‘The Quick and the Dead’ 4K Ultra HD review
Director Sam Raimi’s 1995 homage to the spaghetti western debuts on ultra-high definition for fans to appreciate the fine art of gunslinging in The Quick and the Dead (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, rated R, 105 minutes, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, $30.99).
With an A-list cast featuring Gene Hackman, Sharon Stone, Russell Crowe and a very young Leonardo DiCaprio, the film offers a story about a multiday duel contest set in the grizzled and sunbaked town of Redemption.
A group of tough hombres featuring a revenge-filled female Ellen “the Lady” (Miss Stone), a preacher-turned-unwilling participant (Mr. Crowe) and a cocky punk nicknamed the Kid (Mr. DiCaprio) show up for the challenge orchestrated by the town’s vicious Mayor John Herod (Mr. Hackman).
Mr. Raimi applies all of the fast-draw, gunfight cliches to the genre during the matches, which take place each day when the clock tower clangs at the top of the hours including fast cutaways and close-ups of opponents focused on their eyes, itchy trigger fingers, pistols and the often bloody results.
Though way more campy than any Clint Eastwood-fueled western, the film never disappoints with top-notch, scene-munching performances led by a particularly vile Mr. Hackman as well as some gritty production design and stylish camera work.
Also, keep a careful eye out for other pop stars in the movie, such as Gary Sinise (“Forrest Gump”) as a doomed sheriff; Tobin Bell (“Saw”) as a crazed outlaw; Keith David (“Spawn”) as a hired gunslinger; Pat Hingle (“Batman”) as a bartender; and Lance Henriksen (“Aliens”) as Ace, the most stylish shooter in the West.
4K UHD in action: Fully restored in 2160p resolution from the original negative, the latest release allows film connoisseurs to appreciate cinematographer Dante Spinotti’s classic look at an 1800s, crumbling southwestern town.
The screen-filling presentation comes ripe with toasty, foreboding sunsets, pale blue skies, sunlight cracking through mountains, and plenty of earthy and amber tints to make viewers break out in a sweat.
Equally impressive, through the high-dynamic range upgrades, is the clarity during the smattering of heavy rainstorms that turn the hues cooler but maintain details down to rain droplets on a marshal’s badge.
Also, lots of original film grain amid the dust and haze within the town could cloud the visuals, but the restoration still allows viewers to examine some sharp, colorful focal points especially during the abundance of gunfighter close-ups revealing rotted teeth and bloodshot, beady eyes.
A few moments to savor in 4K include an almost monochromatic stroll through a graveyard with a panoramic view of mountains in the background and an explosive ending, nearly blinding after watching the subdued color pallets for most of the movie.
Additionally, the addition of a Dolby Atmos sound mix guarantees every crack of lightning during a thunderstorm, stampede of horses and every bullet fired sounds like a small sonic boom in a surround sound-enhanced entertainment room.
Best extras: Brand new for this release, the 4K disc includes seven deleted scenes (5 minutes in total and in standard definition) discovered though a slider-style menu system.
It highlights some etched illustrations of the characters as the viewer uses the player controller’s directional pad to click around the various screens to find the coveted extras.
Never-before-seen deleted moments include the origin of gunfighter Dog Kelly, the preacher Cort marrying the Kid and his sweetheart, and the Lady teasing a chained Cort with a glass of water.