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Feature


Yes it’s time for another one of my patented mini reviews! October has been a bumper month for Blu-ray releases and we’ve all had a lot on our plates. Ordinarily I’d have passed a film like Dirty Dancing over to one of my colleagues, but this time around I took pity on them (and it had nothing to do with my wife's threats of physical violence should I give the disc away). Anyway, there’s not really much to say about this perennial eighties favourite that hasn’t already been said before, so I’m going to skip the movie critique and head straight for the technical assessment of this special 'Keepsake Edition'. If you really want to read more about the feature itself I’ve linked to Gabe Powers’ review of the US release at the bottom of this page.

Video


Visually the Blu-ray disc is a huge improvement over the appalling original release, which features one of the worst visual transfers I’ve ever seen. The colour rendition on the older disc is incredibly suspect (including some ridiculously oversaturated skin tones), littered with print debris, has an overall lack of detail and some truly awful aliasing artefacts. Thankfully just about the only thing this new release has in common with the old Blu-ray is the aspect ratio, as the 1.78:1 widescreen (1080/24p AVC) transfer is leaps and bounds ahead of the old version in almost every respect. Colours are more natural, the print is generally much cleaner and the hideous aliasing artefacts are nowhere to be seen. It still suffers from some of the unavoidable problems inherent to the source and it's not up to the standards of some of the more impressive Blu-ray releases, but it's definitely the best the film has ever looked. We weren't supplied with the standard-definition disc to review, but I can only imagine that it comes from the same master and should look proportionately better than old DVD releases.

Audio


My audio recollection isn't as good as my video, but from what I remember the old Blu-ray featured a pretty lacklustre PCM 6.1 soundtrack. This new release technically goes one better with a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 effort, but it's still not going to lift the roof off. Fidelity isn’t quite what it could be—especially the dialogue, which occasionally sounds canned—and the sound field isn’t particularly expansive, but the various musical numbers do at least give the surrounds something to do. While the aforementioned dialogue isn’t as crisp as I’d like it is at least audible throughout, even during the more hectic musical numbers. Bass is virtually none-existent, but there’s not a whole lot of call for thumping low-end in a film like this. Again this is a definite improvement on the old Blu-ray, but don’t go expecting an aural revelation.

Extras


Presumably released to commemorate the life of Patrick Swayze (I chose to look at it that way, as the alternative is rather distasteful) this edition of the film arrives as a three-disc DVD/Blu-ray combi pack that contains more bonus material than any sane person could realistically want—or need—to sit through. Honestly, there really is an astounding amount of supplemental stuff crammed onto the discs, from the original commentary tracks, through vintage featurettes, a trivia track, interviews, deleted scenes, auditions and much, much more. The newest features concentrate on the recent passing of Patrick Swayze, offering a tribute to the late actor (and some of the other actors who worked on the film). It’s about as comprehensive a package as I’ve ever seen for any single release of film and it should delight Dirty Dancing fans.

Overall


Dirty Dancing is a divisive film, at least in my house. My other half loves it, whereas I am fairly indifferent. If I’m completely honest I wouldn’t watch it out of choice, but I can see why it has such a massive following among a certain demographic. Technically this is the best version of the film to appear on a home format yet, with the video transfer alone being worth the upgrade for die-hard fans. It’s easy to recommend this release to anyone who loves the film, but I wouldn’t get it as a blind-buy for your husband!

* Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.

 Dirty Dancing: The Keepsake Edition Mini Review
 Dirty Dancing: The Keepsake Edition Mini Review
 Dirty Dancing: The Keepsake Edition Mini Review
 Dirty Dancing: The Keepsake Edition Mini Review
 Dirty Dancing: The Keepsake Edition Mini Review
 Dirty Dancing: The Keepsake Edition Mini Review
 Dirty Dancing: The Keepsake Edition Mini Review
 Dirty Dancing: The Keepsake Edition Mini Review


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