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Blu-Ray Review: Kino Lorber’s The Experts (KL Studio Classics) 

The Experts

The Cult Cold War Comedy The Experts comes to Blu-ray from Kino Lorber

The Film 

Confession time. 

I love The Experts.  I have loved it since the first time I saw it on HBO or Showtime I’m not sure which it was. But the first wasn’t the last, in fact, the summer the cable network had it on I watched it at least twenty times.  Each time it just grew in esteem in my world.  So much so that I may have recorded it to VHS. 

Luckily thirty-five years later the film still works.  The Experts is a silly affair from the get-go mixing comedy and espionage with expertise (yes, puns and deal with it).  The film’s concept of a training facility in Russia that’s built as a small-town America though outdated in the mold of small-town 1950s America and in need of a more modern culture is as high concept you get.  

Adding in John Travolta and Arye Gross as buddies and comedic foils only adds to the charm of the piece.  Not to be outdone both Kelly Preston and Deborah Foreman prove capable, if vastly unwritten, romantic foils for Travolta and Gross respectively.  Though, one only needs to see Travolta and Preston on the dance floor to understand why the chemistry was so palpable they would eventually marry and start a family.  Gross and Foreman are wonderfully low-key with Foreman working in that Valley Girl by way of the KGB.

Supporting turns by Charles Martin Smith, James Keach, and Brian Doyle-Murray are all aces, with Smith doing much of the heavy lifting for everyone.  Though Rick ‘The ‘Burbs’ Ducommun steals the show as a stick-in-the-mud Russian Spy playing at being a stick-in-the-mud Priest to great comedic effect.  

The Experts in the end is a charming relic of the Cold War Era that is surprisingly not as patriotically stupid as one would think.  In fact, the politics are kept to a minimum, though the third act does go very KGB/Soviet Bloc in the way that Stripes does. Though unfortunately, there isn’t an RV from Hades.  Maybe if they had The Experts would have been a wild box office success (just a few months later, in January 1990, Paramount would release The Hunt For Red October the biggest Cold War Epics to end all Cold War Epics).  

The Transfer

The all-new HD Master – From a 4K Scan of the 35mm Original Camera Negative by Paramount Pictures is a delight.  Having seen this film more times than I would like to admit – the film on Blu-ray is beautiful.  The 4K scan has led to a consistently verbose image that’s sharp while retaining a beautiful patina of grain that makes the transfer look more filmic than video.  The bright color palette used in the film is mimics perfectly here with a pop on the color reproduction that only would be better if KL had decided to release this as a 4K with Dolby Vision encoding.  No matter your thoughts on The Experts as a film, visually KL, and Paramount have done right by the film with this Blu-Ray.  

The Extras

They include the following;

  • Interview with Director Dave Thomas
  • Theatrical Trailer (Newly Mastered in 2K)

Comrades in Film: The Making of The Experts with Director Dave Thomas (13:13) – in this all-new interview with Director Dave Thomas – filmed via Zoom – specifically looking at the making of this wonderful cult comedy.  Some of the details include how he got the job directing the film; the cast of the film – including working with Travolta; some casting “what if’s” – including a hilarious choice that never made it past the audition; Travolta dancing and how the dance scene played out – including choreographing the dance number; the casting of Kelly Preston and working with her; the failure of the film; and much more.  In lieu of a commentary track, Thomas’ interview is an informative piece about the production.  

Rounding out the special features are The Experts [Newly Mastered in 2K] (1:32), Moment by Moment (1:34); Staying Alive (2:59); Secret Admirer (1:33); Running Scared (1:30); Gotcha! (1:35); Crackers (0:34); The Nude Bomb (2:48) 

The Final Thought 

The Experts is something wholly unexpected… a delightfully funny Cold War Comedy.  Kino Lorber has done it right by giving us a great Blu-ray edition.  Recommended!!! 

Kino Lorber’s Blu-Ray edition of The Experts is out now.

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