The Untouchables (Special Edition) (1987)

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Released 9-Nov-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-The Script, The Cast
Featurette-Production Stories
Featurette-Re-inventing The Genre
Featurette-The Classic
Featurette-Original Featurette - The Men
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1987
Running Time 114:31
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (60:38) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Brian De Palma

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Kevin Costner
Sean Connery
Charles Martin Smith
Andy Garcia
Robert De Niro
Richard Bradford
Jack Kehoe
Brad Sullivan
Billy Drago
Patricia Clarkson
Vito D'Ambrosio
Steven Goldstein
Peter Aylward
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Ennio Morricone

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Greek
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    This is a new release of this movie. Details on the previous disc and a plot synopsis can be found here. In this review we will concentrate on the improvements that have been made over the first release.

    There are two main improvements here over the first release; the first is a new soundtrack and the second is the inclusion of some (well, really one) special features.

    The soundtrack is a vast improvement over the original. The original was a very poor attempt at remixing a stereo surround encoded soundtrack into a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. In the first release the surrounds were not used for the first part of the film and barely used for the remainder, and there was little or no subwoofer activity.

    One real surprise on this new disc is that not only is this a Dolby Digital 5.1 EX soundtrack, but the flag for this has been set. This flag is rarely used, even on soundtracks that advertise the EX for the soundtrack on the disc (this one makes no mention on the cover of its EX status) because of a design fault in some decoder chips that result in either intermittent or no sound coming out of the speakers in some home theatres. My decoder normally is set in 'Auto' switching mode in the faint hope that the correct flags have been set and, sure enough, the decoder switched to EX for this soundtrack.

    All that being said, the soundtrack of this film does not make obvious use of the rear extra speakers, but neither does it collapse into the rears leaving the surrounds empty as some soundtracks can when you enable EX decoding on a soundtrack that is not encoded for it. Overall, the surrounds are subtle in their usage but actually work quite well within the limitations of a soundtrack of this age.

    The depth of the soundtrack has also been greatly improved. While there is nothing like the house-shaking material present in modern soundtracks there is good use of the bass extension supplied by the subwoofer and a nicely balanced soundtrack results.

    The image originally had some problems with the black level, and thankfully this has been improved. While it is still not perfect, and this is probably a limitation of the emulsions of the time at which the film was made, shadows now have reasonable detail and some of the dark suits are more than simple silhouettes. The white flecks that were visible in the first transfer are still visible in this transfer though they may have been reduced in frequency.

    I'll outline the special features in detail below but they are a new inclusion on this release. While there are multiple menu entries in the special features menu, the main special feature is actually just one feature broken into multiple sections.

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Transfer Quality


    Presented at its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and 16x9 enhanced, this is a pretty good transfer overall.

    The image is reasonably sharp, and shadow detail is not bad, although some problems do lurk in the darker scenes. There is some low level noise triggered by the rain present in the master.

    There is a specific colour palette used in this film - at times it is quite muted but then you enter a building such as a hotel and the rich reds in the carpet just leap off the screen.

    There are no MPEG artefacts present in the transfer, nor are there film to video transfer artefacts. The film master does not appear to have changed from the original release. Indeed, if not for the improved black levels and detail I would call the transfers identical - the identically-placed layer change also points to this. There is minor to medium grain present, minor marks and the holes in the emulsion that I have mentioned before. While these are present, making allowances for the age of the film they are not that distracting.

    The subtitles usually appear as two lines, one over the bottom of the image proper and one below the image in the black bars created by the 2.35:1 transfer ratio. They are accurate to the on screen dialogue.

    This is an RSDL disc with the layer change at 60:38, positioned during a kiss which, depending on the speed of your layer change, simply turns the moment into a lingering endearment.

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


     There are four soundtracks on this disc; two Dolby Digital 5.1 (English and French) ones and two Dolby Digital 2.0 (Spanish and Italian) ones. The English soundtrack has the Dolby Digital EX flag set. The French does not.

    There are no problems with the dialogue quality nor with the audio sync. The hiss that was present in the original release has been reduced. It is still present when someone is speaking or there is other noise but the silence in between these intentional noises is free of hiss. This is probably the result of a bit of audio processing.

    The music remains an integral part of this movie and adds greatly to the overall effect.

    The surrounds are subtle but well done, especially as this is a remixed surround encoded soundtrack. I particularly like the very subtle surrounds in the office scenes.

    The subwoofer kicks in with some respectable bass. There are no earthquakes here, but it is a good solid supporting effort.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    A very nice menu presented in a 1.78:1 frame and 16x9 enhanced. The centre 2.35:1 portion of the screen contains a moving montage of scenes from the film including moving footage. The images have been colourised with a sepia tone. The menu selections are in the black bar below this centre section. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0.

Featurette: The Script, The Cast (18:32)

    A series of interviews intercut with scenes from the film (letterboxed at 2.35:1) with a range of people including the director and a number of the cast. The section covers (as the title implies) the script, getting the film sold to the studio and choosing the actors for the main roles. This is a good story and contains some interesting information. Presented at 1.33:1 with 2.35:1 letterboxed inserts where appropriate and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Featurette: Production Stories (17:18)

    Particularly interesting in this section is the discussion of the visual look that they worked out for the film to match the period that they are representing. I love the 'repetitive images' sections and how they realised this in the film. Presented at 1.33:1 with 2.35:1 letterboxed inserts where appropriate and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Featurette: Re-Inventing The Genre (14:24)

    Discussion on how they worked to avoid repeating the many many ways in which the gangster film genre had already been portrayed. Presented at 1.33:1 with 2.35:1 letterboxed inserts where appropriate and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Featurette: The Classic (5:39)

    Impressions by the same people on the incredible impact that the film made when they finally saw it all together on the screen along with the music. Presented at 1.33:1 with 2.35:1 letterboxed inserts where appropriate and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Featurette: Original Featurette : The Men (5:26)

    This appears to be a 'long trailer' type featurette that appears along with a film to promote it. The actor interviews appear to be the same as the above extended featurette but much reduced in length. The director, producer and other crew do not appear as in the above featurettes and the whole thing is held together (loosely) by a voiceover. The entire featurette is presented at 1.33:1 (the film sections are panned and scanned) and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Theatrical Trailer (2:37)

    This is a good trailer for the film except for one very quick scene that is a really big spoiler for the film. While you may not consciously realise it, if you have a good visual memory you will probably remember this sequence at just the wrong moment. (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) (I am talking about the scene involving the bad guy in the very recognisable white suit being thrown off the roof).

R4 vs R1

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

    Other than differences in the non-English language soundtracks, this disc appears to be identical across the regions. The R1 English also has Dolby Digital EX flagging for their soundtrack, but I could not find definitive information on this for R2. This would appear to give us a draw.


    I suppose the real question here is whether this release is worth forking out for if you own the original. The soundtrack is certainly improved over the original and the included featurette is also very interesting. Unfortunately, the image is only partly improved, though despite the film master problems it is certainly a more pleasant viewing experience as there is less of the 'wall of black' that the original release exhibited. This really leaves us with a bit of a line ball - an improvement, but maybe not quite enough.

    The transfer reflects the quality of the film master.

    The audio is good.

    The extras are also a nice inclusion.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Monday, January 24, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDSkyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output
DisplaySony 1252q CRT Projector, Screen Technics matte white screen 16:9 (223cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR800
SpeakersB&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)

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