Cliffhanger (1993) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Crime / Thriller
Sony || R - 113 minutes - $24.95 || January 12, 2010
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-01-15

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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.

.:: A U D I O ::.

B L U - R A Y

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: Renny Harlin
Writer(s): John Long (premise); Michael France (screen story), Michael France and Sylvester Stallone (screenplay)
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, John Lithgow, Michael Rooker, Janine Turner

Theatrical Release Date: May 28, 1993

Supplemental Material:
  • 2 Feature Commentaries
  • Introduction
  • 2 Featurettes
  • Storyboard Comparisons
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • movieIQ
  • BD Live

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

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.::THE FILM::.

Thereís nothing like seeing the clichťd Tormented Soul Character but man, Sylvester Stallone is the master, Iíll tell you that much.

Let me explain (spoiler alert): In the opening of Cliffhanger, skilled climber and rescuer Gabe Walker (STALLONE) is helping fellow rescuer Tucker (MICHAEL ROOKER) and his sweet girl off the top of a peak. The only way off this peak is via a wire from the rocks to the helicopter. While Tuckerís glide to safety was successful, his girl was not so lucky. Despite Walkerís efforts, the girl plummets to her demise... in slow motion no less.

Flash forward 8 months later and Walker has quit his job and has stayed away from the mountains. He and his girl, Jessie (JANINE TURNER), who is also a rescuer and avid climber, are on the outs and he is returning to the mountains only to collect his things and also hopes to convince her to leave with him. Jessie wants nothing of it and she tries to reason with him to stay, but Walker the Tormented Soul wants nothing of it; that girl died because of him.

Meanwhile, in a completely unrelated subplot, evil mastermind Qualan (JOHN LITHGOW) and his cohorts have skyjacked $100 million worth of uncirculated cash being transported by the Treasury Department. Using another jet, they use a line to get the cases from one plane to the other but something goes wrong and the three cases go tumbling below landing in different areas of the remote mountains. Making matters worse for our villains, the plane crashes. They radio in for help and as you might guess, Tucker is on call while Jessie eventually convinces Walker the Tortured Soul to help, and he reluctantly agrees stating that this will be his last rescue mission. Well, as you might guess, Walker and Tucker are taken hostage and forced to locate the three briefcases full of cash.

Actually, outside of a couple spotty performances by Stallone and Rooker Ė and even then only a couple of scenes Ė, Cliffhanger is one hell of a suspense action/adventure, one that doesnít commonly get very much attention. While Stalloneís tortured soul aspect is a bit laughable and prime for ďMST3KĒ ridicule, he doesnít do a half bad job as the action hero who can overcome any obstacle (surviving extreme colds wearing only a tank top).

Then you have John Lithgow in what could be considered a precursor to his villainous turn recently on ďDexterĒ, a move that surprised some people who only remember him from ď3rd Rock from the SunĒ. Given he doesnít have a whole lot to worth with since his only motivation is for the cash and not some larger goal, Lithgow did a damn good job at being an effective and truly evil villain; there isnít a gray area with this dude.

Overall, Cliffhanger is one hell of a ride that in spite of some of its shortcomings in regards to the characters and writing is a lot of fun. This is one of Stalloneís better mid-level movies (i.e. outside of Rocky and Cop Land) and if you havenít yet seen this or itís been a few years, donít hesitate to check it out.

Interesting fun fact (well, at least for me): In 1993 both Cliffhanger and Last Action Hero were released with the latter probably receiving the most attention. While Cliffhanger managed a respectable $255 million worldwide, LAH only nabbed a mere $137 million on a larger budget. Hereís the kicker Ė Last Action Hero was directed by John McTiernan (Die Hard) while Cliffhanger was helmed by Renny Harlin who directed... Die Hard 2.


From what I could tell, all the important features from the Special Edition DVD have been ported over (other than the photo galleries and talent files which movieIQ replaces anyway).

There are two feature commentaries. The first is with Director Renny Harlin and Actor Sylvester Stallone while the other is a Technical Track (Editor Frank Urioste, Co-Visual Effects Supervisors Neil Krepela & John Bruno, and Production Designer John Vallone). The Harlin/Stallone track was unfortunately recorded separately but the two do offer their own perspectives on filming the movie while the tech track is just that (Uriosteís portion was recorded separately).

A Personal Introduction by Renny Harlin (4:53) Ė The director talks about how the project came about and interspersed are on-set comments from the cast. Given he already has a commentary Iím unsure why this was even needed...

Deleted Scenes (8:18) - Well, two scenes to be exact. Along with an intro from Harlin, the scenes arenít anything special, though I do know one was shown in the theatrical trailer.

Stallone on the Edge: The Making of Cliffhanger (20:03) is your typical pre-EPK EPK that probably aired on HBO as a way to advertise for the movie. Stallone explains the project (from the set of Judge Dredd no less) and we get a behind-the-scenes glimpse.

Special Effects (7:24) Ė Here we get to see two key scenes and how visual effects were used with commentary by Harlin explaining the process.

Storyboard Comparisons (12:01) Ė With this we get to see comparisons on three key scenes via storyboards (obviously) with the actual film. I donít get much out of these, for my part, but itís good it was ported over.

Original Theatrical Trailer (1:57); trailer with an Intro (3:26). Harlin once again steps in to talk about how he likes cutting together trailers and in fact has them in mind before he even shoots.

movieIQ Ė This is now a staple on most Sonyís Blu-ray releases and I know some people like it, I donít get much use out of it. Basically with this on you can see the filmographies of the cast and crew (via IMDb) as well as take a look at bits of trivia. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Finally thereís a BD-Live portal. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **


Cliffhanger is presented in its original 2.40 aspect ratio and now in 1080p high-definition. Although I was impressed that the picture was clean and free of any dirt or scratches, I also didnít think it had much pop to it either. Also, certain scenes were a tad soft. However, the colors are nicely balanced and the detail levels were on par with my expectations for a film this old.

Sony has given this release a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track and all in all itís a solid track. Trevor Jonesís score is expansive, dialogue levels are quite good and the explosions have a clear impact rather than a certain softness that I often experience with some catalogue titles.


I said it before and Iíll say it again: This is one of Stalloneís better mid-level movies and if you havenít yet seen this or itís been a few years, donít hesitate to check it out.

The Blu-ray itself is quite good with decent video and a very nice audio transfer. Most of the features have been ported over and while I donít find the movieIQ all that useful, some people might.