After serving up several impeccable horror releases in the 4K UHD format, Blue Underground delivers a knockout restoration of a gritty genre classic with a stellar edition of Vigilante. The film is a natural pick for the studio, seeing as it’s horror legend William Lustig’s answer to Death Wish and given the fact that it serves as an icon of the late grindhouse era.
Vigilante is a great starter movie for viewers interested in learning about the films (and their stars) who inspired the formulas which would later be built upon and perfected in the mainstream by the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, and more. The film’s simple revenge plot sets the stage for memorable character moments and outrageous segments of explosive violence which mark this style of filmmaking. Even better, it stars blaxploitation king Fred “The Hammer” Williamson in an unforgettable role and it reveals to contemporary fans that Robert Forster was rocking his infectiously earnest attitude long before becoming a staple of such hits as Jackie Brown and Breaking Bad. William Lustig fans even get a sleazy appearance by Maniac star Joe Spinell for good measure. Vigilante is good old fashioned gritty entertainment for the crime film enthusiast, and Blue Underground did the home video community a great service by restoring it with such pride and attention to detail.
The 4K restoration of Vigilante is scanned in 16-bit from the original 35mm camera negative. As usual, Blue Underground doesn’t cut any corners with their transfer and their attention to detail knows no bounds. The film looks clean and clear throughout, and its grain has been preserved. Dolby Vision HDR has been conservatively applied to this edition. There are welcome moments here and there where a flame or a light has an extra kick to its shimmer, but the HDR never overpowers the authenticity of the print. The black levels of some of the night scenes vary in terms of their range, but this is more of an issue of what was originally captured on film over an avoidable issue like black crush. The magic of this transfer is that it is so wonderfully done that the viewer rarely considers is while watching the film. It is simply so natural that it allows the viewer to get caught up in the magic of the movie instead of pondering restoration choices. Vigilante‘s restoration is a pleasure to watch.
The Dolby Atmos audio of the disc does a nice job of capturing the sounds of the film without offering up any revisionist mixing that would betray the hallmarks of audio of the era. Vigilante sounds exactly like it should, and this is especially a treat during moments where composer Jay Chattaway’s score thumps throughout a scene. Chattaway’s compositions are one of the key reasons why Vigilante rocks so hard, and every note is preserved with this release.
One of the nice things about Blue Underground’s 4K releases is that they take the time to consider the complete package when putting them together. Vigilante comes in an oversized clear case with a 4K UHD disc and a Blu-Ray disc, and there’s a hefty booklet inside with images from the film and an essay by Michael Gingold. Both discs are packed with commentaries and new interviews focusing on all of the integral elements of the film, so you’ll want to keep watching long after the credits have rolled. The package is tied together with an attractive slipcover featuring a three dimensional lenticular recreation of the cover artwork. This set is going to look just as nice on your shelf as it will on your screen!
At this point, no one should be surprised that Blue Underground unleashed another stellar 4K UHD restoration. The company regularly outperforms the big studios with these lavish releases, and Vigilante is no exception. If you are interested in these kinds of genre films, you’re going to want to give this one a watch. If you love Vigilante, you’re going to need this on your shelf.