H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Circle of Iron aka The Silent Flute [Blu-ray vs. DVD]

 

(Richard Moore, 1978)

 

Blue Underground Region FREE Blu-ray vs. Blue Underground (2-Disc Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Sandy Howard/Richard St. Johns Productions

Video:

Blue Underground Region FREE Blu-ray vs. Blue Underground (2-Disc Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:37:10.282

Disc Size: 39,603,564,169 bytes

Feature Size: 33,429,958,656 bytes

Average Bitrate: 45.87 Mbps

Chapters: 24

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 19th, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 4498 kbps 7.1 / 48 kHz / 4498 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby TrueHD Audio English 4122 kbps 7.1 / 48 kHz / 4122 kbps / 24-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1-EX / 48 kHz / 448 kbps)
Dolby Digital EX Audio English 448 kbps 5.1-EX / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English, French, Spanish, none

 

Extras:

• Commentary with director Richard Moore

• Playing the Silent Flute - Interview with David Carradine

The Producer - interview with co-producer Paul Maslansky

• Martial Arts Co-ordinator Joe Lewis

Audio interview with writer Stirling Silliphant

Trailers

TV Spots

 

DVD:
Studio: Blue Underground

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.66:1

Average Bitrate: 8.26 mb/s

Runtime: 1:37:00

Audio: English DTS-ES 6.1; English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX; English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround; English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono; French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono

Subtitles: Spanish, none

Edition Details:
• DISC 1:
• Audio Commentary by director Richard Moore
• International Trailer (16:9; 3:05)
• U.S. Trailer (16:9; 1:58)
• 3 TV Spots (16:9; 0:30 each)
• DISC 2:
• PLAYING THE SILENT FLUTE - interview with star David Carradine (16:9; 13:57)
• THE PRODUCER - Interview with co-producer Paul Maslansky (16:9; 28:44)
• KARATE MASTER - Interview with Martial Arts Coordinator Joe Lewis (16:9; 31:00)
• Audio Interview with co-writer Stirling Silliphant (25:23; with onscreen transcription)
• BRUCE LEE'S THE SILENT FLUTE - A HISTORY by Davis Miller & Klae Moore
• Poster & Still Galleries
• DVD-ROM - First Draft Script by Bruce Lee, James Coburn, and Stirling Silliphant

DVD Release Date: May 29th, 2007
Amaray

Chapters 24

 

Bitrates:

Blue Underground Region FREE Blu-ray TOP vs. Blue Underground (2-Disc Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 

Description: At the height of his international fame, the legendary Bruce Lee – along with his friend and student James Coburn and Oscar-winning screenwriter Stirling Silliphant – began to write what he believed would be the greatest achievement of his film career. Five years after his mysterious death, Lee’s vision would finally be realized. David Carradine ('Kill Bill'), Christopher Lee ('The Lord of the Rings'), Roddy McDowall ('Planet of the Apes') and Eli Wallach ('The Good, the Bad and the Ugly') star in this acclaimed cult hit that brings Lee’s personal philosophy to the screen with a still-potent combination of mysticism, humor and martial arts mayhem.

 

 

The Film:

David Carradine says that Circle of Iron (1978) is among his personal favorites and adds that "To me it will always be The Silent Flute," a title he prefers over the studio picked Circle of Iron or the other popular alternate title, The Flying Fists of Horror. Director Richard Moore concurs with Carradine and thought Circle of Iron "too macho," but gamely bowed to the studio's wishes. Circle of Iron is billed as an adventure epic originally conceived of by Bruce Lee that was then taken to the next production level by actor James Coburn, and ultimately adapted to the screen by scribes Stirling Silliphant (who won an Academy Award for his script to In the Heat of the Night) and Stanley Mann (whose writing credits would later include Conan the Destroyer).

Posters

Theatrical Release: 25 July 1978 (France)

Reviews    More Reviews     DVD Reviews

Bruce Lee died before the film was made and David Carradine took on the project - a move that surely left a sour taste in the mouth of Bruce Lee fans that feel Lee was already wrongly usurped of his role in the Kung Fu television series by Carradine. Circle of Iron is an odd beast whose end result is more Zen than martial arts with a curious mix of anachronistic fantasy and exotic scenery that makes use of various landscapes and ruins across the land of Israel.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

 

 


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.
 

This is weaker than most people may anticipate for a 1080P image and there is apparently no restoration as light speckles and similar surface marks are visible. But I am still intrigued by what Blue Underground are doing on Blu-ray. Technically this is well produced with almost 40 Gig filling the dual-layered disc and 33.5 for the feature. The bitrate is in the stratosphere at over 45 Mbps. Imdb lists the theatrical aspect ratio as 1.85 but this is definitely 1.66 - an error rarely made in benefit of the latter ratio. Composition looks fine. Aside from a full restoration I'll wager that this can't look too much better. Colors pop to life but detail has only some infrequent hi-def appearing response. Flesh-tones are very warm but most of the action is set outside in the bright sunlight. Grain is fairly consistent and visible throughout with limited noise. It has a reasonable texture. Honestly, I didn't notice the weaknesses too much till I used the microscopic power of the computer - but it is hazier than one might expect. I ended up liking the look accepting the film's age and an obvious lack of a pristine print (which probably doesn't exist). No matter what you think of the film - this is the best it is going to look digitally.

 

Comparing to the DVD - the screen caps don't show a lot of differences in detail - but they do exist. Looking closely you can, expectantly, see more artefacts on the DVD and the Blu-ray colors seem tighter and more accurately rendered. With almost 6X the bitrate the Blu-ray shows notable superiority in motion. 

 

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

 

Blue Underground Region FREE Blu-ray TOP vs. Blue Underground (2-Disc Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 

Blue Underground Region FREE Blu-ray TOP vs. Blue Underground (2-Disc Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 

Blue Underground Region FREE Blu-ray TOP vs. Blue Underground (2-Disc Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 

Blue Underground Region FREE Blu-ray TOP vs. Blue Underground (2-Disc Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 

Blue Underground Region FREE Blu-ray TOP vs. Blue Underground (2-Disc Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 

Blue Underground Region FREE Blu-ray TOP vs. Blue Underground (2-Disc Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 

Blue Underground Region FREE Blu-ray TOP vs. Blue Underground (2-Disc Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 

Blue Underground Region FREE Blu-ray TOP vs. Blue Underground (2-Disc Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 

Blue Underground Region FREE Blu-ray TOP vs. Blue Underground (2-Disc Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 

Blue Underground Region FREE Blu-ray TOP vs. Blue Underground (2-Disc Special Edition) - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 

 

Audio :

Blue Underground really go to town with the audio options - 2 HD choices (TrueHD and DTS-HD) - both in 7.1 and both over 4000 kpbs! We can state with relative certainty about the image being the best ever for Circle of Iron but we can even go a step further with the audio. While it's not as dynamic a track as modern films - there are effect noises that come to buoyancy and show as good a range as one would ever expect for this film. The fight sequences is where it will be most noticeable but overall the track, while not always consistent, exhibits some decent depth that tends to really benefit the presentation. There are subtitle options in English, French or Spanish and my Momitsu tells me this Blu-ray is region FREE.

 

The DVD is no slouch here giving solid SD transfers in DTS-ES 6.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 EX but it just can't touch the lossless renderings on the Blu-ray in terms of depth of sound, buoyancy and crispness of separations.  

 

 

Extras :

I've never owned any of the DVD incarnations of the film, but it looks to offer the same commentary, Richard Moore and David Gregory of Blue Underground, that's been around since 2004 and the same 14-minute 'Playing the Silent Flute' (in SD as are all extras) - interview with Carradine and 30-minutes with Martial Arts Co-ordinator Joe Lewis. I *think* the 30-minute "The Producer" segment containing the interview with co-producer Paul Maslansky is also duplicated. In a bit rough shape we have a 1/2 audio interview with writer Stirling Silliphant that is quite interesting - as is that man. Beyond that are trailers and TV Spots.

 

The 2-disc DVD seems to add a few things: BRUCE LEE'S THE SILENT FLUTE - A HISTORY by Davis Miller & Klae Moore, aPoster & Still Galleries and on the DVD-ROM - a First Draft Script by Bruce Lee, James Coburn, and Stirling Silliphant.

 

DVD Menus
 

 

Extras

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
This film is such a combination of unique, weird and cheesy - that it's no wonder it has some sort of niche following. If you are in the mood for something of this nature - or genre - you can certainly get some prime entertainment if you are willing to suspend your disbelief to the maximum. Blue Underground aren't scrimping on their Blu-ray transfers at all. This has a professional rendering that fans of Circle of Iron should appreciate.  It's not going to ever look like The Dark Knight but accepting those limitations can bring quite a fruitful, and sometimes surprising, presentation. I'll definitely be revisiting this film again - and I'm glad I have it in 1080P to do so.

 

Seeing that the Blu-ray is actually a few dollars cheaper than the DVD package - it makes for an easy choice. This is a pretty cool film to own in the newer format and those with more adventurous genre leanings shouldn't hesitate to pick this up for around $15. 

Gary Tooze

May 13th, 2009

Eric Cotenas

February 12th, 2010

 

 

 

 

 


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

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Sony DVP NS5ODH SD-DVD player (region-free and HDMI)

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Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
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Gary W. Tooze

 

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