Heartbreak Ridge (1986)

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Released 27-Nov-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer-2:37
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1986
Running Time 124:36
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (76:33) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Clint Eastwood

Warner Home Video
Starring Clint Eastwood
Marsha Mason
Everett McGill
Moses Gunn
Eileen Heckart
Bo Svenson
Boyd Gaines
Mario Van Peebles
Arlen Dean Snyder
Vincent Irizarry
Ramon Franco
Tom Villard
Mike Gomez
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Lennie Niehaus

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0
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
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

There have been lots of films made about a bunch of people training for war, with many of the films continuing into their first battle or so. There are enough such films that one could make a case for this being a sub-genre of war films. I'm talking about films like An Officer and A Gentleman, for example; even The Dirty Dozen. I've seen quite a few of these films, and I happen to consider Heartbreak Ridge to be the best.

Heartbreak Ridge is set in 1983, and is the story of Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Highway (Clint Eastwood). Highway has been in the army or the marines for a long time. He served in Korea, in the Dominican Republic, he even did three tours in Vietnam. Now he is coming to the end of his army career, facing compulsory retirement. He is currently serving in Supply, but that's not how he wants it to end he wants to go out serving in an active unit, so he keeps bucking for a transfer back. As his Major says: "Be careful what you wish for, you may get it!" Highway gets his transfer, back to the 2nd Recon Battalion, 2nd Marine Division. That's the outfit he got thrown out of, after striking an officer. You see, Highway is not a saint he gets drunk on occasion, and he has been known to be insubordinate. But he's a Marine, through and through. He doesn't know how to be anything else.

Highway is pleased to find that he has one friend in the battalion: Sergeant Major Choozoo (Arlen Dean Snyder). He's less pleased to meet the leader of his platoon, Lieutenant Ring (Boyd Gaines), who is both wet behind the ears and a tenderfoot. And he's downright unhappy to meet the leader of the battalion, Major Powers (Everett McGill does he ever get to play a good guy?). Major Powers has come up the chain of command in staff positions, but he is determined to make the most of his chance to command fighting men he is looking forward to combat with all the eagerness of a man who has no idea what it really means. Confrontation between Powers and Highway begins in their first meeting, when Powers says that men like Highway should be sealed in a case marked "Break glass only in the event of war".

Highway's platoon has had things easy under their previous sergeant he was just putting in his time, waiting for retirement. The men liked that. They get a rude awakening with Highway's arrival, but none more so than Stitch Jones (Mario van Peebles)

Clint Eastwood does not play Highway as a nice guy. He's gravel-voiced, foul-mouthed, and intolerant of slackness (and that's when he's sober!). He is forever making comments like "don't think we'll be taking long showers together". He is harsh with the men, but that's because it's the only way he knows to instil the discipline and skills he thinks they need to survive combat. Watch the mind-game with the T-shirts, for example.

Highway does have another dimension. He's trying to work out why his marriage failed he even reads women's magazines, looking for the answer. And now he's back in the town where his ex-wife, Aggie (Marsha Mason) lives. Maybe she can tell him what went wrong?

There are some delicious moments in this film. I really like (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) the moment on the firing range when a Marine complains that his rifle doesn't work properly Highway takes it and puts three rounds straight into the bullseye, then returns it, telling him that there's nothing wrong with it.

Strongly recommended, if this genre appeals to you. Recommended, even if it doesn't.

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

Transfer Quality


This DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

The picture is clear, and quite attractive there's just enough softness to reduce aliasing. Shadow detail is very good. Film grain varies from invisible, to just visible, but it's never a problem. There's no low-level noise.

Colour is very good, with accurate flesh-tones. The film begins with army newsreel footage in black-and-white under the credits, and stays black-and-white at the start of the film proper, then fills gently with colour. There are no colour-related artefacts.

Apart from the newsreel footage (which has lots of artefacts, as one might expect), there are very few film artefacts. The only thing worthy of comment is a series of vertical scratches just off centre of frame at 54:54 for 13 frames.

There's some aliasing, particularly noticeable on the Quonset huts at the military base (see 25:32, for example). There's no noticeable moire, and no other MPEG artefacts, but there is some minor background shimmer.

This is quite a decent transfer, all up.

There are subtitles in ten languages including English, plus captions in English and Italian. I watched the English captions. They are fairly accurate, well-timed, and easy to read, in an attractive rounded font.

The disc is single sided, dual layer, formatted RSDL. The layer change is at 76:33, at the end of one scene, and just before the start of another. Shame it isn't one frame later, when it would have been less noticeable. As it is, it is quite noticeable, but not especially disruptive to the story.

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


The soundtrack is provided in three languages, including English. I listened to the English, which is Dolby Digital 5.1.

The dialogue is clear and comprehensible in all but a couple of lines, and those are intended to be hard to make out. There are no audio sync issues.

Lennie Niehaus is responsible for the score. There are a number of songs, including a few written and performed by Mario van Peebles I rather like Bionic Marine.

The surround speakers provide some excellent ambience (I was looking around for cicadas...) and directional sound effects (duck that bullet!) good stuff. The subwoofer gets less to do, but it does get its moments to shine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



The menu is static, with a soundtrack.

Theatrical Trailer (2:37)

This trailer contains fewer spoilers than most, but I'd still recommend not watching it before you watching the movie.

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 and Region 4 discs are almost identical even the disc labels are close to identical. They have the same number of chapter stops (38). Even the layer change is in almost exactly the same place (same scene, that is it is at 79:40, and much less noticeable).

The Region 1 disc is missing:

The Region 4 disc is missing:

The English 5.1 soundtrack is coded at 448 kbps on the R1 disc, but only 384 kbps on the R4. However, they sound equally good.

The filmographies are fairly negligible, and apart from that (and a better layer change), the advantages lie with the Region 4 disc.


An excellent film, given a very good (albeit extra-free) transfer to DVD.

The video quality is very good.

The audio quality is excellent.

The extra is rudimentary.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Friday, December 27, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS905V, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

Other Reviews NONE
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