Five Great Asian Movies For The Blu-Ray Novice
Upgrading to high-definition is an exciting time, and for those of us who love world cinema, it can open up some wonderful new worlds – or even just make the familiar ones feel as fresh as they did the first time we set foot on their soil.
There are a few labels out there branching further into HD, but what initial purchases should you make to help show-off your new set up? Here are just a few ideas of some incredible films that really pop off the screen on Blu-ray…
When director Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy first appeared, it was a massive hit that got plenty of attention for the Tartan Asia Extreme label. Happily, the story of one man’s quest for the truth behind his fifteen year incarceration is as mind-blowing on Blu-ray as it was on DVD all those years ago. Plus, as the disc has been around for some time, it can also be picked up at a very reasonable price. Whether you’ve never seen it, or are keen for it to put you through the ringer all over again, it’s an essential catalogue title and looks absolutely fabulous.
Arguably the most important and influential anime feature film of all time, Akira exploded onto Blu-ray in 2011. Fully restored for the format, it is also still readily available in the beautiful steelbook edition which accompanied the single-disc release.
If you are wondering which to go for, though, I’d personally say the double-disc steelbook is well worth the few extra pounds, as it comes with an excellent forty-page collector’s booklet. Either way, though, watching Kaneda and Tetsuo risk their motorcycle insurance policies on the streets of Neo Tokyo has never been more thrilling and the remastered THX TrueHD 5.1 audio is very impressive.
For those who prefer their sprawling Asian epics in a more historical setting, there can be no greater joy than seeing John Woo’s masterpiece Red Cliff in all its fully-formed high-definition glory. The special edition Blu-ray carries the film in two-parts – as opposed to the heavily edited theatrical cut which appeared in cinemas – and each section running at around 2 hours and 15 minutes. This means that even if it seems like a bit of an imposing undertaking to some, it can be done in a couple of perfectly manageable sittings where you won’t miss a single thing.
While some of us still await the release of our favourite Studio Ghibli movies on Blu-ray (any chance we could get an update on Princess Mononoke, please?), there are still some high-quality options out there in need of your attention.
As far as animation is concerned, this is one of the best-looking Blu-rays on the market and the scene where our heroine races along the waves as they crash against the coast is simply breathtaking.
One of the very first Asian cinema Blu-ray discs I picked up – mainly because I hadn’t seen it at the time and had heard great things – was The Host. To this day, it is still one of the best examples of the format that sit on my shelf and is the absolute first choice if you want a disc that will make visiting friends and family green with envy. Sure, the scenes involving the monster running riot through the town full of panicked residents is great, but check out the sequence around the credits which is set on the bridge in the heavy rain. Not only does it look incredible, but if you happen to have a home cinema kit, you’re probably going to feel like reaching for the umbrella.
Of course, there is no end of must-have Blu-ray discs that you’ll want on your shelf when you make the leap to high-definition – and you should definitely check out some of the great work labels like Third Window and Arrow are doing. But if you just need to get that collection going, all of the above will provide a great start.
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