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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Servant aka "Bang-ja jeon" aka "A Story of Bang-ja" [Blu-ray]

 

(Dae-woo Kim, 2010)

 

North American customers:

Global customers:

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Barunson

Video: CJ E&M

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 2:04:49.482

Disc Size: 46,059,703,669 bytes

Feature Size: 31,295,182,848 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.99 Mbps

Chapters: 18

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: November 26th, 2013

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio Korean 2874 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2874 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit / DN -1dB)
Commentaries:

Dolby Digital Audio Korean 384 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 384 kbps / DN -2dB

Dolby Digital Audio Korean 384 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 384 kbps / DN -2dB

 

Subtitles:

English, Korean, none

 

Extras:

• Making of (56:54)

• Interview (6:26)

• etc.

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: The classic Korean folk tale of Chun-hyang has been adapted into lyrical epics of forbidden love by master directors Shin Sang Ok and Im Kwon Taek. The famous love story gets a wholly different twist in writer-turned-director Kim Dae Woo's second film The Servant starring Jo Yeo Jeong (The Concubine), Kim Joo Hyuk (My Wife Got Married), and Ryoo Seung Bum (No Mercy). The period blockbuster sees heroine Chun Hyang falling in love not with Myung Ryong, but Myung Ryong's servant! Like Kim Dae Woo's previous works Forbidden Quest and Untold Scandal, The Servant is an atypical, cleverly written period piece charged with lust and liaisons, but there's also a comedic bent to the romance of errors.


Despite their caste difference, nobleman Myung Ryong (Ryoo Seung Bum) falls in love with Chun Hyang (Jo Yeo Jeong) at first sight. He counts on his servant Bang Ja (Kim Joo Hyuk) to arrange meetings with Chun Hyang, but Bang Ja himself seduces the girl. Chun Hyang is not so innocent herself as she hopes to marry Myung Ryong for his social status, adding to the tangled romantic triangle.

 

 

The Film:

Chunhyang is a simple tale of woman, named Chun Hyang, and Mong-ryeong, a studious magistrate’s son who fall in love and get married illegally before he must leave for Seoul. During his absence a corrupt magistrate arrives and forces Chun-hyang to become his concubine. She refuses and his faced with death but is saved at the last moment by Mong-ryeong who has now become a Royal Inspector.

The Servant follows much the same pattern but twists the narrative in favor of examining social structures and adding some eroticism. In this version Mong-ryeong is a conceited brat and it is actually his servant Bang-ja who fills the role of the love interest. He is strong, smart, competent, and kind, if a little shady and na´ve. He undermines Mong-ryeong, in his quest to have Chun-hyang, at every turn, but not always intentionally. Mong-ryeong leaves for Seoul to follow his studies and Chun-hyang and the servant (who is now a merchant) pursue a relationship, which surprisingly is more or less in plain view of her family who disapprove (because it will not elevate her status) but tolerate it.

Excerpt from ModernKoreanCinema located HERE



Surprisingly "The Servant" became a box-office hit in Korea and this even though the film got the Category III rating, which somewhat equals a NC-17 rating, because of some more naked skin shown than usual. This is a bit strange since this is a period drama that gets by without any action and works exclusively because of its story and the dialogues. Maybe that's because the film takes a well-known story in Korea, which is that of the gisaeng daughter Chun-hyang, and puts the focus on one of the side characters and by doing so illuminates new aspects of the story. Most probably the movie's success, not only the commercial one, is based on director Kim Dae-woo's golden hand when it comes to such plots. Kim was also responsible for "The Forbidden Quest" and he also wrote the script to "The Scandal" and "An Affair". Kim is fond of stories that take place during the Joseon dynasty and make fun of the lives of aristocrats as well as highlight the drama that results from power games. This time he once again proves his skills in this respect.

Excerpt from AsianMovieWeb located HERE

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

The Servant is another, South Korean, period drama with explicit sex scenes - and is also a beautiful looking film - great sets, costumes, art direction - vibrant colors and has a very grand, epic, feel on Blu-ray.  It re-tells the origins of the famous Korean folktale Chun-hyang from the perspective of the male protagonist, Bang-ja, the servant of Lee Mong-ryong. The two-hour film is on a dual-layered disc with a supportive bitrate. The 1080P transfer produces vibrant colors, tight lines and plenty of depth. Grain is fine and consistent. Contrast is at a high level and there is no noise or digitization. It's an impressive looking film that looks very strong on Blu-ray, in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The audio is transferred in a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at 2874 kbps (24-bit) and sounds impressive with a few adroit separations and the film's aggressive action sequences carrying intense depth. The score is by Young-Jin Mok with a variation of the song Sarangga from the pansori Chunhyangga sung by the Bangja character and the music too sounds flawless in the lossless. There are optional, English and Korean, subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

 

Extras :

There are many extras, including two commentaries, but nothing that I have found that is English-friendly. There is an extensive 'making of...' interviews, a piece on the costumes but all in Korean with no subtitles. The menus are all in Korean.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
The Servant is an exceptional looking movie. It is non-linear as throughout the film, the scene switches between the 'present' having Ju-hyuk Kim's character Bang-ja narrating, with flashback events of his past. It is a historical, eroticized, romance that tugs the heart-strings and Cho Yeo-jeong is at her best in both her performance and her extensive nudity - looking natural and pretty as well as 'hot'. The Blu-ray is a great way to see this deeply impacting film although the many extras are not English-friendly. We still endorse this Blu-ray for a brilliant and rewarding film and the highly pleasing a/v presentation. Enjoy!  

Gary Tooze

July 3rd, 2017

North American customers:

Global customers:

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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