To those of us around during Cliffhanger’s initial release in 1993, it’s a little baffling to think that 25 years have passed since Renny Harlin’s Sylvester Stallone starrer hit the big screen. And now, much like the first three Rambo movies, Cliffhanger has been given a new 4K Ultra HD release.
With the action taking place in the Rocky Mountains, Stallone’s Gabe Walker is a mountain ranger who is dealing with the aftermath of a tragedy. Said tragedy saw the girlfriend of BFF Hal Tucker (Michael Rooker) fall to her deep ‘n’ snowy demise. Despite swiftly becoming an ex-ranger after that tragedy, we fast forward eight months down the line to Walker finding himself once more having to scale the proverbial and literal mountain. When a group of climbers put in a distress call to report being stranded at the top of the snowy peaks, Walker happens to be in the right place at the right time to wind up persuaded to help out in the rescue mission by on-off lover Jessie (Janine Turner). Not only does this see Gabe having to build bridges with Tucker – who holds him responsible for the death of his girlfriend – but it soon becomes clear that these stranded souls aren’t quite what they seem. In fact, the John Lithgow-led group are actually a bunch of no-good sorts out to snaffle themselves a $100 million payday, but whose plane crash-landed on the mountain top. Cue dramatic music!
Of course, one of the main selling points of Cliffhanger has always been its visuals and cinematography. And with a new 4K restoration, said visuals look even more jaw-dropping. As explained during the bonus material included here, the movie was shot in the Italian Alps - and that stunning locale and the extreme stunt work is given extra oomph in the 4K transfer. Even now, in 2018, Cliffhanger features some absolutely spectacular moments that rank up there as some of the finest cinematography ever committed to film. The plot, though? Largely paint-by-numbers for its time, and even more-so to this day. That’s not to say that Cliffhanger isn’t a picture that will keep you entertained, mind, for it’s totally unbelievable plot is counteracted by the stunts and scenery, and also a villainous turn from John Lithgow that pulls just a tad from Alan Rickman at his most treacherous.
Where the bonus material is concerned, what we have here is a selection of special features that have all been seen on previous releases of Cliffhanger. The highlight of the bunch is the Stallone on the Edge making-of that plays like a parody of sorts these days, even though it was done in a straight-faced manner back in ’93.
If you’re a Stallone fan and a 4K enthusiast, this is a must-see for the sheer wonderment of the visuals. If you’re one of those who can take or leave Sly and is nonplussed on 4K, there’s really not much on offer for you here.
Special Features: Two audio commentaries / “Stallone on the Edge” making-of / Special effects featurettes / Storyboard comparisons / Introduction from Renny Harlin / Deleted scenes
CLIFFHANGER – 4K UHD / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: RENNY HARLIN / SCREENPLAY: MICHAEL FRANCE, SYLVESTER STALLONE / STARRING: SYLVESTER STALLONE, MICHAEL ROOKER, JOHN LITHGOW, JANINE TURNER, LEON ROBINSON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW