Top critical review
Fantastic film marred by awful UK transfer
on 24 July 2017
I saw “Streets of Fire” on its first release at the Empire Leicester Square. Its huge screen and amazing sound system did justice to this film that is eye candy for the senses and made for a stunning experience. Although the film did not gather the praise and box office returns it deserved on first release, it’s great to see that through home video it has gained such a cult status and appreciation.
The film is visually stunning, set in some amazing undefined past era with the screen bathed in neon light. Like Walter Hill’s previous film “The Warriors”, this owes less to the real world and far more to graphic novels. With “Streets of Fire” it even borrows its main story from the western genre and its anti-hero is dressed in a coat that looks like it came from Hill’s western “The Long Riders”. The dialogue is stylised as is the acting with its cast doing a great job. Michael Pare looks great and plays the role as the somewhat dumb anti-hero with his heart in the right place exactly as the part needed. Diane Lane looks tremendous as the female lead especially during the stage sequences: the climactic scene in that red dress is awesome! Off stage Diane Lane gives a very vulnerable performance Willem Defoe is terrific as the villain though I have never warmed to his bizarre wardrobe. The film has a really visceral climatic fight sequence with sledge hammers. The film’s back bone is its awesome music that drives the film. Apart from the very effective songs, the score by the wonderful Ry Cooder is excellent: it’s a pity so little of his score has ever been released on CD.
Second Sight’s blu ray film quality is a disaster. The picture is far too grainy. There is also a massive problem with the 5.1 sound. The sound should be very immersive but it’s not as there is nothing out of the rear channels: someone has seriously messed this up. The highlight of Second Sight’s release is the excellent recent 80 minute documentary.
Shout Factory has just released a Zone (region) A blu ray in the USA that is far better than the UK version. The picture is significantly better with less grain and much better clarity. It has the proper wrap around 5.1 mix with good sound though not as good as a modern film would sound. All of the UK extras are included on the second disc plus a brand new 100 minute documentary. Although there is some duplication with the UK documentary, there is plenty new to make it worth seeing: it’s more polished too. The US version also some other extras that are not on the UK version. Be warned, this version has zone encoding and will only work if you have a multi-region player. It did not incur any customs duties when I bought it from Amazon.com.
Ratings. Film: 5. UK version: 2. US version: 5.