Sharky's Machine (1981)

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Released 14-Oct-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1981
Running Time 116:48
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Burt Reynolds

Warner Home Video
Starring Burt Reynolds
Vittorio Gassman
Brian Keith
Charles Durning
Earl Holliman
Bernie Casey
Henry Silva
Darryl Hickman
Richard Libertini
Rachel Ward
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $14.95 Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Shark's Machine is an excellent action thriller from the early 1980's. The film stars and was directed by Burt Reynolds when he was still the number one box office name in the business. Sharky is an uncompromising tough-as-nails Narcotics Detective who, after a drug bust goes awry, is transferred to the lowly depths of the Vice Squad. After investigating the execution-style murder of a high class prostitute and her prominent trick, Sharky and his vice `machine' stumble onto an international prostitution and extortion racket that may or may not have corrupted both the police and city hall. The investigation turns deadly when an assassin starts to eliminate any links to the scam, including Sharky and his team.

    Sharky's Machine is a violent, well-paced film that showcases the talent of star Burt Reynolds. Reynolds spent a lot of his career appearing in mostly juvenile popcorn fluff like Smokey and The Bandit, Hooper, Cannonball Run and the god-awful Stroker Ace. It is easy to forget that the prominent star could act up a storm when properly motivated. For evidence of this you need look no further than his stellar performances in Deliverance, The Longest Yard, and more recently Boogie Nights to observe an actor who knows his craft. I would go out on a limb and speculate that Reynolds' role as Sharky is one of the finest of his career - he is simply dynamite in this movie. The supporting cast led by Charles Durning, Bernie Casey, Brian Keith, Henry Silva, Rachel Ward and Vittorio Gassman are also superb. Mind you, the screenplay by Gerald Di Pego affords these wonderful actors sharp, witty dialogue and quirky characters that are taken full advantage off.

    As a director, Reynolds delivers a mature, well structured film that builds the story carefully, relishing opportunities to establish character and plot. The film's third act is an intense exercise in suspense that includes an unrelenting torture sequence that is truly unnerving, but never gratuitous. Even more impressive is the fact that Reynolds never loses sight of the characters for the sake of spectacle. This is not to say that the film doesn't deliver in the action stakes, because it does so handsomely. The action is brutal and real which adds a tangible authenticity to an already riveting story. Sharky's Machine is a first rate police thriller that deserves to be re-evaluated as the classic it is.

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Transfer Quality


    Sharky's Machine has been presented in an aspect ratio of 1:78:1, which is very close to its original theatrical release ratio of 1:85:1. The transfer is also 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions.

    The sharpness levels in this transfer range from very good to acceptable. There are minimal occurrences of soft imaging, but nothing horrendous. Shadow details were surprisingly strong with many fine examples of strong blacks and image depth. This strong detailing was the most pleasing thing for this reviewer as I originally owned the R1 full screen version and it was pretty awful. The comparison here is favourably impressive for us R4 dwellers.

    There were sporadic grain issues of minimal duration, but they were never bothersome. There were a number of film artefacts and scratches throughout the transfer, but nothing overly distracting. I detected no low level noise issues.

    Colours were mostly natural, but occasionally the picture did appear washed out. All-in-all, not a bad looking print.

    I must say that I have been very pleased with this batch of Warner Home Video budget releases. Not only are the majority of transfers in good shape but they are all anamorphic. Let's hope the trend continues.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The film has been graced with a solitary English 2.0 Dolby Digital surround-encoded audio track.

    Dialogue is clear and there are no dropouts. There were no audio sync problems that I noticed, but I did spot two looping errors where the dialogue did not match the actors' lip movements. Basically a post production alteration.

    The film's score was fairly non-descript except for the excellent opening song `Street Life' by Randy Crawford. Quentin Tarantino used this same number to open Jackie Brown.

    Surround channel usage was minimal at best. There were no directional effects noticeable, with the rear channels only delivering the film's score and background noise.

    The subwoofer added enough reverberation to liven the action elements.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     There are no extras on this DVD.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The R4 version has a pleasing anamorphic transfer, with the R1 version suffers from a horrendous full screen print. The choice is obvious.


    Sharky's Machine is an excellent action thriller deserving of greater recognition. We are given a pretty good transfer with no extras. However, as the price is so low for this DVD, we shouldn't expect more.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Greg Morfoot (if interested here is my bio)
Monday, November 10, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayLG 76cm Widescreen Flatron Television. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony HT-K215. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony HT-K215
Speakers fronts-paradigm titans, centre &rear Sony - radio parts subbie

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