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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Bakumatsu taiy-den aka A Sun-Tribe Myth from the Bakumatsu Era [Blu-ray]

 

(Yz Kawashima, 1957)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Nikkatsu

Video: Eureka - Masters of Cinema - Spine #60

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:50:44.638

Disc Size: 32,045,895,926 bytes

Feature Size: 31,956,362,112 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Chapters: 14

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: April 22nd, 2013

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio Japanese 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

• A booklet including a new and exclusive essay by critic/scholar Frederick Veith; Shhei Imamura’s tribute to Yz Kawashima; and more

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Voted one of the top five Japanese films ever made in a critic’s poll by Japan’s leading cinema publication Kinema junp, yet barely known in the West, Yz Kawashima’s richly funny multi-levelled portrait of Japanese society Bakumatsu taiy-den [A Sun-Tribe Myth from the Bakumatsu Era] is a glorious rediscovery.

When man-about-town Saheiji (the beloved comedian Frankie Sakai) finds himself unable to pay for a bill at a brothel, he is forced to remain there to work off his debt. However he finds his wit and resourcefulness enable him to turn this situation to his advantage, as he interacts with a whole range of characters, from rivalling courtesans to political activists.

Co-scripted by Shhei Imamura (Vengeance Is Mine), it sharply and comically demonstrates the constants of human nature just as it delineates the tumultuous political times (the 1860s, leading up to the Meiji Restoration) in which they lived. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present this classic in a new high-definition restoration.

 

 

The Film:

The story is taken from rakugo (a traditional form of “sit-down” comedic narration), and focuses on the craftily versatile character of Saheiji (played by the great comedian, Frankie Sakai), a man-about-town who gets stuck at a high-class brothel when he can’t pay the bill. The ever-resourceful Saheiji makes the best of his situation by performing various tasks amidst the tumult of the end of the shogunate—but always by making sure to get a “commission” for his troubles. The women of the establishment start falling for this skilled player, but as with many Kawashima heroes, Saheiji is more intent on escape—from everything, it seems. Many Nikkatsu performers, including Ishihara Yjir, postwar Japan’s most popular male star, appear in the film.

Excerpt from Aaron Gerow found at Mubi.com located HERE

Considered by many the best Japanese film comedy, Sun Legend of the Shogunate was voted the 5th best Japanese film of all time in a 1999 poll of 140 critics by Kinema junp, Japan’s leading film magazine. The story is taken from rakugo (a traditional form of “sit-down” comedic narration), and focuses on the craftily versatile character of Saheiji (played by the great comedian, Frankie Sakai), a man-about-town who gets stuck at a high-class brothel when he can’t pay the bill. The ever-resourceful Saheiji makes the best of his situation by performing various tasks amidst the tumult of the end of the shogunate—but always by making sure to get a “commission” for his troubles. The women of the establishment start falling for this skilled player, but as with many Kawashima heroes, Saheiji is more intent on escape—from everything, it seems. Many Nikkatsu performers, including Ishihara Yjir, postwar Japan’s most popular male star, appear in the film.

Excerpt from The MovieDB  located HERE

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

Bakumatsu taiy-den joyously arrives on Blu-ray from The Masters of Cinema arm of Eureka Cinema in the UK.  The image quality shows grain and the visuals are reasonably consistent in 1080P with a few softer sequences. Contrast supports some pleasing detail. With the textures present I thought the presentation was gorgeous in-motion. There was no heavy damage and all things considered, I would think most will be impressed with how strong this 56-year old Japanese film looks (where so many films from Japan have had poor source storage issues.)The Blu-ray has max'ed out the bitrate and I can't imagine it looking much better. Thumbs up!

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Masters of Cinema offer a linear PCM 2.0 channel at 1536 kbps in original Japanese. It seems to do a reasonably good job with only a few minor inconsistencies. I didn't notice any sync issues and dialogue was all audible and clear. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

 

Extras :

No digital extras but the package does include an excellent booklet with a new and exclusive essay by critic/scholar Frederick Veith; Shhei Imamura’s tribute to Yz Kawashima and another essay by Imamura entitled The Sun Legend of a Country Boy written in 1969 and revised in 1976.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I was very interested to see this - and aside from Ozu - haven't seen many Japanese comedies from this era.  A Sun-Tribe Myth from the Bakumatsu Era is very approachable and the female characters are all charismatic and humorous. It's a wonderful story. I think this was a fabulous choice for MoC to release on Blu-ray. Fans of Japanese or world cinema will get the most benefit. 

Gary Tooze

April 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 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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