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Bad Lieutenant (4K UHD Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film
The Video (Overall)
HDR Effect
The Audio
The Supplements
Overall

SUMMARY

A New York City detective spirals into vice as he investigates the brutal rape of a young nun.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

I can still recall the days when New York City was little grittier, when it felt a little more edgy, exciting, and dangerous. It was a time before Times Square was converted into a “Disneyland” tourist destination and increasingly pedestrian walkways were put into place in an effort to increase the tourist dollars, decrease traffic congestion, and make New York City more people friendly.

Director Abel Ferrara’s (King of New York) early-90’s works seem so out of place in this new, glossy New York City, but they still resonate with a style and charm that oozes Big Apple rot. They exposed the violent, gritty underbelly of New York City. The eponymous character in the director’s 1992 film, Bad Lieutenant, is played by actor Harvey Keitel (Pulp Fiction, City of Industry). The movie shows a New York City police lieutenant with every vice one can think of driven to the brink of self-destruction.

The lieutenant has a coke habit, he has a drinking problem, he has a gambling problem, and he loves sex. While investigating the rape of a nun, his vices spiral out of control. Betting on a series between the Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers gets him in debt to a bookie, his drug habit has him scrounging for cocaine at crime scenes, and his sexual compulsions mean he is pulling over young women and threatening them with arrest lest they indulge him.

Keitel puts on a classically edgy, non-politically correct performance that is a testament to his acting skills, but the film itself goes nowhere. In reality, it exists only to follow the lieutenant through his various vices, but there’s no true continuous story here. Not even the rape investigation ever really gains traction and Bad Lieutenant turns into one long spiral into self-abuse, and nothing more.

Purchase Bad Lieutenant 4K Ultra HD Combo on Amazon.com

  • Frankie Lou Thorn and Harvey Keitel in Bad Lieutenant (1992)
  • Zoë Lund in Bad Lieutenant (1992)
  • Harvey Keitel in Bad Lieutenant (1992)
  • Harvey Keitel in Bad Lieutenant (1992)
  • Harvey Keitel in Bad Lieutenant (1992)
  • Frankie Lou Thorn in Bad Lieutenant (1992)
  • Bad Lieutenant 4K Ultra HD Combo (Kino Lorber)
  • Bad Lieutenant 4K Ultra HD Combo (Kino Lorber)

The Video

Bad Lieutenant is taken from a new Dolby Vision master from a 4K scan of the original camera negative. It is presented in a 1.85:1 HEVC 2160p (4K UHD) Dolby Vision encodement on a triple layered UHD100 disc. The included Blu-ray is also from a brand new HD master taken from a 4K Scan of the original camera negative. This new 4K release from Kino Lorber is a revelation in comparison to the 2010 Blu-ray from Lionsgate. The 2010 release was not particularly good, showing a lot of apparent source damage, flicker, and grittiness. Those issues are all gone with this new restoration. The grain is still there and, in some scenes, that grain structure is still a bit heightened given the low-light cinematography, but overall, it remains thin, crisp, and allows for a lot of detail in this transfer. The colors also have a bit more nuance and pop, such as in the vermillion-flooded cathedral during the rape sequence.

The Audio

This new 4K release of Bad Lieutenant has also had its audio upgraded with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix over the mono mix on the 2010 Lionsgate Blu-ray. A 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is also included. The 5.1 mix sounds a little oddly artificial to my ears, with my preference being the more concise 2.0 mix.

The Supplements

Kino Lorber provides two new bonus features on the Blu-ray Disc only with Bad Lieutenant along with some previously released special features. The best new featurette is, Bad Neighborhoods, a tour of the locations featured in the film.

Bonus Features:

  • Audio Commentary by Director Abel Ferrara and Cinematographer Ken Kelsch

Blu-ray Only Bonus Features:

  • Abel Ferrara & the Making of Bad Lieutenant (SD; 00:34:02)
  • Bad Neighborhoods: The Locations of Bad Lieutenant (1080p; 00:15:26) (NEW)
  • Ken & Abel: Interview with Cinematographer Ken Kelsch (1080p; 00:14:53) (NEW)
  • Bad Lieutenant Trailer (SD; 00:03:20)

The Final Assessment

This stylish but flawed Abel Ferrara film gets a stunning new restoration on 4K Ultra HD from Kino Lorber’s KL Studio Classics imprint, making it ready and perfect for rediscovery and reexamination.


Bad Lieutenant is out on 4K Ultra HD Combo June 4, 2024 from Kino Lorber

Purchase Bad Lieutenant 4K Ultra HD Combo on Amazon.com


  • Rating Certificate: NC-17 (for sexual violence, strong sexual situations & dialogue, graphic drug use)
  • Studios & Distributors: Bad Lt. Productions | Kino Lorber
  • Director: Abel Ferrara
  • Written By: Zoë Lund | Abel Ferrara
  • Run Time: 96 Mins.
  • Street Date: 4 June 2024
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: Dolby Vision (HDR10 Compatible)
  • HDR10 Metadata:
    • MaxLL: 597 nits
    • MaxFALL: 118 nits
    • Max. Luminance: 1000 nits
    • Min. Luminance: 0.0001 nits
  • Subtitles: English SDH
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A New York City detective spirals into vice as he investigates the brutal rape of a young nun.Bad Lieutenant (4K UHD Review)