• Path Of Blood



    Released by: Synapse Films
    Released on: March 13th, 2018.
    Director: Eric Power
    Cast: Kenji Kiuchi, Yoshi Okai, Shinya Wakao
    Year: 2013
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    The Movie:

    Clearly inspired by films like Seven Samurai, the Zatoichi series and the Lone Wolf And Cub films, Eric Power’s 2013 animated feature Path Of Blood takes place in the feudal Japan of 1614. With no war currently being waged, scores of displaced samurai roam the country as Ronin – samurai that serve no specific master or warlord – looking for work.

    One such Ronin learns of a path outside a small village that leads into the mountains. Local legend has if that those who are strong enough to make it to the end of the path will be rewarded with all they could want in life – but there’s a catch: no one who has been brave enough to walk the path to its end has ever returned to the village alive. When our hero decides to give it a shot – after all, he’s really got nothing to lose – he finds the journey ripe with danger. Before you know it, he’ll come face to face with rival swordsmen, ninjas and more. Thankfully, he’s really good with a sword!

    Animated ‘South Park style’ by Eric Power using ‘frame-by-frame in traditional paper stop motion’ animation, Path Of Blood certainly doesn’t look like your typical samurai film and honestly, it takes a little while to get used to the animation style. Once you do, however, it’s easy to appreciate just how much work Power, who basically did all of this himself, put into this project. There’s a lot of artistic talent on display here, not just in the animation but also in the character design, the background details and even the framing. Power ‘shot’ the movie in scope so it has an appropriately epic widescreen feel to it, and despite the fact that his film is populated with paper people instead of actual flesh and blood actors, he manages to take advantage of the widescreen framing.

    The film is impressively colorful as well. The different types of paper used to create the characters and the backgrounds add interesting textures to the movie, while the slower flow of the animation makes the frequent scenes of surprisingly strong violence all the power impressive (this is not a movie for small children – it is at times very gory, just like some of the films that it takes such blatant inspiration from).

    All of the dialogue is spoken in Japanese – which helps the movie keep some authenticity in its tone. The voice work complements the visuals quite well, the voice of the lead samurai is appropriately gruff and tough while the English subtitles translate everything nicely for those of us who don’t speak or understand the Japanese language. It’s all played fairly straight. It does go over the top quite often and in doing so delivers some intentionally funny moments, but Power’s heart is on his sleeve here and this turns out to be a weirdly enjoyable and effective love letter to the samurai films of the past.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Path Of Blood looks nice on this AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer, framed at 2.35.1 on a 50GB disc. Colors are bright and bold and very nicely defined and detail seems to be as strong as the source material will allow for, meaning that you can really notice the difference in the types of paper that were used to create the animation in the film. There are no problems with compression artifacts to note and the image is pristine.

    The only audio option for the feature is Japanese language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track. Forced subtitles are included in English only. No issues with the audio here to note. The track is clean, clear and properly balanced and it’s free of any hiss or distortion. The music used in the film is particularly cool and it sounds quite good here.

    The main extra on the disc is an eleven-minute Making-Of featurette in which Power plays host to a quick look at what went into making this project a reality. It’s interesting in that he was essentially a one man show in terms of art, editing, direction and what not – he put a lot of work into this!

    Outside of that, the disc also includes the four-minute short film version of Path Of Blood, the film’s original trailer, a video game trailer, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Fans of samurai cinema should appreciate Path Of Blood, as it’s clearly a love letter to the many films that inspired it. The animation style takes a little bit of time to get used to, but once you do this proves to be an entertaining and artistically unique piece of work. Synapse’s Blu-ray looks and sounds very nice and has a few decent extras as well.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!