Cliffhanger - Only the strong survive

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German title Cliffhanger - Only the strong survive
Original title Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger de.svg
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1993
length 113 minutes
Age rating FSK 16
Director Renny Harlin
script Michael France
Sylvester Stallone
production Renny Harlin
Mario Kassar
Alan Marshall
music Trevor Jones
camera Norman Kent
Alex Thomson
cut Frank J. Urioste

Cliffhanger - Only the strong survive (Original title: Cliffhanger ) is an American action and adventure film from 1993 . Renny Harlin directed it and Michael France and Sylvester Stallone wrote the script . The main roles were played by Sylvester Stallone and John Lithgow .


The climbers administration Walker and Hal Tucker are friends. Both work for the mountain rescue service in the Rocky Mountains . One day Tucker and his girlfriend go on a trip to the mountains. At the summit, Tucker has a problem with his meniscus and is picked up by a mountain rescue helicopter. When Tucker's friend's seat belt breaks during the rescue with the cable winch , Gabe climbs afterwards on the lifeline stretched horizontally between the mountain and the helicopter. He holds her tight, but she slips out of her glove and falls to her death. Walker can not cope with this traumatic experience , withdraws and never wants to climb a mountain again.

A few months later, a sum of 100 million US dollars is transported from the Texas Mint in Fort Worth in an airplane that flies over the Rocky Mountains . Two of the crew members shoot the others down. You belong to the gang of the arrogant financial juggler Eric Qualen, who flies behind in a smaller plane to take over the money. Because one of the downed money messengers fired shots again, the reloading of three suitcases over a rope between the two aircraft failed. The suitcases fall to the ground in the high mountains and torture's damaged plane crash-lands there.

The aircraft pilot makes an emergency call and pretends to be stuck on the mountain by herself. Since the weather is too bad for the rescue helicopter, Tucker ascends to the specified position. Walker, who happens to be there to fetch the rest of his belongings, is persuaded by his colleague and friend Jessie to follow him because a snow storm is raging and Tucker needs help. However, Tucker, who blames Walker for the death of his girlfriend, refuses to help. Nevertheless, both continue to rise and are received by the criminals and forced at gunpoint to lead the gang to the lost suitcases, each of which contains a tracking device.

Walker is sent up to the first suitcase without his equipment and on this occasion escapes to a refuge, where he meets his friend Jessie, who climbed there because Tucker and Walker had not responded by radio. Thanks to his local knowledge, Walker manages to track down the other two suitcases in front of the gang that Tucker still has. Qualen hijacks the helicopter of the mountain rescue service, which started looking for Tucker and Walker, and first shoots the helicopter pilot of the mountain rescue and then his accomplice, the airplane pilot, in order to make himself indispensable as the only pilot. The battered Tucker can save himself when he is about to be disposed of. The other gang members are killed one after the other. Quale takes Jessie into his power and agrees with Walker that she will exchange them for the banknotes that the latter has packed from the last suitcase into his backpack.

In the final fight, Walker brings agony to release Jesse, but instead of throwing the money bag into the helicopter's rotor blades, causing the helicopter to spin. Walker latches the cable winch hanging from the helicopter onto an iron staircase attached to the mountain, thus causing the helicopter to crash. Agony dies, Walker, who is stuck in the rock, is rescued by Tucker and Jessie and the FBI , which was already on its heels, arrives with a helicopter and announces to the three survivors that they will later be recovered .


The shooting, which lasted from April 11, 1992 to August 19, 1992, took place in the Dolomites ( Italy ) near Cortina d'Ampezzo . Originally, the film was supposed to be shot in the Rocky Mountains , where the film is set, but the American environmental protection agency refused the shooting permit because the shooting was expected to cause excessive environmental damage. For the same concerns of the Italian authorities, large deposits had to be made for possible clean-up work.

The production cost was estimated 65 million US dollars . The scene in which stuntman Simon Crane is lowered on a rope between two planes at a height of about 4,500 m cost one million US dollars and was mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records as the most expensive stunt to date. The stunt didn't work out completely, as Crane was sucked out of the second plane and had to parachute himself to rescue. The scene, which was shot in the USA, could be used in the film with appropriate cuts. The film grossed over $ 255 million worldwide.

The film was first shown publicly at the Cannes International Film Festival on May 20, 1993. From July 29, 1993, it was shown in German cinemas.

Filming turned out to be extremely tough for Sylvester Stallone as he suffers from an extreme fear of heights.

Among other things , the film is dedicated to Wolfgang Güllich , who, alongside Ron Kauk and 29 other climbers contracted for the film, performed most of the stunts as Stallone's stunt double. Güllich died in a car accident before the film premiered. Ron Kauk had to eat five meals a day for the filming in order to ensure the energy supply for the appropriate muscle building. His trainer even tried to get him to have a sixth meal in the middle of the night.

Director Renny Harlin also left a reference to his homeland Finland in this film: a parachute had the design of the Finnish flag. He also demonstrated his confidence in the safety equipment to his film crew by swinging himself over a cliff while hanging from a steel cable.

Originally, Christopher Walken was supposed to take on the role of Eric Qualen.

Machines from the agricultural aviation company Helilift from Ahlen were used to depict the helicopters in the film . There is still a hull of a disused machine that was needed to visualize the wreck. On this Sylvester Stallone fought the final fight with his adversary.

In order to get an "R" rating in the USA, many of the more brutal parts of the film had to be defused, which is particularly noticeable towards the end in a scene when Stallone shoots his opponent on a frozen lake. Furthermore, after a sneak preview in the USA, there were protests from moviegoers because the first version of the rabbit that was shot at in the film perished. Stallone then invested $ 100,000 of his private fortune to re-shoot the scene, so that the rabbit is missed and survived.

In Germany, the original version approved for ages 18 and over was indicated before 2003 . For this reason, various abridged versions were created for evaluation on DVD and on television, which were given an age rating of 16 or 18 by the FSK, depending on the degree of abbreviation . The German DVD version with the age rating FSK 18 is uncut. In 2013, the film was prematurely removed from the index and submitted to the Voluntary Self-Control of the Film Industry (FSK) for re-examination. This resulted in the approval “from 16 years” for the uncut version. The pay-TV channel at the time, Premiere, broadcast its own FSK-18 version, which was cut in three scenes of violence, although at that time other indexed films were shown unabridged.

German dubbed version

The German synchronous editing was done at Deutsche Synchron KG in Berlin . The dialogue book came from Klaus Hüttmann, the dialogue direction was done by Michael Richter.

actor German speaker role
Sylvester Stallone Thomas Danneberg Gabe Walker
John Finn Norbert Langer Agent Michaels
Craig Fairbrass Stefan Fredrich Delmar
Michael Rooker Helmut Gauss Hal Tucker
Janine Turner Franziska Pigulla Jessie Deighan
Caroline Goodall Liane Rudolph Kristel
Leon Robinson Manfred Lehmann Kynette
Vyto Ruginis K. Dieter Klebsch Matheson
John Lithgow Hans-Werner Bussinger Torments
Rex Linn Reinhard Kuhnert Richard Travers
Gregory Scott Cummins Martin Keßler Ryan
Michelle Joyner Evelyn Marron Sarah
Paul Winfield Engelbert von Nordhausen Walter Wright


German reviews

The Fischer Film Almanach said: “The money bug infects everyone. They know this better than anywhere else in Hollywood, where with »Cliffhanger« they produced a kind of » Die hard in the Dolomites«, in which there is no plot, risky stunts and paper mache mountains. This is extreme action, but with such overused improbabilities that you quickly lose interest. "

The lexicon of international films gave the following verdict: “Extreme mountaineering and a marathon of risky situations may help the audience to get sweaty hands, but hardly give the plot any meaning or understanding. Superfluous brutality diminishes the (already decreasing) entertainment. "

Günter H. Jekubzik described the film on as undemanding, but exciting.

Cinema writes: "Action director Renny Harlin [...] celebrates dizzying tracking shots, sweaty stunts and a spectacular showdown - with easy-to-understand dialogues." judges: "Sylvester Stallone's comeback is perfect: [...] The plot may have turned out thin," Cliffhanger "is still a direct hit that will inspire action fans."

US reviews

James Berardinelli compared the film on ReelViews to Die Hard 2 , which was also directed by Harlin. The bonds from these films are obvious, but Cliffhanger can still be sufficiently original. He described the plot as a "joke". Berardinelli also said that if this film could not help Stallone to regain a “top rank” among the action film stars, it would probably be impossible.

Roger Ebert wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times on May 28, 1993 that the film worked because it did exactly what it promised. Ebert said that films of this type need strong villains, and John Lithgow fulfills that requirement.

Scott Weinberg named the film on one of the best movies with Stallone, similar to James Sanford in the Kalamazoo Gazette .


The film was nominated for the Oscar film award in 1994 in three categories : For Best Visual Effects , For Best Sound Effects, and For Best Sound . In the same year he was also nominated for the MTV Movie Award , the Cinema Audio Society Award and the Award of the Japanese Academy as well as for the Golden Raspberry in four categories.

Trevor Jones won the ASCAP Film and Television Music Award in 1994 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry : Release certificate - "Cliffhanger - only the strong survive - re-examination". In: April 13, 2013, accessed May 4, 2018 .
  2. release document for Cliffhanger - Only the strong survive . Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry , January 2013 (PDF; test number: 69 812 V).
  3. a b c Budget and box office results according to the Internet Movie Database
  4. Locations according to the Internet Movie Database
  5. a b c d e f g h i j Background information according to the Internet Movie Database
  6. a b Start dates according to the Internet Movie Database
  7. Cliffhanger - Only the strong survive
  10. a b Cliffhanger - Only the strong survive. In: German synchronous index , accessed on January 27, 2013 .
  11. Walter Schobert & Horst Schäfer (eds.): Fischer Film Almanach 1994. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1994, ISBN 3-596-12229-5 , pp. 70-71
  12. Cliffhanger - Only the Strong Survive. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed March 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  13. ^ Film review , Günter H. Jekubzik
  14. ^ Film review , Cinema
  15. Filmkritik ,
  16. ^ Film review,, James Berardinelli , 1993
  17. ^ Film review,, Roger Ebert , 1993
  18. ^ Film review , Scott Weinberg
  19. ^ Film review , James Sanford
  20. a b c Nominations and awards according to the Internet Movie Database