Saving General Yang Blu-ray Review
Directed by Ronny Yu
Written by Edmond Wong and Ronny Yu
2013, Region A, 107 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray released on December 10th, 2013
Ady An as Princess Chai
Adam Cheng as General Yang
Ekin Cheng as Yang’s Eldest Son
At first glance, the title of Saving General Yang appears to be a stylized feudal China take on Saving Private Ryan, but that’s only if you don’t know the history. Instead, this movie is a highly stylized and largely fictionalized version of an old Chinese legendary family of warriors whose story has been largely fictionalized in and of itself. In the end it’s sold as a true story, but take that with a gigantic grain of salt and just enjoy the action, of which there is a glorious amount. As a fictional history, I can’t speak to the veracity, but as a fast paced almost Akira Kurosawa-esque movie, it’s a damn good time.
It certainly is long on style and flare, but it’s backed up by a story of sons paying ultimate tribute to their father to save his life, or bring him home. Ronny Yu, best known in the horror community for Freddy vs Jason, knows fight sequences and doesn’t do the typical genre moves. He is comfortable with pulling back and showing whole set pieces that are very well choreographed and often extremely violent.
The seven brothers, referred to only by their relative rank in the family, face insurmountable odds on their trek home, with the action ramping up accordingly. There is a fantastic trebuchet scene that makes me wonder how in danger the cast was for a lot of it. Yu balances the heart of the film nicely with the action to keep you interested in the brothers’ fate. Ultimately, it’s not a resonant story that will stay with you, but a great ride that is enjoyable for what it is, but not much beyond that.
Video and Audio:
Presented in a nice 16:9 widescreen format, the locales and backdrops are beautiful. As one would expect for such a sweeping story set in an ancient time, there is a fair amount of CGI used in the backgrounds and pulled-back army sequences, but it’s pretty well done and not jarring to the eye. The color scheme is starker than usual for these productions, not employing as much color as I would normally expect in these features, but the starkness fits the tone admirably.
The original movie is presented in Mandarin with English, Spanish and French subtitles available, but also features a English dub. I watched part of the film dubbed and it’s fine. It’s one of the better dubs I’d seen, but not my preferred way to watch a film. Also, the English dub didn’t match to the subtitles, and in some cases, the spoken English choice changes the sentiment the subtitle (presumably a more direct translation) expresses and somewhat alters some minor plot points.
The making-of featurettes and interviews with Yu and the cast are okay, but don’t add much to the overall enjoyment. They seem strictly for film-watching completists who have to watch everything on the disc.
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