Awakening Level (Duncan Wong – Yogic Arts)
Sound: B- Extras: C+ Main Program: B
Though we are far from a site that is about health and
nutrition, we have covered many Yoga and Exercise titles with varied
results. Some have been better than
others, but none have been a catastrophe.
However, there seemed to always be more room for improvement and figured
that one of these days, a DVD would come along that exceeded genre and broke
new ground in the field. Duncan Wong’s Awakening
Level, produced and directed by James Wvinner, is that disc.
Wong is exceptionally literate, articulate and able-bodied
as he beings by explaining how he has pursued physical arts all his life. What he calls Yogic Arts is a great
combination of Yoga, Martial Arts and Massage that is most impressive and
effective. The program is about an hour
long, chapterized and in two parts: Awareness Level Workout and Enlightening
Level Workout. With fine music by
Shaman’s Dream, Rara Avis and Craig Kohland, the overall result is the most
effective in the field we have seen to date.
If I were asked which title to recommend, this would be the hands down
Director Of Photography Sion Michel, A.C.S., brings the
Exercise/Yoga cycle to a higher level with this release. He was a camera operator on both Michael
Mann’s mostly HD-shot Collateral and Rob Marshall’s Memoirs Of A
Geisha, both with DP Dion Beebe.
The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is the best we have seen for
an exercise program to date, shot in both 16mm film and digital High
Definition, then played back in black and white. Since there is not monochrome HD, it was color-drained HD, but
the 16mm might be color. It is hard to
tell, because it could also be commercial Kodak B/W stocks like on Steven
Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, but detail is not bad and depth is decent,
embarrassing many a black and white transfer we have seen for TV and feature
films on DVD. We have lower
expectations for Music Video transfe4rs because they do not get the respect
they often deserve.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has pleasant Pro Logic
surrounds with and without the instructions that accompany the exceptionally
well-chosen music. The combination is
enough to inspire the laziest and most complacent person to become
interested. Extras include four
additional segments on how to improve movement with a Gung Fu demonstration,
Downward Scorpion adjustment and further explanations of Mudras and Bandha. All in all, this is a remarkable release and
could be the beginning of a phenomenal new series of DVDs in the field that
gives that whole special interest area a new boost it badly needs.
- Nicholas Sheffo