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Broken Sword Hero (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

 “Broken Sword Hero” is an entertaining historical/martial arts film based on Thailand’s noble hero, Phraya Phichai.  How a troublemaker teen would become a well-renown fighter but also how he would become the loyal general of King Taksin the Great.  Fast-paced and a lot of fun to watch, “Broken Sword” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Sahamongkolfilm International Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Broken Sword Hero

FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 122 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9 widescreen), Thai DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment

RATED: N/A

RELEASE DATE: October 31, 2017


Directed by Bin Bunluerit

Produced by Somsak Techaratanaprasert, Tanit Jitnukul, Bin Bunluerit


Starring:

Buakaw Banchamek as Thongdee

Phutharit Prombandal as Taksin

Somsin Maneewan as Ramyong

Nantawut Boonrubsub as Cherd

Vannapoom Songsuparp as Boonkerd

Chutirada Junthit as Mauylek

Phutarit Prombandal as Rueang

Jaran Ngamdee as Khru How


Buakaw Banchamek is a Thai welterweight and Muay Thai kickboxer. First film role was in Muay Thai Warrior (2010) directed by Nopporn Watin.


In Thailand, Phraya Phichal Dap Hak is a national hero that served under King Taksin and helped repel the Burmese and reuniting Siam (Thailand).  Known for his boxing style who was unafraid to take anyone on, the heroic character’s life is the main story of “Broken Sword Hero”.

Starring Buakaw Banchamek, the Thai Welterweight Muay Thai kickboxer, the film marks Buakaw’s first major lead role in a film (his fourth film overall).  The film also stars Phutharit Prombandal, Somsin Maneewan, Nantawut Boonrubsub, Vannapoom Songsuparp, Chutirada Junthit, Phutharit Prombandai and Jaran Ngamdee.

And now the film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Well Go USA in October 2017.

The film begins with a young man named Joi (portrayed by Buakaw Banchamek) being pursued and running for his life, meanwhile cracking a smile while being chased.

The film then goes back to when Joi was a boy and being chased by a group of kids.  A boy named Cherd is the son of an important leader and often Joi is bullied by the kids, but he is not afraid to fight back.

One day he goes to his uncle to teach him Muay Thai but the uncle tells him to go to his father, who is a championship fighter but Joi explains his father won’t teach him.  We then see Joi’s father comes to him and is upset at his child and he takes his child and his family to pray for Joi because he gets into a lot of trouble.

We then see Joi finding a training area and starts to train on his own and then he starts throwing rocks towards Cherd and his friends, which prompt him to be chased again.  And as they try to fight and beat up Joi, Joi manages to outfight them.  And when he goes to fight a young Cherd, he punches him and Cherd falls back and hits his head on a rock and starts bleeding.

We then learn of the troubles that Joi gets into and as a teenager, the same situation.  And once again, he causes trouble for Cherd (portrayed by Nantawut Boonrubsub) and we see them chase after Joi, who once again beats up Cherd.  But now Cherd goes to his uncle and his men to go capture and punish Joi.

Not wanting to cause problems for his family, Joi leaves home and finds hopefully a new home where people are trained to fight Muay Thai.  And as Joi learns, everyone in the village has black teeth (from eating Betal Nut) and because Joi has white teeth, he is given the name Thongdee.

Meanwhile, Cherd and his uncle and his men go to the village where Thongdee is training and they ask for Joi.  The village leader tells him there is no Joi and immediately Cherd’s uncle starts threatening the village.  But Thongdee comes out to let himself be captured but on one condition, they leave the people and the village alone.

But when the uncle doesn’t, he has his men burn the village down and this leads to Thongdee and the villagers fighting for their life.

While Thongdee and the villagers are able to turn Cherd and his uncle away, they vow revenge and want Thongdee dead.

Meanwhile, Thongdee plans to visit another village to be come a better fighter.  While walking, he sees a family and their guards being terrorized by Burmese.   Ramyong (portrayed by Sornsin Maneewan) fights for her life to protect her mother and her brother, while many of their guards are being slaughtered by the Burmese.  And as it looked as if Ramyong is about to be killed, she is rescued by Thongdee who takes out many of the Burmese, who then escape.

Greatful to Thongdee for saving her life, this chance meeting with Ramyong would set Thongdee on his mission to become a better fighter but also a path that will set his destiny.

And as Thongdee is trained and takes on even more powerful fighters, he is joined by a young man named Boonkerd (portrayed by Vannapoom Songsuparp) and Mauylek (portrayed by Chutirada Junthit) who follow Thongdee who learns a lesson of determination, courage, loyalty, life and what his true destiny may be.


VIDEO:

“Broken Sword Hero” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). Picture quality is fantastic, close ups show great detail.  A lot of the shots are outdoors, so the film has great vibrancy, detail during closeups and more.  The film looks great in HD and I didn’t notice any artifact or banding issues.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Broken Sword Hero” is presented in Thai 5.1 DTS-HD MA. Dialogue and music is crystal clear, as with action sequences which utilize the surround channels quite well.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Broken Sword Hero” comes with no special features.


When I first saw a trailer for “Broken Sword Hero”, I automatically thought it would be another martial arts film.

Afterall, most Thai films brought to the US are martial arts driven and I was expecting something banal.  After watching “Broken Sword Hero”, I quickly discovered that this film was much more and much better than I expected.

The first half of the film no doubt packs a lot of action but also a lot of humor.  But then I started to learn than this film was so much more and that it revolved around the history of Thong Dee Fun Khao, who would become the loyal soldier of King Taksin the Great and that he would become a noble hero, who remained loyal to his king and would be known as Phraya Phichai Dap Hak.

The film details the story of how a troublesome boy named Joi would become Thongdee and later Phraya Phichai but it’s the journey that will captivate people.

With the main protagonist being portrayed by popular Muay Thai fighter Buakaw Banchamek, we see amazing fight choreography and magnificent fight scenes full of punches, high kicks and more!

But watching how this film evolves and how Thongdee evolves around the people around him.

As a person not so familiar with Thai culture, I thought it was interesting to see how many villagers had black teen and led me to spend the night researching Thai culture, Phraya Phichai and King Taksin.  But also discovering what the title “Broken Sword Hero” meant.  The title which revolves around Phraya Phichai who fought with a sword (dap) in each hand until one was broken.

While one can’t expect fighter Buakaw Banchamek to become a talented actor overnight, fortunately the film doesn’t have to rely on Buakaw’s spoken dialogue but mainly Buakaw the fighter.  Using his skills to take on various challengers.  And because Buakaw is a true fighter, no need for a stunt actor, ever kick and punch looks convincingly natural and it helps to have a talented fighter in this action film.

Picture quality and lossless audio are great but there are no special features, so this is a barebones Blu-ray release.

Overall, “Broken Sword Hero” is an entertaining historical/martial arts film based on Thailand’s noble hero, Phraya Phichai.  How a troublemaker teen would become a well-renown fighter but also how he would become the loyal general of King Taksin the Great.  Fast-paced and a lot of fun to watch, “Broken Sword” is recommended!

 

God of War (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“God of War” is a fascinating, action-packed film with wonderful costume design, well-planned war scenes and showcasing a part of history during the Ming Dynasty but also to showcase a few of China’s well-known heroes who fought valiantly against these pirates.  But it’s more for the fans of action films and not for those who are looking for a deep storyline.

Images courtesy of © 2017 Bona Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: God of War

FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 129 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9 widescreen), Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment

RATED: N/A

RELEASE DATE: October 17, 2017


Directed by Gordon Chan

Written by Frankie Tam, Maria Wong, MengZhang Wu

Produced by Gordon Chan, Paul Cheng

Associate Producer: Hing-Ka Chan, Shirley Lau

Music: Shigeru Umebayashi

Cinematography: Takuro Ishizaka

Edited by Ki-Hop chan

Art Direction by Alfred Yau

Costume Deisgn by Emi Wada


Starring:

Wenzhuo Zhao as General Qi Jiguang

Sammo Kam-Bo Hung as General Yu Dayou

Yasuaki Kurata as Commander Kumasawa

Regina Wan as Lady Qi

Keisuke Koide as Lord Yamagawa

Timmy Hung as Chen Dacheng

Michael Tong as Lou Nan

Yue Wu as Yang Chao


During the 16th century, pirates rule the Chinese coastline, pillaging the small villages and terrorizing the citizens. When maverick leader Commander Yu (martial arts legend Sammo Hung) enlists the help of a sharp young general (Vincent Zhao), they devise a plan to defeat the pirates. A violent clash of wit and weapons will decide who will rule the land in this sweeping historical epic from veteran action director Gordon Chan.


In China, Gordon Chan has a long career of films which he has written, directed and produced.

Known for popular films such as “Fist of Legend” starring Jet Li, “Thunderbolt” starring Jackie Chan and “Painted Skin” starring Donnie Yen, Chan has also directed numerous films such as “Beast Cops”, “2000 AD”, “Painted Skin”, “The King of Fighters” and many more.

Chan’s latest film is the 2017 Chinese historic war action film titled “God of War”, a film inspired by the history, especially around Qi Jiguang, a military general during the Ming Dynasty wo hled the defense of coastal regions against wokou pirate activities in the 16th century.  Regarded as a hero in Chinese culture, Qi is also known for writing military manuals Jixiao Xinshi and the Record of Military Training based on his experience as an educator and defensive planner in the Ming military forces.

But during the Ming Dynasty, there was a lot of corruption and many Chinese officials actually had relations with the pirates and benefited from piracy.

The film begins with the Chinese trying to rid of the Japanese samurai warriors turned pirates who teamed up with Ronin to fight against approaching Chinese armies.  And because the Japanese had artillery, the Chinese forces were vulnerable.

While Chinese General Yu Daiyou (portrayed by Sammo Hung) was a prominent figure, he was unable to defeat the Japanese pirates, so their leader wants to infuse new blood.  So, he must team up with General Qi Jiguang (portrayed by Vincent Zhao), who will now be the new leader and together they would come up with strategies to face and defeat the pirates.

But General Qi Jiguang knows that he does have the weaponry nor the military to defeat the Japanese pirates, so he asks his leader to allow him to recruit and train a new army.

Meanwhile, Commander Kumasawa (portrayed by Yasuaki Kurata) has allied with ronin who just want women and gold.  Unruly and disrespectful these ronin are, samurai Lord Yamagawa has a problem with how these Ronin behave and treat women and behave like savages.

But Commander Kumasawa reminds them that as pirates, their mission is to help the Daimyo become more powerful and acquire weapons to make Japan even more powerful.  But Yamagawa is reminded that they need the Ronin to fight the battle and as part of the Matsura Clan they must defeat the Ming Court.

With the odds against them and not having the defenses to withstand the weapons of the Japanese, General Qi Jiguang requests to train and grow his army and to make his soldier’s prepared against the attack from the Japanese pirates.  But can he improve defenses and most of all, he can draft miners and farmers to fight against the pirates?


VIDEO:

“God of War” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). Picture quality is fantastic, close ups show great detail, especially of the many soldiers in armor.  There are no major artifacts during my viewing of the film, nor banding issues.  If anything, colors are cool and the film looks great in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“God of War” is presented in Mandarin 5.1 DTS-HD MA. Dialogue and music is crystal clear, as with action sequences which utilize the surround channels quite well.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“God of War ” comes with a “making of” featurette and a theatrical trailer.


I have watched many films about China vs. Japan, especially during the period of World War I and World War II, but one part of history that I’m not quite aware of in history is of Japanese samurai and ronin that were involved in wokou piracy in order to destabilize the Ming Court and also to purchase more weaponry to make their Daimyo and Japan more powerful.

Because this was a collaboration between Chinese and Japanese actors including music composition by Japanese composer Shigeru Umebayashi (“House of Flying Daggers”, “2046”, “In the Mood for Love”), it had a different vibe, as many anti-Japanese films tend to have an anti-Japanese sentiment, but this film goes to show a perspective of both sides.

On the Chinese side, General Qi Jiguang had challenges of trying to get the necessary forces to grow and also train to fight against the pirates as moral was low and they were literally outpowered.  He pleaded but Commander Hu wouldn’t allow it until someone reported his commanders misdeeds, allowing him to grow his force but losing a promotion.

The film does go into how both Yu Dayou (portrayed by Sammo Hung) and Qi Jiguang portrayed by Wenzhuo Zhao) were put in terrible situations due to the high level of corruption in the Ming government.  Despite the sacrifices both men made, Yu Dayou in reality was framed on false charges and imprisoned for not providing any bribes.  While Qi Jiguang was slandered that he colluded with the pirates.

In the film, Qi Jiguang was reinstated but unfortunately, Yu Dayou was not given the merit and in the reality, died of frustration.  But in the film, Yu Dayou was more pleased that Qi Jiguang would lead and continue the battle against the pirates.

The film also featured Qi Jiguang and his relationship with his wife Lady Qi (portrayed by Regina Wan), wanting to be there for her husband and be there in battle alongside with him.  Not strong enough to tell his wife “no” and even his own soldiers admonishing him about it.

I wasn’t sure if this was accurate, so I had to do some research on the subject and there are numerous stories but not sure what is fact or fiction.

The film also shows the perspective of the Japanese pirates, samurai and ronin working together to destabilize the Ming Court and terrorize villages and steal weapons.  These pirates looked at it as a mission to make Japanese strong and wealthy.  But thinking that firearms would be their saving grace, they were unaware that Qi Jiguang would grow his forces but most importantly, figure out forms of defense to protect them from rifle fire.

If anything, the film shows us the battle between forces led by Qi Jiguang against the forces of primary antagonist, Commander Kumasawa.   And very cool fighting scenes between both forces leading to its conclusion.

The only problem is that the film just ends with a scene that doesn’t make any sense.  I could have ended a minute earlier but I can’t sidestep this final scene and will need to spoil it, but to be perfectly honest, it’s really not a spoiler.  Most people who watch it will think it’s an unnecessary addition of a scene to lead into the final credits.

The final scene is something I interpret of how things don’t end well with Qi Jiguang and his wife.  If you do research on the history of Qi Jiguang (and I need to add that what I’m going to write about is not on the film but perhaps may help you understand that final scene), you find out that Qi Jiguang was not happy with his wife and had affairs with other concubines.  One source that I read is that his friend and colleague wrote that Qi Jiguang was a henpecked husband and his wife was strong-willed and overbearing.   Another problem for the couple is that despite giving birth to sons, none of them survived.  So, he turned to concubines in order to have one.

He had one, his wife found out and was going to kill him with a sword but when he cried and she felt bad for him, she allowed him to keep one son.  But the boy ended up dying and she had enough and she left him, took all her savings and he died soon after.

People may look at Lady Qi to be cruel but considering the circumstance, I saw her as an independent woman that was strong-willed and not so subservient compared to how women were portrayed during that era.

So, that final scene is possibly a reaction of a wife fed up.  It wasn’t necessary for the film and most people not familiar with Qi Jiguang and Lady Qi and are watching those final seconds may not understand why it was even added.  But it’s part of Chinese history, and a nod to Qi Jiguang and his wife that things didn’t exactly end with a happy ending.

Overall, “God of War” is a fascinating, action-packed film with wonderful costume design, well-planned war scenes and showcasing a part of history during the Ming Dynasty but also to showcase a few of China’s well-known heroes who fought valiantly against these pirates.  But it’s more for the fans of action films and not for those who are looking for a deep storyline.

 

Young Doctors in Love (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Review)

October 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are a fan of Gary Marshall’s films or a wanting to watch Marshall’s first theatrical film will no doubt want to check out his 1982 film, “Young Doctors in Love”.

Images courtesy of © 1982 ABC Motion Pictures, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Young Doctors in Love

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 1982

DURATION: 96 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p (1:85:1 Aspect Ratio), 2.0 DTS HD-Master Audio, English subtitles

COMPANY: Kino Lorber

RATED: R

RELEASE DATE: October 31, 2017


Directed by Garry Marshall

Written by Michael Elias, Rich Eustis

Produced by Allan Dwan

Executive Producer: Adolph Zukor

Music Performed by Jeff Rapsis

Cinematography by Harold Rosson


Starring:

Sean Young as Dr. Stephanie Brody

Michael McKean as Dr. Simon August

Gary Friedkin as Dr. Milton Chamberlain

Kyle T. Heffner as Dr. Charles Litto

Rick Overton as Dr. Thurman Flicker

Crystal Bernard as Julie

Ted McGinley as Dr. Bucky DeVol

Saul Rubinek as Floyd Kurtzman

Harry Dean Stanton as Dr. Oliver Ludwig

Pamela Reed as Nurse Norine Sprockett

Taylor Negron as Dr. Phil Burns

Patrick Collins as Dr. Water Rist

Dabney Coleman as Dr. Joseph Prang

Titos Vandis as Sal Bonafetti

Michael Richards as Malamud

Hector Elizondo as Angelo/Angela Bonafetti


There’s almost always something funny at City Hospital, where the amorous young interns think that love – or at least lust – is the cure for everything! Michael McKean (This is Spinal Tap), Sean Young (Ace Ventura: Pet Detective), Hector Elizondo (The Flamingo Kid), Harry Dean Stanton (Paris, Texas), Dabney Coleman (9 to 5), Patrick Macnee (TV s The Avengers), Ted McGinley (TV s Married with Children), Crystal Bernard (TV s Wings) and Michael Richards (TV s Seinfeld) star in this refreshingly wacky hospital parody from the director of Overboard, Pretty Woman and Runaway Bride! The new interns at City Hospital are desperately hoping to survive their first year of residency, which could prove difficult, since their minds are on the wrong body parts! Garry Marshall made his feature film directorial debut with this hilarious comedy in a similar vein to Airplane!, Stripes and The Naked Gun.


Before Garry Marshall would be known for his director work on “Pretty Woman”, “The Princess Diaries”, “Runaway Bride” and “Beaches”, Marshall was known as a showrunner creating popular series such as “Happy Days”, “Laverne & Shirley” and “Mork & Mindy”.

Marshall would go on to direct his first film “Young Doctors in Love”.  While not seen as a major film in Marshall’s oeuvre, this comedy is similar to comedy films of the late ’70s and early ’80s that spoof many shows.

In this case, spoofing soap operas such as “General Hospital” which would give attention to the film, but also many soap opera stars making a cameo in”Young Doctors in Love” such as cameo by Susan Lucci, Demi Moore, Richard Dean Anderson, Kin Shriner, Janine Turner, Michael Damian, Jacklyn Zeman, Jamie Lyn Bauer, Steven Ford, John Beradino and many more.

The film would have a cast of popular and also up-and-coming talent who would become major stars years later.

Featured in the film is Sean Young (“Blade Runner”, “Stripes”, “No Way Out”), Michael McKean (“Laverne & Shirley”, “This is Spinal Tap”, “Planes, Trains & Automobiles”), Crystal Bernard (“Happy Days”, “Wings”), Ted McGinley (“Happy Days”, “Married with Children”, “Hope & Faith”), Saul Rubinek (“Unforgiven”, “True Romance”, “Warehouse 13”), Harry Dean Stanton (“Alien”, “The Avengers”, “The Green Mile”), Pamela Reed (“Kindergarten Cop”, “Bean”, “Proof of Life”), Taylor Negron (“The Last Boy Scout”, “Nothing But Trouble”, “Angels in the Outfield”), Dabney Coleman (“WarGames”, “Tootsie”, “You’ve Got Mail”), Michael Richards (“Seinfeld”, “UHF”) and actor Hector Elizondo (“The Princess Diaries”, “Pretty Woman”, “Chicago Hope”).

And now, “Young Doctors in Love” will be available on Blu-ray courtesy of Kino Lorber.

“Young Doctors in Love” revolves around a group of young trainee doctors.  Dr. Simon August (portrayed by Michael McKean) is a young trainee who is brilliant, smart but has one major fear that prevents him from being great, he can’t stand the sight of blood.   Simon has fallen for Dr. Stephanie Brody (portrayed by Sean Young), who is suffering from some major ailment, while being in love with Simon and keeping her ailment as a secret.

Meanwhile, Dr. Phil Burns is a trainee doctor that is working three jobs and he is trying to romance Nurse Norine Sprockett, but in truth, doing it so he can steal drugs and sell it to a drug dealer (portrayed by Richard Dean Anderson).

Dr. Bucky DeVol (portrayed by Ted McGinley) is often trying to flirt with prostitute Julie (portrayed by Crystal Bernard),

Meanwhile, Sal Bonafetti (portrayed by Titos Vandis) is a gangster who is brought to the hospital after being paralyzed by fear.  Malamud (portrayed by Michael Richards) is trying to kill him, but the doctors mistake him as a patient and start operating him and each time he awakens, he tries to find ways of killing Jacobs.  As Angelo Bonafetti, who works for Jacobs tries to prevent that…but to avoid being caught by authorities, he disguises himself as Angela and Dr. Walter Rist (portrayed by Patrick Collins) falls for Angela.

Will the fellow young trainees graduate, will Sal Bonafetti survive?, will Dr. Walter Rist realize that Angela Bonafetti is a man and will Dr. Phil Burns continue to trick Nurse Sprockett?


VIDEO:

“Young Doctors in Love” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio).  For the most part, the film is not digitally restored nor remastered and is more upscaled to 1080p, so the film does have its share of softness and does look like a film made in the ’80s.  There are scratches on some frames but for the most part, the film looks good in HD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Young Doctors in Love” is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and dialogue is crystal clear.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Young Doctors in Love” comes with an audio commentary by actor/filmmaker Pat Healy and film curator Jim Healy.


When Garry Marshall passed away in 2016, America lost a talented director/writer who has created television shows and films that have entertained generations.

While Marshall was quite established in the television world with “Happy Days”, “Laverne & Shirley”, “Mork & Mindy”, “The Odd Couple” to name a few, the question was if he could transition into film and sure enough, he did just that.

As many people discover Marshall’s hit films, his earlier films are not as easy to find until now.

While his first film “Young Doctors in Love” will not be a Marshall highlight in his vast oeuvre, the film is noteworthy for showcasing many talent who would become television and movie stars years later, would feature cameos of soap opera stars (especially for “General Hospital”) which in the ’80s were watched by millions of viewers.  And for Gary Marshall film fans, you would see the first major film collaboration with actor Hector Elizondo, who would appear in every Gary Marshall film since “Young Doctors in Love”, as Marshall considered the actor as “good luck”.

The film has the humor of ’80s films at the time and the craziness of films such as “Airplane”.  A parody of “General Hospital” where you have a future great doctor who has the fear of blood, a trainee doctor who keeps passing out due to an ailment (yet no one takes care of her), a trainee doctor trying to steal drugs by romancing a nurse and selling the drugs to drug dealers, a doctor who tries to teach his fellow doctors by drinking urine, a doctor who falls in a mobster dressed like a woman and a mob boss who is trying to be assassinated in his hospital room.

Throw in crazy cameos with soap opera stars, crazy antics and hilarious moments and it makes for an entertaining film.

Sure, it may not have the romantic comedy magic of “Pretty Woman” or the “Princess Diaries” but it does have humor.

“Laverne & Shirley” fans would get to see actor Michael McKean in a role unlike his TV character role of Lenny, Crystal Bernard who was quickly getting known on “Happy Days” playing a bit role with fellow “Happy Days” co-star Ted McGinley, both would be known for their appearance on TV again years later, Bernard with “Wings” and McGinley on “Married with Children” and Michael Richards before playing Kramer on “Seinfeld”.

Surprisingly, two soap opera cameos that were uncredited are talents Richard Dean Anderson (before “MacGyver” and “Stargate SG-1”), Cynthia Geary (before “Northern Exposure”), “All My Children” actress Susan Lucci and actress “Demi Moore” before she would be identified a few years as part of the “Brat Pack”.

As far as the film’s presentation on Blu-ray, the film is no doubt upscaled to 1080p.  Softness is evident, scratches are present but Kino Lorber is a company that has presented its films in 1080p and if anything, picture quality is much better than VHS or DVD.  And its lossless audio soundtrack is presented in stereo DTS-HD Master Audio.  And while the Blu-ray release was released a year later, I felt it was great to have an audio commentary by actor/filmmaker Pat Healy and film curator Jim Healy, who give honor Gary Marshall during the commentary.

Overall, if you are a fan of Gary Marshall’s films or a wanting to watch Marshall’s first theatrical film will no doubt want to check out his 1982 film, “Young Doctors in Love”.

 

Occultic;Nine vol. 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Occultic;Nine” is a fascinating, dark series written by Chiyomaru Shikura that takes your typical investigative anime series but adding a bit of mysticism, humor and suspense all in one!  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © Aniplex. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Occultic;Nine vol. 1

DURATION: Episodes 1-6 (144 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo, Subtitles: Japanese and English

COMPANY: Aniplex of America Inc.

RATED: 13 and Up

Release Date: September 26, 2017


Originally Created by Chiyomaru Shikura

Original Character Design by pako

Director: Kyohei Ishiguro

Series Composition: Junpei Morita

Music by Masaru Yokoyama

Character Design: Tomoaki Takase

Art Director: Hisayo Usui

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Ayane Sakura/Faye Mata as Ryoka Narusawa

Yuuki Kaji/Erik Scott Kimerer as Yūta Gamon

Hitomi Yoshida/Kayli Mills as Miyū Aikawa

Houchu Ohtsuka as Takasu

Kaito Ishikawa/Robbie Draymond as Sarai Hashigami

Kenjiro Tsuda/Ben Diskin as Kōhei Izumi

Kishō Taniyama as Kiryū Kusakabe

Mamiko Noto/Michelle Ruff as Ririka Nishizono

Maria Naganawa/Xanthe Huynh as Chizu Kawabata

Miyuki Sawashiro as Aria Kurenaino

Satomi Akesaka as Asuna Kizaki

Shizuka Itou as Tōko Sumikaze

Tetsuya Kakihara as Shun Moritsuka


From the creator of “Steins;Gate”, a new adventure surrounding the occult is about to begin!

Yuta Gamon is a 2nd year in high school. He runs “Kiri Kiri Basara,” an affiliate blog that rounds up occult forum posts, for a shot at quick money, and challenges himself to the occult night and day to “hack and slash away!” the many supernatural phenomena existing in the world from a scientific standpoint.

However, with that blog of his as a catalyst, a group of downright maniacal and insane comrades have gathered about.


Back in 2014, Chiyomaru Shikura (best known for creating “Steins;Gate”) created a new Japanese light novel series titled “Occultic;Nine”.

A 12-episode anime adaptation produced by A-1 Pictures aired in October-December 2016 and now, the anime series will be released in North America courtesy of Aniplex of America Inc.

The anime series is directed by Kyohei Ishiguro (“Kujira no Kora wa Sajo ni Utau”, “Lance N’ Masques”, “Psycho-Pass”), series composition by Junpei Morita, music by Masaru Yokoyama (“Arakawa Under the Bridge”, “Love and Lies”, “Fate/Apocrypha”), character design by Tomoaki Takase and background art by Hisayo Usui (“AKB0048”, “Angel Beats!”, “Fairy Tail”).

The series begins with Yuta sitting in a cafe while trying to find out how to increase visits to his website, which posts news and stories about the occult in Japan.

Yuta and his friend Ryoka Narusawa watch fortune-teller and classmate Miyu Aikawa on a TV commercial and decide that if they interview her for the website, it may boost traffic for the website.   Miyu decides to join the two and interestingly, things start to go awry in the area as an occult magazine received a manuscript from Professor Hashigami and an older woman, which can’t be his mother, because she is dead.  Meanwhile, a woman named Aria Kurenaino helps a customer curse someone to death and next thing you know, she discovers a bloody scalp in her mailbox.

Meanwhile, as Yuta goes to visit Professor Hashigami for an interview, he discovers Hashigami’s corpse.  And he leaves the word “CODE” with his own blood before dying?  What can that mean?

In another situation, Miyu receives calls from a person trying to prove that she is a fake fortune-teller.  When she receives a call from a person named Sarai, she sees visions of him standing over his dead father’s body and she begs him to visit her father.

Also, a tragic mass suicide has taken place at Inokashira Park on the news.  What could have led to all these people to kill themselves? Hypnotism?  Or something more sinister?


VIDEO:

“Occultic;Nine” is presented in 1080p High Definition. A-1 Productions is one of the most well-known anime production studios that are known for creating quality anime series.  And for “Occultic;Nine”, the backgrounds are highly detailed and look realistic.  Character designs are magnificent and for the most part, the detailed, painted backgrounds compliment the colorful animation.

It’s important to note that this is a TV series, so there is a slight hint of softness.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

The lossless soundtrack for “Occultic;Nine” is presented in Japanese and English Linear PCM.  The lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and both soundtracks are well-acted.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Occultic;Nine” comes with clean opening and ending themes.

EXTRAS:

“Occultic;Nine” comes with a slipcase illustrated by character designer Tomoaki Takase, a 20-page deluxe booklet and six illustration pin-up cards.


When it comes Chiyomaru Shikura, one can look at his work with 5pb. Inc. and Mages. Inc.  He is known for the concepts and overseeing the creations of “Steins;Gate”, “Chaos;Head”, “Robotics;Notes” and “Anonymous;Code” but “Occultic;Nine” was specifically written by Chiyomura Shikura.

The series has an interesting concept.  You have a teenage NEET named Yuta Gamon who runs the blog “Kiri Kiri Basara” which features news and discussion about the occult and he is wanting to drive up traffic to his website.

His good friend, the cheerful (and enormously well-endowed Ryoka Narusawa) is known for carrying a stun-gun (that looks like a toy ray gun) is always wanting to support Yuta and together, they decide to bring in popular fortune teller Miyu Aikawa to join the blog.

And as Yuta wants to keep the traffic up on his site, he (moreso, his female friends) wants to bring in other people for interviews that may drive up even more traffic to the website and his first choice is to interview Professor Hashigami.

Unfortunately, when he goes to visit the professor, Yuta finds his dead body and there are signs of foul play and a mysterious word, “CODE” written in blood by the professor.

Meanwhile, deal with Ria Minase (a delusional girl who lived with her brother and was not aware that he has been dead and she was living with his corpse), a person named Aria Kurenaino who helped put a curse on someone for that person’s death and who is this mystery caller named Sarai, that keeps calling Miyu and trying to disprove her as a fortune-teller?

So far, the first six episodes are entertaining, dark and humorous.  While some may find the enormously large breasts of Ryoka Narusawa to be overkill, this is no doubt to keep the otaku and fan service lovers who can’t get enough of Ryoka.

But as these first six episodes are more character introducing episodes, the second half will no doubt become even more interesting as Yuta and friends continue their investigation.  What will they discover?

As for the Blu-ray release, A-1 Pictures did a phenomenal job with the animation and background art.  There are no major special features but the set does come with a 20-page booklet and six illustration cards.  As well as a slipcase.

Overall, “Occultic;Nine” is a fascinating, dark series written by Chiyomaru Shikura that takes your typical investigative anime series but adding a bit of mysticism, humor and suspense all in one!  Recommended!

 

Tokyo Ravens: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Tokyo Ravens” is an entertaining anime series that kicks off with a lot of fun and humor in the series’ first half, but becomes a bit more darker, magic heavy and action-driven by the second half.  I found the series to be entertaining, a bit banal but it’s a series I enjoyed watching.

Image courtesy of © 2017 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Tokyo Ravens: The Complete Series

DURATION: Episodes 1-24 (600 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 4×3 Native Aspect Ratio for OVA’s and 16×9 for movies, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV14

Release Date: August 8, 2017


Originally Created by Sumihei

Director: Takaomi Kanasaki

Series Composition: Hideyuki Kurata

Music by Maiko luchi

Character Design: Atsuko Watanabe

Art Director: Takashi Ichikura

Art Design: Kazushi Fujii

Anime Production: 8 bit


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kaito Ishikawa/Clifford Chapin as Harutora Tsuchimikado

Kana Hanazawa/Caitlin Glass as Natsume Tsuchimikado

Aki Toyosaki/Monica Rial as Kon

Ayane Sakura/Jad Saxton as Suzuka Dairenji

Eri Kitamura/Leah Clark as Kyoko Kurahashi

Fumi Hirano/Wendy Powell as Miyo Kurahashi

Hiro Shimono/Josh Grelle as Tenma Momoe

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Jarrod Greene as Reiji Kagami

Hisako Kanemoto/Felecia Angelle as Hokuto/Takiko Sōma

Koji Yusa/J. Michael Tatum as Jin Ōtomo

Ryohei Kimura/Ian Sinclair as Tōji Ato

Shinya Takahashi as Senjirō Kogure


Harutora may seem like an ordinary guy, but he’s actually a descendant of an ancient and powerful clan of onmyouji. Born without the family talent for magic, he’d always believed he was destined for a normal, boring existence. All that changed the day Natsume, a beautiful face from Harutora’s past, barged back into his life and forever altered the course of his future.


Quite often, there are anime adaptations that are derived from Japanese light novels.  And in 2010, Kohei Azano and illustrator Sumihei created the light novel series “Tokyo Ravens”.

An anime series was released in 2013 and ended in 2014 and in August 2017, “Tokyo Ravens” was released in North America on Blu-ray/DVD courtesy of Funimation.

The series sets up the storyline of how onmyodou magic was a powerful technique used by the Japanese during World War II.  Unfortunately, when onmyoji Yakou Tsuchimikado performed a ritual to bring out Japan as a major force goes wrong and it led to the “Great Spiritual Disaster” which has affected Japan since then.

An Onmyo Agency was developed to monitor supernatural activity and take on spirits or demons that make their way into the world.

Fastforward to this present time in the story where many students learn onmydou magic to utilize their skills in medicine and technology.  Unfortunately for Harutora, a member of the Tsuchimikado branch family, he was born with no spiritual power at all.

But despite coming from a well-known, powerful family, without no spiritual power, he sees his life as meaningless.

He remembers a childhood promise made and one day, he and his friend Touji Ato encounter Hokuto, a girl that Harutora likes and she encourages him to become an onmyo mage.    Meanwhile, he meets his childhood friend Natsume but he accidentally offends her.

As Harutora goes to a festival, Hokuto promises him a kiss if he wins at the festival but out of nowhere, Suzuka Dairenji arrives at the festival and she learns of his true identity, she goes to kiss him and when Hokuto arrives, she is upset to see him receiving a kiss before she can give him one and leaves crying because of it.

One day, while walking home with Natsume, Harutora once again comes across Suzuka and while the Magical Investigation Bureau agents try to stop her and she unleashes her juggernaut.  Harutora tries to save one of the agents but as the juggernaut is about to kill Harutora, Hokuto gets in the way and saves Harutora but is impaled by the mecha juggernaut.

Feeling upset and despondent, Harutora decides to follow the path of becoming an onmyo mage, going to school but also becoming a familiar for Natsume.

How will life go for Harutora now that he plans to focus on school (despite not being that smart) and working together with Natsume to take on various spirits?


VIDEO:

“Tokyo Ravens: The Complete Series” is presented in 1080p High Definition. 8 bit has done a wonderful job with the animation and for the most part, the series looks very good on Blu-ray but like most anime television series, the series does exhibit some softness.  But backgrounds are well-painted, characters are well-shaded and the animation is well done!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

The lossless soundtrack for “Tokyo Ravens: The Complete Series” is presented in lossless stereo and both soundtracks are well-done.  Dialogue and music are crystal clear and voice acting is well-done for the most part.  As for the English dub, for the most part, voice acting is well-done and I have to give major props to voice acting newcomer, Clifford Chapin on doing a magnificent job as the voice of main protagonist, Harutora.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Tokyo Ravens: The Complete Series” comes with no special features.

  • Audio Commentary for Episode 5 by Clifford Chapin, Monica Rial and Ian Sinclair.
  • Video Commentary for Episode 7 by director Colleen Clinkenbeard, Monica Rial, Ian Sinclair and Clifford Chapin discussing the duties of a voice actor.
  • Audio commentary for Episode 12 – Featuring audio commentary by Caitlin Glass, Leah Clark and Jad Saxton.
  • Audio commentary for Episode 14 – Featuring audio commentary by Clifford Chapin, J. Michael Tatum and Michael Johnson.
  • Video Commentary for Episode 18 by ADR director Zach Bolton, Jad Saxton, Caitlin Glass, Leah Clark.
  • Audio commentary for Episode 23 – Featuring audio commentary by Austin Tindle, Josh Grelle and Jarrod Greene.
  • Kon Explains it All #1-3 – Featuring five minute featurettes (in Japanese with English subtitles) with Kon discussing various characters in the series.
  • Textless Opening and Ending Songs
  • U.S. Trailer

“Tokyo Ravens” is an interesting anime that revolves around magic, friendships and love but as Japan has created a plethora of anime series that deal with magic, someone not good at it and eventually becoming stronger to defeat the main antagonist, was this going to be another case of anime banality?

Fortunately, “Tokyo Ravens” is a series that has more going for it thanks to its plot of magical hijinks, crazy characters but also young love which leads to many hilarious situations throughout the series.

The series follows Harutora Tsuchimikado, a son of a major branch family in Japan, the Tsuchimikado Clan but despite being born from a distinguished family known for their onmyouji skills, Harutora has no such skill or magical powers.  He is not smart, many wonder why he’s attending an onmyouji school with no such skills. But he wants to go back to school to find out who was the master of his deceased familiar, Hokuto but also enjoying the friendships he makes along the way.  He has a shikigami silver-fox spirit named Kon who helps him.

He becomes  the familiar for Natsume Tsuchimikado, a childhood friend of Harutora and also from the main family of the Tsuchimikado Clan and is a prodigal onmyouji.  She has come to Harutora’s town in order to make sure he holds up to his childhood promise of becoming her familiar.  Interesting enough, Natsume is assumed to be a reincarnation of Yakou Tsuchimikado, the infamous onmyouji who performed a ritual known as “Taizan Fukun Ritual” which was to bring out Japan as a major force but instead, the ritual went wrong and brought the “Great Spiritual Disaster” which has affected Japan ever since.

Because of this, as a family tradition, she must present herself as a male in front of other onmyouji families and that includes attending school as a boy.  And family tradition means everything to her, while not so much for Harutora.

Harutora’s best friend is a former delinquent named Touji Ato, who knows a lot about onmyodo and often helps Harutora at Onmyo Academy.  He was a victim of the Spiritual Disaster and was possessed by an oni which caused the Spiritual Disaster and Harutora’s father helped treat him, despite Touji having the power to become half-Oni.

Meanwhile, causing problems for Harutora and Natsume throughout their time at the Academy is Suzuka Dairenji, the youngest of the 12 Divine Generals and wants to revive her brother with the Taizan Fukun Ritual.  She and her brother were experimented on by her father before and after their birth in order to create an excellent onmyouji.

The first half of the series is humorous and lighthearted and the series does a wonderful job of focusing on character development but also featuring many character interactions and developing relationships.  It’s what makes the series captivating and not being just a banal magical/action-driven anime series.

While the second half becomes more serious and darker, as it involves the Twin Horn Syndicate, A spirit disaster taking place at the Onmyo Agency branch office and a major death!

What will happen to Harutora and friends during the time of a new spirit disaster but also an ominous threat looming?

I have to say that the first half of the series kept me captivated but by the second half, the mood’s all changed (which is common in anime series) but I felt the second half became a bit more convoluted.   I like the fact that the series focused so much on character development but by the time you start caring for these characters, you are thrust into a different type of storyline for the second half, especially towards the end of the series that grows darker, becomes a bit more complex and for the most part, it went from something that had great potential to an average anime series at the end.

But I did like numerous audio and video commentaries included on this Blu-ray/DVD set of “Tokyo Ravens” and while it is a bit banal, fortunately there is a lot of character development in this series that made watching the series worthwhile.

Overall, “Tokyo Ravens” is an entertaining anime series that kicks off with a lot of fun and humor in the series’ first half, but becomes a bit more darker, magic heavy and action-driven by the second half.  I found the series to be entertaining, a bit banal but it’s a series I enjoyed watching.

 

Ushio & Tora: Complete TV Series (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Ushio & Tora – Complete TV Series” is definitely one of my favorite anime releases on blu-ray for 2017!

Image courtesy of © 2017 Sentai Filmworks. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Ushio & Tora Complete TV Series

DURATION: Episodes 1-39 (975 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 4×3 Native Aspect Ratio for OVA’s and 16×9 for movies, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV14

Release Date: August 29, 2017


Originally Created by Kazuhiro Fujita

Director: Satoshi Nishimura

Series Composition: Kazuhiro Fujita, Toshiki Inoue

Music by Eishi Segawa

Character Design: Tomoko Mori

Art Director: Tomoyuki Shimizu

Animation Director: Mika Takahashi, Tomoko Mori

Director of Photography: Uehama Makishi, Yuuya Kumazawa

Anime Production: MAPPA, Studio VOLN


Featuring the following voice talent:

Rikiya Koyama/Brett Weaver as Tora

Tasuku Hatanaka/David Matranga as Ushio Aotsuki

Ai Kayano/Brittney Karbowski as Omamori-sama

Ai Satou as Oyakume-sama

Aki Toyosaki /Brittney Karbowski as Yū Hiyama

Ayahi Takagaki/Emily Neves as Jun Moritsuna

Daisuke Namikawa/David Wald as Hyō

Fumiko Orikasa as Mikado Hizaki

Hidekatsu Shibata as Nigira

Kana Hanazawa/Carli Mosier as Jie Mei

Keiji Fujiwara as Shigure Aotsuki

Kiyono Yasuno as Mayuko Inoue

Maaya Sakamoto/Emily Neves as Sumako Aotsuki

Mamoru Miyano/John Gremellion as Giryō

Masaki Terasoma as Kyōji Atsuzawa

Megumi Han/Blake Shepard as Kirio

Megumi Hayashibara as Hakumen no Mono

Mikako Komatsu/Allison Sumrall as Asako Nakamura

Nana Mizuki/Stephanie Wittels as Hinowa Sekimori

Nao Nagasawa as Izuna

Risa Shimizu/Patricia Duran as Kagari

Ryota Ohsaka/Clifford Chapin as Satoru Moritsuna

Shinichiro Miki/Jay Hickman as Raishin

Toshio Furukawa as Yamanmoto

Yoshimasa Hosoya/Ian Sinclair as Nagare Akiba

Yui Makino/Kira Vincent-Davis as Reiko Hanyū

Yuuka Nanri/Tiffany Grant as Saya Takatori

Yuuki Kaji/John Gremillion as Jūrō


Ushio always ignored his father’s crazy tales about the temple where they live. All that talk of restless souls and vicious monsters are nothing more than stories, right? However, Ushio quickly rethinks his position when he discovers a locked basement with an actual demon pinned to the wall by a spear! The tiger-striped demon threatens to eat Ushio if he doesn’t free him, so Ushio naturally chooses to ignore him. However, when the demon’s presence starts to attract others, Ushio is forced to remove the spear to save himself. To make a bad situation even worse, freeing the demon, Tora, also bonds Ushio to the cursed Beast Spear, sending him on a journey where unspeakable dangers await. The battle is only beginning for these unlikely partners!


Back in 1990, Kazuhiro Fujita created the manga series “Ushio and Tora”.

So popular the series came to be, it received an anime adaptation via three OVA series from 1992-1993.  In 2015, a 30-episode animated TV series was produced by MAPPA and Studio VOLN and now the series will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

The series revolves around Ushio Aotsuki, the son of a temple priest and a lady shaman. He’s also a kid who stands up for his friends and can have a temper.

One day, while cleaning up books in the store room, he finds a door and when he opens it and goes inside, he discovers a tiger-like Yokai named Tora.  He also sees a spear that has held the yokai in place and Tora tries to get Ushio to remove it.  But when he tells Ushio that he would eat him and eat all humans, Ushio decides not to help him (even going so far as to kick the spear in place several times).

But when Tora’s aura starts to leak from the wounded area, yokai’s escape into the real world and the only way he can defeat these yokai is with Tora’s help, so Ushio removes the spear off of Tora.  But when Tora tells him that he will not help, Ushio starts to get angry while holding the spear and his hair grows very long, scaring Tora.  It also means that he was destined to wield the Beast Spear.

But the two make an agreement, after they rid of the yokai, Ushio will allow Tora to eat him.

So now, Ushio and Tora work together to stop the yokai that threaten humans.  But are all yokai bad?  And how will the relationship between Ushio and Tora evolve as they continue to work together?

Ushio also goes on an adventure while tracking down Yokai to know more about his mother and why the yokai are after him specifically.

Ushio & Tora features the following characters:

  • Ushio Aotsuki – A kind-hearted individuals who stands up for his friends and can have a bit of a temper.  He values all life and friendships and his kindness helps bridge together humans and yokai.
  • Tora – A tiger-like yokai who was pinned in the basement of Ushio’s temple.  He was once known as Nagatobimaru and was feared.  At first he hated humans but being around Ushio and friends, he is amazed to see how lifestyle has changed among humans and starts to enjoy parts of modern society, especially for hamburgers.
  • Asako Nakamura – Ushio and Mayuko’s friend.  She and Ushio grew up with each other and both care deeply about each other, despite her having more of a temper than Ushio.  Her family runs a ramen restaurant.
  • Mayuko Inoue – A friend of Ushio and Asako.  She cares for both Ushio and Asako.  She also cares for Tora and often buys him hamburgers and she may have Shaman abilities.
  • Shigure Aotsuki – Ushio’s father, who is often stern but also keeps a secret from his son of what he does behind-the-scenes.
  • Reiko Hanyuu – An orphan who’s father was very overprotective and became an oni, so any boys that try to get close to her are in danger.  As she tries to commit suicide, only Ushio can help her father realize what he is doing is hurting his daughter.  After being free, she becomes friends with Ushio and friends.
  • Hyou – A powerful Chinese exorcist who has come to Japan to seek out the yokai who killed his wife and daughter and took out his right eye and left scars on his face.  The yokai is believed by Hyou to be Tora.
  • Jie Mei – A sprit guardian who lives in the Beast Spear who sacrificed her life to create the blade of the spear.
  • Giryo – The brother of Jie Mei, a blacksmith who went insane when he couldn’t prevent his sister’s sacrifice.  His anger, remorse and regret is built and trapped in the shaft of the beast spear.
  • Yu Hiyama – A girl whose father was a pilot who died in an airplane crash due to a Fusama yokai.  She has always blamed her father’s friend Atsuzawa but when Ushio shows her the truth, she learns to forgive and help out Ushio and Tora.
  • Saya Takatori – A descendent of the white-haired women who maintain the success of the Takatori household by appeasing the childlike spirit Omamori.
  • Hinowa Sekimori – A tough and cold girl who was one of the four chosen to control the Beast Spear and she rejects Ushio for possessing it for being undisciplined and reckless.

VIDEO:

“Ushio & Tora: Complete TV Series” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Even back when I watched the initial OVA, I was always impressed of how the animation was true to the manga illustrations of Kazuhiro Fujita.  The TV Series also captures that style with its unique character design, battle animation and for the most part, the anime series looks great on Blu-ray.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

The lossless soundtrack for “Ushio & Tora” is presented in lossless stereo and both soundtracks are well-done.  Dialogue and music are crystal clear but as I love the voice acting by Rikiya Koyama as Tora and Tasuku Hatanaka as Ushio, the English dub is very well-done and Brett Weaver does a great job in portraying Tora, as with David Matranga as the voice of Ushio.

Definitely one of the better English dubbed soundtracks for a Sentai Filmworks series on Blu-ray this year!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Ushio & Tora: Complete TV Series” comes with no special features.

 


Back in 1993, J!-ENT was founded and in our first year, one of the earlier anime series I reviewed was an OAV episode of “Ushio & Tora”.  I felt the series had tremendous potential and many people watching it at an anime club were supportive and excited each time a new OAV was release.

But that was the early-to-mid ’90s and haven’t heard anything until 20-years-later and an animated series was created courtesy of Mappa and Studio VOLN and what an awesome series “Ushio & Tora” came to be.

The television series featured more characters, more action and was able to capture the friendships that Ushio and Tora encountered through their adventures but most importantly, capturing a lot of the emotion, a lot of the action and featuring wonderful animation and voice acting.

The storyline about a human, a teenager named Ushio and a yokai named Tora (who wants to eat Ushio) in an alliance that first turns out to be like oil and water and both are not really getting a long.  But through working together, learning from each other and becoming friends, they are able to develop a relationship that works.  And while Ushio and Tora are able to take on many yokai, a bit easily in the first half of the series, by the second half, things become more dire as tons of yokai are now after Ushio and Tora and his friends do all they can to protect humanity.

With the release of “Ushio & Tora” on Blu-ray, watching it in Japanese and also with the English dub soundtrack, both soundtracks are wonderful.  And the voice acting in English is possibly one of the best I have listened to this year.  Mappa and Studio VOLN did a wonderful job with the animation and picture quality is vibrant and colorful.

Overall, “Ushio & Tora – Complete TV Series” is for those who love action-driven anime series.  Series with a lot of heart, humor and violence.  It’s the heard of “Ushio & Tora”, a battle between humans and monsters and one human and one monsters doing all they can to protect humanity against all odds.  And with all 39-episodes collected for a great price, this Blu-ray release is definitely worth purchasing!

“Ushio & Tora – Complete TV Series” is definitely one of my favorite anime releases on blu-ray for 2017!

 

Ranma 1/2 OVA & Movies Collection (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

This set is magnificent. You get nearly all the “Ranma 1/2” OVA’s and the three films collected in one set, in high definition and for a great price. If you are a “Ranma 1/2” fan, the “Ranma 1/2 OVA & Movies Collection” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Ranma 1/2 OVA & Movies Collection Edition

DURATION: 11 OVA’s and 3 Movies

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 4×3 Native Aspect Ratio for OVA’s and 16×9 for movies, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV14

Release Date: September 19, 2017


Original Creator: Rumiko Takahashi

Movie #1

Director: Iku Suzuki

Screenplay by Ryota Yamaguchi

Music by Akihisa Matsuura

Character Design: Atsuko Nakajima

Art Director: Chitose Asakura, Torao Arai

Animation Director: Atsuko Nakajima

Director of Photography: Mitsunobu Yoshida

Anime Production: Studio DEEN


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sarah Strange as Ranma Saotome(Male)

Megumi Hayashibara/Venus Terzo as Ranma Saotome(Female)

Noriko Hidaka/Myriam Sirois as Akane Tendou

Hiromi Tsuru/Kelly Sheridan as Ukyou Kuonji

Hirotaka Suzuoki/Ted Cole as Tatewaki Kunoh

Ichirô Nagai/Paul Dobson as Happousai

Kenichi Ogata/Robert O. Smith as Genma

Kikuko Inoue/Willow Johnson as Kasumi Tendou

Kouichi Yamadera/Michael Donovan as Ryouga Hibiki

Minami Takayama/Angela Costain as Nabiki Tendou

Miyoko Asou/Elan Ross Gibson as Cologne

Rei Sakuma/Cathy Weseluck as Shampoo

Ryunosuke Ohbayashi/David Kaye as Souun Tendou

Saeko Shimazu/Teryl Rothery as Kodachi Kunoh

Tatsuyuki Jinnai/Scott McNeil as Principal Kunoh

Toshihiko Seki/Brad Swaile as Mousse

Yuji Mitsuya/Ian James Corlett as Ono Toufuu-sensei (Dr. Tofu)

Mitsuaki Madono/Alessandro Juliani as Prince Toma

Issei Futamata/Gerard Plunkett as Toristan

Nobuo Tobita/Paul Dobson as Sarutoru


Ranma 1/2 OVA and Movie Collection Limited Edition contains 11 OVA episodes and 3 theatrical movies plus a 32-page booklet and a premium foil stamped chipboard box.

Ranma, the iconic creation of master artist Rumiko Takahashi, is back for new adventures and more than a few misunderstandings along the way! From mishaps at a holiday party to casual use of mystical trinkets to possession by cursed dolls, what’s in store for Ranma is anyone’s guess in these original anime adventures. Along with the formerly video-only antics are Ranma 1/2’s two feature-length movies and one special OVA-length movie that brought Ranma to theaters to make some big choices with his heart and not his head… which is usually what starts his trouble in the first place!


For the first time, all eleven “Ranma 1/2” OVA’s and three movies will be released on Blu-ray.

Presented in 1080p High Definition and available in Sept. 2017 courtesy of Viz Media.

What is “Ranma 1/2”?

Mangaka Rumiko Takahashi is no doubt a legendary mangaka who has had amazing success in Japan.

Many know her from her popular series “InuYasha” but decades before, she won over manga and anime fans through her series “Urusei Yatsura”, “Maison Ikkoku”, The Mermaid series and of course, her well-known series, “Ranma 1/2″.

“Ranma 1/2″ was created back in 1987 and lasted through 1996 and serialized in Shogakukan’s “Weekly Shonen Sunday” with a total of 38 tankobon volumes (graphic novels) published.

The series like most of Rumiko’s work received an anime adaptation and in 1989, a total of 18 episodes were created and aired in Fuji TV before being canceled.

But unlike most cancellations, “Ranma 1/2″ would get a second life on television a month later with a new name titled “Ranma 1/2 Nettouhen” which was based on the manga but featured also a lot of filler episodes and characters not featured in the manga series.

While “Ranma 1/2″ was popular and would help jumpstart the careers for voice talents such as Megumi Hayashibara (“Video Girl Ai”, “Meitantei Conan”, “Slayers”, “Pokemon”), Kappei Yamaguchi (“Meitantei Conan”, “InuYasha”, “One Piece”), Noriko Hidaka (“InuYasha”, “Gunbuster”, “Nadia – The Secret of Blue Water”), Hiromi Tsuru (“Dragon Ball Z”, “Anpanman”), Kikuko Inoue (“Ah! My Goddess”, “Mobile Suit Gundam Seed”), Minami Takayama (“Meitantei Conan”, “Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko”) and Rei Sakuma (“Mobile Suit Gundam 0083″, “Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ”).

The series would become popular overseas as it was one of the first anime series to receive a fan sub and because it would help jumpstart the anime and manga craze during the early 1990′s including “Ranma 1/2″ released in comic book format. Viz Media would then bring an English dub of the anime series to the United States.

Included in the “Ranma 1/2 OVA & Movies Collection” are:

  • Ranma 1/2 the Movie: Big Trouble in Nekonron: The Figght to Break the Rules! – A strange girl named Lychee and her giant elephant Jasmine arrive to settle a score with lecherous material arts master Happosai. Apparently, a very long time ago, Happosai gave Lychee’s great-grandmother half of a legendary scroll guaranteed to bring happiness to whoever was holding it. The women of Lychee’s family have been waiting for three generations now, and the prince still hasn’t come – but of course, the moment Lychee lets the scroll out of her hands, the prince finally appears. Only now it’s Ranma’s reluctant fiancée Akane that’s holding the scroll, and the long-awaited prince is only too ready to sweep his lucky bride off her feet. Now Ranma and company have no choice but to follow Prince Kirin’s majestic flying barge all the way to Nekonron, China, where they find themselves in a showdown with the Seven Lucky Gods of martial arts!
  • Ranma 1/2 the Movie: The Battle of Togenkyo: Rescue the Brides! – When poetry-spouting swordsman Tatewaki Kuno invites Ranma & Co. for a jaunt on his new luxury yacht, the last thing the group expects is a sudden storm to shipwreck them all on a deserted island.  However, fixing the boat to get home soon becomes the least of their worries, as all the young girls in the group begin to disappear.  As it turns out, they’ve been bride-napped by Prince Toma, the youthful ruler of the floating island, Togenkyo.  Because of a magical spring which turns anything it touches instantly male, would-be bridegrooms have to kidnap girls…and in this case, Ranma’s reluctant fiancee Akane is one of them!  Now, in order to rescue the girls (and get his hands on that magical water, which could cure his own shape-changing “problem”).  Ranma must enter an anything-goes martial arts bride-off which includes events such as “survival flower-arranging” and “obstacle-course cooking.”  Can Ranma (now “in disguise” as a girl) beat scores of other kidnapped concubines, win the contest, rescue Akane, and get the magical Togenkyo water…all while wearing a push-up bra and three-inch heels?
  • Ranma 1/2 the Movie: The Super Non-Discriminatory Showdown: Team Ranma vs. the Legendary Phoenix – When Kuno battles Ranma, Ranma places an egg on Kuno’s head and the egg hatches and born is the legendary Phoenix Egg that can master the arcane sword attack.  Can Ranma take on this new enemy?
  • Ranma 1/2 OAV Episode 1: Shampoo’s Sudden Switch: The Curse of the Contrary Jewel – When Shampoo discovers a beautiful broach in Cologne’s old jewelry box, she puts it on but because it’s on the wrong way, it reverses the intended effect of increasing the wearer’s romantic feelings and makes her cold towards Ranma.
  • Ranma 1/2 OAV Episode 2: The Tendo Family’s Christmas Scramble – The Christmas holiday season has arrived and when Kasumi has a strange dream featuring Santa, she throws a Christmas party.
  • Ranma 1/2 OAV Episode 3: Akane vs. Ranma: The One Who Inherits Mom’s Recipes Wil Be Me! – Akane discovers her late mother’s recipes and wants to start cooking, but when Ranma’s mother who is still looking for her son (unaware of his curse), she shows up to the Tendo residence, she gets some help from Nodoka Saotome but she also is challenged by female Ranma.
  • Ranma 1/2 OAV Episode 4: A Storm over School: Growing Up with Miss Hinako – The new teacher, Ms. Hinako Ninomiya shows up to Furinkan High School but she happens to be a tough fighter with a secret.
  • Ranma 1/2 OAV Episode 5: The One Who Carries On Part 1 – Eat and Runs are happening around town and Akane discovers the culrpits, Natsume and Kurumi, two martial arts sisters who are looking for their long-lost martial arts father and believe their father is Soun Tendo.  And now, they plan to battle Akane for the inheritance of the dojo.
  • Ranma 1/2 OAV Episode 6: The One Who Carries On Part 2 – Akane continues to train for her upcoming battle with Natsume and Kurumi, Ranma (in female forn) will become her partner.
  • Ranma 1/2 OAV Episode 7: Reawakening Memories Part 1 – Akane has memories of being rescued as a child and a place Ryugenzawa is being terrorized by a mysterious beast.
  • Ranma 1/2 OAV Episode 8: Reawakening Memories Part 2 – As Akane headed to Ryugenzawa to find out more of her childhood memories of being rescued, Ranma goes after her.  But there is a guy standing in his way and Akane’s loyalty may be towards this man.
  • Ranma 1/2 OAV Episode 9: Oh, Cursed Tunnel of Lost Love! Let My Love Be Forever – Ranma, Akane, Shampoo, Mousse, Ukyo, Ryoga, Kuo, Nabiki, Cologne, Genma, Kodachi and Sasuke go in pairs on the Cave of Lost Love, a cursed spot visited by couples.
  • Ranma 1/2 OAV Episode 10: The Evil Ogre – An evil ogre was sealed in a box by a Monkey Priest.  But when the seal is fading away, the current priest goes to Ranma, Genma and Soun for a new seal, but when the box opens, the ogre is released and can Ranma stop it?
  • Ranma 1/2 OAV Episode 11: The Two Akanes: Ranma, Look My Way! – Ranma and friends pay a visit to the hot spring inn, Ninyo-Kan, teh House of Dolls.  There is a legend of a mysterious doll called the Vengeful Doll and Ranma accidentally breaks it.  The doll wants revenge!

The main characters of “Ranma 1/2″ are:

  • Ranma Saotome – The series protagonist and martial artist who is often training with his father. He and Akane tend to not get along and he often says things bad to her, which leads her to beat him up or get him into trouble. Because he fell into a cursed lake where a teenage girl had died, he transforms into a teenage girl when he comes into contact with cold water and reverts back to a male when he comes into contact with hot water. Due to his father’s arrangement with Soun Tendo, he is the fiance of Akane Tendo.
  • Genma Saotome – The father of Ranma Saotome and is often training with his son. He is the childhood best friend of Soun Tendo and together, they made a promise that their children will marry. Because he fell into a cursed lake where a panda had died, he transforms into a panda when he comes into contact with cold water and reverts back to a male when he comes into contact with hot water. He and Genma were trained by their master, Happosai.
  • Akane Tendo – The female protagonist who is a tomboy that loves martial arts. She is popular at school and many guys want her to be their girlfriend. Due to her father’s arrangement with Genma Saotome, she is engaged to Ranma Saotome. She also has a hot temper and is often arguing and beating up on Ranma.
  • Soun Tendo – The owner of the Tendo Dojo, he is the father of Kusumi, Nabiki and Akane. He and his childhood friend Genma had an arrangement that their children will marry. He and Genma were trained by their master, Happosai.
  • Kusumi Tendo – She is the most ladylike of the Tendo family, the eldest sister who is always kind, she is often seen taking care of her sisters and cooking for the entire family and also cleaning the house.
  • Nabiki Tendo – The middle child, Nabiki likes to make money and spend it! Often trying to find ways to make money.
  • Tatewaki Kuno – From a wealthy family and has a cocky attitude and because of his inflated ego, calls himself “Blue Thunder”. He is in love with Akane and female Ranma. He is an expert with a wooden sword.
  • Ryoga Hibiki – Ranma’s rival . Ryoga is terrible with directions and whenever he is planning to fight with Ranma, it would take him days or weeks, because he walked hundreds of miles in another direction. One day he followed Ranma and Genma all the way to China and was kicked by a girl and landed in a cursed lake where a small black pig had died. Whenever he comes in contact with cold water, he will turn into a black pig and whenever he comes in contact with hot water, he reverts back to his normal self. As a pig, named P-chan, he is taken in as a pet by Akane Tendo.
  • Kodachi Kuno – The captain of the St. Hebereke School for Girls Gymnastic team and while a great gymnast, she also uses poison and other methods in combat which has earned her the nickname “The Black Rose”.
  • Dr. Tofu Ono – A very good doctor, it’s that people worry when Kasumi is around because Tofu is in love with Kasumi and he begins behaving unusually towards everyone.
  • Shampoo – The hero of her village in China. She despises female Ranma and loves male Ranma. She also fell in a cursed lake in Jusenkyou and turns into a pink cat. Whenever she comes into contact with cold water, she turns into a cat. When in contact with hot water, she reverts back to normal. She runs the Neko Hanten Chinese restaurant.
  • Cologne – The leader of the Chinese Amazons and grandmother of Shampoo. Around 300-years-old, she has a history with Happosai.
  • Mousse – A male Chinese Amazon and master of hidden weapons. He also happens to have terrible eye sight and is deeply in love with Shampoo. He also fell into the cursed Jusenkyo and turns into a duck.
  • Happosai – The founder and grandmaster of “Anything Goes Martial Arts” (Musabetsu Kakuto Ryu) and the master of Genma Saotome and Soun Tendo.
  • Ukyo Kuonji – An Okonomiyaki chef. Ukyo’s father and Ranma’s father made a deal that their children would marry.
  • Tsubasa Kurenai – A male who is in love with Ukyo and happens to be a cross-dresser.
  • Principal Kuno – Tatewaki and Kodachi’s father who is the principal at Furinkan High School that causes problems for Ranma.
  • Ling-Ling/Lung-Lung – Shampoo’s younger sisters who come to Japan searching for the person who beat Shampoo.
  • Hikaru Gosunkugi – An unpopular student who practices vodoo and is desperately in love with Akane and tries to do all he can to get rid of Ranma.

What is “Ranma 1/2”?

Mangaka Rumiko Takahashi is no doubt a legendary mangaka who has had amazing success in Japan.

Many know her from her popular series “InuYasha” but decades before, she won over manga and anime fans through her series “Urusei Yatsura”, “Maison Ikkoku”, The Mermaid series and of course, her well-known series, “Ranma 1/2″.

“Ranma 1/2″ was created back in 1987 and lasted through 1996 and serialized in Shogakukan’s “Weekly Shonen Sunday” with a total of 38 tankobon volumes (graphic novels) published.

The series like most of Rumiko’s work received an anime adaptation and in 1989, a total of 18 episodes were created and aired in Fuji TV before being canceled.

But unlike most cancellations, “Ranma 1/2″ would get a second life on television a month later with a new name titled “Ranma 1/2 Nettouhen” which was based on the manga but featured also a lot of filler episodes and characters not featured in the manga series.

While “Ranma 1/2″ was popular and would help jumpstart the careers for voice talents such as Megumi Hayashibara (“Video Girl Ai”, “Meitantei Conan”, “Slayers”, “Pokemon”), Kappei Yamaguchi (“Meitantei Conan”, “InuYasha”, “One Piece”), Noriko Hidaka (“InuYasha”, “Gunbuster”, “Nadia – The Secret of Blue Water”), Hiromi Tsuru (“Dragon Ball Z”, “Anpanman”), Kikuko Inoue (“Ah! My Goddess”, “Mobile Suit Gundam Seed”), Minami Takayama (“Meitantei Conan”, “Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko”) and Rei Sakuma (“Mobile Suit Gundam 0083″, “Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ”).

The series would become popular overseas as it was one of the first anime series to receive a fan sub and because it would help jumpstart the anime and manga craze during the early 1990′s including “Ranma 1/2″ released in comic book format. Viz Media would then bring an English dub of the anime series to the United States.

And while the anime series was released little by little with two episodes on VHS and then later with season box sets on DVD, in America, “Ranma 1/2″ has always been a fan favorite.

But when it was announced that Rumiko Takahashi’s earlier hit series “Urusei Yatsura”, “Maison Ikkoku” and “Ranma 1/2″ would be remastered and released in Japan on Blu-ray as part of Shogakukan’s 90th anniversary, suffice to say, fans became very excited and wondered if the series in HD would be released in America.

And sure enough, Viz Media surprised fans with the announcement that “Ranma 1/2″ was released on Blu-ray and DVD plus an omnibus release of the manga series in March 2014.

Unlike the original season box sets which features 18 episodes, “Ranma 1/2 Blu-ray Set 2″ will feature 23 episodes. And instead of going by Japanese seasons, the release will be available as collections, so you get episodes from season 5 and 6 included in “Ranma 1/2 Blu-ray Set 5”.

“Ranma 1/2″ is a story about a teenage boy named Ranma Saotome. His father Genma Saotome and his good friend Soun Tendo have made a deal that Ranma can marry one of Soun’s daughters and so both are headed to Japan after training in China.

But because both Ranma and Genma have fallen into cursed lakes, whenever they come into contact with cold water, Ranma turns into a girl, while Genma turns into a panda.

And because Akane hates boys and Ranma is half boy/half girl, her older sisters Kusumi and Nabiki volunteer Akane to be Ranma’s betrothed.

But both Ranma and Akane are like oil and water and don’t get along. Both often tease each other and Akane tends to beat Ranma up. And as the two are to try and be a happy couple, also in school, both must put up with a cast of fascinating characters including Tatewaki Kuno and his sister Kodachi, Ranma’s eternal rival Ryouga Hibiki, the Chinese fighter named Shampoo, an okonomiyaki restaurant owner named Ukyo and many others who are happy to destroy their relationship.


The main characters of “Ranma 1/2″ are:

  • Ranma Saotome – The series protagonist and martial artist who is often training with his father. He and Akane tend to not get along and he often says things bad to her, which leads her to beat him up or get him into trouble. Because he fell into a cursed lake where a teenage girl had died, he transforms into a teenage girl when he comes into contact with cold water and reverts back to a male when he comes into contact with hot water. Due to his father’s arrangement with Soun Tendo, he is the fiance of Akane Tendo.
  • Genma Saotome – The father of Ranma Saotome and is often training with his son. He is the childhood best friend of Soun Tendo and together, they made a promise that their children will marry. Because he fell into a cursed lake where a panda had died, he transforms into a panda when he comes into contact with cold water and reverts back to a male when he comes into contact with hot water. He and Genma were trained by their master, Happosai.
  • Akane Tendo – The female protagonist who is a tomboy that loves martial arts. She is popular at school and many guys want her to be their girlfriend. Due to her father’s arrangement with Genma Saotome, she is engaged to Ranma Saotome. She also has a hot temper and is often arguing and beating up on Ranma.
  • Soun Tendo – The owner of the Tendo Dojo, he is the father of Kusumi, Nabiki and Akane. He and his childhood friend Genma had an arrangement that their children will marry. He and Genma were trained by their master, Happosai.
  • Kusumi Tendo – She is the most ladylike of the Tendo family, the eldest sister who is always kind, she is often seen taking care of her sisters and cooking for the entire family and also cleaning the house.
  • Nabiki Tendo – The middle child, Nabiki likes to make money and spend it! Often trying to find ways to make money.
  • Tatewaki Kuno – From a wealthy family and has a cocky attitude and because of his inflated ego, calls himself “Blue Thunder”. He is in love with Akane and female Ranma. He is an expert with a wooden sword.
  • Ryoga Hibiki – Ranma’s rival . Ryoga is terrible with directions and whenever he is planning to fight with Ranma, it would take him days or weeks, because he walked hundreds of miles in another direction. One day he followed Ranma and Genma all the way to China and was kicked by a girl and landed in a cursed lake where a small black pig had died. Whenever he comes in contact with cold water, he will turn into a black pig and whenever he comes in contact with hot water, he reverts back to his normal self. As a pig, named P-chan, he is taken in as a pet by Akane Tendo.
  • Kodachi Kuno – The captain of the St. Hebereke School for Girls Gymnastic team and while a great gymnast, she also uses poison and other methods in combat which has earned her the nickname “The Black Rose”.
  • Dr. Tofu Ono – A very good doctor, it’s that people worry when Kasumi is around because Tofu is in love with Kasumi and he begins behaving unusually towards everyone.
  • Shampoo – The hero of her village in China. She despises female Ranma and loves male Ranma. She also fell in a cursed lake in Jusenkyou and turns into a pink cat. Whenever she comes into contact with cold water, she turns into a cat. When in contact with hot water, she reverts back to normal. She runs the Neko Hanten Chinese restaurant.
  • Cologne – The leader of the Chinese Amazons and grandmother of Shampoo. Around 300-years-old, she has a history with Happosai.
  • Mousse – A male Chinese Amazon and master of hidden weapons. He also happens to have terrible eye sight and is deeply in love with Shampoo. He also fell into the cursed Jusenkyo and turns into a duck.
  • Happosai – The founder and grandmaster of “Anything Goes Martial Arts” (Musabetsu Kakuto Ryu) and the master of Genma Saotome and Soun Tendo.
  • Ukyo Kuonji – An Okonomiyaki chef. Ukyo’s father and Ranma’s father made a deal that their children would marry.
  • Tsubasa Kurenai – A male who is in love with Ukyo and happens to be a cross-dresser.
  • Principal Kuno – Tatewaki and Kodachi’s father who is the principal at Furinkan High School that causes problems for Ranma.
  • Ling-Ling/Lung-Lung – Shampoo’s younger sisters who come to Japan searching for the person who beat Shampoo.
  • Hikaru Gosunkugi – An unpopular student who practices vodoo and is desperately in love with Akane and tries to do all he can to get rid of Ranma.

VIDEO:

“Ranma 1/2” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The series is presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio and the series utilizes the cleaned up digital remastering that was released in Japan.  It’s important to note that the OVA’s and the films were released years after the television series and because production quality is much better, the picture quality for the OVA’s and films are much better in terms of color, animation and overall background art.

While grain is visible in the remastered HD release, the main difference is much better colors. Reds absolutely pop but instead of a smeary look of its original DVD release, line art to overall colors are simply much better in HD and I didn’t notice any major artifacts or banding.

Personally, this Blu-ray release version is the definitive version of “Ranma 1/2” to own!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

Lossless audio for “Ranma 1/2 OVA & Movies Collection” is featured in Japanese and English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 with English subtitles. You get both the wonderful Japanese soundtrack with fine performances by Kappei Yamaguchi, Megumi Hayashibara and Noriko Hidaka, Minami Takayama, Hiromi Tsuru, Kikuo Inoue, Kouchi Yamadera to name a few. And the original English dub.

It’s important to note that the English dub back in the ’90s were a much different style than the English dubs that people are accustomed to today. At the time, Viz Media and other companies were entering a new field for English dubs after many people have seen the Japanese version (due to fan subs).

So, back in the ’90s, Viz Media was criticized for its English dub soundtrack. The dub was no doubt subjective to the listener. Some didn’t mind, some were very vocal about it but the good news is that on this Blu-ray release, you have a choice between Japanese with English subtitles or the English dub.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Ranma 1/2 OVA & Movies Collection” comes with the following special features:

  • Next OVA Episode Previews
  • Clean Opening and Endings

EXTRAS:

“Ranma 1/2 OVA & Movies Collection” comes with a 32-page booklet with episode summaries. Also, included is a slipcase.


Back in 1993, J!-ENT was founded and in our first year, we reviewed the first two “Ranma 1/2” film sand were also reviewing the “Ranma 1/2” OVA’s.

Back then, it was quite a special time as anime was growing and the series that many people started watching from Japan and was English subtitled, was “Ranma 1/2”.  Viz Media was establishing itself as a major force in America, bringing anime and manga to the masses and “Ranma 1/2” was no doubt a series that was instrumental in introducing Japanese animation to people all over the world.

Back in 2002, the DVD version of the OVA collection was released, without the first two films and the price was discouraging at over $100 for the set.  And for those who purchased the original Japanese LD’s, you only got one episode for $59.  And the VHS tapes, had two OVA’s for $34.99.

Here we are in 2017, and you get 11 OVA’s plus the three animated films for half the price at under $50.  The OVA’s and film were remastered and are provided in 1080p High Definition.  English names of the films have changed a little.  For example, the second film is no longer called “Nihao My Concubine” and is now “The Battle of Togenkyo”.

And for “Ranma 1/2” fans, getting this set along with the TV series on Blu-ray is a no-brainer.

The first two films are fantastic and the OVA’s, back then, as they came out almost like twice a year, they were looked at specially.   Back then, we had massive anime clubs (which still exist but in a different capacity as the early ’90s) and watching the “Ranma 1/2” OVA’s or movies, believe it or not, dozens to a hundred people would come to watch “Ranma 1/2” in straight Japanese.  The films and the OVA’s had better animation, colors looked vibrant when compared to the TV series (as the latter seasons were not the greatest in animation quality).

The ’90s and the hook that “Ranma 1/2” and it’s music had on me.

Megumi Hayashibara (voice of female Ranma) was the best!

For me, what will always stick in my mind is the second “Ranma 1/2” film and OAV episodes 1-2 for its animation, storyline and soundtrack.  For the majority of the OVA’s, you get excellent series but I’ve always felt the weakest stories were the third film (which was more like an OVA because it was shorter in duration) and the final two OVA’s.

While there will always be debates about the voice acting of “Ranma 1/2″, I’m not going to keep saying, I wish this or that.  The fact is you get both soundtracks and if you want it in Japanese with English subtitles, that is an option.

While I have reviewed the older 2002 DVD, there are a few things that I do have to comment on and that is the fact that the specials and the final OVA have not been released in America yet.

In 2008, the 12th OVA was released but I would assume that with so much time passing since”Ranma 1/2” was produced with the original voice talent, Viz may not be interested.

Many were hoping that specials such as the “Hot Song Contest” would be included.  This special had a hilarious storyline and is considered as one of my favorites but still has never been released in the U.S..  The other specials were more like rehash of anime from past episodes along with music, which were more for the fan club back in Japan and are more for the collectors.  Also, many wonder if the live action drama special from 2011 will ever be released in the U.S.

But overall, this set is magnificent.  You get nearly all the “Ranma 1/2” OVA’s and the three films collected in one set, in high definition and for a great price.

If you are a “Ranma 1/2” fan, the “Ranma 1/2 OVA & Movies Collection” is recommended!

 

A Ghost Story (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

David Lowery’s “A Ghost Story” is a hauntingly, captivating film.  It’s fresh concept, creative and poignant.  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Lions Gate Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: A Ghost Story

FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 92 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish Subtitles

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: R

RELEASE DATE: October 3, 2017


Directed by David Lowery

Screenplay by David Lowery

Produced by Adam Donaghey, Toby Halbrooks, James M. Robinson

Executive Producer: David Maddox

Co-Producer: Liz Franke

Music: Daniel Hart

Cinematography: Andrew Droz Palermo

Edited by David Lowery

Casting by Tisha Blood, Matthew West Taylor

Production Design by Jade Healy, Tom Walker

Art Direction: David Pink

Set Decoration by Judd Myers, Adam Willis

Costume Design by Annell Brodeur


Starring:

Casey Affleck as C

Rooney Mara as M

Liz Franke as Linda

Kesha as Spirit Girl

Sonia Acevedo as Maria

Carlos Bermudez as Carlos

Yasmina Gutierrez as Yasmina


Academy Award winner Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara star as a young couple who – after being separated by loss – discover an eternal connection and a love that is infinite. An unforgettable meditation on love and grief, A GHOST STORY emerges ecstatic and surreal – a wholly unique experience that lingers long after the credits roll.


From David Lowery, director of “Pete’s Dragon” and “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” comes his supernatural film “A Ghost Story”.

Starring Casey Affleck (“Gone Baby Gone”, “Interstellar”, “Manchester by the Sea”), Rooney Mara (“The Social Network”, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “Side Effects”) and more, the film is an interesting fresh take on ghosts, but also a film about love and grieving.

And now “A Ghost Story” will be available on Blu-ray in October 2017 courtesy of Lionsgate.

“A Ghost Story” revolves around a couple, a musician, C (portrayed by Casey Affleck) and his wife M (portrayed by Rooney Mara).

The two move into a house and while sleeping, were awaken by a noise from the piano.  But when they go to the living room to check, they don’t see anyone there.

The two are a couple deeply in love but one day, C is killed in a car accident right near the front of his house.  He is taken to the morgue for identification and after his wife identifies him, we see C’s body awaken as a ghost (with a white sheet over the body, yet no one can see him or the sheet).

C, now as a ghost, returns to his home and watches his wife grieving over his death.  He begins to watch over her for days, weeks and months.

While looking out the window, he sees another ghost looking outside the window and she says she is waiting for someone, but not sure who.

As C continues to watch over his wife, he sees her with a new man and jealous, he starts throwing books off the bookshelf and it opens up to a passage that upsets her.  She then begins to listen to a song he created for her long ago and she eventually leaves the home and moves out.  She places a small piece of paper inside a crack in the corner of the wall and paints the crack to seal it.

And his mission as a ghost is to peel away the paint to try and retrieve the note that she wrote.

But as C tries to do this, a new family, a single mother with her two children move in.  And as this family is happy, C starts frightening the family and trying to force them to move out of the home and a new group of people move in.

But we see the house become aged and neglected and eventually, the home and the home next door are destroyed.  And as he and the other ghost stand on the foundation, the other ghost gives up waiting for whoever she is waiting for and disappears.

Meanwhile, a new skyscraper is built on the foundation and the whole country land where he once lived in, is now a metropolis with big buildings and cities.

C decides to walk off the ledge and fall off the building but then he is taken way back in the past and watches 19th century settlers building their home on the land and must forever relive for many years until he reaches to the present-time period of watching when he was alive with his wife.


VIDEO:

“A Ghost Story” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1). Picture quality is magnificent as closeups showcase incredible detail, while I liked how lighting was employed in the film. I saw no sign of banding or artifact issues. The film looks absolutely great on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“A Ghost Story” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA.  Lossless audio, plays upon silence, then some dialogue with the music by C and of course some sequences where C becomes mischievous and starts throwing things around, those sequences utilizing the surround channels.  But for the most part, lossless audio is crystal clear.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“A Ghost Story” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring an audio commentary with Director David Lowery, Cinematographer Andrew Droz Palermo, Production Designer Jade Healy and Composer Daniel Hart.
  • A Ghost Story and the Inevitable Passing of Time – (20:20) A featurette shot at the haunted Sedamsville Rectory with the lights closed and shot with night vision.
  • A Composer’s Story – (4:35) A featurette about the making of the music for the film with interviews with composer Daniel Hart.
  • Deleted Scene – (5:56) Featuring a deleted coffee making scene.
  • Trailers

EXTRAS:

“A Ghost Story” comes with Blu-ray and UltraViolet code.


“A Ghost Story” was written during a troubling time of David Lowery’s life.  A time where he was not feeling good of the future of mankind and thus came the idea of how to create a film that would tackle on those fears.

Having worked with both Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara for his 2013 film “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”, he wanted to work with the two again for a film he made, where he wanted to be creative and try something new.

Would Oscar winning actor Casey Affleck mind wearing a white sheet over him during the entire movie?  Would he be able to get Rooney Mara to portray a grieving woman who had lost her one true love?

Having watching “A Ghost Story” several times, this creative take on loss, grief and ghosts is quite unique.

Affleck playing the character of C, a musician who gets into a car accident just right across the street from his home and dies and becomes a ghost.  He returns back to the place he lived, which is his home and a place where he can watch his wife and be with her.

There is no concept of time, he just watches but he does still feel.  May it be the jealousy when he sees his wife with another man or wanting to be mischievous, when a family moves into the same home, knowing that he can levitate and knock things around and literally scare a single mother and her two children.

But as he is attached to that place, what happens when the land and the home is demolished to pave way for a new metropolis.  Again, there is no concept of time, so you see C seeing how things change and is literally powerless to do anything about it.

He is just a voyeur, a ghost who is left with one mission, and that is to find out what note his wife left inside a crack on the wall.

“A Ghost Story” is no doubt a whimsical film, giving one a new perspective when it comes to a ghost film.  While many people may have watched many ghost films and probably the best known about love, lost and trying to help a love one from the afterlife would be Jerry Zucker’s 1990 film, “Ghost”, starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore.  By no means is this a repeat.  Affleck’s C is a ghost that lives on in the same property for many years.

While Rooney Mara’s M is a woman who must grieve and begin life anew.  It’s Mara’s performance that I found captivating and real.  It’s not easy to portray a life of grief of a loved one, but with her talent and director David Lowery wanting to read Joan Didion’s “The  Year of Magical Thinking” (how she coped when her husband died), everything worked quite well.

A film about a man wearing a white sheet, like a child in Halloween trying to be a ghost, may make one think it would illicit a few laughs, but in the case of “A Ghost Story”, it was hauntingly refreshing, no need for modern visual effects, it was a new take that worked.

The Blu-ray features wonderful picture quality, especially during the close ups.  Lossless audio, plays upon silence, then some dialogue with the music by C and of course some sequences where C becomes mischievous and starts throwing things around, those sequences utilizing the surround channels.  But for the most part, lossless audio is crystal clear.  And there are numerous special features included as well.

Overall, David Lowery’s “A Ghost Story” is a hauntingly, captivating film.  It’s fresh concept, creative and poignant.  Recommended!

 

 

Beggars of Life (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

With the popularity of Louise Brooks, there is no denying that “Beggars of Life” is a must-buy, must-own title.  And for silent film fans, the film is entertaining, suspenseful and action-packed. May you be a Louise Brooks, Wallace Beery or Richard Arlen fan, I can faithfully say that this silent film on Blu-ray is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 1928 Paramount Pictures. 2017 KINO LORBER. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Beggars of Life

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 1928

DURATION: 81 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p (1:33:1 Aspect Ratio), B&W, 2.0 Stereo, English Intertitles

COMPANY: Kino Lorber

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: August 22, 2017


Based on the Book by Jim Tully

Directed by William A. Wellman

Adapatation by Benjamin Glazer

Produced by Allan Dwan

Executive Producer: Adolph Zukor

Music Performed by Jeff Rapsis

Cinematography by Harold Rosson


Starring:

Wallace Beery as Oklahoma Red

Louise Brooks as Nancy – The Girl

Richard Arlen as Jim – The Boy

Blue Washington as Black Mose

Kewpie Morgan as Skinny

Andy Clark as Skelly

Mike Donlin as Bill

Roscoe Karns as Lame Hoppy

Bob Perry as The Arkansaw Snake


An American silent film classic, Beggars of Life (1928) stars Louise Brooks as a train-hopping hobo who dresses like a boy to survive. After escaping her violent stepfather, Nancy (Brooks) befriends kindly drifter Jim (Richard Arlen). They ride the rails together until a fateful encounter with the blustery Oklahoma Red (Wallace Beery) and his rambunctious band of hoboes, leading to daring, desperate conflict on top of a moving train. Based on the memoir of real-life hobo Jim Tully, and directed with adventuresome verve by William Wellman (The Ox-Bow Incident), Beggars of Life is an essential American original.


From legendary filmmaker William A. Wellman (“A Star is Born”, “The Ox-Bow Incident”, “The Public Enemy”) comes his romantic comedy silent film “Beggars of Life”.

A film that was released in 1928 as a silent film but it was considered lost until an incomplete copy was found in Czechoslovakia.

And now the film will be released as a silent film with English intertitles and a musical score compiled and performed by the Mont Alto Motion Pictures Orchestra, who employed selections from the original 1928 Paramount cue-sheet.

“Beggars of Life”  is based on an autobiography by Jim Tully and would star Wallace Beery (“Grand hotel”, “The Champ”, “The Lost World”), Louise Brooks (“Pandora’s Box”, “Diary of a Lost Girl”, “Miss Europe”), Richard Arlen (“Wings”, “Island of Lost Souls”, “Alice in Wonderland”) and Blue Washington (“Haunted Gold”, “The Butler”).

The film is known as being Louise Brooks best American film and also a film that would feature a Black actor, Blue Washington and one of the first films that would feature a man of color in the opening credits which was not common during that era.

And now the 1928 film will be available on Blu-ray courtesy of Kino Lorber.

The film begins with a hungry homeless man named Jim (Richard Arlen) wondering into someone’s property, begging for the owner to please give him food and he would work hard for it.

When Jim sees someone sitting but not answering, he walks inside to find the man shot in the head and dead.  Seeing the deceased man startles him and he hears a young woman named Nancy (portrayed by Louise Brooks) scurrying around.

When Jim asks if she killed the man, she admits to it.  She explains that she was an orphan and taken in by the family but as she got older, the man would sexually assault her and having had enough of being raped, she took his firearm and shot him with it.

The two decide to escape and Nancy disguises herself as a young boy.  Meanwhile, Jim feels he just wants to help her get on the train, so she can get to Canada.  Unfortunately, getting on a train is not so easy for Nancy and she sprains her ankle.  Jim ends up taking care of Nancy and the next day, as they swipe some pastries from a bakery car, he sees a wanted photo of Nancy for murder.

As the two walk, they end up walking into a homeless camp, they meet the blunt and fearsome homeless man that goes by Oklahoma Red (portrayed by Wallace Beery) and they meet gang leader, The Arkansaw Snake (portrayed by Bob Perry).  When the Snake observes Jim and Nancy, he realizes that Nancy is a woman and not a man and wants to have his time with her.  But as Jim tries to come to her rescue, he is overtaken by the other homeless men and is held back.

But Jim ends up showing everyone to Nancy’s wanted poster and everyone steps back, worried about being around a murderer and not wanting to draw authorities to them, so they prefer to distance themselves away from her.

But when the police arrive, they see Nancy and as they are to stop her, all the homeless step in and Oklahoma Red handcuffs them all together, so they are unable to escape.

Oklahoma Red helps Nancy and Jim  but Red also wants to be with Nancy.

Will Nancy be able to escape to Canada with the authorities chasing after her?  Can Jim protect her?


VIDEO:

“Beggars of Life” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:33:1 aspect ratio) and is presented in black and white. The quality of the film on Blu-ray is very good in terms of clarity and sharpness.  Considering the film’s age, I didn’t notice any major film warping and while there are scratches that can be seen on various frames, the fact that this film has been lost and was recently discovered, is a major plus and I’m sure glad that what was found is still a good print that was restored from 35 mm film elements preserved by the George Eastman Museum.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Beggars of Life” is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and the music presented for this release is a wonderful score compiled and performed by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, employing selections from the original 1928 Paramount cue-sheet.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Beggars of Life” comes with the following special feature:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by William Wellman, Jr.
  • Audio Commentary #2 – Featuring audio commentary by Thomas Gladysz, founding director of the Louise Brooks Society.

EXTRAS:

“Beggars of Life” comes with a booklet essay by film critic Nick Pinkerton.


When it comes to Louise Brooks, many are familiar with her European films directed by George Wilhelm Pabst and of course, her reputation.

Considered an actress that was ahead of her time, she took on roles that were portrayed sexuality that was not common for the era.  She was an intellectual, some considered her a snob, rumors were spread all over Hollywood that she slept with all her actors and facing so much in the U.S., she no doubt developed a tough skin.

For the most part, going to Europe did wonders for her career, especially post-posthumously such as “Pandora’s Box” or “Diary of a Lost Girl” are well-revered today.  But back then, while great films, her loathing of Hollywood and being denied by Paramount for a promised raise was enough for her to leave America which would lead her to become blacklisted.

Prior to moving away from America though, while starring in several silent light comedies and flapper films, it was “Beggars of Life” that would be considered her best American film.

Surprisingly, considering that she never thought about the film positively and not being faithful to Jim Tully’s book, which the film was an adaptation of Tully’s autobiography of the same name.

Nor did Louise Brooks get along with her co-star Richard Arlen and also director William A. Wellman, it’s a sign of a good actress that she was able to take on the role and give a solid performance as murderer on the run, Nancy.

But the tone of the film is set as Nancy was an orphan who was repeatedly raped by the man who took her in and tired of being assaulted, she shot and killed him.  And now she just wants to be free.  Free and happy and Jim, wants to help her escape to Canada but he needs to disguise her as a boy as he knows authorities will be after her.

The film broke new ground, no surprise as William A. Wellman was in an experimentation mode.  You have a woman dressed and disguised like a young man which no doubt, went against Hollywood norm and upset a number of people.  You also have Blue Washington, a Black actor in a major role and also being featured in the opening credits.  While Washington is not featured during the first half of the film, he becomes more prominent towards the second half of the film as a homeless man trying to take care of another sick homeless man.

But along with Louise Brooks, you also have to talk about the two prominent male actors.  Richard Arlen is the main protagonist that is paired with Louise Brooks as the homeless man named Jim who tries to help Nancy escape to Canada.  At first, he just wants to help her get to Canada on train but when he sees that she is not experienced to do much, let alone jumping on trains, he ends up helping her and protecting her from the homeless men who want to take advantage of her.

And of course, the actor who gets top billing, Wallace Beery as Oklahoma Red.  A homeless man who seems like he would be the antagonist, the alpha male among many homeless men, a man with a reputation that some fear him and a homeless man who also carries a heavy wooden barrel wherever he goes.  And he has his eyes on Nancy and wanting her to be his.  But he wants to naturally help her escape as well, just with him and not Jim.

Beery had appeared in many major films and while at that time, it makes sense for him to get top billing and be known as the star of the film.  Since the release of the film and the escalation of Louise Brooks as an actress and has received recognition as an early cinema sex symbol, she has also received respect for her independence as a woman.  Defying Hollywood, defying the norm and some may even make comparisons to modern day stars such as Madonna.

And part of the mystique that surrounds Louise Brooks is that there is much written about her, but yet many of her films are lost.  Fortunately, her key silent films filmed in Europe such as “Pandora’s Box” and “Diary of a Lost Girl” have survived.  And of course, her American film “Beggars of Life” that was discovered in 2016, has finally been released and giving many fans a chance to enjoy an early American film starring Louise Brooks.

And earlier this year, 23 minutes of a long missing 1927 Brooks film, “Now We’re in the Air” was found in the Czech Republic and is another significant film in Brooks’ oeuvre as four of the films she had made in 1927 were considered lost.  And this World War One comedy also features Wallace Beery, and Brooks in two supporting roles.

Going back to “Beggars of Life”, it’s important to note that while this film was released as an early sound film, the original sound recordings have not been found and thus was released as a silent film.  And while it is sad that we don’t have the original audio, considering that this was an earlier film that experimented with sound, the film works much more effectively as a silent and the score by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra was fantastic.

Picture quality on this Blu-ray release was digitally restored from 35mm film elements preserved by the George Eastman Museum and they did a magnificent job.  Scratches are not so evident and there is no major damage or film warping at all.  And you get two audio commentaries and a essay booklet included as well.

With the popularity of Louise Brooks, there is no denying that “Beggars of Life” is a must-buy, must-own title.  And for silent film fans, the film is entertaining, suspenseful and action-packed. May you be a Louise Brooks, Wallace Beery or Richard Arlen fan, I can faithfully say that this silent film on Blu-ray is highly recommended!

 

 

The Hero (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Brett Haley’s “The Hero” is a touching film that takes on one’s life of dealing with potential death after being diagnosed with cancer.  Despite having a celebrated life as a western actor, who knows that his accolades is the past and now he must deal with the present.  A fractured relationship with his daughter and a new relationship with a woman probably 50-years younger than him but constant dreams of death and not knowing how to deal with it.  Featuring a wonderful performance by Sam Elliott and Laura Prepon, “The Hero” is a film worth checking out!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Lions Gate Entertainment, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Hero

FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 97 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:35:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish Subtitles

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: PG-13

RELEASE DATE: September 19, 2017


Directed by Brett Haley

Written by Brett Haley, Marc Basch

Produced by Sam Bisbee, Erik rommesmo

Executive Producer: Lance Acord, Jackie Kelman Bisbee, Frank Brenner, David Bunce, Franklin Carson, Theodora Dunlap, Danny Rifkin, Jeff Schlossman, Bill Wallwork

 Co-Producer: Amy Jarvela

Music: Keegan DeWitt

Cinematography: Rob Givens

Edited by Brett Haley

Casting by Emily Schweber, Lisa Zambetti

Production Design by Eric J. Archer

Set Decoration: Melissa Licht

Costume Design: Alana Morshead


Starring:

Sam Elliott as Lee Hayden

Laura Prepon as Charlotte Dylan

Nick Offerman as Jeremy Frost

Krysten Ritter as Lucy Hayden

Katharine Ross as Valarie Hayden

Max Gail as Gary Babcock

Jackie Joyner as Betsy

Patrika Darbo as Diane


Starring Sam Elliott as a former Western icon fearlessly reckoning with his life, his image, and most importantly, his heart after a surprise diagnosis.


From Brett Haley (director of “I’ll See You in My Dreams”, “The New Year”) comes his latest film, “The Hero” (co-written with Marc Basch).

Having worked with actor Sam Elliott (“We Were Soldiers”, “Tombstone”, “Up in the Air”, “Hulk”) in “Ill See You in My Dreams”, both Brett Haley and Marc Basch crafted “The Hero” for Sam Eliott, who they were fans but also wanted to work with him again.

Co-starring in the film is Laura Prepon (“That 70’s Show”, “The girl on the Train”, “Orange is the New Black”), Nick Offerman (“Parks and Recreation”, “The Founder”, “Fargo”), Krysten Ritter (“Jessica Jones”, “Big Eyes”, “Breaking Bad”) and also starring Elliott’s real life wife, actress Katharine Ross (“The Graduate”, “Donnie Darko”, “The Stepford Wives”).

The film begins with well-known western actor Lee Hayden (portrayed by Sam Eliott) working on recording a voice over in the studio, he calls his doctor and finds out that his cancer has gotten worse but can get treatment to extend his life but he will need to decide whether to pursue the cancer treatment or not.

Lee often smokes a lot of marijuana which he gets from his friend, fellow actor Jeremy Frost (portrayed by Nick Offerman), a man he worked on a major show long ago.

Also, going to Jeremy for drugs is comedian, Charlotte Dylan (portrayed by Laura Prepon) and Jeremy introduces the two to each other.  If there is one positive thing that is happening in Lee’s life, he is being honored with a lifetime achievement award.

Having to deal that he may die soon, Lee wants to make things right with his estranged daughter Lucy (portrayed by Krysten Ritter).  Lee visits his ex-wife Valarie (portrayed by Katharine Ross) to find a way to get in contact with Lucy and he meets up with her at the tennis courts and finds out that Lucy now works as an ad salesperson at Google.

Lee wants to connect with Lucy and tell him the truth and wants her to accompany him to the lifetime achievement award but she brushes him off and tells him that she’s busy and would rather have dinner with him.

As the thoughts of dying become part of his dreams/nightmares, may it reliving his life on a Western and approaching a man that hung himself (which happens to be him) or walking towards the ocean, he eventually meets with Charlotte and she ends up being his date to the lifetime achievement event and gives him Molly, to get him to relax and have a good attitude throughout the event.

And things work out well that the two start having a sexual relationship.

But Lee feels guilty because he’s an older man and feels he shouldn’t be with a young woman, meanwhile knowing that he may not live that long and it hurts him that he hasn’t told his family or anyone.

Will Lee make piece with his daughter and will his relationship with Charlotte continue?


VIDEO:

“The Hero” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1). Picture quality is magnificent as closeups showcase incredible detail and outdoor scenes are vibrant.

I saw no sign of banding or artifact issues. The film looks great on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Hero” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.  Featuring crystal clear dialogue and musical score, the film is primarily front-channel driven.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Hero” comes with an audio commentary with director Brett Haley and actor Sam Elliott and a photo gallery.

EXTRAS:

“The Hero” comes with Blu-ray and UltraViolet code.


A touching film about a legendary western actor dealing with the reality that he has cancer and doesn’t have long to live, what things does he want to accomplish in the life that he has left?

A film directed and written by Brett Haley and co-written with Marc Basch, the two men crafted this story for actor Sam Eliott and what they managed to pull off is a film that deals with thoughts of one’s pending death and making difficult decisions to go through a treatment that will prolong his life but will he?

While he has had a great acting career, Elliott’s character, Lee Hayden is a man that is broken.  Having focused on his career and divorcing his wife Valarie and not spending any time with his daughter Lucy, he wants to repair the fractured relationship but doesn’t know how.

The main person in his life is a co-star, Jeremy Frost (portrayed by Nick Offerman) who supplies him with marijuana to calm his mind.

And as his career is still continuing and he is being honored for a lifetime achievement award, what Lee Hayden is not expecting is to meet with a beautiful comedian named Charlotte (portrayed by Laura Prepon) and have a sexual relationship with her.  Despite being an older man, Lee has jitters and feels weird about it (she doesn’t) and she opens him to a life that he never had.

But perhaps this extra piece of vitality will make him stronger to want to live but also repair things with his daughter Lucy.

For the most part, it’s a fascinating film in which Sam Elliott does a great job with the role but the person who truly shines is actress Laura Prepon who takes on teh role of carefree Charlotte and couldn’t care what people thinks, she walks on the beat of her own drum and has no qualms being with a man in his ’70s.

The Blu-ray features great picture quality and lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and music.  Special features are only an audio commentary, as director Brett Haley explains in the commentary that he’s not a person who likes to include deleted scenes as his final cut, is the cut he wants everyone to see.

Overall, Brett Haley’s “The Hero” is a touching film that takes on one’s life of dealing with potential death after being diagnosed with cancer.  Despite having a celebrated life as a western actor, who knows that his accolades is the past and now he must deal with the present.  A fractured relationship with his daughter and a new relationship with a woman probably 50-years younger than him but constant dreams of death and not knowing how to deal with it.

Featuring a wonderful performance by Sam Elliott and Laura Prepon, “The Hero” is a film worth checking out!

 

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