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Wouldn’t it be great flying through the air with the greatest of ease? Perhaps if you had a net and were on a trapeze. For all of you that are Burt Reynolds and Sally Field fans, then Hooper is the DVD for you.

Movie
Good clean fun with some smacker-upper bar room brawls. No one gets hurt per se and it is a light-hearted film that we have come to love Burt Reynolds for doing. When does an aging stunt man know when his time is up? Burt Reynolds as stunt man Sonny Hooper has been the top dog for what seems like forever and a day. He has broken all records and is famous for attempting any stunt in just one take. I personally don't think stunt men are given the real credit they deserve while making movies. We even get a couple of glimpses of Adam West as himself. While on the surface it may appear glamorous to be a stand-in starring actor, they are left with bodies that have done what most people wouldn’t think humanly impossible over the course of their lifetime.

Hooper

I bet most people would not have heard of the name A.K. Bakunas, who doubled for Burt Reynolds having dropped 232 feet in Hooper, setting a record for the highest jump without a parachute.

Sally Field as Gwen Doyle plays Burt Reynolds’ girlfriend. They have a great chemistry between them and I have always enjoyed any of their movies together. Gwen is the daughter of Jocko Doyle played by Brain Keith, a stunt man whose days have passed. I wonder; once a stunt man always a stunt man? It would certainly seem so and the mateship that is demonstrated in one that does not need words.

While taking part in a charity event, Sonny meets up with the new kid on the block who everyone is saying will be the next Sonny. Jan- Michael Vincent plays the newcomer, who goes by the name of Ski Chinski. Is Sonny ready to give up the reins?

There are some very funny scenes involving the highway patrol and whether it is faster to drive a vehicle in reverse. I would recommend you see Hooper if you simply want be entertained.

Ironically, it was while the gang was minding its own business that they get into an all-in brawl with a SWAT team that happens to be in town on a convention. A good ol' boys brawl ensues and after almost everyone gets thrown out (Jocko even threw himself out of the window, the party continues at Sonny's house). Perhaps Ski is ready to advance his career and dethrone Sonny?

Sonny is working as the stunt coordinator on a movie set directed by Roger Deal (played by Robert Klein) and invites his potential protégé to come down to the set to see if there is any work for him. Through a series of suggestions, it appears the protégé thinks he is ready to make the big time. Or is he? Budgets, production costs, director's attitudes and writers behaviour all come into play before the actual outcome of the movie.

The sole focus of Hooper now becomes the biggest, the best, stunt of all stunts initially suggested by Ski, but not in the proportions Roger Deal suggested. Will their rocket-boosted car be able to leap a bridge in a single bound? Will Gwen put up with Sonny's last stunt? What would you be willing to do for $50,000 US?

Hooper

Video
Unfortunately presented in Pan and Scan, the transfer looks good despite this obvious flaw. I especially enjoyed the outdoor scenes at Sonny's farm. The colours were clear and the horses were magnificent. Nothing like a breath of fresh country air for a little romance eh? In addition, I also like the quality of the vibrant colours at the charity event. If anyone has been to a make-believe Western town and the props and buildings included in them, then you will know what I mean when you see Hooper. One simply also has to take into account that this film was released in 1978 and technology was not anywhere like it is today. Still, it doesn’t excuse the chopped up transfer and the NTSC component. Disappointing.

Audio
Hooper includes only a Dolby 1.0 soundtrack, though the dialogue is clear at all times. Obviously there is no surround or subwoofer use at all, so it’s up to the music to try and earn some respect in the audio department.

One could also presume that based on the way he was taping his body up, he was preparing for a conflict or some kind and or to participate in American gridiron. In addition to shouting Ole, one is treated to the delightful revving of the dirt bike that Sonny used to just s-l-i-d-e under a truck with, and all on one take. Either way, I enjoyed the music right through and especially down to the last song of There's Nothing like a Hollywood Stuntman. It's a catchy sort of jingle. Who really did sing the song? I guess you will just have to hear it and see.

Extras
In my opinion, it seems that the voice of the viewers falls on deaf ears when it comes to what they might like to see as extras. While there is usually always improved sound quality or technical enhancements on a DVD, it is always enjoyable to see the extras such as deleted scenes or bloopers. After all, Dick Clark is still showing bloopers from movies and television, so there is obviously a viewing audience.

Sadly we get nothing on this release, so coupled with the Pan & Scan, NTSC transfer it’s really shaping up as a major disappointment.

Hooper

Overall
Burt Reynolds in his heyday seemed to enjoy making these types of films and Hooper is no exception. He makes even the most difficult things seem easy and one cannot miss that he loves to ham it up to the cameras. There is not only obvious chemistry with Sally Field, but a relaxed comfort with his fellow actors. One would have thought it was simply a weekend in Bert/Sonny's life. While the issues that a stunts man's life is very much in danger with each and every stunt, today's safety measures have lessened the chances of someone getting seriously injured. I wonder if the stunt men today really appreciate what it was they former generation stunt men actually did, and lived to talk about it? Would you have put your life on the line for the jump of all jumps? If you survived to talk about it, would it have been worth it?

Though the movie was enjoyable you can’t go past the Pan & Scan transfer, NTSC signal, mono audio and the complete lack of extras. There has been no effort to present this film how it should have been, so unless you’re a die hard fan the disc isn’t all that attractive.


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