|S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r|
The Handmaiden aka "Ah-ga-ssi" [Blu-ray]
(Chan-wook Park, 2016)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Moho Film
Video:Mongrel Media / Sony Pictures
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Runtime: 2:24:54.143 / 2:25:25.717
Disc Size: 39,364,110,447 bytes/ 33,454,882,747 bytes
Feature Size: 37,489,248,576 bytes / 32,555,735,040 bytes
Video Bitrate: 29.96 Mbps / 24.91 Mbps
Chapters: 20 / 16
Case: Standard Blu-ray case /
Release date: January 24th, 2017 / March 28th, 2017
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio Korean and Japanese 2741 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2741 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio Korean 3316 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3316 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
English, French, none (yellow for Japanese)
English, English (SDH), Spanish, none
Description: Three years after his English-language debut
Stoker, award-winning filmmaker Park Chan Wook returns
to Korean cinemas with the highly acclaimed erotic thriller
The Handmaiden, which earned him his third Palme d'Or
nomination at the Cannes Film Festival following
Old Boy and
Thirst. Starring Kim Min Hee (Right Now, Wrong Then) as
a wealthy Japanese heiress, breakout newcomer Kim Tae Ri as
a maid, Ha Jung Woo (Assassination) as a fake count and Jo
Jin Woong (A Hard Day) as the heiress's uncle, the film is
an adaptation of Welsh author Sarah Waters's notable lesbian
crime novel Fingersmith about the love between a rich
heiress and her maid.
The art of the tease is rarely as refined as in “The Handmaiden.” Set in
Korea in the 1930s, this amusingly slippery entertainment is an erotic
fantasy about an heiress, her sadistic uncle, her devoted maid and the
rake who’s trying to pull off a devilishly elaborate con. The same could
be said of the director Park Chan-wook, whose attention to voluptuous
detail — to opulent brocades and silky robes, luscious peaches and
creamy shoulders — turns each scene into an invitation to ooh, aah and
mmm. This is a movie that tries to ravish your senses so thoroughly you
may not notice its sleights of hand.
A beautiful, disturbing Korean adaptation of Sarah Waters's bestseller'
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The Handmaiden comes to Blu-ray from Mongrel Media in Canada. the film was shot using the Arri Alexa XT Plus. The image quality is quite attractive - kudos to the film and art direction. Colors are often stunning - bright and rich. Detail is impressive and contrast exhibits healthy, black levels. This 1080P Blu-ray on a dual-layered disc with a very high bitrate does a solid job of exporting this film's extremely pleasing palette. It is in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio. We may compare to another BD release one day but as it stands this Blu-ray transfer of The Handmaiden looked fabulous on my system.
NOTE: This is the theatrical cut - not the 22-minute longer extended version.
NOTE: The Sony is also the theatrical cut although I understand that the UK Blu-ray from Artificial Eye (we will post link and compare when available) will be the extended cut of the film.
Image quality is quite similar, technically less robust than the Canadian transfer, it is a shade brighter. I'd suspect that the Mongrel media is slightly more accurate to the theatrical appearance and may look a smidgeon superior, in-motion, depending on your system.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
NOTE: Japanese language is subtitled in yellow, Korean in white on the Mongrel Media Blu-ray
Mongrel Media use a DTS-HD Master in 5.1 surround, 2741 kbps (24-bit) in the original Korean and Japanese languages. Not much in the way of separation - it seems the transfer can easily handle everything the film requiresin The Handmaiden. The score, and film's theme music, is credited to Yeong-wook Jo (J.S.A.: Joint Security Area, Public Enemy, I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK, Old Boy, Thirst) but there is more with Tae-ri Kim singing The Song at the End of the Century, Ladies are the Dolls of Maids, So This was the Scent etc. plus Mozart's Clarinet Concerto in A major K 622, II movement. The latter sounding highly impressive. There are optional subtitles in English or French - NOTE: Japanese language is subtitled in yellow, Korean in white. My Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
In the audio, the Sony is more technically robust but my ears could notice no difference at all. A key point is that the Mongrel Media has the Japanese language subtitled in yellow with the Korean in white, but the Sony is all white (this may be a key point for the story an some purchasers) and offers optional Spanish along with English and English (SDH). It is also region 'A'-locked.
Sadly, no extras - making this a true bare-bones package.
Unfortunately, no extras at all on the Sony as well.
Mongrel Media - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Sony - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
I'd lean to the Mongrel Media release which seems a bit more polished but the differences will be marginal to most purchasers. I look forward to the extended version from AE. A powerful film that is hard to forget. Don't miss it.
January 31st, 2017
March 17th, 2017
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
ALL OUR NEW FORMAT DVD REVIEWS