BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
To this day, The Adventures of Bukaroo Banzai remains one helluva wild ride. There is no other film that quite matches its new wave swagger. Nothing comes close to its style or its wit and, while a complete product of its time, the film has remained relatively ageless due to its ability to bring audiences straight onto the dance floor as the battle against inter-dimensional alien beings begins.
Peter Weller was a relative unknown when he was cast as the hero of this science fiction romantic comedy. He would go on to super stardom when cast, three years later, as RoboCop in Paul Verhoeven’s film, but that rise all begins here with this role. The satire and the mythical nature in the many adventures of the super-skilled Dr. Buckaroo Banzai – as he’s a physicist, a neurosurgeon with a steady hand, a star test pilot of inter-dimensional vehicles, and a rock musician with a legion of shoulder-padded friends - is much more inspired than most of the films ever coming out of Hollywood. It is no wonder then that it has developed such a devout cult following.
Shout Factory, who already have done great things for forgotten horror flicks with their Scream Factory division, begins another new venture into unheralded gems with this release. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai is the first release in their Shout Select division. With more to follow, including John Carpenter’s Elvis starring Kurt Russell, this new division looks and sounds promising. Their extra special handling of the blu-ray debut of 80s Renaissance man Dr. Banzai will not be soon forgotten.
The film features golden (and admittedly crazy) character performances from John Lithgow, Ellen Barkin, Christopher Lloyd, Jeff Goldblum, and features Johnathan Banks (best known today as Mike Ehrmantraut in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul). Earl Mac Rauch’s script deals with the wild repercussions of the unexpected (and successful) test run of the oscillation overthruster, a new invention allowing objects to pass through other solid matter.
When Dr. Banzai flips the switch on the oscillation overthruster and drives his souped-up Ford F-350 pickup truck straight through a mountain, he unintentionally gets the attention of the leader of an evil alien race living as a human in a mental ward (Lithgow) who wants to find the rest of his race (which includes Vincent Schiavelli and Christopher Lloyd) in disguise and rescue those among them who were banished to the 8th dimension. Only the oscillation overthruster can reach through the dimension and get them out, though. It will take Dr. Banzai’s popular band, his dead lover’s long lost twin sister, and a group of other aliens (who on earth look like dreadlocked Rastafarians) to put an end to their nefarious plans.
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai is as hysterical as it is loopy. Weller; however, is a commanding presence and, in a very low-key manner, pulls off the role and its many, many hats with a quiet bravado that is truly fascinating. He understands the level of camp and cool director W. D. Richter (and screenwriter of 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake) is filling the screen with and brings a steady hand that allows him to pull off the concert and surgeon tasks and the semi-dance routine that concludes the film. It was the 80s after all and fashion and music and excess reigned supreme.
As primed as the film was for success in 1984 (it even promised a sequel), it was a big old financial bomb that ended up blowing up the company responsible for its release as well as some careers in the business. That doesn’t exactly mean it was a failure. Look at it this way, it was originally released during the tail end of the summer that brought us Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Gremlins, and The Karate Kid. And then, of course, there were the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, too. Something as challenging as Buckaroo Banzai did not stand a chance at surviving the week and, in many cities, the film was simply gone after the first four days of release.
The point is that The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai achieves EXATLY what it was designed for: to entertain in an offbeat and ultra-cool. It just never found an appreciative audience for the profound madness it wholeheartedly embraced.
Over the years, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai – which previously enjoyed a successful DVD launch – has grown in popularity and for good reason. The film is silly when it needs to be, smartly engaged, and operates as satire, too. In other words, it is genius. End of story. Oh, sure, it’s an absolutely batshit crazy type of genius, but it is genius-level entertainment nonetheless. It’s one of those films that you have to see to believe. You really, really do. And now, with Shout Select’s release of the film on blu-ray, you have your opportunity.
Well, what are you waiting for? The 8th Dimension waits for no man.
MPAA Rating: PG.
Runtime: 103 mins
Director: W.D. Richter
Writer: Earl Mac Rauch
Cast: Peter Weller, John Lithgow, Ellen Barkin
Genre: Adventure | Comedy
Tagline: Expect the unexpected. He does.
Memorable Movie Quote: "History is-a made at night. Character is what you are in the dark."
Distributor: MGM Home Entertainment
Release Date: August 10, 1984
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: August 16, 2016
Synopsis: Adventurer/surgeon/rock musician Buckaroo Banzai and his band of men, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, take on evil alien invaders from the eighth dimension.
Available on Blu-ray - August 16, 2016
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD-50, 1 DVD)
Region Encoding: A
Shout Select presents The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension on blu-ray with a glorious looking AVC-encoded 1080p transfer in 2.35:1. There’s nary a scratch in the print and the colors – all bolded-out neon and such – are quite excellent. It is, in fact, one of the most engaging transfers I’ve ever seen from a movie originally filmed during 1984. Black levels are deep. Shadows are equally expressive and, shockingly, well-lined. The colors are both bold and crisp and detailed to the extreme. The texture is just incredible. Flesh tones are solid. A lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track offers a solid audible texture to the release as well.
- There are two feature-length commentaries included with this release. The first features Director W.D. Richter and Writer Earl Mac Rauch and the second features Michael and Dennis Okuda.
Clocking in at over two hours long, the NEW making-of retrospective features interviews with all involved in the production and is a GREAT way to dive in to the supplemental items, most of which have been ported over from the original DVD release. Start there.
- Into the 8th Dimension (128 min)
- Buckaroo Banzai Declassified Featurette (23 min)
- Alternate Opening (7 min)
- Deleted Scenes (14 min)
- New Jet Car Trailer (2 min)
- Theatrical Trailer