Vigilante (1983) – 4K UHD Blu-ray Review

Commissions Earned

Film Title: Vigilante (1983)
Release Date: 2020
Runtime: 89 minutes
Region Coding: Region Free
Studio: Blue Underground
Audio: Dolby Atmos / DTS-HD MA 5.1 & 2.0
High Dynamic Range: HDR10, Dolby Vision
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Version Reviewed: 4K UHD Blu-ray
Release Date: 12/15/20
Director: William Lustig
Cast: Robert ForsterFred WilliamsonRichard Bright, Joseph CarberryWillie Colón, Don Blakely, Carol Lynley, Joe Spinell, Frank PesceWoody Strode

Jump to Sections:
Movie | Video | Audio | Bonus | Closing | Screenshots
Full 4K Tech Specs found at the bottom

click to view a 4K Screenshot

The Movie

“Vigilante” was a 1983 film directed by William Lustig. Lustig is best known for directing films such as “Maniac” (1980), “Maniac Cop” (1988), “Relentless” (1989), “Hit List” (1989), “Maniac Cop 2” (1990), “Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence” (1992), and “Uncle Sam” (1996). The screenplay for Vigilante was written by Richard Vetere, who is also known for writing the screenplays for the films “The Third Miracle” (1999) and “How to Go Out on a Date in Queens” (2006). Those two films were adaptations of a novel and a play that he wrote. In fact, Vetere is best known for his work as both a novelist and playwright.

The story here has one main protagonist and that’s a blue-collar worker in New York City named “Eddie Marino” (Robert Forster). Eddie has a young son and a wife, “Vickie Marino” (Rutanya Alda) and they are doing their best to live a happy life in a very unsafe city during the 1980s. Eddie’s friends are his co-workers and they’re primarily lead by his best friend “Nick” (Fred Williamson), along with “Burke” (Richard Bright) and “Ramon” (Joseph Carberry).

As the film starts out we are hearing Nick give one pretty unforgettable speech that I’ll let speak for itself. Keep in mind that he’s leading a meeting of people who are taking up arms and defending themselves and taking back the streets from criminals, most especially the gangs.

Hey, I don’t know about you guys, but me…I’ve had it up to here. There are some 40-odd homicides a day on our streets. There are over two million illegal guns in this city. Man, that’s enough guns to invade a whole damn country with. They shoot a cop in our city without thinking twice about it. Aw, come on. You guys ride the subway. How much more of this grief are we gonna stand for? How many more locks we gotta put on our goddamn doors?

Now, we ain’t got the police, the prosecutors, the courts or the prisons. I mean, it’s over. The books don’t balance. We are a statistic. Now, I’m tellin’ ya, when you can’t go to the corner store and buy a pack of cigarettes after dark…because you know the punks and scum are out there on the streets when the sun goes down, and our own government can’t protect its own people, then I say this, pal: you got a moral obligation, the right of self-preservation. Now, you can run, you can hide, or you can start to live like human beings again. This is our Waterloo, baby! You want your city back? You gotta take it. Dig it? Take it!”

What our protagonist Eddie knows is that Nick and the guys are leading a group of vigilantes. Nick wants no part of this, as he has a family and doesn’t want them to in any way be endangered as a part of him making that choice. In a truly ironic twist of fate, Eddie’s wife ends up getting involved in an incident with a gang where she tries to intervene and makes a mistake by doing so. The leader of the gang, “Rico” (Willie Colón), and his seemingly second in command “Prago” (Don Blakely), along with the rest of the gang, decided to follow her home. Let’s just say that his wife is beaten severely but lives, however, his young son does not live. Yes, they killed his son.

Despite what his friend Nick would suggest Eddie decides to get an attorney, “Assistant D.A. Mary Fletcher” (Carol Lynley) and goes to court to try to seek justice for the death of his son and what they did to his wife. That doesn’t work out, and it’s no real “spoiler” to tell you as much. Because of both a paid off lawyer “Eisenberg” (Joe Spinell) and a corrupt “Judge Sinclair” (Vincent Beck) the accused gang member Rico ends up going free. This causes Eddie Marino to have an outburst and he lets the judge know that he doesn’t agree one damn bit with what just happened. As a result of this, he’s held in contempt of court and is left to do a few months in prison. Yes, he’s the one who ends up going to jail (for now).

Let’s just say that while Eddie is serving his time in prison, he ends up making a friend named “Rake” (Woody Strode). Meanwhile, as our protagonist is in prison his friend Nick and the two other guys are leading their own bit of revenge on this gang for what they did to their friend. It’s really Nick, at first, who made the choice to be a vigilante. The question, once he’s out of prison, is does Eddie follow Nick’s advice and decide to seek revenge and give up on the justice system? That’s for you to watch and find out.

Movie Rating: 4.25 (out of 5)

click to view a 4K Screenshot

Video Quality

“Vigilante” (1983) makes its debut on 4K UHD Blu-ray in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio, instead of the 2.39:1 OAR (original aspect ratio) or even the 2.35:1 aspect ratio found on the original 2010 Blu-ray release.

The movie itself was shot on 35mm film using Panavision anamorphic lenses, according to IMDb. This movie has now received a new restoration from a new 4K scan (16-bit) from the original 35mm camera negative. The 4K UHD Blu-ray release comes with HDR10 and Dolby Vision forms of high dynamic range.

Next, let me get technical, for a bit, in regards to the 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc itself here. This new 4K release is using a BD-100 (100 gigabytes) disc, 83.49 gigabytes total, and 62.9 gigabytes for the film itself. In hindsight, the original 2010 Blu-ray release of the film only was using 27.10 gigabytes total, and then just 24.8 gigabytes for the film in 1080p HD. That means that this new 4K UHD Blu-ray encode (in 2160p with HDR forms) is well over two and a half times larger than what the original Blu-ray (in 1080p HD) had used for the film itself. Whereas, now the new 2020 Blu-ray release, included with this, is using 38.43 gigabytes total, and then 24.2 gigabytes for the 4K remastered version of the film in 1080p HD. But, that’s for the new Blu-ray and not the new 4K UHD Blu-ray, so let’s get back to the subject at hand.

Now, let’s look at some comparisons between this new 4K and the original Blu-ray release, for reasons I’ll be using to reference a tad bit further below.

Blu-ray VS. 4K Screenshot Comparisons:
SOURCES: 2010 Blu-ray (left), 2020 4K UHD Blu-ray (right)

And, I can also offer you a video slideshow of these with my Blu-ray VS. 4K UHD Blu-ray screenshot comparison over on YouTube (also found below).

As you can tell by the comparisons, there has been a slight expansion, of sorts, in the framing this time around on the 4K restoration which reveals a tiny bit more of the original camera negative. Next, there has been some excellent color correction applied this time around and, as a result, you get a more accurate representation of flesh tones as well as just a more believable color palette in general. Plus, the addition of HDR also adds some new definite realism to the colors in the 4K presentation as well as delivers more realistic shadows and much deeper darks, and in turn, achieves a perfectly solid black level.

As with every single 4K UHD Blu-ray release (and 4K restoration) from the folks at Blue Underground, we get a truly remarkable amount of film grain preserved here and it looks great. There is just so much newfound detail to be seen here all throughout this new 4K restoration and in turn presentation, most especially the close-ups. You can nearly make out the tiny pores of the skin in some of the facial close-ups, with a good example found below in a screenshot. On another technical note here, this runs what seems to be around 80Mbps in terms of the bitrate for the HEVC codec, hitting as high as 94.2Mbps that I can say I saw.

For a film that was made back in 1982, William Lustig‘s “Vigilante” looks stunning in 4K and gets a perfect 5 rating for video quality for its 4K UHD Blu-ray physical debut. Blue Underground continues to just amaze me again and again with each title that they’ve given a new 4K restoration to. Some major studios, that I won’t name, cannot even do restoration work that is on this level, and that’s a bold statement.

Video Quality Rating: 5 (out of 5)

click to view a 4K Screenshot

Audio Quality

“Vigilante” from 1983 makes its debut to the 4K UHD Blu-ray format in Dolby Atmos, with a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core for those unable to decode the lossless format. This 4K UHD Blu-ray release also comes with both mixes in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound, with a DTS 5.1 core, and a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo mix, with DTS 2.0 Stereo core. The original 2010 Blu-ray features a 7.1 lossless mix but there’s no reason to include one here when the Dolby Atmos contains one as its basic core. Also, it should be noted that this is the first time that the movie has included its original Stereo mix and it’s presented in 2 channels instead of the original 4 channels that IMDb states it had (via then Dolby Stereo).

Please note, I will be primarily covering the Dolby Atmos mix here in this audio quality section unless otherwise noted, so with that being said, let me begin. The very first thing you’ll notice as this film starts is the very impressive amount of LFE being represented via the subwoofer, along with a hefty amount of bass across the other channels. Another thing you’ll notice is that dialogue is delivered spot-on from the very start of the opening speech given by Fred Williamson‘s character.

This Dolby Atmos mix makes for some excellent use of the original music, composed by Jay Chattaway, and most especially sound effects all throughout. The music and sound effects here make for a strange but perfect piece of use of the Atmos format, with both being primarily delivered (or in the case of music: driven) from the front left & right channels, the rear channels, and emphasized in a very realistic object-based manner for the height channel speakers. Plus, as mentioned there’s a very nice amount of “oomph” added all throughout via the subwoofer and the film’s original music.

One scene that really stood out to me early on that was benefiting now using Atmos with height channels came around 5 minutes in exactly. A girl is in an elevator and it starts to go up, and well you start to hear the rumblings and such above finally coming through the height channels speakers and feeling like it is really above you. That really not at all subtle effect in a very tense scene proved to me what this film was going to really make some realistic benefit of in the Dolby Atmos sound format and the configuration that comes with it, getting to now work with height channels.

I never once while listening to this new Dolby Atmos mix felt I needed to make any volume adjustments for the reason of dialogue, as I mentioned above it comes through just fine.

Now, in regards to the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround and 2.0 Stereo mixes. I decided to opt for the 5.1 surround mix first, honestly just to see how much LFE it had in comparison to the Dolby Atmos mix. I was surprised to find it held every bit as much oomph but lacked a little of the cool effects that height channels brought via Atmos. The lossless 5.1 mix still offered up a very impressive amount of rear channel usage that helped make things feel as intense as they should at times.

Then, I sampled the original 2.0 Stereo mix for a good share of the film and it really managed to impress me. Sure, it’s not going to blow you away and leave you as amazed as the Dolby Atmos will but from a purist sense it’s very nice to have and be able to finally hear. It’s very crisp, the dialogue is distinct, the music is balanced nicely, and also still manages to come with an impressive amount of bass. The sound effects manage to come across as believable as you’d expect for just a 2 channel configuration. It’s a cool mix and feels very retro. I’m glad that it’s included here. Overall this new 4K UHD Blu-ray release of the movie comes with three remarkable sound mixes and they all manage to do the film justice.

It is amazing to hear a movie made in 1982 (and then released in 1983) that came from an original Dolby Stereo 4-channel source sound this unbelievably impressive and I most especially mean in Dolby Atmos.  There’s no denying that sound is just another department that Blue Underground always seems to put the right amount of attention to when they go back and do these restorations and 4K UHD Blu-ray physical releases of films. “Vigilante” here on 4K UHD Blu-ray is yet another one of this distributor’s titles that earns itself a perfect 5 rating for audio quality.

Audio Quality Rating: 5 (out of 5)

click to view a 4K Screenshot

Bonus Materials

Bonus materials physically on this release include:

  • A Collectible Booklet with a new essay by Michael Gingold

The 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc features extras that are presented in HD and SD (as noted below) with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound unless otherwise noted. The bonus materials on the 4K disc include:

  • Audio Commentary #1 with Co-Producer/Director William Lustig and Co-Producer Andrew Garroni
  • Audio Commentary #2 with Co-Producer/Director William Lustig and Stars Robert Forster, Fred Williamson, and Frank Pesce
  • NEW Audio Commentary #3 with Film Historians Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson
  • NEW “Blue Collar Death Wish (24 minutes, 42 seconds – HD) features interviews with Richard Vetere (writer), Rutanya Alda (actress), Randy Jurgensen (producer, first assistant director, actor), and others.
  • NEW “Urban Western” (25 minutes, 8 seconds – HD) features a new interview with the film’s musical composer Jay Chattaway.
  • Theatrical Trailers includes a “play all” function but is comprised of the following:
    • U.S. Trailer (1 minute, 40 seconds – 4K with HDR)
    • International Trailer (1 minute, 52 seconds – HD)
    • British Trailer #1 (1 minute, 54 seconds – HD)
    • British Trailer #2 (2 minutes, 13 seconds – HD)
    • German Trailer (1 minute, 49 seconds – HD)
    • Italian Trailer (3 minutes, 22 seconds – HD)
    • French Trailer (1 minute, 48 seconds – HD)
  • TV Spots (1 minute, 50 seconds – HD) consists of four TV Spots, with each roughly around 30 seconds in length.
  • Radio Spot (34 seconds – HD)
  • Promotional Reel (3 minutes, 14 seconds – HD)
  • Poster & Still Galleries are split up into two parts. Specifically here on the first gallery (#1) can navigate these using the chapter buttons (>>| and |<< on your remote to navigate through these galleries or just sit back and watch. Their runtimes and estimate on the amount of images are listed below.
  • Poster & Still Gallery #1 (1 hour, 51 minutes, 6 seconds – 100 -/+ images – HD)
  • Poster & Still Gallery #2 (3 minutes, 51 seconds – 36 -/+ images HD)

The Blu-ray included here is a brand new 2020 Blu-ray Disc that includes the new 4K restoration and not the previous original 2010 Blu-ray. It also comes with the same Dolby Atmos, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround and the DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo sound mixes, all on a BD-50 disc. You also get the exact same bonus materials found on this disc as those on the 4K UHD Blu-ray that I just listed above. For that reason, I will not be repeating all of those extras. 

The bonus materials here are great, especially this time around with all the new extras like a new third audio commentary track, two new featurettes, the archival two audio commentary tracks, trailers, TV spots, a radio spot, promotional reel, the image galleries. Then, you even get a Blu-ray counterpart with the exact same set of new extras, with the new 4K restoration, and also a physical addition in the form of the collectible booklet. That all adds up to around an hour and a half in terms of the features but there’s a total of three audio commentary tracks to also enjoy. And, trust me, that essay found in the collectible booklet here is totally worth the read, as I enjoyed it. This is a solid set of extras and totally does a great job of taking the existing extras (archival) and adding them, along with new content, to actually both the 4K UHD Blu-ray and Blu-ray Discs included. The audio commentary I have to suggest here is going to be #2 which features the late Robert Forster in conversation with the film’s director (Lustig) and with two of his co-stars.

Bonus Materials Rating: 4.25 (out of 5)

click to view a 4K Screenshot

Closing Thoughts

“Vigilante” was a 1983 film that told a story of a working-class man done wrong by common criminals, who tried to use the court system as we are taught to. Instead of getting justice for what was done to this man, he was jailed and the culprits got away scot-free thanks to a crooked lawyer that took a bribe and a corrupt judge. Thankfully, Eddie had a group of friends that help him seek revenge in the old fashioned way after he’s had to serve time for calling out bullshit. Yes, I put it that bluntly, because that’s sometimes how our court systems and the so-called law & order in this country can work. Tales of those seeking vengeance for only being done wrong by evil people are common, not just in films, but in real life. Let’s face it. Thankfully, most people don’t have to go about getting retribution in the way you’ll see in this film.

This (“Vigilante” from 1983) proved to be one of director William Lustig‘s most memorable of his films that wouldn’t be categorized under the horror genre that he has become so ever well known for. This film is more about the drama, the traumatic actions that caused the whole ordeal, even more about how the tragedy plays out in the man’s life, later in a courtroom. Then, it’s about the dramatic choice he makes in the end. I sure as hell won’t “spoil” that for you, by any means. That itself is horrific, but by no means is horror. In fact, the film’s director Lustig wanted to do a film that wasn’t horror for his follow-up to “Maniac” (1980).

Let’s just say that the late Robert Forster (as “Eddie Marino”) gave one hell of a top-billed performance in this film. Also, this features some great supporting roles from the likes of Fred Williamson, Richard Bright, and Joseph Carberry as our protagonist’s group of friends and co-workers. There are also some memorable supporting roles as the villains in the street gang here, most notably by salsa musical sensation turned actor Willie Colón (as “Rico”) and Don Blakey (as “Prago”). While I finish discussing the cast of bad guys that gave memorable performances here, I cannot go without noting the judge played by Vincent Beck and the attorney played by the late Joe Spinell.

In terms of video quality, this film comes with a brand new 4K restoration and it has both HDR10 and Dolby Vision forms of high dynamic range. For a movie shot back in 1982 (and released in 1983) this looks just remarkable in terms of the sheer amount of detail you’ll see here in every scene throughout the motion picture. The darker scenes will come across as more realistic thanks to shading and also deeper darks from the addition of HDR. There’s a great amount of film grain preserved and it really does the film justice. This comes as one very nice improvement visually over the previous (2010) Blu-ray release of the film, as I’ve shown above in my comparisons. Undeniably this is yet another perfect 4K video quality presentation on a Blue Underground 4K UHD Blu-ray release.

In terms of audio quality, with the new Dolby Atmos mix, you’ll be amazed by how much this film can pack a punch in terms of “oomph” via the original music, composed by Jay Chattaway, which seems to really shine through the most here via the LFE and you’ll feel it via the subwoofer. The music is represented nicely at times in the height channels as well as obviously throughout the rear channels. The sound effects also get effectively used and placed in this Atmos mix, with the height and rear channels. The dialogue here is precisely driven from the center channel and you’ll find no reason to make any volume adjustments. This is one downright impressive and truly perfect Dolby Atmos mix, plus you get the options of lossless 5.1 surround and the original 2.0 Stereo in DTS-HD Master Audio format and configurations.

The bonus materials here are great and should leave you happy with the fact they’re both on the 4K and the Blu-ray Disc. Plus, that Blu-ray is over the new 4K restoration. Then you get the new content in the form of an additional audio commentary track (#3) and two new featurettes with interviews. Then there are all of the previous home video extras ported over as well. There’s nothing at all missing here from the previous 2010 Blu-ray. It’s all here and, again, all of those extras are on both the 4K and Blu-ray.

All and all, William Lustig‘s 1983 film “Vigilante” in its debut to the 4K UHD Blu-ray format proves to be one definite piece of reference material in terms of both video quality and then proves to be a “demo disc” in terms of audio quality with one hell of a Dolby Atmos mix. Plus, it gets two other lossless (DTS-HD MA) 5.1 surround and 2.0 Stereo mixes. This is very highly recommended and Blue Underground continues to keep a perfect track record so far, with all of their 4K physical releases so far being top-notch.

In terms of 4K UHD Blu-ray release, this gets:
5 (out of 5) for video quality
5 (out of 5) for audio quality
4.25 (out of 5) for bonus materials

Overall Verdict:
Very Highly Recommended

Available As:

2020 4K UHD Blu-ray Release

– Amazon Commissions Earned –

4K UHD Blu-ray Screenshots:

Blu-ray VS. 4K Screenshot Comparisons:

SOURCES: 2010 Blu-ray (left), 2020 4K UHD Blu-ray (right)


4K UHD Blu-ray Technical Specifications:

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Exact Runtime(s): 1:29:29
Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (with a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core), English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (with a DTS 5.1 core), English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono (with a DTS 2.0 core), Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
Languages: English, French, Italian, German
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
HDR: HDR10, Dolby Vision
Disc Size: BD-100
Disc Use: 83.49GB total / 62.9GB for the film