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Confucius Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: Mandarin Dolby TrueHD 5.1(48kHz/24-bit), English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: AB (No Region C)
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
  • Run Time: 125 Mins.
  • Studio: FUNimation Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: March 27, 2012
  • List Price: $24.98

[amazon-product]B006MWA8UW[/amazon-product]

Purchase Confucius on Blu-ray Combo Pack at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:3/5]

Confucius is the epic biopic by director Mei Hu about the famous Chinese philosopher and teacher starring Chow Yun-Fat in the lead role. An elegantly photographed film with mostly slow and steady, but a little uneven, pacing, Confucius seeks to tell the story of his influential and tumultuous life with emotional weight and intrigue. While it looks glorious, it feels more like an overly-reverent look at an icon and philosophy while losing sight of any deeper sense of real human emotion.

Confucius begins with a sprawling and somewhat confused first half, set in the state of Lu, where The Four Families have imposed their wealth and influence to form powerful fiefdoms that threaten the power of the king. Kong Qiu, or Confucius, becomes a mayor and finally a minister where his fair practices and military genius earn him praise, high regard, and the ear of the king. This threatens the four families who eventually drive him away into exile. Thus starts the slower, second-half of Confucius, in which Kong Qiu wanders from state to state with a group of disciples, teaching and spreading his philosophy, all the while thoughts of returning to his homeland one day never far from his mind.

While in its first hour director Mei Hu inundates viewers with a host of characters, different lands, leaders, and conspiracies to make for a rather confused and hard to follow story, the second hour trims some of the excess. It makes for a bit of an uneven feel, but an easier to follow film, even if not much at all actually happens.

The end result of the full package with Confucius is something that feels like a monument in motion rather than a thorough and insightful view into the historical figure that had such an influence over Chinese culture. One can’t help but wonder how much of the film is pure propaganda, rather than a straight biopic of the man.

To its credit, Confucius is a marvelously captured film with beautiful cinematography from Peter Pau (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) of the open air scenery and ornate structures. As good as it is in that regard, however, it is weak when it comes to its CGI effects, which look obvious and fake at the worst possible times. Large, epic battle scenes, which are thankfully few, tend to look like a videogame rather than, say, something out of Lord of the Rings.

(For a different take, read our Confucius Blu-ray Review by Brendan Surpless)

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

Shot on Super 35mm film with a Moviecam Compact camera, Confucius on Blu-ray in its AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement from FUNimation looks fantastic. There’s a very thin, natural layer of grain, rich color reproduction and a strong sense of depth in the imagery. Shadows are finely nuanced while there is a wide sense of contrast.

Audio Quality

[Rating:5/5]

A Mandarin Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) soundtrack is offered as the main audio track with an English dub in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) supplied as well. The Mandarin soundtrack is an excellent mix with beautiful dynamics, lush atmospherics in the surrounds and deep low frequencies during the active battle sequences. The dreamy score is expansive and natural with natural high frequencies and balanced nicely into the overall mix. Dialogue is clean with no clipping.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3.5/5]

FUNiMation has provided a set of featurettes covering the various aspects of the film’s production that include behind the scenes footage and interviews with cast and crew.

The supplements:

  • From Chow Yun-Fat to Confucius
  • A Woman, A Bosom Friend
  • Chaotic Period of Spring and Autumn
  • From Chow Yun-Fat to Confucius Special Edition
  • The Politicians
  • Animal Stars
  • Progressing in the Snow
  • The Warfare
  • Original Trailer
  • DVD

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Confucius is an epic and lavish biopic that, despite its flaws, makes for a satisfying drama due mainly to the weighty performance of Chow Yun-Fat and pleasing cinematography of Peter Pau.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B006MWA8UW[/amazon-product]

Purchase Confucius on Blu-ray Combo Pack at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

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