Four men armed with machine guns have taken a train full of hostages in the explosive thriller The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. Starring Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam, and Hector Elizondo this thriller quickens the pulse and keeps you on the edge of your seat with some timely humor to keep the show entertaining from frame one. Kino Lorber Studio Classics delivers this classic thriller to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a fitting Dolby Vision upgrade, multiple audio options, and plenty of new and archival bonus features. Highly Recommended
As one of my favorite films of all time, I can never get enough of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. The remake, The Taking of Pelham 123 on the other hand, once was enough. Joseph Sargent’s 1974 original is one of the rare adaptations that is actually better than the novel that spawned it. Sargent sets the stakes fast and early with our color-coded hijackers taking the train hostage. As they methodically set their plans into motion the authorities have to wait it out and guess what’s happening in the deep dark tunnels running under New York City. Once their demands are made, the clock is ticking and it’s mere moments before the bullets fly. The interplay between the cast and characters is pitch-perfect with Robert Shaw delivering one of the most menacing villains of the 1970s. Then you have Walter Matthau as the desperate police captain working his ass off to save everyone he can on that train, while also delivering some well-timed wisecracks to cut the tension. With Hector Elizondo as the menacing creep and a sinus-troubled Martin Balsam rounding out the colorful cast of characters, you have pitch-perfect entertainment from the first notes of David Shire's bombastically cool score to Matthau's final glance.
High-Def Digest's previous Blu-ray Reviews of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three pulls into the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray station with a new two-disc release from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. The 4K is pressed on a BD-100 disc with the 1080p version pulling a Region A BD-50 disc. Both discs are housed in a two-disc case with identical slipcover artwork. In a change from past KLSC releases, the 4K disc loads to an animated main menu with standard navigation options whereas the 1080p disc is a static-image menu - but both offer that badass David Shire score.
After two decent enough Blu-ray releases that shared the same transfer, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three picks up a new 2160p 2.35:1 Dolby Vision transfer sourced from a new scan of the camera negative for its first UHD offering. Quick comparisons to the past Blu-rays that shared nearly identical transfers, one will see that this one is a stop of two darker with a little more green in some cases, but the overall results are much more satisfactory. Detail clarity and film grain are much better resolved this go around. Grain is still present but maintains a more cinematic presence. Facial features, clothing textures, and production design also pick up some notable improvements. There’s a lot of tweed going around and for past discs, there could be some banding or aliasing with those textures and that’s no longer an issue here. Those mustaches look great!
With Dolby Vision employed, the HDR grade keeps things natural accenting those deep dark shadows that could skew more brown than black. The whites are clean and crisp. It’s the 70s so there are a lot of browns and dark reds and yellows but there’s enough pop to let Matthau’s yellow tie look more true yellow than the bright almost neon it appeared on the old Blu-rays. Skin tones also look healthier this go around where the past discs could look too pinked. For a film that mostly takes place in a dark New York subway, this isn’t exactly a show-stopper demo-worthy example for the format, but this is still a great-looking transfer for a title that’s needed a little love. The speckling issues of past releases are largely resolved and some of the frame judder seen during the opening credits and through other sequences in the film has been fixed as well.
Rolling with a pair of audio options, fans can pick between the solid new DTS-HD MA 5.1 or the just as impressive DTS-HD MA 2.0 track. The new 5.1 track holds up nicely adding more dimension to the mix - especially in the subway tunnels. The echoing in the tight tunnels as voices or gunfire bounce around the walls engages the surround channels for a welcome immersive quality. The busy and bustling command center is alive with activity staging the soundscape with plenty of atmosphere. Dialog is clean and clear without issue and levels are spot on, but with that David Shire score you’re going to want to pop it up nice and loud! The 2.0 track sounds the same as the past discs, I didn’t notice any differences there and it’s still a solid track. Usually, the 2.0 mix would be my preferred option but this new 5.1 track is solid stuff and I really enjoyed it with my receiver's DTS Neural:X function employed.
As for the bonus features package, KLSC brings over all of their past offerings from the 2016 disc with a new and very informative and entertaining Audio Commentary featuring Steve Mitchell and Nathaniel Thompson. This is a very cool commentary as the pair offer up a lot of appreciation and analysis of the film as well as some interesting production trivia. As for the rest of the extras, if you haven’t gone through them they're well worth the journey.
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc
For pure entertainment value, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three remains one of my all-time favorite films. From the tight direction and editing to the crackling script to the fantastic cast, it’s the perfect way to spend 100 minutes of your time. Nearly fifty years after it exploded onto theater screens, Joseph Sargent’s stylish thriller picks up its first 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release with largely impressive results. Add multiple audio options and an excellent slate of bonus features to the ransom demands and you have a great disc for the collection. Highly Recommended.