Roy Scheider stars in this intense action thriller as a courageous police officer pilot battling government fanatics planning to misuse an experimental attack helicopter. Chosen to test BLUE THUNDER,Frank Murphy (Scheider)... more » is amazed by the high-speed, high-tech chopper. It can see through walls, record a whisper or level a city block. Distrusting the military mentality behind BLUE THUNDER, Murphy and his partner Lymangood (Daniel Stern) soon discover that the remarkable craft is slated for useas the ultimate weapon in surveillance and crowd control. Jeopardized after being discovered by sinister Colonel Cochrane (Malcolm McDowell), Murphy flies BLUE THUNDER against military aircraft in a spellbinding contest over Los Angeles.« less
"This Special Edition turned out to be not so special after all. Okay, the new transfer is better looking than the previous release. But the movie itself remains the same old version, missing a good bit of the car chase which, for some reason, was included in European copies but was never shown in the US. The missing part - check it out on imdb - takes place when Roy Scheider's wife, rushing to the TV studio with the tape, drives into a back alley with patrol cars on her tail: there, she skids into a wall on two wheels, bangs the roof of her car, then resumes her crazy run as the patrol cars slam into each other - and this is what makes Scheider wince from his chopper above. Apart from leaving aside a nice piece of stunt work, this cut also accounts for a continuity loophole, when we see the car drive into the TV studio parking lot with a badly battered rooftop. Granted, this missing part is no big deal, but it certainly makes this so-called 'Special Edition' a bit of a disappointment. Five stars for the movie, three for the DVD."
Blu-ray: Fans of "Blue Thunder" will appreciate how difficu
Dennis A. Amith (kndy) | California | 08/11/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"During the early 1980's, Americans were treated with vehicles that sported the latest futuristic technology. For cars, there was "Knight Rider". For motorcycles, there was "Street Hawk". And in 1983, people were captivated by a helicopter known as "Blue Thunder".
The film was directed by world renown director John Badham ("Saturday Night Fever" and "WarGames") and feature a screenplay by Dan O'Banon ("Alien" films and "Total Recall") and Don Jakoby ("Vampires" and "Death Wish 3), music by Arthur B. Rubinstein ("Double Jeopardy" and "Face Value") and cinematography by John A. Alonzo ("Star Trek: Generations", "The Meteor Man" and "Internal Affairs").
"BLUE THUNDER" would star Roy Scheider ("SeaQuest DSV", "Jaws" and "The French Connection) as LAPD helicopter pilot Officer Frank Murphy. Together with his new rookie partner Officer Richard Lymangood (Daniel Stern), while the two were patroling Los Angeles through the air, they happen to come across on what appeared to be a robbery attempt on city councilwoman Diane McNeely.
Unfortunately, before they arrived near the city councilwoman's area, the two were using their helicopter to observe a woman working out nude in her home. But also, due to previous situations, Officer Frank Murphy is due for a psychological evaluation. In fact, Murphy tends to use his stop watch to make sure that his mind is thinking straight (despite having nightmares of a Vietnamese soldier being thrown off a helicopter that he was piloting).
While meeting with his superior, Captain Jack Braddock (Warren Oates), the LAPD is calling the situation of the councilwoman as a theft and rape incident but Officer Murphy knows that there was no rape but his superior doesn't want to hear anything further from Murphy and relieves both him and Lymangood as pilots for the LAPD temporarily.
But the good news for Murphy and Lymangood is that they will be able to test out an advanced helicopter known as "Blue Thunder". Using the latest in weapons armament and stealth technology, the "Blue Thunder" can listen to any conversation as far as 200 ft., armed with machine guns, able to video/audio record outside incidents and also to be tied into various government and law enforcement computers and much more. The bad news is that the person that is heading the operation for "Blue Thunder" is US Army Colonel F.E. Cochrane (Malcolm McDowell) who is the primary test pilot of the new helicopter. Both Murphy and Cochrane end up crossing paths and because of their past history, Murphy despises him for a reason unknown.
While on the first night testing the "Blue Thunder" in Los Angeles, both Murphy and Lymangood are just in awe of the capabilities of the helicopter. But the two end up using the equipment to spy on Cochrane for the fun of it but what they hear is a shocker. Because of this, Murphy and Lymangood become a target. Can Murphy and Lymangood survive long enough to stop the people behind Project THOR?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
For those who are big fans of "BLUE THUNDER", you will be happy to know that the film is given a magnificent transfer on Blu-ray. The film is presented in 1080p High Definition (with an aspect ratio of 2:40:1) and having seen this film and having it on VHS and DVD, I can tell you that this is the definitive version to own.
For one thing, for a 1983 film, the film just looks great. The film offers a stark contrast between the day and nighttime sequences and there is a broad spectrum of colors utilized throughout the film. I didn't notice any significant artifacting, banding or source noise. I was so happy to see this film not DNR'd (digital noise reduction) and the grain of the film included but not to the point where its too distracting. There are far many 1980's films that are too soft or too grainy and this film is just right.
As for the audio, "BLUE THUNDER" is presented with an English and French Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack. It's important to emphasize that this film is a 1983 film and can't be compared to today's modern action films. But yet, the soundtrack is utilized quite well. The helicopters rotors spinning, to the echoes of the megaphone, the many explosions and the musical score just coming out quite clear (and loud). Dialogue remains crisp and clear and overall, there is a good amount of action scenes that utilize the explosions and thus filling the soundstage with automobile and aircraft sounds and machine guns galore. I was very impressed by the soundtrack for this 26-year-old film.
As for subtitles, the film is presented in English, English SDH and French.
"BLUE THUNDER" comes with the following special features (featured in standard definition):
* Director, Editor and Motion Control Supervisor Commentary - The Blu-ray includes the 2006 DVD Special Edition commentary featuring Director John Badham, Editor Frank Moriss and motion-control supervisor Hoyt Yeatman. For those who have never heard of a Badham commentary, Badham is very concise and definitely gives you a peak through his mind of directing and is quite thorough on explaining how this film was created. It's important to note that these days, a lot of these scenes would be CGI'd but back then, the chase scenes between helicopters were done without CG. So, it was a challenging and risky film to direct. * "The Special": Building Blue Thunder: Making-of the Helicopter - (8:23) Director John Badham, Sydney Z. Litwack (Art Director) and staff from the film discuss the making of the Blue Thunder helicopter and how the concept was created. * Ride With The Angels: Making Blue Thunder - Multi-part Featurette - (44:41) This making of featurette discuss the Director John Badham and his involvement with the film. Badham and producers talk about the talent they worked with in the film and what they added to the film. Also, how talented Warren Oates was in the film but passed away a month after the film stopped shooting. Discussion about the storyboards, Roy Scheider talks about his excitement of riding in the aircraft and Malcolm McDowell's fear of flying. Also, how a lot of the explosions and destructive scenes were created. * 1983 Promotional Featurette - (8:34) The original 1983 featurette featuring clips from the film, behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the talent of the film. * BD-Live Enabled - For those with Blu-ray players that are Profile 2.0, this Blu-ray disc is BD-Live enabled.
When I was younger, I was totally enamored with this film and also the helicopter television shows ("Airwolf" and "Blue Thunder") at the time. Typically, we never really saw a helicopters as a mean, fighting machine. But "BLUE THUNDER" really gave us a glimpse of modern technology at that time.
It has been 26 years since this film came out in the theaters and watching it again, its easy to be shocked of how much of this film featured actual helicopters flying through Los Angeles and of course, how the destruction of parts in Los Angeles was shown through this film. Surprising because now in Post 9/11, these type of films will never be created in this manner and nor would we see aircraft going at it like this and if it did, it would be CGI.
But it's just remarkable to know how much went into the filming of "Blue Thunder" without the use of today's modern technology. How the talents (Scheider and McDowell) actually were in the helicopters being filmed during the air battles and also, the overall destruction of parts of Los Angeles. There is no way we are ever going to see this type of destruction in this manner in a film, especially how it was created.
For the most part, the film shows its age through the various vehicles and clothing styles of the early 80's but the Blu-ray transfer really brings out the detail of the film. One of the problems of the Special Edition DVD is that the film looked soft and muddy but for the Blu-ray release, I was impressed by its High Definition transfer. Also, combined with the lossless audio and the fact that audio is a big part of this action film, it made the film much more enjoyable. And where many 1980's film are devoid of special features for their DVD or Blu-ray release, the good news is that this special edition of "BLUE THUNDER" does come with a few hours of special features.
Overall, "BLUE THUNDER" is an awesome release on Blu-ray. The release is quite solid with its impressive on HD and its easy to recommend this film but also, I'm quite confident to say that this is the definitive version of "BLUE THUNDER" to own at this current time.
For fans of this film, this Blu-ray release is definitely recommended!"
This is not an anamorphic widescreen release
mrb55 | Sacramento, CA | 03/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Contrary to what the details reports, this dvd is full screen only and single sided. There is no anamorphic transfer (for widescreen tv's) included on this dvd even though other reviewers here have stated that one does exist. The widescreen review even stated "incorrectly" that the anamorphic transfer looked good.If you want to purchase this for your widescreen tv, seek out alternate versions (british region 2) that include the actual widescreen (anamorphic) print."
Still Cool After All These Years
Timothy Michael Resh | Roswell, GA United States | 05/28/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As a boy growing up in the 80's, this was just about as cool as it got this side of Star Wars. Although my tastes have become somewhat more sophisticated over the years, I still enjoy a well-crafted action movie, and this certainly qualifies. Although the movie at times becomes campy due to overacting or poorly choreographed action sequences (hey, Badham didn't have $150M to work with, OK?) the movie's themes regarding the dangers of advanced technology as a tool of repression and protection of the homeland against terrorists still ring true. And besides, the helicopter is still really cool, even if the cockpit is reminiscent of Knight Rider's KITT (another 80's must).Technically, the film is quite good overall. Especially in the chase scenes, one gets the feeling that Badham and his crew spent hundreds of hours in the air to get the quality and quantity of footage necessary to pull this movie off. The editing, however, leaves something to be desired at times, particularly the ADR, which on numerous occasions does not appear to match the actors' mouth movements. Otherwise, however, the film is masterful, especially considering the technology used to edit it at the time.If you are looking for high art, look elsewhere. If you are looking for Matrix-like special effects, look elsewhere. If you are looking for an entertaining action movie from the Reagan era, you're in the right place."
Blue Thunder: One Well-Oiled Machine
Timothy Michael Resh | 05/28/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Blue Thunder" is about as perfect as a B-grade thriller can get. It has all the right clichés: the tortured Vietnam vet, the inexperienced sidekick, the grumpy boss, the slimy and smart villain. And, of course, there's the "MacGuffin", an old Alfred Hitchcock term for a particular object in a movie that everyone pursues. In this case, the MacGuffin is a prototype helicopter, presumably being loaned to the LAPD to head off potential terrorist [movements] during the Olympic Games (this movie was made in 1983, a year before the games in Los Angeles. At one point in the film, a police dispatcher describes a robbery suspect as a "male negro". Gives you sort of an idea of how long ago 1983 really was). Murphy (Roy Scheider) is an LAPD helicopter pilot suffering from a pesky case of post-traumatic-stress disorder. His delicate psychological condition has Murphy one step away from forced retirement, and nobody really wants to fly with him. Luckily, his new partner, Lymangood (Daniel Stern), is too young and naive to know about Murphy's problems. He clearly experienced some pretty horrible things over in the Nam, and one night, while attempting to rescue a city councilwoman from two thugs, he has a flashback to when he witnessed the murder of an enemy soldier. Later, after the councilwoman dies from her injuries, Murphy suspects that her murder wasn't the result of a crude rape attempt, as the brass are trying to imply. It may have something to do with the new police helicopter they're trying out. Blue Thunder is essentially a tank with propellers. It's heavily armored and has a wicked-looking machine gun mounted on the nose. It also has surveillance equipment that can "see" people through walls via their body heat and hear any words that are spoken above a bedroom murmur. The technology, particularly the computer gear, seem archaic nowadays, of course, but it looked pretty impressive back in the days of New Wave and the Evil Empire. Murphy has his misgivings about the chopper, particularly when, during a demonstration, it mows down not only a bunch of cardboard dummies representing terrorists but a few of the ones that represent innocent bystanders. "One [dead] civilian for every ten terrorists is an acceptable ratio," one of the shady government men manages to tell Murphy with a straight face. "Not if you're the civilian," Murphy responds. Another federal rep involved in the project is a pilot from Murphy's Vietnam days, a snobby British fellow named F.E. Cochran (Malcom McDowell). Try to figure out what those initials stand for. There is no love lost between these two. While taking the chopper on a test ride, Murphy and Lymangood inadvertently record Cochran and his associates discussing their real motives behind the Blue Thunder project, which may include killing Murphy. What follows is a mad dash for the incriminating tape; Murphy hijacks the copter and enlists the aid of his girlfriend, Kate (who is possibly the most reckless driver in movie history) to get the info to the public. Director John Badham deftly handles a great climax in which Cochran and Murphy chase each other in the L.A. skies. My personal favorite moment is a comical sequence involving heat-seeking missiles and a barbecue chicken shack. Nearly the entire film is shot with a hand-held camera, giving it a rough, documentarian feel that I liked a lot. The cast is pretty much top drawer, but the late great Warren Oates steals the whole picture as Murphy's commander, Captain Braddock. Oates continually spews venom and offers paternal advice to Murphy, occasionally doing both at the same time. He also gets all the best one-liners. My favorite: Shady government guy: "Did you know Murphy checks his sanity with a wristwatch?" Braddock: "What do you check yours with, a dipstick?" Badham has a few good movies under his belt ("Saturday Night Fever", "Stakeout") and quite a few bad ones ("Point of No Return", "Short Circuit"). "Blue Thunder" is basic good Badham: it's no classic, but it gets the job done."