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Dragon Blu-ray Review

dragon-blu-ray-coverU.S. Release

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit)
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: R
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Digital Copies: N/A
  • Run Time: 98 Mins.
  • Studio: The Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: April 16, 2013
  • List Price: $29.99

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(The below TheaterByte screen captures are taken directly from the Blu-ray Discs and losslessly compressed in the PNG format. There should be no loss of picture quality with this format. All screen captures should be regarded only as an approximation of the full capabilities of the Blu-ray format.

The Film

[Rating:4/5]

Dragon-Wuxia-BD_01

Director Peter Chan’s (The Warlords) latest wuxia film, set at the end of the Qing dynasty, finds martial arts action star Donnie Yen (Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster; Painted Skin; An Empress and the Warriors) playing Liu Jin-xi, a peaceful papermaker in a rural village with a wife (Tang Wei) and two kids whose troubled past comes back to haunt him after he survives a botched robbery attempt at a local merchant’s shop. When the relentless detective assigned to investigate the robbery, Xu Bai-jiu (Kaneshiro Takeshi; Red Cliff; The Warlords; The House of Flying Daggers), begins questioning how a simple papermaker could have survived an attack from such notorious bandits, it stirs up a lot of questions from Jin-xi’s past and reveals a side of him that no one knew. It also leaves him and his beloved village vulnerable when his former master comes looking for him, determined to bring him back into the fold. Jin-xi must take a stand and defend his family, his honor, and his village if he wants to maintain the peaceful way of life he has constructed for himself.

The idea of the lone wolf or the bad man seeking redemption is nothing new at all, but Peter Chen through the work of screenwriter Lam Oi Wah and actor Donnie Yen pulls it off with conviction here. Dragon, whose parenthetical subtitle is “wuxia” is not your typical film in the genre. Although the film does employ some fantastical elements – during numerous fight sequences characters use their “Qi” to simply blast people across rooms or avoid being sliced open by swords – it is more serious in tone than most.

Dragon feels more like a mystery or thriller  interspersed with some jaw-dropping visual sequences and an adrenalin rush of martial arts choreography. The cinematography of Lai Yiu-fai is often breathtaking; we see Jin-xi in a battle plunge over a magnificent waterfall. Kaneshiro is charismatic as the relentless detective, Yen is, as always, superb as the master of kung fu, and Tang Wei is a movingly sympathetic character – the wife who knows there is something dark in his past, but loves him anyway.

Dragon is a keeper for anyone who loves martial arts films, Donnie Yen, and the work of Peter Chan. More grounded than most wuxia, it is still wholly entertaining.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Dragon-Wuxia-BD_02

Shot on a range of medium to high speed 35mm (Super 35) film stocks from Kodak plus HD for high-speed, slow motion shots, Dragon comes to Blu-ray with an AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement from Anchor Bay. The image looks film-like, but soft, and though it offers up offers up a good bit of shadow detail, often looks a bit high in overall gamma.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Dragon-Wuxia-BD_03

A serviceable Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) soundtrack is included as the only option. It sounds to be mastered at a lower than usual level, but provides a good bit of punch nonetheless for the various blows and other sound effects. There’s an effective balance of atmospherics in the surrounds, however the mix never quite becomes totally engulfing.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2/5]

Dragon-Wuxia-BD_04

The Making Of features some good behind-the-scenes B-roll footage and interviews with the cast and crew. We also get a brief interview with star Donnie Yen and an unfortunate music video.

The supplements:

  • The Making of Dragon (1.78:1; SD; 00:22:27)
  • Featurettes with Donnie Yen (1.78:1; SD; 00:05:40)
  • “Lost in Jianghu” Music Video (1.78:1; SD; 00:05:14)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Dragon-Wuxia-BD_05

Dragon is a triumph for Donnie Yen and Peter Chan. An involving mystery with a blend of high-octane martial arts sequences and cool visuals, this one breaks out of the normal routine of sometimes over-the-top fantasy for something a little more relatable, but still fun.

Additional Screen Captures

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Dragon-Wuxia-BD_11

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Purchase Dragon on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

 

 

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