The cold war may be over now, but in 1984, tensions were still high. The fear came from all sides of the border, and everyone knew that it just took one unstable leader to plummet the world into World War III. Thankfully, that never happened, but if it did, I could easily see Red Dawn as the story that told it the best. Directed by John Milius, who is known more as a writer than a director, having written such war hits as Apocalypse Now and Conan The Barbarian teamed up with scriptwriter Kevin Reynolds and crafted a semi-realistic look at what would happen if an ordinary American town got caught in the middle of a raging war.
Red Dawn is most noticeably famous for the cast, which was filled with star-studded ’80s favs. Leading the Rebels was heartthrob Patrick Swayze, first-time actor Charlie Sheen, Back to the Future star Lea Thompson, and the Dirty Dancer herself Jennifer Grey. That’s only naming a few of the noticeable people in this classic film. With such a talented cast on your hands, you know Red Dawn will excel in the acting department, and as already mentioned, the writing/directing department was in top notch hands as well. It’s no wonder people are still talking about Red Dawn to this day (You hear that Red Dawn remake. No one likes you!)
In an interesting note mentioned in the newly shot 70-minute documentary on Shout! Factory’s new Collector’s Edition Blu-ray, the original script by Kevin Reynolds was titled Ten Soldiers and did not feature much action. John Milius helped inject a lot of the action you get on screen, so in a rare case of rewrites, the script came out better. There are plenty of moments of dialogue heavy scenes that tug at the heart strings, but these scenes are spaced nicely between thrilling action and explosions. Red Dawn runs at a lengthy 114-minute runtime, but it never once feels dull.
There are moments where the story feels disjointed, which most likely is a result of editing and deleting certain scenes. Powers Booth’s character of Lt. Col. Andrew ‘Andy’ Tanner, for example, had much of his character reduced. Had they kept those scenes in, certain scenes, later on, would have had a larger impact on the audience. Sadly, Shout! Factory did NOT include these scenes on the new Blu-ray.
Speaking of the new Shout! Factory CE Blu-ray, I am hard pressed to recommend it over the previous 2012 Blu-ray release, which you can buy for way cheaper. The only new bonus feature is the aforementioned 70-minute documentary, which is a sit down with co-star Doug Toby, casting director Jane Jenkins, production designer Jackson DeGovia and editor Thom Noble. It’s informative, but I feel like Shout should have divided up the documentary into sperate bonus features. Sitting through 70-minutes can be quite tiresome at times. As for the other special features, they are all previously available on the cheaper release.
Even worse, is the lack of a new transfer from Shout! Factory. Using the previous transfer (a slight framing change is noticeable), which does have issues with night time scenes, makes this a Blu-ray that is a hard sell. It’s entirely possible the film may not have benefited from a new transfer, but there are moments in the movie where screen degradation happens. Sadly, this is one transfer not worth gushing over. As for the audio options, there are two DTS-HD Master audio choices, 5.1 and 2.0 which look to be the same as the previous release. Gone are the numerous different language tracks from the 2012 version. English subtitles have been included.
The movie Red Dawn is an easy recommend of course, as the talent involved creates a film that manages to invoke plenty of emotions in the viewer. The story is heart-wrenching at times, and they didn’t pull any punches when it comes to some of the violence. As for the Blu-ray, I honestly can’t recommend it based on the price it is currently selling at. If by chance you see it on sale, then, by all means, pick it up, but at the time of this review, the price is way too high.
NEW “A Look Back At Red Dawn” – A 70 Minute Feature Including Brand-New Stories From Co-Star Doug Toby, Casting Director Jane Jenkins, Production Designer Jackson DeGovia And Editor Thom Noble
Archival Featurette: “Red Dawn Rising”
Archival Featurette: “Training For WWIII”
Archival Featurette: “Building The Red Menace”
Archival Featurette: “WWIII Comes To Town”
Original Theatrical Trailer
DISCS: 1 RUN-TIME: 114 min ASPECT RATIO: 2.35:1 RESOLUTION: 1080p AUDIO: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, 2.0 LANGUAGE: English SUBTITLES: English REGION: A/1 RATING: PG-13 PRODUCTION DATE: 1984 RELEASE DATE: Mar 14, 2017
From legendary writer-director John Milius (Apocalypse Now, Conan The Barbarian) comes the tale of what-could-have-been, had the Cold War gone another way.
When Communist paratroopers descend on a Colorado high school football field, a group of the school’s students wages an all-out guerilla war to save their town — and their country. Featuring an all-star cast, including Patrick Swayze (Road House), Charlie Sheen (Platoon), Lea Thompson (Back To The Future), C. Thomas Howell (The Outsiders), Jennifer Grey (Dirty Dancing), Powers Boothe (Tombstone) and Harry Dean Stanton (Alien), Red Dawn “comes up like thunder” (New York Post)!