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Red Dragon (4K UHD Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

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

SUMMARY

A brilliant FBI profiler responsible for capturing Hannibal Lecter must come out of retirement and seek "The Cannibal's" help when a new serial killer named "The Tooth Fairy" emerges.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Following the successful entries, The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal, director Bret Ratner adapted the first novel in which author Thomas Harris introduced the character Hannibal Lecter — played brilliantly by a returning Anthony Hopkins Red Dragon.

The brilliant FBI criminal profiler Will Graham (Edward Norton) has been heralded for his ability to catch serial killers, in particular Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter (Hopkins) in a confrontation that left him wounded and near death. When a new serial killer dubbed “The Tooth Fairy” surfaces, Graham’s old mentor at the FBI, Jack Crawford (Harvey Keitel), asks him to return from his relaxing retirement in Florida with his wife Molly (Mary-Louise Parker) and their son.


The Tooth Fairy’s brutal killings wherein he slaughters whole families, shatters mirrors in their residences and places shards of the broken glass in the corpses’ eyes leave law enforcement mystified. Graham, struggling to understand this killer decides to consult with his old foe Lecter. Lecter offers hints and only when they are self-serving. As the investigation continues Graham begins to suspect that Lecter may be working with the Tooth Fairy.

The novel Red Dragon had been adapted to the screen five years before The Silence of the Lambs by Michael Mann. Mann’s film Manhunter was quieter and less visually sleek but was a tighter narrative. Ratner’s version is visually stunning, cloaked in shadows and set against detailed, contemporary backgrounds. Ratner goes in for big, dramatic set pieces, such as an impressive house fire that rises to the level of operatic. Still when compared to the quieter and more cerebral Manhunter, it feels more like textbook Hollywood thrills.

There is no denying, however, that Hopkins’ acting chops are firing on all cylinders here, with his bone-chilling drawl and icy facial expressions. He steals every scene even as Norton feels a little unconvincing as a brilliant FBI agent.

Red Dragon 4K Ultra HD Combo on Amazon
  • Anthony Hopkins and Edward Norton in Red Dragon (2002)
  • Anthony Hopkins and Edward Norton in Red Dragon (2002)
  • Red Dragon 4K Ultra HD Combo (KL Studio Classics)
  • Red Dragon 4K Ultra HD Combo (KL Studio Classics)

The Video

Red Dragon is taken from a brand new HDR/Dolby Vision master from a 4K scan of the 35mm original camera negative. The film is presented in a 2.35:1 HEVC 2160p (4K UHD) Dolby Vision encodement. It looks nearly flawless, with a fine, crispy layer of grain and rich midtones in the color palette. There is one scene where Graham first goes to visit Lecter in prison where the color looks a little too cool and desaturated, with a heightened mount of grain across the faces. I am not recalling how this looked on previous releases, but it was a minor issue. The Dolby Vision grading brings an abundance of gradations in the colors, especially in the flames that look three-dimensional.

The Audio

Red Dragon gets a subtle but engulfing English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that comes alive in the final act with good low-end extension. The surround channels carry mostly atmospheric foley effects and rich ambience. The classical music that is used as part of the score has excellent, natural dynamics and sounds like a true performance hall.

The Supplements

There are no new bonus features, but the two audio commentaries, one by Danny Elfman for the isolated score track, are excellent listens. The included Blu-ray also includes an abundance of previously issued featurettes.

Bonus Features:

  • Audio Commentary by Director Brett Ratner and Screenwriter Ted Tally
  • Isolated Score with Audio Commentary by Composer Danny Elfman

Blu-ray Only:

  • A Director’s Journey: Documentary (SD; 00:39:28)
  • The Making of Red Dragon: Featurette (SD; 00:14:20)
  • Visual Effects: Featurette (SD; 00:04:26)
  • Screen and Film Tests: Featurette (SD; 00:11:44)
  • Anthony Hopkins – Lecter and Me: Featurette (SD; 00:04:25)
  • The Burning Wheelchair: Featurette (SD; 00:04:01)
  • The Leeds’ House Crime Scene: Featurette (SD; 00:03:38)
  • Makeup Application: Featurette (SD: 00:00:46)
  • Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer – Hosted by John Douglas: Featurette (SD; 00:08:17)
  • Storyboard to Final Film Comparison (SD; 00:08:39)
  • Brett Ratner’s Student Film (SD; 00:03:37)
  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Ratner, Tally, and Editor Mark Helfrich (SD: 00:05:24)
    • Will Looks at Sleeping Josh
    • Chilton and Graham Walking Down Hall
    • The Cat Grave
    • Will Talks to Josh about Lecter
    • Lecter Watches the Leeds’ Video
    • Josh Gets the S’mores Ingredients
    • Lounds Reads Letter into Tape Recorder
  • Alternate Scenes with Optional Commentary (SD; 00:04:34):
    • Breaking the Code (Without Reading Message Out Loud)
    • FBI Listens to Tape (No Screaming)
    • Flaming Wheelchair
    • Attic Scenes with Dragon Voice
  • Extended Scenes with Optional Commentary (SD; 00:02:29):
    • Graham Investigates the Leeds’ Bedroom
    • Graham Has a Vision in the Tree
    • Janitor Finds Note in Lecter’s Cell
  • Red Dragon – Trailer (1080p; 00:02:06)
  • The Silence of the Lambs – Trailer (1080p; 00:01:52)
  • Hannibal – Trailer (1080p; 00:02:19)

The Final Assessment

Red Dragon is not really the equal of Manhunter or even The Silence of the Lambs, but despite its flaw of tipping into melodrama, it is an entertaining thriller that most people who enjoy these Hannibal Lecter films should find something about to appreciate. KL Studio Classics 4K release looks and sounds delicious.


Red Dragon is out on 4K Ultra HD Combo October 24, 2023, from KL Studio Classics.

Red Dragon 4K Ultra HD Combo on Amazon
  • Rating Certificate: R (for violence, grisly images, language, some nudity and sexuality)
  • Studios & Distributors: Universal Pictures | Dino De Laurentiis Company | Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) | Mikona Productions GmbH & Co. KG | Pan Productions | Scott Free Productions | KL Studio Classics
  • Director: Brett Ratner
  • Written By: Thomas Harris | Ted Tally
  • Run Time: 124 Mins.
  • Street Date: 24 October 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: Dolby Vision (HDR10 Compatible)
  • HDR10 Metadata:
    • MaxLL: 3713 nits
    • MaxFALL: 333 nits
  • Primary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1
  • Secondary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo
  • Subtitles: English SDH
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A brilliant FBI profiler responsible for capturing Hannibal Lecter must come out of retirement and seek "The Cannibal's" help when a new serial killer named "The Tooth Fairy" emerges. Red Dragon (4K UHD Review)