Director: Stuart Rosenberg
Cast: Paul Newman, George Kennedy, J.D. Canon
Release Date: April 4, 2023
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Disc Rating: 7/10
Academy Award® winner Paul Newman stars with George Kennedy in this story of a man who will not surrender to authority–even at the cost of his life. When Luke Jackson (Newman) is sentenced to a Southern prison for a minor infraction, his intelligence, calm under pressure and inability to accept defeat soon gain him the respect of his fellow inmates on the chain gang–and the nickname Cool Hand Luke. But they also earn Luke the enmity of the warden, who cannot allow any inmate to challenge his authority. When Luke’s mother dies, he decides to escape … and he will not allow anyone to stop him.
Please Note: Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
‘Cool Hand Luke’ accompanies Luke Jackson, a man sentenced to serve time in a Southern prison for a minor offense when he’s caught destroying parking meters. Initially content to serve his time and try to make his life as a prisoner as simple as possible, Luke soon finds his limits pushed and refuses to conform which quickly leads to more trouble for his day to day life when his brazen attitude turns the guards and the Warden against him. After an attempted escape following his mother’s death which landed him unfairly in the box, Luke decides to turn against his captors and soon becomes the biggest star of the prison, both for better and worse.
The cinematic classic ‘Cool Hand Luke’ was first released in November of 1967 and was directed by Stuart Rosenberg from a screenplay by Donn Pearce and Frank R. Pierson which was based upon the novel of the same name by Pearce. The film’s talented cast includes Paul Newman (who earned an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Luke) who delivers one of the best performances of his career and his performance in the lead role is only further complemented by George Kennedy (who himself won an Oscar for his role), J.D. Canon, Robert Drivas, Lou Antonio, Strother Martin, and Jo Van Fleet, along with more.
‘Cool Hand Luke’ is another cinematic masterpiece that’s held up quite well to the test of time and still serves up a powerful, beautiful and unforgettable tale of one man’s pride and refusal to conform more than fifty years after its initial release. Hailed as one of Paul Newman’s greatest performances of all time, the tale is balanced by grief, struggle and moments of light and reward shining through along the way. With a sufficiently suffocating environment and a powerhouse collection of talent in supporting roles to complement Newman, ‘Cool Hand Luke’ is still just as cool and easygoing as ever today than it was back in the late 1960’s and if you’ve never had the pleasure of this classic film then I would definitely encourage trying to find the opportunity to give it a chance at some point. You might just be pleasantly surprised at how outstanding this one is, even more than half a century after its debut.
As part of Warner’s 100 year celebration, Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment brings ‘Cool Hand Luke’ home on 4K Ultra HD for the first time ever. The new release features a new Ultra High Definition video presentation with HDR-10 that looks quite spectacular for the most part and is only further boosted by a new two channel split mono DTS-HD MA soundtrack which combined bring home the cinematic favorite surely looking and sounding better than it ever has before. The release doesn’t offer anything new in the extras department, but a few carryover extras from the older Blu-ray release (that disc is also included within) are featured on the release. If you’re a fan of ‘Cool Hand Luke’ and fully 4K capable, then this is definitely a release worth picking up, at least whenever possible (or when it hits your preferred price range). If you’re already considering a purchase, this one is recommended.
The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release of ‘Cool Hand Luke’ features a full 2160p Ultra High Definition presentation with HDR-10 presented in its original 2.35:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks rather great as a whole and while it may not offer the most substantial upgrade ever to hit the format, it nonetheless proves itself to be a notable upgrade from the Blu-ray release and its VC-1 encoded presentation (the previously issued Blu-ray disc is also included within). It delivers a clean, sharp and filmic presentation from start to finish that never suffers from any unexpected issues arising along the way. The new presentation also offers noticeable improvement in detail on character faces and the sweat and smudges visible, as well as improved clarity and sharpness in surroundings and background specifics. The HDR-10 addition offers a similar, yet mildly upgraded color palette that never strays from the film’s intended look but still complements it regularly. Overall, this is a solid Ultra High Definition video presentation that holds up nicely, stays true to the source and should satisfy fans of the classic film.
The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release features a 2.0 split mono DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This new soundtrack presentation provides a clean, crisp and fully capable presentation throughout that may not be groundbreaking, but certainly never disappoints in the slightest either. Offering an upgrade to 2.0 DTS-HD where the Blu-ray disc (which is once again also included in the release) offers a 192 kbps lossy Dolby Digital track and this new presentation may not offer a monumental improvement, but it’s still an improvement by all means and keeps everything within from music, nature effects and dialogue sharing the channel well and never suffering from any conflicting audio elements within; all dialogue sounding sharp, clean and fully audible throughout. Overall, this is a very nice new 2.0 DTS-HD MA soundtrack that sounds great from start to finish.
The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release of ‘Cool Hand Luke’ includes a few previously released extras which can all be found on both the 4K UHD and Blu-ray discs. Included on the release is an ‘Audio Commentary by Author Eric Lax’, in addition to the Featurette ‘A Natural-Born World-Shaker: Making Cool Hand Luke’ (running approximately 29 minutes in length). The film’s ‘Trailer’ (approximately 3 minutes) is also included.
*Please note that the above images are taken from the previously released Blu-Ray disc included in the 4K UHD Combo Pack and resized. They do not represent the quality of the 4K Ultra HD disc itself and will additionally suffer quality loss as a result of .jpg compression. Larger versions of each image can be viewed by clicking on the image. All images and content included on the 4K UHD & Blu-Ray release are the property of their respective owners.
Disc Rating: 7/10
‘Cool Hand Luke’ is Now Available to Own on 4K Ultra HD & Digital from Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment
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