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Southern Comfort (1981) [UK] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: LPCM 2.0 Mono (48kHz/16-bit)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Certification: 15
  • Run Time: 106 Mins.
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Eureka Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: November 26, 2012
  • RRP: £19.99

Overall
[Rating:3/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:2.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:3.5/5]

This sleeper from writer/director Walter Hill bears more than a passing resemblance to 1972’s Deliverance. The story follows a group of National Guardsman in Louisiana’s swamplands on a training mission who find themselves deep in Cajun territory and battling the extremely insular backwoods Cajuns who, for all intents and purposes, are invisible to them throughout Hill’s picture. The situation here, unlike in Deliverance, is a making of their own as opposed to being the byproduct of some implied hillbilly inbreeding. The Guardsmen (played by a who’s who cast including Keith Carradine, Powers Boothe, Fred Ward, T.K. Carter, and Peter Coyote) through their own arrogance and lack of cultural sensitivity set off the chain of events when they steal the Cajun’s boats and then fire off their blank-filled rifles at them. On some level, Southern Comfort could be regarded as a criticism of the still only recently ended Vietnam War.

Hill and cinematographer Andrew Laszlo sap the film of color and place it in a world of dappled shadows, muted vegetation, and grit while the down home, bluesy score from Ry Cooder is more than appropriate to the Bayou setting and ominous things to come. Stand out performances by Keith Carradine and Powers Boothe also help lift this above being just a middling adventure thriller.

Video Quality

[Rating:2.5/5]

I don’t expect a film from over thirty years ago to look like it was shot yesterday, but this is a pretty rough looking transfer from Second Sight. Brought to Blu-ray in an AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement framed at 1.85:1, there’s some sparkle, dirt, and scratches that can be spotted throughout. Film softness is a major issue and the grain structure is quite coarse. Darker scenes show some definite video noise as well as faded black levels in some spots. There are some moments where detail is solid, particularly close-ups during brighter scenes. There is also some slight compression noise here and there, perhaps from squeezing this onto a BD-25 disc.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

Audio is an average LPCM 2.0 (48kHz/16-bit) mono track that is reasonably good given the material. There’s little crackle and it offers decent amount of low end during gunshots and so forth.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:1.5/5]

Director Walter Hill was brought in for the release’s only extra, a 45-minute HD interview, which will be of interest to those who enjoy this film and his work.

  • Will He Live or Will He Die – A newly commissioned interview with director Walter Hill (1.78:1; 1080i/50; 00:44:24)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3/5]

Not quite comforting, but certainly set in the South, this Bayou-based thriller from director Walter Hill features an outstanding ensemble cast of character actors, each one helping to elevate the 1981 film to a level beyond some similar films. This transfer from Second Sight doesn’t really do it justice, but it’s the best available at the moment.

Additional Screen Captures

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Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B009GZ999I[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

Overall
[Rating:3/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:2.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1.5/5]


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