Paramount Home Media has remastered Ernest R. Dickerson’s film Juice (1992) in 4k for release on Ultra HD Blu-ray to celebrate the film’s 30th Anniversary. The combo edition with 4k disc and Digital Copy hit stores on Tuesday, January 11, 2022, along with the much-anticipated disc release of Dune (2021) and thriller Halloween Kills (2021). Juice in 4k is available in a standard Ultra HD Blu-ray edition (pictured above) and 4k Blu-ray SteelBook (pictured below).
Director Ernest R. Dickinson (who was known for his cinematography work with Spike Lee) wanted to make a film noir movie about kids 17 or 18 years old. He also wanted to address the idea of younger kids getting easier access to guns and the repercussions that follow.
As well as directing, Dickinson wrote the story and co-wrote the screenplay with Gerard Brown. What resulted is an almost Shakespearean tale of four youths who get split apart by one who decides (maybe against his moral conscience) that in order to survive he must even kill his closest friends.
In Juice, Tupac Shakur makes his debut acting as Roland Bishop, along with Omar Epps as Quincy “Q” Powell, Khalil Kain as Raheem Porter, and Jermaine Hopkins as Eric “Steel” Thurman. There are also appearances by Samuel L. Jackson and Queen Latifah, and cameos by artists like Fab 5 Freddy, adding to the film even more cinematic legacy.
Juice was remastered in 4k and new digital intermediate was produced for this Ultra HD Blu-ray release celebrating 30 years since the movie debuted in theaters. The 4k video is enhanced with Dolby Vision and HDR10, allowing up to 10-bits of color depth vs. 8-bit on traditional Blu-ray.
Dickinson wanted the movie to be gritty and realistic (and it is!) but that doesn’t mean low quality video as it might for other films. Given Dickerson’s experience as cinematographer for episodes of Tales from the Darkside and Law & Order, he was able to pull off some really great shots (even in low lighting) that stand up well on the most scrupulous of 4k TVs.
The bitrates of the HEVC video are really high, dropping at one point to 30Mbps but for the most part in the 60 – 70Mbps range. That’s higher than many other 4k Blu-rays we have reviewed. There is a little bit of grain especially in the interiors and exteriors where there is a lot of shadow, but the grain is at least consistent and not a distraction.
The best thing about this 4K presentation is probably the 10-bit color from Dolby Vision & HDR10. The colorist did a nice job keeping the film very realistic while boosting colors in some moments where the palette is really robust. For example, on the street when Raheem is wearing an orange jacket and holding a yellow EPMD album. Another great shot for color is when Q is standing in line with dozens of other DJs. HDR also opened up many shadow areas in the film that were jammed up with lack of detail in the Blu-ray presentation.
The audio on the 4k Blu-ray presentation is offered in lossless 24-bit DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 at 48 kHz. This isn’t an upgrade from the previous Blu-ray edition in 2017 (and unfortunately neither is the cover art for the standard “plastic” 4k edition). The audio played at low bitrates of around 1.8Mbps but generally in the 2.2 to 2.8Mbps range.
The audio quality in Juice doesn’t exactly compete with other 7.1 and Dolby Atmos 4k Blu-ray releases, but nevertheless may be appropriate for its genre. The DJ battle is one of those scenes that has an interesting mix, albeit not as bass-heavy as one might like. It is a club after all, and the mix is fairly timid for what we might expect even with subwoofers cranked. All the dialogue was well mixed though, and the young actors still impress with their delivery in this fairly low-budget for the time (if you consider $5M low budget for 1991).
You will definitely want to dive into the bonus material (provided on the 4k Blu-ray) if you haven’t seen them before. The extras give you plenty of backstory about the making of the film and how the cast all seemed to gel. These are the previously-released extras that yo get.
- Audio Commentary by director Ernest R. Dickerson
- You’ve Got the Juice Now
- The Wrecking Crew
- Sip the Juice: The Music
- Stay in the Scene: The Interview
- Photo Gallery
The 4k 2160p video with Dolby Vision & HDR10 provides a substantial upgrade to the previous 1080p image. That alone is the reason to pick up Juice remastered in 4k. But Juice is also a timeless film. Even though created 30 years ago the movie is still relevant — a testament to the excellent story and screenplay by Dickerson that was somehow (at the time) ignored by most honorary organizations. Perhaps now the film in 4k will receive more of the accolades it deserves.
3/5 (previously released)