The Quick and The Dead 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
Before Leonardo DiCaprio boarded the Titanic or Russel Crowe battled in Gladiator, but after Sharon Stone bared her Basic Instinct, they did a quirky little Western called THE QUICK AND THE DEAD. I wasn’t sure what to think of it at the time and 23 years later, I’m still not sure I enjoy it. Director Sam Raimi went on to direct SPIDER-MAN seven years later, but TQATD felt more like his EVIL DEAD franchise, but the campiness doesn’t always work in the Western setting.
Ellen (Stone) is traveling back to her hometown where her father was gunned down by the evil Herod (Gene Hackman). To exact her revenge, she enters the annual gunfighter contest where brave souls are paired up and the last man standing takes home the prize money. Although Ellen is the focus, she’s easily the least interesting character and is constantly upstaged by Leo’s Kid, who wants to prove he’s faster than his father and Crowe’s Cort, who turned to a life as a preacher to atone for his sins while at Herod’s side.
Two years after this, both Leo and Crowe became household names for TITANIC and L.A. CONFIDENTIAL respectively and if you’ve gone back and watched their early work, it was clear from the beginning that both of them were going to be huge stars. It’s a disservice to Stone, who might have peaked in BASIC INSTINCT, that she had to star with two near-future A-listers that stole every scene. The problem is that she’s the star, yet every time she’s on screen I wanted the camera to back and check in on Kid and/or Cort. Part of this is her bad acting, but a bigger part is the fact that her character is pretty black and white; Herod killed her father and she wants revenge, while the others have deeper, more involved backstories.
But there’s a Western Streetfighter-esque vibe to the film that is a lot of fun at times. There’s a wide array of characters and watching them duel is intense and entertaining, even if we don’t care about the outcome most of the time. Sam Raimi makes some odd directing choices at times, making certain scenes feel like something from a comic book while others are more dramatic, such as the dinner scene between Ellen and Herod. That causes some issues with tone, where the audience isn’t sure if this is a campy Western or a revenge drama.
I like the idea of THE QUICK AND THE DEAD much more than the actual movie and I think setting this up as a straight-laced Western or even a TV series might have worked better. I’ve never been a fan of Raimi’s direction and I found it distracting here, which probably prevented me from ever being able to get into the campiness of the film. I did enjoy seeing a young Leo and a young Crowe shine in one of their earlier films and Gene Hackman is always great, so it wasn’t a complete loss.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: I’m still baffled as to why this film received the 4K treatment, but it’s proof that even the smaller, less popular movies in Sony’s catalog get quality 4K releases. THE QUICK AND THE DEAD looks great on 4K and watching it on 4K, I felt more like I was watching an old Western; backgrounds had more detail, the grainy and dirty settings had pop to them and even the brightly lit scenes had an extra depth to them. The dinner scene where Herod and Ellen have their exchange looks fantastic as the few pops of color shine through in an otherwise dark scene. Film purists will love this transfer as it not only improves on the details and colors, but it also preserves the grain found in an older film. Overall, this is a nice transfer.
Audio: The Dolby Atmos track is also a nice upgrade, even though I don’t necessarily think of this movie as being audio-heavy. The one scene that stood out was when Ellen shot the rope holding Cort; I found myself looking over my shoulder for a shot-out wall.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
The original Blu-ray release didn’t have any special features, but the 4K adds in a few deleted scenes.
Deleted Scenes (5:35): Seven scenes in total, all of which are pretty short. But it was fun to watch these since I had never seen them before.