(aka 'Vengeance Is Mine' or 'Fukushű suruwa wareniari')

Directed by Shohei Imamura
Japan 19
79

 

A thief, murderer, and charming lady-killer, Iwao Enokizu (Ken Ogata) is on the run from the police. Director Shohei Imamura turns this fact-based story, of the seventy-eight-day killing spree of a remorseless man from a devoutly Catholic family, into a cold, perverse, and at times diabolically funny tale of the primitive coexisting with the modern. More than just a true-crime case, Vengeance Is Mine bares mankind’s snarling id.

***

Based on the true story of Iwao Enokizu (Ken Ogata) and his murderous rampage which sparked a 78-day nationwide manhunt, Shohei Imamura's disturbing gem Vengeance is Mine won every major award in Japan on the year of its release. Both seducing and repelling with its unusual story and grisly humour, Imamura uncovers a seedy underbelly of civilized Japanese society.

Unfolding through multiple flashbacks, Ogata delivers a career-defining performance as a day-labourer and smalltime con-artist who, after killing two of his co-workers, embarks on a psychopathic spree of rape and murder. Eluding the police and public, Japan's infamous "King of Criminals" passes himself off as a Kyoto University professor, only to become entangled with an innkeeper and her perverted mother. Five years in the making, Vengeance is Mine transcends the limitations of run-of-the-mill criminal studies by presenting a portrait of a killer imbued with a poignant, tragic banality.

Shohei Imamura established his own independent production company, Imamura Productions, to allow himself more freedom away from the major studios, to choose riskier subject matter, and explore greater stylistic experimentation without compromise. He started his career in film as an assistant to Yasujiro Ozu before earning a reputation as a key member of the Japanese New Wave with Pigs and Battleships (1961) and The Insect Woman (1963). In 1975, Imamura founded the Yokohama Vocational School of Broadcast and Film which counts Takashi Miike (Audition, Ichi the Killer) among its many graduates.

 

Poster

Theatrical Release: April 21st, 1979 

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Comparison:

Panorama - Region 3 - NTSC vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Eureka (Masters of Cinema #17) - Region 2 - PAL vs. Eureka (Masters of Cinema #11) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Ole Kofoed and Gary Tooze for the DVD Screen Caps!

1) Panorama - Region 3 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Eureka (Masters of Cinema #17) - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Eureka (Masters of Cinema #11) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

DVD Box Covers

   

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Distribution

Panorama

Region 3 - NTSC

Criterion - Spine #384

Region 1 - NTSC

Eureka (Masters of Cinema #17)
Region 2 - PAL
Eureka (Masters of Cinema #11)
Region 'B' -
Blu-ray
Runtime 2:20:17 2:20:30 2:15:20 (4% PAL speedup) 2:20:30.380
Video

1.78:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.45 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.66:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.20 mb/s

NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

1.85:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.40 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 40,034,786,300 bytes

Feature: 37,050,273,792 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate:

 

Panorama

 

Bitrate:

 

Criterion

Bitrate:

 

Eureka (Masters of Cinema #17)

 

Bitrate:

 

Eureka (Masters of Cinema Blu-ray

 

Audio Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 / DD5.1) Japanese (Dolby Digital 1.0)

Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1562 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1562 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio Japanese 1569 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1569 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Subtitles English, Chinese, None English, None English, None English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Panorama

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Biography of Shohei Imamura.

DVD Release Date: August 22th, 2002
2-DVD Keep Case

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• Excerpts from a video interview with director Shohei Imamura, produced by the Directors Guild of Japan
• Theatrical trailer and teaser
• Liner notes 34-page booklet featuring a new essay by critic Michael Atkinson, a 1994 interview with Imamura by writer Toichi Nakata, and writings from Imamura on Vengeance Is Mine and his approach to filmmaking

 

DVD Release Date: May 15th, 2007
Transparent Keep Case

Chapters 21

Release Information:
Studio: Eureka (Masters of Cinema #17)

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Full-length audio commentary by noted critic and filmmaker Tony Rayns
• Video introduction by Alex Cox
• 36-page booklet with a new essay by midnighteye's Jasper Sharp, new writing by Dr. Alastair Philips, reprints of original promotional brochures.

 

DVD Release Date: October 24th, 2005
Transparent Keep Case

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Eureka (Masters of Cinema #11)

 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 40,034,786,300 bytes

Feature: 37,050,273,792 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary by noted critic and filmmaker Tony Rayns
• Video introduction by director Alex Cox
• Original Japanese trailers
• 56-page book featuring a lengthy 1994 career-spanning interview with Imamura by Tôichi Nakata; original promotional material; and a director’s statement

 

DVD Release Date: August 2nd, 2010
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters 12

 

Comments:
NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION - Masters of Cinema - Blu-ray - August 2010': I've watched this Blu-ray only once and would like to take another viewing - or some sample scenes toggling back and forth with the DVDs - over the next few days. As this came out at the same time as the release we will post the review but please return for more information on the image quality. On my system I saw what appeared to be an unusual type of banding while in motion but I couldn't reproduce it on my computer screen captures - so I'm a little curious. The dual-layered transfer is in and around 1.85:1 as the previous MoC DVD.

Color-wise this looks the best of all the releases as beside the Criterion - that DVD looks boosted and the MoC DVD from 2005 (is it that long ago?) has lost much of the green haze and skin tones seem much more accurate in the new format release. With both the improved, more accurate, color scheme, slightly lighter contrast and the higher resolution I see more detail in the background.

Audio is a lossless DTS Master 2.0 channel at 1569 Kbps and it improves in clarity and depth although this would be fairly subtle to most viewers. There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has determined it to be Region 'B'-locked.

Digital extras are the same with the excellent Rayns commentary and Alex Cox intro (in HD) - as well as the Japanese trailers. We do get, what appears to be a new 56-page book featuring a lengthy 1994 career-spanning interview with Imamura by Tôichi Nakata, some original promotional material and a director’s statement.

Our initial feeling is that this Blu-ray is the best release - in every area. We will investigate the HD visuals and report back soon.

***

 

ADDITION - Criterion - Region 1- NTSC April 07': There is an issue with the aspect ratio of this Imamura film. Criterion claim 'Vengeance Is Mine is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1' and the only AR details I could get about the film are that the negative ratio was 1.96:1. If we do get any more details we will post it here.

Regardless of that the Criterion image must be considered an improvement over the two existing editions. It is much brighter, colors more vibrant and most importantly there is significantly more information in the frame. The Eureka, to their credit, probably did very little in the way of digital enhancement and I think it may actually be the sharpest, but the dullness (and greenish haze) are an eye-sore next to the Criterion. I can't comment on which is more accurate in regards to theatrical representation, but purely on visual appearance the Criterion is best for the the visual appeal of the colors although skin tones do seem overly red at times to me. It seems obvious that Criterion have boosted the black levels somewhat. If this is bothersome to you then you may wish to avoid this release.

The Criterion offers a 10-minute subtitled video interview with director Shohei Imamura, produced by the Directors Guild of Japan. There is also a trailer, teaser and a 32-page liner notes booklet with essays (Michael Atkinson) an interview with Imamura by writer Toichi Nakata from 1994, we also get a small glimpse into Imamura's writing and approach to filmmaking in some short writings by him.

The Criterion supplements are good but do not eclipse the Rayns commentary on the Eureka Masters of Cinema edition which also includes the Cox intro and 35-page liner notes booklet.

I might say that overall I lean towards the Eureka (loved the commentary) but the Criterion image is so captivating in side-by-side analysis. For Imamura fans I suggest owning both. Extravagant perhaps but the film's impact and brooding intensity may warrant it. If you are not into audio commentaries then obviously the Criterion may be the way to go. It has been digitally enhanced but as it is not a blanket approach we often consider this a form of restoration. It amounts to a personal decision on which you prefer.    

***

ADDITION - Panorama - November 05' - The non-anamorphic Panorama is a 2 X DVD5 set spreading the image over two single layered discs - and many might consider it to be fatally poor even considering its price - it is obviously evident that it is by far the weaker of the two versions. It has blown-out contrast and chroma evident (see large capture #3 - his sweater). Colors have been manipulated out of proportion in the Panorama edition and you can see how much in the comparison - skin tones and clothing seem particularly affected. Obviously extras and everything else go the way of the Eureka (Moc) disc. No real contest at all here.

****

The Master's of Cinema DVD is a bit on the dull side with a kind of greenish haze over the image. Original audio and adept removable subtitles compliment the viewing experience. The enthusiastic Cox intro, Rayns informative commentary and extensive liner notes booklet continue to signify Eureka's MoC as the PAL counterpart to the Criterion Collection. Outside of a theatrical showing, Imamura's caustic and matter-of-fact film expose has probably never looked better.  out of   

Gary W. Tooze

 



DVD Menus

Panorama - Region 3 - NTSC

 


(
Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Eureka (Masters of Cinema #17) - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)


 

 

Masters of Cinema Blu-ray

 


 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Panorama - Region 3 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Eureka (Masters of Cinema #17) - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Eureka (Masters of Cinema #11) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

Subtitle Sample

 


1) Panorama - Region 3 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Eureka (Masters of Cinema #17) - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Eureka (Masters of Cinema #11) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Panorama - Region 3 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Eureka (Masters of Cinema #17) - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Eureka (Masters of Cinema #11) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Panorama - Region 3 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Eureka (Masters of Cinema #17) - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4)  Eureka (Masters of Cinema #11) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Panorama - Region 3 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Eureka (Masters of Cinema #17) - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Eureka (Masters of Cinema #11) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Panorama - Region 3 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Eureka (Masters of Cinema #17) - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Eureka (Masters of Cinema #11) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Panorama - Region 3 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Eureka (Masters of Cinema #17) - Region 2 - PAL - THIRD

4) Eureka (Masters of Cinema #11) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 


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DVD Box Covers

   

Thinking of buying from YesAsia? CLICK HERE and use THIS UPDATED BEAVER PAGE to source their very best...

Distribution

Panorama

Region 3 - NTSC

Criterion - Spine #384

Region 1 - NTSC

Eureka (Masters of Cinema #17)
Region 2 - PAL
Eureka (Masters of Cinema #11)
Region 'B' -
Blu-ray




 

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Gary Tooze