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Staying Alive (4K UHD Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

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

SUMMARY

Six years after 'Saturday Night Fever', Tony Manero's passion for dance is still alive and now he is trying to make it to Broadway.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Staying Alive is the far less successful and very unnecessary sequel to the 1977 box office and cultural phenomenon Saturday Night Fever. Coming six years after the original film, after the disco craze had long since passed, and as star John Travolta’s career was waning, the film was co-written and directed by Sylvester Stallone, who was also in search of another success.

The convoluted and absurd story finds Tony Manero (Travolta) working in a nightclub and trying to become a dancer on Broadway. He has also been moonshining as a dance instructor for middle aged men and women. When his forgiving on-again-off-again girlfriend Jackie (Cynthia Rhodes) gets him an audition for a new show, Tony finally gets his shot at being one of the lead dancers in the dazzling new production called “Satan’s Alley,” and tries to seduce the snobbish, upper class lead dancer (Finola Hughes), which does not go well.

There are some dazzling set pieces of the stage production and gorgeous cinematography of the New York skyline at night that fuel the film’s 1980s visual aesthetic, as well as the vastly different from disco eighties score from Frank Stallone that make Staying Alive a true time capsule of the era. The camp, hard to believe romance, and lack of chemistry between Hughes and Travolta derails this story from early. The film begins to feel like a cut rate version of Flashdance, even though they both came out in the same year.

  • Staying Alive 4K Ultra HD Combo (KLSC)
  • Staying Alive 4K Ultra HD Combo (KLSC)
  • Finola Hughes and John Travolta in Staying Alive (1983)

The Video

Kino Lorber Studio Classics lists Staying Alive as being from a “brand new HDR/Dolby Vision master from a 4K scan of the original camera negative.” The film is presented in 1.85:1 HEVC 2160p (4K UHD) Dolby Vision on 4K and – from the same new 4K scan – in 1.85:1 AVC 1080p on Blu-ray.

The original 35mm source looks beautiful with very little source damage, organic granularity, and generally consistent detail and crispness. The Dolby Vision grading really ‘pops’ for this one, from the dazzling stage show scenes that have dazzling specular highlights in the lighting, and serious amounts of sheen on Travolta’s sweaty, ripped body. There is also an array of vibrant colors, such as the cyan shirt under Travolta’s bright white suit and the baby blue-tinted streetlights as he wanders the city streets at night. The Blu-ray is solid as well, with a much flatter color palette. The blue shirt, for instance, does not look as shockingly vivid, nor does his white suit, just as one example. That said, this is a crisply detailed disc as well.

The Audio

Unfortunately, one cannot say the audio quality lives up to the picture quality. With a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix and DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix included, the sound, especially in the 5.1 mix is anemic at best, fatiguing at worst. The contemporaneous rock/pop driven soundtrack has almost no low end – it is all midrange, very upper low end, and exaggerated high frequencies. I thought something had gone out of order on my setup, but it had not. The strengths of the mix are the overall ambience and the atmospherics, which come through clearly and well-balanced in the surrounds and the clarity of the dialogue, but the weak bass response in the music and fatiguing high frequencies cannot rescue it. The 2.0 stereo mix is only slightly better, with a bit of better frequency response, but still nothing that brings it anywhere near reference.

The Supplements

The two new bonus features included, a very concise, honest, and informative audio commentary that delves into the film and the circumstances around it, is interesting to listen to, plus the interview with the always lovely Finola Hughes are excellent inclusions.

  • Audio Commentary by Film Historian David Del Valle and Ed King of the Irish Film Institute (NEW)
  • Alive and Kicking: Interview with Actress Finola Hughes (1080p; 00:14:59) (NEW)
  • Staying Alive — TV Spots (1080p; 00:01:37)
  • Staying Alive – Radio Spots (1080p; 00:02:01)
  • Staying Alive – Home Video Trailer (1080p; 00:01:03)
  • Staying Alive – Teaser (1080p; 00:01:22)
  • Staying Alive – Trailer (1080p; 00:02:59)

The Final Assessment

Even though this film is not great and barely worth having been made despite Travolta looking like a golden god at this stage in his career, Kino Lorber Studio Classics has done an amazing job with this 4K restoration, and it looks incredible. The audio does not gain much of an upgrade, unfortunately.


Staying Alive is out on 4K Ultra HD Combo August 29, 2023, from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.


  • Rating Certificate: PG
  • Studios & Distributors: Paramount Pictures | Cinema Group Ventures | Kino Lorber Studio Classics
  • Director: Sylvester Stallone
  • Written By: Nik Cohn | Sylvester Stallone | Norman Wexler
  • Run Time: 96 Mins.
  • Street Date: 29 August 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: Dolby Vision (HDR10 Compatible)
  • Primary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo
  • Secondary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH
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Six years after 'Saturday Night Fever', Tony Manero's passion for dance is still alive and now he is trying to make it to Broadway.Staying Alive (4K UHD Review)