Hooper (Blu-ray Review)

HooperHere we are in 1978 where Burt Reynolds is peaking so very damn hard.  While some may now be like “Hoop-what?”, Hooper was a big deal in 1978.  The film was a follow up to the massive hit, Smokey and the Bandit the year prior.  Smokey would have been the biggest film of 1977 had it not been for that pesky Star Wars movie.  It marked a quick reteaming of stuntman-turned director Hal Needham with Burt Reynolds and Sally Field.  Field and Reynolds were also a huge onscreen item back then, doing a plenty of films together in a short run.  Hooper ended up being a huge success too being the 6th highest grossing film of the year and kept Reynolds and his teaming up with Neeham running.

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Sonny Hooper is getting too banged up to remain Hollywood’s top stuntman, but he signs up as the stunt coordinator for a big-budget action movie with a pushy director and a clueless star. Ready to retire from the physical abuse, Hooper is gearing up to make the film’s climactic stunt his biggest ever, but cocky young stuntman Ski Chinski aims to steal the glory with his more scientific, technology-oriented stunt methods.

Call me blasphemous, but I like this Reynolds-Field-Needham effort better than Smokey and the Bandit.  I really enjoy the interesting perspective taken on looking at the production of Hollywood movies.  That in the form of the point of view of the stunt man.  There’s some good Hollywood in-joking and also plenty of action in the form of stunts for a movie about a movie producing stunts.  The film also just sits around and has a lot of fun while also providing some breathtaking actually honest to god stunt work.  Coming after Smokey and making about $50 million less it was considered a disappointment.  Lets get it straight though, this film still made 3/4 of $100 million in 1978 and was one of the biggest films of the year.

One of the funniest things about Hooper for me was its riffing on James Bond spy films.  And for some extra fun, Adam West is the actor playing the spy in the movie…and he’s playing himself.  What makes this fun, is if you’re a big Bond film, you know that in the 1970s there was a period of time where Burt Reynolds was REALLY close to tux’ing up for the role of James Bond.  That never happened (Thankfully.  I like Reynolds, but that just would never have worked prospect).  But, here you get to see him in a tux, doing stunts and they’re set to some SOOOOO DAMN CLOSE HOW DID THEY NOT GET SUED 007 music.

Like Sharky’s Machine, this film also is very much a product of its time in terms of movie making.  While its a film that’s set up to be grounded in reality, it doesn’t have a problem with taking really silly and screwy left turns.  Yes, I’m looking at the Terry Bradshaw cameo’d bar room brawl scene amongst others.  The film isn’t too long, but a lot does happen, and there’s plenty of chatter that can make it drag a little in parts.  Overall, I think Reynold’s charisma, his chemistry with Sally Field (and the rest of the cast) and the impressive stunt work with some jokes keep this one in order and good for the fun ride.

Hooper is definitely one of the tops when it comes to your stereotypical Burt Reynolds movies.  Or the Burt Reynolds being Burt Reynolds type thing.  It also doubles as one of those fun movies about making movies.  For which, as I was looking up, Burt Reynolds has made a lot of.  A strange aspect of his career I never really thought of, but makes up more output than stereotypical Burt movies did.  Anyway, this is a fun Saturday afternoon film and if you’re doing a marathon of the mustache king, its gotta fit in somewhere!

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail: Hooper is finally available on home video in its original aspect ratio.  Previously, the DVD version of the film was a 1.33:1 pan and scan edition.  I’m not sure what the prospect of this was on streaming services, but this has to be an instant excitement for fans.  It doesn’t stop there though, as the film look terrific on Blu-ray.  Detail is pretty high as everything from denim patterns to the minimalist scratch damage or dirt on a vehicle is noticeable.  The image is sharp enough well defined.

Depth:  Depth is above average.  Scenes like the bar brawl and the end car jump show some real range in term of 3 dimensional dynamics on an old 1981 film.

Black Levels:  Blacks are natural and decent.  There are times when detail is hidden, but its minimal.  Don’t worry, during some close ups you can see the follicle’s in Burt’s iconic mustache.

Color Reproduction: Colors pop quite nicely in this picture and its rather impressive.  Reds and blues are the standouts.  But tell me you’re not noticing how great the whites are on Sally Field’s shorts in her first scene 🙂

Flesh Tones: Natural and consistent.  Close ups impress with pores, wrinkles scuffs, stubble and the like.  As the shots pull further out, detail gets a bit less, but still manages to be plenty defined.

Noise/Artifacts:  Healthy grain and specs throughout, but not distracting and gives the film its natural cinematic appearance.

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Audio Format(s): English 1.0 Mono DTS-HD MA, German Mono Dolby Digital, Spanish Mono Dolby Digital.  Japanese Dolby Digital (Not listed on menu, only found through surfing audio)

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

Dynamics: This is a really impressive mono track that captures all the action and makes it feel quite intense.  The effects all sound well rounded and distinct.  All the elements are loosed and mixed quite well.  Vocals, score and effects work together in a perfect harmony to give you the optimal production of the cinematic performance of the film.

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is crisp, clean and plenty loud.

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Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:00)

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Hooper is a comedy that is a bit of its time, but still quite enjoyable.  As fittingly, this film about stuntmen features some really great exhilarating stunt work.  Reynolds is at the top of his game when it comes to his “schtick” and Sally Field is super adorable.  This Blu-ray features a great video transfer and a wonderful representation of the film’s original audio.  Like Sharky’s Machine, Warner Bros saw fit to not put a lick of additional bonus material aside from the film’s trailer.  Making up for it is the fact that this is on Blu-ray (Making Why So Blu reader Mike Jones very happy) and its got an incredible pricepoint for its debut!



Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a 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. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

2 Responses to “Hooper (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Mike

    I’ve been waiting for this one for awhile now. Hopefully ‘The End’ will get green-lighted soon.

    Great review, Brandon!

  2. Brandon Peters

    That would be great. I’d like Heat or Rough Cut to jump to Blu-ray as well. Though I don’t think Rough Cut ever even made it to DVD or Laser Disc.