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on 3 November 2004
The recent UK 2 disc edition (which isn't listed here yet despite the fact I've seen it in the shops) is an insult to our inteligence by being the dubbed version.
This US version in Japanesse with subs is a far superior edition and I'd urge all fans of the film in the UK to go for this instead.
Theres no region listed on the box and I've tried it in 3 players and it worked in all of them. I'm therefore pretty certain that this is an ALL REGION disc.
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on 2 October 2009
This import Studio Canal is no better than an upscaled DVD. Detail is lost, or non-existent. I had hopes for this transfer since Criterion lost the rights to remaster and this appears, no, shows, that the DVD master was transfered directly to Bluray.

Don't waste your money if you have the DVD. Criterion is one of the few who values quality. Hopefully, Criterion will have rights to remaster this great work properly. The film's opening credits are fuzzy yet the English subtitles are sharp. I believe Studio Canal used the original DVD master and only upgraded the subtitles for this release. I suspected that this would be the situation when I haven't seen any feedback about this release. I will think twice before I pre-order again.

Criterion's excellent release of "In The Realm of the Senses" makes this Studio Canal transfer look worse than Gladiator. I truly regret paying so much for an import that isn't a true highdef product. This total disregard for quality is what makes the average person think that paying extra for high def when this is the result is foolish, and they are correct when this is an example of what is being released.

Avoid at all costs and hope for a Criterion release.

My setup:
47" 1080P LCD
Panasonic BD30 and Momitsu Bluray
Oppo 983H DVD
Onkyo 605 HDMI HD Receiver
Definitive Technology Speakers and Subwoofer's
Sitting 6.5 feet away from the screen.
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on 16 August 2007
"Ran" is the first film I've watched by Akira Kurosawa. Now I'm a huge fan of his work thanks to my Amazonian friends who had already seen it. When a legend like Kurosawa, does a King Lear adaptation at the tender age of 75, one would expect a small-scale film concentrating on the human elements of the story. That he produced an epic of such proportions makes a further evaluation of the great man's contribution to cinema necessary.

"Ran" is set in medieval Japan and follows the basic King Lear narrative closely. Lord Hidetora is an aging warlord and, wanting a peaceful retirement, decides to divide his kingdom up amongst his three sons. After banishing the youngest, Saburo, for pouring scorn on the idea, Hidetora finds himself an unwanted obstacle to the older two. After repeated humiliations, pride forces Hidetora into vain wanderings on the open plain, his state of mind declining as rapidly as his entourage.

The film sets itself the unenviable task of trying to explain the precarious position man holds within the universe. Man is seen to be elevating himself to such a level that he dreams of challenging the very laws of nature. Hidetora has achieved his status through deception, callousness and violence; his notion to wash away the blood he has spilt in happy retirement is scornfully thrown back by the elements. The speed and manner in which he is forced to lie in the bed he has made for himself should serve as a warning to all.

The films large set pieces, particularly two quite stunning battle sequences, are staged magnificently, but 'Ran' is no empty epic. The characters and their motivations are fully explored and the tension built up by the dialogue fully compliments the action. With an ending which offers no redemption 'Ran' paints a bleak picture - the colors and brushstrokes it employs however, turn it into a dazzling masterpiece. The battle scenes are some of the best I have seen. One point - the second main battle reminds me of 'Zulu' with the soldiers lined up on the skyline shouting down. The makeup used on Hidetora to mimick the Noh theatre makes this film that much more dramatic.

Don't expect to be uplifted with a standard samurai flick. This is one of the most historic beautiful films I've ever seen. Before you watch this try placing this on big screen with good color registration and good sound because Kurosawa uses as much of the screen as he can.
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on 2 June 2007
Akira Kurasawa is a monolithic figure in world cinema and this film is in my view his very best work. The story, as is well known, is simply a reworking of Shakespeare's King Lear. The Great Lord decides to abdicate and divide his empire between his three sons, one of whom says this is madness as greed will destroy the family and is promptly exiled. Kurasawa brilliantly captures the melodrama at the centre of Shakespeare's play and lays it on thick. There is no subtly to the acting or the plot, as this is not faithful to the material, but the spirit is well realised.

It is the quite simply breathtaking cinematography that really makes this stand out. From shots of mounted samurai on the green and otherworldly slopes of mount Fuji to the beautiful castle interiors Kurasawa paints a wonderful picture. The colours are vibrant and the shot composition is extremely clever. I am personally most impressed by the first lavish battle scene which conveys the horror of war and its brutality so vividly with blood running from the castle walls and storms of arrows. This however, is no simple battle as you would find in a hollywood film. Eerie music plays over the top and troops are portrayed running backwards and forwards in such a way as to give the impression of the noise and activity of the battle without actually showing it.

Ran is also a wonderful advert for the extreme folly of war. King Lear is quite bleak, but Kurasawa's imagining of this element is heart wrenching. The way that the film reaches its conclusion and each character is killed off is deeply moving, and perhaps the final shot of the one character who survives is the worst of all.

If you are looking for a clever innovative plot then this is not the sort of film to look out for. However if you wish to see a master film maker at the very peak of his powers, with full mastery of his actors, his shots and his colour palette then check out Ran. It is a must see film as a vision of how cinema can be at its very best. Suffer thorough the subtitles if you don't normally like them and enjoy a true work of genius.
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on 23 October 2009
Like other reviewers I was disappointed with this Blu-ray. It's never a good sign when you immediately think to check the Blu-ray against the DVD version because you can barely tell the difference. I also suspect some poor digital effects have been added throughout, as some of the details and edges look a bit off in the wider shots. The packaging is nice but doesn't make up for the average picture and audio quality (plus it has the same problem as the Deer Hunter Blu-ray in that it lacks a clasp or closing mechanism). I agree with another reviewer that this kind of release certainly makes you think twice about pre-ordering old remasters on Blu-ray. Still it's a good film and this probably is the best version of it at present. A missed opportunity though, I feel. (Edit: Just compared the Blu-ray to the 2004 Warner/Studio Canal 2-disc DVD upscaled to 1080p. The Blu-ray is only marginally better. There are less compression artefacts around the actors and in land and sky areas, plus slightly more finer detail is visible, e.g. eyes of characters in wider shots. I didn't notice much difference in colour richness however and overall the minimal difference remains disappointing.)
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on 28 September 2009
I already owned studiocanal's dvd of Ran - French import. There is zero difference in picture quality between the dvd and blu-ray. Frankly, the blu-ray is a disgrace. What are studiocanal thinking? Ran is probably one of the finest looking films of all time - regardless of how you rate it in Kurosawa's pantheon. Most people who invest in blu-ray do so because they want to see a film as it was intended to be seen - at its highest standard. To rehash a dvd and sell it as a blu-ray is basically ripping off your customers. But studios keep doing this... e.g. Sexy Beast (even in the wrong format...), Gladiator, first blu release of the Fifth element, etc, etc. We are being robbed blind. Unfortunately, this spells disaster for the future of blu-ray. I know many blu-ray owners who are fed up with being screwed. Sony needs to set an exacting standard by which all releases must be beholden. otherwise, people will just give up and stop buying blu discs.
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on 1 October 2009
Bought it today and will return it tomorrow to the shop. Unworthy to release this on blu-ray. Video is only slightly better than the dvd-release and audio still sounds hollow in the ballescenes ( no remastering here as should be done or not done at all).
Don't by this and wait for a proper quality.
0Comment| 16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I saw this when it was released and have wanted to own it ever since. This is Kurosawa's great late masterpiece, a summing up of the themes in his entire oeuvre - war, power, self destruction, history - in an unforgettable retelling of Lear, but with deep references to Japanese culture. I watched this with my son (12), both in a state of utter fascination at the panorama of life and death in this long film. (He was full of questions!) It was an utter delight.

***spoiler alert*** I assume the reader knows the story already.

The story takes place in the 16C or so, a time of upheaval and disorder worldwide. An old war lord has spent his life ruthlessly crushing enemies nearby, stopping at nothing in his striving to dominate. Perhaps as a result of his deteriorating mind, perhaps out of guilt at the terrible things he has done, he makes a catastrophically stupid decision - to divide the power of his armies between his sons in order to retire. Only one son opposes this course of action, which his father finds violently offensive. The son is banished, along with a faithful aide.

Almost immediately, the two remaining sons begin to flex their muscles, first by humiliating their father - denying him access to their castles with his reduced entourage - and then by besieging him. This is one of the most horribly graphic war scenes I have ever seen, hiding nothing of the blood and meaningless deaths. The father begins to lose his mind, paralyzed in despair and appearing like a popular demon with his ashen face. Once his forces are annihilated and his concubines have committed suicide, he stumbles out of the burning palace. Having been rejoined by the faithful servant and the eunuch court jester, the only refuge he finds is in a filthy shack that houses a boy he blinded years before. This is just one of the past crimes that revisits the war lord, who sees the irony through his psychotic despair.

As soon as the sons are rid of him, they turn on eachother. Here, there is a scheming wife, whose family we learn was murdered by war lord soon after his son married her for the purposes of alliance. She is a Shakespearean character, waiting years for revenge and then executing it at exactly the right time to perfection. She sows destruction on an unimaginable scale. As the war lord his last son, the faithful one, the tragedy is complete.

This is one of the best films I have ever seen, by far the most intense war film. Its psychology is also realistic, with the self-destructive decision of a father full of guilt. Recommended with the greatest enthusiasm.
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on 10 May 2008
I just want to praise the outstanding quality of this Optimum Releasing DVD. There is a comparison on dvdbeaver - this version has better sound and comparable picture quality (or even slightly superior) to the Criterion version!!! Also, Chris Marker's film "A.K.", an excellent feature length documentary about the making of Ran, is included on a second disc (71mins, 1.66:1). OK, the Criterion version has extra bonus material, but this version seems better to me as I'm most interested in the video/audio quality of the main film. Usually low price releases like this have terrible quality (i.e. the Fox Kagemusha - avoid at all costs...), but Optimum Releasing have done an amazing job doing justice to this Kurosawa masterpiece.
I first saw Ran about 12 years ago, it completely redefined my perceptions of what is possible with the medium of film. It is a spectacular, powerful, moving drama with real depth. Kurosawa explores themes of mortality and spirituality with a mature, understated sophistication; He manages to inspire philosophical contemplation while avoiding any pretentiousness. I consider this to be the best film I have ever seen, and I'm glad to finally have a great quality DVD.
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on 2 April 2007
One of Kurosawa's best films. Absolutely brilliant, it left me visibly moved. If you do not know the plot to King Lear, I suggest you don't read up on it before you watch Ran, that way the plot will surprise you and have more of an emotional impact. If you do know the plot, the film is very much based on this except set in Feudal Japan with three lords instead of three ladies!

While watching this film, I could see where Shogun Total War got its inspiration. An epic in all senses. I particuarly enjoyed Mieko Harada's performance as Lady Kaede.
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