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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • Russian Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • Russian PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 3 Discs
FEATURES

Revenge

Dual-Format Edition
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Ermek Shinarbaev
1989 | 99 Minutes | Licensor: World Cinema Project

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $124.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #876
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: May 30, 2017
Review Date: May 29, 2017

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SYNOPSIS

Early in the twentieth century, a child is raised in Korea with a single purpose: to avenge the death of his fatherís first child. This is the crux of Revenge, a decades-spanning tale of obsession and violence, and the third collaboration between director Ermek Shinarbaev and writer Anatoli Kim. As much about Eastern philosophy and poetry as it is about everyday acts of evil, this haunting allegory was the first Soviet film to look at the Korean diaspora in Kazakhstan and Central Asia, and a founding work of the Kazakh New Wave. Rigorous and psychologically complex, Revenge weaves together luminous color imagery and inventive narrative elements in its unforgettable meditation on the way trauma can be passed down through generations.


PICTURE

Years after releasing their initial World Cinema Project box set (featuring a number of overlooked films from around the world recently restored by Martin Scorseseís Film Foundation) the Criterion Collection finally brings us their second volume featuring another six films. The third film in the set is Ermak Shinarbaevís Revenge, presented here in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Opting to release the set only in a dual-format edition (there are no separate DVD or Blu-ray only editions), Revenge shares the same dual-layer Blu-ray with Limte but receives its own dual-layer DVD. The Blu-ray presents the film in 1080p/24hz while the DVD presents a standard-definition version utilizing the same master.

Revenge was restored in 2K resolution and scanned from the original 35mm negative and a positive print. The restoration is impressive and the film could pass for a newer one thanks to the lack of much of anything in the way of source flaws. The digital presentation is also very strong, handling the filmís look incredibly well. The lighting in the film can be very intense at moments, causing a glow around objects and almost obliterating details in the process, but never quite reaching that. Colours look fairly good, though the overall look leans on the warmer side of things, everything having a slight yellow hue to it. The yellow hue doesnít seem to throw off anything else, though, and the black levels are pretty strong, making the details in some of the filmís darker scenes easier to see.

The image remains sharp and detailed throughout, and grain is rendered very well, even when it gets a bit heavier. Again, Iím not too sure on the condition of the materials before the restoration (as Iíve mentioned before I think restoration demonstrations would be nice additions) but whatever the case the final presentation here is impressive and it is one of the better looking ones in the set.

8/10

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AUDIO

The Russian soundtrack is delivered in lossless PCM 1.0 mono. Range and fidelity are both limited but the track has been cleaned up pretty thoroughly and I didnít detect any severe problems like pops or drops, and background noise is minimal. Dialogue and music are both clear.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

The set presents six films, each film coming with an introduction and then another video supplement. This review will focus specifically on the features included with Revenge.

We yet again get another introduction featuring Martin Scorsese going over the film and its restoration for a couple of minutes, which is followed by a new interview with the filmís director, Ermak Shinarbaev. In the essay about the film found in the box setís included booklet, Kent Jones mentions that when Shinarbaev talks about his work itís usually in relation to his work with writer Anatoli Kim and that proves to be the case here. Shinarbaev starts by talking about how he first started collaborating with the author (convincing the writer to work with him proved to be difficult) and then he goes over the films he made with the Kim. He also talks about the difficulties in making a film that takes place a little bit in Korea, especially from a historical perspective, as he had no information available to him in Kazakhstan about Korea, so everything in the film revolving around Korea he completely made up. The 19-minute interview proves to be a really valuable inclusion, especially when he gets into historical details about the Korean population in Russia and the Soviet Union.

Though these World Cinema sets are great the one disappointing aspect is that each film in the set usually only gets one substantial extra but the interview for this one proves to be especially priceless.

3/10

CLOSING

Revenge offers one of the best presentations in the set while also offering a great interview with the filmís director.


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