The Forbidden Kingdom Blu-ray Review
PicturePresented in a theatrically correct 2.40:1 aspect ratio and encoded at 1080P using the AVC-MPEG4 codec, I find it quite it hard to actually pick any bones with the picture quality on this BD-50 dual layered disc.
The first thing you will notice as you spin the platter is the gorgeous colours. Green seems to be the presiding colour in most of the scenes - but it doesn't dominate. In amongst the various shades of green of the vast undulating Chinese countryside, you'll spot tiny specks of colour as flowers come into bloom. The colours that are visible are solid with not an ounce of bleed.
The bright outdoor daytime scenes are a joy to behold - and projected at 84 inches in my home theatre, I felt as though I could have reached out and picked one of those flowers.
If you held an ancient staff to my head and force me to pick fault, I would say that the flesh tones seemed to glow an unnatural yellow colour during some of the indoor scenes - particularly in the cave scenes, but it really doesn't detract from the enjoyment and doesn't last for very long...
Shadow detail is immense. I'd heard rumours on the internet of black crush problems on this disc. My equipment has been calibrated to the recognised D65 setting using sensors and the such like - and I can honestly say that I didn't see any evidence of black crush at all. On the other side of the coin though, when Jet Li makes his appearance as Silent Monk, stand by for scorched retinas as his costume is quite possibly the whitest thing I have ever seen!
All in all then, a fine effort from the Lionsgate authoring shop again. I certainly couldn't find cause to complain...
SoundLionsgate must really love us early(ish) adaptors - and we love them! Yet again, the studio has pulled out all the stops to bring us a lossless soundtrack of the highest quality. As is becoming the norm for the studio, this is in the shape of a DTS Master Audio 7.1 demo track.
From the first frame to the last, this is demo material. Dialogue is fixed to whatever channel it's meant to come from and is never crushed or blotted out by the copious amounts of action effects going on around it.
The surround channels (all four of them) are used consistently throughout and there one or two spot effects that come from the surround back channels - these are particularly noticeable when weapons are thrown towards the camera to give the effect of them flying overhead and landing in the distance behind the viewer.
The LFE channel likewise is used to great effect and never seems to let up. The majority of punches are given a little help from the sub channel and kicks sound like somebody tapping away on a bass drum.
If I had to pick fault again I think it would be that one or two of the big knock out punches or kicks are a little light on the bass front and sound more like slaps - but again, it doesn't detract from the enjoyment. As I said earlier - this really is reference material.
ExtrasThe Blu-ray disc carries over all of the extras found on the SD DVD package but here they are all presented in High Definition - and as an added bonus for Blu-ray owners, we get one or two extras unique to the Blu-ray format...
A feature Commentary is the first extra out of the bag for this particular disc. It features director Minkoff along with writer John Fusco - and is a real snooze fest. It does give some excellent information of how the film came to be though - that's if the voices haven't put you to sleep first.
The Kung Fu Dreamteam (10.37) explains how the two masters chose The Forbidden Kingdom as their first project together.
Filming in Chinawood (07.43) is a trip around the locations in China where the film was shot - looks great in HD and wouldn't look out of place on the Planet Earth Blu-ray!
Monkey King and The Eight Immortals (09.12) explains how the movie came about from a short story about the Monkey King. It's not bad - but there's too little information spread over too long a period of time - in other words, it's too long! Everything is explained in the first two minutes and then padded out.
Blooper Reel (07.39). These are always worth watching when Jackie Chan is involved.
Deleted Scenes (with commentary) (07.47). Most of them were removed for pacing reasons - and the correct decision has been made to leave all of them out.
Bonus view - Picture in Picture Feature is played along as you watch the movie. Unfortunately, most of the stuff in it you would have just watched or listened to in the extras package itself. Blu-ray Exclusive!
MoLog is a Blu-ray exclusive feature that enables you to sign up online (providing you have a Profile 2.0 player that is...) and make up clips, add shapes and effects and create your own log. Unfortunately, even though it was live at the time of writing this review, I couldn't get it to work...I managed to create an account but when I found somebody's blog to download, my screen went blank and my PS3 froze.
Digital Copy. Lionsgate have gone the Disney route here and included a digital copy of the film for you to transfer to your PCs hard drive. This can later be downloaded to an ipod for hi tech Kung Fu action on the train on the way to work.
All in all then, not a bad little extras package. For what it lacks in content it more than makes up for in presentation and style. I will keep trying the MoLog feature and report back - watch this space.
VerdictThe Forbidden Kingdom is a great movie. It combines the talents of two of the masters of mainstream martial arts movies and uses them to the best of its ability.
The film has a little bit of everything in it - romance, comedy, action, great visuals and a storyline that whisk you back to a time and place far away.
Blu-ray package wise, Lionsgate have once again pulled out every stop to bring us the best possible quality that we should expect when we hand over our cash. Picture quality is way up there with the best examples available on Blu-ray at the moment and I would class it as reference quality.
The DTS HD Master audio 7.1 soundtrack has a certain touch of class about it that is spotted as soon as you spin the disc. Your home cinema system will thank you for the workout - though I'm not sure your neighbours will!
The extras package brings just about everything you need to know about the film from it's origins to its release. I have docked it a mark though because I couldn't get the MoLog facility to work properly.
As you can probably tell, I absolutely loved this film and I have no hesitation in recommending it to anybody really. I really couldn't think of a better way to make your Blu-ray less friends more green with envy than spending a couple of hours in the company of Messrs Chan and Li. It's that good, I'm going to watch it again tonight - and to me, that's got to be the highest recommendation of them all...
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.79
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