• Hydra (Well Go USA) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Well Go USA
    Released on: July 20th, 2021.
    Director: Kensuke Sonomura
    Cast: Masanori Mimoto, Miu, Tasuku Nagase, Takaya Aoyagi, Takashi Nishina
    Year: 2019
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    Hydra – Movie Review:

    Director and stuntman Kensuke Sonomura’s 2019 film Hydra starts with an assassin murdering a man in a toilet. From there, a one-man cleanup crew arrives and deals with the mess. The body is put in a suitcase which is then put in a van. A man drives it across Tokyo to an apartment, drops it in his bathtub and chops it up into small enough pieces that it literally becomes fish food. This scene runs eleven-minutes and features not a word of dialogue.

    From here things calm down for a lengthy spell we meet Takashi (Masanori Mimoto), a quiet guy who keeps to himself and who works as a chef at a sushi bar named Hydra. Takashi is, of course, actually leading a secret life as a vigilante, part of a group that is out to do away with the many criminals who call Tokyo home, specifically corrupt cops. At work, Takashi clearly has affection for his co-worker Rina (Miu), caring about her enough to teach her in the art of self-defense.

    When Takashi decides he's through with killing people on the side, he's pulled back in for one final job that requires him to rescue a friend of his who has been kidnapped by gangsters. This involves Takashi heading into the underworld and taking on a small army of equally dangerous martial artists

    While Hydra isn’t non-stop action, it does feature a great knife fight in a warehouse and a few pretty brutal martial arts sequences towards the end of its brisk eight-minute running time. Sonomura starts things off with a bloody bang and then makes us wait for things to ramp back up, but he pulls us in with some interesting character development and some strong storytelling techniques. Takashi’s background is mysterious, we realize this early on and we want to know more about him, what makes him tick and what his motivations are. We get some of that as the story plays out and we learn more about his relationship with Rina and why he is so protective of her. It’s important to get this information to the audience before then moving into the action packed final twenty-minutes of the film, as it increases the impact and tension in these scenes significantly. That’s not to say that Hydra doesn’t occasionally deal in clichés, because it does, but at least it does this well and rewards viewers who pay attention.

    As to the action set pieces, they hit hard and they hit fast. Sonomura’s experience as a stuntman shows here, the choreography is very strong and the stunts are believable and impressive. Masanori Mimoto handles himself well here, always a believable everyman type of character but one with an obviously impressive skill set. We never see him as invincible, nor should we, and he brings a welcome sense of realism to the fight scenes.

    Hydra – Blu-ray Review:

    Hydra comes to Blu-ray from Well Go USA framed at 2.35.1 in AVC encoded 1080p high definition taking up 22GBS of space on the 25GB disc. There are no complaints here, really. Some really minor compression artifacts can be spotted in some of the darker scenes but they aren’t distracting. Detail looks quite strong through, there are no issues with dirt or debris of any kind. Skin tones look good and colors are handled nicely. Black levels area strong as well.

    Audio options are provided in Japanese DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo tracks, with subtitles provided in English only. The Japanese lossless track is the way to go here as it offer plenty of surround activity throughout. Bass response is pretty solid as well. No problems with any hiss or distortion to note and the levels are nicely balanced.

    Extras are limited to a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection. Trailers for a few other Well Go USA properties play before the main menus load.

    Hydra – The Final Word:

    Hydra is really good. It’s a nicely paced movie with solid production values, a few nice performances and some great action in its final third. Well Go USA’s Blu-ray is light on extras but it does look and sound really nice. Recommended!

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