Hollywood Homicide / Hudson Hawk Blu-ray delivers great video and audio in this overall recommended Blu-ray release
Contains both 'Hollywood Homicide' and 'Hudson Hawk'
For more about Hollywood Homicide / Hudson Hawk and the Hollywood Homicide / Hudson Hawk Blu-ray release, see Hollywood Homicide / Hudson Hawk Blu-ray Review published by Michael Reuben on June 30, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Hollywood Homicide was a notorious bomb when it hit theaters in June 2003. Despite the star
power of Harrison Ford, the directorial skill of Ron Shelton (Bull
Durham, Tin Cup) and the
authenticity of Shelton's co-screenwriter, former cop Robert Souza, who borrowed heavily from
his own experiences, critics savaged the film and audiences stayed away. The $75 million
production took in just over $51 million at the box office worldwide.
There were a few exceptions to the general condemnation, however. One was the late Roger
Ebert, who appreciated the snap of the dialogue between Ford and his co-star Josh Hartnett.
Another was myself, who has always enjoyed Ford in comic roles, even if the only one that ever
succeeded with audiences was in Working Girl.
Besides, the title should have tipped off everyone
that this wasn't your standard tale of crime; this was a Hollywood tale. If New York crime stories
are typically about grit, and L.A. crime stories are usually about corruption, a Hollywood story
recalls Oscar Levant's famous quip: "Strip away the phony tinsel of Hollywood and you'll find
the real tinsel underneath." In Shelton's and Souza's script, the homicide detectives were
anything but hard-boiled. Sure, they did their jobs, but their hearts lay elsewhere—in show
business, New Age pursuits and that classic preoccupation of the true Hollywood insider, real
If Hollywood Homicide has a notable feature that makes it unlikely as a crowd-pleaser, it's that
too much seems to be happening at once, and it's easy to imagine audiences in 2003 not knowing
where to focus. (The marketing campaign didn't help.) Shelton's strength as a director is his
ability to keep multiple balls in the air, but audiences who still expected Harrison Ford to be the
dashing action hero probably weren't ready for the quick shifts in tone that his character
undergoes, often in the same scene, as he juggles different aspects of his life. Ford handles these
transitions with the skill of the consummate pro he long ago became, but he's been hemmed in
for much of his career by audience expectations based on Han Solo and Indiana Jones. The
detectives in Hollywood Homicide do eventually close their case, but neither of them is that kind
Hudson Hawk belongs to that reviled fraternity of Hollywood star vehicles that bellyflopped,
after the industry and the press tagged them as "vanity projects" and the star obliged by involving
himself so much in the creative process that self-sabotage became a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Bruce Willis and producer Joel Silver were riding high at that point on the success of the first
two Die Hard movies. Who
did this former TV actor and upstart producer think they were? And
Willis had co-written the original story featuring himself as a wise-cracking cat burglar with a
smirk, a cappuccino addiction and a habit of singing old pop tunes while he carried out his
intricate thefts. Could it get any more self-indulgent? When the movie finally hit theaters in June
1991, everyone piled on and the film was pronounced a dud.
But Hudson Hawk has refused to go quietly. It may not have been the blockbuster for which
Silver Pictures is known, but it had "cult classic" written all over it. Over the years, viewers have
generally divided into the love-it or hate-it variety. (If you haven't guessed by now, I'm in the
former camp—and proud of it.) The director, Michael Lehmann, who has never again been given
a massive budget, was best known for the darkly comic high school satire Heathers, where he
routinely achieved the same kind of outrageous, did-someone-just-say-that? humor that often
pops up in Hudson Hawk, but with a far more frugal budget. Not coincidentally, the screenwriter
of Heathers, Daniel Waters, was one of the scribes hired to transform the original story by Willis
and his composer buddy, Robert Kraft, into a script. (The other writer was Steven E. de Souza, a
veteran of the Die Hard films.)
In Lehmann's hands, Hudson Hawk became one extended goof with occasional action scenes.
It's not for everyone, but it's a unique brand of silliness that falls somewhere between Monty
Python and Mel Brooks. What can you say about a film that frequently references Nintendo, then
names its crime family the Mario Bros.? Like Andie MacDowell's dolphin impression, which
comes out of nowhere, there's nothing quite like it.
Hollywood Homicide 4/5
Barry Peterson, who had just shot Dark Blue for Shelton,
returned as the DP on Hollywood
Homicide. Consistent with the Southern California sunshine—the lively credit sequence is set to
"I Love Cali (In the Summertime)" performed by Roscoe—Peterson gives everything a bright,
colorful look with good contrast and a minimum of shadow, even in night scenes. Sony has
provided Mill Creek with a clean source and a good quality transfer that is detailed and sharp and
does not appear to suffer from untoward digital processing to sharpen edges or remove grain. The
black levels look right, the contrast doesn't wash out shadow detail, and the colors are
appropriately saturated. Although the average bitrate of 19.00 Mbps seems low, I didn't observe
any obvious artifacting, probably because long stretches of the film involve conversations with
little excess motion in the frame. That, plus the black space created by the 2.40:1 aspect ratio,
probably conserved enough overall bandwidth for demanding sequences like the intense car
chase (much of it against traffic), the opening club shootout and the final confrontations between
the heros and the main bad guys.
For additional screenshots, please see the Hollywood
Homicide Blu-ray review.
Hudson Hawk 4/5
The distinguished cinematographer Dante Spinotti (Heat
andL.A. Confidential, among many
others) shot Hudson Hawk, which may be one reason why the scenes filmed in his native Italy
have such an appealing glow (though Spinotti can make just about anything look good). In the
film's first act, the veteran DP captures the cool fluorescence of the hip New York Eighties
scene, and his lighting of the increasingly daft third act is almost cartoonish.
The master provided by Sony to Mill Creek comes from well-preserved source material with no
noticeable damage, and this is one of the better transfers that Sony has outsourced. The image on
Mill Creek's 1080p, AVC-encoded Blu-ray has detail, texture and grain, but it's a fine, natural
grain pattern consistent with the look of a film from the early Nineties. Except for an occasional
shot (usually an effects shot), the grain is rarely heavy, even in scenes set at night, where the
blacks, gray and shadings of black and gray are accurately rendered. The colors range from the
garish decor of Tommy's bar (which appalls Hudson when he enters) to the dingy shades of the
ancient castle where the Mayflowers attempt to recreate da Vinci's machine.
If Hudson Hawk were the action film it was ill-advisedly advertised to be, the average bitrate of
21.99 Mbps might seem a little low, but so much of it consists of banter and repartee (both
snappy and stupid) that the average seems about right. In any case, compression errors did not
For additional screenshots, please see the Hudson Hawk Blu-
Hollywood Homicide 4/5
The film's original 5.1 track is presented in lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1. It's an effective mix that
rises to the big moments, like the panicking crowd when the members of H2OClick are shot in
Julius' club and the zooming, careening traffic when Gavilan and Calden take off in pursuit of a
suspect through the streets of Beverly Hills (and beyond). Dialogue is clear, dynamic range is
wide, and bass extension is deep, which is especially important for the strongly rap-flavored
soundtrack that keeps poor Gavilan so off-balance. The instrumental underscore is credited to
Alex Wurman, who scored Play It to the
for Shelton and recently did the soundtrack for the
first season of The Newsroom on HBO.
Hudson Hawk 4/5
According to IMDb, some prints of Hudson Hawk included a soundtrack mixed for the short-lived CDS ("Cinema Digital Sound") multi-
system, but most filmgoers saw the film in
Dolby Surround. That track is used here, encoded as DTS-HD MA 2.0. It's an interesting track,
because the sound effects often give the impression of having been mixed for the inhabitants of
Roger Rabbit's Toon Town, but it fits with the spirit of
the film. The dialogue is generally clear,
although there are moments when you can't believe what you just heard. (Example, from two
bored security guards as Hudson and Tommy sneak by them: "673 Wongs in the phone book."
"Hmmm. Helluva lotta Wong numbers.") The surrounds are used for general ambiance, a few big
effects like the gold "machine" and to expand the soundstage for the musical score, which is
credited to both co-writer Robert Kraft and Die Hard composer Michael Kamen. The latter's
signature is unmistakable.
(Note: Early pressings of this disc reportedly contained a mono 2.0 track for Hudson Hawk. This error was reported to Mill Creek when the
disc was first released as a Wal-Mart exclusive, and the error appears to have been corrected by the time the disc was released for general sale.
Hudson Hawk falls under the category of "guilty pleasure" for many of its fans, and Hollywood
Homicide is either an acquired taste or something that one has to be a fan of Ron Shelton's
filmmaking style to enjoy. In either case, this double feature from Mill Creek is worth acquiring
for a fan of either film (or both).