Release Date(s)1984 (May 16, 2017)
Studio(s)Universal Pictures (Shout! Factory/Shout Select)
- Film/Program Grade: A-
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: A
Set within a quasi-post apocalyptic, noirish city landscape, Streets of Fire tells the story of Ellen Aim (Diane Lane), a rock and roll singer who is suddenly kidnapped by The Bombers, a biker gang lead by Raven Shaddock (Willem Dafoe). Little do they know, however, that Ellen’s ex-boyfriend, Tom Cody (Michael Paré), is back in town. With the help of his plucky sidekick McCoy (Amy Madigan) and Ellen’s business manager/boyfriend Billy Fish (Rick Moranis), Tom sets off for the dangerous part of town known as The Battery to find and rescue her.
Only based upon the success of his previous movie, 48 Hrs., was Walter Hill able to make something totally out of left field like Streets of Fire. Unsurprisingly, the film didn’t do well when it was first released, but it’s astonishing that it doesn’t have a larger following today. Streets of Fire was never going to be a movie for everybody, as it has cult written all over it, but it certainly seems like the kind of entertainment that cult audiences would love. It’s chock-a-block full of various genres, so it doesn’t fit comfortably into a mainstream box, which is part of its appeal. Walter Hill is doing some major world building here, almost feeling like a pastiche of elements drawn from other films of the day (like Blade Runner). Even the dialogue is totally stylized, coming out tough and street-wise from the mouths of pretty much every character. In a sense, this film has its own world with its own language, reminding one of His Girl Friday or A Clockwork Orange.
Featuring a stellar cast from top to bottom, including Diane Lane and Michael Paré, both of whom have never looked better in a movie, Streets of Fire also spawned a couple of hit singles, including the perennial radio favorite “I Can Dream About You” by Dan Hartman. With strong direction from Walter Hill and a style all its own, Streets of Fire is a rollicking and rocking good time. It never takes itself too seriously or strays into nonsensical territory, and even though the premise is the clichéd “boy rescues girl,” the film is more interesting than that. Well-paced with great performances, it’s one that more generations of movie fans should be rediscovering.
Shout! Factory’s Shout Select line presents Streets of Fire with a new 2K scan of the film’s interpositive element, yielding exceptional results. The transfer is beautiful in all respects and is likely the best that the film has ever looked, at least on home video. There’s a solid and even grain structure on display soaking in fine detail with a gorgeous color palette. Skin tones are quite natural and black levels are inky deep while contrast and brightness levels are spot on. It’s also a stable presentation with only occasional mild scratches and speckling to be seen, mostly towards the beginning. Otherwise, it’s a flawless and very satisfying presentation. Two audio tracks are available to go with it: English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD. Both are excellent and offer wonderful fidelity, but the source material is slightly limited in certain areas. Dialogue is always clean and clear, but sound effects tend to sound a little flat in places. The music and the score have an abundance of presence, but aren’t boisterous when it comes to LFE activity. However, there is some definite surround activity and ambience to be heard. Regardless of preference, both tracks are satisfying overall. Subtitles are also included in English SDH if needed.
This release also features a bounty of terrific extras, including two documentaries, Shotguns and Six Strings: Making a Rock & Roll Fable and Rumble on the Lot: Walter Hill’s Streets of Fire Revisited (the former of which is new); a set of vintage featurettes (Rock N Roll Fable, Exaggerated Realism, Choreographing the Crowd, Creating the Costumes, From the Ground Up); 3 music videos (2 for “Tonight is What it Means to Be Young” by Fire Inc. as well as “I Can Dream About You” by Dan Hartman); the movie’s theatrical trailer; a set of on-air promos; and a still gallery. All of this material is well worth delving into, especially the documentaries.
Shout Select’s Collector’s Edition of Streets of Fire is one of their best and most enjoyable releases to date. With a dynamite cast, great characters, and excellent music, it’s a fun movie that speeds along so fast that you won’t realize that it’s coming to an end when it does. The amazing transfer and bounty of extras on this release make it a must-own for both Walter Hill fans and cult film fans alike. Highly recommended.
- Tim Salmons