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I love this sequel to The Hustler, and I waited a long while before upgrading my DVD copy to Bluray. I was rather put off by some of the reviews that said it was one of the worst transfers around, but finally decided to go for it when it was on offer. The Bluray is actually very good, and I am sure that some of those criticising the transfer may not have seen, or perhaps can't remember what it looked like in cinemas 33 years ago. It was never a great looking film, and that look was done deliberately by Scorcese, and his cinematographer Michael Ballhaus. The grainy, hazy picture was the same in cinemas, so no amount of remastering is going to change that. In some scenes (away from the pool hall) the picture pops a great deal more, and actually looks really good. So, don't let negative reviews put you off buying this Bluray. Yes it could be better, but I think any improvement would only be marginal if it is going to retain the look that Scorcese wanted.
Excellent acting in this sequel to The Hustler, but Scorsese has a fondness for incessant noisy tuneless background music that drowns the dialogue to the extent that I had to resort to subtitles for most of the movie.
Sequels are rarely much good (except Jason Bourne) and coming after the great film The Hustler this was almost an impertinence. The plot was confused without being complicated and the film made the catastrophic mistake of making the hero thoroughly unsympathetic. The underlying theme was promising, old maestro interacting with young upstart, but there was no dynamism here, no message. I ended up disliking everyone in the film -- but they weren't meant to be disliked!
I saw this film for the first time in 2013 some 26 years after it was released in cinemas. I thought that the film was outstanding in every department. The recreation of pool halls and bars took me into another world and the music behind these scenes just adds to these ultra-realistic and yet somehow fantastical settings. With regards to the plot, as a great fan of sports movies which delve into the profound psychology of the sportsman, I found it incredible. At times it comes close to predictable and cheesy, as many sports films have done before, but I feel that Scorsese's touch adds a compelling realism to the story and as many sports fans will know, it is the unpredictable that is the most predictable; the twist at the end makes for a beautiful anti-climax to an otherwise formulaic tournament. The acting throughout captures the imagination of anyone who has played 'games' at any level. Tom Cruise's character is fresh faced and excitable and makes you feel like 9-Ball pool could be a great game to play. However, Paul Newman's character is slightly more cynical about the game, suggesting to Cruise's girlfriend that it is a game which could make them a lot of money. However, this cynicism somehow further romanticises the game. Perhaps it is the enticing nature of Newman's character which compels us to cling on to his every word, as the young and naive Cruise appears to do. Newman is slick and fast and really shows his skill as an actor through his role. Cruise appears to be outdone by Newman's experience but it soon becomes apparent that any naivety that Cruise shows is part of his character. Later on in the film, the charm of Newman's character wares thin and we begin to see him for what he really is and what the sport can do to him. He is guilty of everything that he accuses Cruise of being. For me that is the beauty of the film. It is formulaic in its approach to a sports film and it captures the relationship between a teacher and a protege with a finesse which is the result of a great director and a great cast.
This film will make you want to play 9-Ball pool just like Tom Cruise and to talk to people with the sharpness and wit of Paul Newman.
For years, I've enjoyed this movie tremendously. This is to say that I expected a lot from this new blu ray edition. Well, well. As others as noticed, the image quality could have been better, to say the least. I compared with the DVD edition and this is much better, but, given the nowadays standards, one would expect more. Colors (not of money) are often a bit washed and details could be sharper. Anywhere, for those who like this particular billard universe, this is a must see.
Great to see this film finally getting a blu ray release. The disc doesn't have any extras which is a shame considering the special edition treatment Scorsese more well known films receive, fingers crossed there's something in the future for this hidden gem.