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Release Date: July 27th, 2010 Movie Release Year: 1989

Johnny Handsome

Overview -

From the director of 48 Hours, this hard-edged drama follows John Sedley (Oscar nominee Mickey Rourke; Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, The Wrestler, 2008) as a petty gangster whose facial deformities earned him the nickname "Johnny Handsome." When Johnny and a friend are double-crossed during a robbery by their two partners, his friend is killed and Johnny is sent to prison. However, inside jail, a sympathetic surgeon makes a deal to give Johnny a new face and a new shot at life. Once on the outside, Johnny discovers that staying straight isn't easy as his new look opens the door for revenge. The Blu-ray Disc features brand new bonus materials including three featurettes: "Noir in Nawlins" - an in-depth look at the film's evocative cinematography by Matthew Leonetti and how he created a modern film noir on the streets of New Orleans, "Double Crosser" - an all new interview with actor Lance Henriksen on his memorable role as the treacherous Rafe Garrett and "Dark Notes" - an all-new profile of composer Ry Cooder on his brooding score and his long history with director Walter Hill.

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Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
25GB Blu-ray Disc
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p/MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect Ratio(s):
Audio Formats:
French: Dolby Digital 2.0
English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Release Date:
July 27th, 2010

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take


If there was ever a more ironic nickname I don't know of it, because Johnny Handsome (played by Mickey Rourke, 'The Wrestler') is one ugly guy. He looks like a cross between that two-mouthed monster in an 'X-Files' episode I remember, and Sloth from 'The Goonies.' He was born with so many deformities that you'd feel bad if he caught you looking at him at all. I guess that's why he turned to a life of crime. He's got nothing to live for, no regular prospects, so stealing seems as good a career choice as any. I'm sure poor Johnny never counted on the fact that the low-life criminal under belly of Louisiana would be relentless in making fun of his deformities, but he doesn't seem to care. All he has is his uncanny ability to plan smash-and-dash burglary jobs.

After planning and executing a job to rip-off a local rare coin dealer, Johnny and his best and most accepting friend Mikey are double-crossed by the other members of the team. Shot and left for dead, or the police, whoever gets there first, Mikey dies, and Johnny is sent to prison.

While his mortal enemies are living it up on the outside with the stolen loot, Johnny finds himself being harassed by local police officer Lt. A.Z. Drones (Morgan Freeman, 'Invictus' ). Drones is convinced Johnny is just a bad seed, it has nothing to do with the way he looks, just the way he is.

Johnny is befriended by a friendly surgeon named Dr. Steven Fisher (Forest Whitaker, 'Vantage Point' ) who takes a somewhat creepy interest in Johnny. I'm still not sure exactly why Dr. Fisher did what he did, because I've never seen doctors beating down the doors of convicts to give them surgeries for free, but who knows. Dr. Fisher has devised a new, state-of-the-art facial reconstruction surgery that can completely fix Johnny's ugly mug. Again, why? Dr. Fisher rattles off some mumbo-jumbo about how rehabilitation works better if the person looks different or something. None of that matters, you just have to know that the kind and benevolent Dr. Fisher changes Johnny from Sloth to a dashing, young version of Bruce Willis (Sidenote: Isn't it amazing how much young Mickey Rourke and young Bruce Willis resembled one another? It's uncanny. They could be brothers!).

With his new face and newfound sense of worth, because beauty is the most important thing, Johnny sets out to get revenge on the numbskulls who wronged him in the first place. Rourke dives in head first into the role. First giving us a lisp-ridden Johnny who can't talk right because of a cleft palette, and then transforming into a smooth greaser who looks like he could step onto the set of 'Grease,' with Travolta.

'Johnny Handsome' is the same old revenge flick you've seen over and over, and the twist with him receiving a new face doesn't add much to the story at all. The story is conventional and silly, with its only redeeming factor being the fact that we get to see Mickey Rourke acting in his younger days before he decided to leave and get his face bashed in as a boxer. He really was a talented young actor and his portrayal of Johnny Handsome showcases quite a bit of his acting ability. It's just too bad that it's sandwiched between a fairly subpar, predictable movie.

Video Review


Blech. That's one way to describe the 1080p transfer of 'Johnny Handsome' provided by Lionsgate.

First off, the entire image seems flat, lacking depth or much detail at all. Skintones waver all over the place from semi-natural, do downright sickly yellow coloring. Source noise is a constant nuisance, with not only white blips popping up, but giant black flecks and spots that appear quite often. Contrast is all over the place. Blacks are not black, but only different shades of gray. Shadows swallow up faces and objects. A particularly bad sequence happens right near the end where it seems we are all of a sudden watching a different reel of film or something. Morgan Freeman turns a reddish color, is covered by a sick amount of grain, and starts disappearing into the gray night. All the while he's being attacked by endless amounts of noise that threatens to gobble him up completely. There's nothing about this transfer that screams high definition. I never saw the movie on DVD, but can't think that this would be much of an upgrade. The entire movie ranges from mediocre to dastardly. Skin looks waxy like DNR was applied. The image is bland, the colors enter flat-land, and fine detail is almost non-existent.

I get that this is an older catalog title, but why even bring this to Blu-ray if it's going to look this bad?

Audio Review


The 2.0 (yes I said 2.0) Master Audio presentation isn't nearly as bad as the video, but leaves quite a lot to be desired.

Sound effects, including car crashes, gunshots, breaking glass (during the opening scene the breaking glass sounds downright buggy), and explosions sound like they were created inside a giant tin can. Resonance is completely lacking here. Sounds just happen, they don't stick around rumbling through the room. Dialogue is a muted affair. Rourke's lisped lines before his surgery are damn near impossible to hear at any volume level.

I've made the entire audio presentation sound pretty bad, which it kind of is. Even with its stunted stereo soundfield it's still more entertaining than the frustrating video that accompanies it, but all around this is an anemic Blu-ray offering from Lionsgate.

Special Features

  • Still Gallery – Take a look at a few stills in the still gallery.
  • Trailer (SD, 2 min.) – The original trailer is provided.

Final Thoughts

I don't really get why Dr. Fisher gave Johnny a new face, maybe he's just a kind-hearted surgeon who works pro-bono when he sees such a hideous monstrosity. Maybe his ego is so huge that fixing a person's face makes him feel batter. Who cares! All I know is that he fixed Johnny's face, which enabled Johnny to plan his revenge. Happy story all around, too bad it lacks any sort of heart. At least we get to see a young Rourke with some great acting chops. Along with the weak story this Blu-ray comes with terrible video, so-so audio, and a scrawny pack of extras. Skip it.