The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Well Go USA - 2013
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 107 minutes
Genre: Action/Martial Arts
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): Mandarin/English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
Starring: Xu Fan, Adam Cheng, Ekin /cheng, Yu Bo, Vic Chou, Raymond Lam, Wu Chun, Fu Xin Bo, Bryan Leung
Directed by: Ronny Yu
Music by: Kenji Kawai
Written by: Edmong Wong, Scarlett Liu, Ronny Yu
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: December 10, 2013
Northeast China, early Northern Song dynasty, AD 986. The Khitan army takes its revenge for a past massacre, abducting General Yang Ye (Adam Cheng) and leaving his wife and seven sons to rescue him - and fall into their deadly trap. Led by the first son (Ekin Cheng), the seven - two of whom have never seen combat - set out with a small band of fighters to face an army of thousands, brave the treacherous Wolf Mountain, face the nemesis of their shared history, and find the way back alive - all to bring their father home.
Based on the ancient Chinese folklore of the seven brothers who fought against all odds to rescue their legendary warrior father, Saving General Yang is an epic tale about the renowned Song Dynasty’s military defense headed by the clan of Yang against a nomadic Northern nation. Head of the Yang clan is the charismatic old general, Yang Ye, who is also the father of seven sons. The seven young men, each a master of their own kung fu discipline, band together, led by the eldest son, to save their father from enemy forces.
Saving General Yang turned out to be a different film than I was expecting. While its foundation rests upon the action/martial arts genre the story has a familial center that speaks to the relationships between fathers/sons and the bonds of brotherhood. In this case we see seven sons from loving parents in a societal structure where honor, respect and loyalty are held in the highest regard. The threat of an invading army calls for action requiring the emperor to assign a commander to lead their military response. However forbidden love between clans plus the impulsive actions of his headstrong young son place General Yang the most seasoned warrior in the empire under the command of his arch rival. A position he must accept knowing full well that going into battle may very well leave him vulnerable not only to the vengeance seeking General of the invading masses but the blind retribution of his own commander.
This sets the stage for a daring rescue where seven sons ride out against insurmountable odds in order to keep a promise to their mother that they will find and return their father. The storyline leads with a fair setup of the characters and a bit of up front action and introduces elements of drama surrounding the Yang family dynamic. From there it jumps into a series of action set pieces commingled with the convergence of thematic context associated with consequences, fate, and sacrifice as seven sons struggle to keep their promise. Saving General Yang isn’t an original film but I liked the combination of its visceral action and story about the devotion of family. I found it interesting that the sons don’t have names but designations, beginning with eldest son, then second son through seventh son. This initially made them less distinctive but as the story unfolds their characteristics made them easily identifiable and aptly apropos within the narrative framework.
I found myself involved in the film and caring about the characters and wondering how it would all end. The ending is quite good and brings the film to a gratifying conclusion which left me feeling as though Saving General Yang was a worthwhile way to spend an hour and a half.
The film contains martial arts action/violence and thematic content.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Saving General Yang comes to Blu-ray from Well Go USA featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 24 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has average and constant bitrate 3.7 Mbps.
This high definition presentation has a filmic quality and an intentionally stylized visual design that utilizes a limited color scheme that works aesthetically well for the films subject matter/time period. The color range is limited to shades of steely blue, gray and black with splashes of crimson. Warm accents are used here and there to break up the film’s monochromatic essence. Fleshtones hold up well against the de-saturated chroma and don’t appear unnatural. Uneven light and shading are prevalent. Contrast is spot on which empowers whites and grays without washing away detail. Whites are punchy and grays are multi-staged and deep. The use of CGI and green screens softens some elements during wide angle pans but I never found it to be distracting. I found the quality of the video to be high. It’s cleanly rendered with plenty of subtle refinement and delineation that enhance depth and reveal fine detail in objects, clothing, and physical features. Shadow delineation is excellent revealing plenty of detail in low level shots and darkened backgrounds. I didn’t detect any other obvious signs of video related anomalies or artifacts and thought that this presentation looked solid.
The high resolution DTS-HD MA audio delivers the soundtrack’s elements with aplomb. The higher fidelity inherent in this lossless sound mix is readily apparent. I utilized the Mandarin DTS-HD MA track during my evaluation rather than the dubbed English version. Dynamics range is extended which renders the film’s action based sequences with definitive impact and energy. Dialogue is presented with clear intonation, full bodied texture, and excellent room penetration. The sounds of physical contact, swirling objects and clashing swords are reproduced with sparkling clarity. Imaging is spot on as sounds are integrated smoothly via an active surround mix that utilizes the entire system. During the fight sequences the listening position becomes immersed in a mixture of spatial and localizable sound effects that place you within the heart of the action. Low frequency detail is clean, well articulated and authoritative as all points of contact seem to resonate with palpable bass impact. This isn’t a bombastic or overtly aggressive soundtrack but its blend of intricate detail and room filling dynamics make for an engaging home theater experience.
- (HD) Making of Saving General Yang – 9 minutes
- (HD) Cast/Director Interviews – 94 minutes
- (HD) Trailer
Based on the ancient Chinese folklore of the seven brothers who fought against all odds to rescue their legendary warrior father, Saving General Yang doesn’t break new conceptual ground however its blend of action and underscoring familial drama make for a relatively rewarding film that might just surprise you. It comes to Blu-ray from Well Go USA featuring sparkling high definition video and excellent DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound mated with a bland supplemental offering. Saving General Yang is well worth a look for genre fans and makes for a solid rental when you’re up for a little martial arts entertainment.
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