Vigilante appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Despite the movie’s age and inexpensive origins, this Dolby Vision presentation held up pretty well.
Sharpness usually worked well. Despite some slightly iffy wide and/or interior elements, the movie usually brought nice clarity and accuracy.
No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and I saw no edge haloes. With a good layer of grain, noise reduction failed to become a concern, and print flaws also remained absent.
Despite a light blue tint at times, Vigilante usually opted for a fairly natural palette, and the hues stood out in an appealing manner. The tones looked vivid and full throughout the film, and the disc’s HDR added oomph and power to the colors.
Blacks felt deep and rich, while shadows brought appealing clarity. The HDR contributed extra impact to whites and contrast as well. Though it clearly demonstrated the limits of the source, I felt impressed by this above-average presentation.
Did a low budget flick from 1982 need a full Dolby Atmos remix? Probably not, but Vigilante got one anyway.
Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the track made fairly active use of the various speakers – maybe a little too active given the movie’s roots, as the mix could feel somewhat contrived at times. While the soundscape spread out the material in a broad manner, it didn’t seem especially well-integrated.
This meant music that came from around the room without great specificity, and effects that offered too much specificity. Though the latter came from a mix of localized spots, they blended together in a somewhat mediocre manner.
Still, the track offered a decent sense of the various settings. It probably could’ve worked better if the designers showed more restraint, though.
Audio quality seemed fine given the material’s age. Speech could feel a bit reedy, but the lines seemed fairly natural and they lacked issues with edginess.
Music offered pretty nice range and warmth, and effects seemed perfectly adequate. Though these elements lacked great impact, they felt fairly concise and showed some acceptable low-end While I’d prefer a less busy soundscape, this still became a more than decent mix for an aging film.
A replication of the audio Vigilante ran with back in 1982, a DTS-HD MA 2.0 mix went two-channel stereo. I gave that version a listen as well and liked it more than the Atmos track.
Quality remained similar for both, but the scope of the 2.0 mix felt more natural. Music and effects seemed better placed and they integrated in a more believable manner. Go with the Atmos if you insist you must use all those speakers you bought, but I think the 2.0 version works better.
As we shift to extras, we find three separate audio commentaries. The first comes from co-producer/director William Lustig and co-producer Andrew Garroni, both of whom sit together for this running, screen-specific look at the movie’s path to the screen and financing/budgetary issues, sets and locations, cast and performances, and related topics.
Recorded in 2010, this becomes a surprisingly engaging chat, mainly because Garroni and Lustig devote so much of the time to all the obstacles they needed to surmount in terms of finances. We get a really good look at the ways the shoestring budget impacted the production. Expect plenty of insights into different areas as well, all of which turn this into a strong commentary.
For the second commentary, we hear from Lustig and actors Fred Williamson, Robert Forster and Frank Pesce. All four sit together for a running, screen-specific view of cast/performances, sets and locations, production challenges and various anecdotes.
Taped for a mid-1990s laserdisc, those “various anecdotes” dominate the commentary. This means the track only occasionally gets into nuts and bolts, as it prefers the stories from the shoot.
These work fine, though we hear less from the actors than one might prefer. Lustig dominates and inevitably gives us some of the same info we hear on the 2010 track.
The actors participate to varying degrees, with Pesce as the most active member, while Forster rarely utters a peep. Still, the three castmembers manage to add some life to the proceedings.
Ultimately, I can’t call this an especially informative discussion, but it becomes enjoyable. The track boasts enough charm and vivacity to turn into a good listen, even if the 2010 Lustig/Garroni piece offers much more actual filmmaking material.
Finally, we get a track from film historians Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson. From 2020, both sit together for a running, semi-screen-specific discussion of cast and crew, genre domains, and related cinematic topics.
At the start, Howarth and Thompson indicate they won’t offer a terribly production-specific chat, and they hold true to that, as they tend to make this more of an appreciation for the film than a serious analysis. We do get a view of the era’s New York City as well as other movies in the genre, and those elements prove moderately informative.
Still, the track feels less than enlightening, as it often comes across more as a discussion of the movies Howarth and Thompson like and less an analysis of Vigilante. While not a bad chat, the commentary doesn’t offer a ton of insights.
Footnote: Howarth claims actor Joe Spinell appeared in Jaws, but I find no evidence this occurred. A semi-famous video in which we see Steven Spielberg react in real-time to that year’s Oscar nominees – and his lack of recognition as the director of Jaws - does include Spinell, so maybe Howarth confused his appearance in this clip for a role in the actual film.
Two featurettes follow, and Blue Collar Death Wish runs 24 minutes, 42 seconds and provides notes from Lustig, Pesce, Forster, writer Richard Vetere, associate producer/1st AD/actor Randy Jurgensen, and actor Rutanya Alda. “Wish” covers the project’s roots and development, casting, and the movie’s release/reception.
Inevitably, some of this material repeats from the commentaries, but we still get some good notes in this engaging overview. It’s also fascinating to see some contrary opinions, especially because Jurgensen fights back against Lustig’s claim that he wore blackface to sub as a driver in one scene.
Urban Western spans 25 minutes, eight seconds and brings an interview with composer Jay Chattaway. He discusses his career and his work for the film in this informative chat.
A mix of advertising materials ensue. We find seven trailers, four TV spots, one radio spot and a Promotional Reel.
The latter runs three minutes, 14 seconds and shows a piece with Fred Williamson intended to sell the movie to the Italian market. It becomes a minor curiosity, though the Williamson shots ended up in the final film.
The disc ends with two Poster and Still Galleries. The first presents 103 frames while the second contributes a running montage with 34 elements.
Apparently made for a DVD, the second collection looks terrible and mainly repeats stills from the first one. Skip it and stick with the high-quality first set of images instead.
A second disc brings a Blu-ray copy of Vigilante. It includes all the same extras as the 4K.
Note that this Blu-ray boasts the 2020 remaster found on the 4K, so it doesn’t simply duplicate the previous release of Vigilante. As far as I can tell, Blue Underground doesn’t offer this 2020 Blu-ray on its own.
Finally, the package concludes with a booklet. It presents photos, credits and an essay from Michael Gingold. The booklet finishes the set on a positive note.
As a tale of violent revenge, Vigilante fails to deliver the goods. Slow, disjointed and strangely inert, the movie lacks punch or drama. The 4K UHD brings pretty good picture and audio as well as a nice assortment of bonus materials. Vigilante offers a sluggish Death Wish wannabe without much merit.