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

Blood: The Last Vampire [Blu-ray]

(aka "Last Blood")

 

(Chris Nahon, 2009)

 

 

 

 

 

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Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: East Wing & SAJ

Blu-ray: Asmik Ace Entertainment

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:30:49.444

Disc Size: 45,507,822,216 bytes

Feature Size: 35,026,624, 456 bytes

Video Bitrate: 30.76 Mbps

Chapters: 13

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 6th, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1959 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1959 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby TrueHD Audio English 930 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 930 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Dolby TrueHD Audio Japanese 1046 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1046 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)

 

Subtitles:

English, Japanese, none

 

Extras:

• Making-of – in HD (36:26)

• Stunts & Training – in HD (8:16)

• Make-up – in HD (2:07)

• Jeon Ji Hyun in Japan Screening Event – in HD (10:18)

• Storyboards

 

 

The Film:

The deadliest assassin to stand the test of time. From a Producer of Hero and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon comes Blood: The Last Vampire, based on the cult hit anime series. Demons have infested Earth. And only one warrior stands between the dark and the light: Saya, a half-human, half-vampire samurai who preys on those who feast on human blood. Joining forces with the shadowy society known as the Council, Saya is dispatched to an American military base, where an intense series of swordfights leads her to the deadliest vampire of all. And now after 400 years, Saya's greatest hunt is about to begin.

The Movie: 5
Critics have not been kind to this live action rendering of the original anime. After watching the movie, I decided to check out the anime (which clocks in at a mere 49 minutes) for myself. I could see the resemblance in the main character, Saya, her brooding glances, and the choreography of several of the various set pieces. Whatever we might think of the live action film, however - its juvenile script, jerky CG effects, lame rubber-suited lizardman, peculiar plotholes and less than stellar acting by the supporting characters - at least not every line reading sounds like an audition for a first year drama class. As for the original anime, I found it unwatchable in its English language mix. If there is a Japanese version I haven’t seen it.

Excerpt of review from Amazon.com located HERE


 

Image: 9/9   NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
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.

I can’t say I was always convinced by the choice of color filters - most puzzling are the intense golden hues in some of the outdoor scenes around the high school – but for the most part, the richly varied photography and production design is well served by the transfer. I found no difficulties in the way of brightening, noise (and there is plenty of opportunities for both), edge enhancements or DNR.

 

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

 

US Blu-ray TOP (available HERE) vs. Japanese Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 8/7
The odd or, at least unexpected thing about the live action movie is that the main language mix is English, despite that the action takes place in Japan and samurai-type swordplay abounds. On the Japanese Blu-ray (but not on the North American Sony) there is also a Japanese language audio mix in better than passable DolbyTrueHD 5.1 that dubs the English speaking characters. I felt the voicing here is more dramatically compelling than the English which, in a way, is not surprising – they being more accustomed to the idiom. The main character, Saya, speaks both Japanese and English, though the actress is not a native Japanese language speaker – She is in fact Jeon Ji Hyun (aka: Gianna Jun or, simply, Gianna, as she is billed here) the remarkable Korean star of My Sassy Girl. In any case, she was hardly the only actor who had trouble with dramatically compelling English, including the English speakers. To put the matter another way: in general, the actors spoke as they were the dubbed version, even though they weren't.

In purely sonic terms, the main “English” 5.1 DTS-HD MA (There is also an English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD) audio mix is very good indeed – demo-worthy, I would say. The Dolby TrueHD mixes are less dynamic, but serviceable. The movie’s first important set piece takes place in that most familiar of audio test environments: the subway. The effects of screeching wheels and massive iron speeding along the tracks reverberating along the walls and above our heads as the train passes over the camera are convincing and appropriately ominous in the DTS mix, as they should be. In this and later scenes the steel of every blood curdling slash of the sword as well as the ache of every body blow comes through with all the power that modern technology can provide. The music score blends coherently and effectively with its environmental soundscape. I would have given a higher score if the dialogue were mixed in with as much care.

 

 

Operations: 7
When the characters speak in Japanese, the North American Sony Blu-ray brings up English subs; alas, this is not the case for the Japanese Asmik Blu-ray, for which we must activate the English subtitle option, which remains in play for the English speaking actors as well - Makes a certain sense given the market for that disc. On the other hand, the English subtitle option is entirely useful when you access the Japanese 5.1 DolbyTrueHD Dub. Cool, huh. The menu is in both English and Japanese. The Extra Features menu is more obscure, but not that hard to make sense of. Even though this is a Japanese edition, the extra features are all in spoken English, regardless of the speaker, for which Japanese subtitles are available. The cover title for the Japanese edition is: "Last Blood" though the title card in the movie remains Blood: The Last Vampire.

 

Extras: 5
A quick comparison with the North American Sony release reveals they are the much the same though titled differently. They include several behind-the-scenes segments, actor/character interviews, a press conference and storyboards - all presented in good quality HD (the Sony extras are in SD) with English dialogue and optional Japanese subtitles.

 

Bottom line: 5
The Japanese Asmik disc reveals a shade more texture to the image and a bit more bite to the audio as compared to the North American Sony release, and is at times demo worthy. More important, it has a Japanese dub that, in some ways, is superior to the default English track. On the other hand, the Sony includes the anime in HD. I'm going to give this movie another shot someday to see if rises to the level of camp. It certainly makes for a good popcorn throwing at the screen flic.

Leonard Norwitz
January 9th, 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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