CLIFFHANGER [1993 / 2018] [37th Anniversary Edition] [Blu-ray] [UK Release]
One of Stallone’s Best, Tense and Terrific Action Filmmaking at Its Best!

She was an experienced climber, she trusted him to rescue her, but something went wrong high above the valley floor and Gabe Walker [Sylvester Stallone] has been blaming himself for her death ever since.

Unable to deal with the tragedy, Gabe Walker quit his job with the Rocky Mountain Rescue team and fled from his cherished mountains, leaving behind his self-esteem, his friends and the woman he loves. Now he must return to those dreaded peaks, where he finds himself trapped in a desperate battle against ruthless criminals, unforgiving nature and himself in ‘CLIFFHANGER.’

FILM FACT No.1: Awards and Nominations: 1993 Awards Circuit Community Awards: Nomination: Best Sound for Bob Beemer, Gregg Baxter, Michael Minkler, Tim Cooney and Wylie Stateman. Nomination: Best Visual Effects. 1994 Academy Awards®: Nomination: Best Sound for Bob Beemer, Bob Beemer, Michael Minkler and Tim Cooney. Nomination: Best Effects for Sound Effects Editing for Gregg Baxter and Wylie Stateman. Nomination: Best Effects for Visual Effects for John Bruno, John Richardson, Neil Krepela and Pamela Easley. 1994 ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards: Win: Top Box Office Film Score for Trevor Jones. 1994 Awards of the Japanese Academy: Nomination: Best Foreign Film. 1994 Cinema Audio Society, USA: Nomination: Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Feature Films for Bob Beemer (re-recording mixer), Michael Minkler (re-recording mixer) and Tim Cooney (production mixer). 1994 MTV Movie + TV Awards: Nomination: Best Action Sequence for the opening catwalk sequence. 1994 Razzie Awards: Nomination: Worst Picture for Alan Marshall and Renny Harlin. Nomination: Worst Supporting Actor for John Lithgow. Nomination: Worst Supporting Actress for Janine Turner. Nomination: Worst Screenplay for Michael France (also story) and Sylvester Stallone.    

FILM FACT No.2: ‘CLIFFHANGER’ is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the costliest aerial stunt ever performed. Stuntman Simon Crane was paid $1 million to perform the aerial transfer scene, where he crossed between two planes at an altitude of 15,000 feet (4,600 m). The principal climbing doubles were Ron Kauk and Wolfgang Güllich. The latter performed as Sylvester Stallone's climbing double before he died in a car accident in 1992. ‘CLIFFHANGER’ was filmed on location in Monte Lagazuoi, Cortina d'Ampezzo, Belluno, Veneto, Dolomites, Italy. Durango, Rocky Mountains, Colorado, USA.

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, John Lithgow, Michael Rooker, Janine Turner, Rex Linn, Caroline Goodall, Leon, Craig Fairbrass, Gregory Scott Cummins, Denis Forest, Michelle Joyner, Max Perlich, Paul Winfield, Ralph Waite, Trey Brownell, Zach Grenier, Vyto Ruginis, Don S. Davis, Scott Hoxby, John Finn, Bruce McGill, Rosemary Dunsmore, Kim Robillard, Jeff McCarthy, Mike Weis, Duncan Prentice, Kevin Donald, Jeff Blynn, Thor and Billy D. Lucas (uncredited)

Director: Renny Harlin

Producers: Alan Marshall, David Rotman, Gene Patrick Hines, James R. Zatolokin, Jim Davidson, Lynwood Spinks, Mario Kassar, Renny Harlin and Tony Munafo

Screenplay: John Long (premise), Michael France (screen story/screenplay) and Sylvester Stallone (screenplay) 

Composer: Trevor Jones

Costume Designer: Ellen Mirojnick

Cinematography: Alex Thomson, B.S.C. (Director of Photography)

Image Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic)

Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
French: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
German: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo Audio
English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo Audio

Subtitles: French, German, English, French SDH and German SDH

Running Time: 112 minutes

Region: Region B/2

Number of discs: 1

Studio: CAROLCO / StudioCanal

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: With the film ‘CLIFFHANGER’ [1993] we find Sylvester Stallone confronting impossible odds, and generally taking a hell of a beating before a redeeming victory and the film has all those ingredients and remains one of the best action thrillers of the 1990s. The opening 10 minutes contain more tension than most action blockbusters can muster in their total running time. Director Renny Harlin hits the viewer hard with a bravado scene that's tough to top. Sly mounts a rescue bid to get the girlfriend of his mountain-climbing mate Hal to safety. As we all know it goes horribly wrong, but it's a credit to Renny Harlin that he squeezes such excitement out of it anyway.

Sylvester Stallone, obviously, did more than take a pencil to the film's inconsequential script; he also stars as Gabe Walker, mainstay of the Rocky Mountain Rescue Team, specialists in helping those stranded in the unforgiving snows of Colorado. After a challenging on-site experience that is perhaps the film ‘CLIFFHANGER’ has the best sequence, where Gabe Walker [Sylvester Stallone] decides the mountains are no longer for him and wants his sweetheart and fellow rescuer Jessie Deighan [Janine Turner] to leave as well, but she thinks that's an offer she cannot refuse.

While Jessie Deighan and Gabe Walker exchange insights about the  vagaries of human behaviour, another evil plot evolves where a Treasury jet carrying exactly $100 million is attacked by hijackers, and soon the cases of money as well as the plane come crashing down right in Jessie Deighan and Gabe Walker's neck of the woods. Eric Qualen [John Lithgow], the oh-so-evil genius who heads the hijack crew, decides he needs professional help locating the $100 million, not to mention getting back to town. And, quicker than Jack Frost, here we find Jessie Deighan, Gabe Walker and teammate Hal Tucker [Michael Rooker] all end up on top of the mountain going toe to toe with the desperate hijackers.

The icy blues, greys, and whites of the Italian Alps settings dazzle in this spectacular transfer to this BRAND NEW 4K RESTORATION. There is a biting freshness to this action packed film, that along with the quality cinematography from Alex Thomson and is helped with the aspect ratio, beautifully captures the scale of this adventure. Previous inferior DVD video releases of ‘CLIFFHANGER’ were really lacking in terms of sound quality and the Dolby Surround audio track always seemed very uninspiring in giving the rock-jumping antics on screen very lacklustre.

It's also a very efficient way of getting Sylvester Stallone back into the type of situation he revels in this type of action packed film he revels in. Obviously Sylvester Stallone is filled with total remorse, decides to give up on climbing, breaks up with girlfriend Janine Turner, and moves away into isolation. Furthermore, his former mate Hal Tucker [Michael Rooker] is unstinting in laying the blame on Gabe Walker and what he needs is a plane full of bad guys to crash into a mountain so that he can return to the cliffs and redeem himself. And lo and behold director Renny Harlin delivers such a situation in spectacular style.

Aside from having to battle against Mother Nature, Sylvester Stallone also has to take on a bunch of villains led by a snarling John Lithgow. It's a great combo and Sylvester Stallone tackles everything in his path with gusto, putting in the type of performance that was missing from previous films and Renny Harlin really makes the most out of the high altitude locations, while never forgetting to keep the pace up rather than rely on the awesome vertigo scenery that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

‘CLIFFHANGER’ has always been one of my very favourite Sylvester Stallone film and arguably the best ever Renny Harlin film, apart from the film ‘Die Hard’ and I will say that I consider Renny Harlin to be a very underrated director and I think he can really shoot the hell out of an action scene. This has some of the most breath-taking action scenes you will ever see and it was a film before those CGI special effects boffins took over control of the situation. The opening dramatic scene is an exercise in tension with a devastating payoff. To this day, I still grip the seat hoping that Sarah will be saved! On top of all that the film ‘CLIFFHANGER’ has a fabulous music score by Trevor Jones. The only negative aspect of this film was the fact that a couple of the actors in the evil gang were absolutely atrocious wooden actors.


DO YOU NEED SOME? (Written by Matt Mercado) [Performed by Mind Bomb]

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Blu-ray Image Quality – CAROLCO and StudioCanal presents the film ‘CLIFFHANGER’ with a stunning and brilliant 1080p image that was shot on 35mm film and given a new transfer and given an equally brilliant 2.35:1 (Anamorphic) aspect ratio. For the most part, the results are stunning. The film shows tons of detail without too much excess noise, especially in brighter scenes. Some dimmer scenes lack the superb details of the outdoor scenes but none are murky or dark as some other previous image transfers. When the plane explodes in mid-air, the reflection of the explosion on the other plane is noticeably off because they’re trying to show extra highlights that they can’t without using a digital intermediate, but overall the film looks fantastic and benefits from this brilliant image upgrade. Please Note: Playback Region B/2: This will not play on most Blu-ray players sold in North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Learn more about Blu-ray region specifications.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – CAROLCO and StudioCanal brings you the film ‘CLIFFHANGER’ with a brilliant 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and is a greatly improved upgrade from previous releases and it is just fantastic. The subwoofers are put through their paces with the action moving all around you. Dialogue is easy to understand, but the impact of an avalanche or a helicopter crash is there and comes through. More films could learn how they can improve their updated soundtracks by looking at how ‘CLIFFHANGER’ did it, as it sounds like it was mastered this year, not 25 years ago.  

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Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Special Feature: Audio Commentary with Renny Harlin and Sylvester Stallone [Audio only] [2018] [1080p] [2.35:1] [110:58] With this featurette, we get to hear this audio commentary with Director Renny Harlin and actor Sylvester Stallone (recorded separately), both of whom offer in-depth, often fascinating perspective on the film's production. As the film starts up we first get to hear from Renny Harlin and wanted to start the film off with the mountains and also wanted to show the majesty of the mountains to give the film a dramatic start to the film especially with the helicopter, but also wanted to first show us Sylvester Stallone climbing up the dangerous part of the mountain which was done for real, as well as the other mountain climbing actors, and he wanted to have the audiences in the cinema on the edge of their seats not knowing if they would succeed or not, and Renny Harlin feels the actors had a lot of guts doing what they did, and also had a great deal of respect to those main actors is doing those dangerous climbs. But at the same time what is also so annoying and irritating about Renny Harlin is that he keeps stating the obvious what we are viewing and should just stick to directing films. Now we hear from Sylvester Stallone and informs us that at first he was really scared climbing up those mountains when filming started, and had to psych himself up to do what he had to do climbing up the mountain for the film and says the key factor is to never look down especially to do with the height factor was the most difficult decision for Sylvester Stallone, but over time he said that they could not keep me off the ledge, and by the end of the movie nothing scared Sylvester Stallone. Renny Harlin comes back to say that he wanted an actress that would not be scared of heights and was keen to do dangerous scenes when filming and especially was keen when the actress Michelle Joyner did the scene where she had to be attached to the wire over the massive drop and where she had to pull herself over the wire to the rescue helicopter, and of course the actress was doing a very dangerous stunt for real, where of course you see the actress eventually and sadly drops to her death, but of course this is not for real and the more dangerous part was filmed in a studio with a massive inflated blue screen mattress on the studio floor, but when you see the scene with her dropping to her death, that was an actual dummy. Renny Harlin gives renewed respect for the actors and crew, who endured extreme hardship and dangerous conditions to make this action-thriller. Most of what we assume to be trick photography or digital doctoring turns out to be real-life footage performed either by the actors themselves or extremely brave stunt people, and Renny Harlin details how these intricate sequences were shot. Renny Harlin also talks  about the  casting of Janine Turner and his perspective on movie violence. Stallone shares some anecdotes about his initial crippling fear of heights and climactic fight scene with Lithgow, and reflects on the personal importance of the film. This is a highly worthwhile commentary that will delight both diehard fans and those who appreciate film craftsmanship. For the most part, the director provides some interesting information. Renny Harlin tends to stick mainly to the technical side of the coin, but he makes his discussion engaging, with only a few dull spots. Renny Harlin even attempts to defend his gratuitous violence. As we come to the end of this audio commentary with Renny Harlin and Sylvester Stallone and I personally found Renny Harlin’s audio commentary very boring and kept stating the obvious what we were viewing in the film, whereas I found the Sylvester Stallone’s audio comments mush more interesting and informative, so because of that I can really only give this a three star rating.

Special Feature: Audio Commentary with Technical Crew [Audio only] [2018] [1080p] [2.35:1] [107:10] With this featurette, as the film starts we have a personal introduction by Editor Frank Urioste, Co-visual Effects Supervisors Neil Krepela and John Bruno, and Production Designer John Vallone. The second commentary is worthwhile, too, though there's a bit of overlap in certain scenes. Editor Frank J. Urioste, production designer John Vallone, and co-visual effects supervisors Neil Krepela and John Bruno focus on the film's technical aspects and explain in detail how various sequences were shot and pieced together. We learn where sets, mattes, and blue screens were employed, the nuts and bolts of each speaker's respective craft, and some of the logistical challenges the company faced. Although the focus here also sticks mainly to the effects and other technical facets of the production, I found the track to be quite stimulating and entertaining. Some technically-oriented commentaries can be very dry and overly stiff, but that's not the case here. Each of the participants relates a lot of good information about the project and about the nature of filmmaking in general. But again I found this audio commentary very boring and not of any interest.

Special Feature: A Personal Introduction from Renny Harlin [2018] [480i] [1.37:1] [4:53] With this featurette, we have this short video piece from Renny Harlin who mainly contributes a discussion about how the film ‘CLIFFHANGER’ came together and how he explains why he wanted to make the film and what he wanted to do with the material. We also see brief video interview excerpts of Sylvester Stallone and actress Janine Turner, plus there is some footage of Renny Harlin from the set. Most interesting is the clip in which he apparently tries to show Sylvester Stallone that he can survive the intimidating heights. We also get some in-depth information that reads: In February of 1991 Mario Kassar, the chairman of CAROLCO Pictures sent director Renny Harlin the first draft of an action adventure film set in the mountains . . . and of course it turns out it was for the film ‘CLIFFHANGER.’

Special Feature: Deleted Scenes [1993] [480i] [1.37:1] [8:18] With this featurette, we get to view two deleted scenes and they include: “King’s Leap” and “Ice Climb.” though most of that comes from actual cut deleted footage; introductory and additional videotaped discussions from Renny Harlin fill most of the time. Renny Harlin completely explains why he excised them and the two deleted scenes we get to view, which are mildly interesting.

Special Feature: Stallone on the Edge: The Making of ‘CLIFFHANGER’ [1993] [480i] [1.37:1] [20:03] With this featurette, we get to view and introduction from the actor Sylvester Stallone on why he decided to make the film ‘CLIFFHANGER’ and throughout this featurette we get a one to one with Sylvester Stallone explaining the process of making the film and why he wanted the challenge of making the film ‘CLIFFHANGER’ and as an added bonus we get to view behind-the-scene location footage and we also get to view several film clips from ‘CLIFFHANGER.’ Sylvester Stallone presents some of the shooting most difficult sequences while filming around the Italian Alps. Also interviewed are some cast members, director Renny Harlin and stunt-performers. The featurette offers a very good look at the filming of scenes, and it provides some good footage from the set that's interspersed with mainly comments from Sylvester Stallone. The featurette was created around the time of the ‘CLIFFHANGER’ film release, which is why Sylvester Stallone appears in ‘Demolition Man’ outfit for his narration shots. Contributors include: Sylvester Stallone [Narrator], Janine Turner [Jessie Deighan], John Lithgow [Qualen], Renny Harlin [Director/Producer], Terry Miller [1st Assistant Director], Frank J. Urioste [Editor], Joel Kramer [Stunt Coordinator], Alan Marshall [Producer], Michael Rooker [Hal Tucker], Mike Weis [Climb Coordinator] and Kevin Donald [Safety & Climbing Director].

Special Feature: Special Effects: With this featurette, we get to view a decent look at two of the film’s most memorable effects stunt filmed sequences that were achieved, and they are as follows:

Sarah’s Fall [1993] [480i] [1.37:1] [4:39] With this featurette, we get Renny Harlin explains in great detail what they wanted to achieve with this particular sequence in the film, and even though what we view is extremely scary, even though the actress Michelle Joyner who plays Sarah is fitted with metal safety harness.

The Helicopter Explosion [1993] [480i] [1.37:1] [2:45] With this featurette, we once again we get Renny Harlin goes into great in-depth information about the process leading up to the amazing helicopter fight sequence with John Lithgow and Sylvester Stallone and of course the final sequence of the helicopter crashing to the ground in a massive explosion, and to make the sequence look very powerful and very unusual and something you will not have seen before, and at the same time very satisfying in the demise of the nasty evil villain character played by John Lithgow, and the actual helicopter that explodes was actually a miniature helicopter. Explaining everything we get to view and the procedure of that particular filmed scene of the miniature helicopter crashing we get to see is all explained by Neil Krepela of Boss Films.   

Special Feature: Storyboard Comparisons [1993] [1080i] [1.37:1] [12:01] With this featurette, we get to view three storyboard illustrations, that also includes the finished filmed scenes and they include “Sarah’s Fall;” “Air To Air Transfer” and “Helicopter Explosion.”

Special Feature: Trailer Introduction From Renny Harlin [1993] [480i] [1.37:1] [3:26] With this featurette, we get a personal introduction from director Renny Harlin and at the same time we get a sub heading entitled “The Trailer: How it was Produced” and once again Renny Harlin explains in-depth on how he wanted the Theatrical Trailer to be portrayed for the general release of the film ‘CLIFFHANGER.’ Unfortunately with this particular featurette I personally feel that director Renny Harlin comes over as a totally pompous idiot.

Finally, the ‘CLIFFHANGER’ is a re-issue film, and is one for the true Sylvester Stallone fans alone and also people with hunger for nostalgia of this film genre, so if that’s you, well I  am definitely one of them, then you will love ‘CLIFFHANGER.’ The film shines a spotlight on how action films were made in 1993. Back then, it was in the days before drones and special effects computers, seemed to be almost as dangerous and fraught as the films themselves, and that is something well worth exploring, understanding and savouring. But if you suffer from Vertigo then I would suggest that maybe you should avoid the film ‘CLIFFHANGER’ as there are lots of sweeping shots of very tall mountains and some amazing stunts that will keep you on the edge of your seat and if you do not hate heights before viewing this film, then you sure will by the end of the film and feel totally exhausted. Overall, ‘CLIFFHANGER’ is a classic action packed film with plenty of tension and thrills to keep the most hard-core action junkie happy. But if you are slightly cynical about this film, then the following comments by film critics might change your mind and this is what their highlight comments said about the film and they are: “Action filmmaking at its best” (4 Star); “One of Sylvester Stallone’s best and tense and terrific” and “One of the best action thrillers of the 1990’s.” Very Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado 
Le Cinema Paradiso 
United Kingdom

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