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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Gangs > Drama > Rock Music > Pop > Country > Streets Of Fire (HD-DVD)

Streets Of Fire (HD-DVD)


Picture: B+     Sound: B     Extras: D     Film: C+



In the middle of what we can now consider the Classical MTV Era, many soundtrack-driven non-Musicals fought hit out at the box office and one of the grittiest, most Rock oriented was Walter Hill’s Streets Of Fire (1984) now arriving on HD-DVD from Universal.  Tougher than the likes of Flashdance, some could consider this a flip-side to his 1978 hit The Warriors (reviewed in all three formats elsewhere on this site) revisiting gang violence with a particularly distinct music background.


A singer (Diane Lane) is abducted by a bike gang called The Bombers, led by the formidable Raven Shaddock (an effective Willem Dafoe) and it is up to an unlikely trio of a hero (Michael Paré), his tough-gal friend (Amy Madigan) and the diva’s manager (Rick Morantis) to save her.  Though not perfect and sometimes rough, it is an interesting film that has dated in interesting ways.  Not as effective as The Warriors, the film is still an ambitious stand-out from the comparatively bubble-gum films like it at the time more remembered from the era.


Hill co-wrote the Hard Rock Fantasy Actioner with Larry Gross and Universal had high expectations for it, especially after Hill had one of his biggest hits ever with the Eddie Murphy/Nick Nolte action comedy 48 HRS. (1982), but it was the Dan Hartman hit I Can Dream About You that became a big Top Ten hit, propelled by two Music Videos.  One was of an all-African American Temptations-like group from the film, though Hartman is white.  The other has a pretty young lady putting that clip on via a LaserDisc juke box (!!!) while Hartman is the bartender at the bar where they are (which you can see on the Pure 80s – The DVD Music Video set from Universal Music) and he sings it in between pouring alcohol!


But the film is not just some time capsule, but possibly the strongest A-level Hollywood production to take this kind of narrative/music approach.  It shows the connection between Punk and Hard Rock of that time to the first biker films and Rock music of the 1950s in spirit.  Even when it does not work, it is always interesting to watch and with no digital effects and mostly soundstage-bound production design, is visually interesting more than many may have considered at the time.



The 1080p 1.85 X 1 VC- 1 digital High Definition image looks really good for its age, as shot by the great Director of Photography Andrew Laszlo, A.S.C., who gave it a unique look that was more distinct than the typical MTV-styled edit fest features being made at the time.  Color is interesting and despite some grain, color, detail and depth are impressive for an older film.


This was rumored to be coming out with a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack, but this HD-DVD only has a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 mix that is a bit harsh, shows its age and is derived from the original Dolby 4.1 magnetic stereo mix from the 70mm blow-ups of the film.  Some clean-up in any future version would be nice.  Ry Cooder did all the instrumental music, Jimmy Iovine received special credit for his guidance and here are the songs in the film as they appear on the album soundtrack:


1)     Nowhere Fast – Fire Inc.

2)     Sorcerer - Marilyn Martin

3)     Deeper & Deeper - The Fixx

4)     Countdown To Love - Greg Phillinganes

5)     One Bad Stud - The Blasters

6)     Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young - Fire Inc.

7)     Never Be You - Maria McKee

8)     I Can Dream About You - Dan Hartman

9)     Hold That Snake – Ry Cooder

10)  Blue Shadows - The Blasters



This was not the only time Cooder and Hill would collaborate and the teaming has always been distinct and interesting.  Sadly, they are not included here as bonus music-only tracks and this disc has no extras whatsoever, though it is the kind of unique production that lends itself to extras.  In the meantime, it is a solid back catalog title any HD-DVDs owner would enjoy.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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