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Tuff Turf (1985) - Blu-ray Review

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Tuff Turf (1985)

These are the secrets of the night! 

For one high school senior, being the new kid in town just might get his ass tangled in all those secrets.  Hell, his first night in town has him biking through the streets of Los Angeles and, in a rather amusing but heroic way, stop a mugging via beer can.  Already he’s tangling with a psychotic and possessive gang leader and making eyes his girlfriend.  Or is she making eyes at him?  Either way, trouble is dead ahead.

"Spader is charming and Downey steals the scenes he is in with his wit and timing"

Tuff Turf, starring James Spader in a breakout role, the sizzling Kim Richards, Paul Mones, and Robert Downey Jr, might be aimed for Reagan-era teens, but the film holds up surprisingly well.  Directed by Fritz Kiersch (Children of the Corn, Gor) and released by Roger Corman’s New World Pictures,  Tuff Turf takes its West Side Story themes seriously and creates some serious drama for one rich kid as he winds up moving from Connecticut (when his Dad loses his job) to LA and struggles to find his way.

Morgan Hiller (Spader) might be spoiled and used to the yacht club life, but he’s not a bad dude.  He just always seems to get his ass in trouble.  So, in retaliation for his earlier heroic deeds (the scene that kicks the movie off), the gang goes after his $500 bike and pretty much make sure his ass is hoofing it around Los Angeles for the rest of the school year.  But, when he stumbles upon a warehouse party where his new school friend, Jimmy Parker (Downey), is playing drums for The Jim Carroll Band (The Basketball Diaries), Morgan decides to make his move on Frankie (Richards).  In the dangerous streets and school hallways of one Los Angeles school. 

What follows are punk rock line dances as Frankie tries to get away, a lip-synching Spader, and plenty of fashion no-nos.  But it all works to create a love story from across the tracks as Richards soon realizes that her old boyfriend is more dangerous than your usual school bully and decides to give Spader a chance.  But, with Nick (Mones) and his gang of thugs in hot pursuit, can they make a successful run for it hand-in-hand?Tuff Turf (1985)

While Tuff Turf might not be the best of what the 1980s had to offer in the way of teenage drama, it certainly isn’t all that cheesy either.  Spader is charming and Downey steals the scenes he is in with his wit and timing.  There are also some hard-hitting scenes and moments of teenage tension that makes Tuff Turf, while not necessary for your 80s cine-cation, a secondary feature should your interest go there.

Welcome back to the place where reputations are earned.  Tuff Turf, with a brand new 2K scan, is now on blu-ray thanks to Kino Lorber Studio Classics.

3/5 beers

Tuff Turf (1985)


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Kino Lorber
Available on Blu-ray
- July 9, 2019
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Kino Lorber continues their trek into some of the forgotten films of the 1980s with this release.  While certainly not a looker, the 1080p transfer does have some nice urban moments, especially in the opening scene.  The warehouse party also shines thanks to its crisp concrete jungle handling.  Presented in a crisp 1080p transfer, Tuff Turf and its new scan of the original negative is a thing of beauty.  The film is dominated with reds and greens that absolutely burst with color.  The clothing and the setting are both detailed and the simple backgrounds burst with new details and a nice level of clarity.  Black levels are solid and skin tones are natural.  Shadows are defined and the film has a new depth previously unseen.  Audio wise, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack is clear and the dialogue is never lost or hard to hear.



  • There is a nice commentary by Director Fritz Kiersch.

Special Features:

Trailers for other films make up the bulk of the supplemental items here. 

  • Theatrical Trailer

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 2/5 stars
  Extras 2/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

2.5/5 stars

Tuff Turf (1985)

MPAA Rating: R.
112 mins
: Fritz Kiersch
Jette Rinck
James Spader, Kim Richards, Paul Mones
: Action | Comedy
Meet Morgan Hiller. He's a rebel about to become a hero.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Insurance? This isn't Connecticut; no one has insurance around here!"
Theatrical Distributor:
New World Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
January 11, 1985
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
July 9, 2019
Synopsis: For Morgan Hiller (James Spader, Bad Influence), it’s tough enough being the new kid in school. But when he tangles with a local gang, he becomes the lone target of their vengeance. The situation turns from dangerous to deadly when he meets and falls for the gang leader’s sexy girlfriend (Kim Richards, Escape to Witch Mountain). Welcome to Tuff Turf–where enemies are made, reputations are earned, and love is the riskiest affair of all.

Tuff Turf (1985)

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