My name is Ron J. Epstein, and I don't like westerns. Yes, I know it's very disconcerting that a movie reviewer can have an obvious bias against a film genre, but it's a fact… I don't like westerns. Of course, there's always an exception to the rule. For instance, "Young Guns II" is one of the more enjoyable movies I've ever seen. I've seen it at least a hundred times. Once I heard that a special edition of "Young Guns" was making its way to DVD, I jumped all over it.
The year was 1878… John Tunstall (Terence Stamp) owns a farm, and has hired a group of roughnecks to serve as his "Regulators" to protect him from Lawrence Murphy (Jack Palance). Murphy attempts to procure Tunstall's farm via a hostile takeover, which leads to the unceremonious death of the Regulators' employer. Billy the Kid (Emilio Estevez) declares himself the leader of the now-deputized Regulators, and seeks bloody revenge on Murphy and his men.
Filmed in 1988 for a relatively small budget, the cast of "Young Guns" is like a who's who of Young Hollywood. Aside from Estevez, this film also stars Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Charlie Sheen, and many other recognizable faces. This movie made enough money at the box office to warrant a sequel, which I feel is more superior. But still, I can't dismiss "Young Guns" as a bad movie. It tries to put a more "hip" spin on westerns, and is moderately successful in doing so.
Like many, my favorite part of the movie is the last 15 minutes, as it includes the epic showdown between the "Regulators" and Murphy. If you've already seen "Young Guns II", then you know who survives. Regardless, its still fun to watch.
"Young Guns" is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1. Jeez, when Artisan claimed that the transfer would be digitally remastered, I was expecting a stellar transfer. Unfortunately, what we got here is something similar to "Reservoir Dogs", in that the colors feel washed out, creating a dull picture as a result. Sure, I have never seen the original release of the "Young Guns" DVD, but man, I can't really see how it could look worse than this. C'mon Artisan, get yourselves together and try to put out the best product possible. At least there is no artifacting/pixelation present.
The audio is presented here in DTS, Dolby 5.1, and 2.0. The 5.1 and DTS sound really good, allowing for good speaker use, especially during the scenes with gun-play. The ground rumbles, fire crackles, shotguns explode, and character dialogue sounds crisp and clean. This isn't reference quality DTS, but it's good stuff nonetheless.
Static DVD menu with western music offers the following choices: "Play Movie", "Scene Index", "Special Features", and "Setup."
Artisan decided to give us a bunch of special features, and that's a good thing. The first extra is a commentary with actors Dermot Mulroney, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Casey Siemaszko. I really wasn't too surprised that the more famous cast members weren't part of the commentary, but it would have made it much better. Although quiet at times, all three have a fun time with this track, talking about their characters and busting on each other. Overall, a good commentary.
Next up is a 30-minute "Billy the Kid – The True Story" documentary. Presented in widescreen, this documentary is pretty interesting, offering neat tidbits about Billy the Kid that help to pad out his character from the movie.
"Gunning for the Facts" Trivia Track is just like those pop-up videos, offering information although the feature. For the all-encompassing informative experience, play the trivia and commentary tracks at the same time.
Lastly, we are treated to the Theatrical Trailer for "Young Guns", as well as DVD Trailers for "Dune", "Reservoir Dogs", "Rambo", and "Total Recall."
Well, if you're a fan of "Young Guns", then get this DVD, as it is unlikely that Artisan will ever go back and improve the transfer. For everybody else, this movie is worth at least a rental. Video issues aside, the DVD is packed enough with special features for me to give this a "Recommended."