In the '70's William Friedkin was at the height of his creative powers, and seemingly a hit factory making machine, churning out films like Boys in the Band (1970), The Exorcist (1973) and The French Connection (1971) -all stone cold classics. He proved with Cruising that he still had it in this new decade. Steve Burns (Al Pacino) is New York cop hot on the trail of a murderer, picking off gay men from various s&m and leather bars. Now Burns must don his best leather clad outfit and go deep undercover to find this killer before more people die.
It has been awhile since I seen Cruising and I figured now with the new Blu-Ray it was the perfect time to re-visit this film. The films opening murder is done in such a slow, almost fetishistic manner that helps set the tone for the rest of the film. I have to say even by today's standards its a pretty unnerving scene. Its always incredible to think this movie was made by a major studio, as the film is teeming with steamy man on man sex (merely suggested of course and laughably tame) and its sometime you probably wont ever see from a big studio again. Friedkin skillfully captures the gritty NY s&m scene in all its smoky, sweat drenched greasy essence. After giving this a re-watch I guess its easy to see how the film could be considered wildly exploitative, focusing on the more preserve aspects of late 70s early 80s gay scene. But for me I see it more as interesting time capsule of a bygone era wrapped in a Giallo whodunit (on a much bigger budget). The mystery is engaging and the ending left me thinking days after the credits rolled. The recent film Knife+Heart lovingly pays homages to Cruising and its not hard to see why this film has left such a lasting legacy. I honestly think Warner Bros is ashamed of this film, but luckily we live in a free society where we can view this any time we want. And now in stunning 4k thanks to Arrow Video.
Picture/Sound: Cruising looks incredible sporting a brand new 4k transfer, giving the film a much needed upgrade from the previous release. The transfer was approved by Friedkin himself and a lot of the night scenes are greatly improved with the new scan. Sound wise we have a nearly flawless 5.1 track.
The Extras: Sadly Warners for whatever reason has not allowed Arrow to produce new extra's. I guess we should just be happy they dont try and bury the film like The Devils. This means previous material has been ported over to the Blu-Ray, but not having owned this previously I was happy with the extras which are a directors commentary and a featurette on the making of. Its really a shame that Arrow was barred on new features as I am sure they would have produced some great content. Still as a mentioned above lets just be happy we have a nice 4k pristine film with a few bonus stuff. Its noting amazing but I cant fault the label for this. With a great picture and sound this film is worth upgrading even if you have a previous release.
Whoever you feel about the films subject, I still think its a worthwhile movie done by a director at the very height of his stride.
Available to buy Aug 20th