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Category:    Home > Reviews > Gangster > Assassin > Mystery > Thriller > Japan > Drama > History > Literature > Politics > Religion > France > Branded To Kill (1967/Arrow U.K. Region B Import Blu-ray)/Queen Margot (1994/Pathe/Cohen Media Blu-ray)

Branded To Kill (1967/Arrow U.K. Region B Import Blu-ray)/Queen Margot (1994/Pathe/Cohen Media Blu-ray)

Picture: B/B- Sound: B- Extras: B/B- Films: B-

PLEASE NOTE: The Branded To Kill Import Blu-ray is only available from our friends as Arrow U.K., will only work on Blu-ray players that can handle the Region B format and can be ordered from the link below.

Here are two respected foreign films on Blu-ray, including an import of a popular thriller in another deluxe version...

Seijun Suzuki's Branded To Kill (1967) has been issued on Blu-ray by Arrow U.K. in a Region B Import edition a little while after Criterion issued their Blu-ray upgrade, which we reviewed with his also-popular Tokyo Drift at this link:


The picture and sound are from the same HD master used for the Criterion with hardly any difference in the transfers, but extras are a bit different. Both have trailers, but the Arrow edition has a reversible cover, DVD version, different booklet that collectors will want as badly as the Criterion edition, a different interview with Suzuki, interview with co-star Jo Shishido and the 1973 remake of the film as Trapped In Lust as a roman porno like ones we have been covering from Nikkatsu on DVD in the US elsewhere on this site. Yep, diehard fans will want both editions.

Patrice Chereau's Queen Margot (1994) is the well-respected and long, long epic drama about how the Catholic title character (Isabelle Adjani in perfect casting) in 1572 France marries the Protestant Huguenot King Henry of Navarre (Daniel Auteuil) to establish peace between the two conflicting Christian churches, but it is not going to work out as planned and the screenplay goes the long way to tell the story. What it has in detail and some depth with a cast that also includes Virna Lisl, Jean-Hughes Anglade, Vincent Perez, Pascal Greggory, Asia Argento, Thomas Kretschmann and filmmaker Barbet Schroder, the film takes major patience to get into.

It has sexuality, but never deals totally with it in the deepest terms, yet the people are defined well enough and intended or not, it is somewhat predictable as you know conflicting ideologies and an oppressed society is going to doom many who we see, so there is limited suspense there. It is like watching a high-class train wreck happen. That's melodrama and this is actually based on an Alexandre Dumas novel, but the makers have even more in mind. No doubt the casting is a plus, while costumes, production design and set decoration are on the money.

Yet, though not stuffy, it is highly cinematic with a consistent look and feel, yet something is missing when the nearly 160 minutes (this is the uncut version) is done. The good moments vie with the powerful ones, the narrative and look & feel of the film making you feel like you are there, but not as much as you should. The distancing the melodrama achieves gets in the way somewhat, if not as bad as most lame Jane Austen adaptations. I still could not see this one being shorter, but it was butchered in its previous U.S. release, so like Cimino's Heaven's Gate, you need to see the longer cut no matter what to see what the filmmaker intended. Now you can, though Mr. Chereau sadly passed away in 2013, his film has been saved.

Extras include a collectible booklet on the film in the Blu-ray case printed the longway for a change with essays on the film, while the disc adds a reissue trailer and a fine feature length audio commentary track by film scholar Richard Pena.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Margot is a new 4K transfer that does a pretty good job of capturing the look and feel of the film, but it is a little weak in part because it was shot to look like it was of its time and in all-natural light. However, it is often a little more than plagued by light grain that was likely part of the filming, but it never looks as good as Kubrick's Barry Lyndon or even Scott's The Duelists, though some shots might be limited by the Blu-ray format, so we'll compare to a real 4K presentation at a later date.

The French DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on the film is a smooth upgrade from a presentation that was apparently an advanced Dolby SR (Spectral Recording) analog stereo with mono surrounds as a theatrical release and the upgrade is easier to do for a film with its quiet, subtle sound approach. Usually SR upgrades get botched in odd ways, but this is one of the rare ones that did not.

You can order the new, second special edition Blu-ray of Branded To Kill from Arrow U.K. along with other loaded special editions at this link:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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