Ultra HD: Highly Recommended
4 Stars out of 5
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Release Date: September 26th, 2023
Movie Release Year: 1969
Release Country: United States
COLLAPSE INFO -

The Girl from Rio - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Review Date September 18th, 2023 by
Overview -

Jess Franco and Sax Rohmer – a match made in exploitation heaven with Jess’ sleazy brain at the helm. Riffing off of the James Bond spy craze of the ‘60s, The Girl from Rio eschews Jess’ usual gauzy aesthetic with brash, sex-fueled spy hijinks that still feel quite kinky even for Jess! Blue Underground upgrades their previous 106 Blu-ray release to stellar 4K Ultra HD with a new two-disc released offering a gorgeous and faithful new 2160p transfer of the film, plus new special features to make the upgrade even more worth it. This release comes Highly Recommended!

OVERALL
Highly Recommended
  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    4K Ultra HD Blu-ray + Blu-ray
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    2160p/HEVC / H.265
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    1.85:1
    Movie Studio: Blue Underground
    Release Date: September 26th, 2023

Story Review Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

4 Stars out of 5

Of all the popular genres that Jess Franco imbued with his own sleazy, fly-by-night approach, it makes a lot of sense that the spy genre was one where he could really be uninhibited without too much being cut by censors. That’s part of why The Girl from Rio sticks out in his long, illustrious career; it’s a perfect example of when Uncle Jess was assigned to rip off something popular in another part of the world and bring back much more than a tired retread. Jess brought back something truly kinky and demented that could still be marketed as a spy flick. What’s more, he pulled Goldfinger actress Shirley Eaton to lead the film, further bridging the gap between Hollywood productions and the outsiders producing cheapies for the drive-in circuit.

The Girl from Rio could be taken as Jess’ own version of Girl Boss Cinema – he’s obsessed with the physical and emotional power that a scantily-clad woman can have, and the spy genre is the perfect format for him to run with that. Such is what drives The Girl from Rio, a caper based upon Sax Rohmer’s Sumuru character and her merry band of leather-clad, stoic women who sexually torture all who oppose them. And in classic Franco fashion, he’s much less interested in the actual male spies than the women who foil their plans. You can even say that the film is like an upside-down James Bond tale, in which more attention is given to the villains and their hijinks than the hero himself.

The plot is rather harebrained, unsurprisingly. It follows Jeff Sutton (Richard Wyler), an American with 10 million dollars in cold hard cash who immediately gets the attention of evil crime boss Masius (George Sanders). Sumuru (Shirley Eaton) also catches wind of the cash and is on her mission to defeat all men’s kingdoms. Jeff’s interest in bedding women soon gets him into deep trouble, when Sumuru’s gals whisk Jeff away to the female enclave of Femina, where Jeff will be tortured relentlessly until the cash is given up. Naturally, Jeff escapes to Rio and is caught between Sumuru and Masius in an all-out war.

If you’re not familiar with Jess Franco’s world of kink and camera zooms, then I’d estimate that The Girl from Rio would be easily accessible to the uninitiated. Its amalgam of normal spy hijinks and cheap, art-deco design makes for a loose, easygoing time with Sumuru and her merry band of strong women. All the beautiful location shooting only gives more credence to the things on display, as Franco always had an eye for environment and made due with absolutely nothing.

This is all slack work from Uncle Jess, but it’s not nothing to have a spy film where sexuality and sadism is actually given more weight than better-funded productions. Franco may have been a perv, though there are few directors who look to the female form in appreciation and abject terror quite like him. And that, folks, makes The Girl from Rio a worthwhile exploitation flick.

Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-rays
The Girl from Rio flies into your collection with a two-disc release that comes in a standard black case and is enclosed in a limited-edition embossed slipcover showcasing new art produced for this release. Both discs, BD66 for the UHD and BD50 for the standard Blu-ray, boot up to standard menu screens with options to play the film, select scenes, set up audio and video, as well as explore bonus features.

  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    4K Ultra HD Blu-ray + Blu-ray
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    2160p/HEVC / H.265
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    1.85:1
    Movie Studio: Blue Underground
    Release Date: September 26th, 2023

Video Review

5 Stars out of 5

For those who own Blue Underground’s 2016 Blu-ray release of The Girl from Rio, you’ve probably seen the transfer there and know massive improvements could be made to its frequently smeary image and wobbly contrast. That’s why I’m elated to report that this new 2160p transfer aided by Dolby Vision HDR is far and above the best the film has ever looked at home. Replete with rich colors, well-resolved film grain and even more information available in the framing, this new 4K restoration of the original camera negative pulls out all the stops for Uncle Jess. All of that beautiful outdoor footage is a lot more stable in terms of framing and grain, with nothing getting lost in noise like the previous transfer, and those blacks are much, much deeper this time around. The Dolby Vision grade is respectful of the source and doesn’t blow out any of the highlights, honoring the gauzy look and a much wider palette of blues present. All in all, this terrific presentation gets the most out of the source and its use of the wider color gamut. I can’t recommend it enough!

Note: All screenshots are from our previous review of the 2016 Blu-ray. We hope to add 4K screencaps soon and will update the review when we do.

Audio Review

4 Stars out of 5

The Girl from Rio comes with a single English 1.0 DTS-HD MA audio track, and it does sound remarkably similar to the already-great 1.0 lossless track from the 2016 Blu-ray release. The dubbing and music are handled very well and I didn’t note any damage to the source. Hiss is very minimal and doesn’t distract from the overall presentation.

Special Features

4 Stars out of 5

Blue Underground usually fills their 4K UHD upgrades with new special features, and this release is no exception! In addition to porting over the features on the previous release, BU has added a terrific interview with Jess Franco expert, author Stephen Thrower, that is unsurprisingly breathless in its summation of the Towers-Franco cycle of films. He also addresses the different versions of the film, like how the German edit makes Jeff a much bigger hero than the cut you see here. What’s more, there’s even a Rifftrax edition of the film for you to enjoy. This is truly a stellar features package and is a big reason why I recommend the upgrade.

Disc 1: 4K UHD Feature

  • Audio commentary with film historians Nathaniel Thompson and Troy Howarth

Disc 2: Blu-ray Feature & Special Features

  • Audio commentary with film historians Nathaniel Thompson and Troy Howarth
  • Rocking in Rio – Interview with author Stephen Thrower (HD 40:35)
  • Rolling in Rio – Interviews with Jess Franco, Harry Allen Towers and Shirley Eaton (SD 14:24)
  • Additional scenes from German version (HD 9:54)
  • Trim reel (HD 6:06)
  • Rifftrax edition with Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy (HD 77:48)

Final Thoughts

Goldfinger actress Shirley Eaton plays the dangerous, kinky female mastermind Sumuru in The Girl from Rio, a Jess Franco spy caper that riffs off of James Bond. While it’s far from Franco’s best-known work, this slice of eurosleaze is no less fun in its eschewing of spy antics and sadistic sex. Blue Underground pulls out all the stops for Uncle Jess’ demented work with a 4K presentation that easily pulls ahead of their 2016 Blu-ray release of the film. Add a stellar supplements package and you have a Highly Recommended release!

  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    4K Ultra HD Blu-ray + Blu-ray
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    2160p/HEVC / H.265
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    1.85:1
    Movie Studio: Blue Underground
    Release Date: September 26th, 2023
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