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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Tuff Turf (Blu-ray)
Tuff Turf (Blu-ray)
Kl Studio Classics // R // July 9, 2019 // Region A
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted July 24, 2019 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Directed by Fritz Kiersch, the same man who gave us The Children Of The Corn and Gor, 1985's Tuff Turf introduces us to Morgan Hiller (James Spader, who has starred in all sorts of great stuff but will now forever be known as Robert California from The Office whether he likes it or not!). When his father loses the company he ran and they come into financial problems, his family leaves their fancy Connecticut home and take up residence in a much more modest apartment in a tough (or tuff, if you prefer!) part of Los Angeles. Morgan has grown up alongside his older brother, Brian (Bill Byers), who seemed to get all of the attention. This has led to a bit of a rebellious streak in Morgan, the kind of rebellious streak we just know is going to get him into trouble.

And it just so happens that trouble is exactly what he gets when he winds up at a new high school. It doesn't take long before he's definitely digging a pretty blonde named Frankie Croyden (Kim Richardson of The Car and Assault On Precinct 13). This is all well and good except for the fact that Frankie is involved with Nick Hauser (Paul Mones, who would go on to write The Quest and Double Team for Jean-Claud Van Damme), a troublemaking gang leader who has it out for Morgan. As Morgan falls harder for Frankie and she starts to respond in kind, he also befriends a drummer named Jimmy Parker (Robert Downey Jr.)… but Nick isn't just going to take from him what he believes is rightfully his.

Tuff Turf might be all over the place tonally, but it's a pretty entertaining picture and, in many ways, quite well-made. Kiersch keeps the film moving at a good pace and delivers the right mix of action, drama, tension and yes, even some romance. There are, however, times where the movie borders on camp and exploitation which contrast with the scenes that ask us to take things a bit more seriously, which can make it a little harder to invest in the film's more dramatic side. Still, if consistency of tone isn't a big deal to you, there's a lot to like here. The action scenes are pretty solid and pack a bit of impact, and hey, check out that expertly choreographed night club scene, which was put together by none other than Bob Banas, who played Joyboy in West Side Story! There's some admittedly very impressive moves on display here, and while it might sound jarring to throw a sophisticated dance scene into a movie like this, in the context of the world that Kiersch creates for Tuff Turf, it actually works quite well.

Then, of course, there's the cast. Paul Mones is really solid as the heavy in the picture. He oozes bad guy machismo and when he treats his girlfriend like his own personal property, you buy it. You believe this guy could be as much of a rat bastard as his character is supposed to be, which means he makes for a very fine villain. A young Robert Downey Jr. fresh off of 1984's First Born is really good here. Even at a young age he's got that charisma and that charm that has led to him becoming a bankable box office star, and he's pretty damn funny in the movie as well. Kim Richardson is good as the love interest. She's quite likeable and she has good chemistry with the film's lead. As to that lead? Spader is really good here. He plays the young, mouthy rebel type well. He's always had a knack for playing cocky characters and Morgan is very much that, which makes Spader well-suited for the part.

The Video:

Tuff Turf is presented on a Blu-ray in a 1.85.1 widescreen transfer in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer that was taken from a new 2k scan. While the image can and does look a little soft in the way that certain 80's movies tend to be, this is clearly how it was shot and not an issue with what is otherwise a very good picture. There's some minor print damage here and there in the form of some white specks but nothing too distracting. The film's color scheme looks excellent, the frequently garish fashions really pop at times, and there's good depth and texture. Even the softer moments, which are common, show noticeably better detail than DVD could have provided. No problem with compression to note and the picture is free of noise reduction and edge enhancement issues.

The Audio:

The English language DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio track, which is the only option for the feature, is also of excellent quality. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. This track sounds great. Dialogue is crisp and clear and the levels are balanced properly. No problems with any hiss or any distortion to complain about. Good range, nice depth. The audio here is really strong.

The Extras:

The main extra on the disc is a commentary track with director Fritz Kiersch, and it's a very good one. Kiersch has a lot to say about the picture and covers plenty of ground here. He speaks about how he came onboard to direct the picture, working with Spader and the rest of the cast, how he believes the film has retained its following over the years, the period detail that is a big part of its appeal and the film's distinct look among other topics.

Additionally, the disc includes a trailer for the feature, bonus trailers for other Kino properties (The Annihilators, My Bodyguard, Highway To Hell, No Retreat No Surrender, They're Playing With Fire and Certain Fury), menus and chapter selection. Kino also provide some nice reversible cover art for this release.

Overall:

Tuff Turf is a bit too ‘all over the place' for its own good but that doesn't stop it from entertaining. Worth seeing for the cast alone, the film also features some good action, impressive choreography and at the same time also serves as a fun eighties time capsule. Kino's Blu-ray isn't stacked with extras but the director's commentary is a good one and the presentation for the feature is very strong. Recommended.

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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