A dedicated Soviet cop arrives in Chicago, where he reluctantly teams up with a foul-mouthed American detective to comb the streets of the Windy City for the Russian drug dealer who killed both their partners. Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray debut of Red Heat from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: Lionsgate - 1988
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 104 minutes
Genre: Action/Comedy

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish DTS-HD MA Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Belushi, Peter Boyle, Laurence Fishburne, Ed O’Ross, Gina Gershon
Directed by: Walter Hill
Music by: James Horner
Written by: Walter Hill, Harry Kleiner, Troy Kennedy Martin
Region Code: A

Release Date: October 29, 2019
"East meets West....Chicago Style"

“A dedicated Soviet cop arrives in Chicago, where he reluctantly teams up with a foul-mouthed American detective to comb the streets of the Windy City for the Russian drug dealer who killed both their partners.” – Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

My Take:

Captain Ivan Danko, a by-the-book Russian policeman is sent to Chicago to track down a Georgian Drug lord that is responsible for the death of his partner. Unfortunately for him, he is forced to partner up with a cocky and, sometimes bungling Chicago police detective. As the two men navigate the mean streets of the city in order to close in on their target, they form an unlikely bond that may or may not, see them through.

I thought that I had clear recollections of liking Red Heat. It’s been years since I have seen it, which was probably when it was on cable TV back in the day, so when I saw the press announcement for its release on Ultra HD I was in. Oh boy. Red Heat is the poor cousin to the better buddy cop films of its era, lacking the finesse, well-timed humor, exciting action and memorable characters associated with them. Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly a fan of Arnold and Belushi but, there is some ham-fisted action and a series of situations containing banal dialog and corny exchanges that left me questioning my memory.

Having aired my grievances, I will say that Red Heat is most definitely a nostalgia inducing action/comedy. Yes, it’s not very good but, there are some fun moments and listening to Arnold deliver his lines opposite Belushi isn’t all bad. As a plus, Gina Gershon’s presence never hurts. At the end of the day, it’s a 1980’s era throwback that has a place, especially for those that still find it entertaining.

Replay Value:
Parental Guide:

The rating is for violence, language, and brief nudity.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 82
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 82
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

Audio: 80
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

Red Heat comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound.

For its presentation in Ultra HD Red Heat was rendered from a 2K DI and up-converted to 4K.

Red Heat is a 1980’s era action/comedy that features some neon-based colors, sepia tones and color grading, which ultimately leaves some sequences appearing less visually engaging than others. In looking at the opening moments in the Russian bathhouse, the first thing that struck me was that there wasn't an appreciable uptick in sharpness and detail compared to the Blu-ray. Upon closer inspection, I could make out finer details in facial features and clothing but this predominantly came during close ups. On occasion, discernible improvements in depth could be seen in wide-angle shots such as the scene where Captain Danko meets with his superior in the large square before departing to America but, in most respects, I saw minute differences in apparent resolution when checking select scenes from the UHD and Blu-ray.

I also found the presentation to be on the tame side in terms of its use of dynamic highlights. Other than the scene involving the bus crash, I didn’t find that the image in general, made visually compelling use of interstitial black levels offset by vivid bright elements. I felt that the presentation appeared to be middle of the road, when compared to the better Ultra HD presentations I have seen. I wouldn't describe it as poor quality, but there is little about this Ultra HD presentation that left an impression on me.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

Comparing the DV and HDR10 presentations for Red Heat, I found the HDR elements to be the same, as the rendering of color and, dynamic highlights, didn’t appreciably standout when viewing the same select scenes.

DTS-HD Master Audio:

The lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix appeared to faithfully reproduce the soundtrack’s elements. This is not a very dynamic track to begin with and, this was evident in the form of dull sounding gunfire and explosions that lacked forceful impact. The front three channels carry the majority of the track’s audio with the surrounds being used sparingly for ambient delivery of the music score and background filler. Dialog was clear and concise through the center channel. Imaging up front was on the narrow side which made panning sequences feel a bit compressed. Low frequency effects were present in the mix but, didn’t deliver any memorable impact. There are a few explosive moments in the film. During these moments, bass reproduction was present but, lacked palpable extension. All in all, a solid representation of this film’s era and thematic tone, which aided in providing that nostalgic feeling while watching.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: Red Heat Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Red Heat Blu-ray
    • “Arnold Schwarzenegger – The Man Who Raised Hollywood” Featurette
    • “Political Context of Red Heat” Featurette
    • “East Meets West” Featurette
    • “A Stunt Man for All Seasons” Featurette
    • “I’m Not Russian, But I Play One on TV” Featurette
    • “Making of Red Heat” Featurette
    • Original Trailer
  • Digital Copy
Final Thoughts:

Red Heat isn’t up to the level of the better action/comedy films of its time but, it has a sort of silly charm that keeps it from feeling like a complete waste of time and, watching Arnold in his heyday isn’t a bad thing. It is making its Ultra HD Blu-ray debut in this Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack from Lionsgate Home Entertainment, featuring underwhelming Ultra HD presentation (which includes Dolby Vision HDR) and, legacy supplemental material. If you’re a diehard fan of Red Heat and are set up for Ultra HD Blu-ray/Dolby Vision HDR, there may be enough of an upgrade here (at the right price) to warrant purchase consideration but, I suspect that in most cases the Blu-ray will more than suffice.
Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from  Spectracal )
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems