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A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

A Tale of Legendary Libido [Blu-ray]

(aka "Garoojigi")

 

(Shin Han Sol, 2008)

 

 

 

 

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Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: Showbox & Primetime Entertainment

Blu-ray: Sheng Chi Media (Taiwan)

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:50:07.161 

Disc Size: 18,172,488,260 bytes

Feature Size: 17,488,852,992 bytes

Video Bitrate: 18.03 Mbps

Chapters: 6

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 11th, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080i / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-2 Video

 

 

Audio:

DTS Audio Korean 1509 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit
Dolby Digital Audio Korean 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English, Chinese (traditional and simplified), none

 

Extras:

• Trailer for Mercury Man – in SD

 

 

The Film: 7
It would be foolish to expect explicit revelations in this movie. Certainly there is nothing about the cover art or even YesAsia’s Product Description that should lead you to think you’re going to get to see a lot of skin here. The title comes close to capturing something of the charm and naïveté of the story and it characters, as A Tale of Legendary Libido is funny and poignant by turns. I think if you expect something along the lines of a folk tale along the lines of Paul Bunyan, re-imagined by director Shin Han Sol (The Art of Fighting) for the omnivorous appetites of the modern moviegoer, you are less likely to be disappointed or misled. How else are we to understand such fantastical goings on as an increase in Yang granting not only a large and fulltime erection but sufficient urine to put out a small forest fire, or a row of young boys marching and peeing giant waterfalls to the strains of Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance?”

In a remote and timeless village (there is electricity, but no phone), the balance of Yin has tipped the scale, and the sexual appetite of its women is too much for the average man. The women all look healthy; the men look pretty much worn out. The few with sufficient Yang are prized. Case in point: Gang-Mok (Oh Dal-Su, whom we can enjoy in Park Chan Wook’s Thirst and I’m a Cyborg, but that's O.K.), who, though unmarried, doesn't get out much. (There is one scene where the village women hide in the rocks to watch him bathe in the river. When he turns innocently toward them he displays all he's got. The women are aghast, but all we get is a superimposed cotton ball (see cap). Gang-Mok needs all his strength to look after his brother Byon Gang-Soe (Bong Tae Gyu – whom you might remember as the persistent neighbor of The Good Neighbor’s Wife), who is everything below the waist that his brother is not. Byon is the town joke. Everyone laughs at him – men and women. It’s no help that he is a homely sad sack to boot. It’s all Gang-Mok can do to keep his brother from breaking up the local tavern or getting into serious fights, Byon being able to handle himself pretty well in that department.

It’s not just a question of size – Byon is called “the twig” for good reason, apparently – it’s that he is pretty much impotent, not that he gets much opportunity to test this out. And who wouldn't be with the sort of reputation he has staring at him at every turn. His brother feels some responsibility, not only because he is the older brother, but because Byon’s disability occurred as the result of a freak accident when he was younger more or less at Gang-Mok's hands.

Byon is unable to face his brother’s new fiancée, a lovely, simple and athletic girl (Kim Jin-Ah in her debut performance) who he hopelessly pines for. So he goes off to sulk for a spell, and when he returns he finds that nearly the entire male population has been drafted for a war. Gang-Mok has enlisted in his brother’s place, leaving instructions that Byon should take care of his fiancée. This would be difficult enough but, you see, while he was away, Byon learns from a monk how to restore his Yang by drinking it directly from a totem icon. Byon is admonished to take only one sip else “the village would suffer”. But what does Byon care for those who had laughed at him all his life – and so he drinks the whole thing! And therein lies the tale.


 

Image: 5/8
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.


There’s a pervasive chalky sheen to the image that is at odds with the folksy setting. It wants a more painterly look, I think, but instead there is a kind of polish over the faces – partly the result of DNR that washes out some detail, but also because it is aggressively lit to start with. The color is very good, with natural flesh tones when not deliberately filtered. It would have been nice to have the Korean DVD with which to compare, especially in that the Blu-ray is an MPEG-2 encode in 1080i (interlaced).
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 4/7
Oh-oh! What happened here? While we can rightly be annoyed that there is no uncompressed audio track, the fault goes well beyond this. Except for the music, which is rendered as fully and richly as Dolby Digital permits, there are varying degrees of exaggerated upper midrange creating at times a sort of electronic swishing of varying degrees. Crowds of people walking to and from on the street, digging into the dirt, splashing water, even dialogue to some extent, are all affected. This problem persists on both DTS and Dolby Digital tracks, possibly less pronounced on the Dolby Digital. Not having the Korean DVD to compare, I cannot say what the source of the problem is – but it is bloody annoying when it intrudes.

 

 

Operations: 4
There is no way for an English monolingualist such as I to tell how explicit the language really is, but I'm guessing that while the gist is perfectly clear, the nuance and local jokes are not – nor am I sure how they could be without a commentary audio or text track to explain. The menu, with its images of the protagonist with his finger raised in the air in a kind of victory salute, are contrary to his character and completely without precedent in the movie. Otherwise, the menu's dual language operations are clear enough, though there are only six chapter divisions. What's up with that!

 

Extras: -1
Adding insult to injury the only extra feature is a trailer in SD for what promises to be a dreadful Thai action flic titled Mercury Man. None of the Extra Features on the KD Media Korean 2-disc DVD are included here. They would have been without subtitles anyway, so perhaps the issue is moot.

 

 

Bottom line: 5
I had a good time with this movie, and as I revisited it to create the screencaps I found myself enjoying it all over again. There are several scenes that have cinematic power well beyond its low comedic, ribald origins. I had not previously read YesAsia’s comparison to Austin Powers, which strikes me as decidedly wrong-headed, nor did I have reason to expect anything more explicit than I got – in fact, I found more skin than I expected. However, I cannot in good conscience recommend this Blu-ray: the video image is only fair and the audio definitely has some tizzy issues. I will keep an eye out for the Korean DVD and, if I see one, will report. This may turn out to be one of those rare instances where the DVD is better – or not.

Leonard Norwitz
February 20th, 2010

 

 

 

 

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

 

About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.


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