Blade (1998/Region 2 Japan DTS DVD Edition)
B+ Sound: A Extras: C Film: B+
NOTE: This title is now on Blu-ray in
earth might possess someone to track down a Japanese edition of Blade and pay 3,900 yen? That’s about $38 in U.S. dollars for just a
single disc DVD edition of the film.
While it might seem minor to some, this is a very sought after DVD in just
about any market due to the fact that it is the ONLY DVD edition in the world
at the time of this review to hear Blade
in DTS. Unless you were fortunate to
hear Blade either in theaters or on
a short lived 12” LaserDisc pressing of the film in DTS, you will certainly
want to track down this disc regardless of the cost. This is the type of thing that makes audiophiles
It would also seem that there are little attempt to
re-issue Blade in DTS in the near
future as well, since New Line has rarely re-released any of their catalog and
upgraded. Perhaps once the new High
Definition formats arrive, but it will take a lot to knock this DVD out of the
water, at least when it comes to the sound.
I can safely say that this DVD will not disappoint and offers something
that very few audio tracks offer, even some of the really great ones out
First, let’s talk a little about the film in general and
then onto the goodies. What
distinguishes a film like Blade from
most of the films similar out there, especially now in the Marvel days, is its
dark nature and the way in which it adheres to the comic character. Despite having two fairly decent sequels,
none of them quite compare to the first film.
One thing that clearly stands out for this film is the way in which it treats the content and does every attempt, mostly
through the ‘look’ of the film to capture the comic book essence. Notice some of the scope framing and cutting
that is done to achieve this. Also the
film stock used gives us both a dark gothic look, but at the same time also
produces some really clean and refined moments with certain colors, namely
The film began the current cycle of Marvel heroes to film
that failed for decades until this film got it right. Wesley Snipes was (pardon the pun) dead-on in
the title role in one of his best commercial films ever. The sequels had their moments, but this film
is the one that stuck closest to the Horror/Vampire concept, with themes of
death, mortality and enough existential dread (including in some of the humor)
to be the minor classic it is.
Cinematographer Theo van de Sande’s camerawork is unique
and fitting for this film, which set it apart from the two sequels. Blade
II was then shot in 1.85 X 1 versus the scope 2.35 X 1 ratio,
while Blade Trinity returned back to the scope ratio, but has a
completely different look and feel to the film.
The anamorphic 2.35 X 1 transfer for this disc looks fantastic and
yields excellent color reproduction and fidelity. The film was somewhat shot with a black and
white look, with a bluish filter in order to give it a dark look, unlike the
sequels that went for a more golden hue.
Blood red looks fantastic and the level of detail shown in his jacket is
awesome. This is far better than the old
transfer, which never captured the image correctly.
I have often compared back and forth an interesting phenomenon
that occurred in 1998 between two films.
Those two films being Blade
and the first Matrix film, and if you compared them back-to-back you will find
some amazing similarities. Think about
it…both films have leather clad heroes, both films have sunglass toting heroes,
both films use techno soundtracks, both films were shot in scope, both films
were released in 1998 and within a short period of time of one another, both
films include a subway action scene. Both
films involve martial arts and similar fighting styles, and from a storyline
perspective both films involve characters that are in a world that is becoming
overrun by another kind (Blade has
vampires, the Matrix has artificial
intelligence). These are just some of
the many similarities between these two films, but Blade in my humble opinion is the better film and also had better
The Japanese edition offers three listening options. The first and most obvious to listen to is
the full bit rate (1509 kbps) DTS audio option followed by an English Dolby
Digital 5.1 mix and a Japanese 2.0 Dolby mix.
The Dolby Digital mix sounds similar to the one offered on the U.S.
Region 1 disc that always seemed to undermine the film. Detail, dimension, depth, character, and the
overall sound design for the film never seemed to be able to penetrate through,
mainly due to Dolby’s lower kilobits-per-second transfer that for whatever
reason keeps the film more compressed and lacks the punch. Low end and high end is dramatically tighter
and fuller in DTS, and gives the film the prominence it deserves. In a rare instance, this is the same full bit
rate DTS from the 12” LaserDisc making it onto a DVD.
From the very opening of the film the DTS will engage you
like very few soundtrack presentations can.
From the low rumbling to the really tight upper range of the sound this
is an amazing crystal clear soundtrack that is constantly engaging and
riveting. In fact, most of the sound
puts you into a hyper-real type of setting versus the normal exaggerated sound
mix that helps distinguish the film from being theatrical in nature, but with
this you truly feel like you are hearing it live. A close listen will reveal a superb amount of
higher-end clarity coming through that is not found in even some of the best DTS
transfers out there. The film itself always had a tremendous sound design that
was mainly driven by some of the groundbreaking technology used at the time in
order to capture some really fascinating sound dimensions. It is because of this that Blade in DTS is one of a kind and worth
owning just to show off how amazing a film can sound.
Chances are you are simply after this DVD for the sound,
so therefore the light extras will hardly matter. If you want extras such as the commentary or
the terrific extras that were issued on the Region 1 disc, than by all means go
right ahead, but if you want a real presentation of the film you will want to
stick with this one. There are a short
amount of extras that include some interviews, but aside from that the disc
remains light in order to keep the full bit rate space needed for the DTS
You will certainly want to be somewhere between a moderate
to die-hard fan in order to want this disc.
Also, you will want to have the capabilities to experience the film in
all it’s glory, but every penny (or Yen) spent on this will well be worth it
when you invite some friends over and their mouths hit the floor during the
first fight scene knowing that they are not able to hear the film that way on
their DVD editions.
- Nate Goss