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Friday, April 19, 2024

Revenge (Blu-ray Review)


The Film
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements


After getting involved in an unsanctioned duel against one of his superiors, an impoverished samurai finds his life and family under threat by the establishment powers who want him killed.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Director Imai Tadashi (Story of a Pure Love) and screenwriter Hashimoto Shinobu (Harakiri) crafted a riveting chanbara drama with Adauchi, known by both alternate English titles Revenge or Vengeance.

Exposing the absurdity of the feudal era Bushido code, the film follows the story of an illegal duel triggered by a trivial insult over the condition of swords between the impoverished samurai Shinpachi (Nakamura Kinnosuke) and the wealthy noble general Magodayu. The duel to death leaves Shinpachi alive but the entire ruling establishment out to bring him and his family down. A scheme between the authorities and families to have both duelists labeled madmen and Shinpachi exiled to a Buddhist monastery does not quell tempers.

Imai’s film is visually poetic. The images of trees blowing in the breeze like lost souls is a common symbol. The realism infused into the story anchors the visual beauty, however. The screenplay from Hashimoto, who also wrote the screenplays for famous Kurosawa films The Hidden Fortress and Rashomon, firmly establishes the complexities of the drama, the issues of class, power, and unchecked vengeance.

Imai gives the film a taut direction that still feels epic in its scope, and the driving force of the film are in the performances he helps to extract from Nakamura Kinnosuke and the beautifully choreographed fight sequences.

  • Revenge (Adauchi) (1964)
  • Revenge (Adauchi) (1964)
  • Revenge (Adauchi) (1964)
  • Revenge (Adauchi) (1964)
  • Revenge (Adauchi) (1964)
  • Revenge (Adauchi) (1964)
  • Revenge (Adauchi) (1964)
  • Revenge (Adauchi) (1964)
  • Revenge (Adauchi) (1964)
  • Revenge (Adauchi) (Eureka_eka70495)

The Video

Eureka Entertainment’s Masters of Cinema Series provides Revenge in a worldwide Blu-ray debut from a 2K restoration in a 2.35:1 AVC 1080p encodement. Why this film has not received a 4K restoration is perplexing, given how good the film is and how wonderful the image looks. The image has certainly been cleaned up so that damage is not much of an issue. Grain is present, but thinly layered and very consistent across the stark black and white imagery.

The Audio

The Japanese mono track is provided in LPCM 2.0 and it provides a clean, full, and crisp audio experience for this vintage film. Newly translated English subtitles are available.

The Supplements

  • Interview with Tony Rayns on Revenge (1080p; 00:22:05)
  • The Enemy Within: Power and Politics in the Films of Tadashi Imai – A visual essay by Jasper Sharp (1080p; 00:15:57)
  •  Limited-Edition O-card Slipcase (first print run of 2000 copies)
  • 11-page Booklet with Essay, Tadashi Imai’s Cruel Tales of Bushido, by Tom Mes, author of Japanese Film and the Challenge of Video (Routledge, 2023)

The Final Assessment

In the discussion of some of the great chanbara films from this era in Japanese cinema, Revenge is one that, oddly, does not get mentioned as much, perhaps overshadowed by the towering figure of Kurosawa and his films. This Blu-ray release from a 2K restoration is a perfect way to discover or rediscover this excellent film that can stand toe-to-toe with Kurosawa’s films from the same era. Eureka Entertainment’s Masters of Cinema series release is a must-own for cinephiles. Highly recommended.

Revenge (Adauchi) debuts worldwide on Blu-ray in the UK from Eureka Entertainment’s Master of Cinema series June 19, 2023.

  • Rating Certificate: UK: 15
  • Studios & Distributors: Toei Kyoto | Eureka Entertainment
  • Director: Imai Tadashi
  • Written By: Hashimoto Shinobu
  • Run Time: 103 Mins.
  • Street Date: 19 June 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: Japanese LPCM 2.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English

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After getting involved in an unsanctioned duel against one of his superiors, an impoverished samurai finds his life and family under threat by the establishment powers who want him killed.Revenge (Blu-ray Review)