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on December 15, 2003
William Friedkin (The French Connection) brings us exotic locations and gripping story in Sorcerer, a remake of Henri-Georges Clouzot's 1953 thriller Wages of Fear.
The first hour of this movie seems to be comprised of random events involving four individuals that have absolutely nothing to do with each other. The only commonality is that they are all men of dubious character. Probably the most recognizable actor in this film is Roy Schieder, who plays a low level New York gangster participate in a robbery that goes bad, and forces him to flee the country due to the fact he managed to step on some pretty well connected toes. The second man, a French businessman, escapes from the threat of prosecution due to some shady business dealings. The third man, a Middle Eastern terrorist flees his captors after being caught participating in a bombing, and the fourth man is a shady assassin type apparently on the run from repercussion from his last hit.
The key is all four men end up in a South American rat-infested stink hole of a town called Vera Cruz. After awhile, they find their sanctuary has become more of a prison and all begin a desperate search for a way out, but that involves money, a commodity that's in short supply, with the only work available in the area is provided by an oil company that runs a well and is building a pipeline for the bubbling crude. Dangerous work, and the pay is so low that it would take years to earn enough to leave. Salvation for the men comes in a catastrophic disaster, an explosion damaging the well and causing the oil to burn.
The only way to close the well proper for repairs is to blow it up, and the only explosives available are 200 miles away. Turns out the explosives, sticks of nitro, haven't been tended very well, and, in turn, are highly unstable. The company decides to hire four men to drive two trucks to carry the dangerous materials through 200 miles of dangerous jungle, including prehistoric rope and wood bridges, treacherous mountain passes, deadly bandits and swampy roads laden with fallen trees. The suicide mission draws the four men, as the money would allow them to escape the oppressive town. The most intense scenes for me involved the men trying to traverse a rickety, rotting wooden rope suspension bridge over a raging river during a heavy rainstorm. There were times when the truck on the bridge was at such an angle, I thought it would flip right off. And all the actors performed most all their own stunts, adding to the realism of the movie. Do they make it? See the movie and find out. I especially liked the very end. A very nice touch that reminded me of an ending of a certain Alfred Hitchcock movie. Which one? I won't say, as it would give it away.
The movie runs just under two hours, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. Friedkin and the actors do a wonderful job in developing tensions between the characters and the environment and the between the characters themselves. The pacing is a bit slow, but it's deliberate, cranking the suspense up, notch by grueling notch.
There are sparse special features, including pretty thorough productions notes and a trailer. If you enjoy thrilling adventure, you will most likely like this movie. I would have happily given this movie five stars but it is only available in the full screen format. Something I didn't understand is the title for the movie. I wasn't able to figure out what it had to do with the movie....
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William Friedkin's remake of "The Wages of Fear" brought a more contemporary, edgy slant to a classic French film. The scale is bigger but the plot remains the same; Roy Scheider plays Jackie Scanlan a member of a crew who accepts what appears to be a suicidal mission; transport nitroglycerin across the treacherous landscape of South America to put out a massive oil fire. All four members of the driving crew have shady pasts making this an ideal chance to escape from the events haunting them at home.

In my humble opinion, this is a five star movie and superior to the film that inspired Friedkin to make this.

The remastered, restored blu-ray release of this classic film looks terrific--colors pop and depth is exceptionally good even considering that this is on a single layer blu-ray disc.

The new remastered widescreen DVD uses the same new transfer supervised by the director.

The 5.1 HD master audio sounds marvelous adding to the suspense of a terrific film.

The blu-ray, beyond the booklet included as part of the package (this may receive a regular blu release later in a standard keep case as is often the case with these Warner book-style releases)is truly the only "extra" included here which is unfortunate--a commentary track by Friedkin would be welcome discussing the difficult making of the film. I'm not sure if a vintage featurette (these often appeared on TV to promote films)exists for the film or not but if it did it would be nice to include that as well.

Still, the booklet is very good with Friedkin discussing the making of the film and plenty of photos. I'm sure that the booklet is excerpted from Friedkin's new memior The Friedkin Connection which is (curiously) adverised on the back of the hardbound book that houses the blu-ray.

Friedkin's vision and the shooting ran out of control contributing to the unforgettable atmosphere of tension that lingers in the finished film. During shooting Friedkin routinely fired crew members forcing the production company to fly them out of the remote location jungle in the Dominican Republic adding to the film's budget. The replacement members had to be flown in as well. Tensions ran high and tempers flared due to illness, production screw ups and the location which, ironically, created a sense of claustrophobia and isolation. While many prefer the original classic French film, Friedkin's remake creates its own unique signature with the outrageous stunts and dangerous conditions that dogged the crew at every turn.

Nominated for an Oscar for Best Sound, "Sorcerer" remains a taunt, flawed classic that sound be seen. It stands apart from its source film and on its own. While I love "The Wages of Fear", Friedkin's film captured my imagination when I first saw it in theaters. The blu-ray looks marvelous with a sharp, beautifully rendered restoration.

Highly recommended.
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on January 15, 2014
Throughout the early seventies, William Friedkin was flying high in Hollywood, having won a Best Director Oscar for the huge hit, "The French Connection", and then making the terrifying and enormously successful "The Exorcist". Then, to the surprise (and disgust) of many critics, Friedkin had the hubris to announce a remake of a classic French film, “The Wages of Fear”. He had an enormous budget, the backing of two studios, and near complete creative control. Unfortunately, this film was an expensive flop when it was released in 1977. The fact that it came out the weekend before "Star Wars" was released was a large part of the reason why, perhaps. It was nearly universally (and somewhat gleefully) panned by critics, and quickly disappeared from theater screens. It was nearly forgotten about, except by a few fans (like me).

I saw this when it was released, and was absolutely riveted by it. The acting, direction, screenplay, editing, and sound were all incredible (with a stunning soundtrack by Tangerine Dream). The famous “Bridge” sequence is one of the most gut-wrenchingly suspenseful scenes you will ever see. The darkly existential ending is perfect. This will strike some as heresy, but not only is this film superior to the 1953 Clouzot original, it is one of the best films of the 1970s. Sadly, the only DVD release has been in the dreaded “pan and scan” 4:3 aspect ratio, which makes the film unbearable to watch. This edition is fully authorized by the Director, and will no doubt be a spectacular transfer.

The journey out of limbo this film has taken over the last five or so years, with frustrating legal issues and a major lawsuit by Friedkin, are well documented in “Wikipedia”. Lately, the restored film has been showing at film events around the world to great acclaim. Critics are beginning to realize the importance of this film, which unfortunately nearly destroyed Friedkin’s career, but now is starting to be recognized as a key film of its decade. It has been reported that this is Friedkin’s personal favorite of his films.

I have been longing for this to be properly released for years, more than any other film. I can’t wait until April!
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on May 1, 2014
I was so excited that Sorcerer was finally going to receive the respect it has deserved for decades that I pre-ordered this DVD a month ago. (I have been checking Amazon every couple of months for a decade waiting for this as, slowly, Friedkin's great films have been re-issued over the past ten years). The movie is an undisputed masterpiece, IMO Friedkin's greatest film and one of the truly daring films of the Seventies. And I am happy to see that the Blu-Ray is apparently a proper restoration.

This DVD, however, is a mutilated disgrace. It is not letterboxed but is pan-and-scan so the viewer is missing enormous portions of the frame. This is akin to a pan-and-scan of something like Titanic or Lawrence of Arabia. I didn't even know that in this day and age studios still engaged in this practice. It is my fault for not even checking the aspect ratio, but it is inconceivable and unthinkable that anyone would even contemplate modifying an epic like this to fit a TV screen. The scratches begin to appear even before the opening titles are complete. The image is shaky. It looks quite frankly like someone withdrawing from alcohol pointed an 8mm camera at a circa-1980 TV screen and filmed it straight off of network television. JUMBO sized, inappropriately punctuated and stupidly fonted subtitles obliterate the images during the sequences that are filmed in a foreign language. Lint, specks and hairs periodically dot the top of the frame. So sad.

Warner Bros went to the trouble and expense of restoring and remastering this film--why couldn't they simply transfer it to DVD as well, or at least be honest enough not the release this DVD in concert with the big release of the Blu-Ray because it obviously was intended to suggest that this new DVD release was remastered as well? It is worth noting the new cover art for the Blu-Ray is the same art as appears on the new DVD; this is intentionally misleading. Warner Bros should bury its head in shame for this egregious con job.

If you want to see a truly mesmerizing work of art, DO SEE SORCERER--but please do yourself a favor and find some way other than this cynical farce of a DVD.
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on March 29, 2000
If you look at all the other reviews, you'll rarely see anything less than five stars and the film deserves it. "SORCERER" falls into that category sometimes referred to as an "undiscovered gem". My reason for giving this DVD one star is technical. Rather than creating a new master from film elements, this DVD was created from an existing full-screen SMPTE television broadcast master. As a result, you miss all of screen left, all of screen right, and a portion of both north and south. "SORCERER" is one of my all-time favorite action films and I can only hope that Friedkin and company release the original, theatrical wide-screen version of this thriller. I am so disappointed by the technical failings of this DVD that I won't buy it unless/until it's re-released in the theatrical format.
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on April 22, 2014
Wonderfull film, garbage dvd release.
Warner has rereleased the full frame, pan and scan version on dvd. Only putting the correct release on bluray. I received my dvd copy today. Opened it, saw "standard" on the aspect ratio and immediatley hoped online to return the dvd. Don't waste your money on this nonsense. Buy the Blu Ray or wait for the blu to drop in price (thats what I'm doing). Don't support a substandard release.

NOTE TO AMAZON: Please update your product discription and note the Pan and Scan aspect ratio.
Don't let your customers blindly buy this release.
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on April 21, 2014
This is still not the remastered DVD. That doesn't come out until aug. 5.
This is terrible. Don't buy.
-William friedkin
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on November 21, 2003
I bought this wonderful movie and when i put it in, you get a message saying the movie is in a PAN & SCAN format. It is not shown in its orginal aspect ration which 1:66 (You can look that up on IMDB) So all in all, Universal needs to re-release this wonderful movie on dvd with some bells and wistles but then again this is just one guy's opinion. Thank You for reading.
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on April 23, 2014
As most of us know, this is a great movie. And now, presented in the Blu-Ray format, it's even better. Colors are outstanding. Like the orangey and red flames of bright fire billowing out of the middle of a lush green jungle, filmed from above.

Skin tones are perfect. And the dirt and grime that lies on everything in this South American hell-hole place that we saw on our previous DVDs is now, truly, hell on earth, on our Blu-Rays.

I watched this on a 55" Sony Bravia with no compression problems, even though I'm told this was restored at a low bit-rate, i.e. not BD50 (which makes no difference to me).

I think you will be very pleased with the extensive restoration reportedly done on this movie. And the Blu-Ray was given Director William Friedkins own approval.

One final note on price. I pre-ordered this 4 months ago on Amazon about the time it was first announced (along with the Big Red One). For $19.59. The Big Red One for $13 something. Now the prices have gone up a few dollars. I find that if you can pre-order some of these Blu's months before release, you can usually get them at a lower price.

If I've been of help in the decision of your purchase, and I hope I have, please check the yes box in the helpful comment section below. Thanks and have a good day. Richard
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VINE VOICEon April 19, 2014
This is a review of the DVD version released 4/22/14 by Warner Brothers... and the BR I picked them both up early and here is my review of them... NOT the movie, which I love.

WARNER BROTHERS rescued this masterpiece for us... and has just released it on both BLU RAY and DVD. The Blu Ray is a revelation... of sight and sound.... I just watched it!! WHY then did WB reissue the DVD full screen and basically just duplicate the crappy Universal edition that has been out forever? I picked them both up, because I have a friend I've been telling about this magnificent movie for decades and sadly he's an older fellow with no desire for a BR player... and I can't believe they just duped over the old Universal DVD without even changing the menus..... just lazy and greedy.... they obviously have the master as the BR is widescreen and stunning! The reason I can't rate the BR higher than 4 stars is that it is a 5 star movie for me, but at nearly a $30 list price and NO extras? No making of, no Friedkin commentary? Friedkin doesn't seem to be a hard guy to get to comment on .... ANYTHING... goodness he even has done commentaries on other peoples film like Vertigo and made special feature interviews for others movies like NARC, and Franhenheimer's The Manchurian Candidate... but WB couldn't get him to do anything for perhaps his most misunderstood classic and a film he loves?

This seems to be WB taking advantage of film buffs by issuing a cult classic, overcharging for it and screwing the DVD only buyers.. If you are BR owner and want to see the film , pay your high price and enjoy!
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