Initial D DVD Review
PictureMedia Asia has provided a theatrically correct 2.35:1 aspect anamorphically enhanced for widescreen TV's picture with an average bitrate of 7.88 Mbps, and what a picture it is! It used to be fact that Asian film stock was generally poor quality, well you'd never know it looking at the polished quality of this. Detail levels are pristine, everything is super sharp, no loss of detail even with the speeding backgrounds. Colours are bold and striking, always well defined with no shimmer, bleed or wash. During the race sequences at night is some of the best authoring I've seen, utterly exquisite. Brightness and contrast levels are spot on, day shots are clear and bright, night shots offer lovely deep, true blacks and blues. Digitally I saw no compression artefacts, nor any edge enhancement, and with such a good bitrate I'm not surprised. In placing all the extras on the second disc and freeing up the space makes for excellent quality and sound. Finally the print was completely free of defects and there was no film grain to be seen either, top marks.
SoundThere are three audio tracks; a Cantonese Dolby digital EX 6.1, a Cantonese DTS ES 6.1 and a Mandarin Dolby digital 5.1. Let me first say that all these tracks off a fully immersive range, with this much action on screen the film needed a thumping good sound track and thankfully it has been given that in spades. During the many, many car races the audio is pitched to force you into the drivers seat, you get squeals and revs from all round. Mt Akina has a short tunnel and every time we went through it, it was like actually being in a car, the reproduction was that good. The surround effects were also not limited to the cars; dialogue, weather and ambience all participated to the overall experience. The score too was pumped through all the speakers, placing the vocals in the centre of the room with the music spread even about them; outstanding. The differences between the three tracks are minimal, all offer excellent range. The DTS is the loudest of the three, and does manage to separate out the mid range better than the Dolby's giving the fullest and most complete sound. The Mandarin dub comes in next with an all encompassing bass range. Finally the Cantonese Dolby, it was a little thin in the middle, had the effect of shrinking the separation, not a bad track in itself but compared was just the weakest of the three. A testament to how good these tracks are, I'm not a fan of the music used by any stretch of the imagination, yet it just sounded so good, I could not help but be involved. The subtitles are in a large white font at the bottom of the screen, grammatically and spelled correct.
ExtrasThe first disc contains three trailers for the film, all anamorphic widescreen 2.35:1 ratio, all with Dolby digital 5.1 sound, very impressive.
It is the second disc that has the majority of the extras and we start off with eight behind the scenes featurettes that can be watched individually or all together, for a total run time of sixteen minutes. There is a huge amount of camcorder behind the scenes filming and plenty of interviews with cast and crew alike. Cars are detailed as well as watching the cars actually doing their racing; those three cars really did race down the mountain inches away from each other. There is loads to see and listen to in this sixteen minutes, it has only one slight draw back, there are no English subtitles, which is a real shame, even though you can follow the action, it would be nice to understand what was being said.
Next up is a similar style behind the scenes featurettes that this time concentrating on the characters in the film. There are seven in total, playable individually or all together, but once again have no English subtitles. These are far harder to workout what is going on, being as they are concentrating on the individual actor and the part, best bit is the very beginning of each name, you see a representation of the original manga next to the actor, remarkable how similar they look.
Next up is a making of documentary, it runs for about twenty minutes and contain a significant amount of material already seen in the above featurettes, and like them it too has no English subtitles.
There are ten deleted scenes, all add very little to the film; most are scene extensions presumably cut for pacing reasons, interesting to see, but little to get excited about, runs for eight minutes.
Next up is four minutes of outtakes, contains the usual amount of gaffs and fluffed lines, people laughing etc. didn't have me laughing mind, I couldn't understand what was being said ....
There are three TV spots for the film, fifteen, thirty and sixty second ads, blink and you'll miss them, or just bypass the menu.
Promotion in Shanghai is a ten minute piece of the cars of the film doing the most incredible spins on a race track somewhere in Shanghai (presumably). At first this is very engaging, but soon wears a bit then, the final minute sees the actors driven onto the track to wave at the crowd.
Promotion in Japan starts off in a conference room with a load of elder Japanese gentlemen addressing the crowd, I have no idea who they are, then the cast and crew all file out to answer questions from the crowd. The whole thing is over dubbed with some thumpy song and lasts for two minutes, weird.
The photo gallery is a slideshow of behind the scenes and publicity photographs for the film set to the same thumpy tune as the Japan promotion, lasts for three minutes.Finally there is a list of cast and credits, the same as can be found on the back of the DVD packaging, in English (hooray) and Chinese.
There is an easter egg of six minutes of animatics found by pressing left from the behind the scenes icon to highlight the writing on the car, includes animatics of some of the deleted scenes.
VerdictI shouldn't have liked Initial D, it has everything I despise about modern Hollywood, fast cutting, fast pacing, thumpy music, little characterisation and aimed squarely at the teen market. Perhaps because it isn't Hollywood makes it watchable; it has that Asian quality to set it apart from the other mindless drivel out there. All I know is that it somehow it won me over, I just enjoyed the rush. If you've got two hours and agreeable neighbours then this is one fun afternoon, turn it up and enjoy, it'll be over before you know it. As a DVD I cannot fault the first disc, picture and sound are as good as it gets, it is somewhat let down by lack of English subtitles for overseas viewers on the extras disc. All the extras have burnt in Chinese, the menus are in English, but none anywhere else; as with them it would be an excellent package; without them the package is devalued somewhat. Hopefully the film will out way this shortcoming.
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