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HTF HD-DVD Review: Streets of Fire



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#1 of 15 Neil Middlemiss

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Posted August 26 2007 - 10:00 AM

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Streets of Fire




Studio: Universal Studios.
Year: 1984
US Rating: PG
Film Length: 1hr 34 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Video Resolution/Codec: 1080p/VC-1
Audio: English Dolby Digital Plus 5.1, French Dolby Digital Plus 2.0
Subtitles: Optional English SDH and French




US Release Date: July 24, 2007

The Film - Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image out of Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

“Look, I know you're gonna be going places with your music and stuff and... and I'm not the kind of guy to be carrying your guitars along for you. But if you ever need me for something... I'll be there.”

Streets of Fire is a music spectacle; an operatic rock odyssey, told in broad, confident terms by the steady action hand of Walter Hill and is filled with an exhaustingly powerful soundtrack and score from some of the industry’s most interesting artists of the eighties.

Set against a gloomy Rock & Roll backdrop, Streets of Fire is the tale of the Bombers motorcycle gang, led by the ghostly and dangerous Raven Shaddock (Willem Dafoe) that ride into town one night and kidnap the beautiful Ellen Aim (a very young Diane Lane) while she’s performing a charity concert in front of hundreds of screaming fans.
When Tom Cody (Michael Paré) rolls back into town and learns that his old flame from years before is in trouble and that she is now seeing her Manager, Billy Fish (a scrawny looking Rick Moranis) – he begrudgingly signs up to head into the treacherous Bomber territory and rescue her. He is joined on this mission by the whiny Billy Fish and McCoy (Amy Madigan), an ex-soldier with a tomboy look and two hard fists.

This film is about bravado and showdown, gelled together with the pulsating rock/pop fusion that would have been as popular as could be back in 1984. The look of the film is a clear throwback to the street gang machismo of the 40’s and 50’s, replete with classic cars, grimy diners and teens in their ‘Happy Days’-like get ups. But the film is more interesting than simply being set in a ‘bygone’ era; it is infused with 80’s neon accents and outfits (mainly on Ellen Aim and other Stage performers), a clear sign that Walter Hill and team intended to create a decade-defying world in which to set this simple, contained story.

The cast of players are really quite good. Michael Paré has never been so well cast, perhaps because his character, Tom Cody, is more fitting with his method of acting; a sort of dumbed-down Brooklyn-style hero, more apt to limited speech and heroic stances than meatier dialogue and meaningful moments. His rival in the film, Raven, is executed with a little flair and an over-the-top audacity befitting of Defoe’s creepy glare and peculiar look. His pasty white face and coiffed hair in perfect 50’s retrograde style brings the character to life. Diane Lane spends much of the time in ‘damsel-in-distress mode’ as the singer Ellen Aim, fitting of the time that this film echoes, but we all now know that she is capable of so much more. Her stage presence suits the musical numbers she performs (lip-synching) and her more modern 80’s styling create a nice contrast to the men she is involved with in the film. Amy Madigan is perhaps the most curious character in the film, a macho ex-military woman who knows how to knock back the drinks and knock down anyone that fails to show her respect. She pulls of ‘tough-but-venerable’ extremely well. The last of the major characters is that of Billy Fish, manager and safety-net boyfriend of Ellen. His squirrelly, nerdy, complaining character suits Rick Moranis well – variations of which he ended up portraying in films like Ghostbusters and Spaceballs, but never as unlikable as he is here.

Walter Hill, the venerable action director responsible for many 1980’s treasures such as 48 Hours, Red Heat and The Warriors, delivers an unusual action/rock film, filled with plenty of hard-talking, tough-mouthed characters caught up in some trouble and trying to make it through. The amazing settings (both real and studio back-lot) add real personality to the film and help make Streets of Fire a spirited gang tale that would suit the Broadway theater as much as it did the movie theater.

Streets of Fire also has plenty of recognizable faces in the smaller, supporting roles. Bill Paxton plays a familiar character type for him now; a goofy, fast-talking smart-mouth bartender. Robert Townsend plays a singer with the The Sorels and Ed Begley Jr. shows up as a filthy alley dweller in Bomber territory.





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Streets of Fire is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 in 1080P High Definition and encoded VC-1. The image is a little dark and murky in the scenes that are low-lit or rely on light from onscreen sources. The image is also somewhat overly grainy, beyond the natural, inherent grain one should expect (and welcome). But, all is not lost. There is still clarity to many scenes that we could not have seen with standard DVD. As a catalogue release for a 1984 film, Streets of Fire can look pretty darn good at times.



The Sound - Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image out of Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

Universal Studios has given us Streets of Fire with a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 soundtrack (as well as French 5.1 and Dolby Digital Plus 2.0). This is a delight. The music pounds the speakers and the throaty engines of the classic cars stretch the low-end bass and LFE nicely.

The surrounds are active and deep. Overall, this is a pretty good audio track for this film.




The Extra’s - No Stars out of Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

No extras so, “No stars for you!”




Final Thoughts

Streets of Fire is a lot of fun. The broad, simple characters, one sided as they may be, are still appealing and well defined. Walter Hill’s eye for ‘hard-punch’ action is alive and well, and at times I get the feeling that had it fit the script, he would have loved to send a bad-guy flying through the air from a shotgun blast. The atmosphere of the film is established quickly and maintained evenly through the film, adding a dimension to the story that serves the movie well.

Ry Cooder’s score melds seamlessly with the songs, perhaps because he was intricately involved in many of them. It is a rich score that holds up well.

Streets of Fire is an enjoyable film, that some may say is style over substance. But the style to me is a part of the substance. I am not sure that everyone will be burning up the streets to get to their local store to pick this one up, but those that have a special place in their lives for this film will not be disappointed by revisiting it on HD-DVD.





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Neil Middlemiss
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#2 of 15 norrisMc

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Posted August 26 2007 - 10:24 AM

Thanks for the great review.

I absolutely LOVE "STREETS OF FIRE".... a real cult classic with great style and action... and DIANE LANE in hi-def !
Norris

#3 of 15 MattFini

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Posted August 26 2007 - 10:41 AM

Honestly, it's releases like this that spurred my decision to go HD over Blu-Ray in the first place.

Universal may be pumping out some strange titles in an effort to ensure enough content, but if that is indeed the case then I am 100% pleased.

This is one of my favorite HD titles right now, a fantastic presentation for a true cult classic.

Thanks for taking the time to give us a review, Neil...this release is indeed a good 'un.
Universal, please release Streets of Fire on Blu-ray.

#4 of 15 bigluigi

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Posted August 26 2007 - 11:15 AM

Excellent review!! A real treat. Much better than the old SDVD.Posted Image

#5 of 15 Lou Sytsma

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Posted August 26 2007 - 10:03 PM

Ahhh - a guilty pleasure. Look forward to seeing this in hi-def!
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#6 of 15 norrisMc

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Posted August 29 2007 - 11:29 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lou Sytsma
Ahhh - a guilty pleasure. Look forward to seeing this in hi-def!

I guess it is a "guilty pleasure" but I think this film has also grown in "credibility" as well as popularity over the years. Maybe it's because of the soundtrack, maybe it was just ahead of it's time, maybe it is the recent influx of style and comic-y films, or maybe it's the acclaimed cast (Diane Lane, Bill Paxton, Willem Dafoe etc etc) who went onto bigger things. Who knows?

Let us know what you think when you watch the hi-def DVD.
Norris

#7 of 15 Dave>h

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Posted October 01 2007 - 07:43 AM

I watched this over the weekend. Having never seen the film before I was pleasantly surprised. The soundtrack was excellent and Ry Cooders haunting guitar work fit the mood of the film.

Not sure I agree with the reviewer on the picture quality as this was a lower budget film so I think film grain is to be expected on something as old as this and does not in any way detract from the movie. It just felt like watching an 80's film; marking it down for having film grain when it probably always had film grain present seems unnecessary. I found the picture to be very well balanced and film like.

Diane Lane, it has to be said, has gotten better looking with age. Lucky her!

Dave

#8 of 15 Daryl L

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Posted December 26 2007 - 11:44 AM

Is this anamorphic or letterboxed like on the SD disc?
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#9 of 15 Joseph DeMartino

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Posted December 26 2007 - 12:23 PM

I'm also a sucker for this film. (Heck, I've also got the soundtrack album. Posted Image) This is very welcome, if somewhat surprising news. (Given the crappy release the film originally had and Universal's stubborn refusal to revisit the title on SD.)

Quote:
Is this anamorphic or letterboxed like on the SD disc?

"Anamorphic" isn't a concept that translates to hi-def discs. The native picture area is 16:9 so there is no need to "squeeze" the frame as with an SD DVD's native 4:3 format.

Having said that, I can't believe Universal is releasing thiis on HD-DVD when they never bothered to release an anamorphic widescreen SD-DVD. (Can those of us who are still sitting out the format war hope for an updated SD release now that they've created a new hi-def master? I've always assumed that the current SD-DVD uses a recycled laserdisc master, as was so common in the early days of the format.)

Pity about the extras. I'll bet most of the cast have fond memories of the picture and would be happy to talk about it in interviews or a commentary track today.

Hmmm... I may have to watch that crappy old original release tonight. (It actually looks astonishingly good scaled up to 720p on my JVC LCoS, better than it ever looked on any of my other TVs - better than it has any right to, really.)

All I can say to you HD-DVD guys is "enjoy". (Maybe I can pick this up on a cheap BOGO deal in a year or two when I take the hi-def disc plunge. Posted Image)

Regards,

Joe

#10 of 15 Daryl L

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Posted December 27 2007 - 11:24 AM

Quote:
"Anamorphic" isn't a concept that translates to hi-def discs. The native picture area is 16:9 so there is no need to "squeeze" the frame as with an SD DVD's native 4:3 format.
Thx Joseph.

I hadn't planned to go hi-def on DVD's yet so hadn't bothered to read up on it even in the forums so I just wanted to be sure. A Christmas gift of the HD-A3 has me in the format now. I just love watching Streets of Fire and was so sick of the crappy non-anamorphic SD DVD and would have been royally pissed had they been stupid enough to make in non-anamorphic on HD-DVD (I wouldn't put it past some studios). Guess it will be my first HD-DVD purchase.
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#11 of 15 norrisMc

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Posted December 27 2007 - 10:32 PM

It's a GREAT movie and you also get a smokin' hot young DIANE LANE in hi-def!
Norris

#12 of 15 Joseph DeMartino

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Posted December 28 2007 - 07:31 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by norrisMc
It's a GREAT movie and you also get a smokin' hot young DIANE LANE in hi-def!

OK, you can stop rubbing it in now. Posted Image

BTW, I have to say Diane looks incredible in that new "anti-aging" goop ads that she's doing. Posted Image

Regards,

Joe

#13 of 15 Elizabeth S

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Posted January 08 2008 - 08:22 PM

I LOVE this movie and purchased an HD-DVD player just for this.

However, my A-3 had a bad pixellation/freezing problem on about 5 of the first 7 discs I tried. I exchanged it for another, and it again pixellated/froze on the 2nd disc I tried. I'm frustrated and think I have no choice but to return this player as well.

Which leads me to. . .is there an anamorphic SD DVD release of this anywhere in the world??!?!?!?!?! It breaks my heart to have to give up the HD of it, but since I've had 2 player lemons in a row, I think I give up.

#14 of 15 Ed St. Clair

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Posted July 15 2008 - 11:27 AM

Never saw this movie.
Not even so much as a clip.
Picked it up cause of this review (thanks), it is so many of u's guilty pleasure, & I needed some cheap entertainment on a Saturday night.

You know your in for a popcorn flick when the marketing dept. boast: "wet streets"!
Did have some things going for it from the opening credits sequence: Walter Hill as co-writer/director, Joel Silver co-producer, & music by Ry Cooder w/Jimi Lovine.
Rick Moranis as a P.O'd/jerky promoter was worth the price of admission ($9.95US used) alone. What bouncer let's in an entire motorcycle gang all at once?* Great opening shot of a villain; didn't know William Defoe was EVER that young. Just would have been better too have random faces flashed on the screen… then Will's.
Always funny to see Bill Paxton & man can that Ed Bagley Jr. act! :-)
The young Diane Lane reminded me of the lead singer from Berlin. Good too see the sleazy guy from "Flashdance" again.
Was this the 1st (& only) punkabilly movie?

LUV'd the cars!

This thing looked too good! Thought it might have been processed; guess not from the reviews (except this: "Along with snippets of a music video in the middle of the movie, a few other shots have kind of a processed, video-like appearance rather than the natural warmth of film, although this isn't a constant problem." DVD Talk - DVD Movie News, Reviews, and More.

*Nothing against motorcycle gangs, the club I go too in The City allows Hell's Angles; just a few & they can't wear their colors (although some still do!).
Movies are: "The Greatest Artform".
HD should be for EVERYONE!

#15 of 15 Aaron Silverman

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Posted July 16 2008 - 09:42 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil Middlemiss
Streets of Fire is a music spectacle; an operatic rock odyssey

Actually, it's more of an operatic rock *Iliad*.

The Warriors is the operatic rock Odyssey.

Posted Image
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