Unforgiven (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Back in my old quality control days for Blu-ray and DVD, it also included the short lived HD-DVD format. Toshiba’s failed high definition discs did beat Blu-ray to market. In the testing world, I’ve mentioned the first two titles were Goodfellas and Million Dollar Baby. Well, the third was Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven. This was the one that truly showcased how much you could cram on a disc (And even after, that would be surpassed). Now, for the 25th anniversary of one of the greatest Westerns of all time (You could argue THE greatest), its going to dabble in the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray format. Not only is it getting a new transfer, but finally it will be equipped with lossless audio carrying over all of the previous bonus material. You can pre-order the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray in time to have it on release day of May 16th.


When prostitute Delilah Fitzgerald is disfigured by a pair of cowboys in Big Whiskey, Wyoming, her fellow brothel workers post a reward for their murder, much to the displeasure of sheriff Little Bill Daggett, who doesn’t allow vigilantism in his town. Two groups of gunfighters, one led by aging former bandit William Munny, the other by the florid English Bob, come to collect the reward, clashing with each other and the sheriff.

Winner of 4 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven was a powerhouse back in 1992.  The film was a massive success with both critics and audiences alike. It made over $100 million at the box office.  Yes, that was 25 years ago, but Westerns were as much gone the way of the dodo as they are now.  But, with Dances With Wolves the year before which made even more than this one ($184 million), showing a short lived resurgence in interest in the genre. The film was one of the most successful westerns, one of Eastwood and the genre’s best and considered purely on of the best films ever.

While the film released in 1992, the script had been floating around since the mid-1970s and didn’t land on Eastwood’s desk until the early 1980s. His screenplay researcher advised against it due to heavy violence at the time and Eastwood also thought it would be best to put it on the back burner and build some more experience first before diving in. It appears the waiting paid off. The film features a fine cast that roars with chemistry and scenery chewing throughout. Gene Hackman plays a strong villainous role here that landed himself an Oscar as well for his performance.

While this is a tale of finality, of trying to find that early glory and pointing out some of the darker ends of the Western genre (Many have called this the “eulogy” of the entire genre itself), its not all doom and gloom. The film doesn’t forget to let its characters have some charm and appeal. While an opening crawl sets us up for a bad bad man, we get to see Eastwood’s Will Munny as his children would see him; in the present day. There’s a silly old man we watch as he struggle to mount a horse or can’t shoot a can off a stump. One wonders how much of his legend is completely true, but due to him being Clint Eastwood and us knowing the history of himself with the genre, that goodwill buys us into it.  While it has a very modern touch and overview, it never forgets the kind of fun and excitement that was had with the films in in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, which pieces of each scattered in the characters, events and action.

Clint Eastwood’s Western swan song is the perfect retirement film for all of his known and even lesser known characters.  He’d go on to retire his whole persona in Gran Torino many years later, but not even coming close to reaching the heights of this. Its a fantastic character study, with a great ensemble cast that does find itself in grim territory, but not without humor, affection and thrills. Though he’d been a part of them, and even made some himself, he was able to craft the perfect Western just one last time.


Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail:  It’ll be interesting to see the reaction of this new 4K transfer on Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven. The film is inherently dark and looks as such here, but it well saturated. Its Blu-ray counterpart features an image that gives a much brighter (And sometimes more polished) look in daytime or well lit scenes, but loses quite a lot in the dark ones. Details are strong, and one of the best things about it is it looks at times that it has a sort of film print appearance. After its really dark start, it starts to impress during the early scenes where Eastwood makes his first appearance and then again when he first pairs with Morgan Freeman. Those looking for an HDR explosion aren’t going to find a lot in the way of color aside from fire and the sky (Beautiful blues and some purple/orange sunsets) that set it apart from its Blu-ray counterpart. One other difference you can tell is the clarity of the onscreen text in the film.

Depth:  Unforgiven features a good uptick in separation of character and background. Camera moves and glides find a more confident appearance while keeping good movements and stability of the characters and backdrops in questions. Actors move smoothly and cinematically with no blurring or jittering.

Black Levels:  Here’s where the big differences come into play. While the image has a noticeably darker look to it, that darkness is much more saturated and detailed than the Blu-ray edition. There is more more apparent information present and not hidden to go with more natural looking blacks. You have to remember, 4K discs are going to look darker because they aren’t as grayed up as things used to be.

Color Reproduction: Colors in the film render more on the natural side of things. Blues and reds look nice and accurate, be it on clothes or paint on the walls. Greens have a nice palette and come on strong. Orange and yellow in fires or lamps look vivid.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and maintain a consistent look from scene to scene in the film. Details like wrinkles, stubble, scars, cuts, dirt, mud, blood and more are plenty visible in medium and close up shots.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean. Sometimes the grain in the sky can look noise-like, but its grain.


Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French 2.0 Dolby Digital, German 2.0 Dolby Digital, Italian 2.0 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Castilian) 2.0 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Latin Am) 2.0 Dolby Digital, Czech 5.1 Dolby Digital, Hungarian 2.0 Dolby Digital, Polish 2.0 Dolby Digital, Russian 2.0 Dolby Digital, Thai 2.0 Dolby Digital, Japanese 2.0 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, German SDH, Italian SDH, Japanese, Portuguese, Arabic, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Swedish, Thai, Turkish

Dynamics:  Unforgiven features a new lossless audio that is more than just a major upgrade from the Dolby Digital is once carried. This is a masterful mix with incredibly clarity given to the sound effects in the film, sounding life like, present and well rounded. Every environment is perfectly envisions from spurs hitting against wood to a bird chirping three building down. Music, effects and vocals are all incredulously woven into a balanced mix with each piece being a standout yet never blending or meshing in to one another.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  The subwoofer is utilized in demolition, punches, gunfire, horses clip clopping and embellishing in the score.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Ambiance is rather awesome here, making its own travels and strategically place so the rear speakers get unique action. Movement and placement of characters and action is also top notch and really pinpointed for accuracy at all times. Unforgiven has never been this fun to listen to.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are pristine, well captured, with good crisp diction and clarity throughout the film.


Unforgiven comes with the Blu-ray edition and an UltraViolet digital copy of the film. The Blu-ray contains all of the featurettes, while the 4K disc only has the commentary. If you’re wondering, extras are the exact same from the previous Blu-ray release(s).

Audio Commentary

  • By Richard Schickel

Blu-ray Disc

Eastwood On Eastwood (SD, 1:08:34) 

All On Accounta Pullin’ a Trigger (SD, 22:35)

Eastwood & Co.: Making Unforgiven (SD, 23:52)

Eastwood…A Star (SD, 16:07) 

“Duel at Sundown” Maverick TV Episode (SD, 49:07) 

Theatrical Trailer (SD, 1:57)


Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven is a timeless Western and an elite picture in the genre. If you only dabble in Westerns a few times in your life, make sure this is one of them. It comes to the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray format with an improved image that has some really impressive work done on its saturated natural blacks. The audio is finally lossless and is an incredible treat to enhance the film. While there are no new extras, the more than plenty that were available before are still here carried over. This is worth a recommend on the film alone, but with a solid price its also worth the 4K upgrade.


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).

1 Response to “Unforgiven (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Wilfredopur

    For me: THE greatest Western of all time.