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KL Studio Classics reveals Hard Target 4K, plus Shout! announces Transformers: The Movie for Ultra HD release & more

May 24, 2021 - 5:23 pm   |   by

We’re starting off the new week with a brand new review... and a brand new reviewer!

We’re very pleased to welcome Stephen Bjork to The Digital Bits team. Like many of us, Stephen is a lifelong student of film, who worked for many years as a district manager for the Video Update brick-and-mortar movie rental chain, back in the VHS, Beta, Laserdisc and early DVD days, before moving into sales. In that capacity, he attended many industry events—I probably bumped into him without realizing it at the old Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) trade shows. Stephen knows film, and he’s more than fluent with the state-of-the-art in home video technology, up to and including Digital and 4K Ultra HD. He’s also been a Digital Bits reader for many years, and a friend on social media into the bargain. So we’re confident he’s going to fit right in around here.

Stephen will be reviewing both Blu-ray and 4K titles for us, and he’s kicking that work off with his thoughts on an import 4K title that might be new to some of you: Robert D. Krzykowski’s The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot (2018). It’s a surprisingly great little drama starring Sam Elliott that a lot of you might have overlooked a I did. There was a US release of the film on Blu-ray and DVD from RLJE back in 2019, but our friends at Capelight Pictures in Germany actually did a proper physical Ultra HD release. And it turns out, it’s pretty damn good. You can import it from Amazon Germany and a few copies are available on US Amazon as well. The 4K works on all players, but note that the Blu-ray and DVD disc in the package are region locked. In any case, we hope you enjoy the review! And you can look forward to more from Stephen in the weeks and months ahead.

Welcome aboard, Stephen! [Read on here...]

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In announcement news today, while we’re on the topic of 4K, Kino Lorber Studio Classics revealed over the weekend that they’re working on a new 4K Ultra HD release of the John Woo actioner Hard Target (1993), starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and Lance Henriksen! The disc will include both the Unrated Director’s Cut (100 mins) and the US Theatrical Cut (97 mins—note that the “workprint cut” will not be included because those film elements apparently no longer exist). They’ll have a new Dolby Vision HDR grade supervised by DP Russell Carpenter. Extras and the street date are TBA, but new interviews with Woo, Henriksen, and Yancy Butler have all been scheduled (they’re trying to get Van Damme too).

While we’re talking Kino Lorber Studio Classics, it’s come to my attention that my review of the audio specs for their recent The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in 4K UHD were in error. I’d originally indicated that the 5.1 and 2.0 mono mixes were the same as those included on the company’s previous Blu-ray edition. In fact, the 2.0 mono is actually the true original theatrical mono mix last included on MGM’s 1993 laserdisc edition in PCM format, which offers much better quality than anything we’ve had since on Blu-ray and DVD. And the 5.1 mix was created from that same source. So this is the first time we’ve actually had that proper original lossless audio sounding the way it should in decades. Hats off to the team at Kino Lorber Studio Classics for going more than the extra mile on this title! And thanks to Bits reader Alex M. for alerting me to this.

Also on the 4K front, Shout! Factory has just announced the Ultra HD release of the animated Transformers: The Movie in Steelbook packaging on 8/3, in honor of the film’s 35th anniversary. This will be a brand-new scan from the original 35mm film elements in widescreen, featuring Dolby Vision HDR. The press release also claims that the disc will include a new Dolby Atmos sound mix, though the back of the packaging shown on Amazon suggests DTS-HD MA (we’ve already got an email into the studio to clarify this and we’ll let you know here when we do). [Editor’s Note: We have officially confirmed that the 4K disc will feature 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio only. The Atmos mention in the press release was an error. Adjust your plans accordingly.] The package will also include the film in full frame on Blu-ray, with the previous BD extras, and new extras too (including never-before-seen feature-length storyboards and the Fathom Events 30th Anniversary Featurette). You can see the cover artwork above left and also below, and you can pre-order the title on Amazon now clicking here or on the cover below.

And we understand that Vinegar Syndrome is pre-paring to announce a 4K double feature release this coming Friday during their Halfway to Black Friday sale. So be sure to watch our social media for those details as they break. We’ll post them here at The Bits as well.

In regular Blu-ray news, Mill Creek Entertainment has revealed their July Blu-ray and DVD slate, which will include Equal Standard (2020) on Blu-ray and DVD on 7/6, and I Dream of Jeannie: The Complete Series, Saving Silverman (2001), Two If by Sea (1996), and Skin Deep (1989) on Blu-ray on 7/13.

Paramount will release the Friday the 13th 8-Movie Collection on Blu-ray on 8/10. This includes the first eight films in the series, the first four of which are the recently-remastered versions. They’ll also include some extras and Digital copy versions. But note that this will not be anywhere near as comprehensive as the recent Scream Factory box set (reviewed here)—this is definitely for casual fans only.

And on DVD, Kino Lorber will release the documentary The Land of Azaba on 6/8.

Finally today, The Hollywood Reporter has a good new article up on the ongoing negotiations between Amazon and MGM for the former to purchase the latter. The deal-in-progress, reportedly in the $9 billion range, would give Amazon Prime Video access to over 4,000 film titles and some 17,000 hours of TV content. And yes, this would include the Bond classic franchise, though it’s as yet unclear if theatrical debit of the latest as-yet-unreleased film, No Time to Die, would be impacted. You can read more here.

We’ll leave you with a look at the cover art for Transformers, as well as a couple other titles. Click to pre-order them on Amazon.com...

Transformers: The Movie - 35th Anniversary Edition (Steelbook 4K Ultra HD) Friday the 13th: 8-Movie Collection (Blu-ray Disc) Indiana Jones: 4-Movie Collection (4K Ultra HD)

Stay tuned...!

(You can follow Bill on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook)