Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno (Ruroni Kenshin: Kyoto taika-hen) (Blu-ray) (2014)

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Released 11-Mar-2015

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Featurette-Introduction to Rurouni Kenshin (5:58)
Theatrical Trailer
Teaser Trailer-Eastern Eye trailers x 4
TV Spots
Trailer-Eastern Eye trailers x 4
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2014
Running Time 138:29
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Keishi Ohtomo
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Emi Takei
Takeru Satoh
Fujiwara Tatsuya
Yū Aoi
Yōsuke Eguchi
Munetaka Aoki
Yusuke Iseya
Min Tanaka
Ryunosuke Kamiki
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Naoki Sato


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Japanese DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
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 Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     The adventures of Kenshin Himura, a master assassin at the time of the Meiji Restoration in Japan who takes a vow that he will no longer kill, were first chronicled in a manga by Nobuhiro Watsuki, then in an anime series, an animated feature film, 2 series of OVAs, novels, numerous video games and a live action film Rurouni Kenshin, which was one of the best historical action films I had seen for quite some time. It was perhaps inevitable that a sequel would be made, and in fact two films were made together. This is the first of the two and is called Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno (Ruroni Kenshin: Kyoto taika-hen).

     Japan 1878. It is 11 years since the Meiji Restoration and the once deadly assassin Kenshin Himura, aka Battosai (Satoh Takeru) has found peace in the Kamiya Dojo run by the beautiful Kaoru (Takei Emi), there enjoying the friendship of the urchin Yahiko (Tanaka Taketo ), street fighter Sanosuke (Aoki Munetaka) and doctor and chemist Megumi (Aoi Yu). His fame has grown into a legend and his deeds are being portrayed on stage, much to his and Kaoru’s amusement.

     But trouble is brewing in Kyoto. Shishio Makoto (Fujiwara Tatsuya) was once also an assassin for the Emperor but was betrayed and left for dead, horribly burned, at the end of the Battle of Toba-Fushimi. He survived and is now intent on raising an insurrection in Kyoto and destroying the government. The police forces led by Saito (Yosuke Eguchi), an old enemy of Battosai turned police officer, have been unable to stop him so the government turns to Kenshin as their last hope. Kenshin reluctantly agrees, overriding the wishes of his friends, and travels to Kyoto. On the way he comes across female martial artist Misao (Tsuchiya Tao), helps free a village from Shishio’s thugs and fights Shishio’s baby faced lieutenant Sojiro (Ryunosuke Kamiki), a fight which results in Kenshin’s sword with the sharp edge on the inside being broken.

     In Kyoto Kenshin is introduced by Misao to a group of “Watchers” who will help oppose Shishio. He sets out to have his special non-killing sword remade and teams with Saito and the police to try to find out what Shishio is planning. Kaoru, Yahiko and Sanosuke also decide to travel to Kyoto to help Kenshin, but a far more deadly foe, Aoshi Shinomori (Yusuke Iseya), also comes to Kyoto to kill Kenshin. Shishio’s forces attack but the police, Kenshin and watchers are ready and save Kyoto from an inferno. But it seems that Shishio has in mind a far more complex strategy and that Kyoto is not his prime target. Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno ends with Kaoru, Kenshin and Japan itself in grave danger.

     In Rurouni Kenshin director Keishi Ohtomo set the bar pretty high. I am happy that he maintains this high standard in Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno which is based upon the Kyoto Arc of the magna and anime. This instalment is more leisurely paced than Rurouni Kenshin with additional subplots involving Kenshin obtaining a new sword and the Misao and Aoshi characters. Yet the running time of 138 minutes just flies by and while the action may be more sporadic it is no less exhilarating and innovative, forgoing CGI enhancements in the main for wire work and old fashioned athleticism. The action sequences include a fight in an abandoned mine, a massive battle on the streets of Kyoto and a number of one-on-one duels using swords and other weapons plus there are some more comic moments such as Kenshin and Misao’s first meeting and a repeat gag involving Sanosuke and a pole vault over a canal.

     Away from the action the set design of Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno is spectacular, with the streets, houses and canals of Tokyo and Kyoto beautiful to look at; of special note are the colours in the “in hell” sequence near the beginning. Satoh Takeru is still fabulous as Kenshin; he is genuinely athletic in the action scenes but he can be humorous and gentle and his scenes with Takei Emi are delicate and sweet. And every good film needs a great villain and the heavily bandaged Fujiwara Tatsuya is suitably menacing and deadly.

     Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno is action filmmaking of the highest order that will not disappoint those who enjoyed the first film. What continues to set the Rurouni Kenshin series apart is that it is far more than spectacular action sequences; it retains a light touch when dealing with heavy questions about the use of violence to protect society and to deliver justice. Is it possible to protect the defenceless and innocent from those who enjoy killing without killing yourself? The film ends with things looking very bleak for our heroes so the second part, Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends, promises a lot. It is listed to be released by Madman towards the end of May 2015.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original ratio, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno has been shot using Red Epic digital cameras. The result is spectacular, to my mind better than the first film. Detail is superb, the colours including greens, blues deep and reds vibrant. Some scenes, especially those involving Kaoru near trees or the canal, have a softer pastel look. Blacks are rock solid throughout and shadow detail excellent; the opening mine fight and the pitched battle at night in Kyoto are both beautifully detailed. Skin tones are natural, without that yellowish digital tinge, brightness and contrast consistent.

     Other than slight ghosting with movement in front of vertical lines the print is artefact free.

     English subtitles are provided in a clear white font in American English. I noticed no spelling or grammatical errors.

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

Audio

     Audio is Japanese DTS-MA HD 5.1.

     The dialogue is clear. The rest of the sound stage is a constant barrage of music and sound: gunshots, fireworks, explosions, swords and other weapons clash. Outside of the action sequences there is frequent ambient sound, such as footsteps, crowd noises, weather effects such as thunder and rain, and music. The subwoofer provides good support to the fireworks, thunder and explosions.

     The music by Naoki Sato, who also scored Space Battleship Yamato (2010), is varied; it can be epic and expansive, other times sad and evocative. It added greatly to the enjoyment of the film.

     Lip synchronisation was fine.

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

Extras

Introduction to Rurouni Kenshin (5:58)

     An extended trailer / promotion for the two new films plus a recap of the previous live action film Rurouni Kenshin.

TV Spots (2:08)

     Four TV spots.

Teaser Trailer (1:09)

Theatrical Trailer (1:50)

Eastern Eye Trailers (7:03)

    Trailers for other films from Madman: The Suspect, Motorway, Gantz 2: Perfect Answer and Space Battleship Yamato.

R4 vs R1

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

     There are a couple of Region A Japanese Blu-ray releases of Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno including a Special Edition. One at least has English subtitles but extras are not English friendly. Region A US and Region B UK do not currently seem to have a release. Buy local.

Summary

     Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno continues the high standard of the first film. It is a spectacular, exciting historical action adventure with exhilarating action, wonderful sets, characters you care about and a wonderful villain, but still manages to raise moral questions about using violence to protect the innocent. If you are a fan of the manga or anime, or enjoyed Rurouni Kenshin, you will enjoy Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno. Bring on the second part!!

     The video looks spectacular, the audio is very good. Extras are limited to promotional stuff.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, April 20, 2015
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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