The Hunted (1995)
Biographies-Cast & Crew
|Year Of Production||1995|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (57:32)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||J.F. Lawton|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The Hunted is a fairly entertaining martial arts/ninja type movie that benefits from a tight script and sparse dialogue (thankfully). Listening to authentic Japanese actors massacre the English language along with everyone else on the screen would probably have been just a bit too much. This is director F.J. Lawton's debut, although his writing credits up to this time are quote notable (Pretty Woman; Under Siege). This is definitely a movie for lovers of all things martial, and the cast help to cover up most of the plot holes nicely. Along with the action, this has some excellent location settings which enhance the storyline immensely.
Christopher Lambert plays Paul Racine, a salesman who meets a mysterious young woman named Kirina, in essence a high-priced call girl played by Joan Chen, in a hotel bar one night during a business trip to Japan. After a brief sake drinking session, they head off to a nearby park where a Kodo Drum concert is being held and thereafter retire to her room for a very sexual spa. Meanwhile, some rooms away, three men - ninjas - are preparing themselves for their night's work. Their leader is the infamous Kinjo (John Lone) of the Makato clan, whose face has never been seen outside of his clan. Their target for the night is Kirina.
Kirina, who knows that the ninjas are after her, has decided to have a last fling with Racine before her demise, but not wanting Racine to become involved, asks him to leave soon afterwards. Racine, on the other hand, has an unfortunate change of mind and goes back to her room to find her being beheaded by Kinjo, whose face he sees before he is attacked by Kinjo's assistants. With a poisoned shuriken in his shoulder and having been stabbed through the stomach they leave, believing him to be dead.
Racine somehow survives, and upon learning this, Kinjo knows he must silence him before he can reveal his identity. In the meantime, a friendly doctor informs a friend, Takeda (Yoshio Harada), a master of Kenjutsu and descendant of a great samurai family with a long history of conflict with the Makato clan. Takeda arrives with his wife (Yoko Shimada) and offers to help, but Racine decides he's got enough protection from the police, much to the chagrin of Takeda. After leaving a number where they can be reached they leave, and Racine soon finds out that a couple of policemen are no match for the deadly ninja who are now stalking him and seeks Takeda's protection, but Takeda has his own agenda.
After the first twenty minutes or so of this disc I was preparing for a lengthy list of problems for this review, but surprisingly enough as the movie progressed the quality improved. Either that, or I simply got used to the few minor problems. In either case, this was a fairly decent transfer overall.
This transfer is presented in the original theatrical release ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced
True to form, the sharpness of the transfer is offset by the amount of edge enhancement in use. Most of the worst cases occur in the first twenty minutes or so. Those of you with 100Hz screens will be able to tell at will, but you become inured to it after the first fifteen minutes fortunately. Shadow detail is better, but not exceptional, although there is good depth of backgrounds visible even during the many night shots. Fine detail is enhanced by the fact that grain is mostly under control. At worst it was annoying, with the odd scene that did have some fuzzy spots that made the picture blur for a split second or two but for the most part it was reasonably light.
There seems to have been some oversaturation of colour in the initial twenty or so minutes, but after this the colours settle down markedly and become vibrant without being as saturated as before. To highlight what I am talking about, the opening minutes see Joan Chen in a red dress with Christopher Lambert. At 9:19, Chen opens a pair of sliding doors and her outline (edge enhanced) shows substantial colour bleed into the white ghosted area. A similar problem occurs at 13:45 as she walks across the room. Her dress 'bleeds' colour noticeably as she moves. After this though, things change for the better. Skin tones, which had been tinged with red, become more natural in colouration as the movie progresses. The palette used wasn't huge but was sufficient once the saturation level dropped.
I couldn't detect any MPEG artefacts in the transfer although my DVD player did have a fit at one stage and sent the picture into a massive macro-fest. I replayed this a couple of times but couldn't repeat it (dust, I hope). The most impressive feature of this transfer is that there are almost no film-to-video or film artefacts to disturb the viewing pleasure. There were certainly a few flecks and scratches on the print in the opening few minutes, but apart from a few miniscule white specks that occur later on in the movie there was nothing worth reporting here. The usual aliasing, moiréing and wobble were pleasantly absent.
The subtitles are a god-send on this disc, and there is a sizeable array to choose from. I spent a lot of the time with them enabled so I could understand the Japanese being spoken. They don't follow all the spoken word precisely, but they certainly enhanced my understanding of the events transpiring on the screen. They were a little hard to read, font-wise, and you miss a lot of the action trying to read them because of this. Otherwise. I can't complain. I personally preferred having them enabled so that I could follow what was going on in the movie. They occupy the lower 1/8th of the screen and are white with a black border.
The layer change takes place at 57:32, smack in the middle of a scene. The police are photographing bodies on a train and the only way you can detect the layer change is by the extra time taken on that particular snapshot and by the fact that the music stops for about a second. As changes go, it is poorly placed but beautifully done, and there are no complaints here.
There is an interesting choice of soundtracks available on this disc. I stuck with the track that most of us will probably default to, the English Dolby Digital 5.1 at a reasonable 384 kilobits per second. There are also tracks in French/German/Italian and Spanish in Dolby Digital 2.0, surround encoded, at 192 kilobits per second. There didn't seem to be much difference between all five options, with the Dolby Digital 5.1 having a slightly fuller sound across the fronts, but little else.
Surprisingly enough, even though there were plenty of hard-to-understand Japanese voices (not to mention the problems Christopher Lambert has with inflection and intonation at times), the dialogue was fairly easy to understand. I suppose that's because we have been conditioned to some degree. As such, syncing wasn't an issue because there was little if any dubbing noticeable.
The music is accredited to Motofumi Yamaguchi and Leonard Ito and consisted of lots of Taiko drums and flutes along with traditional Japanese music. For the most part, it was uninspiring because I don't get exposed to a lot of Japanese music, but the Taiko drums (performed by Koto) were excellent.
Although listed as a 5.1 disc the surrounds were very quiet. There was some musical activity in the surrounds, but since the music was very light and sparse, the surrounds had little to do.
The subwoofer was even less in evidence than the surrounds and apart from the odd, very occasional redirected signal from the drum beats, and one crash of lightning, there was almost nothing to be heard (or felt) from the .1 channel.
|Surround Channel Use|
From the looks of it, it would seem that the Region 4 version of this disc is exactly the same as the Region 1, with the exception of more subtitles and Italian/German/Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 surround soundtracks. Call it a draw on features and go directly for price, making the R4 better value. The superior PAL encoding makes it even more attractive.
|DVD||Loewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Xelos (81cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Rotel RSP-976. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Rotel RB 985 MkII|
|Speakers||JBL TLX16s Front Speakers, Polk Audio LS fx di/bipole Rear Speakers, Polk Audio CS350-LS Centre Speaker, M&KV-75 Subwoofer|