Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man (1991)

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Released 10-May-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1991
Running Time 94:22
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (50:02) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Simon Wincer

Starring Mickey Rourke
Don Johnson
Chelsea Field
Daniel Baldwin
Giancarlo Esposito
Vanessa L. Williams
Robert Ginty
Tia Carrere
Julius Harris
Eloy Casados
Big John Studd
Tom Sizemore
Mitzi Martin
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Dennis Morgan
Basil Poledouris
Ken Tamplin

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)
Czech Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, aside from the title?
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

”It’s better to be dead and cool, than alive and uncool.”

    With a dozen thinly veiled send-ups of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and a plot as ludicrous as its namesake, Harley Davison and the Marlboro Man is an early 90s action fest that is still very caught up in the 80s, while being set in (what was then) the near future of 1996.

    What do I mean by a ludicrous plot? Well, basically, when two bikers discover that their favourite bar is about to be flattened to make way for a skyscraper complex they decide to perform a bank heist to get enough money to save it. However, things go disastrously wrong, with Harley (Mickey Rourke) and the Marlboro Man (Don Johnson) winding up with a shipment of the designer drug Crystal Dream instead. Lo and behold, drug trafficker Chance Wilder (a cold-blooded Tom Sizemore) wants his shipment back, and travels with an assortment of nasty (and apparently bullet proof) men to get it back, shooting up everything in their way from LA to Vegas and back.

    Is this a good film? Definitely not. Better yet, it doesn’t even try to be a good film. It aims squarely for the B-grade market, and does an aspiring job of being downright trashy, full of bad one-liners and ludicrous plot jumps. It is also a little dated – though set in what was then the future, there are many 80s hang-ups here, with bad big hair and slashed jeans and hoop earrings all over the place. At times I thought I was watching Road House, except that (thank God) a young swaggering Patrick Swayze was nowhere to be seen. Not that a young swaggering Mickey Rourke is much better, but he works fairly well in this film.

    Despite everything that’s wrong with this movie, I found myself enjoying it for exactly what it was – a movie that is at once an ode to bikies, and a flick for meat heads who like to watch things get shot up. Take it with a very large grain of salt, and you will probably get a kick out of this too.

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Transfer Quality


    This transfer is done in its original aspect ratio (1.85:1) and is 16x9 enhanced.

    As with a lot of movies from this era, the filming techniques and quality of film stock generally left an unintentional graininess that is quite obvious through the DVD transfer process. It is fairly mild on this film, but you can see it in some of the darker shots.

    Shadow detail is pretty good, though most of this film is set in well lit areas. There was no low-level noise resulting from the graininess, so this is a positive.

    Colour is reasonably well done, and a lot better than this looked on VHS the first time I saw it. Everybody in this film seems to have a golden 80s tan which shows up very prominently in the colour scheme.

    There are no MPEG artefacts, and even film-to-video transfer artefacts were minor, with only some faint background aliasing.

    I noticed a very bold blue line down the middle of the screen at 48:05, but aside from the odd collection of white dots and small hairs in the corner of some scenes, this was relatively clean, though still far from the best in terms of film artefacts.

    Subtitles are available in just about every language you could want. They are white with a black border, clear and easy to read. The Hearing Impaired tracks even tell you what music is playing in the background.

    The dual layer pause is at 50:02. It is a bit disruptive, coming in the middle of a line of dialogue and at an abrupt change of mood in a scene. Not the worst I have seen, but there were plenty of other places it could have been put.

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


    Accompanying the original video presentation is the original 2.0 Dolby Surround soundtrack, available in English as well as German, French, Italian, Spanish and Czech overdub, all encoded at 224Kb/s. The overdubbed tracks lose some ambience, but the lip syncing is pretty good.

    The English track is a bit uneven on the dialogue and can sometimes be a little hard to hear – the balance was not the best it could be in that respect.

    There are some half decent surround cues here, with planes flying overhead and bikes going back and forth. The rears don’t have a lot to add, but they do give some ambience which is better than none.

    There are plenty of opportunity here for the sub to add to explosions, gunshots, the road of bike engines, but sadly, we get nothing.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    All menus are 16x9 enhanced. They are also silent.

Theatrical Trailer (1:44)

    All we get in the way of extras here is the original trailer in 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Surround. It is no wonder this film did not excel at the box office, given this trite advertising material – I wouldn’t have gone to see it either.

R4 vs R1

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

    The R1 version is identical with the exception of the NTSC/PAL format, the region coding, and the various foreign language options in audio and subtitles that we have in R4. If you have special language needs, go with our one. In fact, go with our release anyway because it’s cheaper.


    Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man is a real poke of fun at a Western classic updated for the biker genre and full of humorous garbage. If you see it for what it is, you are likely to have a chuckle. Think 3000 Miles To Graceland and you’re about in the ballpark. Definitely worth a rent on a quiet night with some buddies, some beers and a pizza.

    Video is pretty good for this era, but not exceptional. Some more time could have been spent cleaning it up.

    The 2.0 Dolby Surround track does the job, but lacks in the bass department and the dialogue balance.

    Only a trailer for an extra.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Friday, August 20, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationMarantz SR7000
SpeakersEnergy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
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