Customer Reviews: Cliffhanger [Blu-ray]
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In 1993, Renny Harlin (director of "Die Hard 2') returned with a new action film starring Sylvester Stallone ("Rocky" and "Rambo" films), John Lithgow ("Dexter", "3rd Rock from the Sun"), Michael Rooker ("The Marine 2', "Jumper") and Janine Turner ("Friday Night Lights", "Strong Women", "Northern Exposure").

The film would feature cinematography by Alex Thomason ("The Scarlet Letter", "Demolition Man", "Hamlet") and music by composer Trevor Jones ("The League of Extraordinary Gentleman", "Around the World in 80 Days", "Dinotopia").

The film which cost around $65 million to make did well in the box office as it made over $255 million worldwide and received fairly positive reviews despite many rock climbers felt the depiction of rock climbing was too Hollywood, unrealistic and had quite a bit of inaccuracies.


"Cliffhanger" is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 Widescreen) and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment did a great job in bringing this film to HD. The Italian alps look absolutely beautiful and there is great detail for the rocks, surrounding scenery. The film is not too vibrant as there is overcast and there are not many vibrant colors seen in the film. But there is extreme detail captured on the rocks and the ice/snow.

The scenery is just breathtaking and despite the cold and challenging conditions, director Renny Harlin and cinematographer Alex Thomson did a wonderful job in filming the location and various aerial views of people on the mountains.

There is a fine layer of grain on the film, skin tones are natural, blacks are nice and deep and for a 1993 film, no sign of muggy DNR (Digital Noise Reduction) that I can see in this film, nor did I see any major compression artifacts.

But what fans of the film will enjoy is the lossless audio track for "Cliffhanger". If you thought "Air Force One" sounded good on Blu-ray, Sony repeats the aggressive audio track for this film as helicopters, explosions and various sound effects are heard all around you. The surround channel is utilized heavily during the action sequences of the film as well as a good amount of LFE coming from the subwoofer. The film just sounds incredible! Dialogue is clear through the center channel and music and effects sounds great coming from the front channels.

Overall, impressive PQ and AQ with subtitles in English, English SDH and French.


"Cliffhanger" comes with the following special features in standard definition, English stereo:

* movieIQ and BD-Live connects you to access real-time information on the cast, music, trivia and more while watching the movie! - Note: You need a BD-Live (Profile 2.0) Blu-ray player that can connect to the Internet to access movieIQ.
* Commentary with Director Renny Harlin and Sylvester Stallone - Director Renny Harlin sets up the scenes and shows us what is real and what he wanted to accomplish with certain shots. Stallone talks about his scenes and how it was hard for him to film because he was scared of heights.
* Technical Crew Commentary - Commentary on the technical crew of how they accomplished the rock climbing and various action-based sequences of the film and challenges they experienced.
* A Personal Introduction from Renny Harlin - (4:53) Director Renny Harlin talks about how he got involved with "Cliffhanger" and working with Sylvester Stallone. Both men wanted to do something than your usual action film. Something with more depth and more serious in tone.
* Deleted Scenes - (8:18) Featuring two deleted scenes (Kings Leap, Ice Climb) plus an optional introduction by Director Renny Harlin (3:01) who discusses why the scenes were cut from the movie.
* Stallone on the Edge: The Making of Cliffhanger - (20:03) Featuring interviews with director Renny Harlan and the talents of the film. Featuring a behind-the-scenes making of the film, shooting on location in the Italian alps, the challenges that the filmmaker and talents had to endure and a tour through the set from Sylvester Stallone.
* Special Effects Featurettes - (7:24) Special effects featurettes for "Sarah's Fall" and "Helicopter Explosion" and commentary and video on how those two sequences were created.
* Storyboard Comparisons - (12:01) Storyboard comparisons for "Sarah's Fall", "Air-to-Zip Line" and "Helicopter Explosion". Featuring the storyboard sequences on the top and video on the bottom.
* Original Theatrical Trailer - (3:26) Includes an optional introduction by Renny Harlin.


"Cliffhanger" was definitely one of the enjoyable films that Sylvester Stallone did in the 1990's (along with "Judge Dredd"). After the disastrous "Rocky V" in 1990, Stallone started to do more international films throughout the 1990's and in this case, both he and director Renny Harlin wanted to do something different in their careers and that was to have an action film that was more serious in nature.

Personally, I enjoyed "Cliffhanger" when it came out in theaters but there were certain situations that bugged me at the time and that was mainly Sylvester Stallone in the very cold weather without a jacket, high up in altitude and climbing the mountain with a t-shirt (it's further explained by Sylvester Stallone in the commentary) but it was one of the scenes that I had a hard time believing especially in freezing temperatures.

But it was definitely an enjoyable Stallone film. Michael Rooker did a wonderful job in this film and the same with Janine Turner (and I'm glad that director Renny Harlin did not emphasize or use a major romantic sequence between Gabe and Jessie).

But I'm sure the question for fans of the film is if "Cliffhanger" is worth purchasing again? Especially if you owned the two previous DVD's that were released in 2000 and the Superbit version in 2004.

If you enjoyed this film, my answer is yes. The reason being is that Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has improved with the picture quality and audio quality of their films. Especially this 1993 film because in previous years, there was some DNR that made the film look to cloudy/waxy in appearance due to the DNR but with this film, you really can't tell it's 1993 when it comes to picture quality. Video looks absolutely great compared to the original DVD.

You see the details of the rocks quite well but the location of where the film is shot, looks great! The Italian Alps absolutely looks beautiful in this film and definitely an improvement from the DVD.

But the biggest improvement is the lossless audio. For those who have a modern receiver that can take advantage of the lossless 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack and have a good speaker setup are going to love how this film sounds. Since "Sony Pictures Home Entertainmen" released "Air Force Once" on Blu-ray, they have really found a way to take advantage of these older action films and "Cliffhanger" sounds remarkable on Blu-ray. The soundtrack is quite immersive and you hear the audio all around you.

The Blu-ray features the same special features from the original DVD with the exception of the photo gallery but all-in-all, for those who own the previous DVD's will just love how this film looks and sounds on Blu-ray.

As for those who have never seen the film, "Cliffhanger" is not the best Sylvester Stallone action film but its one, if not the best action film he released in the 1990's. Looking for an action film, definitely give "Cliffhanger" a try!
0Comment|30 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Forget about discussion of the plot and acting abilities. You folk already know the story line, so let's discuss the most important part of buying a blu ray disc....the quality of the video and audio transfer. Wish more people would review these aspects than telling me the story lines and their interpretations of such.

Many times older movies receive poor transfers to blu ray and often the excuse it is that "They are older movies" Cliffhanger on Blu ray proves that that excuse is bunk.
The transfer of the video on blu ray is exceptionally good. The colors pop and are vivid with no grain, noise or any other video distraction. It shows to me that some real effort went into transferring the original master to blu ray markedly improving it over the Standard DVD release which I also have.
The DTS HD audio is also a welcome addition and this is one disc where re editing for discreet channels, front and rears, is nicely used through out. The sub is there when needed and if you have a hi end theater system, the Blu ray version makes it well worth your while.

The extras contain the regular documentary discussions and a couple of deleted scenes with excellent explanations by the director why they were not used.

If you are going to upgrade from a standard DVD or are just thinking about buying this on Blu Ray, this disc will not disappoint.
All my movie reviews are of this nature and focus only on the quality of the transfer to BluRay so check them and see if they are of help as well.
Hopefully, this review has been of some help to you in determining your purchase, hope I am on the correct path with a review of the transfer quality as opposed to providing plot summaries.
0Comment|10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Can't help it, I'm a Stallone fan (though I didn't care for the dingy movie with Dolly), but this one is great for the collection. I started following this actor with all the Rocky movies, then Rambo, etc. This movie has the unforgettable death scene that hooks you in the beginning, and the stunts with the 'plane' that follow are excellent. When you mix mountain climbing with lots of snow and ice, and toss in some bad guys, there's bound to be a lot of action. The movie hasn't edged out the Rocky and Rambo movies as my favorites, but it's a good Stallone flick.

Chrissy K. McVay - Author
33 comments|18 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 31, 2010
This is a typical Stallone-vs-bad guy movie, but I bought it in blu-ray for the scenery and the action and I wasn't disappointed. The Rockies in HD are magnificent and the surround sound is excellent, which adds a lot to an otherwise mundane bad guys vs good guys storyline.
John Lithgow is a hoot as the head bad guy; he can play comedy and evil geniuses with equal panache and he is up to form here. Stallone is his rugged action-hero self and his performance is typical Stallone. If you love Sly, you'll enjoy this movie.
If you love beautiful scenery along with some fun action, you may also enjoy this movie and if you have a blu-ray surround sound home theater system, it should increase your enjoyment of the movie even more.
In short, this is not great movie but it's not awful either, so if this type of story is your cup of tea or if you are a Stallone fan, I think you'll enjoy it.
While this isn't exactly a 'movie-of-the-year' level film, it's a good trip for those who enjoy action adventure stories and I recommend it for a fun of it.
11 comment|9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 19, 2001
"Cliffhanger" is one of those movies where the suspense sequences and action stunts outweigh everything else by a landslide (pardon the pun). There's really not much to the development of characters or plot, except that the movie uses the script as an excuse to put its characters in extremely dangerous situations one after another. On this ground, it works splendidly, and while the story and characterization are weak, there are still some good performances turned in by the cast.
The movie sets itself up with the promised white-knuckle action in a sequence that brings on the tension but fails to move us emotionally. On his way to retrieve his best friend, Hal Tucker (Michael Rooker) and his girlfriend, Sarah, from a 4,000 peak, Gabe Walker (Sylvester Stallone) makes an attempt to rescue Sarah after she begins falling, without success. Hal blames it on Gabe, and Gabe's own self-torment keeps him from town and from his own love, Jessie (Janine Turner). This move, while meant to establish emotion and character depth, doesn't do a whole lot for the script.
The movie then transfers us to a U.S. treasury plane, where three cases of money, in bills unusable except by a select group of people in the world, are being flown across the country. The plane is soon hijacked by a group of terrorists, led by Eric Qualen (John Lithgow). However, his plans are ruined once they lose the cases at high altitude and crash in the Rocky Mountains, where they call for help under the guise of being in danger.
Sparing the rest of the movie's twists and turns, once Gabe and Hal arrive on the scene, they are taken hostage and forced to climb mountains and hike through forests to find the three cases of money, soon bringing more people into the situation than the movie calls for.
The movie chooses to focus more on the action than on the story itself, which really isn't that bad a move. From the high-altitude stunts to the white-knuckle suspense generated by the scenes charged with high-octane suspense, the movie doesn't lose its ability to get our attention with actors hanging on the edges of cliffs and mountains, holding on for dear life.
The tension generated by the terrorists is, at best, mediocre. Even under the shadow of leader Lithgow, whose flair for turning a colorful phrase at every moment is funny yet unsettling, the movie never really gives us any reason to fear the henchmen along for the climb. There are certain moments, such as that in which the only black terrorist hunts Gabe and Jessie in a cavern, or when Gabe is trapped beneath an ice-covered lake. However, the only people the terrorists knock off we aren't given too much time to know, so what reason do we have to care?
Stallone is back in fine form, the action hero we've always admired from his earlier "Rocky" days. He's required to carry a lot of the heroism on his shoulders, and big as those shoulders are, that is no easy task. Yet, he is able to pull it off, with the help of Rooker and Turner, who give jobs well done in their roles.
While not the best action film ever made, "Cliffhanger" is a commendable piece of suspense that works due to its breathtaking action sequences and the altitude of its settings. It tends to drag in places, but really, with a movie that's so focused on getting us into a sweat, what does it matter?
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on April 13, 2011
It was nice surprise where even latest bluray releases take a cheap way out by including special features in SD version this movie offer all of`em in HD .Its shows effort and commitment to make their product worth while.Over all good convert .There are few blue screen shots that can be differentiated from non blue screen because of great quality of transfer but it doesn`t take much away from movie.Typical action adventure movie with Pure fun ride from beginning to end. $6-8 makes perfect price and 5 star ratings.

"Fifth element" is another great transfer done on bluray with labor of love.
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on December 14, 2012
If you want to see what Blu-Ray should look like on all films then watch this movie. The picture is incredible. The clarity & the color are just beautiful. There is hardly any grain. Inside the cave was not as good as the rest of the movie but we are only talking about a couple of minutes out of a two hour movie. I can live with that. Someone took the time to make this a really enjoyable movie to watch. Thank you for doing this in 2:40:1 aspect ratio & not that damn 1:85:1. You are able to see more of the film this way & the panoramic views are just gorgeous. It would have been a totally different film in 1:85:1 & not for the better. I can only say the sound in stereo is really good. I have no fancy audio capabilities, just an old fashioned stereo system. I can't believe this movie cost only $6.00. For those of you wanting to see what Blu-Ray should really look like, get this. Even if you don't like the movie or Sly, get it just to see the beautiful scenery. You feel as if you are right there. Can't say enough good about the transfer. This has some decent features too. What are you waiting for ??? Go get this !!!!
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on August 11, 2014
Renny Harlin directs this film starring Sylvester Stallone, John Lithgow, Michael Rooker, Jenine Turner, Ralph Waite and Rex Linn. Gabe (Stallone) and Hal (Rooker) are pals in their jobs as mountain rescuers until a mishap disrupts that friendship costing the life of Hal's girlfriend. Guilt ridden Gabe runs off for eight months leaving behind his friend and girl (Turner). When he comes back unexpectedly (fortunately for them) he uncovers a heist of the Treasury Departments newly printed bills. Of course, he must go and do impossible things in hope of saving the day. As if mountain climbing is not thrill enough!! Ralph Waite (John Walton of The Waltons fame) stars as Frank (I think that's the name) in a let's see if we can P.O. all Waltons fans moment.- Lithgow of course makes a super villain, but, the role was not exactly challenging for him which is like most of the ones he's played in other film. I liked him best as the transsexual in The World According To Garp. That was an Oscar-worthy portrayal. The film is subtitled in English for the deaf. While it has numerous special features none are subtitled, Which is inconsiderate and rude of them. It is a shame Stallone could never break away from action films. I think we lost out of some good performances as a result.
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on May 2, 2016
Best climbing comedy ever. Maybe not as awesome for people who don't climb (Stallone is completely believable if climbers switched to a diet that consisted entirely of Red Bull and roids),

This movie gets funnier every year, with every viewing.

I do like that they illustrate real climbing by carrying all the gear and never using ropes. Anyone can climb rocks if they use ropes ;)
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on December 3, 2011
I haven't seen the blu-ray release of this film (and I primarily purchase blu-ray relases), but I found that the pre-blu-ray Superbit releases were pretty darn spectacular both visually and audio - Cliffhanger is no exception. The DTS soundtrack is crystal clear and rocks the room. The transfer shows very little grain and the colors seem natural and well balanced. There isn't a lot of evidence of DNR scrubbing though I'm sure there was some. A side note: I wish studios would start applying DNR a little more judiciously. They recorded movies on 35/65/70mm film and a little 'noise' adds both texture and depth to each frame (IMHO), but I digress. The bottom line for me: I really couldn't be enticed to trade-in my Superbit collection for new blu-ray transfers unless they offered something totally unresistable (like the new Citizen Kane, Ben Hur, etc.).
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