Sudden Impact: Deluxe Edition
R4 - Australia - Warner Home Video
Review written by and copyright: Shane Roberts & Noor Razzak (3rd February 2009).
The Film

After his latest few cases have typically resulted in success but have produced more bodies than arrests, Detective ĎDirty Harryí Callahan (Clint Eastwood) is again unpopular with his superiors. To keep him out of the media spotlight he is assigned a supposedly dead end murder case (where a guy was shot in the groin and head) and sent to the victimís home town of San Paulo to investigate. When some of the local scumbags start turning up dead with the same wounds, Harry realizes that the killer is in town too.

Not many films define the decade or era they were made in like the "Dirty Harry" series. Of the first three that were all 70's releases, "Dirty Harry" (1971) itself with its influential and controversial depiction of violence and vigilante justice, an iconic performance by Eastwood, and stylish cinematography and music score by Bruce Surtees and Lalo Schifrin is one of the quintessential cop thrillers of that decade. "Magnum Force" (1973) and "The Enforcer" (1976) while adding to the genre of Clintís stardom did get tamer as they went on. Clint took on the job of director for the first time in this series but the eleventh in his career and made what a lot of people regard as the second best entry after the original. Although I prefer "Magnum Force", itís the first of the two 80's entries in the series and thankfully returns to a darker subject matter and a harder edge that is closer in tone to the original but stylistically itís pretty obvious (mainly because of the music) which decade it belongs to. After his fantastic 70's funk and jazz themed scores for the first two films Lalo Schifrin (the man also responsible for the "Enter the Dragon" (1973) score and the greatest TV theme ever for "Mission: Impossible" (1988-1990)) returns after missing "The Enforcer" with a bad new-wave themed score so full of synthesizers and drum machines that its more 80's than "Miami Vice" (1984-1989) could ever be. Itís a shame too because itís exactly the sort of cheesy and dated music that was used on dozens of cheap and nasty B-grade movies around that time but not what the first "Dirty Harry" movie in seven years deserved.

The main failing of the film though is in the casting of Sondra Locke. This was her sixth film with Clint in seven years. She was his girlfriend (from 1975 to 1990) and itís pretty obvious that thatís the only reason she was cast because she is absolutely terrible. I think she may actually be the worst actress Iíve ever seen. Her character has survived a violent attack but her idea of traumatized is to deliver all her lines in a completely monotone voice. Itís like she escaped from a really bad soap opera.

Improving on the weak villains of "The Enforcer" and balancing out the Sondra Locke problem (at least a bit) are Paul Drake and Audrie J. Neenan as Mick and Ray, two of the small town low lives whose gang is being wiped out by a vigilante murderer. Drakeís Mick is a sleazy wide-eyed psycho in the mould of Andy Robinsonís Scorpio. Heís a bit over the top but he suits this type of film and heís hateful enough that you canít wait for Clint to get hold of him. Neenan easily gives the best performance in the entire film after Clint. Sheís totally convincing as the butch, foul-mouthed Ray whoís far nastier than any of the guys. Youíll love to hate her.

Iíd rate this as third best of the "Dirty Harry" series. The actionís almost non-stop and thereís plenty of great Clint lines including the classic ďGo ahead, make my dayĒ.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1 this newly struck anamorphic image looks good. The image transfers get better as the films progress, there are still a few problems such as noise amid the darker more dimly lit scenes, and detail that gets lost amid those blacks. However, sharpness looks good, colors are bold and well represented and this transfer appears much cleaner than the previous films in the sense that there are hardly any specks. Skin tones look good, shadow detail can be limited but hold up well for a film of its age. Overall it's a significant improvement.

Audio

Three audio tracks are included in English Dolby Digital 5.1 as well as French Dolby Digital 1.0 mono and Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 mono. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its 5.1 soundtrack. The mix holds up better than the previous films, the dialogue is clear and distortion free, there are some ambient sounds that populate the rear speakers, mainly street noises. The track includes a lot of gun shots, action sound effects and the sort but lacks aggression, the sounds can come off a bit flat and hollow. This is a limitation of the film's original mix which has been up-mixed to accommodate the 5.1 surround format.
Optional subtitles are included in English, Dutch, French, Italian and Italian for the hearing impaired.

Extras

Warner Brothers has released this film with an audio commentary, a featurette and a trailer gallery. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

First up is the feature-length audio commentary by film historian and biographer Richard Schickel. Schickel provides an engaging and informative discussion in regards to the film but mostly on its star and director. Having written a biography on Eastwood as well as directing several programmes on the actor/director over the years he certainly knows his stuff on the matter. He provides listeners with wonderful background on the film's production, the people in which Eastwood regularly collaborates with and the production process. It's not the usual filmmaker guff, it's a thorough examination of the man and the film.

"The Evolution of Clint Eastwood" is a featurette that runs for 25 minutes 39 seconds. This feature takes a look at Eastwood as a director and chronicles the films he's made and the impact he's had as a filmmaker as it features interviews with fellow friends and admirers including some of Hollywood's great filmmakers. It's a neat clip that focuses on Eastwood's reinvention of himself and his involvement on various projects. Eastwood himself takes us through his early career as an actor working on television, as others track his leap to feature films and his rise into stardom playing iconic characters such as the man with no name in the Leone spaghetti westerns to Dirty Harry and beyond.

There's a "Dirty Harry" trailer gallery that features:

- The original theatrical trailer for "Sudden Impact" which runs for 1 minute 22 seconds.
- "Dirty Harry" which runs for 3 minutes 19 seconds.
- "Magnum Force" which runs for 2 minutes 13 seconds.
- "The Enforcer" which runs for 2 minutes 9 seconds.
- "The Dead Pool" which runs for 1 minute 24 seconds.

Overall

The Film: B+ Video: B+ Audio: B+ Extras: B+ Overall: B+

 


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