Rumble Fish Ltd Ed Blu-ray

Wednesday, 29 August 2012 08:59
Posted in Blu-Ray
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Rumble Fish - now a Limited Edition Blu-ray release“Rumble Fish” is a companion piece to “The Outsiders”, both directed by the legendary Francis Ford Coppola and based on novels about street gangs by S E Hinton. Shot almost entirely in black and white, this movie has quite a different, art-house feel to it. It stars Matt Dillon as Rusty James, a slow-witted hoodlum who is struggling to match his absent brother’s idolised status amongst city kids, and constantly getting into scrapes.

When his brother (Mickey Rourke – “Sin City”, “The Wrestler”), aka The Motorcycle Boy, returns to town, Rusty wants things to return to the way they used to be. Gangs seem to have largely faded away though, and the heat immediately focuses back on the siblings in the shape of a cop (William Smith – “Red Dawn”, “Maniac Cop”) obsessed with taking them down. Lacking any sense of purpose or direction, the only way is down. “Rumble Fish” has a great cast. Supporting Dillon (“Crash”, “There’s Something About Mary”) and Rourke are the stunning Diane Lane (“The Perfect Storm”) as Rusty’s on-off girlfriend.

Nicolas Cage (“The Rock”, “Leaving Las Vegas”) is in his first major role as one of the gang, Dennis Hopper (“Speed”) is the brothers’ drunkard father, and Laurence Fishburne (“The Matrix”) as a kind of go-between for what remains of the gangs. Notable actors in smaller roles include Vincent Spano, Chris Penn and musician Tom Waits as a pool hall owner.

The film’s plot is very concise and the characters - especially the brothers - drift through it, bouncing from one confrontation, mischievous act or bar to another. Coppola (“The Godfather Trilogy”, “Apocalypse Now”) shoots it very inventively, using acute camera angles and lots of time-lapse photography to accentuate the passage of time, as shadows climb the sides of buildings or stretch across the roads. Smoke and fog are used to engulf the characters or provide a backdrop where they can figuratively see no way out beyond their current aimless existence.

It is definitely a visually arresting experience, though I did occasionally find myself distracted by the techniques (gimmicks?), as though Coppola might actually have overdone it a little.

Time is echoed everywhere: in Stewart Copeland’s metronomic soundtrack, in clocks on many walls, and in the constant looking back to how things used to be with The Motorcycle Boy around, ruling the roost. Each time Rusty’s ambitions get knocked back or he gets knocked out, he bounces back as though unaware of his previous failure, partially reminiscent of “Groundhog Day”.

The performances are superb, though Rourke is perhaps the biggest surprise. Unlike the heavy-duty, thunderous characters he tends to play now, The Motorcycle Boy is a softly-spoken lad who, although blessed with supreme physical confidence and no small amount of madness, has numerous layers of subtlety.

This new Blu-ray release is visually as crisp as they come, but the audio-side is probably even more remarkable. Copeland’s soundtrack is partnered by some quite fantastic sound mixing, with the city of Tulsa captured by a soundscape of rumbling freight trains, traffic, dripping pipes and other immersive noises. Crank the surround-sound system up to 11 when you watch this beauty!

The special features include:

  • New HD transfer of the film officially licensed from Universal and presented in 1080p in its original aspect ratio
  • Original stereo and 5.1 surround soundtracks, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Music and effects track
  • Audio commentary by Francis Ford Coppola
  • On Location in Tulsa, a video piece featuring new and vintage interviews and behind-the-scenes footage
  • The Percussion-Based Score, a video piece on the film's soundtrack
  • Six deleted scenes
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hearing-impaired on the feature
  • A lavish booklet featuring the words of Francis Ford Coppola, rare archival imagery, and more.


Alongside Coppola’s excellent commentary track, the ‘Percussion-Based Score’ is the stand-out element here. Copeland (from the band The Police) and one of the sound mixers (Richard Beggs) take us through the old-school, multi-track, looping techniques they employed to construct the great soundtrack. They dig out old tapes to show us how it was done, oozing enthusiasm and fond memories from when the film was in production.

"Rumble Fish" (1983) is out now on Blu-ray, courtesy of Eureka Entertainment. The main feature has a running time of 95 minutes approx, carries an ‘18’ certificate and retails for £19.99 on regular Blu-ray, £29.99 for the Limited Steelbook Edition, or less from www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Wednesday, 29 August 2012 09:03

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