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Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 28, 2010 by  



A film based on a true story, “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” is an enjoyable and entertaining film about the love and loyalty of a dog to its owner.  A film that will make you laugh and cry, “Hacki: A Dog’s Tale” is a film worth watching!

© 2008 Hachiko, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Hachi: A Dog’s Tale

DURATION: 93 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1),  English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English, English SDH

COMPANY: Sony Wonder/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: G

RELEASE DATE: March 9, 2010

Directed by Lasse Hallstrom

Screenplay by Sephen P. Lindsey

Executive Producer: Jim Sebel, Paul Mason, Jeff Abberly, Julia Blackman

Co-Executive Producer: Tom Luse

Produced by Vicki Shigekuni Wong, Bill Johnson, Richard Gere

Co-Producer: Dean Schnider

Cinematography by Ron Fortunato

Music by Liz Gallacher

Edited by Kristina Boden

Casting by Rick Montgomery

Production Design by Chad Detwiller

Art Direction by Ross Dempster, Kendelle Elliott, Dan Hermansen, Don Macaulay

Costume Design by  Deborah Newhall

Starring:

Richard Gere as Parker Wilson

Joan Allen as Cate Wilson

Sarah Roemer as Andy Wilson

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa Ken

Erick Avari asJess

Jason Alexander as Carl

Favenia McFadden as Mary Anne

Forest as Hachi

Kevin DeCoste as Ronnie

Robbie Sublett as Michael

From Academy Award®-nominated director Lasse Hallström (2000, The Cider House Rules) comes HACHI: A DOG’S TALE, a film based on one of the most treasured and heartwarming true stories ever told. Golden Globe winner Richard Gere (2002, Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy, Chicago) stars as Professor Parker Wilson, a distinguished scholar who discovers a lost Akita puppy on his way home from work. Despite initial objections from Wilson’s wife, Cate (Academy Award® nominee Joan Allen – 2000, Best Actress, The Contender), Hachi endears himself into the Wilson family and grows to be Parker’s loyal companion. As their bond grows deeper, a beautiful relationship unfolds embodying the true spirit of family and loyalty, while inspiring the hearts of an entire town.

When I first visited Tokyo, Japan, one of the stories that intrigued me before my trip was the story of Hachiko, a dog who would wait outside Shibuya Station back in the 1930’s.  Everyday, for ten years since the passing of his master, Hachiko would wait for his master’s return.  A popular story of a loyalty between a dog and its owner, a bronze statue of Hachiko is featured at the dog’s waiting spot and has become a popular tourist attraction and has become a national symbol in Japan for loyalty.

The story of Hachiko touched producer Vicki Shikeguni Wong during her trip to Tokyo and inspired to make a film titled “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” based on the true Japanese story for American audiences.  Directed by Oscar-nominated director Lasse Hallström (“Chocolat”, “Cider House Rules”, “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”) and a screenplay by Stephen P. Lindsey (“When they Could Fly”, “The Secret of Fireflies”), the film would feature cinematography by Ron Fortunato (“Gossip Girl”, “Catch a Fire”, “Brotherhood”) and music composed by Jan A.P. Kaczmarek (“Get Low”, “Horsemen”, “Unfaithful”).

The film revolves around college professor Parker Wilson (played by Richard Gere, “Pretty Woman”, “Chicago”, “Unfaithful”, “Primal Fear”) who was coming home from a trip and a small Akita who was accidentally left behind walks up to Parker who then takes the dog back home.

Unfortunately, his wife Cate (played by Joan Allen, “The Bourne Identity” films, “Face/Off”, “The Contender”) is not thrilled to see a dog in the house, even when their daughter Andy (played by Sarah Roemer, “Disturbia”, “Fired Up!”, “The Grudge”) pleads with the mother to keep it.

Parker then learns from his friend Ken (played by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, “The Art of War”, “Planet of the Apes”, “Memoirs of a Geisha”) that the dog’s name is “Hachi” and is an Akita that were popular in feudal Japan. But as Parker tries to find its owner and tries to give the dog away, he finds himself loving the dog and Cate just notices how he is really loving his company with the dog and thus, allows him to keep it.

Fast forward year(s) later and Hachi is a grown dog who is loyal to his owner.  He goes home when Parker tells him to and when he hears the incoming train whistling, Hachi knows that his master is coming home and runs to the station and greets him near the station exit.  Among the people who are familiar with Hachi’s routine is Carl (played by Jason Alexander, “Pretty Woman”, “Seinfeld”) who works at the station, Jess (played by Erick Avari, “Heroes”, “Dragnet”) who runs a hot dog concessions stand outside of the station and often gives food to Hachi and a few other business owners around the area.

And throughout the seasons, Hachi has repeated his routine of waiting for his master through warm and cold, heavy snow days and has always been loyal to Parker by waiting for him when he returns to the station.  But one day, Parker has a stroke at the University while teaching and dies.  With Parker’s death, Cate moves out of their home, while Sarah and her husband Michael then take in Hachi to their home but no matter how far they live, Hachi manages to find his way back to the station when he hears the train whistling, waiting for his master to come back from the station.

Despite knowing that Parker will never come back, Sarah and those who work around the station continue to support Hachi everyday (for ten years) while he waits for his master’s return.

VIDEO:

“Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1).  The film looks beautiful on Blu-ray as it manages to capture the seasons as Hachi waits for his master.  Blacks are nice and deep, detail from the fur of Hachi to detail on Parker’s wool suits.  Skin tones are natural and again, the detail from the various seasons of trees with leaves and without, snowy conditions, everything looks beautiful in this film. Interesting use of muted colors when the film shifts to Hachi’s perspective, as the filmmaker tries to show things through Hachi’s eyes.  Overall, very good picture quality for this film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” is features an English 5.1 DTS-HD MA lossless audio track.  The majority of the film is dialogue driven and thus front and center channel driven but there are a few moments in the film such as a cold windstorm in which you hear rickety noises and wood and object clanging in the background that utilizes the surround channels.  Also, scenes that feature the train running through the train tracks by Hachi is also captured quite well through the surround channels.  Overall, a satisfactory lossless soundtrack for this type of film.

Subtitles are in English and English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Hachi” comes with the following special features in High Definition with English Stereo:

  • A Bondy of Loyalty – The Making of Hachi: A Dog’s Tale – (17:50) A featurette on the making of the film.  Interviews with the talents and why Richard Gere took the role, working with the dogs that played Hachi and more.
  • Previews – Sony Pictures Home Entertainment trailers
  • BD-Live Enabled

“Hachi” definitely caught my attention when I first saw the trailer.  I’ve always been interested in the story of Hachiko and it was definitely one of my priorities during my first trip to Tokyo and wanting to see the actual bronze statue of the dog.  Needless to say, when I first heard an American adaptation to the Hachiko tale, especially when there was the film”Hachiko Monogatari” in 1987 which was a very good film, I was not sure what to expect from “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale”.

But after watching the film, I was very touched and I have to say that they captured that bond between an owner and a dog, the love for a dog by its owner and most of all, that touching loyalty of the original Hachiko story in this film.

It’s quite interesting to see Richard Gere in such a film, because you don’t expect him in this type of film.  You expect him to take on romantic lead roles or authoritative figures but to see him as a dog lover/owner definitely shows a new light for him as an actor and also, I found it quite intriguing to see the reunion of Gere and Jason Alexander since their pairing back in the 1990 film “Pretty Woman”.  But the film also features star talents such as Joan Allen, Erick Avari, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa and you have a talented director with Lasse Hallström.  But more surprising to me that Sony gave this film a very limited release despite having a well-known director and talent behind the film and pretty much made “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” a direct-to-video release.   I wish they would have given this film a chance because it’s a very good film with a solid performance by Richard Gere especially with his interaction with Hachi (you’re not going to see many films with Richard Gere with a tennis ball in his mouth, while trying to teach a dog how to play fetch).

Granted, when it comes to canine films especially with a well-known story about Hachiko the dog, I can understand if people are hesitant after seeing tearjerkers such as “Quill” or even “Marley & Me”.  It’s a very touching film and pays its respect quite well to the original Japanese story based on the real story about Professor Hidesaburo Ueno and his Akita, Hachiko.

Overall, “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” is an enjoyable and touching film that will make you laugh and cry and a film definitely worth watching!

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