Purple Rain (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Purple Rain remains one of the most iconic moments in 80’s history. Maybe even music history at this point. 1984 was a huge year for music and for films and to put the two together in such an excellent way was unheard of at the time unless you had a popular musical. Prince was already an established musical multi-hyphenate, with talent unmatched until his untimely death. 40 years later, how does Purple Rain stand up to other films like it? Go down memory lane with me about Purple Rain below and be on the lookout for the 4K UHD Blu-ray on June 25th! You can get a copy by clicking the cover art at the end of the review, too!


The Kid (Prince) has a talent that most people only wish they had.  He is passionate but also very sensitive and his emotions make him vulnerable.  He wows the crowds at First Avenue in Minneapolis with eclectic songs that speak to them.  Then there’s The Time, headed by Morris E. Day. The band is flamboyant and the ultimate party on stage.  The two couldn’t be any more different, so of course they’re rivals.  Knowing some of The Kids vulnerabilities, Morris taunts and teases him at any turn.  Enter Appolonia – A stunning ingenue who wants to get to a place where she can be at First Avenue performing too.  Upon first sight, The Kid is all mood.  He checks her out, but his shyness makes it hard for him to speak up.  Morris on the other hand has other plans.  He is trying to get a girl group off the ground and sees Appolonia as a prime choice for the lead. Her curvy good looks and her mild singing talent are dollar signs for Morris and a possible romance is just a bonus.

We can’t discuss The Kid without mentioning his long-suffering band, The Revolution. The Kid may be shy, but he also is controlling. When girlfriends Wendy and Lisa want to have some credit for a song they’ve written, The Kid shuts them down. The boys in the band just deal and play on, but you can tell they’re just as tired of the narcissism and selfishness.  A band fractured; they play The Kids’ songs but they’re not as into them as he is.  The Kids’ home life is just as fractured. His parents are fighting verbally or physically one moment and are making love in common areas of the house in others.  This “freakshow” as The Kid calls it, makes him even more emotional, and unable to show his love in good ways.

In all of this, a romance begins between The Kid and Appolonia after a playful motorcycle ride. She sees all The Kids’ good qualities, and when he sings a song for her, The Beautiful Ones, she is smitten.  She also wants to find ways to support and show love to The Kid.  Morris offers her a spot in his group, now called Appolonia 6. This sends The Kid into a rage, where he echoes his parent’s freakshow relationship, hitting Appolonia and then gaslighting her.  The divide becomes even more evident when The Kid is faced with a shocking and terrible twist in his family life that forces him to be resilient, make changes and somehow find a way to come out on top once again.

Purple Rain plays almost like a long form music video.  There are lots of performances and soundtrack points throughout and every song, by Prince or not, is phenomenal and absolutely have Prince’s stamp all over them. The Time’s music was almost all exclusively written by Prince, as was Appolonia 6’s earworm Sex Shooter and the band Mazerati who has one song, Modernaire. A product of the 80’s the Purple Rainsoundtrack remains one of the finest albums in pop history, a 9 out of 9 track masterpiece. The music in the film propels the film forward. Everyone in the film save for Prince’s parents is a non-actor, and while there are some shortcomings, First Avenue’s manager Billy is especially cringe, everyone is game to give a good performance.  Prince is charismatic and charming with a big smile when unguarded and ferocious energy on stage.  Appolonia uses her good looks to carry her and that’s not a bad thing. The Revolution’s members are peaks and valleys. Wendy and Lisa do well with their plot line, going for mild dramatic effect, while the boys are mostly quiet. The Time, especially Morris and Jerome are the comic relief, and they deliver on many levels.  Day was a natural comedic actor and Jerome plays an excellent foil.

The storylines in Purple Rain are slight at best, but the way the film is edited and put together is what makes it entirely engaging, and remains a fantastic entertainment in this, its 40th year. Prince remains an essential music icon today, and the film a near autobiography of the singer’s time in his 20’s. Purple Rain also set a standard that has yet to be elevated since its release.  The film is a rare one in that its simplicity is also what makes it so unique and so engrossing.  The film was a can’t miss hit in 1984, and in 2024 the film is a timeless classic of human growth, vulnerability, passion for music and the power of passion.


NOTE: Stills are provided for promotional use only and are not from the 4K Blu-ray

  • Encoding: HEVC/H.265
  • Resolution: 4K
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • HDR: HDR10
  • Clarity/Detail: Mastered for disc from an 8K scan of the OCN, Purple Rain is a revelation in the format. Crystal clear with its natural grain retained, the film is now less gritty than previous iterations, but the print is pristine, gorgeous even.
  • Depth: Depth of field is shown some love with the downscaled 8K image. No softness is in view unless that was an artistic choice.
  • Black Levels: Deep blacks accompany the club scenes and scenes in the family home. No crush was evidenced at any point.
  • Color Reproduction: The film takes place in many dark areas, but when colors pop, they POP. Stage lighting is bright and costuming in blacks and purples and whites all look fresh like brand new.  The scenes outdoors have a natural color palette that is very pleasing visually.
  • Flesh Tones: Flesh tones are overall excellent with some unfortunate makeup keeping me from saying they are perfect. Ah, the shortcoming of 4K, we sometimes see some things we weren’t initially supposed to.
  • Noise/Artifacts: Clean


  • Audio Format(s):  English DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish
  • DynamicsPurple Rain comes with a “remastered” 5.1 mix. This is the main mix on the disc and to my ears and on my equipment, the mix sounds flawed. The overall sound quality is slightly muddy with the music sounding thick with bass but approaching near distortion with the treble elements, and somewhat quiet with the dialogue. A quick switch to the original Stereo mix proves that some work could’ve been done to improve this new multichannel mix, but that was not something the studio chose to do.  This is a shame, because a movie with this great of music deserves better.

NOTE – I own the 2016 Blu-ray edition of the film and going back over each disc testing the same scenes, the “remastered” mix sounds identical to the 2016 one. I am not sure if this is an error or if the mix was improved at all to begin with.  I do believe the mix could be much better, especially with Prince’s estate clearing the soundtrack album for a Dolby Atmos mix which is available to stream now, but I digress.  For some this mix will be just fine, but I think for me, in my humble opinion and from watching the film regularly since I was about 8, the mix could just be better.

  • Height: N/A
  • Low Frequency Extension: Heavy bass is given to the music and does it ever perform. This is the one saving grace of the 5.1 mix and is just as good in the 2.0 mix.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: The surround channels are used for First Avenue crowd noise and Minneapolis city sounds. Plain and simple usage, but no complaints from me!
  • Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue sounds sort of dim in 5.1 but brightens and evens out more in the new stereo mix.


Extras for Purple Rain have been greatly reduced on disc, most likely to save on using a higher GB disc for them.  This is unfortunate as some of the legacy features from a 20-year-old special edition DVD are wonderful and missed here. One mini doc survives, First Avenue Memories with members of the revolution, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (iconic producers once members of The Time), and Prince’s 80’s manager all giving insight to the real-life club that gave Prince and other bands in Minneapolis their start.  8 Music videos also appear on the disc for: Let’s Go Crazy, Take Me With U, When Doves Cry, I Would Die 4 U/Baby I’m A Star, Jungle Love, The Bird and Sex Shooter. At the time, these videos were in heavy rotation on the one-time music channel MTV. I would have hoped that the film would have at least been able to retain the rest of the features from releases past, but I guess I’ll have to hand onto my old Blu-ray for those.


40 years on and Purple Rain endures as essential music movie viewing. There will never be another Prince, and here, at his creative peak, we are witnessing genius on screen.  The simple story is given room to breathe, and we see a young man’s struggle to get to greatness fully realized in the film.  This new edition of the film has an excellent looking new transfer with mediocre audio and an unfortunate dropping of old special features.  This would be great at a lower price point, but once hopes for a little better treatment of this exceptional film somewhere down the road.  Here’s hoping, and if you can’t wait, like I wouldn’t be able to, visually this is worth the purchase!

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