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4K UHD Review: Kino Lorber’s Red Dragon (KL Studio Classics) 

Red Dragon

The fine folks at Kino Lorber have pulled out all the stops for their 4K UHD edition of Red Dragon including an all-new 4K Scan of the Original Camera Negative

The Film 

Here’s a shocker.  Especially to Hannibal Lecter fans.  Red Dragon isn’t a terrible film.  It’s actually a pretty good solid thriller.  I know many want to pile on to this adaptation, for many reasons, but its cast and adaptation manage to make it an effective entry into the most surprising of franchises.  It isn’t even close to the worst Lecter entry.  

Most know the story.  Will Graham (Edward Norton) is pulled back into the Behavioral Sciences game after some subtle emotional manipulation by former boss FBI Director Jack Crawford (Harvey Keitel) to catch the newest serial killer haunting America, the Tooth Fairy.  However, Graham’s intuition and his trusty mini tape recorder aren’t enough.  To catch this newest killer, Graham will have to work with the monster that pushed him out of the FBI – Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins).  Can Lecter help Graham find the Tooth Fairy before his next victims or is Lecter just toying with his captor in an effort to exact revenge.  

Part of the success of Red Dragon comes from screenwriter Ted Tally’s adaptation of the original source material from Thomas Harris.  Tally’s work here much like his Award-Winning work on Silence of the Lambs humanizes the cold detached prose of Harris’ work.  Though not as sharp as Silence (very few films are as adroit an adaptation as Silence of the Lambs is).  Tally keeps most of the larger beats, similar to Manhunter, but where Manhunter is all style and design (which isn’t a bad thing, Manhunter is a stone-cold classic), Red Dragon takes the more humanistic approach.  

The other part is of course the acting.  Norton and Hopkins do the cop versus serial killer dance better than most.  Though both actors feel less engaged with the work than they usually are.  It’s Ralph Fiennes as Francis Dolarhyde/Tooth Fairy that steals the show.  Fiennes never met a role that he didn’t just completely inhabit – especially the darker violent ones he takes on.  There isn’t the cold detached feeling from Manhunter and its Dolarhyde, Tom Noonan.  Fiennes ensures we understand the true struggle within Dolarhyde after he begins his tenuous relationship with Reba. The film is filled with great supporting performances by the likes of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Emily Watson, Mary Louise Parker, Bill Duke, and returning from Silence – Anthony Heald and Frankie Faison.  

Red Dragon ultimately is your average cop versus serial killer film just elevated by the writing and performances.  One that fans of the series will be surprised by with a revisit. 

The Transfer

The all-new HDR/Dolby Vision Master – From a 4K Scan of the 35mm Original Camera Negative is a marvel of a visual presentation.  The HDR/Dolby Vision makes this darkly lit film positively glow.  The new UHD disc gives a boost to the image quality and sharpness to the 35mm shot film by Dante Spinotti.  The black and contrast levels are gorgeously subtle and luster-y in a way that film often is but home video presentation isn’t.  The transfer as a whole feels like the best of what’s possible with 4K UHD – giving us a presentation that dare I would say is better than the one I saw opening data in Hollywood back in 2002.  

The Extras

They include the following; 

  • Audio Commentary by Director Brett Ratner and Screenwriter Ted Tally
  • Isolated Score with Audio Commentary by Composer Danny Elfman
  • The Making of Red Dragon: Featurette 
  • A Director’s Journey: Documentary 
  • Visual Effects: Featurette 
  • Screen and Film Tests: Featurette 
  • Anthony Hopkins – Lecter and I: Featurette 
  • The Burning Wheelchair: Featurette 
  • The Leeds’ House Crime Scene: Featurette 
  • Makeup Application: Featurette
  • Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer – Hosted by John Douglas: Featurette 
  • Storyboard to Final Film Comparison 
  • Brett Ratner’s Student Film 
  • Deleted Scenes 
  • Alternate Scenes
  • Extended Scenes
  • Theatrical Trailer

The archival Audio Commentary by Director Brett Ratner and Screenwriter Ted Tally opens with how Ratner got the directing assignment to the film – including a Dino DeLaurentis story.  Some of the other details include how they designed and modeled Lecter’s office; how they were able to get the creatives from both Manhunter and Silence of the Lamb to build continuity from Silence (which this is a prequel to); how they convinced Hopkins to attach to the project; filming and editing the title sequence; the challenges of directing darker films vs. comedic films; a discussion of the editing of the film – challenges with acting, script, visuals and how they combine and how they worked on them; the score and working with Danny Elfman; the issues with having to accurately recreate the Baltimore Hospital and Lecter’s cell; directing and writing the Lecter and Will Graham scenes; the work of Hopkins as Lecter – and how it varies from the other Lecter films he’s in; working with Ralph Fiennes as Dolarhyde/Tooth Fairy; a larger conversation throughout of the various actors in the film and how they were cast and why; and much more.  The duo’s archival commentary track is filled with great information and anecdotes from the production.  

The second commentary track is a two-for with an Isolated Score with Audio Commentary by Composer Danny Elfman.  The track alternates from the score to the composer discussing the various aspects of his work, e.g., how he was hired; his approach to the score; how scores are constructed during huge set pieces or major dramatic scenes; and much more.  Note that this is a great fascinating track, but one must understand that this is more of an Isolated Score than a commentary track so there is more score than commentary.  However, make no mistake that Elfman provides a truly wonderful track discussing the creation of a score.  

A Director’s Journey: Documentary (39:27) – beginning with the world premiere of Red Dragon and working backward this featurette is a look at director Brent Ratner’s point of view in making the thriller.  Starting with pre-production/location scouting moving through the entire preproduction to the production itself to post-production no detail isn’t covered – including a set appearance by Michael Jackson.  

The Making of Red Dragon: Featurette (14:20) – this extended EPK making-of featurette is more about selling the story rather than the making of the film, unlike the prior featurette.  The featurette does have some great b-roll footage of the production.  Featuring interviews with stars Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, director Ratner, actors Mary Louise Parker, Emily Watson, and others.  

Visual Effects: Featurette (4:26) – this featurette covers the various Visual FX sequences that aided practical FX work like set extensions, various scenes where items were removed, changing various exteriors from the time of day they were shot, and much more.  

Screen and Film Tests: Featurette (11:43) – this featurette is a bit of commentary by Ratner, cinematographer Dante Spinotti, and Makeup FX Designer Matthew Mungle as they go through the various tests for the film and why they do tests.  The various tests they cover are hair tests, screen comparison tests, set design tests, prop tests, color tests, and much more.  

Anthony Hopkins – Lecter and I: Featurette (4:25) – this featurette looks at Hopkin’s history with Lecter from Silence of the Lambs, casting, winning of the Oscar, and the years of work.  

The Burning Wheelchair: Featurette (4:01) – this featurette features Stunt Coordinator Conrad Palmisano and stuntman Keii Johnston (the man doing the burn stunt) and others as they film this sequence.  Many will want to watch this for the rare appearance by Philip Seymour Hoffman. 

The Leeds’ House Crime Scene: Featurette (3:38) – this featurette follows the LAPD technical advisor (Lt. Ray Peavy) as he works with the filmmakers to ensure an “accurately” depicted crime scene.  

Makeup Application: Featurette (0:46) – this all-too-brief look at b-roll footage of make-up application specifically with the mirrors in eyeballs that take up only a fraction of a second in the film. 

Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer – Hosted by John Douglas: Featurette (8:17) – this featurette covers Douglas’s real-life work as an FBI Profiler (and the inspiration for many, many, many FBI agents in film and TV series).  Discussion includes Douglas’ work in the 1970s tracking and profiling Serial Killers that were in captivity and much more.  

Storyboard to Final Film Comparison (8:39) – the split screen storyboard comparison featurette covers the following scenes – the opening Lecter vs. Graham scene; Dolarhyde burns down his house; the Dolarhyde house blows up; the final confrontation between Graham and Dolarhyde. 

Brett Ratner’s Student Film (3:37) – the black and white short Ratner filmed at NYU is about a dinner date gone wrong, in each of the parties’ minds.  The short is silent.  

Deleted Scenes (5:23) – the seven deleted scenes can be played with commentary by Ratner, Tally, and Editor Mark Helfrich on why these scenes were cut.  There is a submenu that allows multiple options – Play All; Play All with Commentary; Play Individual Deleted Scene; Play Individual Deleted Scene with Commentary. 

Alternate Scenes (4:34) – the four alternate scenes can be played with commentary by Ratner, Tally, and Editor Mark Helfrich on why these scenes played out differently in the theatrical cut of the film.  There is a submenu that allows multiple options – Play All; Play All with Commentary; Play Individual Alternate Scene; Play Individual Alternate Scene with Commentary.  

Extended Scenes (2:28) – the three extended scenes can be played with commentary by Ratner, Tally, and Editor Mark Helfrich on why these scenes were cut down from their original form. There is a submenu that allows multiple options – Play All; Play All with Commentary; Play Individual Extended Scene; Play Individual Extended Scene with Commentary.  

Rounding out the special features are trailers for Red Dragon (2:06); Silence of the Lambs (1:52); Hannibal (2:19)

The Final Thought 

Kino Lorber has given Red Dragon the special edition treatment with a beautiful 4K transfer and in-depth extras. Recommended!!! 

Kino Lorber’s 4K UHD Edition of Red Dragon is out now


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