Red Heat appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Expect a consistently inconsistent image.
Sharpness became one of the up and down elements. At its best, the movie brought nice clarity and could feel accurate.
However, edge haloes cropped up at times, and those came with shots that seemed hyper-sharp, such as a landscape element in Russia. The haloes didn’t appear severe, but they brought some distractions.
Grain management seemed erratic as well. Some shots offered natural grain, but in other scenes – especially lower-light interiors – it felt like the transfer stripped the image clean and then added artificial grain.
This meant grain felt oddly static at times. While the grain wasn’t truly “frozen”, it lacked the normal movement and just felt off.
No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized. Print flaws also remained absent.
Colors looked fine for the most part. Like other aspects of the image, they could seem a bit “jacked up” at times, but they usually came across as well-represented. The disc’s HDR gave them a little extra pep but not much.
Blacks were fairly deep, but shadows tended to seem a bit thick. The smoothed-out feel in low-light shots made them on the murky side.
HDR bolstered contrast – probably too much at times. Some shots displayed whites that felt too bright, though the balance mostly seemed fine. I’d guess that the 4K UHD offered the best home video version of Red Heat to date, but it showed more visual compromises than I’d like.
As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it tended to show its age. That said, it was largely fine given those limitations.
The soundscape showed decent stereo imaging for the music and gave us a fair sense of environment. I wouldn’t call movement and integration truly natural, but they added some involvement to the proceedings and used the five channels in a reasonably satisfactory manner.
Audio quality was dated but decent. Speech could be a little brittle, but the lines remained intelligible and were usually natural enough. Occasional instances of edginess arose, usually during shouted dialogue.
Music gave us acceptable vivacity, and effects seemed okay. They lacked great clarity but only a little distortion resulted, mainly due to gunshots. This was a more than serviceable soundtrack for a 31-year-old movie.
A few featurettes fill out the set, and we start with The Man Who Raised Hollywood. In this 15-minute, 36-second reel, we hear from filmmakers Arthur Allan Seidelman, Peter Hyams, Michel Ferry, Edward Pressman, Yannick Dahan, and Stephane Moissakis.
“Raised” acts as an appreciation of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and it gives us no information specific to Red Heat, even though it comes with copious clips from that film. Much of this leans toward praise for the actor, but enough interesting anecdotes emerge to make “Raised” worth a look.
In Political Context of Red Heat, we locate a nine-minute, 54-second show with biographer Dave Saunders. He offers some historical perspective on the movie and its place in time.
Saunders provides a mix of decent observations, though I suspect “Context” will prove more useful for those who didn’t live through the period.
Next comes East Meets West. It runs nine minutes, 38 seconds and brings notes from executive producers Andrew Vanja and Mario Kassar.
“West” covers the movie’s roots and path to the screen, story and characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, the movie’s release and after effects. Expect a smattering of basic production notes but not much I’d call memorable.
With A Stuntman for All Seasons, we find a 12-minute, 24-second program with Vanja, Schwarzenegger (from 1988), stuntmen Bob Herron, Max Kleven, Walter Scott, Roy Clark, Bob Hoy, Troy Brubaker, and Terry Leonard, and actor Ed O’Ross.
They discuss Bennie Dobbins, a stunt coordinator who died during the Red Heat shoot. We get a nice appreciation.
I'm Not a Russian, But I Play One on TV goes for five minutes, 11 seconds and includes info from Ross. “Russian” looks at Ross’s character and performance as well as some experiences during the shoot. He gives us a few good notes about his work.
In addition to a trailer, the disc finishes with a circa 1988 TV Special. It fills 18 minutes, 36 seconds with comments from Schwarzenegger, O’Ross, and actors Jim Belushi and Gina Gershon.
The special touches on story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, and general thoughts. Though we get a handful of worthwhile thoughts, the show mostly acts as the usual promotional fluff.
This package also includes a Blu-ray copy of Heat, one that provides the same extras as the 4K UHD. Usually Lionsgate tosses in old Blu-rays with their 4K UHDs, so this came as a surprise. As far as I can tell, the 2019 Blu-ray appears as an exclusive with this 4K UHD set – I can find no evidence that Lionsgate plans to release it on its own.
As much as I’d like to say Red Heat aged poorly, I doubt it fared any better 31 years ago. Slow, trite and predictable, the movie went nowhere. The Blu-ray comes with erratic visuals as well as fairly good audio and a decent mix of supplements. Red Heat offers a reminder of the 1980s’ weaker action trends.