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Eastern Promises

4K Ultra HD

Blu Ray

  • Score
    from 5 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • Eastern Promises' 4K release impresses, amid mixed film reviews.

    Eastern Promises 4K UHD Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
  • Eastern Promises' 4K UHD release by Kino Lorber impresses, enhancing every detail with Dolby Vision HDR, while preserving its subtle, stylistic beauty.

  • Audio
  • Eastern Promise's 4K release shines with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix, delivering clear dialogue and impactful effects amidst a well-balanced ambient soundscape, though it opts out of a Dolby Atmos remix.

  • Extra
  • Kino's 4K Eastern Promises release features a basic 4K disc and rich extras on Blu-ray, including new and archival interviews focusing on the film's production, realism, and character depth, highlighting Cronenberg's direction, Knight's screenplay, and the cast's reflections.

  • Movie
  • Cronenberg's shift from body horror to gripping crime dramas like Eastern Promises showcases his versatile storytelling, exploring violence and the Russian Mafia with the same nuanced detail and dark flair that defined his earlier work.

    Video: 93

    Kino Lorber's 4K UHD Blu-ray release of "Eastern Promises" presents a remarkable upgrade to the film's visual presentation, brilliantly supervised by cinematographer Peter Suschitzky. The transformation is sourced from a new exclusive 4K master that employs Dolby Vision and HDR, significantly enhancing the viewing experience. This edition, reviewed on high-end equipment including an LG OLED TV and a Panasonic 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player, showcases the meticulous care taken in preserving the film's original aesthetic while capitalizing on modern technology to accentuate detail, texture, and color depth. The 4K disc delivers a 3840x2160 resolution at a 24p frame rate, maintaining the movie’s original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, further enriched with Wide Colour Gamut (WCG), High Dynamic Range (HDR), and encoded using the HEVC codec. These enhancements are respectful of the film’s inherent style - capturing the moody interiors, nuanced character details, and the subdued yet impactful color palette.

    The effort to preserve the grain structure and improve upon the existing color grading without betraying the source material's intent is evident, resulting in a presentation that is both visionary and authentic. Dolby Vision HDR significantly contributes to this by deepening blacks, brightening whites, and allowing for a more vibrant display of colors that still feel grounded within the film's established aesthetic. Scenes laden with shadow reveal newfound textures and nuances, whereas the more vivid moments - such as the stark reds of blood or the chiaroscuro contrast in key scenes - are rendered with striking clarity and depth. Details across darker areas and highlights are remarkably balanced, offering an image stability that is a testament to the quality of the restoration work.

    Despite being an upscale from the original 2K Digital Intermediate, rather than a true 4K scan, this presentation impresses with its crispness and detail enhancement, suggesting that any further gains from a higher resolution source might be minimal. Nevertheless, some minor issues like halos on high contrast edges and occasional dirt/dust remain but do not detract significantly from the overall high-quality presentation. This release not only elevates "Eastern Promises" visually but also showcases how carefully executed technical upgrades can breathe new life into an already compelling cinematic piece. Whether viewed in native 4K or the accompanying 1080p presentation, both effectively demonstrate the exceptional detail and color fidelity achieved through this restoration, making it clear that the new 4K master is a labor of love that respects both the film’s original vision and its enduring impact.

    Audio: 92

    The audio presentation of "Eastern Promises" on its 4K UHD Blu-ray release presents a confidently straightforward auditory experience, devoid of object-oriented soundtracks like Dolby Atmos but excelling within its chosen realm of DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 tracks. The 5.1 mix stands out as the superior choice, embracing the film's aural demands with an immersive quality that fills the soundscape. Dialogue is sharply rendered, cutting through with precision albeit assisted by optional English subtitles for moments of thick accents or broken English. Ambient sounds from the bustling streets of London and intimate settings like restaurants gain a distinct presence, bolstered by Howard Shore’s score which, while not audacious in its use, enriches the cinematic journey.

    Technical proficiency shines throughout the audio experience; dynamic balance is meticulously maintained, allowing for a robust portrayal of quieter drama scenes alongside more intense interactions without the intrusion of audio dropouts or distortions. Special mention goes to the handling of environmental sounds – distant sirens, traffic, and particularly the aggressive pattering of rain, which adds to the atmospheric depth without overwhelming key dialogue or action sequences. The violence depicted, stark in its realism, benefits from a naturalistic sound reproduction that avoids exaggerated bass support, ensuring authenticity.

    Comparatively, the DTS-HD MA 2.0 option offers a more compressed auditory experience but remains a viable option for setups with limited capabilities. However, the immersive breadth and atmospheric depth achieved by the 5.1 track underscore its suitability for this film, presenting an open sound stage where auditory elements from scores to city ambiances are given room to breathe and envelop the viewer. Such a mix reaffirms the preference for a 5.1 setup, ensuring that "Eastern Promises" is heard as intended - capturing the essence and nuances of its setting and narrative with compelling clarity and balance.

    Extra: 83

    Kino Lorber's 4K UHD Blu-ray release of "Eastern Promises" enriches the viewing experience with a blend of exclusive and archival extras, primarily housed on a companion Blu-ray disc. While the 4K disc focuses solely on delivering a visually stunning rendition of the film, the additional Blu-ray disc delves into the movie’s production and thematic depth. Through a series of featurettes, viewers gain insights into screenwriter Steven Knight's inspiration in capturing the grim realities of the Russian mafia in London, complemented by director David Cronenberg's exploration of realism, particularly in the film's notorious bathhouse scene. Noteworthy is the new "Birthmarks" program, providing an intimate look at Knight's narrative vision and challenges in screenplay development. Archival contributions, including candid discussions with Naomi Watts and detailed expositions on character tattoos, further enhance understanding of the film’s intricacies. However, the absence of certain interviews and documentary materials available in other editions slightly limits the comprehensive nature of this release.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Birthmarks: New program featuring screenwriter Steven Knight discussing the genesis and development of "Eastern Promises."
    • Secrets and Stories: Archival program with David Cronenberg and cast members sharing insights about the film's production.
    • Marked for Life: Focuses on the significance of tattoos within the movie, featuring input from Cronenberg, Knight, and others.
    • Two Guys Walk Into a Bath House: Cronenberg elaborates on crafting the pivotal bathhouse scene.
    • Watts on Wheels: Naomi Watts reminisces about her experience learning to ride a motorbike for her role.
    • Trailers: Includes two trailers for "Eastern Promises" and a selection of trailers for other Kino Lorber releases.

    Movie: 87

    David Cronenberg's foray into the gritty underworld of London's Russian mafia, "Eastern Promises," presents a stark departure from the director's renowned body horror repertoire, showcasing his versatility in storytelling. Starring Viggo Mortensen as Nikolai, a driver deeply embedded in the criminal world, his nuanced performance elevates the narrative, bringing a gripping realism to the otherwise straightforward crime drama. Alongside Mortensen, Naomi Watts provides a compelling counterpoint as Anna, whose discovery of a diary entangles her with the mafia. Cronenberg's direction adeptly unravels this complex web of violence and loyalty, maintaining an undercurrent of tension throughout.

    The film navigates the intricacies of Russian gangster life in London with a palpable authenticity, albeit criticized by some for its portrayal of Russian characters by predominantly western actors. This aspect does not significantly detract from the movie's immersive atmosphere, crafted through meticulous detail in setting and character development. The narrative intricately explores themes of power, identity, and redemption amidst a backdrop of brutal violence, including one of cinema's most memorable fight scenes—a hallmark of Cronenberg’s fearless storytelling.

    Despite its occasional clichés and a narrative that might seem familiar to fans of the genre, "Eastern Promises" stands out for its methodical pacing and atmospheric tension. Cronenberg's film transcends typical gangster movie tropes by delving deeper into the psychological and moral complexities of its characters. Mortensen’s portrayal of Nikolai, particularly, is a standout, reinforcing the actor’s versatility and commitment. While comparisons with Cronenberg’s earlier work like "A History of Violence" are inevitable, "Eastern Promises" secures its unique place in the filmmaker’s oeuvre, showcasing his adeptness at exploring new narrative terrains while maintaining his signature directorial flair.

    Total: 83

    Kino Lorber Studio Classics' 4K Ultra HD release of "Eastern Promises," directed by the ever-provocative David Cronenberg and featuring a stellar cast led by Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Armin Mueller-Stahl, and Vincent Cassel, is nothing short of spectacular. This crime thriller, recognized for its intense and unflinching portrayal of violence and the murky underworld of the Russian mafia in London, is presented with an impeccable Dolby Vision HDR transfer that elevates the visual storytelling to new heights. Despite some critiques on the film's narrative execution, the technical prowess on display ensures a viewing experience that is both immersive and visually stunning. The release, dated 22nd March 2022, supervised and approved by cinematographer Peter Suschitzky, promises an outstanding new 4K master that showcases the film’s cold and seedy atmosphere with remarkable clarity.

    The audio quality is robust, complementing the visuals perfectly and pulling the viewer deeper into the film’s grim reality. While some may find the extras a bit wanting, the inclusion of a new interview with screenwriter Steven Knight adds valuable insights into the creation of this unique cinematic world. Fans of Cronenberg and Mortensen's previous collaboration will find "Eastern Promises" a worthy addition to their collection, especially with this release’s commitment to high-quality presentation.

    In conclusion, while "Eastern Promises" explores dark themes with a raw edge that may not be to everyone’s taste, its 4K UHD Blu-ray incarnation from Kino Lorber is undeniably impressive. With a stunning visual and audio upgrade that faithfully captures the film's gritty essence, it's a must-have for fans and collectors alike. Despite differing opinions on the film's storyline and character development, this release underlines the importance of technical excellence in bringing a filmmaker's vision to life. For those looking to explore the depth of Cronenberg's work in the 2000s or simply to experience this intense thriller in the best possible quality, this edition comes highly recommended.