If there’s one studio hell bent on leading the 4K revolution, it’s Lionsgate. Not every disc is a winner though. Honestly, most of their releases have been headscratchers — Conan the Barbarian, The Legend of Hercules, The Lincoln Lawyer, 3:10 to Yuma, and both RED films — while others were more than welcome: Kick Ass, Ex Machina, and Dredd just to name a quick few.
The release of Warrior falls into both categories. On one hand, the film features some spectacular performances — Nick Nolte was nominated for an Oscar after all — and a great story. However, director Gavin O’Connor smothers the film in less-than-ready-for-4K aesthetics that keep the disc from screaming “buy me now!” The lack of any new features also makes you wonder why they bothered with a 4K transfer, especially when it was completed in a 2K digital intermediate which means it’s an upscale and not true 4K.
Granted, most 4K releases have been 2K upscales, but at least they were either new films or bestsellers. I don’t know anyone who has Warrior sitting around in their library, let alone were thinking, “I’m gonna wait for 4K now that I have my shiny new TV.” It’s definitely not a complete bust. The transfer far outshines the now antiquated 6-year-old Blu-ray.
Filmed in 35mm, the Blu-ray features so much noise throughout the entire presentation you’d think you left a piece of meat hanging in front of your set and were under attack by bugs. The best news, is that the 4K does a damn fine job of minimizing noise and smoothes out the film grain delivering a far more cinematic life to the new transfer.
With a rather drab color spectrum, the HDR enhancement also pumps up the primaries when given the chance. It may not be very often — an outdoor birthday party at the beginning is a standout — but it’s few and far between. Blacks are a particular standout and stay nice and inky with plenty of shadow detail. Shimmering, aliasing, and crush are never an issue. If the transfer is lacking in any aspect it’s O’Connor’s use of soft focus. The film is never as sharp as it should be — especially for being 35mm — but there’s enough detail and texture to give it a pass.
The 2011 Blu-ray featured a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track and the new 4K also comes with one here for those unequipped with full Atmos systems. While the original audio track was no slouch, the downsampled 7.1 from the new Atmos track is a rager. With how many fight scenes there are, surrounds are always engaged. There are a few moments featuring some nice ambiance, but we came for the fights and they don’t disappoint. Bass makes every punch or kick as heavy hitting as they should be and the room explodes with activity from every speaker completely enveloping you as if sitting ringside. Another standout is a short Iraq scene. Additional audio includes a French Dolby Digital 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 2.0. Subtitles are available in English, English SDH, and Spanish.
All special features are ported over from the Blu-ray and can be found on the 4K disc. Something of a rarity, and I can’t help but think that maybe it could have helped to have a little more breathing room for the presentation. But there’s nothing new here so I guess it just depends on how good you think Warrior should look. You’ll get: “Full Contact: Feature Length Enhanced Viewing Mode,” “Feature Audio Commentary with Filmmakers and Actor Joel Edgerton, “Redemption: Bringing Warrior To Life” (31:57), “The Diner” (3:02), “Cheap Shots: Gag Reel” (3:58), “Brother vs. Brother: Anatomy of the Fight” (11:55), “Philosophy in Combat: Mixed Martial Arts Strategy” (21:07), and finally “Simply Believe: A Tribute by Charles Mask Lewis, Jr.” (13:58)
The family drama looks way better in UHD than it did in HD, so that would be one reason to upgrade if you already own the Blu (included with this release). But for those who don’t already own it, and are looking for a great drama to add to their 4K collection. Warrior’s presentation may not be a knockout, but it’s no slouch either. Definitely recommended.