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The Assassin aka "Nie yin niang" [Blu-ray]
(Hsiao-Hsien Hou, 2015)
Review by Gary Tooze
Video: Well Go USA
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 22,646,761,073 bytes
Feature Size: 18,993,297,408 bytes
Video Bitrate: 19.79 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: January 26th, 2016
Aspect ratio: 1:40 (with one early scene 1.85:1)
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio Mandarin 2474 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2474 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio Mandarin 384 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 384 kbps
English, French, Chinese (simplified and traditional), none
• Behind the Scenes (Nie yin niang - 3:11, The
Actors - No Rehearsals - 3:45, The Fight Between
Masters - 2:55, A Time Machine to the Tang Dynasty
Description: Celebrated Taiwanese Master Director Hou Hsiao-hsien's long-awaited return to the screen tells the story of Yie Ninniang (Shu Qi), a General's daughter, kidnapped as a child and trained by a nun in the deadly arts- only to be sent home on a bloody mission of revenge, with her betrothed (Chang Chen) as the target!
Hou Hsiao-hsien, winner of the Best Director award at this year's Cannes
Film Festival, transcends the wuxia genre and transports us into a land
once upon a time that is charged with stillness and light and populated
by women who take action, as if it were the most natural thing in the
world, because it is. Shu Qi's movements are fantastic, her leaps nimble
like a cat's, her landings on the ground without a sound.
For its sheer beauty, its mesmeric compositional sense and pure balletic poise, Hou Hsiao-hsien’s distinctive and slow-moving wuxia tale The Assassin demands attention. Although at the risk of philistinism, I now confess that for me its sometimes opaque and difficult plot means that my engagement with it can never be as absolute as it’s been for others here at Cannes, who have not hesitated to acclaim The Assassin as a masterpiece and a Palme contender. I’m not sure that I can go that far. The final spark of passion I was looking for was more a delicate firefly which floated entrancingly but elusively ahead.Excerpt from The Guardian located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Hou's The Assassin is a gorgeous film, and is being released in the North American market on Blu-ray by Well Go USA. The film was shot in-and-around the 1.4:1 aspect ratio (with one early scene, a flashback, in 1.85:!). The pre-title sequence is in black and white. This BD is single-layered with a modest bitrate but the film's colors and texture seem adeptly supported. I'm sure thee are other, Asian, 1080P releases and we may compare one day as the film is such an impressive visual treat. It may be marginally think if projected to a large screen and detail might heighten if it was more robustly transferred - I don't know. It is impeccably clean, tight, colors are vibrant but not over exuberant and it provided me with a pleasing HD presentation.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
The only 1.85:1 scene in the film
Well Go USA use a DTS-HD Master 5.1 in the original Mandarin at 2474 kbps (only 16-bit) with a lossy Dolby stereo option available. The effects sound quite crisp and rich - separation exists - but I can't help feeling that technically it could have been more robust. The score by Giong Lim (Hou's Goodbye, South, Goodbye, Zhangke Jia's The World and Still Life among his, impressive, credits) adds much to the film experience (dense drums) and gently augments certain elements of the story while also cascading into the few supportive aggression action scenes. It sounded great - if not demo - on my system. There are optional subtitles on the region 'A' Blu-ray disc.
Supplements consisted of four Behind the Scenes featurettes in Mandarin with English subtitles. They run about 13-minutes in total and are titled Nie yin niang, The Actors - No Rehearsals, The Fight Between Masters and A Time Machine to the Tang Dynasty. They are quite surface but its nice to get even a glimmer of input from the director and star. There is also a trailer.
January 26th, 2016
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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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