The Incident at Blood Pass (Machibuse) (1970)

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Released 16-Aug-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Zatoichi At Large; Samurai Assassin; Kill!
Reversible Cover
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1970
Running Time 112:40 (Case: 118)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (52:22) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Hiroshi Inagaki
Studio
Distributor
Madman
Madman Entertainment
Starring Toshirô Mifune
Yûjirô Ishihara
Ruriko Asaoka
Shintarô Katsu
Kinnosuke Nakamura
Chûsha Ichikawa
Ichirô Arishima
Mika Kitagawa
Yoshio Tsuchiya
Jotaro Togami
Chieko Nakakita
Ryunosuke Yamazaki
Seishiro Hisano
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Masaru Satô


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Directed by Hiroshi Inagaki, Machibuse is the second of two films from 1970 to star both Toshiro Mifune and Shintaro Katsu, the other being Yojimbo Vs. Zatoichi, an installment in the famed Zatoichi series. Incident at Blood Pass is the better of the two in my opinion, with vastly superior direction and an interesting ensemble cast. The literal English translation of Machibuse is Ambush, and that sums up the film pretty accurately.

    A cross-section of characters happen to meet at an Inn, operated by an old man and his granddaughter. These include a nameless Ronin (Toshiro Mifune), a crooked gambler/wanderer who is trying to go straight, a cynical law-keeping officer and his captured criminal, a shifty ex-doctor (Shintaro Katsu) and an abused runaway wife. The Ronin has been given vague instructions to wait there for something to happen and he does just that, resting and enjoying their tough-as-nails sake. When he discovers that his mission is to assist a gang in stealing the Shogunate's gold, he is ordered to kill the innocent inhabitants of the inn, including a beautiful woman he rescued from an abusive husband. All is not what it seems however, and the whole scheme turns out to be a double cross aimed at shafting the gang leader. The Ronin may have to choose between his honor and the affections of a beautiful woman.

    Machibuse has a distinct western feel about it, partly due to the epic, highly memorable score by Masaru Satô. It's not particularly bloody as far as swordplay films go and there is a very lame fistfight scene included. Mifune and Katsu, however, are an awesome on-screen pair and it is their interaction alone that makes this essential viewing for fans of Samurai cinema. Sadly, this was Inagaki's last outing behind the camera.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This transfer is presented in the film's original 'tohoscope' theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. 16x9 enhancement is included.

    The level of detail is quite good, although the image does become a little grainy at times. Black levels appear solid and given it's age, this is a decent presentation.

    The film's colouring is completely natural and doesn't suffer from any bleeding or oversaturation at all. Skin tones appear accurate.

    An ample constant video bitrate of 8.4 Mb/s has been applied and I didn't note any MPEG compression artefacting. Some film artefacts can be seen but these never amount to anything more than tiny specs of dust and dirt. I noticed some distracting combing artefacts at 58:29, which may point to an interlaced video master.

    An English subtitle stream is activated by default and can be removed if necessary. The font is coloured yellow for spoken words and white for translation of titles on screen. The text is normally situated within the bottom black bar of the transfer. I noted a couple of spelling errors in the text and there is a strange fault present that repeats some lines unnecessarily.

    This disc is dual layered (DVD9 formatted), with the layer transition placed during a still, silent moment mid-scene at 52:22.

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

Audio

    The film's original Japanese language mono soundtrack is provided, presented in Dolby Digital 2.0. This audio stream is incorrectly flagged as English on the disc itself.

    The dialogue is always clear and easy to discern. There are no irritating ADR or sync issues to speak of. On the whole, this soundtrack is crisp and easy on the ears, free of distortion and any nasty pops or clicks.

    The score by Masaru Satô is obviously western influenced, orchestral and epic with bursts of brass that are accompanied by interesting threads of traditional Japanese percussion. This is an inspiring score and highly memorable.

    The surround channels and subwoofer were given the night off.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu pages are all 16x9 enhanced. The main menu features an audio clip from the film's score and a selection of key scenes that subtly animate the background.

Theatrical Trailer (2:47)

    The trailer is not 16x9 enhanced, however it is very well subtitled.

Madman Trailers (3)

    Trailers are included for Zatoichi At Large, Samurai Assassin and Kill!

Reversible Cover Slick

    The reverse side of the slick is void of ratings logos.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 disc includes Cast & Crew Biographies, Character Biographies and a few trailers. The transfer quality sounds comparable to ours, so I don't see any reason not to go with the local product.

Summary

    The Incident At Blood Pass is fantastic Samurai-style entertainment with a distinct western flavour. The pairing of Mifune and Katsu makes for a special experience indeed.

    The transfer is good.

    The extras are limited to several trailers.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Friday, September 29, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using DVI output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

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