PictureA nigh on twenty year on movie has been restored and it's actually a very good transfer, bearing in mind how these normally look. Colours are bright and vivid, with flesh tones being spot on. Blacks are deep and dark with only minor detail loss. Edge enhancement was only noticeable in a few places, so it's not overly intrusive. The image doesn't suffer from grain either, so with all these positives, why such a low score? Well, there's one problem with the transfer and it is present all the way through the movie. At the top and bottom of the screen are two lines which run the complete length of the image, almost as though the film has lost the vertical control and shifted ever so slightly down - except it hasn't. Not to mention that there is still quite a lot of dust specks, but they weren't as obvious as they could have been, thanks to the restoration work. If it weren't for those problems, I'd probably have given the image an 8, but after such a restoration was performed, I can't help think it should have been better.
SoundBoasting a Dolby 5.1 mix as well as the original mono soundtrack (not to mention a dubbed English track) this mix isn't particularly inspiring and shows its mono roots only too clearly. There are a few moments where the 5.1 mix shows, such as a scene at the beginning where a shot is fired from back to front, which is where you notice the benefits, but it's not immersive enough for me I'm afraid and is mostly front heavy. Dialogue is clear and the music is nice and loud too, so it's not a complete loss, but certainly not a reference mix. The mono soundtrack is there for anyone who wants to hear the original soundtrack, but I think I prefer the 5.1 mix as it's arguably clearer and louder. If you need a good laugh though, there's always the dubbed track.
ExtrasOther than the obligatory commentary track, we have two main features. The first is an interview with Yukari Oshima, who plays the female Japanese samurai character and lasts about 30 minutes. It contains English subtitles and is effectively a spoken biography. The Sammo Hung interview is shorter, at 11 minutes and is again subtitled, where he discusses the genre and why he did this type of movie (a fan of John Wayne apparently). It's short enough and reasonably interesting, more so for Hung fans. Rounding off the disk are the usual assortment of trailers.
VerdictWell I didn't care for this movie, but I'm sure there are lots of people that would disagree - they wouldn't make them if people didn't watch them! It's not particularly going to set the world alight and it's certainly not to my taste, but it's not without merit and is certainly not the worst thing I've ever seen, hence my tempered score. If it sounds like it's for you, give it a spin.
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