Review by Leonard Norwitz
Theatrical: CJ Entertainment/JK Film
Blu-ray: Magnet (Magnolia Home Entertainment)
Disc Size: 46,872,527,938 bytes
Feature Size: 32,963,254,272 bytes
Video Bitrate: 29.66 Mbps
Case: Standard U.S Blu-ray Case
Release date: May 11th, 2010
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080P / 23.976 fps
Video codec: VC-1
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2365 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2365
kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio Korean 2352 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2352
kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
English, Spanish, none
• The Project – (9:35)
• Making of Tidal Wave – (45:00)
• Characters – (5:40)
• Production Design – (6:50)
• Music Score – (6:10)
• Sound Mixing – (13:20)
• CG Effects – (23:05)
• Cinematography – (10:50)
• Marketing – (11:30)
• Deleted Scenes – (13:15)
• Gag Reel – (5:50)
Tidal Wave is the Korean remake of Mark Robson's 1974
Earthquake, complete with the predicted trembler
(and ensuing tsunami), ignored by the powers that be
(actually just one particularly dim bureaucrat) for fear of
ending up with kimchi on his face. There's even a live power
line about to electrocute several would-be victims, a heroic
life thrown away for one less worthy, and people rescued now
only to swept away later.
The special effects are updated since the seventies, the
devastation more catastrophic, the anguish more painful. To
be sure, anguish is what the Koreans are good at. There's a
good deal of screaming in this movie, most of it after more
than half its length is spent in sorting out family dynamics
and budding lovers. The other thing Korea is good at is
mixing comedy with drama and horror, all in the same film,
which we saw this to great effect in The Host.
As for the CG effects, Tidal Wave works best when
it's trying to be funny and scary at the same time. There
are a couple of scenes with a container ship dumping its
cargo in unexpected places that's worth the price of the
movie. The scale of the tsunami in this film is greater than
the laws of physics will permit its actors to move about in.
Yet move about they do. They run, they climb, they fall.
Curiously, however, for a city built on the edge of a beach,
not very many people can swim. There is one peculiar scene
where a woman trapped in an elevator as the water gradually
rises gives up when her feet can no longer touch the floor,
even though there is three feet of space above her head. I
guess Koreans don't know how to tread water.
Like many action films these days, only here on a grander
scale, actors defy the laws of physics as they withstand the
force of a gigazllion tons of crashing water and run faster
than 300 mph when called upon (we don't actually see anyone
run that fast, it's just the only way to explain how they
could get from one point to another.) So you have to
approach Tidal Wave with your brain in neutral,
permitting the bodaciousness of the concept to wash over you
while been swept away by the emotional sentiment. And in
this regard, especially, the Korean movie is monstrously
more effective than the American film, and better than most
Hollywood disaster films.
One travel advisory if you're not used to popular Korean
film and TV dramas: they take their drinking very seriously,
by which I mean that they drink hard and embarrass
themselves beyond anything we see on film in the west. I'm
not sure if their drinking is really that out of control or
if it is merely an accepted narrative device that writers
and directors use to manifest a character's inner conflicts,
but be warned: tsunami ahead.
Tidal Wave was big box office in Korea, selling over
eleven million tickets. That's pretty impressive for a small
country. If you've seen even a handful of Korean movies or
TV dramas you will recognize some familiar faces here: Park
Joong Hoon from Nowhere to Hide, Sol Kyung Gu (Public
Enemy), Ha Ji Won (Duelist), my favorite: Lee Min Ki (I
Really, Really Like You), Uhm Jung Hwa (Marriage is a Crazy
Thing), and Song Jae Ho (The President's Last Bang.) If only
the coincidences and the science were remotely on the same
level as its ability to pull us into its emotional drama,
Tidal Wave could have had classic potential instead of
being simply a thoroughly enjoyable fun house ride with
effects as good as anything we've seen from anywhere near
that longitude. Better.
captures were taken directly from the
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.
Tidal Wave is a glossy, color-enhanced picture. The vivid
color control is turned up along with high contrast
lighting. The gloss does smear texture, though in this
movie, it seems to work somehow. We also find some mild edge
enhancement, most noticeable in some outdoor scenes where
buildings can't seem to exist against a blank sky without
help. Weird! Blacks are deep and noiseless. No other
transfer issues of concern leaped off the screen.
Audio & Music:
Way back when I watched TV on a 13-inch monitor, I would
place it between my fairly good speakers. The dynamic
presentation of the speakers and amplification made it seem
that the picture was larger, an impression that never failed
to burst whenever there was text. Now I watch high
definition material on a seven-foot screen, and the
correspondingly huge aural environment of my surround sound
system lends credibility to CG effects that are only about
up to The Perfect Storm. Without a compelling audio mix (and
let's hear it here for high definition's uncompressed
audio), the tidal wave would just be so much froth and
wiggly lines. Locational cues in the surrounds are accurate.
There's some serious, impactful bass here – none of the fat
whomping stuff that many films tack on just to let you know
they're giving the matter a passing thought, but audio that
has mass sufficient to make you duck for cover – not that it
would do any good.
I should mention that Magnolia has provided a serviceable
English language dub that is also in DTS-HD MA. A nice touch
for those who desire it.
The Special Features menu page lists all of the features in
one window. Points for that. The idiomatic English
translation is without spelling or usage mishaps, with
subtitles in white, and not so large as to get in the way.
The same cannot be said for the subtitles on the bonus
features, which can sometimes compete with what I take to be
information in Korean that stays on screen long after it's
Except for their being mostly in only fair quality standard
definition, the production features are thorough, sober and
candid. I especially liked the segments on Sound Mixing,
which I found instructive. Happily, the feature on the
visual effects looks pretty good. All are in Korean with
adequate English subtitles.
I have to say I enjoyed this movie more than I expected.
Disaster movies are almost necessarily predictable, and
Tidal Wave has its share. One of the things I imagine most
of us like to do is guess who's going to get in the neck,
and how. In this, the movie has some surprises and, to my
surprise, I did not feel cheated by them. The effects are
fair-to-good, but the high definition image may tell you
more than you want to know about them.
May 8th, 2010