Maniac Cop 2 (4K UHD Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Dec 07, 2021
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Maniac Cop 2 (4K UHD Review)

Director

William Lustig

Release Date(s)

1990 (November 16, 2021)

Studio(s)

Live Entertainment (Blue Underground)
  • Film/Program Grade: B
  • Video Grade: A
  • Audio Grade: A
  • Extras Grade: A

Maniac Cop 2 (4K UHD Disc)

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Review

After hitting the Grindhouse scene with the controversial Maniac and the underappreciated Vigilante, director William Lustig was forced into a brief hiatus after being unable to get any new projects off the ground. He finally returned in 1988 with Maniac Cop, written by his friend and fellow filmmaker Larry Cohen. Two years later, Maniac Cop 2 came to pass with the same writing and directing team. Picking up where the first film left off, Cordell (the maniacal cop in question) has somehow survived his deadly ending and he’s still out for vengeance. With a higher budget, the filmmakers managed to pull off a sequel that many feel is better than the original.

Another great cast is in place, including the late Robert Z’Dar as the titular patrolman with a penchant for homicide. Unfortunately, Tom Atkins is absent this time around, but Bruce Campbell and Laurene Landon return to reprise their roles, albeit briefly. Replacing them is Robert Davi and Claudia Christian as lieutenant Sean McKinney and psychiatrist and police offer Susan Riley, respectively. Also joining the cast are Michael Lerner as the deputy commissioner attempting to keep Cordell and his deadly rampage under wraps, the late Charles Napier and Clarence Williams III, Leo Rossi (whom horror fans will instantly recognize from Halloween II), and even small roles for Sam Raimi, Frank Pesce, and Danny Trejo.

Although the film contains many of the best highs of the Maniac Cop series as a whole, including Riley being handcuffed to the steering wheel of a car and dragged downhill (try breathing during this scene), Maniac Cop 2 isn’t quite as sustainable as its predecessor. Because the film goes deeper into Cordell’s backstory, even attempting to curry sympathy for how he became who he is, it loses a bit of bite in the process. Despite that, there’s still plenty of B movie enjoyment to be had, including many memorable car chases and fire stunts, including Cordell being set ablaze inside a prison and still managing to off a few people while fully engulfed. Leo Rossi’s character adds a nice layer of texture to the story as well. William Lustig was on record at one time as saying that Maniac Cop 2 was his finest work. That’s debatable, but it’s still a worthy follow-up.

Maniac Cop 2 was shot by director of photography James Lemmo on 35 mm film using Panavision cameras and lenses, finished photochemically, and framed at the 1.85:1 aspect ratio (though the film went straight to video in the US). Blue Underground’s 4K Ultra HD presentation is sourced from a native 4K scan of the original camera negative with grading for High Dynamic Range (HDR10 and Dolby Vision options are available). This is the same scan used for the Collector’s Edition Blu-ray from 2013, but now newly-restored with Lemmo’s supervision. Obvious improvements include better grain management and higher levels of detail, the former being heavy but mostly well-controlled throughout (a few nighttime shots still manage to spike significantly). The most apparent difference between the previous Blu-ray and this new 4K presentation is the reframing of many shots throughout the film. Not much is gained, as its just more information along the edges, but some shots center their subjects within the frame better. The palette is also a little warmer, with less of a green push. The new HDR pass enhances colors and shadows, widening the gamut and deepening many shades of red, blue, and green, among others. The image is stable and free of any obvious leftover damage. What’s more, since it was supervised by the cinematographer, it’s likely definitive.

Audio is presented in a new English Dolby Atmos track (7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible) and an English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track. The Atmos mix features excellent movement across the sound field, particularly the height and rear channels, with muscular directionality. There’s a terrific use of ambience given the bustling “New York” street activity (though the film was mostly shot in Los Angeles), allowing for greater immersion. Dialogue exchanges are clear and discernible, Jay Chattaway’s score pulses along nicely, and various sound effects, both large and small, are given the proper amount of heft, with potent LFE to back everything up. The stereo track is a nice alternative, but the Atmos track is clearly the star of the show. Subtitle options include English SDH, French (Canadian), Spanish (Latin), Portuguese (Brazil), Spanish (Castilian), German, Italian, Mandarin (Traditional), Mandarin (Simplified), Korean, Japanese, Russian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish.

Maniac Cop 2’s 4K Ultra HD disc sits inside a black Amaray case alongside a Blu-ray disc of the film. It’s the same 2013 Blu-ray disc, presented in 1080p with audio options in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround EX, and English 2.0 Dolby Digital. The artwork uses the home video poster artwork, as does the embossed slipcover which houses everything. The following extras are included on each disc.

DISC ONE (UHD)

  • Isolated Music Track in 2.0 DTS-HD
  • Audio Commentary with William Lustig and Nicolas Winding Refn
  • International Trailer (HD – 1:44)
  • UK Teaser (HD – :34)
  • French Trailer (HD – 1:44)
  • German Trailer (HD – 1:44)

DISC TWO (BD)

  • Isolated Music Track in 2.0 DTS-HD
  • Audio Commentary with William Lustig and Nicolas Winding Refn
  • Back on the Beat: The Making of Maniac Cop 2 (HD – 46:52)
  • Cinefamily Q&A with Director William Lustig (HD – 28:36)
  • Deleted Scene – The Evening News with Sam Raimi (SD – 1:31)
  • International Trailer (HD – 1:43)
  • UK Teaser (HD – :33)
  • French Trailer (HD – 1:42)
  • German Trailer (HD – 1:42)
  • Poster & Still Gallery (HD – 201 in all)
  • Easter Egg (SD – 2:40)

Both discs feature the same 2013 audio commentary with William Lustig and Nicolas Winding Refn, who for years was reportedly doing a remake of Maniac Cop. Since the two are close friends, they discuss the film together at length. Lustig does most of the talking, but Refn occasionally asks him questions about the production in a very casual and curious manner. It’s a great commentary, and one can never listen to William Lustig talk about filmmaking too much. Back on the Beat: The Making of Maniac Cop 2 is a great documentary on the making of and retrospective on the film by Red Shirt Pictures, featuring interviews with William Lustig, writer Larry Cohen, actors Claudia Christian, Robert Davi, Michael Lerner, Leo Rossi, Robert Z’Dar, special make-up effects creator Dean Gates, stunt coordinator Spiro Razatos, and composer Jay Chattaway. The Cinefamily Q&A with William Lustig occurred on September 14, 2012 in Los Angeles after a screening of the film. The Deleted Scene features a Sam Raimi news segment that didn’t make it into the final film. Both discs also include a slew of trailers for the film. The Poster & Still Gallery features 201 images of posters, advertising materials, lobby cards, color and black and white production stills, behind-the-scenes stills, and video cover artwork. An Easter egg can be found on the Blu-ray by clicking left in the Extras menu, which will highlight the picture of the maniac cop in yellow. Press enter and you’ll be treated to a vintage Movie Time promotional featurette that includes behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with Robert Davi, Robert Z’Dar, Leo Rossi, Michael Lerner, and William Lustig. A couple of overseas DVD releases include a video trailer for the film, but otherwise, everything from previous releases of the film are present and accounted for.

Another great release from Blue Underground, the 4K Ultra HD presentation of Maniac Cop 2 is excellent, as is the extras package. As with virtually all of the company’s releases, this one also comes highly recommended.

- Tim Salmons

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