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Memories Of The Sword (Blu-ray Review)

memories of the sword coverI was intrigued to see a new film from the director of Children of Heaven, starring The Good, The Bad, The Weird’s Lee Byung-hun. Memories of the Sword is a historical drama that balances epic drama with thrilling swordplay and martial arts. The film is every bit as lavish as you would expect and the Blu-ray’s technical presentation certainly supports that. However, being another film that takes on the dreamlike atmosphere of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon can only take you so far if the story is not that engaging.

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Film:

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Memories of the Sword focuses on three swordsmen who led a revolt to overthrow the empire in ancient Korea, only to see deceit and betrayal come between them. Years later, various grudges come into play as a plot for revenge is put into motion.

That is about as simple as I can put it, which is saying something, as Memories of the Sword is packed with backstory. This is also something of an issue, as the film takes a disjointed approach to telling its story, which is a welcome approach, yet it curiously lacks enough to consistently engage.

Curiously, the film begins in a fairly light-hearted manner. We meet Hong-ee (Kim Go-eun), who has discovered the ability to leap great heights in a way similar to those seen in movies like Hero and others. This leads to what we think may be a fun adventure tale, but quickly switches gears as we learn more and more about her family’s backstory and more.

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Director Park Heung-shik does fine as far as the action goes. It is not the most amazing combination of visuals and martial arts you will ever see, but the film makes good use of color, costumes and swords for the most part. Yes, you have well-staged set pieces, but the film suffers from the way it is assembled.

I’m all for learning about characters and gathering information when it comes to justifying actions, but Memories of the Sword does not do the best job at balancing the wire-work with a compelling narrative. It is great to look at, but being a sweeping epic means more than just pretty visuals.

Video:

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Clarity/Detail: Fine cinematography for a film shot digitally in various Korean locations has led to a film that has made a fine transfer over to Blu-ray. Whether at night or day, Memories of the Sword is handled well enough keep us satisfied with the amount of details that can be seen amongst the fields, villages and other settings.

Depth: Characters bounce in and out of frame during big fight sequences, which provide plenty of examples of solid depth.

Black Levels: Black levels are deep enough.

Color Reproduction: There are moments where the image appears slightly soft, but the use of color appearing throughout does help spring this film to life.

Flesh Tones: Facial textures are present with great clarity, working well with the rest of the film.

Noise/Artifacts: Nothing.

 

Audio:

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Audio Format(s): Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: The lossless soundtrack is quite good, as the film balances quieter moments with the big action that takes place. Swords clashing and other audio effects play well throughout.

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel has plenty to work with, given all the action in play.

Surround Sound Presentation: The amount of combat in this film and a pretty solid score allow for a fine use of the various channels. The center channel gets the most play, but the sides have plenty to work with as well.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is consistently clean and clear.

 

Extras:

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Don’t expect anything helpful concerning the making of this film.

Features Include:

  • Trailer (HD, 1:44)
  • Previews

Summary:

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You can be happy to champion the visuals if you seek out Memories of the Sword and get a look at what is seen on the Blu-ray. Other than that, the film has little to offer, outside of decent action. The presentation is good as well, but the lack of any extras does not help make things any better. Check it out if you need to satisfy curiosity.

Order Your Copy Here:

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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