Film reviews

White Fire (1984) – Blu-ray Review

In a film that opens with a family of four running through the woodland, away from armed soldiers, knowing that their doom most likely awaits… would you expect that same film to feature a chainsaw vs. meat hook battle over diamond theft in Turkey? White Fire is indeed robust with crazed scenarios and occurrences, establishing itself as a legitimately wild low-budget American-European action film, now available from Arrow Video in a damn impressive Blu-ray set.. 

Released in 1984 under the title Vivre Pour Survivre, White Fire (as we know it) explores the crooked ongoings of siblings Bo (Robert Ginty) and Ingrid Donnelly (Belinda Mayne), both of whom are involved in the mining for diamonds hidden within the depths of Turkey. The siblings, however, operate their crimes under the instruction and leadership of Sam (Jess Hahn) – a father figure to them both from a young age. Their latest mission entails the theft of diamonds from their own employer – the corrupt organisation behind the mining – which subsequently leads to peril like none other after the discovery of the White Fire, a legendary radioactive diamond, which is literally bright as f*ck. To brighten things further, halfway through White Fire is the introduction of Noah Barclay, a player and badass, wonderfully executed (as expected) by Fred Williamson.    

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As one would naturally assume, White Fire is full of danger, delight, and more danger. It is an action film full of ridiculous dialogue, set pieces, and effects. Plus ridiculous logic. But this is all to be expected when dealing with the likes of The Exterminator’s Robert Ginty and Black Caesar’s Fred Williamson during the cultural height of B-movie action on VHS. Ginty is cool, but The Hammer (Williamson’s NFL nickname) is much cooler. As explained on the Blu-ray’s extras, Ginty has plenty of one-liners and coolness, but he lacks the physicality despite being a tough guy in White Fire, whereas Williamson is the opposite in having next to no one-liners, but instead has the look to sell his physicality, something that stems from his NFL days, and has progressed all throughout his film career, from Blaxploitation to From Dusk till Dawn and beyond.  

As for restoration and upgrades go, the evolution to HD does take its time to seem impressive and spectacular, but of course, when the source footage is naturally weaker or cheap, world-class results shouldn’t realistically be expected. Early on, for example, the non-apparent upgrade is almost embarrassing, yet when the story progresses to “20 years later” in Turkey, there is a clear upgrade, which is beautiful and admirable. Perhaps the most impressive of sequences in terms of visual quality are any involving Fred Williamson’s Noah, especially when he fights. Despite obvious dubs, the audio is of a great quality too – the standout being the frequent placement of the title track performed by Limelight.

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The real diamonds within this package are the interviews with actor Fred Williamson, editor Bruno Zincone, and director Jean-Marie Pallardy. The interviews at hand go way beyond White Fire itself, as they individually contextualise their own backgrounds in filmmaking and the process of producing a film like White Fire. The greatest aspect: the interviews vary and there is no repetition of content. The fun egotism of Williamson will forever be a charm, though the humbleness of Zincone is full of character; but the most intriguing of the lot can only be Pallardy’s interview. The eccentric Frenchman provides terrific insight to the finances and logistics of White Fire, but more stunning is his involvement in film eroticism. Comically, he saw his name immediately linked to sex no matter what his film’s genre, but this insight of his involvement in erotica and sleaze, however, does contextualise a significant amount of White Fire’s central controversies… 

Once again, and to no surprises, the White Fire Blu-ray is another fantastic release from Arrow Video. From the film itself to the three interviews, audio commentary and trailer available, this package boasts a powerful amount of content ready to be fought over by collectors ranging from those in support of European cinema, to those who love the art of filmmaking and beyond. 

White Fire is out now on Blu-ray from Arrow Video.

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