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Risky Business Print E-mail
Sunday, 28 September 2008
ImageIn the 1980s, the teen film phenomena spread throughout the nation.  John Hughes, with his "Sixteen Candles" and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "The Breakfast Club" and the list goes on and on, paraded a genre of film that was empty of real meaning, but suckered in kids with vulgar situations.

In 1983, it was "Risky Business" that started it all.  However, at this beginning stage, the teen film was actually about something, other than vulgar humor.  There is a level of humanness to the film that exceeds those of its successors.  On surface it may seem like a teen sex film, but underneath the film delves into the stresses of the future, mistakes and responsibility.

Director/writer, Paul Brickman took a chance on a relatively unknown cast.  Tom Cruise stars in perhaps what you could call his first major starring role as Joel Goodsen.  He is the son of wealthy Chicago suburbanites.  Joel is struggling with the pressures and aspirations of becoming the next future business leader of America and attending an Ivy League school.  To top it all off, his virginal status is haunting his dreams.

While his parents are away for the week, Joel, pressured by his friend Miles (Curtis Armstrong), hires a prostitute for the evening.  The first guest is unexpectedly the wrong sex, but then comes Lana (Rebecca De Mornay).  De Mornay's fresh face and confident attitude was a turning point for 1980's films.

After a wonderful night together, Joel leaves Lana alone in his house to fetch the $300 he owes her from the bank.  Upon returning, surprise surprise, Lana has disappeared, and with a valuable crystal egg in tow.  Finally able to track her down, Joel inadvertently gets drawn into a heated argument between Lana and her pimp, Guido (Joe Pantoliano). Unable to get Lana, and now her friend Vicki (Shera Danese) to leave his home, he goes with the flow.  This leads him into unimaginable angst as he ruins his dad's Porsche, gets suspended from school, and starts a brothel for his and Lana's friends in order to raise money.  Not to mention, Guido is still after him.

"Risky Business" is a true embodiment of the times in which it represents.  Greed at all costs.  Normally the audience would be appalled by Joel's creation of a brothel, but somehow, we root for him to succeed, and even for him to get the girl.  This film launched Tom Cruise into stardom, as well as Rebecca De Mornay for that matter.

The video quality of the Blu-ray release is average at best.  The video certainly looks great on Blu-ray as compared its DVD counterpart, however, it is far form the best Warner Bros. release.  The colors are inaccurate, leaving the fleshtones with a red hue.  The black levels are decent for a 1983 film, but the shadow delineation leaves much to the imagination.  Details are lost in patches of black.  I don't mind the 1980s look to the film.  I don't expect it to look like a 2008 blockbuster on Blu-ray.  However, the random appearance of noise blocks in the image and a wavering balance between sharpness and softness, leaves the image looking dirty and flat.  While certainly enjoyable on Blu-ray, it could use a better restoration and transfer job.

The audio is presented in a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 format.  I have mixed feelings about this upgrade.  At certain points in the film I feel like Warners did a terrific job, while at other times I feel as though the soundtrack falls flat.  Tangerine Dream's incredible score for the film gets little upgrade into the surround channels.  Nor does the LFE channel make use of the score.  Ambiences are light in the surround channels.  The dialogue is present and clear, but lacks the full sounding vocals of most other 1980's films.  Dynamics favor the pop music present in the film.  In fact, the best sound in the film comes during the playback of Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" during the train sequence.  The fidelity of the song comes through extremely powerful.  It is almost too much.  The spatial imaging of the song is terrific.  In terms musical 5.1 movement, this song is given better treatment than most albums on DVD-Audio and SACD.  I was extremely impressed during that part.  The rest of the soundtrack is decent, but hardly worth branding Dolby TrueHD.

Bonus features are sparse but engaging on this release.  One of the best aspects of the extra features is that they have been upgraded to high definition, rare for the age of the film.  First, there is a featurette, "Risky Business: The 25th Anniversary Retrospective."  This feature is a compilation of interviews by the cast and crew, mainly remensciening about the making of the film.  Next, are the screen tests of Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay.  There are a couple of enlightening moments here, but nothing major overall.  Then there is a director's cut of the ending.  The ending is worth watching, but you may end up actually preferring the theatrical cut.  Finally there is the original theatrical trailer.

Exclusive to the Blu-ray is a Picture-in-Picture commentary.  There is no audio-only option available, but this is definitely the best feature on the disc and worth watching for sure.  Finally, the Blu-ray release also comes with a Digital Copy for use on your computer or iPod, PC only it appears.

"Risky Business" is a remarkable film in its genre.  It gives the audience insight as well as entertaining.  The video and audio quality may be disappointing to hardcore viewers, but the average interested viewer will find it more than satisfactory.  I recommend picking up this disc.

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