Tequila Sunrise


Details At A Glance

Category Thriller Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Running Time 111 minutes Commentary Tracks Yes, 1 (Producer - Thom Mount)
RSDL/Flipper No/No Other Extras Cast/Crew Biographies
Production Notes
Region 4    
Distributor Warner Brothers    
RRP $29.95    

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Dolby Digital 2.0 
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English 2.0 
Producer's Comm 2.0 
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1    
Macrovision Yes    
Subtitles English 
English for the Hearing Impaired
Producer's Commentary

Plot Synopsis

    Tequila Sunrise is a movie that on the surface is somewhat of an action thriller, but also has very strong character development traits. It is a self-described "romantic comedy action thriller". My initial thought on reading the movie's blurb was that this was going to be another boring formula movie. Fortunately, this movie is actually much better than that.

    The movie stars Mel Gibson as Dale McKussic, a former drug dealer who is trying to lead a legitimate life. His former associates, however, find it hard to accept his retirement. The movie also stars Kurt Russell as Nick Frescia, a Los Angeles police officer who works in the narcotics office. Dale and Nick went to school together, and remain friends, despite Dale's former life.

    The movie opens with Dale accompanying his lawyer on a cocaine sale. Dale is quick to smell a set-up, and disposes of the cocaine. His suspicions are proved true when Nick turns out to be one of the buyers. After this, Nick goes to Dale's favourite restaurant, where Dale informs him that he is no longer in the drug trade, and he was only trying to help out his lawyer. During this encounter, we meet Jo Ann Vallenari (Michelle Pfeiffer) who owns the restaurant. Nick is instantly attracted to Jo Ann, and it becomes clear that Dale is attracted to her as well. Love triangles are a Hollywood cliché, and are generally very predictable. This one isn't and it is a pleasure to watch this one unfold.

    We next learn that 'Carlos' is coming to town. Carlos is a very big drug dealer from Mexico, and a former associate of Dale's. We also learn that an informant is feeding the FBI information, and we learn who the informant is via a clever bit of editing. Dale remains unaware of the informant.

    Jo Ann next gets to meet Escalonte (Raul Julia), a Mexican police officer who is involved in the operation to arrest Carlos.

    Dale's house is placed under surveillance, and the plot unfolds from here. To describe the plot in detail from here would be to ruin the suspense, so all I will say is that this is an excellent plot with a number of very interesting and unpredictable twists and turns and with a very satisfying ending.

    This movie never falls into the trap of spoon-feeding the story to the viewer. Rather, it relies on excellent writing, great acting, strong character development, and respect for the audience's ability to figure out the story for themselves. These are features that are all too rare these days at the movies.

Transfer Quality


    This movie was made in 1988, making it some 10 years old. Generally, the transfer holds up very well. There are a few minor issues, but certainly no serious problems with the transfer.

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

    The movie was pretty much razor sharp at all times. Shadow detail was somewhat lacking, particularly early on in the movie during low-lit sequences, but no noise was present to interfere with the picture quality.

    The colour was reasonably well preserved throughout the transfer. Early on, some the darker scenes were undersaturated, but this was not a major problem.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some telecine wobble early on, and a short period of vertical aliasing of a door frame in Dale's house from 75:23 to 75:41. This was not a major artefact, but it was a little distracting. Film artefacts were reasonably rare, but still more frequent than you would expect to see in a current transfer. The artefacts were certainly not distracting in any way.


    There are two audio tracks on this DVD, English Dolby Digital 2.0, surround encoded, and the same soundtrack lowered in volume with a Producer's Commentary track overlaid. I will comment on the Producer's Commentary track later on.

    Dialogue was always completely clear and intelligible, which was a pleasant surprise given the film's vintage.

    The music is excellent. Dave Grusin is responsible for the soundtrack, which has a sophisticated yet laid-back feel to it, and it superbly complements the on-screen action.

     The surround channel was used fairly sparingly during the movie. The music was mixed into the surround channel, and occasional effects (such as helicopters) were mixed to the rear. A little ambience was placed in the surround channel as well now and again. Compared with current soundtracks, this one tended to be more up-front than enveloping.

    The .1 channel was not specifically used, but low frequencies were sent from my surround processor to my subwoofer. This mainly occurred with music.


    The highlight of the extras on this DVD is the Producer's commentary track (Thom Mount). This is the first Region 4 DVD I have reviewed to date with any sort of commentary track. As commentary tracks go, it is not a great commentary; there are lengthy periods of silence, and only limited insights are given into the movie. However, a commentary track of any sort is a most welcome addition, and Warners must be praised highly for including it in this release. A director's commentary would have been better, or perhaps a commentary with both the director and the producer. One of the best insights comes early on, where Thom tells us that the movie was nearly cancelled one week prior to shooting commencing when Warners realized that a drug dealer was the hero in the script. Another interesting titbit of information is the fact that Harrison Ford had agreed to play the part of Dale but later backed out and Mel Gibson was given this part instead. As an interesting aside, one of the subtitle choices is commentary track subtitles. This is something that I have not seen to date on any of the Region 1 DVDs with commentary tracks that I have seen, and is most unusual.

    The theatrical trailer is present on this DVD. It is presented at a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, 16x9 enhanced, and with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack (stereo only).

    The other extras on this DVD are still frames for the cast and crew biographies which are quite extensive, and still framed production notes.


    Tequila Sunrise is an excellent DVD overall. The story is very strong, the principal characters are very well crafted, and the casting is excellent. All of the principal and supporting cast are superbly suited to their roles and all give excellent and complex performances. There are a number of excellent plot twists to look forward to.

    The video quality is quite satisfactory given the film's age and only the most finicky would find fault with it.

    The audio quality is reasonable, and there are no specific problems.

    Finally, the extras are the best of any Region 4 DVD so far with the inclusion of the Producer's running commentary which adds significantly to the understanding and enjoyment of this movie. This earns this DVD the highest rating I have given any DVD so far in the extras area.

Ratings (out of 5)


Michael Demtschyna
2nd November 1998

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 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
Speakers Philips 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