The First Purge (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

The First Purge 4K ReviewI wasn’t completely sold on Universal’s first Purge film back in 2013, but the acting of Frank Grillo in the second 2014 outing made me an instant fan.  The third installment, 2016’s Election Year, was pretty good, but nothing in my opinion can top that “you killed my son” moment in Anarchy.  However, I digress.  We’re not here to measure sequels, but instead to talk about the all new Purge prequel titled The First Purge.  It was officially released everywhere nationwide this year on our Nation’s Birthday, July 4th.  This one tells the story of how it all began with the New Founding Fathers of America testing our Nation’s first ever Purge out in one isolated community.  I think y’all knows what happens next, but the getting there part is what makes this sociological experiment at least worth a watch.

The First Purge


The First Purge may be billed as a prequel, but as you probably counted up above its actually the fourth installment in the Purge franchise.  It depicts the origins of the first annual “Purge” night.  For those of you who need a recap in regards to what that’s all about the Purge is the 12 hour period once a year where all crime in America, including murder, is completely legal.  It’s a chance for you to release the beast so to speak.  I should mention this is also the first film in the series not to be directed by James DeMonaco, but he’s still the writer here.   Gerard McMurray is up to bat in this one as the director with an actor lineup consisting of Y’Lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, Luna Lauren Velez, Peter Parker’s Aunt May, Marisa Tomei, and more.  So here’s what it’s all about.

Remember how they tried to explain in Stars Wars: The Phantom Menace what midichlorians were and how the trade war started the rise of the Empire, etc.?  Well that’s sort of what The First Purge sets out to accomplish with explaining how Purge night came to be and of course the oppression of the minorities, which the government uses the annual holiday as an excuse to “cleanse” out let’s say.  So needless to say just like The Phantom Menace this movie did not necessarily need to be made, but unlike the Star Wars prequels these Purge movies are cheap and profitable for the studio.  In other words they’re a win-win!  While I won’t go into too much spoiler territory, not that there’s much to spoil here, I do want to give you the basic gist of it all to paint a proverbial picture.

Our country, the United States, is in turmoil.  It’s not the land of big dreams and opportunities anymore.  The New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) enter the scene to win the hearts of voters and take the country away from the Republicans and Democrats.  However, what they inherit is a hot mess even they don’t know how to handle.  So one brilliant lady came up with the idea of the Purge, but it was only in a sociological experiment kind of conception.  She never intended it to be used for real out in the streets of Staten Island, NY or the whole country as we know it to be in the first three Purge films.  However, the NFFA is met with resistance.  Lots of people don’t want or view the Purge as favorable, but ultimately see it as a way to only eradicate the poor and minorities.  They are onto something there, but the NFFA is offering financial compensations for complying with staying on the island and even further monies for participating in the experiment,  They also have other tricks up their naughty sleeves to make the American people believe this experiment on Staten Island is/was a smashing success.

I have to be honest with you all.  When I first saw this I was bored for the first half of this film.  I sat there thinking I never want to watch this movie again.  It felt like a gangster version of Madea or a bad experience sifting through endless drama posts from Facebook users rather than a straight out horror/slasher film like the first three Purge movies have been (minus their usual social commentary).  It takes a while for this one to really get going as it really feels like an endless bloated social commentary throughout the first half.  It can be downright boring and it feels like the plot drowns in its overuse of its own ideology.  Then it happens!  After a long lull the horror and freakiness aspect of the Purge series springs to life.  Suddenly it’s go time!  The Purge masks are put on and the crazies come out to play.  Purge parties are the newest rave.  And there’s also interesting characters out there purging, most notably two women who have a fetsih with baby dolls and this guy who I’ll call simply call Weapon X.  LOL.  He’s so awesome in this one that you almost overlook the bad choices and cheesy dialogue of the hero characters.  Before you know it’s like you’re in a real world haunted house full of unexpected horrors around every turn and I suddenly find myself loving it and able to have some fun.  But wait!  There’s more!

I don’t want to spoil anything, but I have a new modern day favorite action hero.  Ha ha.  I wish he could have been Marvel’s Black Panther.  This one character’s arc sees him literally becoming the savior of this movie for me.  Enter an unlikely antihero who has made his hustle through dealing on the streets.  And that’s just it.  The main selling point of this feature for me suddenly became it’s raw, brutal and insanely visceral action sequences.  Holy hell!  The battles get real within the apartment sequences.  The villains and purgers are still freaky as can be, but the violence and brutality to protect the truly innocent is second to none.  The beast is released!  The film’s second half manages to pull a sinking ship out of the water, back into the harbor and instill interest within me.  How about that?  Thirty minutes into this one I never thought I would ever be saying all this.

The First Purge


The below video score and related critique of things here are based solely upon my viewing of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Universal’s The First Purge.

  • Encoding: HEVC / H.265
  • Resolution: 4K (2160p)
  • Size: BD-66
  • Dolby Vision: No
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Clarity/Detail: Despite the many dark, nighttime and dimly lit scenes the detail is absolutely amazing here.  Let’s start with complexions first.  They are razor sharp.  Every pore, scar or imperfection is brilliantly clear and on display for all to see.  Textures look equally incredible too from porous grooves in cinder blocks to fabrics in clothing such as jackets, sweaters and even turtlenecks.
  • Depth: Because of the outstanding clarity and the three-dimensional pop of the characters and objects in the foreground, the depth of field here is quite remarkable and instantly noticeable.  Most of the action here in the first half takes place in the city streets so they become a character in themselves when talking depth of field here.  From Purge block parties to creepy, baby doll filled allies the depth within said sequences is deep.  Even tight constraints such as the many interior sequences within the apartment building have a sense of dimension to them all so I’m very pleased with how things look here.
  • Black Levels: The black levels are dark and pretty natural looking throughout, and mark my word, lots of the sequences here are in the dark so it’s great that things look so spectacular here.  Nothing really ever gets lost in the shadows, but when they do it’s intentional.  After all, you have to show off those awesome, crazy looking contact lenses somehow.  The darkness is what makes Purge night so special so embrace it here because it looks phenomenal.  However, it’s also the only reason why I’m not giving this a perfect score because I know there will be those out there blasting me for its ugliness in the darkness at times.
  • Color Reproduction: The colors here are what surprise me the most.  They are bright, bold and beautiful.  I couldn’t ask for anything more.  It’s like a crisp page taken from a comic book.  I’m in love.
  • Flesh Tones: The skin tones all look natural, spot on and authentic throughout.  There’s never a moment where I questioned things.
  • Noise/Artifacts: Things look outstanding here with no nasty artifacts to ruin your viewing enjoyment of the presentation here.  The only thing I noticed was very minute source noise, but nothing more.

The First Purge 4K Review


Like I mentioned up above in the video section, the below audio score and critical comments of such are based solely upon my viewing of Universal’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of The First Purge.  I do want you to know that both the 4K UHD and 1080p Blu-ray Discs come armed with the same DTS: X Master Audio surround track.

  • Audio Format(s): English DTS: X Master Audio, English Dolby Digital 2.0, Spanish, French DTS Digital Surround 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French Canadian, Latin American Spanish
  • Dynamics: I’ll tell you what.  Give me a bright, in-your-face DTS: X surround track like this any day over a lazy Atmos (not that they are all lazy…just been watching too many Disney titles as of late).  I don’t even know where to start here.  I’m so happy with the way things sound here.  I love how the score literally just bounces around the speakers with zest.  Everything is so prioritized and directional like a tightly wrapped present.  Even when all hell breaks lose you never really miss a minute beat with the wide sound field here.
  • Height: The height channels offer the following moments, but not limited to: water dripping from the ceiling in the apartment, rain falling, drones flying overhead (I love these in movies now), music, trees rustling in the wind, fireworks, explosions and so much more.
  • Low Frequency Extension: Things like the score, soundtrack, gunshots, motorcycles, fireworks, stairwell fights, car crashes and more go boom boom here.  The subwoofer hits you with an aggressive pulse here like Rocky would chip away at your abdomen to go the distance.  And then there’s that action packed second half where you know the LFE provides the much needed oomph here!
  • Surround Sound Presentation: You’re constantly immersed throughout here.  Even when there’s no action you’re in the middle of the score, soundtrack, etc.  It’s also the little things you hear like noises and voices in apartment rooms nearby that make this surround track a winner in creation that overall sense of immersion.  Other highlights here include gunshots zinging by and ricocheting, church music, motorcycles and even that heavenly, but morbid Purge siren we’re all accustomed to.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: The dialogue levels are always clear and intelligible throughout and that makes this Purge fan very happy.

The First Purge


I know this is isn’t good for the purchase power of the fans, but as a Blu-ray reviewer you welcome the sight of a short list of extra features.  Low and behold The First Purge is one of those titles.  The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray set contains the feature film in both 4K and 1080p on their own respective discs, but only houses the below four supplemental features.  Fret not though as you still get a Digital Copy of the film to watch anywhere redeemable via Movies Anywhere.  You’d think there would be a extra which is a promo for the USA television series that recently started, but nada.  So without further ado let’s take a closer look at the extras you’ll find housed both on the 4K UHD and 1080p Blu-ray Discs.

  • Deleted Scene (HD, 1:47) –  Yes!  You read it right.  Here you have one lonely deleted scene.  I know what you’re thinking already.  Why bother, huh?  I got nothing.  Truth be told too this extra is nothing really to write home about and so happy they cut this one out in lieu of what the used in the real film.
  • A Radical Experiment (HD, 4:57) – In this extra the cast and filmmakers (even Blum himself) discuss how The First Purge expands upon the cultural relevant themes within the franchise.  You know what I’m talking about!  Don’t pretend you don’t.
  • Bringing the Chaos (HD, 1:24) – Here is an extra relevant to my review feelings up above.  It explores how the movie ramped up the violence and became so intense by its chaotic conclusion, which includes fire battles, car crashes, stairwell fights and more.
  • The Masks of The First Purge (HD, 1:27) – And here’s another extra right up my alley.  It explores the Purge masks seen in the film such as the horrifying tooth mask or the S&M baddie from the film’s awesome conclusion in the apartment building.

The First Purge 4K Review


So here’s the deal.  I understand not all have my same taste in movies nor in this Purge franchise.  Therefore, I hate to use this expression, but your results will vary a lot.   In a nutshell, The First Purge takes audiences back to where the nightmare all began while trying its best to be as socially relevant as possible (I won’t go there).  There’s no denying though that this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation comes locked and loaded with both exceptional video and audio including gripping bonus features appealing to fans of the franchise.  Hope that helps you.  I recommend this 4K title to the masses, but I’m also a Purge film fan so take for what it’s worth.


DISCLAIMER: This 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray review was judged and graded using the following 4K certified Ultra HD Premium television set found here and player here.  Make sure to check out all our 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray reviews archived here.


The First Purge

Shows Us How It All Began On

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

October 2nd




The First Purge 4K Cover


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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