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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

 

Red Cliff II [Blu-ray]

 

(John Woo, 2009)

 

CLICK TO ORDER:

 

Red Cliff, Part I/Red Cliff, Part II also available in this package from Magnolia:

 

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Studio:

Video: Mei Ah

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 2:21:18.458

Disc Size: 46,876,340,248 bytes

Feature Size: 43,733,563,392 bytes

Average Bitrate: 41.27 Mbps

Chapters: 18

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: March 27th, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio Chinese 6144 kbps 7.1 / 48 kHz / 6144 kbps / 16-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio Chinese 2856 kbps 7.1 / 48 kHz / 2856 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby TrueHD Audio Chinese 2140 kbps 7.1 / 48 kHz / 2140 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)

 

Subtitles:

English, Chinese (traditional and simplified), none

 

Extras:

• Interviews (not English-friendly)
Stills Gallery
Trailers

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: The East Wu forces set up camp on Red Cliff, directly across Cao Cao's (Zhang Fengyi) camp and his naval stockade. When Cao's soldiers fell ill to a plague, he sends the infected bodies across the river, infecting many of the allied force. In return, Zhou Yu (Tony Leung) hatches a plan, resulting in the execution of Cao Cao's two top admirals. However, Cao still plans to attack. While at Red Cliff, the East Wu generals plan to attack Cao's naval stockade with fire. Who will emerge the winner of this battle of wits?

 

 

The Film:

After breaking box-office records with the 2008 release of Red Cliff, John Woo concludes his epic Three Kingdoms adaptation with Red Cliff 2. Tony Leung Chiu Wai (Infernal Affairs) and Kaneshiro Takeshi (Perhaps Love) return as Zhou Yu and Zhuge Liang, and Zhang Feng Yi (Farewell, My Concubine) acts up a storm as the power-hungry Cao Cao. Chang Chen (The Go Master), Vicki Zhao (Painted Skin), Hu Jun (Infernal Affairs 2) and Nakamura Shido (Fearless) lend support, with Taiwanese model Lin Chi Ling taking on an expanded role as the beautiful Xiao Qiao, and Mainland actor Tong Da Wei joining the cast as one of Cao Cao's soldiers.
Despite the all-star cast, the action sequences are the star of this sequel. Red Cliff 2 climaxes with a riveting and stunningly realized fire attack at the water port of Red Cliff, as Zhao Yu leads the aligned Wu and Shu forces in a desperate attempt to repel Cao Cao's forces. In between the bloodletting and pyrotechnics, John Woo weaves in his trademark themes of brotherhood and honor, finding as much space in the film for emotion and character as he does for explosions and swordplay. A satisfying and vastly entertaining counterpart to the first film, Red Cliff 2 is already one of 2009's Chinese cinema highlights.

Picking up where the first film left off, Red Cliff 2 finds Wu princess Sun Shang Xiang (Vicki Zhao) behind enemy lines. As she plays spy for Shu strategist Zhuge Liang (Kaneshiro Takeshi), Sun Shang Xiang strikes up an inadvertent friendship with an unknowing enemy (Tong Da Wei). Beset by typhoid, Liu Bei (You Yong) and the Shu forces retreat, leaving only Zhuge Liang to aid the remaining forces of Wu. Zhuge Liang and Zhou Yu (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) resort to subterfuge and cunning mindgames, seeking any advantage against the increasingly overconfident Cao Cao (Zhang Feng Yi). However, their forces are still vastly outnumbered by Cao Cao's, and with the battle fast approaching, victory seems far from assured. In the end, their only hope may by an unexpected plan launched by Zhou Yu's wife, the beautiful Xiao Qiao (Lin Chi Ling), as well as a surprising change in the wind...

 

 


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

Red Cliff II on Blu-ray from Mei Ah looks just as strong as Red Cliff part 1 meaning it is of reference quality.  Visuals exhibit pristine foreground detail at times, while colors are un-embellished and true, contrast excellent and the image has no artificial gloss. Technically it is dual-layered with the feature taking up over 43 Gig of space and the bitrate is towering. Fans will not have to be concerned over Mei Ah watermarking - as I couldn't detect it throughout the entire presentation. The impressive image is obviously perfectly clean and very fine grain is visible. Really, I have no qualms about the way this looks in high-definition. We are talking 'demo' quality here. 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Once again demo material and comments I wrote about Red Cliff part one hole true - "We run the gamut of high-end options with three original Mandarin language track choices, LPCM 7.1, TrueHD 7.1 and a DTS-HD Master - also in 7.1. I tested all three eventually settling on the LPCM option (for no specific reason.) Each mix sounds exceptionally strong filling the room with effect noise. Like the image - this audio is flawless with impressive range and solid depth. Red Cliff II is filled with demonstrative sound and it really comes through clean and tight - energetically separated when called upon and even some nice subtle surround touches. Dialogue is clear and consistent. There are English, or Chinese (both traditional and simplified) optional subtitles available." the disc is region free - as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player.

 

 

 

Extras :

There are some interviews - but, alas, nothing English friendly. There is also a Still Gallery and trailer.

 

BOTTOM LINE:
This is pretty easy - if you saw and enjoyed Red Cliff part one on Blu-ray you don't need a sales job for part II. Technically it looks and sounds just as dynamic - in fact it is one of the best methods for showcasing the adoption of this new format ("Is Blu-ray really that much better?" - "Take a look/listen at this".). The film has it's intense moments - but basically think "epic John Woo" and you should know what you are in for. While the subtleties exist they are few and far between but as far as period pieces go these two Red Cliff entries have a lock so far on aural and visual digital transfer superiority. It is pretty 'jaw dropping' at times.   

Gary Tooze

April 22nd, 2009

 

CLICK TO ORDER:

Red Cliff, Part I/Red Cliff, Part II also available in this package from Magnolia:

 

 

 


 

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.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player (firmware upgraded)

Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player (firmware upgraded)
Sony DVP NS5ODH SD-DVD player (region-free and HDMI)

Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze

 

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