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The Sword with No Name Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Audio Codec: Korean Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Stereo, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: AB (No Region C)
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
  • Studio: Funimation
  • Blu-ray Release Date: September 20, 2011
  • List Price: $29.98

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The Sword With No Name -

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
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)

The Film

[Rating:4/5]

The more I see of South Korean films, the more I become a great admirer of this country’s cinema. From Oldboy and The Host to I Saw the Devil and The Good, the Bad, the Weird, Korea’s filmmakers are making some enthralling, innovative films that are not only at the forefront of Asian cinema, but world cinema on the whole.

The Sword with No Name is another such film coming out of South Korea. Director Yong-gyun Kim’s film is a visually gripping romantic historical epic based on the life of Korea’s legendary Empress Myseongseong of the Joseon Dynasty. Played here by Soo-Ae, who has a face that the camera just loves, the the life of the young Empress is turned into a sweeping romance. From her time before becoming the Empress, consort to the King, when she was still Ja-Young, a young and enchanting young orphan raised by an influential family, we see the beautiful teenager who will rise to become an important influence over her nation. She meets a charming and roguish young headhunter, Moo-myeong (Seung-woo Cho) before she becomes the Queen of Korea who falls in love with her and becomes devoted to her for life. Determined to protect the Empress in an increasingly dangerous isolationist Korean environment determined to put an end to her efforts to bring Korea more in line with the West and strengthen it against Japanese threats, Moo-myeong becomes a palace guard so he can always be by her side. But it is a love that can never be requited; a dangerous love as dangerous as the politics that Ja-young engages in. Threats from within the royal family and from foreign factions will lead to bloody turmoil that Moo-myeong alone must stand against in order to protect his beloved Empress.

I’m no expert in Korean history, so the accuracy of all the events within this film is beyond the scope of this review, but I do know that Moo-myeong is a fictional character placed here solely to turn the story of this very real empress into a romantic tragedy. It works. The film is a great balance of romance, historical fiction, balletic swordplay and CG visual effects.

Video Quality

[Rating:5/5]

The magnificent cinematography of The Sword With No Name is put forward in a beautiful 1080p/24 AVC/MPEG-4 encodement from Funimation. This is obviously a film with lots of visual effects and CG work, so things don’t always look natural, but there are never any grievous issues with the image apparent. Sometimes blacks crush just a little, but there is still a lot of show detail. Foregrounds look sharp and backgrounds are textured as well. Colors are lavish, particularly primaries like reds and greens.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

The original Korean language track is available in a Dolby TrueHD 2.0 stereo mix. An English dub is also provided in Dolby TrueHD 5.1. The lossless 2.0 mix is a really good one, despite the absence of the surround channels. There is good panning of sounds across the soundfield, spacious stereo imaging and great dynamics, from the quietest crickets and chirping birds to big, booming explosions and gunfire, the mix is clean, clear, and natural in sound. Dialogue sounds full and clean with no clipping.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2/5]

The supplements are very thin on this release. There are two very brief featurettes in standard definition that offer some behind-the-scenes production footage and interviews with the film’s two stars, plus a couple of trailers.

The supplements provided with this release are:

  • Making The Sword with No Name (1.33:1; 480i/60; 00:10:10)
  • Cast Interviews (1.33:1; 480i/60; 00:10:43)
  • Teaser Trailer (1.33:1; 480i/60)
  • Main Trailer (1.33:1; 480i/60)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

The Sword With No Name is a beautifully put together film with gorgeous scenery, lush imagery, fine acting, intricate costumes, and a fine balance of martial arts and romance. The quality of South Korean films just keeps getting better and better, rivaling their Japanese neighbors at every turn, and this is one more that stands as proof.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B00576U95S[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
The Sword With No Name -

Purchase The Sword with No Name on Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

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