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154 of 161 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zulu - at last, the finest release in almost 40 years
At last, Paramount Home Entertainment has produced the finest release in almost 40 years of Zulu -- one of the greatest historical action movies ever made, and one of the great war movies. Zulu is based on what historian Michael Glover terms "the most highly decorated battle in British history", the defence of Rorke's Drift during the Zulu War of 1879. Eleven of the...
Published on 26 Nov. 2002 by Grant A Thompson

38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Censored edition
Is "Zulu" my favourite film? It could well be. Five stars for the original film then, without question. Does the Blu-ray look good? Yes, although the colours are unnaturally vivid now, a bit like the post-"conservation" Sistine Chapel ceiling. Whether you like your redcoats positively glowing is a matter of taste (I'd prefer the picture toned down a little bit), but...
Published on 4 Sept. 2012 by Andrew Cousins

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154 of 161 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zulu - at last, the finest release in almost 40 years, 26 Nov. 2002
This review is from: Zulu [1964] [DVD] (DVD)
At last, Paramount Home Entertainment has produced the finest release in almost 40 years of Zulu -- one of the greatest historical action movies ever made, and one of the great war movies. Zulu is based on what historian Michael Glover terms "the most highly decorated battle in British history", the defence of Rorke's Drift during the Zulu War of 1879. Eleven of the defenders received Britain's highest award for military valour, the Victoria Cross. The movie is a landmark in the art of cinema for its extraordinary combination of location, cross-cultural engagement, a real story, good script and fine cast. This 1964 film never looks tired, despite my many years of rerunning it in 16mm, the Criterion laserdisc, the stop-gap Front Row Entertainment Inc. DVD, and now the excellent Paramount DVD. Anecdotally, military colleges have used Zulu to show the power of directed massed musketry, and leadership and teamwork in combat.

Zulu is the greatest achievement of the career of British (Welsh) actor Stanley Baker, who co-produced with US-born, formerly blacklisted director Cy Endfield. Nothing else in the war movie genre really measures up, including Endfield's so-called "prequel", Zulu Dawn, or other epics based on British colonial wars, such as Khartoum. It was filmed on location in the grandeur of Natal, South Africa, with descendants of the Zulu warriors who took part in the original action portraying their forebears. The prominent Zulu politician and traditional chief, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, plays the Zulu leader, his distant relative Cetewayo. Mass Zulu participation in the project guaranteed the uplifting dignity and authenticity of cross-cultural characterisations of the film. Early magnificent scenes with masses of Zulu extras show the Zulu royal kraal, with a mass wedding of warriors in progress as news arrives of the annihilation of a strong British force at Isandhlwana. These unique scenes probably never could be filmed again because of social and cultural change. The nearest conceptual comparison in the war genre that comes to mind is the cross-cultural aspect of Tora! Tora! Tora!

Stanley Baker believed so strongly in Zulu that he sank much of his own money into it. Playing a British Army engineer officer thrust by events into leading a desperate defensive action following the disaster of Isandhlwana, he heads a strong cast, including a young Michael Caine somewhat incongruously cast as an aristocratic infantry officer. There are wonderful cameo roles by Jack Hawkins as an alcoholic missionary; Nigel Green as the imperturbable Colour Sergeant Bourne, always ready with a calming order or a bayonet; James Booth as Private Hook, portrayed as a malingerer who is perhaps the least likely Victoria Cross winner; Patrick Magee as Surgeon-Major Reynolds, continuing up to his elbows in surgery even as Zulus try to break in. The narration by Richard Burton is very fine, and in character with the Welsh origin of the British soldiers. Welsh and Zulu singing on the cinematic battlefield is spine-tingling.

In the Paramount Home Entertainment Zone 2 release this film at last has received the digital restoration and DVD transfer that it deserves. DVD image and sound quality are equal to current state of the art for a classic film restoration.

The Paramount DVD includes a wonderful two-part "The Making Of Zulu" documentary. It features extraordinary insights and reminiscences by Stanley Baker's widow, Ellen Baker, actor James Booth ("Private Hook"), second unit director Robert Porter, actor Glynn Edwards ("Corporal Allen"), and actor/stuntman Joe Powell ("Sergeant Windridge"). This DVD is THE video release for which I have waited almost 40 years. No true cinema fan or war movie buff should be without this DVD.

Michael Glover's book, "Rorke's Drift" (Wordsworth Editions 1997) is recommended reading for anyone with a detailed interest in the historical background as compared to the movie drama.

Update in September 2011: The Paramount Blu-ray release of Zulu is magnificent in every respect. Colour is vibrant; detail sharper than any previous video release; sound excellent. Extra features and interviews, including extended commentary by second unit director Robert Porter, round off a Blu-ray disc that every enthusiast for this great film will want to own.
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230 of 241 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is this the best Hi Def transfer yet?, 3 Nov. 2008
D. I. Shipley "David Shipley" (KENT United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
In March of this year, Paramount Pictures and Sky got together to restore two British films for a Hi Def release. Those films were "Zulu" and "The Italian Job".
The former was originally shown following its restoration on Sky's Hi Def TV channels and has now made it to Blu-ray. Originally this was to have been an HD DVD release back in June but like so many others with that format's abrupt termination, "Zulu" is now belatedly out on Blu-ray.
"Zulu" is one of my favourite films of all time. It is one of the very best war films to ever come out of the UK, indeed, some maintain it to be the greatest of all.
It tells of the heroic stand by just over 100 British troops at an isolated mission station called Rorke's Drift in 1879 South Africa, following the annihilation of a British Army at Iswandlana by the Zulu Nation.This army of 4000 strong Zulu warriors then headed to Rorke's Drift to dish out a similar fate to the small British force stationed there....
What follows is a sustained battle, the ferocity of which will linger long in the viewer's memory. "Zulu" boasts an all star cast headed by Stanley Baker, Jack Hawkins, and in his first film role - Michael Caine.
The subject matter could have been a minefield to film but "Zulu" just shrugs this off and portrays the Zulus with awe and respect, depicting them as almost a force of nature against whom the British Army look small and almost frail....
The film boasts a thunderous score courtesy of John Barry and although this is not in 5.1, the stereo mix is still very good, indeed, and does what it is supposed to do with aplomb.

However, the picture itself is most definitely the star on show here. The restoration to Hi Def is nothing short of astounding and I can only assume that a 70mm print was used. From the old Paramount logo at the beginning of the film itself, the viewer is treated to a visual spectacle that simply could have been made yesterday. This is akin to and even possibly better than seeing a pristine 70mm print of this film in a cinema. Light and colour are gorgeous and the clarity is unbelievable.
Flies land on the face of Jack Hawkins' preacher as he tries to persuade Stanley Baker's commander to release his wounded men. The stunning Natal scenery is simply three dimensional and you can see every blade of grass and rock on the mountainsides. The uniforms almost glow with detail and are incredible to see. The huge marriage dance at the beginning of the film in King Cetawayo's Kraal is simply unbelievable though, restored to a detail so clear that it simply leaves you wondering how they got it to look that good.
My only gripe with the disc is that they did not provide a 5.1 soundtrack. That said the remixed stereo soundtrack is more than adequate and does the job.
Visually though this film takes Hi Def to a new plateau. It is simply unbelievable that this was made in 1962, again it has the look and clarity of a film made yesterday. It's Hi Def picture exceeds that of even the highly acclaimed "Black Narcissus", in fact I cannot think of any film on either BD or HD DVD that can rival "Zulu" in Hi Def.
Films like "2001" and "Bladerunner" are great Hi Def transfers but "Zulu" simply betters them.
Is this the best Hi Def transfer to date? I seriously am beginning to think that it is. Treat yourself to this incredible Hi Def experience and pick up a copy of this disc without delay.
Believe me, the end result will exceed your expectations, it is that good.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A rouser from the days of the British Empire, 12 Sept. 2007
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Zulu [1964] [DVD] (DVD)
In 1879, 20,000 Zulu warriors wiped out to a man nearly 2,000 British regulars and auxiliaries at Isandhlwana in what was then Zululand. Immediately afterwards, 4,000 of the warriors set out for Rorke's Drift, a small British outpost manned by 100 soldiers. The soldiers were led by Lt. John Chard, a civil engineer trying to build a bridge, and Lt. Gonville Bromhead, an inexperienced product of the upperclass. Chard had seniority and neither had ever been in a battle before. This is the setup for Zulu, which tells the story of the battle for Rorke's Drift, where more won the Victoria Cross than in any single action before or since.

The movie's a rouser. The fighting scenes are extended and brutal, but the tactics of both the attackers and the defenders are kept clear. The Zulus used charges of massed warriors in sweeping flanking attacks, combined with rifle fire from the surrounding heights using guns captured at Isandhlwana. The British used firm discipline, a high rate of massed firepower, plus strategic retreats. Although only 500 Zulus were used, the producers were able to believeably create the impression of 4,000 before the days of CGO. Baker, who produced the movie, is decisive, practical and firm. Michael Caine, in his breakthrough role, starts out as an upperclass twit and becomes a brave and quick thinking officer. He looks great as a blond. The movie treats the Zulus with a great deal of respect. There's little of the condescension that you often find in movies with brave soldiers and natives who attack. The movie also is a bit long, with the scenes involving Jack Hawkins as a preacher who becomes unhinged being, in my view, extraneous.

All in all, this is a movie that's fun to watch more than once. It's aged very well.

For those interested in more background, there's an oustanding history by Donald Brooks called The Washing of the Spears. It goes into readable detail about the British/Zulu conflict and the inevitiable British victory to incorporate Zululand into South Africa. For those who like British regimental names as much as I do, the defenders are from the 24th Regiment of Foot of the South Wales Borderers. As a side note, while Chard and Bromhead both received Victoria Crosses, neither had a successful military career afterwards. Chard was never accepted by his fellow officers because he came from middle class stock and was an engineer by training. Bromhead turned out to be a lightweight without much military talent.
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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest adventure films of all time, 27 Nov. 2007
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Zulu (2 Disc Special Edition) [1964] [DVD] (DVD)
Zulu is one of those films that left an indelible impression of the unique power cinema can have on those of us who saw it on the big screen as children. Intellectually and emotionally other films may have the advantage over it, but as a purely cinematic experience Zulu is unbeatable.

Siege epics were curiously popular in the Sixties - 55 Days at Peking, El Cid, Khartoum, The War Lord, The Alamo among them - but perhaps none have quite such a hold on the public's affections as Zulu, particularly in the UK. It's a celebration of national courage (but not nationalism) with its eyes wide open. The besieged men aren't there to build empires but because it's their job - "Because we're 'ere. There's no-one else," as Nigel Green's memorable Colour-Sergeant puts it to a young soldier.

It's a film with dignity on both sides of the conflict but no self-importance, it manages to extol heroism without glorifying war. It's also one of the few films to show the sheer physical arduousness of prolonged battle - it ends not with triumph and jubilation but with sheer exhaustion.

The narrative construction is deliberate and belongs to the days when films built up to a climax instead of throwing them in every ten minutes to keep the audience awake. John Prebble and Cy Endfield's script is strong, its subtle clash of egos between Stanley Baker and Michael Caine never over-emphasised and surrounded by memorable vignettes among the rank-and-file that gives the film a depth beyond the superbly handled battle scenes - Nigel Green struggling to maintain his composure as he takes the final depleted roll call, drunken missionary Jack Hawkins' truly irritating Bible-bashing unnerving a young private, Neil McCarthy's concern for a sick calf taking precedence over the ongoing battle.

Co-producer Baker was never to get (or give himself) so good an opportunity in a mainstream movie again, and nor were Endfield and Prebble (the three had previously collaborated on the terrific 1957 thriller Hell Drivers). Mention in despatches to Green, making the most of the part of a lifetime as the steady Colour Sergeant, and Gert Van Den Bergh as a Boer fighting alongside the Welsh too among a splendid cast from the days when you could still fill a regiment with memorable British character actors.

John Barry's epic score perfectly sums up the heroism and bloody turmoil without lapsing into jingoistic cliches, while Stephen Dade's superlative photography benefits from a good widescreen transfer (that said, the first appearance of the Zulus loses some of its impact even on a large widescreen TV).

Definitely one to add to your collection, but there's not enough in the way of new special features on this new 2-disc edition to give it a whole-hearted recommendation for upgrading from the single-disc version if you already have it (the best of them is the featurette on John Barry's score, but it's quite short). For first-time buyers, though, it's definitely a must.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Reference Edition......, 17 Nov. 2007
This review is from: Zulu (2 Disc Special Edition) [1964] [DVD] (DVD)
'Zulu' has been released on dvd in various countries with varying transfer quality:some have been widescreen letterboxed,others anamorphic widescreen.All have had considerable flaws in the transfer.This release fixes all the problems and gives fans of this magnificent film the chance to own the reference version.This anamorphic widescreen release has excellent colour rendition,detail,contrast without encoding flaws.The best there is,the best there ever will be........
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zulu--A Great Blu-ray Experience!, 30 Mar. 2009
If you have not seen Zulu for a while, or if you have just bought a blu-ray player and want to see just how much better a blu-ray movie is than a regular dvd, you should pick up the new release of Zulu on blu-ray. The movie never looked better, as the African landscapes where Zulu was filmed now appear crystal clear and the colors are simply ravishing! It is such a feast for the eyes--and ears as the sound is quite good too--that you almost forget how exciting and fast-paced a movie Zulu is. I am no electronics expert, so I cannot speak as to the technology behind why this release of Zulu is so much better than many much more modern movies that are also on blu-ray. Somehow the studio must have preserved a pristine copy of the movie and spent a great deal of care restoring any defects that may have existed before putting it into the blu-ray format, but in any event it is all worth it. Great performances by a first-rate cast, the exciting recreation of a true 19th century battle, and lavish photography of Africa! You will not regret this purchase! You might just throw away your old dvd player!
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46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Films of all Time!!, 2 Nov. 2002
Deborah MacGillivray "Author," (US & UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Zulu [1964] [DVD] (DVD)
Based on a true story in British History in South Africa, this is absolutely one of the best films of all times. The late Sir Stanley Baker (whose superb performances are mostly lost to past few generations), same with the late Jack Hawkins (Ben Hur), James Booth and Nigel Green, it was the film that introduced Michael Caine to the world, showing what a natural actor he was from the start. (Caine, who originally tried out for the role of Hookie but lost to Booth, was almost fired from the film because the American backer, Joseph E. Levine, did not think Caine knew 'what to do with his hands'!! Caine was imitating Prince Albert!!). Fortunately, Baker ignored him.
Produced by Baker and Cy Enfield (of the Hollywood Blacklist fame) and written by the great historian John Prebble (Lion of the North - he also did the screenplay for Mysterious Island, another of Enfield's productions), the main focus of the film tells the story of a small pocket of British soldiers at Rorke's Drift on the edge of ZuluLand in 1879. These soldiers were left there for two purposes: some were sick with fever so were in hospital, the posting commanded by Gonville Bromhead (Caine), and the rest to build a bridge across the Buffalo River commanded by royal engineer, John Chard.
Just 10 miles down the road a force of over 4000 thousand British Solders camped on the hill of Islandlhwana were slaughtered by 10,000 Zulus. The worst defeat in British history of a modern army facing a native force. Over 4400 Zulu arrived too late for the attack, so they turned their attention to Rorke's drift and the little band of 100 men left there to defend it.
Baker and Caine (though not close in real life) worked magnificently together, giving powerhouse performances, with a great supporting cast of relative unknowns. The filming of South Africa is breathtaking, the enormity of what the soldier faced having 100 to 4400 odds, and how they held out until the main force of Chelmsford's army arrived, is an epic, but also a personal story of two men who stood resolute in the face of terror with a stiff upperlip and did what had to be done.
Moving Scoring by John Barry (Bond films, Raise the Titanic), with a foreword from Sir Richard Burton (a friend of Baker's both being Welsh).
In 1979, a prequel was filmed Zulu Dawn, nearly rising to this level, starring Burt Lancaster, Simon Ward and Nigel Davenport, that tells the story of the the massive defeat at Islandlhwana. It is a shame they are not presented as a set.
Interesting note, at the start of the film showing King Chetewayo of the Zulus at Ulundi, Chetewayo is played by the real Zulu Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who is involved in South African Politics today.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zulu Is Understood By Men Only, 17 Mar. 2010
John L. Fields (Stillwater , Oklahoma) - See all my reviews
Zulu is a movie I have always owned since way back in the day. I have been waiting patiently for this movie to come out on Blue-Ray but alas, I had been waiting in vain. I searched Amazon as I have found several hard-to-find movies in the past at this site, but only sellers who had obviously bought this movie on AmazonUK were reselling. The exchange rate was more than favorable on AmazonUk. It is in an open format (no region code) and the transfer from DVD to BlueRay is amazing! I was very excited and rushed to tell my wife that I had finally found this movie on BlueRay! She was not as enthusiastic as I. She said she was sick of this movie playing all the time around the house. Is there any movie out there that shows real men (on both sides) locked in mortal combat better than this movie? I think not. Devotion to duty. Devotion to your comrades. Bravery to go around. Great acting. Fairly historically accurate. I am extremely satisfied with this purchase.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 9 Feb. 2010
John Colville "John" (Chicago) - See all my reviews
The film of course, is amazing,, and no point in reviewing that, as many people have already commented about the movie itself. So this is just about the blu-ray.

Well the Blu-Ray is just jaw-dropping. The sound is only 2.0 Channel Stereo, but the picture quality is nothing short of sensational. You could literally be there, it is so clear.

If you want a Blu-Ray to enjoy, then this is it. If you want a Blu-Ray to show off to your friends, then this is it. The Ratio is 2.25:1 instead of 1:85, which is the same as it looked in the Cinema in the '60's.

This is the best blu-ray I have ever seen, for picture quality. I would say it is a perfect blu-ray and loads better than even the Special Edition regular DVD print. The colours are crisp and clear, especially the red uniforms. You can literally see every speck of fabric with no 'bleed' whatsover. This transfer shows what can be done with Blu-Ray transfers of 'older' movies.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best action films ever made, 13 Jun. 2009
DAVE HORN "Dave Horn" (Ellington Village, Northumberland, GB) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Zulu (2 Disc Special Edition) [1964] [DVD] (DVD)
This has to rate as one of the best battle epics ever. As everyone probably knows, the basic story is one of the battle of Rorke's Drift on 22-23/1/1879 where 140 British soldiers and officers plus 14 natives defended the outpost against some 4000 Zulu warriors.

The film belies that fact that even at the time in the early 1960s it was low-budget (cut down to under $2 million from an original budget of $2.6 million).

The cinematography and locations are beautiful, as is the colour, in typical early 60s style with the British red uniforms and white pith helmets and webbing absolutely glowing.

A plethora of contemporary actors all give sterling performances, including Jack Hawkins, Stanley Baker, James Booth, Nigel Green, Patrick Magee and a young Michael Caine (who the film company wanted sacked and replaced with Terry Stamp), whilst Richard Burton reads the dispatches.

Made with between only 240 and 500 (depending who you believe) Zulu extras and saving money by having the internal shots filmed in the studio in London (hence no expenses to send some of the actors out to Africa) and the soundtrack with an orchestra in a masonic hall on Bayswater Road, it's amazing that the film ever got made at all, never mind that it was so good. It was also shot in the daytime using artistic license, as in fact most of the real action took place at night.

Apparently the African Government wouldn't let the Zulus be paid the going rate so Baker (star and co-producer) gave them 40 head of cattle (the ones seen in the film presumably) and the buildings, which were very well made and turned into a school and hospital.

I do have some criticisms. Firstly, it's a crime that the stereo soundtrack was not given a 5.1 remix and secondly the package is somewhat light on the extras front. So it's 5* for film and picture, 3* for sound and extras.
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Zulu (2 Disc Special Edition) [1964] [DVD]
Zulu (2 Disc Special Edition) [1964] [DVD] by Cy Endfield (DVD - 2007)
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