• The Legend Of The Demon Cat (Well Go USA) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Well Go USA
    Released on: October 22nd, 2019.
    Director: Kaige Chen
    Cast: Huang Xuan, Sometani Shota, Yuqi Zhang, Hao Qin, Hiroshi Abe
    Year: 2017
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    The Legend Of The Demon Cat – Movie Review:

    Kaige Chen’s 2017 film The Legend Of The Demon Cat, based on a novel by Baku Yumemakura, is set in China’s Tang Dynasty where we meet a poet and writer named Bai Letian (Huang Xuan) who resides in the city of Chang’an. Emperor Dezong is in charge, but not for long as after going a full week without sleep, he passes away – some believing him to have been possessed. Bai is tasked with heading the investigation into the Emperor’s unusual death and, seemingly by chance, he winds up teaming with a Japanese monk named Kukai (Shota Sometani) to solve the mystery.

    The mystery, as it stands, is strange one – Kukai seems to believe that a demonic cat is actually what killed the Emperor. He’s seen the cat skulking about the palace and realizes very quickly that there’s more to this feline than initially meets the eye. As they go about their investigation, they learn the story of Yang Guifei, the concubine of Emperor Xuanzong (Zhang Luyi) years ago and who died under tragic and unusual circumstances. All of this, they learn, ties into their case.

    While The Legend Of The Demon Cat does have some pacing issues and a few too many subplots for its own good, it is nevertheless a worthwhile picture for fans of Chinese fantasy pictures or quirky murder mysteries. The CGI effects used to bring the titular cat to life don’t always work so well (the cat, sadly, always looks digital rather than a living, breathing animal) but otherwise the effects work employed here is excellent. The use of color as well as both the set and costume design employed here is spectacular and by any standard, this is an absolutely gorgeous looking film. The score from Klaus Badelt and Misha Segal complements the visuals very well.

    The story itself is intriguing. Yeah, fine, it does go in a few too many directions in the second half and you could have trimmed fifteen-to-twenty minutes of the picture and helped with the pacing but there’s enough here in terms of narrative structure and character development to engage the audience even during the film’s slower moments. Knowing going into the film that there are moments where the picture will indulge in soap opera style melodrama is also probably a good thing, but it makes up for this with some intriguing action, suspense and mystery.

    Shota Sometani and Haung Xuan make for good leads. They’re a likeable enough duo that we want to see how their story plays out. Although they do at times feel a little more modern than their surroundings, they do fine work in their respective roles, building rapport along the way and crafting interesting characters from the script.

    The Legend Of The Demon Cat – Blu-ray Review:

    The AVC encoded 2.40.1 widescreen 1080p high definition picture on this 25GB disc is excellent. Detail is strong, colors are reproduced beautifully – it’s pretty much indisputable that, despite the questionable quality of the CGI cat, this is an absolutely gorgeous looking movie on a visual level – and Well Go’s transfer exhibits very strong detail and texture. There are no issues at all with dirt, debris or visual detriments of any kind – which makes sense as this was shot digitally - and the disc is well authored, showing no noise reduction or heavy edge enhancement. Outside of some slight shimmer here and there, the movie looks really good on this disc.

    The main audio option on the disc is a Chinese language track provided in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio with removable subtitles available in English only. The lossless track here is a good one, and there’s just as much surround activity in the action set pieces as you could hope for. The score is spread around perfectly with some nice pans thrown in for dramatic effect. Bass response is consistently tight and strong but it never buries anything else in the mix. All in all, this is a nice, well directed mix that does a fine job with the movie. A Chinese Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track is also included as are English dubbed tracks in both DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo but unless you’ve got an aversion to subtitles watch the movie in its original language, it plays much better that way.

    Extras are slim, limited to English and Chinese language trailers for the feature, menus and chapter selection. Bonus trailers for a few other Well Go USA properties play before the main menu screen load.

    The Legend Of The Demon Cat – The Final Word:

    The Legend Of The Demon Cat has enough going on with its interesting characters and sumptuous visuals that we can overlook a couple of missteps as, overall, this is a pretty engaging and fairly unique fantasy picture that definitely entertains. Well Go USA’s Blu-ray is light on extras but it looks and sounds very good. Recommended.

    Click on the images below for full sized The Legend Of The Demon Cat Blu-ray screen caps!