Few films mean as much to me as Walter Hill’s neon drenched, musical cum western Streets of Fire. I discovered it at the right age – when I was a bit obsessed with Hill’s work overall – and it has stuck with me more than anything else that Hill made before or since. With a checkered release history from theatrical through video, 2017 finally sees a home video release that pulls out all of the stops and finally gives Streets of Fire its due.
Following the huge success of 48 Hrs, Hill returned to the more comic book leaning, alternate reality universe that he earned fervent fandom with in The Warriors five years prior. The result would be a tonally strange mash-up of music, action and romance featuring an ensemble cast of mostly newcomers (including Diane Lane and Bill Paxton). Lacking the marquee names of 48 Hrs Eddie Murphy (in his first film role) and Nick Nolte, Streets of Fire failed to catch on theatrically but found a dedicated following on video.
Video wasn’t really kind to Streets of Fire, despite earning it the audience it deserved on its first release. Universal practically ignored it stateside, with no Blu-ray even released domestically (though an HD-DVD was). It earned a few HD releases overseas, but those were as no frills as you could get. Luckily, Shout Factory have noticed the demand and have seen fit to rectify previous mistakes, resulting in a new package that has been a long time coming for fans. The movie itself is the same one that we’ve been bobbing along to for decades now and if you’ve never seen it, there’s no better time than now.
Shout Factory has brought Streets of Fire to Blu-ray for the first time in the US via a new 2K scan of the interpositive. The result is the most organic presentation to date with some of the noise reduction issues in other releases gone in favor of a healthy grain structure that remains intact throughout. Damage to the source is minimal though there are a few instances where scratches appear that otherwise could have likely been removed had a more thorough restoration job been done. My guess is that this was primarily a straight scan job, but as such it looks better than it ever has before and that should be enough for most fans. The audio also sees a huge improvement. Streets of Fire was released theatrically in 35mm and 70mm back in 1984 and, as such, we get a 2.0 track for the stereo 35mm release and a 5.1 track that is (likely) culled from the 6 track 70mm. Both sound great, with the music being as bombastic as ever and dialogue and effects coming through clear. This is an all around stellar presentation job.
And here’s where the real bells and whistles come in. If you were on the fence about buying Streets of Fire again, you won’t be anymore with this supplements package. Things start off with a feature length, 100 minute documentary titled “Hotguns & Six Strings: The Making of a Rock N Roll Fable”. This is a treasure trove of newly conducted interviews, featuring pretty much everyone involved with the making of the film. A lot of ground is covered, from Hill’s initial concepts for the film, through production and the unfortunate theatrical reception. And even all the way up to the originally planned sequels, which most participants seem still interested in making. This alone is worth buying this release for. But, if that’s not enough, we also get the 80 minute (!!) “Rumble On the Lot: Walter Hill’s Streets of Fire Revisited” which was originally on a couple of the overseas releases and features Hill and a couple other participants. It covers some of the same ground as the prior piece but has some of its own great anecdotes and much more time with Hill. After that, we get some vintage EPK footage, music videos, a still gallery, a theatrical trailer and some radio promos. An exhaustive, complete package if there ever was one. The only thing missing is a commentary track.
Streets of Fire may have not been the box office hit that it was intended to be in 1984 but time has been very kind to Walter Hill’s music fueled comic book romance and Shout Factory have now delivered the definitive home video release. I can’t imagine it getting any better than this. Highly Recommended.