An Actor’s Revenge (Yukinojo henge) (Directors Suite) (1963)

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Released 13-Jul-2010

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Booklet-by John Berra, editor of The Directory of World Cinema:Japan
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Directors Suite trailers
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1963
Running Time 108:37 (Case: 113)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (58:40) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Kon Ichikawa
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Kazuo Hasegawa
Fujiko Yamamoto
Ayako Wakao
Eiji Funakoshi
Narutoshi Hayashi
Eijirô Yanagi
Chűsha Ichikawa
Ganjiro Nakamura
Saburo Date
Jun Hamamura
Kikue Môri
Masayoshi Kikuno
Raizô Ichikawa
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Tamekichi Mochizuki
Masao Yagi


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (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
English Alternate Subtitles
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Set in 19th century Edo, An Actor’s Revenge (also known as Revenge of a Kabuki Actor) tells the tale of Yukinojo (Kazuo Hasegawa), a very skilled Oyama. An Oyama is a male actor who plays the parts of females in Kabuki Theatre. Yukinojo is a very accomplished actor; his acting helps him to hide or mask the painful memories of his past.

     While on stage one night Yukinojo witnesses Dobe, the magistrate who was involved in the deaths of his parents. This encounter plants the seed for revenge in Yukinojo's mind. The plan is put into place, not just for Dobe but also for his accomplices, Kawaguchiya and Hiromiya. Yukinojo uses his intelligence and charm to shame and embarrass the conspirators in his desire to enact his revenge. However, just like all good stories, there is a twist. Dobe’s daughter, Namiji, falls in love with him after a performance. Will Yukinojo go through with his planned revenge and what will be the emotional cost?

     Director Kon Ichikawa was known in the Japanese Studio system of the 1950s and 1960s as the man one turned to when a production was troubled. He saw himself as extremely fortunate to do a job he loved, and thus was happy to take on any project a studio would give him. For this reason, his cinematic work is viewed today as eclectic; he didn't make his films in a consistent auteuristic style such as his more noted Japanese contemporaries such as Akira Kurosawa, Yasujiro Ozu and Kenji Mizoguchi.

     Apparently, Ichikawa was assigned this project by Daiei Studios as a punishment for the lack of box-office success with his previous three productions, Conflagration (1958), Bonchi (1960) and The Outcast (1962). An Actor's Revenge was also actor Kazuo Hasegawa's 300th role as a film actor and it seems Daiei chose to re-make this silent classic of Japanese cinema in which Hasegawa had starred some twenty five years before as a sure bet for the box-office.

     Despite not being known as an auteur of Japanese cinema Ichikawa, together with his scriptwriter wife Natto Wada, has made noteworthy contributions to Japanese cinema such as the anti-war films The Burmese Harp and Fires on the Plain, this film, An Actor's Revenge, and the groundbreaking humanistic documentary of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Tokyo Olympiad.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Cinematographer Setsuo Kobayashi, who had worked with director Kon Ichikawa before on the beautifully-shot films The Burmese Harp and The Fires on the Plain, contributes to another well-shot film here, albeit using Eastmancolor and in widescreen Daieiscope.

     The original aspect ratio of An Actor's Revenge is 2:35:1. It is 16x9 enhanced. The transfer shares the same slight slim black border as the Region 1 Animeigo DVD release, so the actual DVD aspect ratio of this Madman Region 4 release would be closer to 2:32:1. (The border is so marginal, you probably would only notice it using a software DVD player on a PC, not on a traditional widescreen display.)

     The sharpness and the shadow detail is adequate overall, although the transfer does have film grain which is more noticeable in scenes which utilise dark images. Sometimes the image appears soft; I would say this is more evident in scenes with darker backgrounds.

     The colour has nice brightness and contrast details, but having been shot in original Eastmancolor, which is prone to fading with age, I could imagine that the original theatrical release of An Actor's Revenge was even more richer than what we get on this DVD.

     The average bitrate of the film is a very high 8.65 m/b per sec. The main presentation is spread over two layers of a 7.43 gb dual-layered DVD so there are no compression issues here. The transfer does not have many film artefacts and those that occur are very minimal and not distracting for the viewer.

     Subtitles are presented in default yellow or optional alternative white.

     The RSDL change occurs at 58:40, during a cut in the middle of a scene, so it is noticeable.

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

Audio

     Judging by the image transfer, the Region 4 Madman release of An Actor's Revenge is possibly a port of the Region 1 Animeigo release from 2008. This release featured the original soundtrack and a restored one, and it's likely that what we have here is the inclusion of the restored track from the Region 1 DVD as the soundtrack here is quite clear and dynamic.

     The main audio soundtrack is a Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 track encoded at 224 kbps.

     Dialogue is clear and synchronised.

     Tamekichi Mochizuki and Masao Yagi's score alternates between traditional Japanese music and downbeat 1960s jazz

     There is no surround channel usage because the soundtrack is in original mono, which comes through the front two speakers. The subwoofer is not utilised in this soundtrack.

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

Extras

Booklet - 16-page insert article: Vengeance is mine: Authorship and Identity in Kon Ichikawa's An Actor's Revenge by John Berra.

     Dr. John Berra is an independent scholar and author who has written extensively about American and Japanese Independent Cinema. In 2010 his book, The Directory of World Cinema: Japan was published. This 16-page insert article continues Madman Directors Suite label fine tradition of providing either quality audio commentaries or writings to support their classical cinematic releases. Dr. Berra begins by discussing Kon Ichikawa's film career, his use of literary adaptation, his relationship with his screenwriter wife Natto Wada and his working relationship with Daiei Studios. He then discusses the context of the making of An Actor's Revenge, including a biography of lead actor Kazuo Hasegawa and the themes of the film, elaborating on the kabuki theatrical tradition, the script changes required to adapt it for Hasegawa's performance since he was now in his mid-fifties and the dual roles that Hasegawa performs in the film (he also portrays the thief, Yamitaro). Dr. Berra concludes his essay by stating that An Actor's Revenge is a colourful period thriller because of the combination of Kon Ichikawa's direction, Kazuo Hasegawa's performance and Daiei Studio's sponsorship.

Original Theatrical Trailer (2:42)

     The original trailer is presented here with a softer image and with some film artefacts (lines across the screen).

Directors Suite Trailers

     Four Directors Suite trailers are included for Takeshi Kitano's Dolls, Wong Kar Wai's 2046, Luis Bunuel's The Exterminating Angel and Kenji Mizoguchi's Her Mother's Profession.

R4 vs R1

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

     An Actor's Revenge has been released on DVD in Region 2 by BFI. This United Kingdom release includes a brighter image and a biography of director Kon Ichikawa as the only extra.

     In Region 1 the film has been released on DVD by Animeigo as Revenge of a Kabuki Actor. This release has a similar image transfer to the Region 4 Madman release, albeit at a much lower bitrate as the film is presented on a single-layered disc. There is an option between the original and restored soundtracks and extras include the theatrical trailer, program notes and image gallery.

     The Region 4 madman Directors Suite label release, with it's inclusion of the insert article by Dr. John Berra and it's better video and audio transfers is therefore the best available release of this film currently available on DVD.

Summary

     Kon Ichikawa's An Actor's Revenge may not be the masterpiece that other critics have labelled it, but it is one of Ichikawa's best films he made before his career stuttered after 1965. Whether this was because of the retirement of his collaborator, Natto Wada (in 1965), or a change in the style of films he made is hard to say.

     This Region 4 Madman Directors Suite release is another quality release for Madman's specialist label.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

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