STREETS OF FIRE: At Long Last, Walter Hill’s Neonized Urban Western Hits Blu-ray

The Cult Favorite “Rock & Roll Fable” Has Arrived Courtesy of Shout Select

Walter Hill’s classic films have had a rough time on Blu-ray. The franchise-launching Undisputed is MIA. 48 Hours has made the jump, but its sequel remains unavailable. Fan favorites Hard Times and The Driver evaded many fans with blink-and-miss-them limited edition appearances. Perhaps most tragically, The Warriors is one of the few to be widely available, but only in the woefully misguided and anachronistic “Director’s Cut”.

Shout! Factory has tried to do their part in making the world a better place for Hill’s fans, putting out swanky Blu-ray editions of lesser-known films Southern Comfort and Supernova. Their new, jam-packed Shout Select edition of Streets Of Fire, though, shines brightly as perhaps the single most impressive Blu-ray outing for the director.

It wasn’t much of a hit on its initial release, but Streets Of Fire has since become an intensely loved cult classic, mixing nostalgic rock & roll sensibilities with the toughness and flashy editing of The Warriors. It’s a strange and hypnotic explosion of neon, rain-soaked streets, urban decay, hair grease, motorcycles, and lots of energetic music.

It was a rock & roll double header for star Michael Paré, coming off of the moody rock star mystery Eddie And The Cruisers, in which he played the title (albeit supporting) role. His Tom Cody is a withdrawn loner who returns home after a time away to discover his ex-girlfriend, an up-and-coming singer named Ellen Aim (Diane Lane), has been kidnapped by a motorcyle gang led by the vicious Raven (Willem Dafoe). Like Paré, Dafoe was cast coming off of a similar role as an outlaw biker in Kathryn Bigelow’s The Loveless.

Ellen’s new boyfriend and manager, a smarmy, loudmouthed money man by the handle of Billy Fish (Rick Moranis), hires Tom to rescue her, aided by a new ally named McCoy (Amy Madigan), an off-duty soldier looking for some adventure and a quick buck. Moranis is usually the standout performance of any movie he’s in, but while his trademark breathless prattle is perfect for comedy, here it feels exhausting and insincere as he’s playing a condescending blowhard.

The film’s storytelling follows a pretty familiar Western beat — the mercenarial antihero rolls into a rough town, does the right thing for what appears to be the wrong reason, heads up a rescue posse, clashes with lawmen, has a Main Street showdown with the villain, and so on. Motorcycles stand in for horses, and warehouse clubs for saloons. The adherence to form helps to amplify when it plays against this type as well: heavy stylization, a female sidekick, and a climactic duel of sledgehammers rather than revolvers.

Streets Of Fire’s visual and aural language were, and remain, unique. It’s full of incredible musical performances, though it’s not exactly a traditional musical in the sense that the songs aren’t spontaneous song and dance numbers, but rather a natural part of the narrative fabric of a world of rockers, crooners, and beboppers.

The most important aspect of the film is that it’s simply exhilarating to watch, with the fusion of music, action, colorful characters, and flashy editing all serving to enhance the experience into something energetic, ultramodern yet nostalgic, classical in form, and unlike any other film.

The Package

Another HD-DVD exclusive holdout finally bows out as Shout Factory has released beloved cult rock n roll noir Streets Of Fire to Blu-ray as Spine #16 in their Shout Select line. For owners of the HD-DVD or any other prior disc, there’s certainly a wealth of amazing content here worth the upgrade, including a new transfer and a second disc of bonus features.

Special Features and Extras

Disc 1 houses the movie, while special features are on the second disc. This edition includes not one but TWO feature-length interview-packed explorations of the film, making this an incredible package for fans.

The Making of Streets of Fire (100:23) — 
New to this Shout Factory edition. If you like the movie, then this is the must-own companion and highlight of the bonus features.

RUMBLE ON THE LOT: Walter Hill’s Streets Of Fire Revisited (82:29) — 
feature-length wealth of riches. I don’t know where this originally came from, but it wasn’t the HD-DVD, which makes this its high-definition debut for this region.

Vintage Featurettes (10:43)
Rock And Roll Fable, Exaggerated Realism, Choreographing The Crowd, Creating The Costumes, From The Ground Up

Music Videos
“Tonight is What it Means to be Young” (5:22)
“Tonight is What it Means to be Young” (4:37)
“I Can Dream About You” (4:02)

Theatrical Trailer (2:25)

On Air Promos (13:12)
Vintage EPK-style behind the scenes marketing pieces

Still Gallery (10:22)

A/V Out.

Except where noted, all 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the disc(s) in question with no editing applied, but may have slight compression inherent to file formats. All package photography was taken by the reviewer.

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