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Saturday, May 1, 2021

4K UHD and Blu-Ray Review: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly - Kino 2021 Edition


Kino Lorber's much anticipated The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly 4k Ultra HD disc has finally arrived, and we finally get a worthy presentation of the film for the first time in 25 years!

Kino itself has an excellent track record for releasing Lee Van Cleef titles on blu-ray.  Like this title, the bulk of their releases have been licensed from MGM; including For A Few Dollars More, Death Rides a Horse, Sabata, Barquero, Return of Sabata, Captain Apache, and Bad Man's River, with God's Gun coming out soon.  

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly has had numerous releases on blu-ray.  MGM issued their first disc in 2009.  MGM went overboard on digital noise reduction (presumably to reduce film grain), giving the film an overall soft and waxy appearance.  Around the same time in Italy, Mondo Home Video released their own print on blu-ray which was vastly superior in picture, however did not contain the English soundtrack (the Italian cut is slightly different so it does not align to the English soundtrack).  The differences between those two versions can be found here.  Then in 2014 MGM released the controversial "yellow" remastered disc.

2017 brought us the 50th Anniversary of the film, and Kino came out with a 2 Disc Special Edition Blu-ray.  Unfortunately, Kino did not get a new scan of the film,  They received the same "yellow" master that was released by MGM in 2014.  Wanting to address the fans concerns regarding the yellow color grading, Kino decided they would color correct the digital master they received.  Unfortunately, as they were not dealing with an actual film print, the problems with the 2014 disc were "baked in" to the transfer, meaning any color change would result in the other colors being affected too.  

Kino also created what would be best called a hybrid version of the US theatrical by simply cutting out the extended scenes that were put back into the film 15 years ago.  However for purists, there are many differences and sequencing within the US theatrical version that cannot be recovered from the extended cut print.

Now 4 years later, Kino has released a 4k disc (bundled with a blu-ray of the same transfer), and has given us a very nice improvement over their previous release, and the best looking English language version of the film available to date.  The film is only presented here in the US theatrical version, and is a much more faithful version than the Kino theatrical "reconstruction" previous release, as Kino had access to other source material this time around.


Video

The film has been painstakingly color corrected to remove the yellow and teal that plagued the past few versions.  The film still skews slightly warm, but appears far more authentic to the original than what we have seen before.  

The film is darker, as the blacks are truly black.  This lends to a far more cinematic presentation versus a flat contrast boosted transfer created for compatibility with the televisions of decades ago (CRT). 

Details are spectacular.  The sweat, the pores, the dirt... it all looks great on both 4k and the blu-ray.  Take a look-







Audio

Included is a 5.1 mix and the 1967 mono track which I am told was sourced from a laserdisc.  The original sounds great, and it's nice to hear all the original effects, not the new gunshots from the 2004 release.  

Also includes an audio commentary by Film Historian Tim Lucas.


Extras

All the extras (aside from extended version commentary) have been carried over from previous releases.  The frame rate issue from the previous edition has been corrected.
• Audio Commentary by Film Historian Tim Lucas 
• Leone's West: Making of Documentary 
• Il Maestro: Ennio Morricone and GBU Featurette Part 1 
• Il Maestro: Ennio Morricone and GBU Featurette Part 2 
• The Leone Style: On Sergio Leone Featurette 
• The Man Who Lost the Civil War: Civil War Documentary 
• Reconstruction GBU 
• Deleted Scene 1: Extended Tuco Torture scene 
• Deleted Scene 2: The Socorro Sequence - A Reconstruction 
• Deleted Scene 3: Skeletons in the Desert 
• Deleted Scene 4: Extended Torture Scene 
• Vignette 1: Uno, Due, Tre 
• Vignette 2: Italian Lunch 
• Vignette 3: New York Accent 
• Vignette 4: Gun in Holster 
• Alternate Scene: The Optical Flip 
• TRAILERS FROM HELL with Ernest Dickerson 
• GBU on the Set – Image Gallery 
• Promoting GBU – Image Gallery 
• Original U.S. Theatrical Trailer 
• Original French Theatrical Trailer 
• A Fistful of Dollars – Trailer 
• For a Few Dollars More – Trailer 1 • For a Few Dollars More – Trailer 2 
• A Fistful of Dollars / For a Few Dollars More – Burning at Both Ends Trailer 
• A Fistful of Dollars / For a Few Dollars More – Burning at Both Ends Radio Spot 


In Conclusion

This is the best it has ever looked on home video.  It is very much a cinematic presentation that captures the original print.  Is it perfect?  No.  It is a massive improvement over anything we have seen in decade.  I suspect we will get another remaster from a European market in a few years, and we can revisit this film yet again!

If you have the 2017 50th anniversary disc, throw it in the trash and get this!  Even if you don't have a 4k player, the set includes a blu-ray with the new transfer and all the above extras.



In Comparison

For comparison of color see below.  Note the images are compressed, so this is not a comparison of detail or sharpness, but of color and contrast.

The Good - 2009 Italian Mondo

The Bad - 2014 MGM

The Ugly - 2017 Kino


The Best - 2021 Kino



1 comment:

  1. Yes I can clearly see the advantages of this release. Better get it. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete