Red Dragon

For those coming into the world of Hannibal cold, hang onto your hats. Cinematically, (ignoring the Michael Mann adaptation Mindhunter, where Brian Cox played him), we met Anthony Hopkin’s Dr. Hannibal Lecter for the first time in Silence of the Lambs, the second novel in Thomas Harris’s novel series. Second, we saw him in Hannibal, the third novel. And not to let that cash cow go un-milked, producer Dino De Laurentis lured Hopkins back for a final turn in Red Dragon, the first of Harris’s novels and the third of the Hopkins starring flicks? Got it? Great. Let’s move on.

"lacks the nuance and subtlety of Silence’s world"

After the mixed reception of Ridley Scott’s Hannibal, it came as both a surprise and yet an inevitability that we would see the story of Lecter’s capture at the hands of FBI profiler Will Graham (Ed Norton). It all happens in the prologue as quick as you please: Graham almost dies, Lecter is put away (through the newspaper clips montage trick) and we skip ahead a stretch. A new whack job serial killer, the Tooth Fairy (Ralph Fiennes), is killing families in their homes, and FBI Director Jack Crawford (Harvey Kietel) tries to lure a medically retired Graham back to catch him. Graham reluctantly agrees, but the Tooth Fairy is cagey and a fan of Dr. Lecter. Graham is forced to face the monster that almost killed him and yolk his intelligence to catch this new monster, placing himself and his family in mortal danger.Red Dragon

Jonathan Demme cemented the first of these films as a classic with his intuitive subtlety and deft grasp of how to build tension. Ridley Scott followed with very few of the successful elements of Silence to work with. It was an artfully executed film (as Scott films always are) but its extreme divergence in tone and characterisation are jarring. Red Dragon had the chance to carve out its own identity, for the better this time. Chronologically, this is Hannibal in a very different time, before he became the folklore demon of infamy. Director Brett Ratner quickly squanders that opportunity by delivering a slick, music video aesthetic that lands more like a serviceable cover that hits all the beats but fails to capture any of the magic.

This film has an impressive cast, and they all try their darnedest to engage with their respective characters, but it just lacks the nuance and subtlety of Silence’s world. As a result, this is far more popcorn entertainment than it is rollercoaster. There is an almost self-aware air to it, where everyone involved desperately grasps at what made Hannibal Lecter so memorable but misses by a mile.

I don’t dislike Red Dragon. My review certainly makes it sound like I do. It is a perfectly serviceable thriller with top shelf actors throughout. Anthony Hopkins is worth the price of admission alone. But this film is, at best, a weak xerox of something perfect, a well-intended adoration with not enough imagination or identity of its own to climb out from under its shadow.

3/5 stars


Red Dragon

4k details divider

4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray

Home Video Distributor: Kino Lorber
Available on Blu-ray
- October 24, 2023
Screen Formats: 2.39:1
: English SDH
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: 4K Ultra HD; Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set
Region Encoding: 4K region-free; blu-ray locked to Region A


Oooooh yummy. Unlike the film itself, this native 2160p transfer of the camera negatives is flawlessly rendered. Kino Lorber, who I just took to task over the 4K Cujo transfer, have delivered a dimensional, crisp as a chip, picture that accurately delivers on every level. Grain, delineation of plains, fine detail, shadows, highlights and contrast are off the chart beautiful. The DOLBY Vision/HDR10 is dutifully and effectively used throughout. As stated in the above review, this film always had a music video look to it and man is it represented beautifully here.


This is a reuse of the DTS-HD 5.1 surround mix from previous releases, which was always a fantastic and effective sound mix. I will always put my hand up—considering the storage space on the 4K disc—for an ATMOS mix, but this doesn’t fail on any level. This is a solid, ambient and throaty mix that still impresses. It’s just a shame that Kino Lorber didn’t spring for a 7.1 mix this time.  



  • Commentary One
  • Commentary Two/Isolated Score

Special Features:

This is a Region A 2 disc set that includes a region free 4K disc and a region locked blu-ray. Everything is what they call ‘archival’. I call it reuse, legacy, or NOT NEW features. There’s plenty on there but it’s all been seen and offered before. You get a nice slipcover on the release I received.

  • Anthony Hopkins - Lecter and Me
  • The Leeds' House Crime Scene
  • Makeup Application
  • Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer - Hosted by John Douglas
  • Storyboard to Final Film Comparison
  • Student Film
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Alternate Scenes
  • Extended Scenes
  • Trailer

4k rating divider

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

Composite Blu-ray Grade

3.5/5 stars

Film Details

Red Dragon

MPAA Rating: R.
124 mins
: Brett Rattner
Ted Tally
Anthony Hopkins; Edward Norton; Ralph Fiennes
: Horror | Thriller
To Understand the Origins of Evil, You Must Go Back to the Beginning.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Remarkable boy. I do admire your courage. I think I'll eat your heart."
Theatrical Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
October 4, 2002
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 24, 2023.
Synopsis: A retired FBI agent with psychological gifts is assigned to help track down "The Tooth Fairy", a mysterious serial killer. Aiding him is imprisoned forensic psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter.


Red Dragon