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directed by Fumihiko Sori
Japan 2008

 

ICHI is a variation on the long-running ZATOICHI blind swordsman series with a wandering blind female protagonist Ichi (Haruka Ayase) in search of her teacher. After she decimates three members of the notorious Banki gang, she is joined by Toma (Takao Osawa), a reticent samurai who endeavored to save her before she took matters in hand. Ichi and Toma arrives in a small village living in fear of the Banki gang. Disfigured rogue samurai Banki sends his men after the samurai who killed three of his men. The men assume that Toma is the one responsible since the village has hired him to defend them. Banki's underestimation of Ichi enables her to help Toma and the village take on Banki's gang but Banki suggests to Ichi that he may know the man she is looking for and had also picked up learned enough from the blind swordsman to be a formidable rival.

Well shot (though not in scope which seems appropriate to this type of film), ICHI is entertaining if problematic. The twist of making the blind swordsman a woman is novel but the story is rather ordinary for the genre (though I'm not familiar with the Zatoichi films specifically). The action, though bloody, is largely free of the flashy quick-cuts (other than Ichi's sword and the accompanying swiping sound effects) and features a lot of CGI blood (no KILL BILL-type bloody stumps and fountains of blood, thankfully) that sometimes look like rose petals (possibly intentional). There is also the drawn out "who stabbed who" climactic slow motion fight scene shot. The villains are comic and Ichi's backstory is parsed out throughout the narrative (this may get on the nerves of viewers used to nameless, without a past, morally ambiguous protagonists) but more contemporary audiences have come to expect a stunning revelation. On the other hand, Sori's direction focuses more on compositions and is largely free of action fast edits while Lisa Gerrard (GLADIATOR) provides an interesting score combining traditional-sounding Japanese stringed instruments with her vocals (as well as a main vocal by Ayase) that adds to the appealing gloss of the production.

Eric Cotenas

Poster

Theatrical Release: 25 October 2008 (Japan)

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Comparison: 

Ikano Filem Sdn. Bhd - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Funimation - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the DVD Review!

1) Ikano Filem Sdn. Bhd - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Funimation - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution

Ikano Filem Sdn. Bhd

Region 0 - NTSC

Funimation

Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Runtime 1:59:04 1:59:09.100
Video

1.82:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 4.97 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,062,577,676 bytes

Feature: 34,084,147,200 bytes

Video Bitrate: 28.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate : DVD

Bitrate : Blu-ray

Audio Japanese (Dolby Digital 5.1); Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo) Dolby TrueHD Audio Japanese 1387 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1387 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core:
5.1 / 48 kHz / 384 kbps)

DUB: Dolby TrueHD Audio English 3483 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3483 kbps / 24-bit (AC3 Core:
5.1 / 48 kHz / 384 kbps)

Subtitles English, Chinese, none English, English (SDH), none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Ikano Filem Sdn. Bhd

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.82:1

Edition Details:
• none

DVD Release Date:
Thin Amaray in Slipcase

Chapters 4

Release Information:
Studio:
Funimation

 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,062,577,676 bytes

Feature: 34,084,147,200 bytes

Video Bitrate: 287.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Making Of (1:15:15)

• TFX Making Of (14:41)

• Deleted Scenes (17:41)

• Press Interview in Theaters (31:19)

• Previews

Blu-ray Release Date: December 22nd, 2009
Standard Blu-ray case in cardboard slipcase

Chapters 21

 

Comments

Addition: Funimation Blu-ray - December 09': The image quality is best described by the screen captures below. I've tried to exactly match as best I can but despite the fact that I may be off a frame or two - it is quite evident that the 1080P image is a generous improvement. Colors may not be a dramatic shift but detail certainly is with the bitrate almost 6X that of the Asian DVD. Everything on the Blu-ray is tight looking pretty sweet - especially by comparison.

As well as offering a robust English DUB in lossless TrueHD, there is an original Japanese track, also in TrueHD, with a little less 'umphh'. There are some solid effect sounds in the film and bass response and music are excellent if a shade lacking in separation range. I don't have any strong complaints though and it supports the film well - certainly in advance of the DVD. There are decently rendered subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked disc.

It's hard not to better the supplements of the bare-bones DVD and the Blu-ray offers quite a lot. It's all in Japanese with English subtitles and there is 2 1/4 hours worth of Making of..., deleted scenes and press interviews. There are also quite a few previews. An easy choice and this Blu-ray is solid - a very good transfer and substantial extras. I've always loved the original Zatoichi and took to this 'female take' like a duck to water. It was very worthwhile - if one dimensional - but something I will definitely revisit. Recommended!    

Gary W. Tooze

ON THE DVD: This Malaysian DVD release promises a Japanese DTS track on the slipcase, back cover, and setup menu but there are only DD 5.1 and 2.0 tracks, this lengthy film has been given only 4 chapter marks, and the theme song playing over the main menu features sound effects from the scene in which it appears in the film.

A US Region 1 alternative HERE from anime company Funimation as well as a Blu-Ray from the same company HERE have been announced for December 22, 2009. (NOTE: the Japanese Blu-Ray has no English subtitles and the UK Blu-Ray HERE is Region B-locked). There are no specs for the R1 editions yet but neither the Malaysian or UK versions carry over the extensive extras seen on the Japanese premium edition. That said, this single-layer, progressive and anamorphic transfer is a very affordable and serviceable release of an entertaining film.

 - Eric Cotenas

 


 Menus

1) Ikano Filem Sdn. Bhd - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Funimation - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

 
 

 


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

 

Screen Captures


Subtitle sample

1) Ikano Filem Sdn. Bhd - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Funimation - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

 


1) Ikano Filem Sdn. Bhd - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Funimation - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Ikano Filem Sdn. Bhd - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Funimation - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Ikano Filem Sdn. Bhd - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Funimation - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Ikano Filem Sdn. Bhd - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Funimation - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Ikano Filem Sdn. Bhd - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Funimation - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Ikano Filem Sdn. Bhd - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Funimation - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures


DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution

Ikano Filem Sdn. Bhd

Region 0 - NTSC

Funimation

Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 




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