48 Hrs. [1982] (Paramount Presents) – Blu-ray Review

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Film Title: 48 Hrs. (1982)
Release Date: 2021
Rating: R
Runtime: 96 minutes
Region Coding: Region Free
Distributor: Paramount Presents
Audio Format: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Aspect Ratio(s): 1.85:1
Version Reviewed: 2021 Paramount Presents Blu-ray
Blu-ray Release Date: 7/6/21
Director: Walter Hill
Cast: Nick Nolte, Eddie Murphy, Annette O’Toole, Frank McRae, James Remar, David Patrick Kelly, Sonny Landham, Brion James, Jonathan Banks

Jump to Sections:
| Video | Audio | Bonus | Closing | Screenshots
Full Blu-ray Tech Specs at bottom

click to view a 1080p Blu-ray Screenshot

The Movie

“48 Hrs.” is spine number 19 in the Paramount Presents Blu-ray series. It was a 1982 movie, classified as action and comedy, directed by Walter Hill. Hill is best known for directing the films “Hard Times” (1975), “The Driver” (1978), “The Warriors” (1979), “The Long Riders” (1980), “Southern Comfort” (1981), “Streets of Fire” (1984), “Crossroads” (1986), “Extreme Prejudice” (1987), “Red Heat” (1988), “Johnny Handsome” (1989), “Trespass” (1992), “Wild Bill” (1995), “Last Man Standing” (1996), and “Undisputed” (2002). Hill even served as a producer on films like “Alien” (1979) and its sequel “Aliens” 1986 which he was the executive producer on.

The screenplay here was a collaboration between Walter Hill, Roger Spottiswoode, Larry Gross, and Steven E. de Souza. Spottiswoode would go on to direct such films as “Terror Train” (1980), “Shoot to Kill” (1988), “Turner & Hooch” (1989), “Air America” (1990), “Tomorrow Never Dies” (1997), and “The 6th Day” (2000). Gross would go on to co-write the screenplay to the film adaptations of “Chinese Box” (1997), “True Crime” (1999), “Prozac Nation” (2001), and “We Don’t Live Here Anymore” (2004). Finally, de Souza is best known for also writing and co-writing the screenplays to the film adaptations of “The Running Man” (1987) and “Die Hard” (1988), as well as co-writing the screenplay to “Hudson Hawk” (1991), writing the screenplay to “Beverly Hills Cop III” (1994), and co-writing the story for the film adaptation of “Judge Dredd” (1995). It’s safe to say a lot of talented writers worked on this film. I’m sure most of you have heard of almost all of those films.

The story for 48 Hrs. is a bit far-fetched, admittedly, and it all connects via the main protagonist, a San Francisco detective “Jack Cates” (Nick Nolte), who is stuck with quite the predicament. See, as we have seen (during the opening credits) a notorious gang member “Ganz” (James Remar) has escaped from  prison, while on a work detail with the help of his fellow gang member. During there escape, he and his partner manage to kill several guards before they flee and eventually Jack and some of his fellow detectives track the two down. There’s a shoot-out and what will inevitably be a choice that Jack will have to make that will in turn set Ganz free. Let’s just say that Jack Cates wants revenge on this guy after what transpires.

Jack decides to look and see if he can find any other members of Ganz’s gang and he’s just in luck, as there’s a member still serving a short sentence. He does something that not many detectives would probably go to the lengths of, at least anyone would imagine, and goes to visit the inmate to try to not get information but try to talk him into helping him track Ganz down. The inmate and former member of the gang, “Reggie Hammond” (Eddie Murphy), is one very charming and well-dressed man to be serving time and he’s willing to work with the detective but only if he will let him on the outside. That’s where things get a tad bit unbelievable but at the same time, it makes for one hell of a set of circumstances and some pretty damn funny lines of dialogue.

Make no mistake, 48 Hrs. is not a buddy cop movie, as only one person is a police officer (detective) and the other is a convict. And, to further iterate the lack of buddy nature, these two don’t get along one damn bit but they both are after one same person. They’ll have no choice but to work together, even if they can’t stand one another. That’s what makes this action-comedy unique in its ways because this is really pretty much the anti-buddy cop film.

Movie Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)

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Video Quality

“48 Hrs.” on Blu-ray Disc via this Paramount Presents version, is presented in the original intended 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The previous 2011 Blu-ray was first off not in the correct aspect ratio, as it was in 1.78:1, and it also had some framing issues that I’ll discuss a bit further in a moment. According to IMDb, this movie was shot on 35mm film using Panavision Panaflex cameras and spherical lenses. The movie has received a new 4K scan and remaster.

This release comes on a BD-50 (50 gigabytes dual-layered) Blu-ray Disc. To get even rather a bit more technical for a moment here, the film itself is using 29.3 gigabytes itself out of the 35.74 GB total used entirely on the disc. Looking back on it, the original 2011 Blu-ray was using 26 gigabytes itself for the film out of 28.53 GB total used entirely on that disc.

So, this time around you’re getting a slightly larger file for the movie itself, adding with that some bandwidth to allow for visually a bit more detail and things like film grain to be visible now. And I’ll state that right up front, that there’s a definite improvement here over the previous release as I had mentioned before. Let’s take a look at that via some screenshots taken from the two (2011 and 2021) Blu-ray sources below. Also below, you can take a pretty lengthy look at a 2011 VS. 2021 Blu-ray Screenshots Comparison video over on YouTube that I’ve put together. 

2011 VS. 2021 Blu-ray Screenshots Comparison:

Looking at these comparisons, first off, you undoubtedly noticed that they had fixed the title from being an almost purple tone of silver to be a true metallic silver tone. The opening title sequence is your first sign of how much the framing has changed, even seeing that a fence now is able to show a bit more of its length in one shot. Some of the shots around San Francisco look excellent here in traffic especially, which I included a few of as well as an iconic shot of the Golden Gate Bridge. That shot (above) in particular really shows you how much the color timing has changed and is so much more accurate this time around. Just look for yourself and these screenshots comparison examples should give you an idea of how much things have changed.

Moving on, looking at this from a comparison standpoint, I really cannot get over how much of an improvement that this new Blu-ray is visually in comparison to that original 2011 release, which was not even presented in the right aspect ratio or at all framed properly in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. It seems it was pretty obviously incorrectly framed before and now it totally looks fine. As I mentioned above, just look how much more you can see in shots now versus before. The black level is now perfectly solid, and color correction is spot-on with more realistic flesh tones, the right color on cars, that memorable wardrobe, and so forth. It is a bit like a night and day comparison here between what we have had for a decade now (in HD) on the Blu-ray format and what we now get with this new Paramount Presents Blu-ray as a much-appreciated upgrade. 

Also, as I have briefly mentioned, there is more film grain left intact here and it adds so much to the visual feel of a 1982 film such as this. There’s such a pleasing amount of newfound detail here in every shot, most especially in facial close-ups. And I’ll admit, yes, some scenes early on can seem a tad bit soft during the opening credits, but that seems to have been the artistic intention of both the director (Walter Hill) and his cinematographer (director of photography Ric Waite) as it’s just that way on both versions on Blu-ray. Speaking of style and artistic intention, it is worth noting that Waite worked as a cinematographer on a lot of other memorable 1980s films like “Brewster’s Millions” (1985), “Cobra” (1986), “Footloose” (1984), and “Adventures in Babysitting” (1987). So, it’s safe to say that his style visually was something that we’ve come to know as part of that decade, and now we finally are getting to see his work at the best level of quality possible here for this particular film. It’s also just great to see a Walter Hill film being done this type of visual justice.

All and all, this serves as one very impressive improvement over the previous home video releases, most recently that 2011 Blu-ray (as discussed). With this new Paramount Presents Blu-ray release you’ll finally be able to see the film “48 Hrs.” here at the best, I have ever seen it look. I was a bit too young to have probably been in a theater back in 1982, so I can’t say I ever experienced it to make that comparison, but I can certainly say you’ll want to pick this up. That said, it earns a perfect 5 rating for video quality.

Video Quality Rating: 5 (out of 5)

click to view a 1080p Blu-ray Screenshot

Audio Quality

Audio here, on the Paramount Presents Blu-ray Disc release of 48 Hrs. is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround sound. In fact, this is the very same sound mix that was actually found on the original 2011 Blu-ray debut release of the film.

During the opening credits, things start out really impressive in the 5.1 lossless sound mix making some excellent rear channel use for the original musical score (composed by James Horner). The music also brings a very lively amount of LFE that you’ll be feeling via the subwoofer, all throughout, with primarily the music and sound effects getting delivered from the front left and right channels. Once the credits are over, you’ll notice that dialogue is distinctly driven from the center channel. The mix starts off with very impressive sound effects and just continues to get better along the way when the real action starts. I feel this is the type of surround sound lossless mix that a movie in the action genre from the eighties like this deserves and I’ll discuss that a tad bit more.

It is just 9 minutes in during a scene where traffic is passing by that you’ll hear the sound effects attention-grabbing from the rear channels in a very effective and realistic manner as cars pan across as they pass behind you. It’s not at all enough to distract from the dialogue or such, don’t worry. The rear channels get used nicely and really nice at times for sound effects, such as gunshots. It is, after all, an action movie. This is one lively 5.1 mix and it’s sure to keep your attention. The gunshots here can at times be downright intense and will likely get the attention of those nearby, so be warned. Your neighbors may think there’s a shootout going on or something. But, hey when does that ever stop you? Just sit back, crank it up and enjoy.

The sound for “48 Hrs.” originally came from a Dolby Stereo (4 channel) source, according to IMDb. It, for a decade now, always was pretty intense in terms of a 5.1 mix on Blu-ray even back in 2011 and it still works just as well now in 2021. If it’s not broken, why try to fix it? That was certainly the case with this audio presentation, and I just want to once again mention that the original musical score composed by James Horner sounds great here. All and all, 48 Hrs. is still worthy of a very impressive 4.75 rating for audio quality.

Audio Quality Rating: 4.75 (out of 5)

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Bonus Materials

Bonus materials on this release are presented in HD video quality with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo.

A Digital Copy of the film (in 1080p HD) is included here via a paper insert that is compatible with iTunes, Vudu, and Fandango Now streaming services. UPDATE: This will redeem as the new 2021 remaster on services like AppleTV (iTunes).

The bonus materials that are on the new 2021 Blu-ray Disc include:

  • NEW “Filmmaker Focus: Director Walter Hill on 48 Hrs. (19 minutes, 8 seconds – HD) includes a retrospective with the director and a lot of excellent on-set still photos in between the memories. This proves to be a definite must-see for any fan of the film and especially those of Walter Hill. It’s great to see he was not only involved with this but also did one of these even for the film’s sequel (on that release). He discusses working with two actors that he also had already worked with on the film “The Warriors” (1979).
  • Theatrical Trailer (3 minutes, 3 seconds – HD) is included.
  • “Space Kid” Original 1966 Animated Short (5 minutes, 31 seconds – HD) featured in the film for a brief moment is included here remastered in glorious HD. It looks and sounds excellent and I’m sure some fans of the film and both the original fans of this short are going to have a blast watching this. I for one most certainly enjoyed getting this as an extra. This short just so happens to have been a Paramount property, so they were able to get it for this. That worked out best for everyone. I wish cool stuff like this was included more on releases. Things like shorts or even movies that are featuring in films on TVs and such. Including something like this was clever, and I gotta say, great job to whoever decided to do that.

Here, physical bonus material includes the collectible slipcover that features the film’s original 1982 poster art as a fold-out on the front. It also features new art (as pictured below) for the interior packaging.

Overall the bonus materials here are worthwhile and prove to be a nice addition to a Blu-ray only previously had just the theatrical trailer on the disc. It’s nice to now have a 19-minute “Filmmaker Focus” with Walter Hill discussing the film he directed and co-wrote, as well as to get a 5-minute animated short from 1966 remastered in HD which is featured in the film. Finally, there’s a digital copy of the film included along with the physical extra of the fold-out poster via the packaging.

Bonus Materials Rating: 3 (out of 5)

click to view a 1080p Blu-ray Screenshot

Closing Thoughts

“48 Hrs.” from 1982 was one very unique action-comedy and as I said went a bit against the idea of a “buddy cop” movie as it was using one cop and then a convict (criminal) that both had to work together to get a person they both wanted to be put back behind bars. Fun fact, this film was the first major motion picture that co-star Eddie Murphy ever did. As you know, the former SNL (“Saturday Night Live”) cast member went on the become quite the movie star in the decades that would follow.

If you’re a fan of Walter Hill’s film “The Warriors” (1979), you’ll most certainly recognize two particular actors from that film James Remar (“Ganz”) and David Patrick Kelly (again playing a character named “Luther”). Also, be on the lookout for a younger Jonathan Banks as a detective in this film and even Denise Crosby (of “Pet Sematary” 1989 fame) in a small role that can be best summed up as a real threat with a baseball bat.

In terms of video quality, this new 2021 Paramount Presents Blu-ray takes things and frames them up correctly, and presents them in the proper 1.85:1 aspect ratio. All this from a new 4K scan and restoration. It comes with so much more of a visually pleasing HD presentation than the previous 2011 Blu-ray release from a decade ago. It’s just an improvement in all ways in terms of video.

In terms of audio quality, this release is using the very same Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround sound mix that the 2011 release used, as far as I can tell. And that’s absolutely fine because this was one very, very impressive lossless surround sound mix all those years ago and it stands up to the test of time, still doing the film justice.

The bonus materials on this 2021 Paramount Presents Blu-ray release of the film finally bring us more than just the theatrical trailer. First off, you get the now typical fold-out slipcover packaging that displays like the original 1982 theatrical poster as an added physical extra. Next, you get a new “Filmmaker Focus” with the director Walter Hill that is almost 20 minutes in length, as well as a bonus cartoon (featured in the film itself) “Space Kid” (1966) from Paramount, in HD for the very first time, and again the movie’s theatrical trailer (also in HD). It’s enough now to finally make for a decent set of extras that can do this film some justice. Lastly, you get a digital copy of the film which you should consider as a bonus.

All and all, “48 Hrs.” in its debut to the Paramount Presents line, as spine number 19, on Blu-ray Disc fixes all of the visual mistakes from the original 2011 Blu-ray and comes across looking exceptional and keeps on already very impressive lossless 5.1 surround sound mix. The new extras are enough to really leave fans with something to enjoy after the new visual presentation. Sure, you may want to see this on 4K UHD Blu-ray and you might even get to soon, considering next year will be the film’s 40th anniversary. However, this is the best that this film has ever looked in terms of video quality on home video. As a result, this Blu-ray release comes as one definite recommended upgrade for those who previously owned it. If you did not previously own the 2011 Blu-ray release, just know that you are getting something that has been upgraded and is superior.

In terms of Blu-ray release, this gets:
5 (out of 5) for video quality
4.75 (out of 5) for audio quality
3 (out of 5) for bonus materials

Overall Verdict:
Definite Recommended Upgrade

Available As:

2021 Paramount Presents Blu-ray Release

2021 Blu-ray Screenshots:

2011 VS. 2021 Blu-ray Screenshots Comparison:


Blu-ray Technical Specifications:

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Exact Runtime: 1:36:35
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (with a Dolby Digital 5.1 core), Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
Languages: English, German, French, Japanese
Subtitles: English, German, French, Japanese
Disc Size: BD-50
Disc Use: 35.74GB total / 29.3GB for the film