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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Ladyhawke (Blu-ray) (1985)

Ladyhawke (Blu-ray) (1985)

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Released 14-Dec-2011

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Fantasy Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1985
Running Time 121:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2 Directed By Richard Donner

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Matthew Broderick
Rutger Hauer
Michelle Pfeiffer
Leo McKern
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $24.95 Music Andrew Powell

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
French dts 5.1
German dts 5.1
Italian dts 5.1
Russian dts 5.1
Spanish dts 5.1
Hebrew Dolby Digital 2.0
Croatian Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.20:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Croatian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     Phillipe “The Mouse” (Matthew Broderick), thief and pickpocket, escapes from the dungeons of Aquila. The tyrannical Bishop of Aquila (John Wood) cannot let anyone escape and sends his guards under Captain Marquet (Ken Hutchison) to scour the countryside and get Phillipe back. When they corner Philippe in a roadside inn, he is saved by Etienne Navarre (Rutger Hauer), a big man on a big black horse accompanied by a hawk. Navarre has plans for Phillipe; but that night Navarre disappears and Phillipe instead discovers the lovely Isabeau (Michelle Pfeiffer) and a large black wolf who seems to love her. He learns that as a result of a curse placed upon Navarre and Isabeau by the Bishop of Aquila, by day Isabeau is a hawk, by night Navarre a wolf, so that they can never be together.

     When the hawk is hit by an arrow in a fight between Navarre and the Bishop’s soldiers, Navarre urges Phillipe to take the badly wounded bird to Father Imperius (Leo McKern). Navarre plans to travel to Aquila and kill the Bishop, which would result in the curse never being broken; but Father Imperius thinks he has found a way to lift the curse, if only he can get Navarre to listen. One way or another, things will come to a head when Navarre confronts the Bishop in Aquila.

     Ladyhawke, directed by Richard Donner (Superman (1978)), is a medieval action / romance that quite special. A very young Matthew Broderick is the focus of the film and he is excellent, funny, cheeky and charismatic, as well as having some of the best lines. Rutger Hauer is stoic. He does not say a lot but is very believable as the powerful yet tragic Navarre, and his action scenes are brutal and different: a mounted swordfight filmed in a cathedral with the horses skidding over the stones is not something one sees very often. Michelle Pfeiffer is stunningly beautiful (and her introduction into the film has to be one any actress would die for) and Leo McKern suitably boisterous and over the top, but this is truly Broderick’s film. Ladyhawke also looks spectacular due to the autumn / winter locations in Central and Northern Italy, including hillside towns and castles, and the wonderful widescreen photography of cinematographer Vittorio Storaro who, having also Apocalypse Now (1979) and The Last Emperor (1987) on his CV, is no stranger to beautifully composed epic landscapes.

     The one grating feature of Ladyhawke is the musical score. Composed by Andrew Powell from the Alan Parsons Project and engineered by Alan Parsons, it is occasionally effective but more often loud, electronic and intrusive, interfering with the moods and shades of the film. One sort of gets used to it, but never totally, and it is never far away from exploding into a guitar riff! The effects shots, in the days before CGI, also do look dated but using live animals could not have been easy.

     If you can get past the musical score, Ladyhawke is a very entertaining film, full of good acting, great action and spectacular sets and scenery. On Blu-ray it has never looked or sounded better. I really enjoy this film, and have watched it numerous times, at the movies and on DVD, but watching it on Blu-ray I have seen and heard things that I never before realised were there. If you like the film, this is the only way to see it!

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Transfer Quality


     The Blu-ray of Ladyhawke is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, in 1080p. The IMDb gives the theatrical ratio as 2.20:1, but I must admit the film looks fine as presented on this Blu-ray and as well I have not seen it on home video at other than 2.35:1.

     Previous reviews of the DVD, including the one on this site here, have pointed out some issues with the video, including aliasing and artefacts. I am happy to say that these are not evident in the Blu-ray release. While the print is occasionally soft, detail is generally superb, with every whisker and wrinkle on Leo McKern’s weathered face evident. Chain mail glistens (without aliasing), colours such as the red costumes of the Bishop’s guard are deep and rich, and the sunrises and sunsets spectacular. Occasionally skin tones took on a reddish tinge, but nothing serious. Blacks are solid and shadow detail excellent, brightness and contract consistent. I did not notice any artefacts of any kind and only a slight amount of motion blur in a couple of sequences.

     Subtitles are available in a massive range of European and Asian languages. I sampled the English for the hearing impaired. They are in a clear white font, followed the dialogue exactly in the portion I sampled, but only added a small amount of other information.

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


     The default audio is English DTS MA HD 5.1 although dubs in a host of other European and other languages are available. I listened only to the English audio.

     While not reference quality, this was a good audio track. Dialogue was clear and centred and the surrounds gave a nice enveloping feel with panning effects, ambience and music. The skidding of horses’ hooves across the stones of Aquila sounded real enough to put anyone who cares for horses on edge, and swords clanged satisfactorily. The sub-woofer was not overdone but added bass to thunder and the thud of horses.

     Lip synchronisation was fine throughout.

     As noted, the score was by Andrew Powell from the Alan Parsons Project, engineered by Alan Parsons. It is occasionally effective but is more often loud, electronic and intrusive. It is also sometimes mixed very loudly and seems to unbalance the sound stage.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Theatrical Trailer (1:26)

R4 vs R1

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

     The Region A US Blu-ray and Region B European Benelux Blu-ray releases are identical to our Region B release. There does not seem to be a Region B UK release at the moment.


     If you can get past the musical score, Ladyhawke is a very entertaining film, full of good acting, great action and spectacular sets and scenery.

     The film has has never looked or sounded better than on this Blu-ray. If you like the film, this is the only way to see it! The only extra is a trailer, but there is nothing more on any other release worldwide.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE