much of the iconography is the dance, the songs, the costumes and there’s a good, warranted reason for that.

37 years removed, its easy to take lightly what a phenomenon that Flashdance was. It was indeed a breakout for its star Jennifer Beals, who is still pretty terrific and like nothing else out there at the time here. Its odd that she’s only person in the cast that really went on to big success (Other than Robert Wuhl who is an extra in this). There was a disconnect here between critics/studio heads and audiences here as well. They had no idea what they had on their hands and the generation gap was clear in the box office returns. Flashdance made $94 million in just America in 1983. It send April through October in the Top 10. It sold a hell of a lot of soundtracks. Doesn’t sound like much? That would $250 million today. Sure, the main narrative is a little average with its heart in the right spot, but the details surrounding it, plus capturing the era with some honestly and charm take it up a notch.


Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are from the standard Blu-ray, not from the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Flashdance was recently remastered in 4K for the Paramount Presents edition and having done that review, I imagine this is the same transfer, just now presented appropriately. Its a nice uptick from the previous one, showcasing finer details, crisper picture, more depth, better contrast to showcase color and black levels, and some added HDR buzz to it. Yes, its an upgrade to my eyes, but for some it may be not enough.

Depth: Depth of field is improved with the scale opening up and the pushback in scenes adding some more space and confidence to the camera work. Movements are smooth and natural with no issues coming from rapid actions or camerawork causing a blur or jitter.

Black Levels: Blacks are now much more natural and deeper. You can make even better glimpses at hair follicles, patterns and other details on darker clothing or things in the shadows. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are improved here as you get to see them really pop here, especially with some of the more radiant costumes. HDR really blasts off with the contrast of colored light bulbs, neon signs and other elements that can shine greatly off the screen.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural with a little bit of coldness too them, but that could be just the feel the city of Pittsburgh gives the overall film. Tones are consistent from start to finish of the film. Facial features and textures like stubble, bruising, dried dirt, make-up lines and lip texture are all pretty clear and visible in medium and close up shots.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.


Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Audio Description, German 2.0 Dolby Digital, French 2.0 Dolby Digital, Japanese 2.0 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, German, Spanish (Espana), Spanish (Latin America), French, Japanese

Dynamics: Flashdance carries over its 5.1 mix featured on the previous edition (At least I assume, I’m doubting they remixed it for this release, there are no notes about that). And its all around a very solid mix, that right from the offset gives you the jolt to crank it up as Irene Cara’s “What A Feeling” opens. The mix has a good balance and rather forms some terrific clarity around the vocals and instrumental of the songs featured in the film.

Height: N/A

Low-Frequency Extension: The subwoofer provides some solid work when it comes to thumping the base in the songs, natural slamming/crashing noises and bringing life to the engines and other construction sounds in the working scenes.

Surround Sound Presentation: This one hangs out a bit up front but isn’t shy to fill a room with the crowd adding to the rear speakers or songs sounding more concert like coming from behind as well. Motion is accurately depicted and scenes where the film calls upon the mix to form an engaging 360 degree experience, it comes through like in the car tunnel sequence for example.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are pretty clear, carrying a bit of their analog sourcing to them and having a nice even spot in the overall mix and balance with effects and music.


Flashdance – 40th Anniversary Edition comes with a standard Blu-ray edition and a redeemable digital code.

Filmmaker Focus: Director Adrian Lyne On Flashdance (HD, 5:51) – Another brief interview. While he took the film on “I guess I’ll just make the dances cool”, he’s touched that it has made such an impact on peoples’ lives. Lyne notes Bob Fosse was a fan of the film and he told him he ripped off his lighting to which Fosse said “I know”. Lyne also talks on some contributions he made to the song “Maniac” and the casting on Jennifer Beals.

The Look Of Flashdance (HD, 9:12) – Adrian Lyne, Jerry Bruckheimer, Lynda Obst (Producer), Michael Kaplan (Costume Designer), Bud Smith (editor), Kyle T. Heffner and Michael Nouri comment on Pittsburgh as the back drop of the story as well as the lighting and framing choices. Its unveiled that exteriors and construction sequences were shot in Pittsburgh, but the rest was done in Los Angeles. They also discuss the costuming and fashion in the film.

Releasing The Flashdance Phenomenon (HD, 8:52) – The same people in the last featurette talk about the lack of confidence in the film, Bud Smith’s edit helping to improve the film and the poor reviews. But, it was the kids it resonated. Bruckheimer talked how kids would go see the movie, go straight to the record store to buy the soundtrack and back to the theater to see it again. They all discuss the power the film’s message and dance had on the youth of the era.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:41) 


Flashdance is a film that’s much better than you’re assuming it is and more than just an 80s pop culture footnote for music compilations and montages. It has now appropriately jumped to the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray format with a rock solid presentation. All extras are carried over from the Paramount Presents release from a few years ago. Certainly upgrade it at the sale price that is right for you.

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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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