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Artisan Home Entertainment presents
Young Guns: SE (1988)

"You know, Sir, I do admire you, and I sure would like to touch the gun that's gonna kill Billy The Kid."
- William "Billy The Kid" Bonney (Emilio Estevez)

Review By: Kevin Clemons  
Published: May 06, 2003

Stars: Emilo Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Charlie Sheen, Dermot Mulroney, Casey Siemaszko
Other Stars: Terry O'Quinn, Jack Palance, Terence Stamp
Director: Christopher Cain

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: R for violence, language, sexuality
Run Time: 01h:41m:32s
Release Date: April 22, 2003
UPC: 012236125945
Genre: western

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B-B-B+ B

DVD Review

As I approach a total of 300 DVD reviews here at digitallyOBSESSED I was shocked to see that I have yet to review a single western. It is not that I don't enjoy the genre, it's just not necessarily a favorite; yet, there was always something about the unbridled energy found in Christopher Cain's Young Guns that I absolutely loved. So when word came that the film would be getting a well deserved special edition, I was overjoyed to find it on my list.

Then the fear set in. I have been burned before by seeing the opinions of favorite films from my childhood burst into flames as I watch them as an adult. Thankfully, Young Guns comes away for the most part unscathed, as it remains a hugely enjoyable romp through the Old West with a very good and exuberant cast.

Young Guns tells the story of the "Regulators," a group of six rebellious youngsters hired by a British ranch owner named John Turnstall as hired hands on his vast ranch. They are: Josiah "Doc" Scurlock (Sutherland), Jose Chavez Y Chavez (Phillips), Richard Brewer (Sheen), Dirty Steve Stephens (Mulroney), Charley Bowdre (Siemaszko), and finally William H. Bonney (Estevez) who would eventually be known as Billy The Kid. When Turnstall is murdered by a tycoon named Murphy (Palance), the regulators are immediately deputized and are sent after Murphy's men. But rather than bringing Murphy's men in alive, they take no prisoners and go on a deadly spree, drawing the ire of both the law and Murphy.

Young Guns offers little in the way of a central plot, relying instead on the charisma of its main stars to carry the film up until the unavoidable climactic shootout. Director Christopher Cain seems in control of the film for the most part, though in his attempts to add a human face to the proceedings he stumbles more often than not. The script by John Fusco is faithful to historical facts, but it is likely that anyone viewing this film for a history lesson will be disappointed. Fusco avoids making the film solely about the character of Billy The Kid, allowing each character an individual voice.

What many viewers will likely walk away with is admiration for this young cast, which features nearly every popular actor from the eighties. Estevez is fine as Billy The Kid, a role that would more or less become his best known. Estevez wisely plays the role as the atypical loose cannon that suit his personality. Sutherland offers fine support, while Phillips, Sheen, and Mulroney all tend to overact a bit, but their performances are otherwise in line with the subject matter. The greatest thrill in the cast comes from legendary actor Jack Palance, who effortlessly commands the screen as Murphy.

Young Guns holds a special place in my heart as it is the first R-rated film that I ever viewed. I liked it then because I thought I was getting away with something. I like it today because it is just too much fun.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Presented in a newly remastered 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer Young Guns shows a significant improvement upon the previous release but that is not always a good thing. The image shows several flaws in the print used as well as a large amount of grain. Sharpness and detail were a bit spotty in parts, with a softness that hampered the quality throughout. Colors are average at best, with no vibrancy, while black levels suffer from slight grain. Overall, this is a disappointing transfer given the remaster, but it is a significant improvement from the previous release.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: With Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS sound mixes, Young Guns is far from being a reference quality soundtrack, but what is offered features wonderful separation and range. Dialogue is fine throughout with no dropouts or harshness, while the surround speakers do a fine job of recreating the shootout as well as other small ambient effects. The .1 LFE track provides nice support for the score as well as numerous other effects.

In a head to head face off, the DTS offered much cleaner surround presence throughout. Most notably in the final shootout as well as in the musical score.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Reservoir Dogs, Total Recall, Dune, The Rambo Trilogy
1 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by actors Lou Diamond Phillips, Dermot Mulroney, Casey Siemaszko
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Trivia Track
Extras Review: Labeled as a special edition, Young Guns features only a scant amount of extra material. Most notable is a feature-length audio commentary by Lou Diamond Phillips, Casey Siemaszko, and Dermot Mulroney. It would have been ideal to have heard a track featuring all six members, but this will do. The three mostly discuss the time spent filming as well as some inside jokes here and there. Did you, for instance, know that Tom Cruise can be seen in the final shootout? Neither did I. And yet it is these little factoids about the production that make up the majority of the commentary. You will not learn anything about the characters, but as mentioned in the review, anyone viewing Young Guns for historical knowledge is doing so for the wrong reason.

The best extra feature on this special edition DVD is a documentary titled The Real Billy The Kid in which the legendary outlaws' life is on display. What I admired about the documentary was that it painted the real picture, regardless of the characterization of the Regulators in the film. The documentary shows all of Billy's young life as well as his exploits and the legend that he has become.

A Trivia Track offers information about the making of the film every minute or so, but much of the information deals with facts about the actors or crew rather than the historical origins of the story. Finally, the trailer for Young Guns is offered as well as trailers for Dune, Reservoir Dogs, Total Recall, and The Rambo Trilogy.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

With an extremely likable cast as well as a respectable transfer, the new special edition of Young Guns is an easy recommendation.


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