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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Breakheart Pass (Blu-ray Review)


The Film
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements


John Deakin, an undercover Secret Service agent, goes undercover as a fugitive on a train heading for Fort Humboldt, Nevada, to uncover a gang of gunners.

Breakheart Pass, a 1975 western vehicle for Charles Bronson, is an adaptation from the Alistair MacLean novel who also wrote the screenplay. Bronson plays Deakin, an undercover government agent posing as a fugitive to get on a train that’s headed to Fort Humboldt, Nevada to help an epidemic. Deakin is trying to uncover a dangerous gang of criminals running stolen guns to Native Americans and planning an attack on the train before it reaches the military outpost.

This straightforward, shoot-from-the-hip western directed by Tom Gries rolls along at a steady pace just like the train on which most of the action is set. Set pieces break up the claustrophobic monotony of the train ride, such as a high stakes fight on top of the train, an assault on the train by a group of Native Americans, and the death defying action over the titular Breakheart Pass. The cinematography shot in the ‘70s cinematic style offers a beautiful backdrop to the action.

I’d never seen this film before this disc from Kino Lorber arrived, but I enjoyed it thoroughly, even if I would not place it in the category of must-see, all-time classic westerns. This one is certainly a solid, slow weekend, popcorn pleaser.

The Video

Breakheart Pass is taken from a new 2K master of the film and arrives on Blu-ray in an AVC 1080p encodement framed at 1.85:1. There’s heavy grain in the darker scenes that can make the picture look a bit murky and there is some very slight black crush, but the brighter scenes in the sunlit, outdoors look crisper and have a strong depth of field. There are no big issues with edge enhancement or motion artifacts to speak of.

The Audio

Breakheart Pass comes with its original monaural audio mix in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. It has clear dialogue, but the score and audio effects sound a little boxy and clip a bit.

The Supplements

The audio commentary included takes a deep dive into the film, the actors, and many of the set pieces. It’s worth watching the film through with the commentary at least once.

  • Audio commentary by film historians Howard S. Berger, Steve Mitchell, and Nathaniel Thompson
  • Breakheart Pass Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve

The Final Assessment

Charles Bronson delivers one of his classic, gritty performances in this entertaining western, nicely presented on Blu-ray by KL Studio Classics.

  • Rating Certificate: PG
  • Studios & Distributors: Gershwin-Kastner Productions | MGM/UA Home Video | Kino Lorber
  • Director: Tom Gries
  • Written By: Alistair MacLean
  • Run Time: 95 Mins.
  • Street Date: 16 November 2021
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English SDH

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John Deakin, an undercover Secret Service agent, goes undercover as a fugitive on a train heading for Fort Humboldt, Nevada, to uncover a gang of gunners.Breakheart Pass (Blu-ray Review)