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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

A Bullet for the General aka El chuncho, quien sabe? [Blu-ray]

 

(Damiano Damiani, 1966)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: M. C. M.

Video: Blue Underground

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: US: 1:54:54.971

International: 1:57:48.311

Disc Size: 46,689,152,916 bytes

US Feature Size: 20,998,582,272 bytes

International Feature Size: 23,400,351,744 bytes

Video Bitrate: 20.99 Mbps (both)

Chapters: 20 (both)

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 22nd, 2012

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

US:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1906 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1906 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

International:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1903 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1903 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio Italian 1898 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1898 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), English (for Italian version), French, Spanish, none

English

 

Extras:

A Bullet for the Director - Interview with Director Damiano Damiani (5:01)
U.S. Trailer (1:52)
International Trailer (4:29)
Poster & Still Gallery
Bonus DVD - Gian Maria Volonte: Un Attore Contro (1:52:31)

 

Bitrate:

U.S. Version TOP vs. International Version BOTTOM

 

 

Description: At the height of the Mexican revolution, a mysterious young American (Lou Castel of FIST IN HIS POCKET) joins a gang of marauders led by El Chucho (Gian Maria Volont+¬ of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS) on a series of savage raids to steal guns for a powerful rebel general. But when the Gringo brings his own cold-blooded ideals to the bandits, El Chucho discovers that the real weapons of war belong to no army. In a land ravaged by poverty and violence, can true freedom be bought with a single bullet? Klaus Kinski (For a Few Dollars More) and Martine Beswick (THUNDERBALL) co-star in this legendary western. This thrilling epic features some of the most surprising performances, radical politics and shocking violence of any 'Spaghetti Western' ever made and is now presented here in handsome High Definition!

 

U.S. Version TOP vs. International Version BOTTOM

 

 

The Film:

A spaghetti Western on a par with Leone's. It shares VolontÚ and Kinski with For a Few Dollars More, and Luis Bacalov's haunting score was 'supervised' by Ennio Morricone, but the politics are more radical than anything Leone stood for (it ends with a ringing call to arms: 'Don't buy bread, buy dynamite!'). Lou Castel plays a tight-lipped gringo who insinuates himself into VolontÚ's gang of Mexican bandits on the fringes of the revolution. The film charts the peculiar friendship between these two blinkered mercenaries, and VolontÚ's belated arrival at a political consciousness. This intelligent, compelling reversal of the archetypal Hollywood schema (in which an American star lends his gun to the peasants' cause) was scripted by Franco Solinas, who also contributed to Rosi's Salvatore Giuliano, Costa-Gavras' State of Siege, Pontecorvo's Battle of Algiers and Queimada!

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

Credit Damiano Damiani, the director, and his scenario with injecting a mite of mystery in the person of Lou Castel, as a boyish, blond "gringo" who joins a marauding band of guerrillas scouring the countryside to snag guns and money for the peons' general. The purpose of his casual bravery is only thinly veiled and there's no mystery at all surrounding the dubbed-in English dialogue and all the shooting on those rocky, mountainous locales that were caught in lovely colors.

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE

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

Blue Underground's disc contains both the US and the 3-minute longer International versions of the film A Bullet for the General. These are separate 1080P transfers and NOT seamlessly branched - sharing the same Blu-ray disc.  There may be some very slight differences in the image quality between the two versions but it won't be a lot - if any at all. I've made a couple of comparison captures below. The transfer seems a little inconsistent with some sequences showing that nice sheen of grain we often see with Blue Underground but there are a few spots that look waxy - as if DNR were the culprit. This wasn't at all egregious and I'd say that overall the visuals are extremely impressive with great detail in close-ups and depth being displayed. Colors are bright with true skin tones. The 2.35:1 widescreen is used in a slick fashion and the the video comes across pleasing throughout most of the presentation.

 

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

 

U.S. Version TOP vs. International Version BOTTOM

 

 

 

U.S. Version TOP vs. International Version BOTTOM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The US version offers a healthy DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1906 kbps that is comparable to the DUB on the International version that also has the option of lossless Italian at equally as robust a transfer. Gunshots are piercing and the aggressive pats of the soundtrack seems easily handled by the uncompressed audio. The flatness is expected. We have an original score by Luis Bacalov and the iconic Ennio Morricone that supports the 'Spaghetti' aspects very well. There are optional subtitles - both English (SDH) and English - for the Italian version - as well as French and Spanish. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

There isn't much more on the Blu-ray disc which is fairly filled with the two films but we still get a A Bullet for the Director - Interview with Director Damiano Damiani running 50 minutes in Italian with English subtitles, plus some trailers and a stills and poster gallery. What is a significant supplement is a bonus DVD - Gian Maria Volonte: Un Attore Contro running just shy of a whopping 2 hours. It has plenty of the actor/writer and fans of the genre will definitely want to indulge. This is a very nice documentary addition - in Italian with English subtitles.

 

 

Included DVD

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
This is a cracking Spaghetti Western - one that fuels the genre for being so addictive. I'd seen A Bullet For the General on SD many years ago but this HD viewing was far more encompassing and generated more appeal for the earthy signature stylings of the filmmaker. Blue Underground continue to release strong Blu-ray products. This is an easy recommendation - I had a blast and look forward to a revisit not too long in the future.. 

Gary Tooze

May 10th, 2012


 

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 5000 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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