Initial D DVD Review (Region 3)

Seth Gecko

retired member
<P STYLE='text-align: center'><FONT STYLE='font-size: 18px'><IMG SRC='' ALT='INITIAL D DVD cover artwork' ALIGN='RIGHT'>INITIAL D</FONT><br>Reviewed September 2005 by <A HREF='search.php?do=process&query=Simon Crust&showposts=1&forumchoice[]=107&forumchoice[]=197' target='_top'>Simon Crust</A>.</P><P><B>The Movie : 8</B></P><P> In the film makers pursuit to find the next best story, anything is considered. Take Pirate of the Caribbean, based on a Park ride! Traditionally literature has been the source for most inspiration. More recently, what could be called pulp literature, the comic, has become ever more popular. Take Batman for example, first a comic, then a cartoon, then a TV show before making it to films. This trend is not limited to Hollywood, the Asian market too has long plundered its own literary roots, pulp or otherwise, for that new idea. Initial D started life, as Batman did, in manga, that’s comic books to you and me in the west. Written by Shuichi Shigeno its debut was in 1996 and is still serialised weekly in Japan as well as being in twenty four graphic novels. Again, like Batman, was made into a hugely successful and long running anime series, by Avex, that has run for thirty nine episodes. It was inevitable then that Initial D would make it to the big screen. However, bringing it to life would be no small task, like Spiderman, the expectation of Initial D was immense. It has taken the talents of two directors to finally bring to fruition; two directors with an already proven track record with the Infernal Affairs trilogy. With Wai Keung Lau and Siu Fai Mak signed on, the film seemed to be in safe hands, so have they succeeded where others have feared to race?</p><P>Initial D, in a nutshell, is about Takumi Fujiwara, a youth with an incredible natural skill at driving. It is a skill he has developed while he delivers tofu for his abusive alcoholic father. It just so happens that the delivery route is on the infamous Mt Akina, notorious for its use as a race track by illegal street racers. Bunta, Takumi’s father, used to be a top racing driver, but after his wife left him he turned to drink, and took out his frustrations on his son. However, he still has a flair for driving, and tuning a car, his own Toyota AE86, used for deliveries is already racing tuned. Takumi has been driving the mountain route for five years, since he was thirteen. To improve his speed but keep the driving skill his father insisted on the ‘Jacky Stewart’ method, place a cup of water in the car and not spill it (Stewart used a ball in a saucer on the bonnet of the car) on the supposition that speed combined with smoothness is far faster than just thrashing around (though it never stopped Nigel Mansell from becoming World Champion). Utilising this new skill Takumi can do the mountain run in record time. At school he is quite, keeping his talents to himself. He has eyes for Natsuki, even getting into trouble by fighting for her honour. But it is not until they have both left school that they eventually meet up and start to see each other. She, though, has a dark secret, one that threatens to tear there fledgling relationship apart should it become common knowledge. This, unfortunately happens, when she is seen by Itsuki, Takumi’s best mate. This too causes some serious challenges to these two friends. Add in a little comedy from Bunta (he has the best line of the film “Hey help me change my underwear”) and some reconciliation between him and his own best mate, Itsuki’s father, and you have all the emotional developments for the film. But we all know this is rubbish. This film is about the cars.</p><P>And the cars alone.</p><P>Thankfully it <i>is</i> all about the cars, because all that stuff above? No so good. It’s not as if Messieurs Lau and Mak don’t know how to handle a bit of emotional turmoil. Don’t get me wrong, it is by no means handled badly, rather I think the action out ways all. And what action it is, car mayhem, out and out speed and all to a pumping hip sound track. I have no idea if this film is comparable to the manga or the anima, and quite honestly I don’t care, coming to it without the prior knowledge or preconceptions has been very beneficial. One for the MTV generation? You bet. Did I enjoy it? You bet? Am I one of the MTV generation? Forget that! I find it difficult to explain why I enjoyed this film quite so much, as generally films of this ilk do very little for me. The Fast and The Furious and its dire sequel would be fair comparisons; to say I hated them would be an understatement. Maybe it’s the rubbish emotional level that’s the back story, maybe because it’s an Asian film and isn’t filled with American schmaltz, maybe it’s the seventies split screen filming, maybe it’s the rocket like pace, maybe it’s the adrenalin rush of squealing tyres and sideways driving, maybe it’s the cast of hip young actors, maybe it’s the presence of veteran actor Anthony Wong Chau-Sang or maybe it’s just that I fancied Natsuki; I don’t care, this film is a blast; sit back, buckle up, put the pedal to the metal and enjoy!</p> <P><B>Picture : 10</B></P><P>Media 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.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='' ALT='INITIAL D'></P><P><B>Sound : 10</B></P><P>There 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 <i>that</i> 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.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='' ALT='INITIAL D'></P><P><B>Extras : 3</B></P><P>The first disc contains three trailers for the film, all anamorphic widescreen 2.35:1 ratio, all with Dolby digital 5.1 sound, very impressive.</p><P>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.</p><P>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.</p><P>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.</p><P>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.</p><P>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 ….</p><P>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.</p><P>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.</p><P>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.</p><P>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.</p><P>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.</p><P>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.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='' ALT='INITIAL D'></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 disk averaged at 7.88 Mbps.</p></P><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='' ALT='INITIAL D'></P><P><B>Verdict : 7</B></P><P>I 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.</p><div ALIGN='CENTER'>Review Disc Supplied by <a href="" target=”_blank”><img src="" Align="absmiddle"></a><br>Please support us by using our review sponsors.</div><TABLE border='0' CELLPADDING='0' CELLSPACING='2' WIDTH='100%'><TR><TD COLSPAN='2'><B>INITIAL D (2005)</B></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Genres</TD><TD><A HREF='' target='_blank'>ACTION</A>, <A HREF='' target='_blank'>DRAMA</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Director</TD><TD><A HREF=' KEUNG LAU
SIU FAI MAK' target='_blank'>WAI KEUNG LAU
SIU FAI MAK</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Stars</TD><TD><A HREF=' CHOU' target='_blank'>JAY CHOU</A>, <A HREF=' SUZUKI' target='_blank'>ANNE SUZUKI</A>, <A HREF=' CHEN' target='_blank'>EDISON CHEN</A>, <A HREF=' WONG CHAU-SANG' target='_blank'>ANTHONY WONG CHAU-SANG</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65'><B>Region</B></TD><TD><B>3</B> <FONT>(HONG KONG)</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Supplier</TD><TD><FONT>Media Asia. Released Thursday 18th August 2005</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>SRP</TD><TD><FONT>$19.99</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>DVD9</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Time</TD><TD><FONT>108 mins.</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Chapters</TD><TD><FONT>20</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Picture</TD><TD>Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1&nbsp;</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Sound</TD><TD>Cantonese Dolby Digital <IMG SRC='' ALIGN='ABSMIDDLE' border='0' ALT='Dolby Digital EX Soundtrack'> EX 6.1<BR>Cantonese <IMG SRC='' ALIGN='ABSMIDDLE' border='0' ALT='DTS Soundtrack'> ES 6.1<BR>Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Subtitles</TD><TD>English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Case</TD><TD>Amaray with Slip</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Extras</TD><TD>Trailers<BR>Eight behind the scenes featurettes<BR>Six character featurettes<BR>Making of Featurette<BR>Ten deleted scenes<BR>Outtakes<BR>TV Spots<BR>Promotioin in Shanghai<BR>Promotion in Japan<BR>Photo gallery<BR>Cast and credits</TD></TR></TABLE><P STYLE='text-align: center'>If you would like to comment on this review, please reply below.</P>


just to update you a little bit but it currently has over 32 volumes of manga, 40+ (let's count here...28 for season 1, 12 for season 2, animated movie for stage 3, 20 for season 4 far) episodes of anime, 3 arcade games.

Alot of Initial D took a disheartening disgust on the live action adaptation of the movie. Too many plot points were twisted around, the film makers tried to cram in 3 seasons worth of the anime and they butched Bunta's character so they can turn him into a drunk.

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