24th Jun2013

‘Captain America (1990)’ Blu-ray Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Matt Salinger, Ronny Cox, Scott Paulin, Ned Beatty, Darren McGavin, Michael Nouri, Kim Gillingham, Melinda Dillon, Bill Mumy, Francesca Neri | Written by Stephen Tolkin | Directed by Albert Pyun

captain-america-matt

Some twenty-odd years ago I was an unassuming teenager who used to spend most evenings trawling the shelves of my local video store looking for the next “cool movie” to rent for the night. Also some twenty-odd years ago there was a brief flurry of Marvel-themed movies that, for the most part, debuted on VHS. Albert Pyun’s Captain America was one of those movies…

Produced by Menahem Golan under his 21st Century Film Corporation banner (after he split from his producing partner Yoram Globus and the Cannon Group) Captain America was helmed by a man who, even at the time, was (and still is) one of my all-time favourite directors, Albert Pyun. At the time Pyun was on something of a hot-streak, having lensed the box office hit The Sword and the Sorceror and the DTV behemoth Cyborg, which starred Jean-Claude Van Damme fresh off his breakout hits Kickboxer and Bloodsport, yet Captain America would ultimately end up as one of Pyun’s least successful films of the period – however one that has, in the intervening years, discovered it’s own (growing) fan base.

The film sees Matt Salinger play both Steve Rogers and his heroic alter ego, Captain America – who is spawned from a World War II experiment to create “super soldiers.” Cap immediately locks horns with his Axis number, the Red Skull (Paulin), before becoming entombed in ice for the better part of the 20th century. Upon emerging from deep freeze, he discovers that the Red Skull has been fronting a crime syndicate in the employ of a rogue American military group with designs on controlling the country. Cap is subsequently forced to rescue the president (Cox) from the Skull’s clutches while also contending with the, now elderly,¬†girlfriend (Gillingham) he left behind prior to his wartime disappearance, and her look-alike daughter (also played by Gillingham).

It’s fair to say that Pyun’s Captain America¬†was plagued by production problems from the get-go. Besides the film suffering from the breakdown of the Cannon Group, the film was pulled from a much-publicised theatrical release in the US in 1990 (which was the 50th Anniversary of the character), finally re-surfacing in that territory as a direct to video release in 1992. However the film did not suffer so badly here in Europe, receiving a limited theatrical release in some territories before hitting VHS.

Released by the ever-popular Shout Factory label in the US, Captain America has been released on Blu-ray in what can only be described as a superb looking HD transfer. So good in fact that, for the first time ever (including its original release), you can actually see that the ears on Cap’s outfit – which should be those of actor Matt Salinger – are actually made out of rubber, just like the suit! There are some special features on the disc, including interviews with Pyun and Salinger, but as a huge fan of the film I’d have loved to see more. Perhaps some of the press materials released art the time, alternate covers for the original VHS releases, posters etc. Including just that little bit more would have made this release a true Collectors Edition.

Film: **** 4/5
Blu-ray: **** 4/5

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4 Responses to “‘Captain America (1990)’ Blu-ray Review”

  • Jean Pierre Freire

    This Blu Ray is an american release. It’s a Region A, can it be seen on a Region B player or not ?

    • Phil Wheat

      I have a multiregion Blu-ray player. AS far as I know this IS locked to Region A only.

      • Jean Pierre Freire

        On Bluray.com it is described that is worked on Region A and B. Can I believe it ?

  • Jean Pierre Freire

    This Blu Ray can be read on European players. I own it and my Samsung 1500 BD P can read it. It’s a REGION FREE