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The Yellow Sea [UK Release] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: English (Forced)
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Certification: 18
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Run time: 140 Mins.
  • Studio: Bounty Films
  • Blu-ray Release Date: March 26, 2012
  • RRP: £20.42

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B005SDDDCG[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

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

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:4/5]

Na Hong-jin, writer and director of The Chaser, returns with this nearly equally entertaining action thriller, The Yellow Sea (Hwanghae/황해). Relentlessly brutal, intense, and dire, The Yellow Sea is populated with miserable, unlikeable characters, yet each one is so compelling, you can’t look away from the screen. The main focus of the story, in particular, is Ku-nam (Ha Jung-woo) a joseonjok (Chinese citizen of native Korean descent) in Yanbian, Korean Autonomous Prefecture. A man of dubious character, Ku-nam is a taxi driver who spends his days toiling away behind the wheel in his dead end job and nights getting drunk playing mah-jongg, hopelessly trying to make enough money to repay the heavy debt he owes to a lone shark for his wife’s visa to South Korea. His misery only deepens as time passes and he doesn’t get word from his wife – visions of her having an illicit affair filling his mind.

Ku-nam’s seeming salvation comes in the form of Myung-Ga (Kim Yun-Seok), an underworld crime boss and people smuggler who offers him a deal. Go to South Korea and kill somebody, then the debt will be cleared for him. Ku-nam can then find his wife, go back to China, and all will be well. Well, not exactly. After being smuggled into South Korea on a fishing boat ad getting his instructions, Ku-nam scopes the building out for a few days cutting it close to the deadline. Finally, when he makes his move to go in for the kill, two other shady characters beat him to it. He’s still left holding the metaphorical bag – and the very real knife. And while the police are in hot pursuit, Ku-nam realizes he just may have been set up by Myung. The plot thickens into a web of underworld intrigue involving the South Korean and Korean-Chinese mob, and search for Ku’s wife while everyone – the cops and the mob – is searching for him.

While the ending to The Yellow Sea from Na Hong-jin becomes a little confused and is ultimately a bit disappointing given the epic action that precedes it, The Yellow Sea is still a riveting crime drama/action film on the whole.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

The Yellow Sea was shot on the medium speed Kodak Vision3 250D 5207 and Kodak Vision3 500T 5219 film stock with Arricam LT and Arriflex 435 cameras using Zeiss and Angenieux lenses. On Blu-ray in its AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 encodement, The Yellow Sea looks rather strong, particularly in the brighter outdoor scenes and well-lit indoor scenes. Dark scenes are a little grainier and, in some spots close to noisy, but never in a distracting way. There is a good sense of shadow detail and depth in the darker end of the image spectrum while the lighter side is fairly bright without clipping. This results in a strong sense of contrast in the image.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

The Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is dynamic and engaging. It has a strong bottom end and highs that aren’t fatiguing. Dialogue is clear as well.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2/5]

The lengthy making of documentary will be the best extra to watch on here. It offers lots of behind the scenes production footage. Everything else is promotional (read: trailers). Everything is in standard definition only.

The supplements:

  • Making of Documentary (1.33:1; 480i/60; 01:17:00)
  • UK Theatrical Trailer (2.35:1; 480i/60)
  • Korean Theatrical Trailer (2.35:1; 480i/60)
  • Teaser Trailer (2.35:1; 480i/60)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

It may take just a little bit of research into the cultural background that drives these characters for people in the West to get the fullest enjoyment out of The Yellow Sea, but do not fret too much. Even without the cultural reference, The Yellow Sea is one of the best action films I’ve seen all year and certainly one of the best in few years. Keep your eyes on filmmaker Na Hong-jin, he has a knack for gritty, riveting action and charismatic anti-heroes; The Yellow Sea is no exception. Recommended.

Additional Screen Captures


[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B005SDDDCG[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

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

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