Red Dawn (1984)

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Released 18-Oct-2000

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1984
Running Time 109:12
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (58:42) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John Milius

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Patrick Swayze
C. Thomas Howell
Lea Thompson
Ben Johnson
Harry Dean Stanton
Ron O'Neal
William Smith
Powers Boothe
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Basil Poledouris

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, at start of credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    Red Dawn opens with Jed Eckert (Patrick Swayze) dropping off his younger brother, Matt (Charlie Sheen) at school. It is just another seemingly ordinary day...until the paratroopers start landing. At first, the schoolkids think that the paratroopers are just off-course, but when they start shooting innocent children, they realize otherwise.

    While what turns out to be an invading communist force is securing the town, Jed and a small group of high school kids manage to escape into the Colorado Mountains surrounding the once peaceful mid-western town. The group is eventually made up of Jed, Matt, Robert (C. Thomas Howell), Toni (Jennifer Grey), Erica (Lea Thompson), Daryl (Darren Dalton), Danny and Aardvark. Jed is the oldest. In fact, he is the only person in the group that is out of high school and so he appoints himself the leader of the group.

    After some initial reservations, the group decides to stay up in the mountains, living off the land and away from the troops in the town below. With their only radio being broken whilst fleeing the town, the group feels cut off. Desperate for news on what is going on in the town and with their families, they sneak back into town, whereupon they are advised to get out of town as quickly as possible by a friendly storeowner, as they are being looked for.

    One day a trio of duty officers are up in the mountains, sight-seeing of all things. One of the group is spotted and the group is forced to kill the officers to avoid being captured. Now a decision has to be made - do they go further up into the mountains and away from their families or do they fight? Of course the answer is simple - they fight. They organize ambushes and raids against the invading force, and take any weaponry and food they can get.

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Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and is not 16x9 enhanced. It is very disappointing that MGM did not produce this disc as a 16x9 enhanced version, as the picture detail and clarity would have certainly benefited. I personally think that it is unacceptable to produce any widescreen presentation without 16x9 enhancement.

    Overall the picture sharpness is very good, with a good amount of foreground detail. There are a couple of scenes where the picture was a little dark, which caused some of the picture to appear black when you should have been able to see detail in it. One example of this can be found at 67:30. Shadow detail was otherwise very good. No low-level noise, edge bleeding or edge enhancement was noticed.

    The colour was very good, but it does however have that slightly muted look about it that so many of the early to mid 80s films seem to have. This is more an observation than a criticism, and I never felt that the colour was lacking at any stage.

    Grain is by far this transfer's largest problem. It comes and goes continually throughout the film, with the brighter scenes being more adversely affected. This grain is noticeable, distracting and disruptive to the picture quality on many occasions, but overall it is still tolerable. The grain mostly only affects the backgrounds of scenes, but there are a couple of instances where it spills over into the foreground.

    No MPEG artefacts were noticed, and neither was any aliasing noted. There is some minor telecine wobble present at the start of the film which only affects the titling and not the images behind it. This fact indicates that this fault was introduced during the making of the film and not during the transfer to DVD.

    Film artefacts are another area where this transfer lets us down somewhat. There are a lot of film artefacts. The frequency of these artefacts is the problem, not the size, as most are small. There are, however, some larger ones that will really catch your eye. The biggest and most noticeable of these can be found at 59:49. There are several reel change markers too, such as at 62:58 and 63:03.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change occurring in Chapter 8, at 58:42. This is an extremely well-placed layer change which would be totally undetectable if it wasn't for the slight pause in the audio.

    Packaging Error: There is no full screen version of this movie on this disc as is incorrectly stated on the packaging.

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


    There are five 224kb/s Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtracks on this disc; English, German, French, Italian and Spanish. I listened to the default English soundtrack. I would like to commend MGM for using the higher 224kb/s bit-streams instead of the usual 192kb/s.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand, with only a couple of scenes where the dialogue was a little harder to understand. No audio sync problems were noticed with this transfer.

    Basil Poledouris' musical score suits the movie, but it is now somewhat dated-sounding.

    The surround channels are mostly used for music and ambience, with the odd sound effect tossed in here and there. Overall, the sound mix is good, but it tended to be front- and centre-heavy, with generally only light surround speaker use. Having said that, there are quite a few scenes that have good enveloping surround channel use. A couple of examples are at 17:58, 61:14 and 92:30. The most prolonged and aggressive surround channel use can be found in the music of the end credits.

    The subwoofer was well-used, adding extra punch to the soundtrack, which in turn noticeably enhanced many scenes.

    Packaging Errors: The English soundtrack is listed as mono and there is no mention of the other soundtracks.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The extras are extremely limited, consisting of just one theatrical trailer and a booklet.


    The main menu consists of a 4x3 still picture of Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen (just as on the DVD's front cover) with the following selections; Play, Scene Selections (16), Language Options and Original Theatrical Trailer.

    The menu exhibited an annoying bug. Pressing STOP during the movie or whilst the main menu was displayed meant that the disc had to be ejected and re-inserted before it would return to the main menu. Pressing PLAY had no effect.

Theatrical Trailer (2:10 minutes)

    The theatrical trailer is of very good quality, and is presented in a non-16x9 enhanced aspect ratio of 1.85:1, with a 224kb/s Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack. There are a few scenes that are not in the movie so it is worth watching just for them.


    This is the typical booklet that comes with MGM DVDs, containing production notes. On the back page, there is a great representation of just how much picture you would have missed out on had this been a 4x3 Pan & Scan transfer.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 4 version misses out on;     The R1 version appears to suffer from the same sound limitations, film artefacts and grain as the R4 version, but it also apparently suffers from some annoying aliasing according to the on-line reviews of this DVD that I read. With PAL's superior picture resolution over NTSC and the lack of aliasing I believe the R4 disc becomes an easy recommendation, but if you want a Pan & Scan version you will have to go for the R1 disc.


    Red Dawn is a great movie presented on an acceptable DVD, with most, if not all of its shortcomings created by the film stock itself.

    The picture quality is good, but it does suffer from some annoying grain.

    The audio transfer is flawless, but the audio quality is only as good as the limitations of the original soundtrack.

    The extras are extremely limited.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Paul Williams (read Paul's biography)
Saturday, October 14, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-725, using Component output
DisplaySony Projector VPH-G70 (No Line Doubler), Technics Da-Lite matt screen with gain of 1.0 (229cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SV919THX
SpeakersFronts: Energy RVS-1 (3), Rears: Energy RVSS-1 (2), Subwoofer: Energy EPS-150 (1)

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