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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Highpoint (Blu-ray)
Highpoint (Blu-ray)
Kino // PG // May 16, 2017 // Region A
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted June 1, 2017 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Highpoint tells the story of a Montreal based business man named James Hatcher (Christopher Plummer) who embezzles a cool $10 million from a complicated operation that the mob was working on with the local police. Top mobster Maronzella (Peter Donat) is none too happy with this development and so he sends out hitmen Falco (Maury Chaykin) and Centino (Saul Rubinek) to catch up with Hatcher before he splits town.

The mob isn't the only organization after him, however. Also hot on his tail is a C.I.A. agent named Banner (Robin Gammell). Elsewhere, an unemployed accountant named Lewis Kinney (Richard Harris) is hired as a chauffeur/bodyguard in the employ of Hatcher's beautiful sister, Lise Hatcher (Beverly D'Angelo) and his aging disabled (and very nasty) old mother (Kate Reid). Why does this matter? Because in order to hide from the C.I.A. and the mob, Hatcher fakes his own death and tries to frame Lewis for it. Once this happens, well, Lewis is yet another person trying to hunt Hatcher down for obvious reasons, and at this point, the chase is on…

Directed by Peter Carter, best known to genre and horror fans for helming Rituals, this picture started life as a comedy before being recut and released a few years after principal photography wrapped rebranded as more of a crime thriller. Highlighted by a scene where a stuntman falls from the top of Toronto's iconic C.N. Tower, it doesn't always work but it's interesting to watch it try (especially given the supplements accompanying this release, which include the original cut of the film!). The end result is a film that really is all over the place, as it doesn't seem it was possible to cut all of the comedy from the movie and still maintain something resembling a plot. As such, we get some admittedly well done action scenes and a few scenes with a moderate amount of suspense intercut with some seriously goofy highjinks. Calling the picture uneven is being charitable, but still, as wonky as all of this is the picture is watchable enough.

A big part of what makes the movie entertaining in its own strange way is the cast. Christopher Plummer can class up pretty much anything he's cast in (even Starcrash, damn it!) and he makes for a rather likeable rascal of a lead. Richard Harris, consuming an ungodly amount of booze while still maintaining some sort of career at this point, isn't exactly great in his role but he's entertaining enough (and his narration can be rather amusing). Again, the extras shed some light as to what was going on with him around this time, his exploits inside a bottle having become the stuff of legend since. Maury Chaykin and Saul Rubinek aren't the most intimidating of mob thugs but they've both got a knack for comedy so it's easy to see why they were cast in the picture. Recognizable character actor Peter Donat is a bit more convincing as their employer. Kate Reid is actually quite good as the bitchy aging mother while Beverly D'Angelo looks flat out gorgeous here even if her character isn't all that well written or interesting.

A great car chase, a few stand out stunt scenes and plenty of globetrotting locations (we get scenes set in Los Angeles, New York, Toronto and Montreal) add some interest. It's impossible to call this one a ‘good' movie but it's one of those cases where the story surrounding it is interesting enough that some out there will want to check it out, particularly when the extras detail its bizarre history rather well. So let's talk about the disc itself…

The Blu-ray:

Video:

Code Red releases Highpoint on Blu-ray framed at 1.66.1 widescreen in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer that generally looks pretty solid. There is some softness inherent in the original photography and some minor print damage here and there but otherwise the image quality is fine. Detail is decent, texture is fairly strong and color reproduction looks nice and accurate. We also get good black levels and natural looking skin tones. There are no issues with any edge enhancement or noise reduction and any compression artifacts that might pop up are minor. All in all, the image here is pretty solid.

Sound:

The English language DTS-HD Mono track also sounds fine. Dialogue stays clean and clear while the track has good balance and remains free of any obvious hiss or distortion. The score also has a surprising amount of depth to it for an older single channel mix.

Extras:

The main extra on the disc is the inclusion of the film's original cut, which runs one hundred and twelves minutes and is presented in a fullframe standard definition presentation. It's a pretty strange alternate version that presents the movie as a much more comedic affair than it is presented as in the feature version. It's also a big old confusing mess of a movie with a completely different (and sometimes wildly inappropriate) soundtrack and plot holes big enough to drive a monster truck through. It's interesting to watch and it's great that Code Red included it here, but man oh man is it bad.

Also included on the disc is an interview with the film's composer Christopher Young, who speaks about working for New Line at this point in his career, some of the stress he was under working on a film with some A-list stars in it, complications that arose while working on the score for the movie, what New Lines expectations were on the picture and more. It's quite an interesting piece from a composer who really doesn't seem to be as well regarded as he should be given some of the titles that he's worked on over the years. Executive producer Bill Immerman also shows up in a separate interview where he discusses shooting the film in Canada to take advantage of the tax shelter program, working with notorious alcoholic Richard Harris and some of the difficulties involved in that casting choice, and other oddities that were involved in finally getting the movie out to theaters. This is quite a welcome addition to the disc as it conveys a lot of interesting information about this bizarre projects rather convoluted history!

Extras close out with a trailer for the feature, bonus trailers for Kingdom Of The Spiders and The Funny Farm, menus and chapter selection.

Final Thoughts:

Highpoint is pretty goofy stuff but credit where it's due, Code Red has done a nice job bringing it to Blu-ray. The re-edited version is the feature attraction and it looks and sounds quite nice, while the original ‘comedy' cut of the picture is included as a bonus alongside two revealing interviews. Those with an interest in the history of seventies and early eighties cinema can consider this recommended really on the strength of the package rather than the film itself.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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