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Cliffhanger: Collector's Edition

Cliffhanger has one of the most harrowing scenes in all cinema, and even the editor of the film, Frank Urioste, admits on the DVD's audio commentary that the opening scene is better than the rest of the movie (but then he realizes what he is saying and immediately backpedals). But the entire plot of Cliffhanger is simple and direct. Gabe Walker (Sylvester Stallone) is a Rocky Mountain Rescue climber who has lost his nerve. When Gabe comes back after a long absence to fetch his stuff, he is lured by his girlfriend Jessie (Janine Turner) into helping out their pal Tucker (Michael Rooker). Tucker is on a mission to rescue five stranded climbers — except they aren't climbers, they're a group of hi-tech thieves led by the icy Qualen (John Lithgow), all stuck in the middle of a failed hijacking of Treasury Department bills. The rest of the movie concerns Stallone as he tries to get to each of three cash-filled suitcases first, and save Hal in the process. As primarily a boys' adventure film, with little in the way of humor, Cliffhanger is well-executed and excessive — the kind of film you either get on for the full ride or you have zero interest in ever seeing at all. And for those who are interested, Columbia TriStar's "Collector's Edition" DVD comes packed with information, which a small minority of its viewers may find disillusioning, as the commentaries reveal almost all the tricks of the film. There are two audio commentary tracks, one with (mostly) director Renny Harlin, with a little bit of Stallone, who was recorded at a different time. The second audio track is with editor Frank Urioste, special-effects team Neil Krepela and John Bruno, and production designer John Vallone — a highly informative commentary, even when the speakers are denying the existence of obvious mistakes. Cliffhanger is one of those guilty pleasures; knowing it is absurd, you gobble it up anyway, while deeply, deeply loving both its technique and its take on the world. Solid anamorphic transfer (2.35:1), DD 5.1. "Making-of" documentary, trailer, director intro, deleted scenes, special effects featurettes, storyboard comparisons, photo galleries, and cast-and crew notes. Keep-case.
—D.K. Holm

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(Editor's note: Cliffhanger was previously issued on DVD by Columbia TriStar without the special features.)

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