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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Kings of the Sun [Blu-ray]


(J. Lee Thompson, 1963)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: The Mirisch Corporation

Video: Kino Lorber



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:47:42.372

Disc Size: 22,405,999,294 bytes

Feature Size: 20,924,368,896 bytes

Video Bitrate: 22.89 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 26th, 2015



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1563 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1563 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)



English, None



• Theatrical Trailer (3:43)

• Theatrical Trailer for Taras Bulba (3:35)





Description: Yul Brynner (Invitation to a Gunfighter) and George Chakiris (West Side Story) shine as the kings of two clashing cultures forced to form an alliance against a mutual threat in this gripping historical saga. Kings of the Sun is packed with intense action and thrilling drama! After a terrible battle leaves young Balam (Chakiris) king of his Mayan tribe, he leads his people out of Mexico to escape the rival clan still hunting them. But upon reaching their new home, a hostile Native American tribe attacks and the Mayans manage to capture Black Eagle (Brynner), the Native American leader. While held prisoner, Black Eagle manages to earn Balam's respect and the kings agree to peace. But when Balam's old rivals arrive looking for a fight, the newly allied kings must take up arms and stand together in order to repel the invading force and save their people. J. Lee Thompson (The White Buffalo) directed this spectacular adventure featuring a rousing score by Elmer Bernstein (The Magnificent Seven) and top-notch widescreen cinematography by the great Joseph MacDonald (My Darling Clementine).



The Film:

In this historical adventure saga, Balam (George Chakiris) is the son of the ruler of the Mayan people; when his father is killed in battle, Balam succeeds his father as King and leads his followers out of Mexico to a coastal region. The Mayan's new home, however, is already the province of a hostile Indian tribe led by Black Eagle (Yul Brynner), who leads a raid against the Mayan's camp. Balam is severely injured, but Black Eagle's wife Ixchel (Shirley Ann Field) tends to his wounds, and eventually the two leaders agree to settle their differences and coexist in peace. Hunac Ceel (Leo Gordon), Balam's old nemesis, is not so forgiving. He has followed the Mayans to their new home, where he and his troops mount a furious attack, with the Indians and the Mayans leading a united front against the invaders. Kings of the Sun also features Richard Basehart, Brad Dexter, and Barry Morse.

Excerpt from MRQElocated HERE


After earning an Academy Award for Best Actor for the title role in The King and I (1956), Brynner cultivated his enigmatic but commanding presence in a number of distinctively different roles, from The Ten Commandments (1956) to Anastasia (1956) to The Buccaneer (1958). So playing the chief of a local Indian tribe in Kings of the Sun was no stretch for the Russian-born actor who at various times in his career had played the balalaika in Parisian nightclubs and worked as a trapeze artist.

Of course, the danger with Hollywood spectacles like Kings of the Sun is that the filmmakers sometimes play fast and loose with historical facts or make disastrous casting decisions. When Kings of the Sun opened theatrically, it was the director and former dancer turned dramatic actor George Chakiris, not Brynner, who was singled out for most of the negative critical notices. The New York Times wrote, "J. Lee Thompson, the director who foisted last year's Taras Bulba (1962) on unsuspecting Christmas audiences, has done it again." Still, the Variety critic found things to praise such as the "elaborately mounted" production and Elmer Bernstein's "adventurous score."

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

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

Kings of the Sun arrives on Blu-ray in a decidedly soft appearance.  The transfer seems typical of Kino Lorber with a 1080P, single-layered, rendering with a modest but supportive bitrate. The visuals are very thick and waxy - and I have no idea why. On the positive the colors are bright but there is only a hint of depth. I was hoping to compare to the DVD - but I don't own it. This may be the way the film looked theatrically for all I know. This Blu-ray won't 'wow' the viewer with its tight visuals and it also had some definite shutter in the opening 5 minutes (and credits). Not particularly stellar HD video.





















Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1563 kbps does a competent job of exporting the film's occasionally aggressive sound requirements. Perhaps more importantly would be the emphasis on Elmer Bernstein's (Hud, To Kill a Mockingbird, Summer and Smoke) extravagant score - truly worthy of the epic grandeur of the film. It sounds quite impacting via the lossless - certainly crisper than the video. There are optional English subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

Only a trailer for Kings of the Sun and another for Taras Bulba.



Admittedly, I wasn't in the mood for this variation of the 'Sword and Sandal' epic. But I began to enjoy it more when Yul finally arrived onscreen and I've always been one to appreciate Shirley Anne Field. Chakiris is the harder sell, and I'm afraid I wasn't inspired much - but it may have been my mood as much as the film. The image softness didn't help. The Blu-ray, therefore, is a hard recommendation - an underwhelming, over-produced epic with a less-than-stellar appearance and no extras. This time I say 'Pass'. 

Gary Tooze

May 6th, 2015


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.

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Gary W. Tooze






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