4k Movie, Streaming, Blu-Ray Disc, and Home Theater Product Reviews & News | High Def Digest
Film & TV All News Blu-Ray Reviews Release Dates News Pre-orders 4K Ultra HD Reviews Release Dates News Pre-orders Gear Reviews News Home Theater 101 Best Gear Film & TV
Ultra HD : Recommended
Ranking:
Sale Price: $22.51 Last Price: $39.95 Buy now! 3rd Party 22.51 In Stock
Release Date: October 24th, 2023 Movie Release Year: 2002

Red Dragon - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Overview -

Like any great meal, one good turn deserves another - even if it's reheated leftovers. Franchise prequel Red Dragon comes home to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray completing Hopkin’s trilogy of Hannibal Lecter appearances. Directed by Brett Ratner, the film isn’t the best of the series, but a great cast and beautiful cinematography make up for the filmmaker's shortcomings. Now with Dolby Vision HDR, the film looks terrific with solid audio and the full slate of archival extras. If you're a fan of this aristocratic cannibal - Recommended

Before the Silence, there was the Dragon! Screen legend Anthony Hopkins (Nixon) reprises his iconic role as the infamous Dr. Hannibal Lecter in this thrilling prequel to The Silence of the Lambs. After capturing Dr. Lecter, FBI agent Will Graham (Edward Norton, The Score) retires—only to be called back to active duty to hunt down an elusive killer, “The Tooth Fairy” (Ralph Fiennes, In Bruges). To stop the brutal murders from continuing, Graham must first let Lecter inside his head. Prepare to be disturbed as Graham confronts the brilliantly sinister Lecter in Red Dragon, the electrifying, critically acclaimed movie based on the classic bestseller by Thomas Harris (Hannibal). Deliciously directed by Brett Ratner (Rush Hour) and flavored with a seasoned cast including Harvey Keitel (Bad Lieutenant), Emily Watson (Punch-Drunk Love), Mary-Louise Parker (Fried Green Tomatoes) and Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote).

 

DISC 1 (4KUHD):
• Brand New HDR/Dolby Vision Master – From a 4K Scan of the 35mm Original Camera Negative
• Audio Commentary by Director Brett Ratner and Screenwriter Ted Tally
• Isolated Score with Audio Commentary by Composer Danny Elfman
• 5.1 Surround and 2.0 Lossless Stereo
• Triple-Layered UHD100 Disc
• Optional English Subtitles
 
DISC 2 (BLU-RAY):
• Brand New HD Master – From a 4K Scan of the 35mm Original Camera Negative
• Audio Commentary by Director Brett Ratner and Screenwriter Ted Tally
• Isolated Score with Audio Commentary by Composer Danny Elfman
• The Making of Red Dragon: Featurette (14:19)
• A Director’s Journey: Documentary (39:27)
• Visual Effects: Featurette (4:26)
• Screen and Film Tests: Featurette (11:43)
• Anthony Hopkins - Lecter and I: Featurette (4:25)
• The Burning Wheelchair: Featurette (4:01)
• The Leeds’ House Crime Scene: Featurette (3:38)
• Makeup Application: Featurette (0:45)
• Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer - Hosted by John Douglas: Featurette (8:16)
• 7 Deleted Scenes (5:23) - with Optional Commentary by Ratner, Tally and Editor Mark Helfrich
• 4 Alernate Scenes (4:34) - with Optional Commentary by Ratner, Tally and Editor Mark Helfrich
• 3 Extended Scenes (2:28) - with Optional Commentary by Ratner, Tally and Editor Mark Helfrich
• Storyboard to Final Film Comparison (8:38)
• Lecter’s FBI and Life History: Notes (25 Pages)
• Brett Ratner’s Student Film (3:37)
• Theatrical Trailer
• 5.1 Surround and 2.0 Lossless Stereo
• Dual-Layered BD50 Disc
• Optional English Subtitles

OVERALL:
Recommended
Rating Breakdown
STORY
VIDEO
AUDIO
SPECIAL FEATURES
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray + Blu-ray
Video Resolution/Codec:
Dolby Vision HDR / HDR10
Length:
125
Aspect Ratio(s):
2.39:1
Audio Formats:
English: DTS-HD MA 2.0
Subtitles/Captions:
English SDH
Release Date:
October 24th, 2023

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

Ranking:

Before Hannibal, before The Silence of the Lambs, novelist Thomas Harris conceived of evil in its truest form - and it was made into one heck of a thriller by Michael Mann. Retitled Manhunter to avoid any possible accidental connection to Michael Cimino’s flop Year of the Dragon, Mann’s film saw William Peterson take the lead as intensely disturbed FBI Special Investigator Will Graham and Brian Cox as the imprisoned maniac Dr. Hannibal “Lector” (an apparently purposeful spelling deviation). Perhaps not the closest adaptation to the book, but it was a cleverly directed thriller with genuine intense performances, a slick soundtrack, and stylish action scenes. 

But after the Oscar-winning success of The Silence of the Lambs and the financial juggernaut of Hannibal, you can’t blame rights holder Dino De Laurentiis for wanting to give Harris’s first novel another go. Only this time with Hopkins back as the famous cannibal killer to complete the trilogy. Following Oscar-winner Jonathan Demme and Oscar-nominated Ridley Scott to tackle this thriller is… Brett Ratner. Neither a great cast, the assured eye of cinematographer Dante Spinoti (oddly enough who also shot Manhunter), nor Ted Tally’s slightly better-adapted screenplay (still didn’t get the ending right) could make up for Ratner’s excessively blunt lifeless handling of the material. 

While this is an overall okay film, I can’t help but feel it’s a mediocre missed opportunity and I square that solely on the material being far out of Ratner’s league. Rush Hour and butchering superhero franchises are more his speed. Ten years after Silence, Hopkins wasn’t getting any younger so the window of opportunity to tackle this project convincingly was already narrow. However, even notably aged, Hopkins was in pure form in his signature role. But to match Hopkin’s natural combination of charm and menace, the film needed a great Will Graham - and Edward Norton was a perfect choice as an actor with a notoriously intense persona. Bigger and more importantly than both, we needed a new Francis Dolarhyde, a man who could vacillate from wounded lamb to murderous monster on a dime and Ralph Fiennes was another perfect piece of casting. 

The problem is the film feels so plodding and blandly executed that I can’t help but feel each actor, Spinoti, and Tally’s script was wasted to some degree. Ratner shows no flair for generating suspense, dread, or tension - the three key elements every successful thriller needs to execute flawlessly. A dynamic actor like Norton is left to sleepily segue from one scene to the next like an insecure Droppy Dog detective. We never fear Graham the way we do in the book or see the coiled-up lethality of William Peterson. Fiennes is an outstanding Dolarhyde, but again, even his key scene revealing his true form to Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s Freddy Lounds lacks any tinge of suspenseful pacing or terror. (Also irksome is the missing moth-eaten stocking mask in this scene, a key aspect of the book.)

To help compensate for Ratner’s exhaustive heavy hand is a score by Danny Elfman. Now, I do love this music. It’s gothic, it’s creepy, and the swells of strings screeching to a violent crescendo is great stuff, but it’s just not great for this movie. Tim Burton would have eaten this up if he made another horror film. Instead, it's over-compensation. When Ratner’s direction fails to build any real suspense, Elfman’s terrific music is used as both a crutch to lean on and a baseball bat to beat the audience over the head with. 

If it sounds like I’m ragging on the movie, well, yeah I kinda am. Red Dragon was my favorite of Harris’ four Lecter novels and I was really excited for this film. It had so much potential to be great and live cohesively within a Hopkin-as-Lecter trilogy. Instead, it often feels like the odd stepchild pretending to be a part of the family. And for the record, I also don’t particularly care for the Hannibal show’s adaptation of this story (once they finally got to it) either. With so much going for it, Red Dragon just feels so very mediocre. Like a bad 80s slasher sequel, I do revisit this film often, hoping it’ll get better or I can find something to make me appreciate it more - but that hasn’t happened in the twenty years since the theater. 



Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Red Dragon stalks its way onto 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray in a two-disc set from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. The 4K is pressed on a BD-100 disc with a BD-50 holding for the 1080p and bonus features. The discs are housed in a standard sturdy case with identical slipcover packaging. The discs load to KLSC’s basic static-image main menu.

Video Review

Ranking:

Making its 4K debut, Red Dragon takes a bite out of 2160p Dolby Vision thanks to a reported new 4K scan of the original 35 negative. Now while I may not love the film by any stretch, I can’t deny it’s a handsome-looking film. The range of colors while favoring the cool steely blues and the darker earthy browns; it’s really impressive how Spinoti matched the look and feel of Tak Fujimoto’s work on The Silence of the Lambs. But even back in the early days of HD-DVD and the first Blu-ray (once Universal decided to join the winning team), this film has enjoyed a lovely life on home video and that carries on with this new release. I wouldn’t call this a night-and-day upgrade, just more refined. Details are terrific with all of the close-ups there’s plenty of time to see and appreciate facial details, clothing styles, and the production values to replicate something that looked as nondescript as the late 1980s/early 1990s. Fine film grain is apparent throughout, a little more noticeable in some places than others, but nothing too swampy or distracting. 

The Dolby Vision HDR grade isn’t overly aggressive just offers welcome subtle refinements in colors, black levels, and whites. As I said, colors favor the browns and steely blues, but skin color remains healthy and human. Primaries are on point. Black levels are pitch-black perfect with intense shadows. The Dolarhyde house is a particularly moody location. Whites are also brilliantly crisp and generally look excellent, the white sandy beaches in Florida, Lecter’s white jumpsuit, and business shirts are nice and crisp. My one little caveat there was I felt a lot of the spotlighting, especially in the briefing room scene where everyone seems to have a single light on their heads could look a little oddly hot, but that’s a small quibble really. Otherwise a solid 4K transfer for a great-looking film.

Audio Review

Ranking:

On the audio side, Red Dragon sounds off with a pair of tracks, a DTS-HD MA 5.1 and a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track. Really I don’t know why the 2.0 track was necessary but it’s here. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix sounds the same to my ears as the Universal-released Blu-ray and it’s still an excellent mix. Atmos or an object-based track might have sounded cool, but this one still is a mighty contender. Dialog is clean and clear without issue. Ellen Burstyn’s disembodied voice as Grandma Dolarhyde is still damned chilling. Action sequences like when D. is stalking through his house trying to find Reba are a terrific blend of full atmosphere sound effects of the old house and Danny Elfman’s score. Likewise, Lecter’s holding cell or the gymnasium are great expansive locations. Surrounds are active to keep that soundscape working. Not spending too much time with the 2.0 it’s alright, but again, unnecessary.

Special Features

Ranking:

As far as bonus features go, nothing new in the cannibal stew here. All of the previous Red Dragon extras have returned, and they are a healthy assortment. The audio commentary is a decent enough listen - even if Tally is the more interesting participant. The Danny Elfman isolated score/commentary is the other big highlight of the set but there are long stretches of dead silence. The making of materials and behind-the-scenes bits and pieces offer some interesting insights into the making of the show. The Hopkins-focused Lecter and Me featurette and the makeup and visual effects extras are the highlights there. 

4K UHD Disc 

  • Audio Commentary featuring Brett Ratner and Ted Tally
  • Danny Elfman Isolated Score with Commentary 

Blu-ray Disc 

  • Audio Commentary featuring Brett Ratner and Ted Tally
  • Danny Elfman Isolated Score with Commentary 
  • A Director’s Journey: Documentary
  • The Making of Red Dragon: Featurette
  • Visual Effects: Featurette
  • Screen and Film Tests: Featurette
  • Anthony Hopkins - Lecter and Me: Featurette
  • The Burning Wheelchair: Featurette
  • The Leed’s House Crime Scene: Featurette
  • Makeup Application: Featurette
  • Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer - Hosted by John Douglas
  • Storyboard to Final Film Comparison
  • Brett Ratner’s Student Film
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Alternate Scenes
  • Extended Scenes
  • Red Dragon Trailer
  • The Silence of the Lambs Trailer
  • Hannibal Trailer

For this fan of aristocratic cannibals, Red Dragon is just an alright film. On the card between Manhunter vs Red Dragon, every Lecter fan has a favorite. Even with its own set of flaws, Manhunter happens to be my favorite of the two. While I would say this one is impeccably cast and beautifully shot, it was helmed by a director who never mastered this sort of subtle character-focused nuanced material before - or since. Still, I may not love it, but it does have some admirable qualities that at least make it rewatchable, even if I have a version I’d much rather see restored for 4K. And speaking of 4K, Red Dragon comes home with a genuinely excellent 4K release. Perhaps not the greatest apples-to-oranges improvement but with the added resolution and the Dolby Vision HDR grade, there’s a lot of great stuff here. With the same 5.1 audio and bonus features from previous discs, you have a solid new release to consider for the collection - especially if you're a bigger fan of this version over any other. Recommended

Order your copy of Red Dragon on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray