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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop [Blu-ray]


(Zhang Yimou, 2009)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Beijing New Picture Film Co.

Video: Sony Home Video



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

Runtime: 1:30:02.397

Disc Size: 30,017,975,902 bytes

Feature Size: 20,861,792,256 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.73 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 1st, 2011



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio Chinese 3535 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3535 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English (SDH), English, French, Spanish, none



• 'Creating A Woman, A Gun and a Noodle Shop' (19-part documentary - 1:59:14 / 480i)

• Previews

• Theatrical Trailer (1:55 / 1080P)





Description: Wang is a gloomy and cunning noodle shop owner in a desert town in China. Feeling neglected Wang s wife secretly goes out with Li one of his employees. A timid man Li reluctantly keeps the gun the landlady bought for killing her husband later. Every single move they make however does not escape the boss notice. Wang decides to bribe patrol officer Zhang to kill the illicit couple. It looks like a perfect plan: the affair will come to a cruel but satisfying end or so he thinks but the equally wicked Zhang has an agenda of his own that will lead to even more violence.



The Film:

From the start the Coen brothers have been clever mischief-makers, repeatedly pulling the rug from under their characters and the audience alike. Mr. Zhang’s movies, whatever their genre or style, have always seemed painstakingly earnest. Whether dealing in sweeping period drama (“To Live”), rural neorealism (“Not One Less”), swordplay (“House of Flying Daggers”) or state-sanctioned spectacle (the opening broadcast of the 2008 Beijing Olympics), he has exhibited just about every imaginable directorial trait except a sense of humor.

And though it begins with some exaggerated, almost clownish business and includes a handful of clean and mordant sight gags, “A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop” has a gravity that is surprising, given that it is basically the pastiche of a pastiche. But by working through the self-conscious genre imitation that was something of a novelty in “Blood Simple,” Mr. Zhang uncovers the primal, mythic intensity of the story and also changes the tone of its essential nihilism. The Coens posit a universe without order or meaning, and while Mr. Zhang does not necessarily quarrel with this view, he treats it less as a cosmic joke than as a grim folk tale.

Excerpt from A.O. Scott at the NY Timeslocated HERE

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

A Woman, A Gun and a Noodle Shop is an impressive looking movie and that is translated well to Blu-ray. Sony offer a dual-layered disc with a decent bitrate for the 1 1/2 hour long film. Being Zhang Yimou this, predictably, has plenty of eye-candy. Colors are vibrant but not unnaturally so for the most part. Contrast exhibits healthy, rich black levels. The landscapes and cinematography are awe-inspiring at times. Detail - notable in a few close-ups is strong. There are no impinging artefacts and there is a fine sheen of grain. It may lack in depth but that is the only minor complaint I have. This probably looks as good as it did theatrically. This Blu-ray supported a strong presentation in my home theater.

















Audio :

Only one audio option and it's pretty potent. We get a DTS-HD Master 5.1 at a healthy 3535 kbps. Effects are rife and often envelop the room - but I appreciate the subtleties too. This has abundant separation, although not always crisp, and demonstrative bass. I wouldn't say the film has an aggressive score but when it is called upon for spirited use of unsheathed swords, horses hooves or sizzling food preparations - it responds exceptionally well. There is no English DUB. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

Aside from some previews and a theatrical trailer in HD the supplements solely consist of one gigantic 'Making of' featurette dividing into 19 chapters. It is entitled 'Creating A Woman, A Gun and a Noodle Shop' and runs just shy of 2-hours. It covers a range of production topics and instills a sense of detail and preparation that I, assume, all Zhang Yimou films embody. It moves from lavish costumes to visually eye-dropping terrain. It is mostly in Mandarin with English subtitles and is rendered in 480i SD. It is an education for any very keen on the film or the director's methodology.



Despite the blasť critical reaction - I was really looking forward to seeing this. It starts out with some humor and moves slowly to a more somber tone. It would be hard to deny that this is not entertaining - as the least of its attributes. Zhang Yimou makes great films and this has his 'epic' feel that establishes every scene as important - in more than a visual sense - although that is another presentation element that he rarely scrimps on. In the end it is the human spirit and underplayed drama that gives A Woman, A Gun and a Noodle Shop its memorable edge. Those expecting something very deep or 'arthouse' won't be sated here. The Blu-ray is splendid in exporting a dynamic and encompassing presentation both aurally and visually. While not for all tastes with some fumbling pacing at times the film definitely has value. Recommended! 

Gary Tooze

January 24th, 2011


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.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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