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Mother [UK Release] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Korean LPCM 2.0
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: B
  • Classification: 15
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: Optimum Home Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: September 20, 2010
  • RRP: £22.99

[amazon-product align=”right” region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B003PHJLV4[/amazon-product]

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Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]

Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]

Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

Editors note: Portions of this review not specifically related to this release were previously published.

The Film

[Rating:4.5/5]

Director Bong Joon-ho’s last feature film, The Host, was about literal monsters. Mother (Madeo), on the other hand, is subtler. It’s about the monsters within us all. A murder mystery with a dysfunctional mother and son at its center, Mother is a fascinating psychological journey that will leave you wincing and guessing at every turn.

An overbearing and overprotective mother’s (Kim Hye-ja) mentally challenged 27-year-old son, Do-joon (Won Bin) is arrested for the murder of high school girl Moon Ah-jung (Na Mun-hee). He’d only followed the girl up some stairs while on his way home after a night of drinking in a local bar called Manhattan, but the police arrest him after finding a golf ball he signed near the crime scene. The police find no further evidence or motive, but they coerce a signed confession out of Do-joon, nevertheless.

Mother then becomes amateur detective, desperate to free her son from jail and of the murder charges. With the help of Do-joon’s friend Jin-tae (Goo Jin) whom she first suspects of the crime, Mother finds out that Ah-jung has a bit of reputation among the local high school boys who all call her “Rice Cake Girl,” because she’s been having sex with all the boys in exchange for rice as payment.

Mother’s mystery takes twists that will be nearly impossible for all but the most brilliant sleuth to figure out and the performance from Kim is spellbinding. She is believably overbearing, crazy, and nurturing all at once with an undertone of violent desperation.

Bong successfully crafted a film that explores the darker side of the human psyche and wrapped it up in the guise of a murder mystery, but it might as well have been another horror film like The Host, because there’s nothing more horrifying than the horror that lies within.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

Mother arrives on Blu-ray in a 2.35:1 1080p/24 encoding. The film has somewhat of a muted color palette, so color reproduction will not leap out at you in this transfer. Blacks aren’t very deep, looking more greyish, but shadow delineation is rather extended as a consequence. Overall detail is not as sharp as I’d like it to be. There’s a soft, smooth quality to the image keeping it from being as detailed and textured as it can be, but the picture is clean and free from any pesky compression or post-processing artifacts.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack offers a front-heavy dialogue-driven mix that occasionally opens up with some discrete sound effects in the surround channels, such as during some scenes with rainstorms where the listener is truly engulfed. Other than that, there is only some occasional directional panning across the front. Dialogue is clean and dynamics are relatively wide. There aren’t much in the way of low frequencies, but the midrange is strong and natural sounding.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

Supplements are thin on this UK release of Mother, especially in comparison to the US release from Magnolia. Both provide the identical “making of” featurette, but after that, the UK release has only two more, brief, SD behind-the-scenes featurettes and a trailer.

The supplements provided with this release are:

  • The Making of Mother (1.33:1; PAL)
  • The Transformation of Hye-Ja Kim (1.33:1; PAL) — The actress speaks about taking on the role in Mother.
  • Cast and Crew Reflect (1.33:1; PAL)
  • Trailer (1.33:1; PAL)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

Brilliantly acted and filmed, and wonderfully written, Mother is a mystery viewers will never solve until the very end. Its dysfunctional characters and quirky atmosphere make it wholly different from anything you’ll see making its way out of Hollywood anytime soon. The Blu-ray offers a decent video transfer, not perfect, and a good lossless soundtrack, though extras are on the thin side.

Additional Screen Captures:

[amazon-product align=”right” region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B003PHJLV4[/amazon-product]

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