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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Crime > Corruption > Politics > Investigation > Con Artists > Gangsters > Heist > Yakuza > Japan > American Hustle 4K (2013/4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray*)/The Burglars (1971/Blu-ray/*both Sony/Columbia)/Sympathy For The Underdog (1971/MVD/Toei/Radiance/Blu-ray)

American Hustle 4K (2013/4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray*)/The Burglars (1971/Blu-ray/*both Sony/Columbia)/Sympathy For The Underdog (1971/MVD/Toei/Radiance/Blu-ray)

4K Ultra HD Picture: B+ Picture: B/B & B-/B- Sound: B/B- & C+/B- Extras: B-/D/B Films: B-

If you like crime, mystery, action and everything from revenge to heists, than these films are for you...

David O. Russell's American Hustle 4K (2013) is back for a Tenth Anniversary upgrade in 4K and it is very impressive. This new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray/Blu-ray set will please fans especially and is now the best way outside of a really good 35mm print to see the film. You can read more about it at this link of our previous coverage of the film:


This release also repeats all of the extras of the previous edition, then adds 15 more minutes of Deleted and Extended Scenes and a Digital Movie copy. Though it has minor issues, the film holds up very well and its look and cast continue to be very striking. Why the studios are having difficulty making intelligent films like this people like and continue to talk about is a shame, but here's one of them.

Henri Verneuil's The Burglars (1971) is a French heist thriller that takes place in Athens, Greece that happens to be a co-production of Columbia Pictures with Jean-Paul Belmondo leading a team that uses some (then, but still interesting) slick technology to steal a cache of beautiful, valuable green emeralds. Omar Sharif is the investigator who is hunting the jewels down and anyone who has them. Trying to cross Rififi (co-star Robert Hossein from that film is part of this film's cast) and Topkapi with Charade and a few James Bond films minus any spies, the results are pretty good and hold up well.

The cast is fine, locations great and the highlight a half-hour into the film is an elaborate car chase headed up by the amazing team led by the legendary Remy Julienne, he would work on more than 300 films including
Fantomas, Army Of Shadows, the original Italian Job, the original Day Of The Jackal, S*P*Y*S, The Valachi Papers, The Saint Lies In Wait, King Of Hearts, Elektra One, Matchless, The Violent Four, Stuntman, The Serpent, Truffaut's Day For Night, The Night Caller, Dirty Hands, French Connection II, Dracula & Son, Bobby Deerfield and all five James bond films of the 19890s, including and starting with For Your Eyes Only. That's just a strong sample of the work and it remains some of the best in cinema history and he really gets to show off here. A second fine such sequence happens later.

Verneuil was already an established filmmaker with many hits and successes before this with films like Any Number Can Play, Guns For San Sebastian, The 25th Hour, The Sicilian Clan and Weekend At Dunkirk with Belmondo before this, then went on to helm more smart, interesting films like The Night Callers, The Serpent and Body Of My Enemy. Belmondo was in more of them. Hope they all get released or released in upgrades soon for the few that were already remastered. Dyan Cannon also stars.

There are sadly no extras, but its great for the film to finally get some HD respect. Sharif would deal with green emeralds being stolen all over again in another heist in the film Green Ice with Anne Archer and Ryan O'Neal. You can read about that film at this link:


Last but not least is one of the best yakuza films ever made, Kinji Fukasaku's Sympathy For The Underdog (1971, the same year as Burglars) with a group of older gangsters get back together when their decade-jailed leader (Koji Tsuruta) finds out his old turf has been taken over by semi-legitimized rival gangsters, which leads them to go to Okinawa, where power and law are up in the air on criminal issues to get revenge and get back what he thinks he is owed. His crew joins him.

Graphic, violent and frilled with all kinds of dark humor, the pace and energy are still impressive and will remind one of some of Scorsese's gangster genre work, but the film is an entity on its own, leaving many such Japanese New Wave films behind, cut like a French New Wave film and also more than ready and able to compete with big budget, big screen films lie the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice, one of the biggest and best movie production ever made in Japan to this day and a huge international hit only a few years before this went into production.

The chemistry between the actors is very convincing, making you more than believe they've known each other for eons, the screenplay just keeps moving along at a brisk pace that makes sense and Fukasaku is easily one of Japan's most underrated directors. Though a few parts are dated, others are parts we have seen dozens of times by now and you get a subplot or two that are not bad if not spectacular, I just wish the film were a little longer and could keep its pace up. Especially if you like such films, this is highly recommended.

Extras (per the press release) include a Feature Length Audio Commentary by yakuza film expert Nathan Stuart (2024)

  • Interview with Fukasaku biographer Olivier Hadouchi (2024)

  • Visual essay on Okinawa on screen by film historian and author Aaron Gerow (2024)

  • Trailer

  • New and improved English subtitle translation

  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Time Tomorrow

  • and a Limited Edition Booklet featuring new writing by Bastian Meiresonne and an archival review of the film.

Now for playback performance. The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 2.35 X 1, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on American Hustle 4K far outdoes the previous Blu-ray, new Blu-ray and any other video version, looking the best since I saw it in a fresh, new 35mm film print back when it was first released. The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on the Blu-ray is almost the same as the older Blu-ray and looks like the same pressing down to the menus, but this one is slightly clearer, though neither can match the amazing 4K performance.

The 4K edition offers a new Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixdown for older systems) upgrade that gives the sound more separation and clarity, but lacks the warmth of the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on both copies here, so it is only a solid alternative and not an improvement over the original audio. Either way, both choices are nice to have.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on the two versions of Burglars are a little different, with the shorter, English version slightly faded throughput and only looking so good, but the original, longer version has great warmth, color and depth that might remind one of a dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor print. This was shot in real anamorphic Panavision and that helps it look good too. Director of Photography Claude Renoir is not only a veteran of the films of Jean Renoir, but also lensed films like The Spy Who Loved Me, The Game Is Over, Barbarella, The Adventurers, The Madwoman Of Chaillot, Paul and Michelle, The Serpent, French Connection II) uses the very widescreen frame to its fullest extent and the impact is a plus. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix is as good as the film will ever sound in the longer version and it sounds fine, though slightly weaker in the shorter U.S. Version. Ennio Morricone recorded the music score and it sounds good here, though I wonder if he recorded it in stereo too.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Sympathy can show the age of the materials used, with the opening text telling us of the 35mm negative having some damage and fading. The damage is hardly there and they have done a great job of bringing back the color the best they could, but there are still signs of fading throughout and detail can be on the soft side, though that might also be form the older, dated anamorphic lenses used to shoot the film. The PCM 1.0 Mono lossless track sounds good for its age, though I wish it were 2.0 Mono, but it is well restored without any major issues. The combination is also good for a film that was almost lost.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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