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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Fourth War [Blu-ray]


(John Frankenheimer, 2000)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Aurora Productions LLC

Video: Kino Lorber



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

Runtime: 1:30:46.482

Disc Size: 21,242,945,512 bytes

Feature Size: 18,347,464,704 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.91 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: December 8th, 2015



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1581 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1581 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)



None - Burned-in English for Russian dialogue



The Fourth War Trailer (2:07) - trailers for 4 other films; 52 Pick-up, Last Embrace, Still of the Night, The Train





Description: As the world enters a new era of peace... what becomes of professional soldiers, who have spent their entire lives preparing for war? On a frozen stretch of Russian border, two veteran military men, American Colonel Jack Knowles (Roy Scheider, Still of the Night) and Russian Colonel N. A. Valachev (Jürgen Prochnow, Das Boot), command small outposts. Knowles has a reputation for being a loose cannon, his commanding officer (Harry Dean Stanton, Paris, Texas) hopes the quiet post will keep Knowles out of trouble. But after Knowles sees Russian guards gun down a defector... what follows is a forbidden battle between the two men, trading invasions into each other s territories. As the two Colonels continue to strike at one another, their personal vendetta threatens to escalate into a full-scale military confrontation and the world may not survive The Fourth War. Top-notch direction by the great John Frankenheimer (Seconds) with a strong supporting cast that includes Tim Reid (TV s WKRP in Cincinnati) and Dale Dye (The Dirty Dozen).



The Film:

The Fourth War finds director John Frankenheimer delving into the same Cold-war territory he'd previously cultivated in films like The Manchurian Candidate. Col. Jack Knowles (Roy Scheider), serving at a faraway post on the German-Czech border, carries on a personal war with his Soviet counterpart, Colonel Valachev (Jurgen Prochnow). Both have been hardened by past combat experiences, and both have been embittered by the exigencies of red tape, bureaucracy, and diplomatic deal-making. Their friendly rivalry snowballs (literally so!) into a guerilla-like combat situation, culminating in a one-on-one showdown. It's essentially a shaggy dog story, but a compelling one. Based on a novel by Stephen Peters, The Fourth War was given surprisingly short shrift by Cannon Films' distribution channels.

Excerpt from B+N located HERE


John Frankenheimer still hasn't regained his stride since his black-and-white films of the 60s, but he's settled down into being a pretty good director of thrillers, and this is one of his more recent best—comparable to the lean, purposeful work he used to do for such 50s TV shows as Studio One and Playhouse 90. On the border between West Germany and Czechoslovakia in November 1988, American and Soviet border control commanders Roy Scheider and Jurgen Prochnow, embittered veterans of Vietnam and Afghanistan, get embroiled in a petty personal war of their own. That's about all that the plot—adapted by Stephen Peters and Kenneth Ross from Peters's novel—consists of, but Frankenheimer handles it tersely and professionally, and coaxes an exceptionally good performance out of Harry Dean Stanton as an American general. Gerry Fisher handled the cinematography, and Tim Reid and Lara Harris also costar.

Excerpt from Jonathan Rosenbaum at the Chicago Reader located HERE

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

Frankenheimer's The Fourth War comes to Kino Lorber Blu-ray. It looks quite solid in 1080P and its lack of dynamic crispness is more a function of the source. The transfer is single-layered with a supportive bitrate. There is texture although colors are not particularly vibrant - perhaps a bit drab/faded - but the contrast appears acceptable. Gerry Fisher's cinematography (Company Business, Wolfen, Wise Blood, Billy Wilder's Fedora) shot in Alberta, Canada - is impressive. This Blu-ray gave me a watchable HD presentation viewing in regards to the picture quality.



















Audio :

Kino Lorber use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1581 kbps. There are plenty of battle-related effects in the explosions, helicopters etc. and they are defined well by their depth. The score is by Bill Conti (The Right Stuff, Rocky, Harry and Tonto, For Your Eyes Only) and I thought it supported the film very well - orchestral and varying in pace running beside the film's moods. For the infrequent Russian dialogue there are burned-in English subtitle (sample above) offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

Only a trailer for The Fourth War - and 4 others related to Scheider and/or Frankenheimer.



I had read some middling reviews regarding The Fourth War and was a bit guarded in my viewing but Frankenheimer knows how to craft a story and I was entertained. Perhaps a little silly and simplistic in retrospect but the performances are strong - notably Prochnow. I thought it was suspenseful and thee were very positive thriller elements.  It's not a perfect film by any stretch - but no bad at all. The bare-bones Kino Lorber Blu-ray
is standard from them but does give you the opportunity to see the film in 1080P. Worth a spin or two at the right price (currently 47% OFF Pre-order at Amazon). 

Gary Tooze

December 3rd, 2015


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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