The Specialist (1994)
By: Devon B. on September 1, 2013 | Comments
Warner Bros. | Region B | 1.85:1., 1080p | English DTS-HD MA 5.1 | 110 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Luis Llosa
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, James Woods, Rod Steiger, Eric Roberts
Screenplay: Alexandra Seros
Country: USA
Sharon Stone deserves some credit in the action genre. She's appeared with most of the greats: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Steven Seagal….Michael Douglas. Maybe that last one isn't so great, but she did also appear alongside Carl Weathers, so that should count in her favour.

In The Specialist she is a love interest for Stallone, but the question is whether she just wants his prick or whether she wants to prick him like she was wielding an icepick. The film starts with Stallone and James Woods as demolition army guys or something, and Woods is a jerk demolition army guy (or something). They have a conflict while on the job, which leads to a rather forceful dissolution of their team. Years later and Stallone is some sort of explosives for hire guy. Stone wants to hire Stallone to blow up the people that murdered her family, but Stallone is reluctant to accept employment from her because he doesn't normally do that kind of work and also he's not sure if he can trust her. Woods is connected with Stallone's potential targets, so things get complicated.

I don't know if I'd seen The Specialist before, but I may well have and just forgot the whole viewing experience because this one is particularly unmemorable. It's more a ponderous thriller than an action movie, though there is a bit more action towards the end of the film. There's a rather forced fight scene designed to show how tough Stallone is, but really not a lot of note happens, even after things pick up during the climax. This doesn't really feel like a Stallone movie, I only noticed a few understated quips, so it's not much of a surprise that it wasn't really a vehicle for him. The Specialist was offered to Steven Seagal first, but I'm not sure what changes Stevie would've brought to make the movie his own, because it doesn't feel like a Stevie movie either.

The best thing about the movie is definitely Woods, turning in another solid performance as the unhinged villain. I would say Woods stole the movie, but there wasn't much to steal. It's more like he made the movie slightly more palpable, so my interest was certainly much higher whenever Woods was on screen than off. Also on hand is Eric Roberts, best known for being eaten on South Park. I'm not a fan of Roberts, or his sister for that matter, but I didn't find him too annoying in The Specialist. Except it looked like he was wearing Lego hair, so someone really should've fixed that before letting him in front of the camera.

Roberts' hair isn't the only unusual element, because there appears to be a body double for Stone in a few scenes. I couldn't work out why anyone would cast Stone if she was no longer willing to de-robe, and got even more confused when she appeared naked later in the film. Maybe the earlier nude moments were inserted later as a desperate ploy to keep the viewers' waning attention, but all they did was befuddle me.

Somebody with the surname Estefan was in charge of the soundtrack, which should be a warning to detractors of Miami Sound Machine. Not only do they have two songs on the soundtrack, but its members had a hand in most of the film's music. I'm not sure that a kickass soundtrack would've saved The Specialist, but this lameass one doesn't do it any favours. At least "Rhythm is Gonna Get You" is thankfully absent.

The Specialist needed tightening, and this meandering film is nowhere near tense enough to be a successful thriller. It's not total rubbish, but it's also not worth watching.
The Disc
The movie's not that good, but its transfer is. The print sports plenty of detail and is very clean and clear. The audio is an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, and like the video this is a high quality transfer, but the track isn't all that exciting, and not just because of all the Miami Sound Machine stuff. This is not an action heavy movie to start with, and surround sound was still in its infancy. It's a clear track, there's just not a whole lot to it. Some of the explosions sounded good, at least. There're also lossy French, German and Italian 5.1 dubs as well as Spanish, Castilian and Portuguese 2.0 dubs. A trailer for The Specialist is the only extra.
The Verdict
The Blu-ray transfer is good quality, but that's hardly a reason to pick up such an unengaging film. I wouldn't recommend the movie to action fans, and I can't imagine anyone being impressed with it as a thriller.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
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