Movie Review: CRUISING (Special Edition) Blu-ray

CRUISING is loosely based on the novel of the same name by Gerald Walker. The movie was written and directed by William Friedkin and stars Al Pacino, Paul Sorvino, Karen Allen, Richard Cox, Don Scardino and Ed O’Neil. The movie also features small roles by up-and-coming actors Gene Davis, William Russ, James Remar and Powers Boothe.

A psychopath is scouring New York City gay clubs and viciously slaying homosexuals. Detective Steve Burns (Al Pacino) is ordered to don leather attire, hang at the city’s S&M joints and keep an eye out for the killer. But as Steve becomes immersed in club hopping, he begins to identify with the subculture more than he expected. Meanwhile, Steve behaves distantly around his girlfriend, Nancy (Karen Allen), the police force’s homophobia becomes apparent and the killer remains at large.

There’s a serial killer on the loose who’s targeting gay men that hang out at in the underground S&M club scene. Rookie cop Steve Burns (Al Pacino) is assigned to the case by Captain Edelson (Paul Sorvino) who tells the young police officer that he’s up for the detective division if he can catch the killer behind these horrifying murders. Steve reluctantly accepts and leaves his semi-normal world behind and this includes his girlfriend Nancy (Karen Allen). Steve goes deep undercover so he can’t tell anyone what he’s doing or where he’s going as he decends into this dark and gritty new world.

The young cop begins to scour the club scene looking any kind of lead that’ll get him closer to the killer and with each step he takes, it’s almost like an uncomfortable fog sets over him because Steve slowly begins to change. While he’s out meeting some new people and asking questions about certain things, the mysterious predator is still picking out his prey and viciously murdering them. What happens is, Steve finally gets the clue he’s been searching for and it leads him directly to the sadistic killer. In the end, Steve is able to take out the madman behind the murders but this experience leaves him a changed man forever.

The packaging coems with a slipcover/o-card. The front of the packaging features the artwork you see at the top of the page and the back include movie details and list of special features. The reversible sleeve features some alternate artwork and movie credits so you have your pick of which side you’d like to use as the front cover. There’s also a fully illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by F.X. Feeney that will be available for the first pressing only. The Blu-ray disc is light blue and features the movie logo. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. Cruising has received a band new restoration from a 4K scan of the original camera negative, supervised and approved by writer-director William Friedkin. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio.

Bottom line is, Cruising ended up being another first time watch for me and I thought it was an extremely bold movie that was definitely ahead of its time. I read where it was called controversial when it was first released back in 1980 and I can definitely see why. Not only does Cruising put homosexually in the spotlight but it had a big star take on the role as this undercover cop who gets sucked into this dark and gritty underground world of S&M and by the end of the movie he’s a completely changed man – in more ways than one. Al Pacino delivers a haunting performance and he’s complimented by an impressive supporting cast. This is an intense psycho-thriller from director William Friedkin who never disappoints when it comes to controversial storytelling. Cruising isn’t as controversial of a watch as it was a few decades ago because of gay acceptance. There’s still elements that’ll strike a nerve because of the movie’s dark and unsettling plot that follows this cop and the serial killer he’s after. There’s also the brutal kill scenes that’ll make your skin crawl. Cruising will be available on a Special Edition Blu-ray on August 20th.

Distributor: Arrow Video

Run Time: 102 Minutes

Rated: R

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1)

Blu-ray Audio: Newly remastered 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio supervised by William Friedkin / English LPCM 2.0

Subtitles: English SDH

Special Features: The extras include two archival audio commentary tracks, two archival featurettes and the original theatrical trailer.

  • Audio Commentary with William Friedkin
  • Audio Commentary with William Friedkin and Mark Kermode
  • The History of Cruising – archival featurette looking at the film’s origins and production (21:05)
  • Exorcizing Cruising – archival featurette looking at the controversy surrounding the film and its enduring legacy (22:31)
  • Original Theatrical Trailer (03:29)
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