• Samurai Marathon (Well Go USA) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Well Go USA
    Released on: July 21st, 2020.
    Director: Bernard Rose
    Cast: Danny Huston, Takeru Satoh, Nana Komatsu, Mirai Moriyama
    Year: 2019
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    Samurai Marathon – Movie Review:

    Bernard Rose’s 2019 picture, Samurai Marathon (based on the novel by Akihiro Dobashi), is set in the Japan of the 1850’s. It’s here that Commodore Matthew Perry (Danny Huston) and his fleet arrives, surprising the Japanese natives who had, until this point in time, been a fairly reclusive society. Lord Itakura Katsuakira (Hiroki Hasegawa) is not really okay at all with the American’s arrival, fearing that this will set into place the advent of a new, modernized Japan. In order to prevent this from happening, Itakura deices to turn his army of samurai warriors into an army of… distance runners. In fact, he sets up a lengthy sixty kilometer race, the winner of which will be rewarded quite handsomely.

    One of Itakura’s men, Jinnai Karasawa (Takeru Satoh), is secretly spying for the Shogun. When Itakura announces the race, Jinnai confuses his lord’s direction and reports back to the Shogun that Itakura is, in fact, preparing for war – which understandably does not sit well with the Shogun. The powers that be decide the best course of action is to put together a small group of assassins to head to Itakura’s turf and take care of business. Jinnai soon realizes the error of his ways and tries to set things right, all while many of the local samurai class prepare to compete in the competition, alongside Itakura’s own daughter, Princess Yuki (Nana Komatsu), a tough young woman who seems to care very little for what her father wants from her in life, who has joined the race against her father’s will.

    Directed by Bernard Rose, the same man who helmed Candyman and Immortal Beloved, this one throws a whole lot of subplots into the mix right off the bat and then takes a bit of time to really do anything with them, but once it does and the race is on, this proves to be quite an entertaining picture. There are effective doses of humor scattered throughout the picture and the movie is, if nothing else, consistently entertaining even if sometimes the humor works and sometimes it doesn’t. This isn’t really a comedy at all, however, it’s definitely more of a historical drama, based on real events and real people, though it’s hard to say how accurate this movie is to the events that inspired the novel that inspired the film.

    Performances are decent, and generally even better than that. Huston, as Perry, is okay in his role. Hiroki Hasegawa is better, bringing a nice level of realistic authority to his part that goes a long way to making it work. Takeru Satoh is pretty good as the lynch pin in all of the trouble that happens, while Nana Komatsu more than holds her own as the female troublemaker of the bunch.

    The film is beautifully shot by Takuro Ishizaka (who also recently shot Enter The Fat Dragon with Donnie Yen) and it really does look fantastic. There are a lot of impressive wide angle shots employed throughout the picture that make excellent use of color. Samurai Marathon also benefits immensely from a beautiful score by Philip Glass that does a great job of highlighting the action and the drama inherent in the events that transpire on the screen. Production values, overall, are generally very strong here. There’s no attention paid to period detail. The sets and costumes look great, the is a visually impressive film from start to finish.

    Samurai Marathon – Blu-ray Review:

    Well Go USA brings Samurai Marathon to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer up a little over 21GBs of space on the 25GB disc framed at 2.35.1 widescreen and it looks excellent. As this was shot digitally, there’s no print damage to note. Detail is very strong throughout and the colors are reproduced beautifully throughout. There are no noticeable compression issues to gripe about, and there’s good depth and dimensionality evident in pretty much every frame. No complaints here at all, the transfer is very strong.

    The Japanese language 16-bit DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is rock solid. Optional subtitles are provided in English only and an optional Japanese language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track is also included. Again, the disc scores high marks. The lossless track has excellent surround channel usage and remains properly balanced and crystal clear throughout. The score has good presence and swells up in the mix at all the right moments, while the dialogue remains properly balanced throughout. No problems to report here at all.

    Extras are limited to a trailer for the feature, trailers for a few other Well Go USA properties, menus and chapter selection.

    Samurai Marathon – The Final Word Review:

    Samurai Marathon is more of a historical drama than the action film you might expect but it’s very well-made and beautifully shot. Performances are strong and while the pacing is erratic the film is definitely worth seeing if you’ve got an interest in the genre. Well Go USA’s Blu-ray is light on extra but it looks and sounds very good.

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