War of the Arrows (Blu-ray) (2011)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
|Year Of Production||2011|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Han-min Kim|
Rye Hei Otani
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
Korean DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Korean Dolby Digital 2.0
English Dolby Digital 2.0
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
'Best Asian Historical Action Epic since Red Cliff'
For genre fans, this is the one you have been waiting for! If you have been feeling lately that many of these films have been a little off the pace or confused or just not very good, this is the one to remind you how great these films can be. I realise that statement above is a bit over the top (especially considering films like 14 Blades and 13 Assassins, which are both excellent films), however that's my view on this film. I thoroughly enjoyed this film. It has an easy to understand story, told well and clearly, incredible action sequences, great acting from the leads, beautiful cinematography (except for some mildly annoying handheld stuff), human drama and emotional resonance.
This is a South Korean production, known in Korea as Choi-jong-byeong-gi Hwal and internationally as War of the Arrows (as it is released here) or Arrow, the Ultimate Weapon. Our local Region B release seems to be a direct port of the US Region A release right down to the FBI warning. It is worth noting that there are at least three cuts of this film, the original theatrical cut (included here) and extended version (only seemingly available in Korea as an extra DVD in the Blu-ray release) and a UK censored version of the theatrical cut which removes some horse falls. The Region B UK release includes this censored version. It was directed with much style by Han-min Kim, who also wrote the screenplay. I was not aware of his work before seeing this film.
The story here is set in Korea during the early 1600s, when Manchurian armies invaded on regular occasions. The film opens with Korean soldiers attacking the house of a Korean military commander who has been accused of treason. He fights back and manages to help his two children escape before being killed. They are a young teenage boy, Nam-Ji (played later by Hae-il Park) and his younger sister, Ja-in (Chae-won Moon). Before escaping their father tells Nam-ji that he must now take over his role as Ja-in's father, a job he takes seriously. They go and live with a friend of their father who takes them in despite the stigma of their father's treason accusation. Thirteen years past and Nam-ji has grown into a hotheaded young man but a very talented archer, like his father was. Ja-in has grown into a very beautiful woman, who is wooed by the son of the man they were adopted by, Seo-Goon (Mu-yeol Kim). Seo-Goon asks Nam-ji for his blessing to marry Ja-in but he objects because he believes Seo-Goon to be a bit of a wimp, and therefore not worthy of his sister. Despite his objections the marriage goes ahead but on the day of the wedding the Manchurians invade, kill many of the people in the village and take the rest captive. They plan to take them back to Manchuria to make them slaves. Nam-ji who declined to attend the wedding, sees the villagers captured and realises he must follow them towards Manchuria to rescue his sister and her husband.
As I mentioned above the action and chase sequences are fantastic with arrows flying everywhere through forests and grasslands. There is lots of suspense and the action is very personal with Nam-Ji going up against a small troop of Manchurian soldiers led by Jyu Shin-ta (Seung-yong Rhoo), uncle to the prince. There are great chase scenes over rough terrain, leaps across rivers and running through the trees. The acting is generally excellent, certainly Hae-il Park and Seung-yong Rhoo do great jobs as the leaders of the two sides. Park won the best actor award at Korea's equivalent of the Oscars. As I mentioned above the story is clear and easy to follow and the pacing is excellent with some quieter moments between the extended action sequences. The finale is very nicely done. Despite a little bit too much hand-held work the cinematography is excellent. This is backed up by quality music and great sound design. Interestingly, the composer and the cinematographer are the same person, Tae-Seong Kim.
Highly recommended and an essential title for genre fans.
The video quality is excellent.
The feature is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio which is the original aspect ratio. It is 1080p HD encoded using the AVC codec.
The picture was extremely clear and sharp throughout. Shadow detail was very good but just a little murky at times.
The colour is excellent despite the restricted colour palette. The colour shines during the wedding ceremony which is the most colourful part of the film.
There was minor shimmer and a little more motion blur than I would like on a Blu-ray.
There are subtitles in English which were clear and easy to read but did have a few spelling mistakes. They seemed to follow the English dub rather than the Korean as a couple of expressions like 'cut the crap' were included. The subtitles can be turned off for Korean speakers.
The audio quality is also excellent.
This disc contains Korean and English soundtracks in DTS HD-MA 5.1 plus Dolby Digital 2.0 for both languages. The English dub seems to be American in origin based on the accents. Personally, the original Korean in DTS HD-MA was an obvious choice. From the moment the film starts you can tell you are in for an aural treat as the sound design was very directional and included many ambient sounds which added to the tension or excitement.
Dialogue seemed easy to understand throughout.
The score by Tae-seong Kim is an absolute winner, significantly adding to the film's atmosphere and tension.
The surround speakers were used wonderfully well, with arrows whizzing everywhere, chase scenes and noises in the forest being just some examples of their usage.
The subwoofer was also used very noticeably adding to the tension and filling out horses galloping and supporting the music.
|Surround Channel Use|
A small selection of extras are included. Subtitles are available for the extras.
The menu featured music, action and scene selection.
This short featurette is in Korean but there are English subtitles. The cast & crew discuss the characters, prep, the dangers of the mostly real action sequences and other topics. Not bad but far too short.
Really just an extended trailer.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The US Region A release seems to be exactly the same as ours. The Korean Region A release included the extended version on a DVD along with the theatrical version on Blu-ray. The Korean version seems to include English subtitles for the feature but not the extras. For English speaking audiences, I would recommend the local release. As I mentioned above the Region B UK release contains the UK cut version of the theatrical cut.
The video quality is excellent.
The audio quality is excellent.The extras are minor.
|DVD||SONY BDP-S760 Blu-ray, using HDMI output|
|Display||Sharp LC52LE820X Quattron 52" Full HD LED-LCD TV . Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built into amplifier. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||Monitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer|