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9th Company [Blu-ray]
(Fyodor Bondarchuk, 2005)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Yleisradio (YLE)
Video:Well Go USA
Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 24,199,901,428 bytes
Feature Size: 22,608,261,120 bytes
Video Bitrate: 19.90 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: August 31st, 2010
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DUB: Dolby Digital Audio English 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -2dB
Dolby Digital Audio Russian 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps / DN -2dB
English (SDH), none
Extras (on separate DVD):
•Making of the Movie (38:48)
• 20 Years Later (29:51)
• Premiere (8:52)
Description: Based on real-life events, 9th COMPANY recounts a year in the shared lives of a group of young soldiers drafted to serve in Afghanistan during the final year of the Soviet conflict. It is a poignant story of the unit s dedication to each other during their valiant defense of Height 3234...a futile battle that ravaged their forgotten company, who fought on, unaware that the war had ended.
The wars are different, but the emotions of the young conscripts are the
same. Testosterone is flying, insubordination rife. Once training starts
and their heads have been shaved, the equivalent of R Lee Ermey, a
scarred veteran of previous campaigns, sets about destroying the
recruits’ individuality and molding them into a fighting unit.
9th Company has a stylistically rich look on Blu-ray from Well Go USA. Colors border saturation and there seems abundantly heavy reds and blues in certain scenes - possibly filtered. I don't doubt the 1080P image has been transferred accurately but I'm not the biggest fan of this appearance. To me, it often looks falsely sharp but I couldn't detail and egregious edge-enhancements. It just looks kind of 'faux' at times. Contrast is quite strong. I expect that most won't have an issue with the appearance and it can look occasionally impressive. I just never found it 'realistic' but, as I say, this was probably the cinematographic intention. The Blu-ray is single-layered with a moderate bitrate but you can tell it is HD as there is some depth and detail in close-ups far outweighs what SD could export. Maybe I'm being hyper-critical.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
We've seen this type of 'screw-up' before. Firstly neither 2 options are lossless. The god-awful English DUB is 5.1 (and default) and the original Russian in a simple 2.0 channel stereo. The DUB is laughable in the voice characterizations and poorly synched. Being a 'war' film with explosions, gunfire and the like both a deft lossless track with bona-fide separations would have greatly benefited some of the action sequences. The Russian stereo track isn't fatally poor - there is some notable bass depth - but it just seems like a valuable waste of the new format not going lossless.Thankfully the optional subtitles aren't 'DUBtitles' (stuff dubbed as 'Get out of the way homey!' is more adeptly translated). My Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
The extras all reside on a single layered DVD included in the package. We get 3 featurettes - a 40-minute 'Making of' with input from the filmmakers discussing the impetus behind the production and some extraneous details. Perhaps a more interesting and historically relevant piece was the 1/2 hour 20 Years Later with some amusing Soviet 'characters' (they have any hair stylists over there?) and beyond that is some footage at the premiere in 2005.
August 30th, 2010
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be
it, but film will always be my first love and I list my
favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze