has an average rating of 8.0 on IMDb
1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 50gb disc
ENGLISH DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
are in SD & includes Digital Copy
– 99 Minutes
– Miramax (Disney)
This uses 31.3GB for the movie out of 33.3GB total.
Overall Verdict – Highly Recommended
— Review written by: Danielle Byington —
The Movie Itself is directed and written by Yimou Zhang, with the additional writing credits of Feng Li, and Bin Wang. It was released in China in 2002, and as Miramax held the film’s American distribution rights, it was finally presented in America in 2004 by Quentin Tarantino.
The story centers on the “hero”, Nameless (Jet Li), who we are introduced to as he is escorted into the King of Qin‘s (Daoming Chen) palace. The King is the ruler of the Kingdom of Qin, and has been attempting to execute his vision of a unified country, as it is divided into seven warring states at this time, as well as unify the people of this would be country with one agreed language, rather than one that uses fourteen different symbols for one word. During the King‘s reign, the violence that these separate states have endured has planted seeds of resentment in a few individuals who strongly seek vengeance. The assassins Long Sky (Donnie Yen), Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung), and her lover, Broken Sword (Tony Leung Chiu Wai), all seek to take the life of the King. It is because Nameless has defeated all three and collected their weapons that he has not only been invited into the King‘s palace, but granted to advance a number of paces towards his presence for the slaying of each assassin, as the King explains to Nameless how no visitor has been permitted within one hundred paces of him for 10 years. We are taken into scenic flashbacks of Nameless‘ duels with the assassins through his different tales of the story.
In closing, the story itself may have been a bit confusing to American audiences, as Nameless tells the King of his accomplishments in defeating the assassins; so much time of the film is put into visually showcasing his first story, that when the King sees through Nameless‘ fabrication, it’s suddenly like, “just kidding, this is how it really happened“. However, once the film reaches this point, the story seems to move more fluid, and convey itself and its plot on a level of what our culture expects from Hollywood storylines. This, in combination with the impressive martial arts action sequences is certainly what helped the film gain approval in the states. Especially if you are a fan of films of this genre, this movie is certainly worth a watch, even if only for the visual eye-candy of the artistically portrayed fight scenes, that thrive on both the amazing skills of the actors, as well as a huge financial backing in its production efforts, as at the time of the film’s 2002 release in China, it was reportedly the most expensive flick in the Chinese film industry’s history. Overall, you should be pleased with giving the film a watch if you have not yet seen it, as it earns a “4 Star Rating“.
Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte, dual layered Blu-ray Disc) in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The visual presentation on this release is highly impressive for the most part. The video does fluctuate from each section of the story to the next, and not in a bad way either; with that statement I am mostly referring to the use of multiple color filters, which accent and apply a unique feeling to each setting. With those scenes pertaining to the conversation between Nameless and the King, the color palette is more on the neutral side, never giving any hints of vibrancy within the set that is adorned by gray stone surroundings and props. As Nameless begins to describe his duel with Sky, these scenes are presented with a fairly cool palette, though baring more brightness and clarity in definition in the shots; this part of the story also includes a “mental” fight scene between the two warriors, as their imaginations play out a duel presented in only black & white, a scene that still yet looks great visually, with an applied heightened glare on their weapons. As the story moves along to the calligraphy school, a very warm filter magnifies the intense use of reds in the set and wardrobe, and though these scenes are highly vivid, there is no bleeding of colors. Other parts of the story are showcased throughout as well, playing on themes of icy blues, greens, and whites. The artistic intention of using such a play on color themes in the film is really a huge plus for the video quality, making for a release that can demonstrate a pleasing variety of intensities and saturation.
The black level remains generally solid throughout, though appears more inky under some of the filters than others; for instance, in the opening as Nameless approaches his assigned distance of one hundred paces before the King, the cinematography captures his approach in a very symmetrical shot, as the exterior light floods the palace from behind him, intensifying the black of his attire, showing off the strong black level of these scenes between Nameless and the King. The scenes within the calligraphy school also bare a more inky black level, making for a beautiful contrast of the cast’s dark hair against the abundance of reds. It seems nearly pointless to go in depth regarding the fleshtones considering their multiple differences due to the multiple color filters used, however, their respective filter never over-does their visual appearance, and the tones are mostly just a subtle reflection of the palette of the scene.
Definition on this release is immaculate at times, more so than in other scenes depending on the heaviness of the color filter present. With the cinematography lending some highly interesting close-ups, of not just the actors, but objects of significance as well, it is apparent just how much detail this release has to offer. A few examples of these close-ups include the bristles of Broken Swords‘s “special” paint-soaked calligraphy brush, the fight sequence between Flying Snow and Moon, as the ladies land to the ground from combative flight, with their feet landing in front of the camera, and the numerous decadent candle votives before the King in his palace. Overall, with multiple levels of impressive video content, the quality on this release earns a “4.5 Star Rating“.
Audio Quality on this release is presented in ENGLISH DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, as well as the non-dubbed Mandarin audio track, which is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround. Literally from the beginning of the movie this English DTS track is superb, with a robust flare in the soundscape conveying the thundering of the galloping horses that usher Nameless to the King‘s palace. Also, just as you may have imagined, the fight sequences are amazing, conveying every action and motion without holding back, from the clanking of weapons, the numerous thuds of body contact, and the subwoofer driven sounds of the characters’ combative gymnastics. This film is known for those particular fight scenes, and each has its own environment that provides even further detail on the audio track beyond those mentioned above. As Nameless duels with Sky in the chess garden, the soft showering of rain is realistically present in the rear channels, accompanied by a blind musician’s plucking of a Guqin, which is just as bright and clear as the other audible elements. Another well-known scene of the film worthy of mentioning is that of Nameless and Broken Sword‘s airborne sword fight above a body of water; there are some interesting spices of sound in this scene, including the passing of a water droplet from blade to blade, and the warriors’ footsteps on the water’s surface presenting a subtle aquatic bass presence.
Within this DTS track, it seems that no stone was left unturned, and neither was every once of sound half-tried. Foley, including that which was grazed over in the previous paragraph, is totally fulfilling in the 5.1 setup, from the squeaky bounces of the carriage carrying Nameless to the palace, to the unsheathing of weapons, just to name a few. With these elements you’ve also got some intelligent channel use, with occasional assigned channel presence, and a couple of nice rattling bass drops to along with the impressive subwoofer use. A great example lies in the scene of the attack on the calligraphy school; with the militia’s initial setup, the numerous organized footsteps of the soldiers, as well as the rattling of their infinite arrows carried, makes for an ominous build-up of sound, primarily from the front channels. As the hundreds to thousands of arrows are unleashed on the calligraphy school, seeking the assassin Broken Sword inside, the springy thuds of each arrows’ strike fill the channels all around, sometimes offering individual pierces of sound depending on the on-screen shot of the scene.
This English DTS track is certainly amazing in all of those said aspects, but I do have to admit that the dialogue sounds a tad more flat than that heard on the Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track. On the English track, dialogue is definitely clear from primarily the center front channel, and is never subdued by other going-on’s within the soundscape, but it seems that it is fairly louder at the same level of volume than that on the Mandarin track. This is honestly not a noticeable issue, unless you are consistently flipping the audio tracks back and forth through out the movie’s duration. Overall, in thoroughly enjoying the action that this film has to offer, I would prescribe the English DTS track, as it actually makes for nice reference material, earning a “5 Star Rating“.
Bonus Materials on this release are presented in Standard Definition, using Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo.
- “Digital Copy” is included on this release, and is compatible with iTunes and Windows Media Player.
- “Close-Up of a Fight Scene” (9 minutes) discusses with some of the cast and production team to choreography and intentions behind these amazing fight sequences of the film.
- “‘Hero’ Defined” (24 minutes) focuses on discussions with director Yimou Zhang regarding some behind the scenes look at the process of making the film, and his development and inspirations for the story.
- “Storyboards” (5 minutes) includes 4 separate storyboards with side-by-side comparisons.
- “Inside the Action: A Conversation With Quentin Tarantino & Jet Li” (14 minutes) is a really interesting discussion between Tarantino and Li about past film credits, their opinions of the martial arts film genre, and Li‘s accomplishments in the field.
- “Soundtrack Spot” (39 Seconds) is basically a trailer of the film.
- “D-Box Motion Code” is included on this release as well; we will be filling you on this feature in the future.
Blu-ray Disc packaging:
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Bare with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.