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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

River of Death [Blu-ray]


(Steve Carver, 1989)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Breton Film Productions

Video: Kino Lorber



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:41:27.706

Disc Size: 21,883,350,659 bytes

Feature Size: 21,394,980,864 bytes

Video Bitrate: 22.90 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 26th, 2014



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1702 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1702 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1757 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1757 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)






• Audio Commentary by Director Steve Carver and actor Michael Dudikoff
Original Theatrical Trailer (2:04)





Description: In the nightmarish last days of the Third Reich, a psychotic Nazi scientist (Robert Vaughn, Hangar 18) escapes to the impenetrable jungles of the Amazon. Years later, a mysterious incurable disease breaks out among the natives and adventurer John Hamilton (Michael Dudikoff, Bloody Birthday) is hired to lead investigators on a search for the cause. Braving bloodthirsty rives pirates, hostile native tribes and headhunting cannibals, Hamilton, guides a group of explorers up the deadly Rio del Morte to the fabulous lost Inca city. Action specialist Steve Carver (Lone Wolf McQuade) directs this top-notch action-adventure based on an Alistair MacLean (Breakheart Pass) novel. The stellar cast includes Donald Pleasence (Wake in Fright), Herbert Lom (Mysterious Island) and L.Q. Jones (The Wild Bunch).



The Film:

This jungle adventure features an extremely complicated plot that involves a megalomaniacal Nazi doctor who continues to perform inhuman experiments in the Amazon jungle and helms the Lost City of the Nazis, a mecca for war criminals and new followers. He is pursued by three vengeful people: a former colleague whom he double-crossed near the end of the war, a young woman who saw him murder her father, and an angry American physician, whose daughter the doctor kidnapped after they came to the jungle to help the ailing Indians who are dying from a mysterious disease. In addition to coping with each other, the searchers must also deal with the usual Amazon dangers, including ferocious cannibals, before they can make it to the hidden city and get their revenge. The plot is an adaptation of an Alistair McLean novel.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE


River of Death is based on a book I haven't read, but it takes place in 1965, 20 years after a Nazi doctor, played by Robert Vaughn, who performed horrible experiments on people has escaped to the Amazon. Michael Dudikoff is a guide/adventurer down there, who takes another doctor and his daughter into the jungle for the source of a disease that is ravaging the tribes. The doctor is shot, and the daughter captured, and Dudikoff barely escapes with his life. Back at a nearby town, he's itching to recover and get back in the jungle to find her, and he discovers that other people, including millionaire/former Nazi that was kneecapped by Vaughn played by Donald Pleasence, want to go in with him. Who can Dudikoff trust? And will he escape the jungle alive?

Excerpt from Direct-to Video Connoisseur located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The late 80's adventure River of Death comes to Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.  The image is surprisingly impressive.  This is only single-layered with a modest bitrate but colors are vibrant and detail very crisp in the film's many close-ups. There is well-layered contrast with a pleasing tightness and depth that produces a wonderful 1080P presentation with no speckles or flaws of any kind. It looks almost 'new' at times and the source must have been in exceptional condition. Very solid. This Blu-ray transfer exports an excellent video presentation.























Audio :

Kino Lorber use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1702 kbps. There are some effects with an aggressive nature. They export some depth. The score is by Sasha Matson but doesn't appear very remarkable although, I presume, that it benefits from the lossless rendering. There are no subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

Kino Lorber include an audio commentary with director Steve Carver and actor Michael Dudikoff hosted by Bill Olsen. It very production-based without much depth - a lot of glad-handing but essentially hollow with some gaps. There is also an original theatrical trailer.



There are some positives with River of Death - but not that many, IMO. The characterizations are a bit weak although decent performances form three Wiley veterans (Pleasence, Vaughn and Lom) - but I would point more to the screenplay in keeping them one dimensional and not fleshing them out further but the location shooting and visuals are quite wonderful. This Kino Lorber Blu-ray does its job with the a/v and the added value with the commentary. It falls short of a recommendation from me though. Some may enjoy the hook-um adventure - I just wasn't into it myself. 

Gary Tooze

May 12th, 2014


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Gary W. Tooze






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