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War of the Arrows [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 (48kHz/16-bit), Korean Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Certification: 15
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Run time: 118 Mins.
  • Studio: Cine Asia
  • Blu-ray Release Date: May 7, 2012
  • RRP: £24.99

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B00792TXKK[/amazon-product]

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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:4.5/5]

If you think you’ve seen it all when it comes to great archery films by checking out the numerous Robin Hood remakes, then think again, Director Kim Han-min’s (Handphone, Haendeupon, 핸드폰) latest effort, War of the Arrows (Choejongbyeonggi Hwal, 최종병기 활) takes it to new heights. Set in thw 17th century during the second Manchu invasion of Korea, the film begins as two young children are being rushed out of their home. The older Nam-yi (Park Hae-il) and his younger sister Ja-in (Moon Chae-won) are saved by their father who is branded a traitor to the king. Forced to escape to a family friend with is sister, Nam-yi is now responsible for Ja-in. 13-years later, they are grown and Nam-yi has become a master at archery, but he is also listless and unmotivated owing to he and his sister being branded children of a traitor. The problem is Ja-in is now in love with and set to marry their adopted stepbrother, and her longtime love, the prince Seo-Goon (Kim Mu-Yeol). The marriage ceremony is violently interrupted, however, by an invasion of Manchurian soldiers in their village, and Seo-goon and Ja-in are taken captive by the brutal forces. The only one left to fight, Nam-yi picks up his bow and decides to take on the entirety of the invading Qing Chinese forces himself to free his younger sister from their savage clutches, in what turns out to be an epic battle of wits, brawn, and skill through the forests and mountainsides of the Joseon region of Korea.

With non-stop, edge of the seat action, unbelievable choreography, no doubt aided in no small part by seamless CG effects, and gorgeous cinematography by Kim Tae-seong, War of the Arrows continues Korea’s march toward dominance in the area of Asian cinematic excellence, if not world cinematic excellence. Where once Asian cinema was synonymous with Japan and Hong Kong, South Korea has come on strong in the past decade or so, and this may arguably be the ultimate expression of that.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

War of the Arrows was captured in high definition on the Red One MX cinematographic HD camera with Zeiss and Angenieux lenses at 4.5K resolution. It arrives on Blu-ray with a gorgeous AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 encodement from Cine-Asia that is crisp, detailed, and full of nuance and contrast. There is strong texture in skin and clothing, lots of pop in colors and no apparent artifacting from the compression or post-processing.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

The original Korean language track in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit) is engaging and dynamic. There’s aggressive use of the surround channels for discrete sound effects like horses galloping, arrows flying, or footsteps. There is strong clarity in the dialogue so that native Korean speakers should have no issues discerning every word that is spoken without the problems of clipping or losing dialogue under the sound effects.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

While much of the extras on this disc are in SD/PAL, there is a rather lengthy interview with director Kim Han-min in 1080p/24 that is interesting to view and an audio commentary worth engaging once you’ve watched the film at least once or twice straight through.

The supplements:

  • Audio Commentary
  • Aiming for the Bullseye: an Interview with Director Kim Han-min (Cine Asia Exclusive) (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:32:17)
  • Behind the Scenes (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:04:06)
  • Making Of (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:03:23)
  • UK Trailer (2.35:1; 1080p/24)
  • Original Trailer (1.33:1; SD/PAL)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Like the best martial arts adventure films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, or Red Cliff, War of the Arrows is filled with beautifully imagery, lots of real human emotion and nonstop action. There are superb acting performances all around, and this strong transfer to Blu-ray makes it and easy title to recommend for all fans of Asian cinema and martial arts films.

Additional Screen Captures


[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B00792TXKK[/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:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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