Arahan (Arahan Jangpung Daejakjeon) (2004)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 24-May-2005

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Martial Arts Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Making Of
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer-2
TV Spots-1
Trailer-Eastern Eye Trailers
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 113:11
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (41:41) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Seung-wan Ryoo
Studio
Distributor
Cinema Service
Madman Entertainment
Starring Seung-beom Ryu
So-yi Yoon
Sung-kee Ahn
Doo-hong Jung
Ju-sang Yun
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Jae-kwon Han


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Korean Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Korean Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Korean dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

    I have reviewed (and mostly enjoyed) quite a few Korean films lately. The first two I saw were very entertaining, being Tube and Bichunmoo. The next one, Shiri, suffered from being overly violent and having a very bad video transfer which made it virtually impossible to watch. Accordingly, I decided to give this one a try, released as part of the Eastern Eye range.

    Arahan (the full Korean title is Arahan jangpung daejakjeon) is a martial arts action comedy based upon an anime. The story's main character is a bumbling and not overly bright policeman, Sang-Hwan (Ryu Seung-Beom), who whilst in pursuit of a criminal meets a young woman who uses what seem like super powers to stop the criminal. Her name is Eui-Jin (Yoon So-Yi) and she is the daughter of one of a group of martial arts masters called The Seven Masters. Unfortunately, there are only actually five of them which is where the plot gets a little confusing. The back story of these Seven Masters and their enemy Heug-un (Jung Du-Hong) is not really ever explained and is only partly explained in a flashback after 80 minutes of the film. In short, they are people who have attained the state of Arahan, which means that you have nothing left to learn about controlling you chi, or lifeforce. The Seven Masters decide that Sang-Hwan can become a powerful martial artist because he has very strong chi and offer to train him accordingly. Although initially reluctant, his attraction to Eui-Jin causes him to agree to the training. When Heug-un is released from his underground prison by a construction project, Eui-Jin, Sang-Hwan and the Seven Masters must join forces to stop him.

    As far as the martial arts scenes in this film go, there are certainly some excellent stunts and exciting fight scenes. There is a lot of wire work so if you don't like that then maybe this one isn't for you. Unfortunately, the comedy scenes do not fare as well and most of the first hour of the movie I found to be a little tedious and confusing. The second half really takes off and is all action and saves the movie, especially the climactic fight scene. Some of the training scenes reminded me very much of The Karate Kid which is not necessarily a good thing. I think better editing would have helped this film, especially in terms of explaining the plot better so non-Korean non-anime reading audiences could understand it.

    This film is certainly worth seeing for fans of Asian Martial Arts films, however it is certainly not the best of the genre as it is reasonably confusing and lacks pace in the first half. I would recommend a rental first.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is excellent, and is only marred by some mild artefacts.

    The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is close to the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1.

    The picture was very clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. Details such as lines on people's faces were clearly visible. The shadow detail was very good.

    The colour was excellent with no issues to report.

    There were some noticeable film-to-video artefacts such as aliasing on a tie at 37:23, a rope at 70:30 and the background at 100:30. These were not too bad but were certainly visible. There was also some macro-blocking to be seen in large single colours expanses such as the cream banners at 101:45 and in that scene generally.

    There are subtitles in English which is useful as all the soundtracks are in Korean, but I suppose that is preferable to bad dubbing. The subtitles are in yellow, however, the English translation is not perfect and some grammatical errors have crept in.

    The layer change occurs at approximately 41:41 but I could not pick it up. My PC tells me it is somewhere in Chapter 7.
    

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

Audio

    The audio quality is very good but not quite excellent. It is not that there is anything wrong with it particularly it is just not quite as full and rich as the best Hollywood has to offer in terms of sound quality.

    This DVD contains three audio options, a Korean Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at a less than full rate 384 Kb/s, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s and a Korean DTS 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 768 Kb/s. I listened to the entire DTS track and widely sampled the Dolby Digital 5.1 track and found them to be surprisingly similar, which considering that the Dolby Digital track is not at the full bitrate says something about the quality of the sound overall. Don't get me wrong, the sound is very good, it's just not great and it certainly does not qualify as my new system test disc when compared to something like Man on Fire.

    Dialogue seemed clear and easy to understand and there was no problems with audio sync, however, since I don't understand Korean this is really a guess.

    The score of this film by Jae-Kwon Han does not really stand out and is not actually used that much during the film. The music that is used is quite good.

    The surround speakers added some quite good directional effects and some atmosphere however were not spectacularly immersive. I thought more use could have been made of the surrounds especially considering the amount of action in the film.

     The subwoofer was used to add tension and atmosphere to the big set pieces. Quite good but not a standout.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu included stills, and the ability to select scenes, soundtracks and subtitles.

Making of Arahan (18:48)

    This is in Korean with burned in subtitles. It is quite interesting and covers the training of the actors, sets, casting, stunts, wire work, make-up and the various accidents which held up production. It includes quite a lot of behind-the-scenes footage. Worth watching.

Cast & Crew Interviews

    This includes three separate interviews, all in Korean with English subtitles. All are quite interesting.

Theatrical Trailer (1:56)

    Obviously designed for a Korean audience, this one focuses on the action.

International Trailer (2:40)

    This one gives much more of the back story and focuses on the bad guy.

TV Spot (0:33)

    Obviously for Korean TV, this one has no subtitles.

Eastern Eye Trailers

    Includes an Eastern Eye Promo Reel, Volcano High, Musa & Seven Samurai.

R4 vs R1

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

    The only version of this movie which seems to have been released other than this one is a Region 3 Korean NTSC version, which is available either in a limited edition version with more packaging or a straight two-disc version. I will note below which items are only included in the LE version.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 3 version of this disc misses out on;

    On this basis the Region 3 version of the disc is the winner if you like flashy packaging and/or can speak Korean. If you only speak English the local version is probably a better choice. I will go with Region 4 on that basis.

Summary

    A Korean martial arts film which has a great second half but a tedious and confusing first half.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is very good but just slightly lacking in a killer punch.

    The disc has a reasonable selection of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Thursday, March 10, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

Other Reviews
The DVD Bits - Damien M

Comments (Add) NONE