After director Renny Harlin Died-Harder, he became an in-demand action director, and who better to star in his new flick that action flick champion of the 80s, Sylvester Stallone. With a story about a besieged team of mountain rescuers, being forced to help a bunch of villains regain millions of dollars from a mountain top, one could easily have assumed this would be another rinse and repeat action fair. One would be incorrect.

"still holds a Guinness record for the most expensive stunt performed in a movie"

Sly play Gabe, once the leader of this tight knit rescuers team, now self-exiled in shame. See the film opens on said team with Gabe, his best pal Hal (Michael Rooker) and Hal’s girlfriend recreationally climbing some insane pant soiling peak. When there is an equipment failing, Gabe and Hal watch in horror as she plunges to her death. Cut to almost a year later and they aren’t pals any longer. Gabe just happens to return to the mountains right when a rag tag bunch of desperados, led by Eric Qualen (A deliciously villainous turn from John Lithgow), botch a mid-air theft of some serious bankroll. Gabe and his former crew have to set aside their personal issues, when these thieves come to retrieve their bounty, and outsmart them before it’s too late.Cliffhanger

This flick has two strong elements that elevate it above most action fair instantly. Good characters, each given decent arcs and played by excellent actors. And spectacular backdrops and action sequences. We’d seen Sly punch on with innumerable bad folks a thousand different ways by 1993. This was inventive, out of the box and completely refreshing. Every character has point in being there, is forced to overcome some internal, as well as external struggle. It’s really well written. But it’s Lithgow that wins the gong for me. Long before he terrified us on Dexter, he poured all his malice into Qualen. You want this man to die, and he gobbles up every scene, as spectacular as the backdrops are, with effortless menace. He makes for a very effective antagonist.

The score by Trevor Jones is also memorable and often compared to his Last of the Mohicans work. The stunts are next level; in fact, Cliffhanger still holds a Guinness record for the most expensive stunt performed in a movie. Harlin, who sadly peaked around this time, shows real inventiveness and deftly proves that the success of the sequel to Die Hard was no fluke.

Apparently, a sequel is being considered. I hope it never happens. This stands on its own as a 90s classic. It has everything you want in a film like this: characters to root for, stakes to sweat over, and seats to fall of the edge of. Golden flick.

4/5 stars



4k details divider

SteelBook / 30th Anniversary Edition / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital 4K

Home Video Distributor: Sony Pictures
Available on Blu-ray
- May 30, 2023
Screen Formats: 2.39:1
: English; English SDH; French; Spanish
English: Dolby Atmos; English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; French (Canada): Dolby Digital 2.0; Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0
Discs: 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set
Region Encoding: 4K region-free; blu-ray locked to Region A


On offer here is a native scan of the original camera negatives in glorious 2160p. This would have been a challenging film to employ HDR in, with all the snow etc, but Sony have delivered. The Dolby VISION/HDR10 enhanced embolden things like the skies and red helicopters, while nuancing scenes with heavy white (of which there are tonnes). It isn’t faithful to the theatrical colour timing, but it isn’t miles apart either. There is improved dimensionality and contrast between the plains of each shot, adding scale (and therefore threat) to some amazing vistas. Really well navigated scan here.


We have ATMOS! Oh yes! We have ATMOS. This 7.1 mix is perfection. From angry air-craft motors, to avalanches, to thwipping climbing lines and to the soaring music, it’s all gravy folks. The overheads are employed heavily in key action sequences to great effect. Environmental effects immerse you in a cave or hanging off a cliff. This is what is possible, even for decades old films, in a refreshing watch of an old staple for film buffs. Home run.



  • Director Renny Harlin and Actor Sylvester Stallone
  • Technical Crew including Editor Frank Urioste, Co-Visual Effects Supervisors Neil Krepela and John Bruno, and Production Designer John Vallone

Special Features:

Well, the UHD actually had a collection of allegedly ‘previously unreleased’ deleted scenes. I can’t remember where off hand, but I think I’ve seen them before. Still, they actually provided something. The blu-ray included has your usual litany of legacy (re-used) features from previous editions. There was a steelbook edition released as well.

UHD disc:

  • Deleted Scenes

Blu-ray Disc

  • A Personal Introduction from Renny Harlin
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Stallone on the Edge: The Making of Cliffhanger
  • Special Effects
  • Storyboard Comparisons
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Previews

4k rating divider

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 5/5 stars
  Extras 3/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

4/5 stars

Film Details


MPAA Rating: R.
113 mins
: Renney Harlin
John Long; Michael France; Sylvester Stallone
Sylvester Stallone; John Lithgow; Michael Rooker
: Action | Thriller
The height of Adventure.
Memorable Movie Quote: "If your looking for Qualen, try about 4,000 feet south of here. He'll be the one wearing the helicopter."
Theatrical Distributor:
Sony Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
May 8, 1993
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
May 30, 2023.
Synopsis: Sylvester Stallone, John Lithgow, Michael Rooker, Janine Turner and Ralph Waite star in this high-altitude avalanche of action: a non-stop adventure peak with suspense and capped with heart-quaking terror. For Rocky Mountain Rescue, the mission is almost routine: locate five climbers. With the woman he loves (Turner) and his best friend (Rooker), Gabe Walker (Stallone) braves the icy peaks only to discover that the distress call is really a trap set by merciless international terrorist Eric Qualen (Lithgow). Now millions of dollars and their own lives hang in the balance. Against explosive firepower, bitter cold, and dizzying heights, Walker must outwit Qualen in a deadly game of hide-and-seek.