Wrath of Vajra, The (Blu-ray) (2013)

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Released 16-Apr-2014

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Featurette-Making Of
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-x 3 for other films
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2013
Running Time 110:30 (Case: 115)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Wing-cheong Law
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Shi Yanneng
Steve Yoo
Jiang Baocheng
Nam Hyunjoon
Ya Mei
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Chen Tao
Wang Bei


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Mandarin DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Mandarin Dolby Digital 2.0
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     In the 1930s the Japanese death cult Hades purchased children from around the world and trained them in China to become deadly fighters and assassins. However, the cult was suppressed by the Japanese military, its leader jailed and its members scattered. But 12 years later in WW2 the Japanese army faced increasing resistance in China and the cult is revived and its greatest fighter, Kurashige Daisuke (Steve Yoo), sent to China to reopen the Hades Temple near the Southern Shaolin Temple, retrain the fighters and create the next generation of assassins by buying local children and training them in the Hades arts. But Kurashige faces opposition from his childhood friend and ex-Hades assassin K-29 (Shi Yanneng) who has become a Shaolin monk and is determined to stop Hades and rescue the children. To do so he will have to defeat in single combat the two premier Hades fighters, the giant Tetsumaki (Jiang Baocheng) and the Crazy Monkey demon (Nam Hyunjoon), before taking on Kurashige in a fight to the death.

     The Wrath of Vajra is a film that sticks to the formula and ticks all the boxes: the hero and protagonist look great with their shirts off, the final fight is conducted during a convenient rain storm that just as suddenly stops, there are hero shots of the lead actor posing in meditation in front of a waterfall or on a cliff, the fights are accompanied by heavy percussion, a cello features on the soundtrack and the film ends with a female vocalist over the closing credits. However, the film also becomes quite bogged down in exposition during the first 20 minutes or so, there are attempts at Buddhist philosophy that drag the story to a halt, some poor acting, especially from the Americans added to the cast, and there is a token female (Ya Mei) who adds nothing to the plot. But what The Wrath of Vajra has in spades are some of the best one on one fight scenes in recent memory.

     These action sequences are brutal, exhilarating, visually stunning and varied. The film uses a fair amount of wire work, but in the main it features skilled martial artists doing their thing. The fight between Shi Yanneng and the giant Jiang Baocheng, a genuine hulk, is more WWE while the climax between Shi and Steve Yoo is a powerful martial arts sequence that would not be out of place in a Sammo Hung Wing Chun film!! But the undoubted highlight, and one that by itself makes The Wrath of Vajra worth watching, is the fight between Shi and Nam Hyunjoon up and around the Temple set and into the water. Nam is a Korean dancer and he displays in this sequence the athleticism and acrobatic abilities of Yuen Biao in his heyday making a fantastic opponent. The film’s action choreographer is Zhang Peng, whose credits include Kick-Ass (2010), but after writing this review I saw that the other credited action choreographer was the great Sammo Hung, who has forgotten more about inventive action sequences than most people ever knew! Enough said.

     By adding exposition and philosophy The Wrath of Vajra tries to be deep and meaningful, but is let down by poor plotting and poorer acting. Hey, but this is an action film and on this level The Wrath of Vajra delivers with some of the most brutal, varied and spectacular action sequences in recent memory.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The Wrath of Vajra is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original ratio, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     The detail is superb, with every drop of rain or spray of blood showing clearly. The exteriors of mountainside and hills look beautiful with clean natural colours, the Temple set is spectacular. Interiors can be dark and interior colours are sometimes affected by the usual digital yellow tinge, but blacks are solid and shadow detail excellent. Shin tones do vary, sometime looking quite light, other times very bronzed.

     Other than slight ghosting against mottled backgrounds I did not notice any artefacts or marks.

     American English subtitles are provided in a largish, easy to read white font. I did not notice any spelling or grammatical errors.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio choices are Mandarin / Japanese DTS-MA HD 5.1, English DTS-MA HD 5.1, Mandarin / Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo and English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. I listened to the original Mandarin / Japanese DTS track, ignoring the dubs.

     This is a booming audio track. Dialogue is clear and centred except where the speaker was out of frame, while the surrounds and rears are constantly in action with shouts, punches impacting on bodies, chanting and music, while kicks and punches whoosh around the sound stage. There is also always some ambience such as insects or running water while the music, especially the percussion during fights, is loud which is to be expected. The subwoofer provides good support to the punches, bodies hitting the floor and the music.

     The score by Chen Tao and Wang Bei is percussion, cello and orchestral. It is nothing that has not been heard before but is appropriate for the film and does what it is supposed to do.

     Lip synchronisation was sometimes out as Chinese actors played Japanese speakers. However, this was not distracting.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Making of (25:46)

    In the sub-menu this making of is sub-divided into 6 sections: The Mission, Martial Arts Styles, The Rebirth, Fighting I, Fighting II and Fighting III, but these titles are misleading. This making of is actually six EPKs promoting the film with extensive film footage, on-set footage including some of the fights and stunts and interview snippets with the principal actors Shi Yanneng and Steve Yoo, various other cast members, the director, producers and action director. Some of the footage is repeated but this extra is worth a look.

Theatrical Trailer (3:00)

    

Trailers

    On start-up trailers play for Go Well USA releases (1:00), The Suspect (1:33), Special ID (1:35) and Badges of Fury (1:39). The three film trailers can also be selected from the menu.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Our release is identical to the Region A US release of The Wrath of Vajra including the FBI anti-piracy warning.

Summary

     The Wrath of Vajra mixes a Shaolin monk with a Japanese death cult and delivers some of the most brutal, varied and exhilarating action sequences in recent memory. Who needs a plot or acting when you have such incredible action sequences!

     The video is fine, the audio loud and enveloping. The extra is reasonable.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, May 08, 2014
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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