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The First Samurai
The First Samurai
Genres: Action & Adventure

     
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Movie Details

Genres: Action & Adventure
Sub-Genres: Martial Arts
Format: DVD
Number of Discs: 3
SwapaDVD Credits: 3
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
Languages: English
 

Movie Reviews

Yep!!! It is about time!!!
predestined88 | Midwest City, Oklahoma United States | 05/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Before I get started, I have a bone to pick. If you want the review, go to the bottom, yet, I beg you, please lend me an ear!I have often wondered why companies such as Criterion feel the need to ego price wonderful films such as these in such a manner that they actually hurt the prospect of someone purchasing their product. Think about it, is it realistic to believe that greed is not a factor behind releasing films such as these or Kurosawa's Samurai films at a more affordable price? Being realistic, as great as these films are, they are usually in pretty bad condition and usually do not get re-mastered love like they deserve to get. However, this doesn't stop Criterion from pricing them as if they were a refurbish under the watchful eyes of Steven Spielberg and printed in 24 carat gold!!! I have emailed companies asking them why they couldn't produce a fairly decent product at a decent price that would induce sales and they never respond. I guess confronting them about it somehow brings about the realization that they have been pilfering away all the money mom and dad spent on purchasing the pretty framed wallpapering they received from some college!!! Be that as it may, unlike the Big Boy Studio poseurs, the guys at Crash Cinema aren't sitting around in some boardroom with rulers in their laps wondering what "ego" the guy sitting beside them is packing!!!! Nope! These guys got off their rumps and threw a truly viable product onto the market at a consumer friendly cost! Gawd forbid!!!! Yep, they realized that charging 50.00+ dollars for an inferior product is not going to induce sales. However, putting it out at a fair price is going to win both the film(s) and Crash Cinema some new fans! I know they got me!!!! Now, onto the review....REVIEW:I will not go into how great these films are or how classic they are. Instead, I will concentrate on just the tech stuff because that is where you risking your money! Picture: First off, for those unfamiliar with Japanese film preservation back before the sixties, we will just say it stank!!! So, one could imagine that finding a decent copy of any Japanese film from the 50s (like this one) for a group to release is nil to none. So then, you can imagine that anyone trying to release them, especially a small company (aka Crash Cinema), is going to have their work cut out for them. Second, to release the films at a decent price, the restoration would have to be very minimal, probably just some turn of the knobs stuff and nothing like the Disney "we can rebuild it" projects. With that in mind, shall we scrutinize?Contrast- The first thing you're going to notice is that the film will appear darker than normal or more than you probably want. NO ALARM! This is more of a film issue and not so much a technical flaw. Much of it has to do with how the film was recorded and aging. Of course, it could be fixed to some degree but it would cost ya!! It should be noted that the Crash Cinema version isn't that much worse than the Criterion but then the Criterion version will run ya about $35.00 to $50.00 more! Tint- I noticed that the Crash version seems to lean more towards a red tint than the Criterion version did. Why? Who knows but it really didn't distract me.
Color- The colors seem more vivid on the Crash version. However, with the red tint being an issue, reds in the picture have a tendency to be a little brighter and haze a little bit.Wear- The Crash version does show some film wear but I really have no complaints. There was nothing that was any real distraction and if I remember correctly, the Criterion version had its fair share of wear and tear. Focus- There is some occasional but very brief "out of focus" moments. I don't know it was technical or the film itself.Overall the Crash version isn't that much worse than the Criterion. The big difference is that you actually get what you are paying for here!Sound- The sound during the dialogue was usually pretty clear. There is the occasional jittery moment but they are very brief. However, the music soundtrack did seems a little muffled at times but not horribly so. Subtitles- The subtitles are "burned-in". This means that they cannot be removed. Not a big issue for me. There didn't seem to be any huge problems here. I do wonder if it was difficult for Crash to come up with their own dialogue without infringing on Criterion's copyrights. Extras- From what I am told and what I have read Crash isn't really into extras. However, they do include an 18 minute documentary on how the Samurai sword is made. It's an old black and white nugget that has seen better days but neat just the same. Of course, beggars can't be choosers!Pakaging- Actually, I like the packaging. It's one of those thicker multi-disc cases stuck inside a flimsy but nice looking slipcase. Nicer than I would expect for under $20.00!In the end, I feel it is safe to say that the product can compare with the Criterion release. Sure, the Criterion edition may have an edge on a few little things but those few little things will cost more than a little. The real advantage is that there are those who didn't feel like forking out the $50-60-70 bucks to purchase these great but beat-up gems! Now, there shouldn't be any hesitation. There will also be those who will be more apt to go for a $20.00 experiment and have less regrets if their expectations are not quite met. I know that for me, Crash exceeded my expectations and if there is some award out there for best DVD retail concept of the year, please, give these guys 2!!!!!! Thanks!!"
Help me understand!
Brandon K. Kirkham | San Jose, CA USA | 06/03/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)

"I haven't seen this version of the movie (I do own the criterion version of the Samurai Trilogy), I have more of a question for the previous reviewer. This is a question that you should ask yourself.How much is quality worth to you? The previous review convinced me NOT to purchase this DVD. Why? Quality is incredibly important to me. I am a huge fan of the criterion collection. I have every samurai film that criterion has released and wait on the edge of my seat for the next release. I have purchased cheaper copies of unreleased Kurosawa films (Sanshiro Sugata I & II, They who step on the Tigers Tail, etc). The lower quality DVDs literally make me sick to my stomach. There are 2 reasons for this. First, the transfer is so bad that it hurts my eyes. Second, I think I am emotionally upset that I spent ANY money on a low quality DVD.
When I watch a classic, I want to be enveloped by the story, not distracted by artifacts, contrast, or color problems. I always feel very confident when I buy criterion. Onibaba was a fantastic transfer. The criterion samurai trilogy was also great. Although the criterion version may not be perfect, if the "crash" version is as bad as the last review says it is, I'm out. Less stomach trouble for me.
In short, if you are going to spend money on a film that you plan to watch many times (and this is one of those movies--believe me), choose the best available. Whether that's criterion or another company, it doesn't matter. A DVD library should be filled with versions of the film that don't distract you from feeling the emotional content.
I'm just confused about how such an intelligent reviewer could sacrifice quality and hype an inferior product. Quality is worth a few extra bucks. The criterion version of this film is only $50. That's less than $17 per DVD. If you don't care how bad a transfer is and just want a cheap copy of the film go with VHS."