Shadow (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Shadow 4K UHD Blu-rayWith Shadow, director Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of Flying Daggers) once again pushes the boundaries of wuxia action to create a film like no other, masterfully painting a canvas of inky blacks and greys punctuated with bursts of color from the blood of the defeated. In a kingdom ruled by a young and unpredictable king, the military commander has a secret weapon: a shadow , a look-alike who can fool both his enemies and the King himself. Now he must use this weapon in an intricate plan that will lead his people to victory in a war that the King does not want.

Shadow 4K UHD Blu-ray



Shadow is Zhang Yimou’s (House of Flying Daggers, Hero) latest film in which a young and impetuous king seeks to rule with an iron hand. His military commander knows of a double, or a “shadow,” that bears a striking resemblance to the king and his enemies. With this knowledge at hand, the military commander will try to usurp the king and lead the people of the kingdom to victory and freedom once and for all.

Shadow always looked like it would be an awesome flick from the promotional trailers alone. You could see that the film was heavily muted and then you people with razor tipped umbrellas sliding down raining hillsides shredding everything in their paths. The finished product did indeed have those things but only in spurts. Shadow, for all intents and purposes, is not a “blood and guts” type of film. It is so much more.

There are several tragic characters that have their own backstories. You have the conflicted general who is considered the best military tactician in the kingdom almost openly defying his King, but because the King is so young and wild, he gives the commander a pass. He admires someone that speaks their mind. The irony of that is if it were anyone else, they would be dead right where they stand. You also have several secondary characters who may not seem to amount to much but play pivotal roles in the final outcome.

Now, to the fights, and there are a couple of amazing fights in the film, but they are not the main focus. In fact, the way the story structure is set up, Shadow feels like a Greek tragedy or even a Shakespearean one. This comparison may turn off some viewers, because they may think the material is “slow” and “boring.” That could not be further from the truth. I think what keeps the focus on what is going on is the sumptuous visuals. Each frame looks like a living/breathing painting. The few instances of violence that do light up the screen are just icing on the cake.

Zhang Yimou’s Shadow is Well Go USA’s first foray into the 4K UHD disc market. Continue reading to see if it is something that you might possibly consider adding to your collection. As a film, it’s pretty epic, and I am bummed out that I missed it in 2019, because if I had seen it then, it would have definitely been in my Top-10 of the year. Shadow is highly recommended!


Shadow 4K UHD Blu-ray



Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 2160p

Dolby Vision: No

HDR: Yes (HDR10)

WCG: Yes

Size: BD-66

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Clarity/Detail: Contrast and sharpness levels are fantastic – I did not detect any artificial boosting or tweaking. There no scenes that take place in sunlight — it’s always raining and overcast, making every frame look like an almost monochromatic painting of sorts.

Depth: Seeing as the film has a limited color palette, it is an extremely stylish looking one, and the 4K UHD fires on all cylinders on this release. There are vistas and exterior shots that will blow you way with how rich and immersive they come through the 4K depth of field.

Black Levels: If you want to test out your black levels on your 4K display then this is the disc for you. Black levels are deep and inky, with crush nowhere to be found.

Color Reproduction: What little color there is, mainly in blood and skin tone, come through exceptionally well.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones are healthy and flush.

Noise/Artifacts: There were no pesky artifacts or noise to speak of. There was a nice grain structure, as well.


Shadow 4K UHD Blu-ray



Audio Format(s): Mandarin Dolby Atmos, Mandarin Dolby TrueHD 7.1, English Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps)

Subtitles: English SDH, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional)

Dynamics: I was really excited to experience Shadow in Dolby Atmos and this fantastic audio presentation really showcases what the format is all about.

Height: The height channels were working double shifts. It never stops raining, which makes it seem like your home theater is going to get washed away in a deluge.  There are also a couple of scenes where action is juxtaposed with a couple “dueling” with some stringed instruments. When the strings are plucked or strummed and the sounds trail off – it felt that they went overhead – it was phenomenal.

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE subwoofer channel handled the crunch of spears and the rumble of structure collapses quite nicely. During the fights, there are times where slow motion is used, and the LFE kicks in to accentuate the motions in the fights.

Surround Sound Presentation: The surround sound channels compliment the rest of the sound field. There were times where folks start talking and the voice travels from the rear, which flows to the front speakers.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue levels are clean, clear, and crisp.

Shadow 4K UHD Blu-ray



There are no extras on the 4K UHD disc. A Blu-ray is included with the 4K UHD disc that has a short making-of featurette.


Shadow 4K UHD Blu-ray



Shadow is an exquisite film — showcasing some mad drama without being melodramatic about what we’re watching. It is a slow burn film, with bursts of action, so folks should keep that mind. The 4K UHD disc is demo-worthy for showcasing video and the gorgeous Dolby Atmos sound field. There are no supplemental materials on the 4K disc, which is a bummer, but don’t let that deter you from experiencing Shadow in 4K. Well GO USA has hit it out of the ballpark with their 4K UHD Blu-ray debut!


DISCLAIMER: This 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray review was judged and graded using the following 4K certified Ultra HD Premium television set found HERE , 4K UHD Blu-ray player HERE, and Dolby Atmos 7.2 AVR HERE.  Make sure to check out all our 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray reviews archived HERE.  The images used above within the review are not actual 4K screenshots. They are for illustrative purposes only.  


Shadow casts a spell

on 4K UHD Blu-ray!




Shadow 4K UHD Blu-ray


Shadow 4K UHD Blu-ray


Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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