- Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit), English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit)
- Subtitles: English, English Narrative, English SDH, Spanish
- Region: A
- Rating: R
- Discs: 1
- Studio: Magnolia Home Entertainment
- Blu-ray Release Date: June 29, 2010
- List Price: $29.98
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)
China’s 1860 Taiping Rebellion of the 1860’s is the backdrop for this sweeping epic from director Peter Ho-Sun Chan starring Jet Li (as Pang), Andy Lau (as Er-Hu) and Takeshi Kaneshiro (as Wen-Xiang) as three warriors caught up in the tide of history and war. They pledge to a lifetime of loyalty to each other and become blood brothers, but they inevitably fall susceptible to the pressures of the moment surrounding them. Political maneuvering beyond their control, a love triangle involving a beautiful courtesan named Lian (Jinglei Xu), and differing philosophies on warfare slowly begin to test the loyalties of the brotherhood and the soldiers they command.
Chan’s Warlord’s is equally filled with large-scale battle scenes and intimate drama between men. The film and the “brotherhood” slowly devolves from its rigid and well-defined boundaries into slow deceits, distrusts, and betrayals as life and war larger than any man begin to assert themselves.
Li, Lau, and Kaneshiro all prove themselves worthy dramatic actors, bringing an intense and seething drama to The Warlords that shows they were meant for these sorts of large scale Asian epics. Rather than give viewers the glitz of a fancy martial arts epic, The Warlords eschews that for the gritty, real world haggardness that a decade of civil war (and love triangles) brings. That is the emotional depth that Warlords brings to the table and what makes it thoroughly watchable.
The Warlords is a gritty, grainy film that works for the subject matter and Magnolia’s 2.35:1 AVC/MPEG-4 encoding captures that look well. It maintains a filmic texture and a consistent amount of sharp detail, although grain levels do fluctuate. Shadow detail is very extended, but black levels are generally on the greyish side, never getting very inky. Overall, however, given its lack of artifacts and solid feel, The Warlords is a pleasing top-tier transfer.
The Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack never gets as aggressive as it threatens it might, even during those epic battle scenes, but it makes wonderful use of the surround channels for lots of subtle atmospheric effects that bring the soundtrack to life and remind listeners that lossless is not always about bombast. However, if you need that, The Warlords does provide some of that as well, just not on a grand scale. Some of the swordplay can become a little fatiguing and harsh, but otherwise it is an effective mix that is fun to listen to.
Although most of the supplements on The Warlords are in standard definition, they offer lots of behind-the-scenes footage of the production as well as a good amount of interview segments that fans of these stars should appreciate.
The supplements provided with this release are:
- Deleted and Extended Scenes (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:27.16) (2.35:1; 1080p/24; 0:29.26)
- Making of The Warlords Featurettes (1.33:1; 480i/60)
- The Warlords 117 Days: A Production Journal (1.33:!; 480i/60; 0:35.23)
- The Warlords: Behind the Scenes Special (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:17.46)
- HDNet: A Look at The Warlords (2.35:1; 1080i/60; 0:04.38)
- International Trailer (2.35:1; 480i/60)
The Definitive Word
The Warlords is further proof that Jet Li is equally at home in sleek martial arts action flicks and epic drama and this superbly film-like transfer from Magnolia is a perfect way to see the star feed into all of his strengths.
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