Young Guns – 35th Anniversary Steelbook (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Regulators! Lionsgate has gotten the gang back together, so to speak, with this 35th anniversary release of Young Guns on 4K UHD Blu-ray. Complete with some new extra material, this enjoyable 80s Western has been given just the polish it needed to truly show how it rides with the best of them. As a retelling of the adventures of Billy the Kid, this movie is mean and lean, with a hip young cast for its time. As one who had never seen the film before, I was quite pleased with the results. On top of that, a good-looking and sounding presentation really helps show how wild the West could be for this fancy steelbook package.


Set in the 1870s, the film tells the story of how a wayward young gunman, Billy (Emilio Estevez), joined the “Regulators,” a posse of cowboys and others who would go on to face many challengers of all types. They are initially led by John Tunstall (Terence Stamp), an English rancher doing his best to help these others. They would include Doc Scurlock (Kiefer Sutherland), Chavez (Lou Diamond Phillips), Dick Brewer (Charlie Sheen), Dirty Steve Stephens (Dermot Mulroney), and Charlie Bowdre (Casey Siemaszko). The plot kicks into gear when a rival rancher, Lawrence Murphy (Jack Palance), decides to wage war against the Regulators, causing all sorts of problems for all.

I have to admit that my curiosity, more than anything, intrigued me to finally sit down and watch Young Guns. I had an impression in my head that this film would play it fairly safe and serve as more of an excuse to watch the “Brat Pack” do a western. To my surprise, there’s a movie that features a fair amount of grit. Sure, it’s also a 1988 feature that feels indebted, in some ways, to Top Gun and The Lost Boys as much as it is to Leone or Hawks, but director Christopher Cain didn’t just make a movie about a bunch of pretty boys with a little dirt on their face.

For his part, Estevez is quite good here; it is perhaps one of his best performances. From what I’ve read, this is surprisingly a fairly accurate representation of the Billy the Kid story, and I feel that informs what Estevez is bringing to the table here. He’s playing Billy as one who respects those who respect him, as well as a wild man behind the gun. Billy cares for his fellow Regulators and will pull his pistol in a second if he believes he has cause. He’s an outlaw, sure, but no different than other romanticized versions of Western characters, and Estevez is channeling what’s necessary.

The rest of the cast provides what’s needed as well, as the film takes itself seriously. There’s no sense of irony here, nor is this a revisionist Western. It’s a straightforward flick featuring a set of people who would say they’re in the right for their actions, even while being challenged. That’s what makes Sutherland and Phillips so good here. Having the most to do outside of Estevez, the two play off their status well. For Kiefer Sutherland, he becomes Billy’s right-hand man and leans into being one of the more sympathetic individuals. Phillips relies on his status as a Mexican-Indian who constantly has to deal with being an outsider of sorts, with a desire to bring justice to his various ethnic backgrounds.

Sheen and the others have less to do, though Mulroney gets to play a man so dirty that even when he bathes, he’s still dirty-looking. The older actors, on the other hand, really get to chew it up. Stamp is fun simply by feeling somewhat against type as a kindly rancher trying to teach his boys manners. Palance is very happy to lean in on his Irish accent and overall villainy in a film that works well with that energy.

That’s the other thing: while the Regulators are serious individuals, this movie is fun. It’s not stepping anywhere near what classic Westerns offer, but it’s also not setting its sights higher than needed. It wants to bring a little realism to the nature of these mythic characters, and the balance in achieving this is quite strong. It makes the shootouts exciting, as the film has its share of violence. Additionally, the stakes are where they should be, as the film doesn’t shy away from taking various pieces off the board (regardless of how well one knows Western history).

While perhaps not joining the leagues of some modern Westerns I love, like The Proposition, Tombstone, or 3:10 to Yuma, I am happy that Young Guns delivers as well as it does. It’s a fun flick that gets in and out pretty quickly, with enough to offer from its ensemble cast and sense of style. It also has me fully prepared to check out the sequel, let alone keep track of the rumored third film. Whatever the case, the Young Guns were loaded and ready for a blast.



Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail:  Lionsgate has noted this is a brand-new transfer featuring Dolby Vision HDR. While I can’t compare this release to the previous one, I was immediately taken aback by the stylish black-and-white opening sequence, followed by a grainy yet production design-rich feature. Westerns are famously cheap to produce, but that’s due to all the open environments used to work with, and it shines for a release like this. There is so much clarity to take in during the various outdoor sequences. The detail is never less than impressive as we watch various outlaws, cowboys, ranchers, and more in their uniforms, moving through towns or the land. Sure, the grain can settle in pretty heavily at times, but this is a presentation reflecting what was shot at the time about as best as possible.

Depth: Depth is fine. The character spacing registers as well as it needs to, which is helpful for an ensemble cast.

Black Levels: Black levels do enough to add to the atmosphere, with no sign of significant crushing.

Color Reproduction: While it traffics in yellows, browns, and subtle greens, there’s enough here to really see what’s needed to pop, and when colors do surface, they are quite vibrant.

Flesh Tones: There’s a good level of facial detail to be found as the film focuses more on dirty Western faces.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.


Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1, English 2.0 PCM Stereo

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: The opening scene, featuring black-and-white imagery, also has the characters firing guns at the camera, which sets the whole tone for the soundscape of this feature. It’s excellent, as is the rest of the film, when it comes to immersion. Plenty has been done to ensure we can take in everything from gunfire, horses galloping, cowboys yelling at each other, and more.

Low-Frequency Extension: With all the bombast from the shootouts, there’s plenty for the sub-woofer to work with.

Surround Sound Presentation: A lot is going on to help immerse the viewer into the film, including music and various sound effects. The rear channels come into play well enough to make the lossless track feel more worthwhile.

Dialogue Reproduction: Everyone registers as they should, Western twangs and all.


While most of the previous features have been ported over from previous releases, one new extra makes this release even more worthwhile. Much like the other recent Lionsgate steelbook releases, Young Guns has a slick slipcover on top, with a nicely packaged steel case within. I like what they went for with the art, and it’s a study design. There’s also a fun set of glossy character cards in the set as well. Extras can be found on the film’s 4K and Blu-ray copies that arrive in this package.

Features Include:

  • Audio Commentary with Actors Lou Diamond Phillips, Dermot Mulroney, and Casey Siemaszko – From what I’ve sampled, a lot of comradery is taking place here, even if it’s not the most technical track.
  • How the West Was Wild: Making Young Guns (HD, 35:51) – A new behind-the-scenes feature with interviews with the cast and crew. Sadly, while some actors were available, the recent SAG-AFTRA strike apparently prevented this from being more involved. However, there are some archival interviews with the biggest stars.
  • Billy the Kid: The True Story (HD, 32:17) – Fairly basic, despite its length, but one could get a good enough sense of the real Billy the Kid from this.
  • Teaser Trailer (HD, 1:16)
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:28)
  • Blu-ray Copy of the Film
  • Digital Copy of the Film


I always want to enjoy what I’m watching, so it was a pleasant surprise to be as engaged by Young Guns as I would. Yep, judging books by their cover and all that has meaning, and this is, indeed, a fun Western with a solid cast and plenty to have fun with. I can see why it’s a cult favorite. The 4K UHD release does proper justice to these Wild West outlaws, as they look and sound better than ever. For anyone who is curious or who has stuck by the Regulators, there’s plenty to recommend with this one.

Order Your Copy Here:


Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

  1. No Comments