The Specialist (1994)

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Released 7-Oct-1998

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Biographies-Cast & Crew
Production Notes
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 105
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Luis Llosa

Warner Home Video
Starring Sylvester Stallone
Sharon Stone
James Woods
Rod Steiger
Eric Roberts
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $24.95 Music John Barry

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/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 No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    The Specialist is a stunningly bad example of the severely brain-dead action movie genre. Clearly, there was no money left for plot development after Sylvester and Sharon were paid their fees in this lemon.

    The movie opens with a sequence involving Ray Quick (Sylvester Stallone) and Ned Trent (James Woods), whom we are told are working for the CIA and are about to blow up a drug lord. Unfortunately, a little girl is killed in the explosion. Ray is upset. Ned isn't. Ned is clearly the Bad GuyTM. Ray gets Ned kicked out of the CIA and then goes to ground himself.

    May Munro (Sharon Stone) sees her parents get killed by three mobsters for no reason as a child. She vows revenge, and contacts Ray via a BBS called the Weekend Warrior BBS. She wants Ray to kill the mobsters by blowing them up ("bullets are so imprecise"). For no reason at all, we see Ray beat up some obnoxious punks in a bus so a pregnant woman can have a seat. May meets one of the mobsters and becomes his girlfriend. Ray decides to help May.

    We see a mobster get shot in the head by another mobster (looked pretty precise to me) and then get blown up by Ray's bomb (looked pretty imprecise to me). Ned is involved with this particular mob family, and so he gets assigned to the police task force investigating the bombing. He gets to strut around and curl his upper lip a lot and generally act like a Bad GuyTM.

    Next, the second mobster is blown up ("bye-bye").

    Next, we find out that May is setting up Ray so that Ned can get to him since Ned is pretty sore at Ray for having him kicked out of the CIA.

    Next, the third mobster, Tomas Leon (Eric Roberts, Julia's brother), is killed. This makes Joe Leon (Rod Steiger) mad since Tomas was his son. Joe Leon is supposed to be the sinister Mob BossTM, but comes across more like Joe Dolce than anything else. Joe tells Ned to get Ray or else. In this confusion, we are unsure whether or not May has been killed but it turns out she wasn't and gets to meet Ray. They have sex in a hotel room. Look, Fred, look, Sharon Stone naked. Look, Fred, look, Sylvester Stallone is a really small guy (in height). May goes away. Ned finds her. Ned finds Ray. Ray escapes. More mobsters die in what is supposed to be a thrilling action sequence in the hotel but which just looks fake.

    Ned figures out where Ray lives. Ned goes there. Things are blown up. Ray escapes. Joe Leon is blown up for good measure. The movie ends. Ray and May live happily ever after. Thank God it's only 105 minutes long in PAL instead of 109 minutes (NTSC).

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    This is an absolutely stunning video transfer. In fact, this video transfer now takes the cake for the best video transfer I have ever seen on DVD. There are essentially no faults with it, but to cover my usual ground;

    This transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The movie was razor sharp at all times. Shadow detail was superb with clear shadow details and not a trace of noise.

    The colour was perfectly rendered throughout the transfer. There were many dimly-lit scenes, and a number of scenes with high red content, but they all transferred perfectly to video.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. Film-to-video artefacts were non-existent. I noted a few trivial film artefacts very occasionally, but nothing of note. This is an exceptionally clean transfer.


    There is only one audio track on this DVD, English Dolby Digital 5.1.

    Dialogue was generally clear and intelligible, though somewhat hard to understand in some places, most notably when Sylvester Stallone was speaking in some places, though this is as much Sylvester's as the transfer's fault. Of more concern, the dialogue and sound effects at the start of the movie were out of sync with the picture slightly, being marginally delayed for the first few scenes. This markedly detracted from the impact of the opening sequence.

    The music is unremarkable.

     The surround channels were used during special effects sequences to create an enveloping soundfield. They were also active during a lot of the music, and at times to add ambience to the movie.

    The .1 channel was mainly used to underscore the action sequences, which featured frequent explosions, and which it did well.


    The theatrical trailer is present on this DVD, presented in 1.85:1 16x9 enhanced with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack which was surround encoded, making this the most sophisticated movie trailer present on any of the Region 4 DVDs that I have viewed so far.

    The other extras on this DVD are still frames for the cast and crew biographies, still framed brief production notes and Reel Recommendations. Reel Recommendations are still frames of other Warner DVD titles that the stars and the director were involved with.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 version of this DVD misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this DVD misses out on;

    There is no compelling reason to prefer one version over the other.


    The Specialist is a seriously flawed movie. The plot is just atrocious, the special effects sequences look fake, and the fight sequences are badly choreographed so it is obvious that the actors aren't really hitting each other. The characters are all paper thin, and all the bad guys do is strut about ineffectually until they are killed by Sylvester. It is truly sheer relief as they are killed off one-by-one since we no longer have to endure their on-screen presence.

    There are many senseless scenes in the movie, such as the bus sequence, a silly sequence where Sylvester poses for the presumed benefit of the female audience, and a number of sequences where Sharon does this a bit, too. There is also a lot of smoking in this movie, quite clearly promoting smoking rather than advancing plot.

    The video quality is stunning. This transfer now takes the crown of best Region 4 DVD video transfer. This is about the only good thing I have to say about this movie.

    The audio quality is generally good, but dialogue is sometimes hard to hear, and is marginally out of sync early on in the movie. However, it does normalize within the first five minutes.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
Tuesday, October 27, 1998
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe Art-95 (95cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderDenon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital decoder. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Amplification2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
SpeakersPhilips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer

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Comments (Add)
Sunglasses drinking game for The Specialist - Christopher