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Category:    Home > Reviews > Martial Arts Cycle > Comedy > Ultimate Force Of Four: Hero (2002 + DVD)/Iron Monkey/The Legend Of Drunken Master/Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman (2003/Miramax/Disney Blu-rays)

Ultimate Force Of Four: Hero (2002 + DVD)/Iron Monkey/The Legend Of Drunken Master/Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman (2003/Miramax/Disney Blu-rays)

 

Picture: B (Drunken C+/Hero DVD: B-)†††† Sound: B+/B/C+/B- (Hero DVD: B-)†††† Extras: C (Drunken C-)

 

Films:Hero (2002) C+

 

Iron Monkey (1993) C+

 

The Legend Of Drunken Master (1994) C-

 

Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman (2003) C+

 

 

 

Hero is the best of the four films in this set, though it eventually drags on too much for my tastes, but takes itself seriously and Jet Li is terrific as usual; a man I see as the king of the Martial Arts genre since the death of Brandon Lee left him the one with that combination of star power and martial arts skills that are hard to rival.He plays the title character, another noble loner who makes a significant change after he challenges an unjust system.The best of the WiFu (actors do their stunts with wires we supposedly cannot see) cycle in the costumed past, the cast is good and remains one of Liís biggest hits.

 

Iron Monkey is just too silly and too much of a comedy for its own good, as a masked man who is a doctor in normal life takes on a crime syndicate.Fighting is mixed and though it has a following, is for fans only.

 

The Legend Of Drunken Master is the worst of the films here by the ever overrated (and now annoying) Jackie Chan, whose fighting with the director definitely affected the final product.Though he does his own stunts and has some moves, it is amazing how smug and silly he is all the time to the point of being the Roberto Benigni of China.Good luck with this one

 

Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman (2003) is a remake and an attempt to revive the highly successful film series from the 1960s, which we have covered many installments of.You can read more about the originals starting at this link:

 

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/1390/Zatoichi+(Outlaw/Festival+Of+Fire/Mee

 

However, between its lack of energy, awkward humor, mixed results in remaking the material that worked better to begin with and choice not to shoot in a scope frame, this tends to fall flat too often.Takeshi Kitano is not bad in the title role, but it never adds up.The use of digital effects was a bad move and is very dated in only a few years since its original release.Stick with the originals, or see some of them if you have not seen this first.

 

The 1080p digital High Definition image on all four Blu-rays are a big disappointment, with too much grain and not enough definition, depth and detail, especially on Drunken Master, which looks particularly soft in a way that especially makes no sense as it was shot in real anamorphic Panavision 35mm equaling a 2.35 X 1 frame.The 2.35 X 1 anamorphically enhanced DVD image on Hero looks as good, while the Blu-ray is just barley the best-looking of the four.It was shot in lesser Super 35mm.The remaining two films are 1.85 X 1 and could also look better.

 

All four films have their best sound in DTS-HD Master Audio (MA) lossless 48/24 5.1 mixes (though the menu on Drunken Master incorrectly lists Dolby TrueHD 5.1 as its sound option), but Hero is the only one that really impresses, with a fine sound field throughout.†† Drunken Master has the worst sound and was originally a monophonic film, which explains that problem.Monkey sounds good, but is inconsistent, while Zatoichi is flatter despite being a new production and is on par with the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on the DVD of Hero.

 

Extras on each includes an interview segment or two.Hero adds Digital Copy for PC and PC portable devices on a DVD-ROM included n the Blu-ray and not on the DVD version, plus a Soundtrack Spot, Storyboards and two featurettes.Zatoichi also has a single making of featurette.

 

 

-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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