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Christopher Cain
Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips
Writing Credits:
John Fusco

Led by Billy the Kid, a group of young gunmen become deputies to avenge the murder of the rancher who became their benefactor
Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD HR 6.1
English Dolby 5.1 EX
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 106 min.
Price: $9.98
Release Date: 2/6/2007

• “The Real Billy the Kid” Documentary
• Trivia Track
• Previews


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Young Guns [Blu-Ray] (1988)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 30, 2021)

Reviewed by David Williams/Colin Jacobson (March 30, 2021)

Back in 1988, Young Guns offered the epitome of the Brat Pack’s infiltration into all aspects of Hollywood and society in general. The film never intended to offer a historically accurate – heck, it didn’t even pretend to be serious for that matter.

Young Guns just became a good excuse for a small fraternity of young, handsome, Hollywood male leads to spend someone else’s money and play a grand game of “Cowboys and Indians” complete with real horses, guns that shot blanks, and some really cool costumes.

They barely needed to act, as the majority of the time, the actors simply preened, cavorted, and indulged themselves like a group of fraternity brothers kicking up their heels in the Old West.

John Ford this ain’t. The opening sequence speaks volumes to that fact as we get a lingering close-up of each actor’s face.

Then, as a really bad 80’s soundtrack synthetically rumbles in the background, the guys fire at the camera – or at nothing really. As the smoke clears, they gaze at the camera with the smug authority of Brat Pack arrogance.

Young Guns catches up with William H. Bonney – aka “Billy The Kid” (Emilio Estevez) - during his days in Lincoln County, New Mexico prefacing what would become the “Lincoln County War”. The War came about because local cattlemen John Tunstall (Terence Stamp) and Lawrence Murphy (Jack Palance), couldn’t get along, as each wanted the other out of business.

Both parties hire gunslingers and laborers to protect their interests and their own well being. Tunstall’s men appreciate the work and see Tunstall as the father most of them never had. Eventually Billy The Kid shows up to work on the farm as well, where he fits right in with the motley crew.

One day Tunstall gets gunned down in an ambush by some of Murphy’s men. When local attorney Alex McSween (Terry O'Quinn) deputize the six men as “Regulators”, things go from bad to worse.

With all of my smarmy comments at the beginning of the review, you might think that I didn’t enjoy Young Guns. Actually, I did, as I was one of those 18-year-old kids in the audience with a date who thought how cool it’d be to have fame, fortune, and women at my beckoned call.

That being said, I like the film for what it is: a mindless, shoot-em-up Western that doesn’t require much more from the viewer. That’s the exact same reason I enjoy it today.

Sure it’s cheesy and dated, but it’s also fast-paced, action-packed, and a lot of fun if you check your brain at the door.

Everyone has films like Young Guns that they enjoy despite they fact they “know better”. While we may crucify a hundred other films for being as badly written/directed/acted/executed as Young Guns, some of us find room in our cold hearts to forgive director Christopher Cain and all of the smug, self-congratulatory actors in the film.

We just sit back and enjoy the ride. I hate to admit it, but it was a lot of fun to revisit this film after all of these years.

The Disc Grades: Picture C-/ Audio B/ Bonus C

Young Guns appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. As an early Blu-ray, the movie could’ve looked worse – but it also could’ve looked much better.

The biggest issues stemmed from the heavy use of digital noise reduction for many scenes. Daylight exteriors escaped fairly unscathed, so they came with largely natural grain and showed fairly appealing delineation.

However, all other shots suffered from obvious noise reduction, and that application harmed them. Definition took a big hit, as these sequences tended to appear mushy and dull. Faces took on an unpleasant, odd smoothness and the noise-reduced scenes felt soft and flat.

As noted, sharpness worked generally well during the daytime exteriors, though some prominent edge haloes created distractions. Minor instances of jagged edges and moiré effects occurred, but at least the image largely came free from print flaws, as only a few small specks appeared.

Colors went with the expected rusty amber feel typical for Westerns. These tones lacked great range and impact, but they seemed more than adequate.

Blacks tended to seem a bit murky, while shadows felt a little dense. This wasn’t a terrible presentation, but it could use an update.

At least the film’s DTS-HD HR 6.1 soundtrack fared better, as it brought a pretty expansive mix. Unsurprisingly, action scenes worked best, as they used the sides and surrounds to involve the viewer in the mayhem.

The rest of the mix tended toward environmental material. These sequences never used the spectrum in a dynamic manner, but they seemed adequate for the story.

Quality was largely positive. Speech came across as natural and lacked edginess, while music felt full and rich.

Some effects betrayed a bit of distortion – mainly via gunshots – but these components worked well enough as a whole. Expect a fairly satisfying mix for a move from the late 80s.

Only a few bonus features show up on the disc, and we find a trivia track alongside the movie. It provides “pop-up” tidbits that tell us about aspects of the film production as well as history. It never becomes a great look at the flick but it adds a few decent notes.

A documentary called The Real Billy the Kid fills 30 minutes, 57 seconds. It includes notes from historians Drew Gomber and Leon Metz, and True West magazine executive editor Bob Boze Bell.

As expected, we get a basic biography for Billy the Kid. It becomes an efficient and informative show.

The disc opens with ads for Ultimate Avengers 2 and Crank. No trailer for Guns appears here.

In a nutshell, Young Guns offers a fun romp that doesn’t take itself seriously – and you shouldn’t either. It delivers action and thrills. The Blu-ray offers good audio and a few bonus features but visuals look iffy at best. This becomes a subpar release for an entertaining

To rate this film visit the original review of YOUNG GUNS

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