The Hunt For Red October on PAL Laserdisc

The Dominator reviews

Hunt For Red October
Distributed by
Pioneer LDCE

  • Cat.no: PLFEC 34361
  • Cert: PG
  • Running time: 130 mins
  • Sides 3 (CLV/CLV/CAV)
  • Year: 1990
  • Pressing: UK, 1996
  • Chapters: 13 total (6/5/2)
  • Sound: Dolby Surround
  • Widescreen: 2.35:1
  • Price: £29.99

    Director:

      John McTiernan (Predator, Die Hard 1 and 3, Last Action Hero)

    Producer:

      Mace Neufield

    Screenplay:

      Larry Ferguson

    Music:

      Basil Poledouris

    Director of Photography:

      Jan De Bont (Speed, Twister)

    Cast:

      Marko Ramius: Sean Connery
      Jack Ryan: Alec Baldwin
      Bart Mancuso: Scott Glenn
      Captain Borodin: Sam Neill
      Admiral Greer: James Earl Jones
      Andrei Lysenko: Joss Ackland
      Ivan Putin: Peter Firth
      Dr. Petrov: Tim Curry
      Skip Tyler: Jeffrey Jones
      Admiral Painter: Fred Dalton Thompson
      Caroline Ryan: Gates McFadden

Firstly it has to be said that this film has so many things going for it. It’s based on the book by Tom Clancy, directed by John McTiernan, and has an excellent cast fronted by Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin.

A new, technologically-superior Soviet nuclear submarine, the Red October, is heading for the U.S. coast, commanded by Captain Marko Ramius. The American government think Ramius plans to attack, but CIA agent Jack Ryan (played in this, the first of Tom Clancy’s films about Ryan) by Alec Baldwin has a different idea. He’s met Ramius before and thinks that he’s planning to defect, but only has a few hours to find him and prove it because the entire Russian naval and air commands are hunting him down too.

The film begins in Russian dialogue from Sam Neill and Sean Connery. The subtitles during first part of the film appear in the lower black band, so don’t get in the way of the picture. There’s a nice subtle change when the subtitles disappear, and English dialogue begins.


One thing that has to be said is that only Sean Connery could get away with playing different-speaking roles throughout his career, and still do all accents in a Scottish one, this film’s role, as a Russian submarine commander, included.

Also, that the director of photography for this film is the one and only Jan De Bont who recently directed the non-stop success “Speed”, and this year’s summer blockbuster “Twister”.

It’s interesting to note that Alec Baldwin didn’t make it to “Patriot Games” because he asked for too much money than the studio were prepared to give him. As a result, Harrison Ford stepped in, and ended up getting paid even more than Alec Baldwin asked for, getting a multi-picture deal as CIA agent Jack Ryan in the process, two films of which have already been brought to the big screen, and are available on PAL laserdisc: “Patriot Games” and “Clear and Present Danger”.


The sound and picture quality of this disc are nothing short of excellent. Pioneer have really done themselves proud with finding such a perfect master to press the disc from. Set the volume level to ten, and then turn it one louder when the nuclear missiles are fired…

If you’ve only seen this film on television in pan-and-scan format, you’ve missed so much. The widescreen ratio is essential for any John McTiernan film, and none more so than this, especially to maintain the level of tension inside the sub.


There is one problem with the disc though. Similarly to Pioneer’s two other recent releases, “Congo” and “The Blues Brothers” they haven’t put enough chapters on it. There’s only 13 over the course of 130 minutes.

In a similar fashion to “The Blues Brothers”, where chapter 8 spread over two sides of the disc, in this case side 2 ends, and side 3 begins with chapter 11. Considering that at end of side 2, chapter 11 only lasts for 3 minutes, and that side 3 runs for just under 26 minutes, why isn’t the whole of chapter 11 on side 3?

The good news though is that whereas all 3 sides are listed as being in CLV, side 3 is actually in CAV format.

In short, this disc is one of the best released this year. Buy it or regret it.

Review copyright © Dominic Robinson, 1996.

Check out Pioneer‘s Web site.

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Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.


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