directed by Ryuhei Kitamura
Japan 2003

“Azumi” is originally a Manga by Koyama Yu. It was created in 1994 and has to date sold more than 8,5 million copies. As such, it is one of the most popular Manga ever. It was not so much a matter of when it would become a film, but more a matter of by whom.

Kitamura Riuhei became the man to make it happened. He established himself thru “Versus”, a kung-fu / samurai / zombie chambara flick, which became an instant cult classic, and his energetic direction and fast paced editing was exactly the thing that was needed to bring “Azumi” to life.

The story is set in the last half of the 19th century. Japan is torn apart by some evil warlord and Master Gessai is travelling the country, picking up 10 orphans, who he then continues to train into fearless assassins, who will bring down the evil warlord. As such, the story is little more but prepubescent chambara. Hell, its shallow, silly and superficial. But even so, it has so much energy, that it is surprisingly entertaining watching. This is just great fun, in a popcorn kind of way. Said in another way, if you liked "Kill Bill", you are gonna love "Azumi".

One may ask, why we should bother with such a film. The answer is Kitamura, who stands out as the first of a new generation of film makers, who think extremely visual. On the first glance, he reminds one a lot about early John Woo, but then his own style comes forward. This is fast edited, fast paced camera, fast everything. Its about bringing fun back to the action film, and by doing so, he has revived and mutated chambara.

Henrik Sylow

Poster

Theatrical Release: May 10, 2003

Reviews    More Reviews  DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison: 

Toshiba Entertainment - Region 2- NTSC vs. Optimum Asia - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Owain Harvey and Henrik Sylow for the Screen Captures

DVD Box Cover

(single disc version / Double disc is out of print)

 

Distribution Toshiba Entertainment
Region 2 - NTSC

Optimum Asia

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 2:23:02 2:03:01 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.58Mb/sec
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 4.71 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Toshiba

 

 

Bitrate:

Optimum

Audio Japanese DTS 5.1 (768Kbps), Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kbps), Japanese
Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kbps)
2.0 Dolby Digital Japanese
Subtitles Japanese, English (removable) English (forced)
Features Release information:
Studio: Toshiba Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1



Edition Details:
Disc 1
- Main feature (2:23:02)
- Trailer (1:20)
- TV Spot (0:17)
- 'Action chapter' selection
- Staff and Cast profiles

Disc 2 (OOP SE)
- BATTLE ON THE WILD SIDE (1:24:52)
- Making of AZUMI ~Fighting on the Edge~ (41:07)
- AZUMI on TV 1 (12:59)
- AZUMI on TV 2 (14:10)
- Trailers and TV spots (17:15)
- Music video (4:41)
- Concept art gallery

DVD Release date: 2003/11/21
Digipak
Chapters: 31

Notes: Features the uncut domestic release.

Release Information:
Studio: Optimum Asia

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Fighting the Edge - The making of 'Azumi' (41:06)
• Battle on the wildside (1:24:54)
• Trailers and TV spots (2:08)
• Optimum show reel

DVD Release Date: July 26, 2004
Keep case

Chapters 16

Comments ADDITION: July 2005 - Toshiba Entertainment

NOTE: This image is the same as the 2-disc edition HERE that is way out of print.

The Toshiba boasts removable subtitles, 5.1 audio etc. The Optimum has a slight yellowish haze, but quality is very similar. I sometimes see contrast boosting in the Optimum (see first capture) but after zooming in it is not definite.

The Optimum release features the international cut whereas the Toshiba is the domestic cut, with about 15 minutes of extra footage which explains the difference in running times, even allowing for the PAL speed-up. Also that the extras on disc 2 of the Toshiba release, including the two documentaries featured on the Optimum release, are, sadly, not subtitled.. As of now we say - go with the Japanese Toshiba release for image, menu, audio, but the Optimum for extras with subs!

****

The additional material on this DVD is simply amazing. Two documentaries about the film and its production, running a total of 129 minutes, is just wow. Lots of interviews, behind the scenes, just everything.

It is quiet surprising how good the picture actually is when so much is packed on the DVD. There are edge enhancements from time to time, but overall very nice picture.

A negative criticism should be the use of forced subtitles. I know this is an English release of a Japanese film, and as such the subtitles are in order, but for those who wish to see the film without subtitles, they are intrusive.

Another negative thing is the menus. The main two are in 16x9, while the rest are in 4:3. When navigating on a 16x9 set, this is quiet annoying.

 - Henrik Sylow

 


Recommended Reading for Japanese Film Fans (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

Check out more in "The Library"

 



DVD Menus

(Toshiba Entertainment - Region 2- NTSC LEFT vs. Optimum Asia - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)
 

 


 

Subtitle Sample

(Toshiba Entertainment - Region 2- NTSC TOP vs. Optimum Asia - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

(Toshiba Entertainment - Region 2- NTSC TOP vs. Optimum Asia - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 

 

 


(Toshiba Entertainment - Region 2- NTSC TOP vs. Optimum Asia - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 

 

 


(Toshiba Entertainment - Region 2- NTSC TOP vs. Optimum Asia - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 

 

 


(Toshiba Entertainment - Region 2- NTSC TOP vs. Optimum Asia - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 

 

 


(Toshiba Entertainment - Region 2- NTSC TOP vs. Optimum Asia - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 

 

 


(Toshiba Entertainment - Region 2- NTSC TOP vs. Optimum Asia - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 

 

Report Card:

Image:

Toshiba

Sound:

Toshiba

Extras: Optimum (for subs)
Menu: Toshiba

 





 

 

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