This article contains several comparisons which contrast Blue Underground’s 2010 Blu-ray transfer with their new 4K restoration. The frames aren’t necessarily exact matches, but should give a solid indication of the visual differences. This new edition of Vigilante from Blue Underground released on December 15th and is available now.
One of director William Lustig’s very best films, Vigilante has made its way to 4K UHD Blu-ray in a new release from his home video company, Blue Underground. Fan favorites Robert Forster and Fred Williamson star in the tale of an everyman (Forster) whose family life is destroyed by vicious gangsters, then furthermore wronged by an incompetent justice system. Shattered by the experience, he allies with a group of friends (led by Williamson) who have started taking natural justice to the streets — to an incredible music score.
Blue Underground previously released the film on Blu-ray in 2010 — it was actually a pretty great release, all around so it’s interesting to see are upping their game this time. The result is an incredible new vision of this beloved film.
Please note that, as I don’t have the means to capture the 4K disc, the Blu-ray version of the 4K restoration was used for the captures in this article. While both formats use the same restoration, the actual 4K disc has a higher true resolution and color palette than what is captured here.
Contrast and Brightness
The older transfer had pretty steep contrast which arguably added to its grindhouse aesthetic, but this has been mitigated allowing more subtlety and shadowy detail. This shot from the opener is a good example — the room behind Fred Williamson now has a sense of volume, whereas it used to simply be a flat pitch-black void.
Detail now abounds in this car interior and in the station attendant’s clothing, not only from the normalized contrast but also the uptick in resolution.
Besides the difference in brightness in the next shot, I also want to point out how much better the grain looks — certainly the increased resolution has a hand in this, but I also wonder if perhaps the older transfer had artificially smoothed it.
The evened contrast allows subtler colors to come through — look at that blue sky!
The older transfer favored a grungy green/blue look, so the push for a more even and natural palette means we’re seeing a lot more red across the board.
With this push toward allowing more red tones to come through, complexions are noticeably ruddier — even Fred Williamson (and not incorrectly, I think — after all, it’s cold outside).
More for Measure
A few more for a rounded look at the presentations. The same prior observations generally hold true — color timing changes, even contrast, finer gain and resolution.
This edition comes housed in a transparent Criterion-style case with an awesome lenticular slipcover featuring the new artwork. The U-card is reversible, featuring both the new and classic artwork. Capping off the package is an illustrated 20-page color booklet with an essay by Michael Gingold and a dedication to Forster.
My only disappointment here relates to Blue Underground’s recent practice of including soundtrack CDs with many of their other deluxe releases of the past few years. Vigilante boasts one of the most truly badass main themes of all time, so it can’t help but feel like a huge missed opportunity that Jay Chattaway’s unreleased score wasn’t nabbed for this edition.
Special Features & Extras:
- Audio Commentary #1 with Co-Producer/Director William Lustig and Co-Producer Andrew Garroni
- Audio Commentary #2 with Co-Producer/Director William Lustig and Stars Robert Forster, Fred Williamson and Frank Pesce
- NEW! Audio Commentary #3 with Film Historians Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson
- NEW! Blue Collar DEATH WISH — Interviews with Writer Richard Vetere, Star Rutanya Alda, Associate Producer/First A.D./Actor Randy Jurgensen, and others
- NEW! Urban Western — Interview with Composer Jay Chattaway
- Theatrical Trailers
- TV Spots
- Radio Spot
- Promotional Reel
- Poster & Still Galleries
- BONUS! Collectible Booklet with new essay by Michael Gingold
Get it at Amazon:
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All 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the Blu-ray disc (not 4K) with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to file formats and Medium’s image system. All package photography was taken by the reviewer