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Friend: Ultimate Edition DVD Review (Region 3)

Discussion in 'Movie Forum' started by Sigismund, Sep 13, 2005.

  1. Sigismund

    Sigismund
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    <P STYLE='text-align: center'><FONT STYLE='font-size: 18px'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/Friend/FriendUER3.jpg' ALT='FRIEND DVD cover artwork' ALIGN='RIGHT'>FRIEND</FONT><br>Reviewed September 2005 by <A HREF='search.php?do=process&query=Mark Haywood&showposts=1&forumchoice[]=107&forumchoice[]=197' target='_top'>Mark Haywood</A>.</P><P><B>The Movie : 8</B></P><P><b>Friend</b> is classic storytelling; at times humorous, compelling, dark but also uplifting. Four young boys become friends, doing all the things lads do… like swimming out too far at sea and arguing who would win a race between an Olympic swimmer and a turtle! And then they’re off watching a little soft porn on an intriguing new electrical gizmo that records from television – yes, the year is 1976 and Betamax is trying to make it into every home. We follow the boys through adolescence into the eighties and secondary school – where teachers’ discipline means a swift, and often <I>many</I> swift slaps. Slaps that sometimes become punches. And punches become… well, they would lead to worse, but for the fact that Joon Suk lets the teacher know that he’s a gangster. Now, although this momentarily stops the beating, the teacher cannot help himself, believing it to be a clever ploy. But Joon Suk is indeed a gangster, and along with sidekick Dong-Su (Dong Kun Jang), who went on to star in Taegukgi, the two youths gradually sink to the depths of depravity that hoodlums generally descend – namely drugs and prison.</p><P>The story is more or less built around these two gangster buddies – leader and sidekick - with Sang ta-ek and Joong-ho leading more normal lives as they continue their studies and generally toe the legal line. But whilst they are less in the limelight throughout the movie, director Kwak Kyung-Taek manages to create a familiar feel for all four friends and I found myself remembering my own schooldays – bullies, pals and all. It’s Kwak Kyung-Taek’s filmmaker’s ability to create a certain empathy for the characters – both good and bad - that holds the movie together, whilst the collision path that the two gang members ultimately find themselves leads to an ending that is both violent, yet surprisingly moving.</p><P>I enjoyed Friend. For some reason it reminded me a little of Sleepers – yes, the two movies share little by way of major storyline, but there is a similarity in the way the movies achieve their purpose through a slow, deliberate build up of tension leading to a rather distressing ending. Perhaps it’s the solid acting abilities of all concerned here, or the way the director somehow manages to keep things gelled together, but whatever it is, Friend is a movie that has that rare ability to encourage the viewer back for a second helping. Yep, I’ll be watching this one again.</p><P><B>Picture : 6</B></P><P>Picture-wise I found Friend to have been given a pretty average transfer. Things start off soft and lacking in detail, but the subject matter does relate to 1976, so I assume there is a touch of Director’s licence here. Gradually, as we are taken through the eighties and into the nineties, the image improves and noise and edge enhancement seem to give way to a sharper image with a more realistic colour palette – the sky at the beginning of the movie, when the boys are swimming in the sea, appears way too red. Perhaps this was deliberate, and merely suggested the coming storm that would meet the lads as they transcended adolescence into manhood. Whatever the cause, the image definitely improves as the movie progresses.</p><P>Contrast levels follow suit – lacking at the beginning of proceedings, with the youth’s dark coloured school uniforms often appearing to meld together into one amorphous shape as the friends stand next to each other, but seeming to improve toward latter day events with contrast levels being much more realistic during the fish market scenes for example.</p><P>Overall, the anamorphic widescreen 1.85:1 image is by no means poor, indeed I found it easy to ignore the less than perfect transfer and found myself being thoroughly immersed in the story.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/Friend/FriendUE_1.jpg' ALT='FRIEND'></P><P><B>Sound : 6</B></P><P>If you like your film soundtracks to be full on 5.1 affairs, with bullets whizzing around your head at every opportunity, then you may be a little disappointed in Friend’s slightly laid back style. As may be expected, this is mostly a dialogue heavy film – although it does have its moments! There are a few music tracks that, whilst never really utilising ones surround speakers, certainly manage to propel the listener back to a time when Blondie ruled the charts!</p><P>I listened to both Dolby Digital and DTS tracks, but could tell little difference between the two – even the “sub buster” moment, which is merely a cigarette falling to the ground, sounded very similar to me. Then again, with a movie soundtrack that is spread across the front three channels only, that’s hardly surprising I guess.</p><P>As with image, it’s not that the audio side of things really lets the side down – speech (for what it’s worth to those of us unfortunate not to be able to understand Korean) is always clear and “intelligible”, and the few moments of real gusto are handled well, sounding full and rich. I always felt that everything was a little lacklustre though, but again, that’s more down to the movie’s style than anything else.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/Friend/FriendUE_2.jpg' ALT='FRIEND'></P><P><B>Extras : 4</B></P><P>Right, on to the supplemental features. First mention has to go to the packaging here – give me a hinged tin and I’m a happy man – don’t ask me why, but there’s a certain quality feel about having the weight of an Amaray inside a card slipcase… inside a solid feeling tin. As I write that I can’t help but feel that I’m a little sad for feeling that way… but it’s nice to know I’m not alone and many DVD collectors feel the same!</p><P>On to the extras proper – with no less than three audio commentaries, Friend is fairly bristling with movie info. Sadly, all the commentaries are in Korean with, unlike the main feature, no access to English subtitles. I guess the cost involved in providing this service simply isn’t worth the effort. Which is a shame – I’m sure director and actors would have many interesting insight to share.</p><P>Disc two is fairly bursting with extras – interviews, behind the scenes features, location documentaries, deleted scenes – including some violent, stylized gang fighting, and more. Sadly, none of these features have English subs, which means that only Deleted Scenes and Outtakes are really the only extras that make any sense. Even the smart looking booklet that is included is filled with images from the movie, with all writing being in Korean.</p><P>Everything on disc 2 is shot in full screen, and I just have to mention the Robert Palmer “Bad Case Of Loving You” audio track that plays when you’re at the extras menu. I played through the extras so much I’m hooked - it’s a great track and if you want to hear it all the way through just choose the Telecine feature! Which, interestingly, must have something to do with the director’s deliberate choice to make the movie look the way it does and how it was achieved.</p><P>I would suspect that Friend: Ultimate Edition lives up to it’s title… as long as you understand Korean. For the rest of us, the potential is there, but just cannot be accessed. A shame.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/Friend/FriendUE_3.jpg' ALT='FRIEND'></P><P><B>Trivia</B><br><P>For user information we use Bitrate 1.4 to scan the disk for the video bitrate, which also calculates the average bitrate. Below is a graph illustrating the bitrate of the disk, including the average bitrate reading. This movie had an average bitrate of 6.97 Mb/sec.</p></P><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/Friend/FriendUER3Bitrate.jpg' ALT='FRIEND'></P><P><B>Verdict : 8</B></P><P>For half the movie I kept wondering why on earth the title, Friend, was in the singular – it does follow four <I>friends</I> after all. It wasn’t until nearer the end that things finally twigged for me – and Friends has kinda been done, I guess.</p><P>Ultimate by name, and so nearly Ultimate by nature – Friend is a solid movie, superbly packaged in a great looking tin and let down only for us westerners by the lack of subtitles in the supplemental features.</p><P>Well worth a recommendation from me – get this Ultimate Edition whilst stocks last.</p><div ALIGN='CENTER'>Review Disc Supplied by <a href="http://global.yesasia.com/assocred.asp?W7QIPXOV+/en/prdTransfer.aspx/pid-1001844767" target=”_blank”><img src="http://www.wvip.co.uk/images/dvd/SuppliersLogos/YesAsia.jpg" Align="absmiddle"><br>Please support us by using our review sponsors.</div><TABLE border='0' CELLPADDING='0' CELLSPACING='2' WIDTH='100%'><TR><TD COLSPAN='2'><B>FRIEND (2001)</B></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Genres</TD><TD><A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=exact&searchfield=genre&search_for=DRAMA' target='_blank'>DRAMA</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=exact&searchfield=genre&search_for=HONG KONG ACTION' target='_blank'>HONG KONG ACTION</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Director</TD><TD><A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=director&search_for=KYUNG-TAEK KWAK' target='_blank'>KYUNG-TAEK KWAK</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Stars</TD><TD><A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=OH-SEONG YU' target='_blank'>OH-SEONG YU</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=DONG-KUN JANG' target='_blank'>DONG-KUN JANG</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=TAE-HWA SEO' target='_blank'>TAE-HWA SEO</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=UN-TAEK JEONG' target='_blank'>UN-TAEK JEONG</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65'><B>Region</B></TD><TD><B>3</B> <FONT>(KOREA)</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Supplier</TD><TD><FONT>EnterOne. Released Friday 16th August 2002</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>SRP</TD><TD><FONT>$29.49</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Discs</TD><TD><FONT>2</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Format</TD><TD><FONT>DVD 9</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Time</TD><TD><FONT>114 mins.</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Chapters</TD><TD><FONT>16</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Picture</TD><TD>Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1&nbsp;</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Sound</TD><TD>Korean Dolby Digital 5.1<BR>Korean <IMG SRC='http://www.totaldvd.net/images/dts.gif' ALIGN='ABSMIDDLE' border='0' ALT='DTS Soundtrack'></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Subtitles</TD><TD>English, Korean 1, Korean 2</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Case</TD><TD>Amaray in Special Tin</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Extras</TD><TD><b>Disc One</b> Three Audio Commentary Tracks<BR>Photo Gallery<BR>Theatrical Trailer<BR>TV Spot<BR><b>Disc Two</b> Interviews<BR>Behind The Story<BR>Location<BR>Dialect<BR>Deleted Scenes<BR>Outtakes<BR>Marketing<BR>Telecine</TD></TR></TABLE><P STYLE='text-align: center'>If you would like to comment on this review, please reply below.</P>
     

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