Daredevil in the Castle (Osaka jo monogatari) (1961)

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Released 14-Mar-2007

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Gallery
Trailer-Rashomon; The Myth; Kill!
Reversible Cover
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1961
Running Time 95:00
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Hiroshi Inagaki
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Toshirô Mifune
Kyôko Kagawa
Yuriko Hoshi
Yoshiko Kuga
Isuzu Yamada
Yosuke Natsuki
Jun Tazaki
Danko Ichikawa
Akihiko Hirata
Takashi Shimura
Koedako Kuroiwa
Tetsuro Tamba
Tadao Nakamaru
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Akira Ifukube


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.00:1
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

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

Plot Synopsis

    Samurai Mohei (Toshiro Mifune) wanders into Osaka looking for work. An orphan of the war, he's been left to his own devices for quite a while and is content to throw his weight around when need be. His fiery attitude gets him noticed pretty quickly in town, and he is hired by the ruling Toyotomi clan as a swordsman. While in their employ he takes on a few missions, thwarting the odd kidnapping and saving their lady from some sleazy Portuguese sailors. The siege of Osaka Castle is imminent, and with the help of his ninja buddy Saizo (Danko Ichikawa) they need to arm the Toyotomi battalions with stolen Portuguese guns before they're wiped out in the invasion.

    Daredevil in the Castle is sufficiently tense, but it's not a particularly bloody samurai film. In fact, swords are often swung about but rarely seem to make contact. The action scenes are often shown from a distance, which can be a bit frustrating to watch, especially when you want to keep track of who's fighting who.

    Directed by Hiroshi Inagaki, I didn't feel that Daredevil even remotely lives up to his classic Samurai Trilogy or Incident at Blood Pass. I actually found the story a little hard to follow on my first viewing, which may be attributed to the difficult subtitles. Toshiro Mifune saves the film with a convincing, intense performance as always, with a certain swagger cinema-goers would soon see fine tuned in his next film: Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is 16x9 enhanced and is presented in a 2.0:1 aspect ratio with black bars on the top and bottom of the image. The original Tohoscope theatrical ratio should be 2.35:1.

    I understand this film is over 45 years old, but surely this isn't the best source available. This is a very ordinary transfer, and judging by the placement of the Toho logo in the opening credits it appears to have been sourced from a non-anamorphic analogue master. This means the non-anamorphic widescreen source has been cropped top and bottom to create an anamorphic transfer. As you would expect from such a process, resolution is poor. The transfer is also riddled with overlapping frames, pointing to an analogue source.

    The image is much too bright - so bright that the white Japanese character text in the opening titles has become nothing but white blobs on the screen with little to no definition. Areas of the image that should be black are dark grey at best. Even the 'black bars' on the top and bottom of the image are grey. As a result, colours are heavily washed out.

    Scratches and dirty marks on the source print are rife. Virtually every film artefact you could name is present here. The MPEG video compression struggles to keep up with the cornucopia of imperfections at play in the image.

    An optional English subtitle stream is provided. The yellow font is squashed vertically and awkward to read. The translation contains numerous spelling and grammatical errors, making the story somewhat difficult to follow at times. Some lines flash on screen far too quickly to be read. Perhaps the subtitle errors were inserted to draw attention away from the lack in video quality?

    This disc is single layered (DVD5 format).

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

Audio

    The film's original Japanese soundtrack is included, presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s).

    Like the video presentation, the audio doesn't fare well. Clicks, pops, dropouts and distortion are frequent.

    The dialogue is generally discernable. Audio sync varies. You'll more than likely be too busy trying to decipher the subtitles to be worried about the accuracy of the lip-sync.

    The score is largely traditional and suits the vintage of the film well. It does sound distorted at times.

    The subwoofer and surround channels are not utilised.

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

Extras

    The back of the cover slick lists the film's original trailer as an extra, but it is not actually included on the disc.

Menu

    The menu page is animated with a visually distorted scene from the film, with audio.

Gallery- Stills

    Eighteen monochrome stills taken during the production. These are sharper than the video transfer.

Trailers (3)

    Additional Madman trailers for Rashomon, The Myth and Kill!.

Reversible Cover Slick

    The reverse side of the slick contains alternate cover art, void of the unsightly ratings logos.

R4 vs R1

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

    This title appears to be exclusive to Region 4 at the moment.

Summary

    Daredevil in the Castle is an average samurai battle epic, saved by a typically convincing performance from Mifune.

    The transfer is less than average.

    The extras are limited to a few stills and unrelated trailers.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Monday, May 28, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using HDMI 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 DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR3806
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

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