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HTF REVIEW: "Young Guns" Special Edition (with screenshots) (1 Viewer)

Ronald Epstein

Senior HTF Member
Jul 3, 1997
Real Name
Ronald Epstein

Young Guns
Special Edition

Studio: Artisan
Year: 1988
Rated: R
Film Length: 102 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
Subtitles: Spanish

Six reasons why the west was wild

Over the past week I have had the opportunity to
watch and review some "classic" westerns that
include Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Nevada
and Little Big Man. It's
interesting that within this same time period,
Artisan sends me a copy of Young Guns a
film that can easily be categorized as a "modern
classic" western, though it fails somewhat for
the fact that the story is told through a '80s

Filled with a cast of Brat Pack actors, this is
the story of six young men who work for Englishman
John Tunstall (Terence Stamp) as regulators. Dick
(Charlie Sheen), Charley (Casey Siemaszko), Steve
(Dermot Mulroney), Doc (Kiefer Sutherland), Chavez
Y Chavez (Lou Diamond Phillips) and the notorious
Billy the Kid (Emilio Estevez) are what Tunstall
calls "his boys."

After their benefactor is gunned down by a gang
working for a corrupt rival cattleman (Jack Palance),
the boys find themselves suddenly deputized at the
urging of a local attorney (Terry O'Quinn) who
urges them to bring the murderers to trial. But
revenge, not justice, becomes their main means
of motivation and soon they find themselves on the
wrong side of the law as they try to escape Murphy's
men, bounty hunters and the U.S. Army.

Young Guns was released in 1988, a time
when movie westerns had long faded away. Enter
director Christopher Cain who saw the potential
in revitalizing the genre by introducing a hot
young cast of actors who intrigued audiences
who were ready to experience Westerns with a
modern new twist.

The film certainly must have appealed to the young
audience of its time, and I wish I was amongst those
that had seen it during its theatrical run. The
problem I have seeing it years later is that as
someone who has a more refined taste in western
fare, Young Guns comes off as being a little
silly. It's simply a product of the 80s and
certainly cannot be compared to any classic
western film. Despite my feelings about this,
I still had a reasonably good time watching this
young cast strut their stuff -- especially Emilio
Estevez who convincingly portrays the lunacy cold
blooded Billy was plagued with.

How is the transfer?

Here lies my biggest problem.

This DVD comes from Artisan Home Entertainment,
a company I strongly regard as snake-oil salesmen
who will readily resell you the same cruddy transfer
under "new and improved" packaging.

I realize that Young Guns was originally
released as a non-anamorphic standard surround
product by Live Entertainment back in 1998.
While the transfer had been rated as being most
improved over earlier formats releases, there is
no doubt that this title was due for a brand-new
anamorphic release.

The problem is, I am not entirely satisfied with
this transfer, and frankly, I have nothing to
compare it to in order to determine if Artisan is
once again pushing the same materials under a
new banner.

Certainly, this anamorphic 1:85.1 transfer is
an improvement over the previous DVD release. The
inner struggle I am experiencing is over the
fact that this transfer just doesn't stand up
against other catalog product from this era being
distributed by other studios. The transfer isn't
halfway bad, but it's not as crisp as a Special
Edition product like this should be. I am inclined
to believe this is the exact same transfer used
five years ago. The picture has a rather muddy
look to it with images that are rather soft and
not overly detailed. There are some scenes that
are slightly unfocused. Colors look rather smeared
at times and flesh tones look overly red. Any scene
that is remotely dark loses much of its surrounding
detail. Last, but not least, there is so much grain
throughout this movie that I am sure was not to be
intended. Perhaps I can take the easy way out and
say that this is the best this film will ever look,
but I just don't have enough faith in Artisan to
make any transfer look as incredible as it should
the first or second time around.

Here's another problem I have. Artisan is pushing
the fact that this film is being released with a
5.1 DTS audio track. Thing is, the film doesn't
make great use of the track. Most of the audio is
front-heavy, coming across with fairly good
dynamics. Gunshot sounds pack a lot of punch here.
There is just so very little use of the rears here
that this doesn't make for an enveloping sonic
experience. Gunfights always seem to remain in the
front channels, creating action that happens in
front of us, rather than around. Up until the
film's final climatic gunfight, I rarely heard any
effect noise thrown to the rear channels.

Special Features

Up first is a full-length commentary with
Lou Diamond Phillips (Jose' Chavez y Chavez), Dermot
Mulroney (Dirty Steve Stephens) and Casey Siemaszko
(Charley Bowdre). It's kind of a cool track to
listen to mainly for the fact that these guys are
just kicking back and fondly remembering their
experiences working on the film. They begin talking
about the filmmakers wanting to make a Mad Max sort
of western, integrating the MTV type of mentality
to reach the young 80s audience. We learn a little
about the film's New Mexico location and the things
the cast did to pass their time. One thing is for
sure -- the boys absolutely had the time of their
lives shooting this film. None of it seemed like
work for them. Somewhere through this commentary
is an interesting story told by Lou Diamond Phillips
who remembers a conversation he had with aging
actor Brian Keith. Keith had actually met Lou
Diamond (the guy Phillips is named after) in a
bar in Tokyo in 1948. Keith is remembered as being
a real "pro" even when he is thrown off the back
of a mule. There isn't anything technical discussed
here -- just a whole lot of memories of what it
was like to work on this film. Not a bad listen.

An optional Trivia Track can be enabled
that gives viewers text in the subtitle area of
the picture that provides little-known facts and
insights about the Wild West, the cast and the

Billy The Kid - The True Story is a highly
informative 30-minute documentary that tells us the
true story of Billy the Kid from his birth to his
troubling teen hood and then on to his joining of
"The Regulators" gang where he eventually became
one of the most notorious murders ever known. The
story is told through the words of historians as
well as the editor of True West magazine.

In addition to the film's original theatrical
there are promotional trailers for
Dune, Reservoir Dogs, Rambo and Total

This is another thing that bothers me about
Artisan....they create a Special Edition without
the inclusion of English subtitles for their
feature. Yes, there is closed captioning available,
but many find the large black areas surrounding
the text to be distracting.

Final Thoughts

It's great to see that Young Guns has
finally received an overdue anamorphic transfer.
I'm still at odds as to how good this transfer
really is, but it certainly should be on par
with the original 1998 DVD transfer.

With a pretty neat cast audio commentary, a trivia
track and a factual Billy The Kid documentary this
DVD is a worthy upgrade. Let's just hope Artisan
doesn't try to repackage this DVD a year down the

Release Date: April 22, 2003

All screen captures have been further compressed.
They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
represent actual picture quality


Senior HTF Member
Jul 25, 2000
Real Name
As one of my all-time favorite Westerns, I cannot wait to get this in my player. Widescreen Anamorphic, that's all that matters to me, if the PQ is somewhat subpar or the dts 5.1 track is a little weak makes no never mind. One hell-of-a great movie.

Peace Out~:D

Zen Butler

Senior HTF Member
Jan 24, 2002
Southern, Ca
Real Name
Zen K. Butler
This has been a guilty pleasure of mine for years. I'm a huge Kiefer Sutherland fan and just love his role as Doc. Nice review Ron, sounds like a bit of a let down.

Walt Riarson

Supporting Actor
Jan 13, 2002
While I think Young Guns II is the better movie of the two, I will probably double-dip on this one (considering I bought the original at Walmart a couple of years ago for only $6.99, I won't feel so bad about spending money to upgrade this title).

Nick Graham

Oct 16, 2001
...a company I strongly regard as snake-oil salesmen...
Ron, God bless your honesty, and aside from a handful of big name releases, they deserve all the venom they get.
Having said that, I'm amazed they still send you screeners with all the great press we give them :D . Even though I am a child of the eighties, I've never seen this flick....I'll definitely be giving this disc a rental though.

Ronald Epstein

Senior HTF Member
Jul 3, 1997
Real Name
Ronald Epstein
Anyone that accuses me of being a puppet for the
studios should read more of my reviews. I praise
them when they deserve it, but don't hesitate to
point out things that could be done better.

I need to stress this again....

The transfer of Young Guns is not a bad one.
It just looks like something mastered back in 1997/1998.

As I stated, it probably looks as good as the
transfer on the 1998 non-anamorphic release. I
would guess it to be exact the same exact transfer.


Second Unit
Aug 22, 2002
As a child of (and still) the 80's i'm definitley getting this. It always had a kind of grainy/gritty feel to it anyway, so the video quality wont bother me too much (actually those screenshots look's like it has pretty good image quality). As for the 5.1 remix, i've only ever heard it in mono off my old crappy taped off tv version (hangs head in shame), so whatever this is to anyone else, it's definitley a step up for me. But Artisan really should get themselves in gear and do things right, not only in picture quality (i thought the T2 UE quality was great, but looks like i'll be getting it again), but in packaging as well. I got a lend of the Total Recall SpEd at the weekend and decided to watch it Sunday night (it was the Mars tin cover). I dont know why but it took me 15mins to get the friggin tin open.

Anyway rant over,

back on topic, i'm definitley getting Young Guns and great review Ron.


Who do we think I am?
Senior HTF Member
Dec 1, 1999
Gulf Coast
Real Name
Tony D.
looking on the back of the case it lists dts 5.1 and DD 2.0.

SO only 5.1 in dts?

Nate Anderson

Jan 18, 2001
Looks good to me...Okay Warner, Bring on the S.E of Young Guns II, please.

And while you're at it, could you finally release the score from Young Guns II to CD please? Thank you.


Stunt Coordinator
Oct 14, 2002
Ron if you lied in your reviews how could a studio improve.
Yeah right! that's assuming that the studio's, especially one's like Artisan, pay ANY attention to what people say about their output. Studio's like these have been putting out substandard DVD's for what 6,7 maybe 8 years and they still haven't got the message. Maybe transfer's like this are OK for some people but for me for a DVD to be considered good, especially Special Editions, they at least need to be remastered and restored if possible. Sticking a run of the mill documentary and a flashy new case on it just doesn't cut it. Sure the new version is anamorphic (which the original effort should of been too) but a little more effort goes a long way.

Good review Ron but I think I'll give my money to a DVD that's worth it like some of Warners SE now they're REAL SE's.


Senior HTF Member
Jan 3, 2002
What I appreciate the most, and why I keep checking out, Ron's reviews is that even if he doesn't like the movie itself he will tell us if the transfer and sound are good, bad, or ugly anyway! Keep it up, Ron. And YOUNG GUNS is also a guilty pleasure of mine, so I think I'll skin out and buy this one.


Jan 16, 2000
And while you're at it, could you finally release the score from Young Guns II to CD please?
That's funny...i have it on CD :)

Can't wait to pick this up. And at that price, how could you complain?

Wish they had at least a featurette or SOMETHING that showed behind the scenes from the making of the movie though.


Jan 16, 2000
Ahhhh Nate...

Unreleased scores are not that difficult to come by if there is enough of an interest. It IS the score.

Love that score.


Stunt Coordinator
Feb 8, 2002
I get confused between Young Guns 1 & 2.
I can't remember which was better, so I might
pick this up if it's under or around 10 bucks....

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