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    Hot Pursuit

    Magna/Magna . R4 . COLOR . 89 mins . M15+ . PAL

      Feature
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    While the majority of ‘80s teen stars languish nowadays in some sort of mysterious void, or doggedly pursue tragic Z-grade acting careers (poor Molly...), there’s one in particular who made it through more than unscathed – John Cusack. From John Hughes’ fabulous 16 Candles through to possibly the greatest ‘80s teen flick there was, Better Off Dead, to its follow-up One Crazy Summer and this, Hot Pursuit, a little remembered blip on the genre’s radar, as we all know he survived to take on roles ranging from romantic lead to action hero to, umm, entrepreneurial puppeteer. And the movie world is all the better for it.

    Made in 1987, Hot Pursuit is as cliché-ridden as they come, but due almost solely to Cusack’s talent it still remains an amusing little 90-minute diversion. He plays Danny Bartlett, a college student cramming furiously for a chemistry exam, so he can get school out of the way and join his girlfriend Loree (Wendy Gazelle) and her decidedly well-off parents cruising the Caribbean on a rather luxurious boat named the Crystal Slipper. But there’s a hiccup – he flunks and needs to take a make-up test (no, we’re not talking foundation and blush), but with thanks to a somewhat cool professor he becomes free to take his break. However, a series of calamities and bad timing leads to him spending the majority of the film’s length staying one step behind the love of his life.

    If you want hackneyed plot devices, then look no further. From just missing his plane, to a trio of decidedly herbally-chilled Caribbean locals, to narrowly missing a boat, to getting decidedly sloshed and awaking on a ramshackle yacht with a somewhat eccentric captain who just stops short of preceding each utterance with "ARRRRRR!" (Robert Loggia), to riding out a massive storm, to being locked up by a non-English speaking constabulary, to... I think that gives a decent idea of some of what transpires. Flipping between comedy, a touch of drama and a bit of action flick bang’n’boom, will this young Mr Determined manage to catch up with and save his squeeze and her family from the clutches of dastardly pirates (including an utterly dreadful Ben Stiller in his first movie role)?

      Video
    Contract

    Oh goodness. A sea of grain, scratches, specks which have had time to mature into massive blobs (at one point Cusack’s head is briefly obliterated almost entirely by one), virtually no shadow detail in favour of a smeary black murk, oversaturated reds which leave sunbathers looking decidedly lobsteresque, odd outbreaks of shimmering and aliasing, and all in a cropped, full frame transfer. There really isn’t much positive which can be said about this – the US release at least utilised a 1.85:1, 16:9 enhanced print, which apparently fared a little better than this in the quality stakes. Hey, at least there’s no layer change!

      Audio
    Contract

    When released cinematically, Hot Pursuit was “recorded in Ultra Stereo”, it now wends its way to DVD with a decidedly monaural Dolby Digital 2.0 mix. If you want surround you’ll get a little with a Prologic receiver, but not enough that’s worth getting hepped up about. Whilst not spectacular in any way, dialogue is well-synched and for the most part clear if you ramp the volume up above normal levels to start with.

    The most obviously ‘80s score comes form “Rareview” – a sea of burbling digital synths with the odd terrifying outbreak of wailing guitars. There’s a welcome appearance of The Lion Sleeps Tonight at one point, and British smoothies Level 42’s Lessons in Love over the end credits, but that’s about it for music.

      Extras
    Contract

    Polly want a cracker? Well bad luck - Polly’s gonna starve...

      Overall  
    Contract

    Sure it’s all been seen before and is as predictable as rain after you’ve just washed your car, however those with a soft spot for this sort of ‘80s fare should find enough to enjoy here simply from Cusack’s fine and often decidedly silly performance. The video “quality” is criminal – and the rest of the disc isn’t a whole lot better, but bearing in mind that this is a budget release softens the blow a bit. Just don’t expect something of the calibre of Better Off Dead...


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      And I quote...
    "Clichéd, hackneyed and predictable – but the Cusack factor makes this an enjoyable little diversion despite its many flaws..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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