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Saturday, June 15, 2024

McBain (Blu-ray Review)


The Film
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Writer/director James Glickenhaus’ (Shakedown) 1991 film McBain is a leftover from the big, macho, jingoistic action films of the 1980s like First Blood (1982) or Commando (1985). Starring Christopher Walken (The Deer Hunter) as Vietnam veteran Robert McBain, we first meet the titular character as he is being rescued from a POW camp in Vietnam by a commando unit. 18 years later, a member of that unit, Roberto Santos (Chick Vennera) is back in his home country of Colombia leading a group of rebels in an unsuccessful coup against the corrupt president. After thepresident executes him on live television, his bereaved sister Christina (Maria Conchita Alonso) gathers money from the impoverished rural supporters of the rebel groups to travel to the U.S. and find McBain. She enlists him to help avenge her fallen brother, and he regathers the group of commandos who launch a plan to infiltrate Colombia and bring down the president.

There is not much to McBain beyond the might is right, America always good rhetoric that permeated much of these films (and continues to through then militaristic films of Michael Bay). Putting the propaganda aside, McBain does deliver on the gutsy action, with big explosions, high flying dog fights, and little exposition. The feel of the film is one of a direct-to-video quality, with some production issues that make it seem a little cheap. For instance, one of the Vietnamese guards that is about to kill McBain in the opening scenes is puzzlingly wearing Converse Chuck Taylors – and so is Christina. Quirks aside, if you turn off your brain, this one is some popcorn action fun to pass the time.

  • Maria Conchita Alonso in McBain (1991)
  • Christopher Walken in McBain (1991)
  • Maria Conchita Alonso in McBain (1991)
  • Maria Conchita Alonso and Steve James in McBain (1991)
  • McBain (1991)
  • McBain (1991)
  • Chick Vennera in McBain (1991)
  • McBain (1991)
  • Christopher Walken in McBain (1991)
  • McBain (Synapse Films- SFD2016)

The Video

There is no information provided by Synapse Films on the transfer, but it does not look necessarily like a brand new restoration. That said, it looks good. There are some gritty/grainy parts that sometimes come dangerously close to tipping over into noise, but the image is crisp and well textured, with natural, vivid colors. The explosions, fire, lights, and greenery all look good. McBain is provided in a 1.78:1 AVC 1080p encodement.

The Audio

Synapse Films lists the lossless mix for this as an “All-new remixed 5.1 surround sound created specifically for this release,” but oddly the disc menu labels it as an “English DTS-HD MA 5.1 New Stereo Surround Mix.” I’m not sure what a “5.1 stereo surround mix” is, but the mix is generally good, but not a big leap over the already stupendous lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo mix, which has such wide stereo imaging and excellent dynamic range, it almost sounds like surround.

There are also newly translated English subtitles provided.

The Supplements

There is not much included with this release. Only a very informative but low energy audio commentary with Glickenhaus and film historian Chris Poggiali, plus the theatrical trailer (HD).

  • Audio Commentary with Director James Glickenhaus and Film Historian Chris Poggiali
  • Original Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 00:01:25)

The Final Assessment

Synapse Films brings this often-overlooked throwback from the 1991 to Blu-ray with a solid transfer. This is the sort of film that is perfect to watch on a lazy Saturday or a slow late night.

McBain is out on Blu-ray July 11, 2023, from Synapse Films.

  • Rating Certificate: R (for strong war violence, and for language and drug use)
  • Studios & Distributors: Marble Hall | Shapiro-Glickenhaus Entertainment | Synapse Films
  • Director: James Glickenhaus
  • Written By: James Glickenhaus
  • Run Time: 104 Mins.
  • Street Date: 11 July 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Original English Stereo Soundtrack
  • Secondary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 New Stereo Surround Mix
  • Subtitles: English SDH

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Estimated reading time: 6 minutes Writer/director James Glickenhaus’ (Shakedown) 1991 film McBain is a leftover from the big, macho, jingoistic action films of the 1980s like First Blood (1982) or Commando (1985). Starring Christopher Walken (The Deer Hunter) as Vietnam veteran Robert McBain, we...McBain (Blu-ray Review)