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Dragon Blade (Blu-ray Review)

Dragon-BladeFeaturing an all-star cast led by Jackie Chan (Rush Hour), John Cusack (Love & Mercy), and Academy Award® winner Adrien Brody (Best Actor, The Pianist, 2002), the worldwide box office phenomenon Dragon Blade will be available on Digital HD December 15 and Blu-ray (plus Digital HD) and DVD (plus Digital) December 22. The epic action-adventure is now available On Demand. From the director of Black Mask, this “visually stunning” (Asian Film Strike) film follows one man’s quest to stop the Roman army and bring peace to his homeland.  The Dragon Blade home entertainment release includes a behind-the-scenes featurette, extended interviews with the cast and crew, and music videos featuring Jackie Chan.

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Film 

When corrupt Roman leader Tiberius arrives with a giant army to claim the Silk Road, Huo An and his group of trained warriors teams up with an elite legion of defected Roman soldiers, led by General Lucius, to maintain the delicate balance of power in the region. To protect his country and his new friends, Huo An gathers the warriors of thirty-six ethnic nations together to fight Tiberius in an incredible, epic battle.

Not saying I had high hopes or anything for this one, but an ancient Japanese set period piece battle movie with Jackie Chan, John Cusack and Adrien Brody kinda interested me.  Granted, none of these three are usually starring in big or good movies as of late, so that tempered my expectations that were really just set at “curious”.  Unfortunately the film really doesn’t deliver too much, which is likely what people were probably expecting in the first place.

The film isn’t horrible, its just wildly mediocre and uninteresting.  Its carrying a basic and just uninteresting storyline to carry the film.  Not helping matters is the editing.  Within the first five minutes of the film, you sort of feel like this is gonna be kinda cheap and shitty.  The vibe just comes off with some of that sloppy editing and crummy slow-motion effects in play.  Which is a bummer, because the performers are pretty solid here and some of the battle scenes are actually impressive to a degree.

While the film’s competency may be just that of average, its on the mediocre side and not that fun to watch.  The Chan/Cusack/Brody luster and the pretty costuming wears off shortly.  There are some highlights abound, but ultimately its nothing worth the full recommendation of sitting through this movie to see.  This is a film that seemed to have enough on the table to be at least decent, but wound up somewhere just below that.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail:  The image here on Dragon Blade is pretty impressive.  Its plenty sharp and crystal clear, with details appearing very impressive.  The only problem with such a good picture, is that it accents some of the poor CGI work in the film.  Overall though, this is a top of the line image.

Depth:  There are some impressive moments of 3 dimensional looks in the film that come across quite well even in 2D.  Movements are smooth and waiver between natural and cinematic.  No blurring seen.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep with little amounts of detail masked by it.  No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are rich and feature a bronzier palette.  Reds, golds and the like feel boldened and full.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent.  Facial details like stubble, scuffs, make-up and the like shine through from most distances.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): Mandarin/English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics:  Dragon Blade delivers a fine 5.1 mix that sounds delicious through your sound system.  Effects and foley are really well rounded, with every little nick knack of an effect being audible.  Helping further, is a healthy balance between the vocals, effects and the film’s score.

Low Frequency Extension:  Battles rage on and get full on support from the subwoofer.  The LFE is a big MVP on this audio track, putting in overtime.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Rear speakers mainly promote ambiance, but there are some moments where its allowed its own contributions.  Fronts speakers really recreate the battles and follow the action to a T, which placement sounds traveling back and forth.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Crisp, clean and at an ideal volume.

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Extras 

Dragon Blade comes with an UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film.

Behind The Scenes Of Dragon Blade (HD, 21:28) – A standard EPK look behind the scenes of the films with the typical generic interviews and behind the scenes footage.

“Song of Peace” Music Video (HD, 3:14)

“Tell The Wind To Bring My Father Home” (HD, 4:10)

Extended Interviews With Cast & Crew (56:13)

Trailer (HD, 2:02)

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Summary 

I wanted to Dragon Blade to be at least B-level entertainment…and here and there it does satisfy, but overall is a mediocre experience with three performers I enjoy.  This Blu-ray has a top notch audio and video presentation, complimented by over an hour of decent extras (mainly the interviews) to dig into if you’re a fan.  This would be rental or stream to see if you like it then buy it for a good sale price kinda deal.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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