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Tokyo Drifter [Criterion Collection] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: Japanese LPCM Mono (48kHz/24-bit),
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: NR
  • Run Time: 165 Mins
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • Blu-ray Release Date: December 13, 2011
  • List Price: $39.95

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Tokyo Drifter - Widescreen Subtitle

Purchase Tokyo Drifter [Criterion Collection] on Blu-ray at CD Universe

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

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:4.5/5]

Tokyo Drifter, Seijun Suzuki’s action-filled crime drama was and is a dizzying drive through the 1960’s mod culture of Japan and abroad. Quick pans, jump-cuts, and primary colors inform this yakuza thriller centred around the “Drifter” Testsu (Testuya Watari), a baby blue-suited gangster on the road to going straight with his older mentor until rival gangmembers decide to put the screws to them, so to speak, by taking over the debt to a building meant to be their retirement fund. But their doublecross goes wrong, and a rival gangmember’s girlfriend ends up shot as does the man holding the debt to the building. This sends Tetsu on the run and on the road to revenge when the gang decides it’s best to get him out of the picture.

The film uses a slick Beat Generation jazz soundtrack that alludes to the new wave, unfolds like a series of set pieces that look like modern art – angular camera angles, flat, bright colors, actors used like mannequins. Suzuki would stretch his groundbreaking techniques to the limit even further in later films, eventually getting him into trouble (and a great lawsuit that would see him blacklisted from Japanese studios for ten years), which is incredible to imagine.

Video Quality

[Rating:5/5]

‘This new high definition digital transfer was created on a Spirit Datacine from a 35mm low-contrast print. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were amnually removed using MTI’s DRS and Pixel Farm’s PFClean, while Image System’s DVNR ws used for small dirt, grain, and noise reduction.’

Apart from a few instances of very mildly apparent source damage, Tokyo Drifter looks excellent in this transfer from Criterion Collection. It is encoded in AVC/MPEG-4 and it has a fine grain structure and mountains of detail. Color virtually screams from the screen, giving the image lots of texture and dimensionality.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the original soundtrack print. It comes on this Blu-ray in a LPCM (48kHz/24-bit) iteration that is clean and dynamic, putting forth the jazzy score with lots of punch and a good sense of depth.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2.5/5]

This Criterion Collection release is a bit on the thin side compared to other criterion releases, coming with only two brief interviews on disc and a single essay in the booklet.

The supplements provided with this release:

  • Seijun Suzuki and Masami Kuzuu (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:12:12) – In this interview, recorded by the Criterion Collection in July 2011, director Seijun Suzuki and assitant director Masami Kuzuu recall the production of Tokyo Drifter.
  • Seijun Suzuki (1.33:1; 00:20:12) – This interview with director Seijun Suzuki was recorded during a retorspective of his work by the Japan Foundation and Los Angeles FimForum at the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles in March 1997.
  • Theatrical Trailer (2.35:1; 1080i/60)
  • Booklet: The illustrated booklet is unusually thin for the Criterion Collection containing only one essay on the film, “Catch My Drift,” by Howard Hampton, in addition to the usual film credits and information on the transfer.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

A superb visual statement from Seijun Suzuki, Tokyo Drifter is a classic of the yakuza genre that looks absolutely splendid in this Criterion package. It merges all the new wave techniques with the swinging sixties and mod cultures of the hippie revolution and the coolness of the Beat Generation.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B005ND87L8[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Tokyo Drifter - Widescreen Subtitle

Purchase Tokyo Drifter [Criterion Collection] on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

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