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

Legend of the Tsunami Warrior [Blu-ray]

(aka "Queens of Langkasuka" or "Puenyai chom salat")

 

(Nonzee Nimibutr, 2008)

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Production:

Theatrical: Saha Mongkul Films & Pappayon Hunsa

Blu-ray: Magnolia/Magnet

 

Disc:

Region: FREE!

Runtime: 1:59:16.149

Disc Size: 25,013,544,264 bytes

Feature Size: 23,364,390,912 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.98 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard U.S Blu-ray Case

Release date: May 11th, 2010

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080P / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio Thai 2323 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2323 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2150 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2150 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English & Spanish

 

Extras:

• Making of Legend of the Tsunami Warrior (9:10)

• Behind the Scenes Footage (5:00)

 

Description: You’ll be very pleased to learn that this story has nothing whatever to do with tsunamis. I haven’t come up with a suitable title, but “Stingray vs. Black Ray” would have been closer to the mark. The international title "Queens of Langkasuka" might lead you to think there is more than one queen in play. There isn't. But there are princesses of some importance, so perhaps the Thai's don't make the same distinction as we in the West.

 

 

The Film:

The story begins with a 17th century Dutch ship on route to Thailand with giant cannons for the queen’s defense that is inadvertently sunk by pirates (blithering idiots!) In time, a young boy, Pari, is introduced to a wizard and practitioner of Du Lum: White Ray (Sorapong Chatree). As a young man, Pari (Ananda Everingham) learns to be spiritually connected to the creatures of the ocean, while elsewhere the pirates continue their efforts to raise the cannons from the bottom of the sea.

Queen Hijau (Jarunee Suksawas) is interested in replacing the lost cannons and seeks their original inventor as two of her sisters are kidnapped by the pirates. Pari continues his training in Du Lum with White Ray in a way reminiscent of Luke Sywalker and Yoda. White Ray is concerned that Pari's repressed rage against the pirates for having murdered his family earlier in the story will lead him to the dark side, as it has done with him. In the final half of the movie, one of the rescued princesses develops a romantic attachment to Pari while he and Queen Hijau’s most trusted commander, Prince Jarang (Chupong Changprung), prepare for a showdown with the pirates.

Perhaps the name, Nonzee Nimibutr, is unfamiliar to many on this side of the planet, but avid filmgoers might know him as the producer of two of the more interesting films to come out of Thailand: Tears of the Black Tiger and Last Life in the Universe – both unique and worth owning if you don't already. Alas, Legend of the Tsunami Warrior is not up to their standards nor does it live up to the promise of Nang Nak or Jan Dara, two films that Nimibutr directed to some acclaim early in his career.

 


 

Image: 7/8   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.

The image quality for this movie on Blu-ray seems to vary with each scene. I doubt that much of this is due to the transfer, but rather production choices made by the filmmakers. There are scenes in the wizard's cave and pirate hideouts where blacks are crushed and shadows have little detail, while others in and around the palace glitter with the reflections of high gloss metals. Scenes on the ocean's surface are thin and bright, while shots beneath it seem to have about the right density. On the other hand, the film's gold-bathed color is consistent (except for the underwater shots which are, appropriately enough, aqua), lending the proceedings a timeless antiquity.

CG effects are particularly weak: Check out the screen cap of the pirate ships: the lack of definition is staggering. Explosions and fire are well handled, never blowing out detail or overwhelming darker parts of the frame. Capture #9 with the dying man in the pirate cave with fires burning in the background is a good example. Edge enhancement is used rarely and sparingly.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 4/5
Dialogue is clear enough (in either the Thai or English mix) and there is generally a sensible balance between speech, music, and effects. As in many action/adventure movies, hand-to-hand combat is louder than the blast of a cannon or the crash of a wall. For a film as recent as this, it is disappointing that kicks and body blows are so similarly applied, reminding us that the old chop-socky effects die hard. The final duel of the cannons is particularly disappointing in its lack of bass and weight.

 

Operations: 4
For those who require an English language audio track you will be pleased to know this Blu-ray has one, and in uncompressed DTS-HD MA to boot. The bad news is that the rhythms of the Thai language do not translate well if you are determined to synch the dub with lip movements. The resultant pauses in English speech are often laughable, making the movie seem even campier than it is in its native language. Under the original Thai audio track, the English subtitles work better, but the translation remains clumsy. The feature film is divided into only 12 chapters – hardly enough.

 

 

Extras: 3
There are two pieces here: The five-minute "Behind the Scenes Footage" is hardly worthy of a Blu-ray, as if shot on an iPhone (no offence, Apple), nor is its content remotely professional. The "Making of Legend of the Tsunami Warrior" on the other hand is a sober analysis of the production by its director, Nonzee Nimibutr, with assists by several members of the cast.

 

 

Bottom line: 4
Legend of the Tsunami Warrior has little to recommend it despite a budding romance and a cleverly realized identity shift between White Ray and Black Ray. The CG effects are shoddy and the story is too choppy to be compelling. On the other hand I think it would make for a fun rental if you’re in the mood for an unintentional comedy. The movie’s climactic duelling cannons will have you falling off your chair.

Leonard Norwitz
May 16th, 2010

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

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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