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  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL 45:00)
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Italian: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • German: Dolby Digital Stereo
    English, French, Spanish, German, Greek, Russian, Dutch, Arabic, Portuguese, Turkish, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Animated menus

Rumble Fish

Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 90 mins . M15+ . PAL


Based on S.E. Hinton’s novel of the same name, Rumble Fish tells the story of Rusty James, played by a young and very stylish Matt Dillon (if the 80s are your thing, that is), who is trying to live up to his missing brother’s reputation as a gang leader in a small town. Rusty James’ brother, The Motorcycle Boy, played by a spunky young Mickey Rourke, former gang leader, had ceased gang ‘rumbles’ before his departure, yet Rusty James needs to do something and breaks this truce in a fight with Bill Wilcox, seriously injuring himself. This moment though marks the entrance of The Motorcycle Boy and his rather vacant return to this little town, saving the day and his brother’s life.

His brother has experienced a whole new world whilst away and appears rather dreamy and empty back home. His brother’s return marks the start of Rusty James’ journey of self discovery as his shallow relationships crumble, friendships change, loyalties are strengthened and ultimately he is able to see beyond his brother’s alias and reputation.

Like S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, Rumble Fish is a richly layered work that is portrayed well on screen, including a superbly told story that is able to grab the audience and drag them through the duration without prior knowledge of the texts necessary. This reviewer can remember studying The Outsiders back in high school, and found Rumble Fish to be in a similar vein of storytelling, and one that is made to be thoroughly enjoyable. While both written by the same author, and films directed by the same director, don’t get confused and think that these films are interrelated. They are both great cinematic feats, and well worthy of a night’s entertainment each, and unique in their own right.

Featuring knockout performances from Dillon, Rourke and the beautiful Diane Lane, not to mention strength from Nicolas Cage and mystery from Laurence Fishbourne, Rumble Fish is a great example of teenage actors grasping complex teenage roles and soaring high with them.


Filmed nearly entirely in black and white, this film from 1983 doesn’t live up too well on DVD with a few rather frustrating annoyances. Presented in an anamorphically enhanced widescreen aspect of 1.78:1, Rumble Fish is full of grain, low level noise and film artefacts. More than you can poke a stick at. The usual specks and spots go past and in comparison to other artefacts, these are the least of your worries. Sadly, simple scratches as well as more complex source print damage is visible at times during the film and gives the transfer a rather sad look. Colour, in the odd occasion where it is used, is vividly painted, capturing that rather surreal saturation of the early 80s. As with many of Universal’s transfers, aliasing is disturbingly apparent and when combined with the constant display of artefacts, creates a rather distracting image to watch. The cinematography, reminiscent of Coppola’s Koyaanisqatsi, admittedly is aesthetically interesting, yet these issues in the transfer restrict the exquisite beauty to shine through. The subtitles, presented in a swarm of languages, are rather abridged from the actual dialogue and at times makes them feel rather wasted given the quality of the audio. The font, quite techno-type, is definitely not fitting for the genre of film, and takes up a fair whack of space compared to a nicer sans serif font, which may have actually led to including more complete lines.


The Dolby Digital 5.1 English audio is your prime listening option and sadly it’s a little below par. Dialogue is predominantly clear, however just gets totally drowned when effects come in which ring loudly from every effects speaker. The keyword which this 5.1 mix requires is ‘subtlety’. So keep that remote handy because she’ll be going up and down more times than an elevator operator. Definition of the sound is a little shallow at times, creating the effect of noise rather than a mastered soundtrack, and with no option of a stereo or mono track in sight, this slightly flawed track is all we have to play with.


16:9 enhanced menus start the disc off and enable you to access Rumble Fish’s only extra of a theatrical trailer directly from the main menu.


Coppola creates an artistically stylised world with the qualities of film noir cinema thrown in a tumble drier with 80s fashions. Beautifully shot in the cynical look of black and white, Rumble Fish gradually unfolds on screen with well-paced drama and a warm story that is accessible on many layers. It is just a pity that Universal’s transfer isn’t up to scratch as this is what is truly holding this film back.

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      And I quote...
    "Fumble which?"
    - Martin Friedel
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-NS530
    • TV:
          Sharp SX76NF8 76cm Widescreen
    • Speakers:
          Sony SS-CNP2
    • Centre Speaker:
          Sony SS-MSP2
    • Surrounds:
          Sony SS-MSP2
    • Subwoofer:
          Sony SA-WMSP3
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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