Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
My AV System
- Preamp, Processor or Receiver
- Yamaha TRS-7850 Atmos Receiver
- Other Amp
- Peavy IPR 3000 for subs
- Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
- Sony ubx800 4K UHD Player
- Front Speakers
- Cheap Thrills Mains
- Center Channel Speaker
- Cheap Thrills Center
- Surround Speakers
- Volt 10 Surrounds
- Surround Back Speakers
- Volt 10 Reach Surrounds
- Rear Height Speakers
- Volt 6 Overheads
- 2x Marty subs (full size with SI 18's)
- Video Display Device
- JVC RS-46 Projector
- Draper Cineperm M1300 119 inch Static Screen
Yimou Zhang has had a long and illustrious career, with many “solid” films interspersed with films that made him a legend. This is the director that gave us House of Flying Daggers, Curse of the Golden Flower, Jet Li’s Hero, along with the U.S./Chinese collaboration film The Wall with Matt Damon (wasn’t he best film, but Yimou was given solid marks for trying to blend western action with hi flying Chinese period piece action). Shadow has been a film that’s been anticipated for quite a while for home theater enthusiasts, not just because it’s a return to form for Yimou as an epic storyteller, but because it’s the very first time that Well Go USA is releasing a 4K UHD disc. So you can bet your bottom dollar I was stoked to check this one out when the 4K disc showed up at my house this last week.
Ang Lee pretty much revamped the entire Wuxia community with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and the world of high flying martial arts has never been the same since. Many have copied it’s style and visual flair, but none have succeeded at matching the sheer level or artistry that was involved with the film. Yimou Zhang appears to be doing the same thing in terms of style, making something so classic and so well used his own, and the cinematography world may never be the same. Shadow is equal parts artistic costume drama as well as it is a political action thriller, and with the inclusion of the film’s trademark monochromatic look (pretty much black and white at this point) crafts it into something that’s breathtaking to see.
The opening text gives us some backstory to the events that are to take place by informing us that years ago the kingdoms of Pei and Yang fought a war that was decided by a dual between the prized generals from each dynasty. General Yang (Hu Jun) of the Yang dynasty defeated commander Zi Yu (Deng Chao) of the Pei dynasty, and in the process the border city of Jing (the crown jewel of the Pei empire) was absorbed into the Yang’s borders. The Pei commander was seriously wounded in the fight, and a wound was inflicted on him that has never truly healed.
Shadow is a multi layered film, with differing groups of people seemingly working for different ends. Zi Yu and Jing are both working to unseat Yang, while the King is desperately trying to keep the peace, even if that means losing face with his people and the opposition. Zi Yu’s wife (only known as Madam, and played by Sun Li) is having a crisis of faith. She’s not sure whether to follow her husband’s machinations to the end, as she is actually becoming enamored with Jing, who is her “acting” husband during the ordeal. All of this culminates with an epic battle between Pei and Yang, as well as General Yang and Zu Yi (well, actually Jing) as the two kingdoms put to rest their personal grudges, and the battle for supremacy over the city of Jing.
Even though it’s pretty complex with its varying characters and sub plots, Shadow is a surprisingly easy story to follow. The twists and turns are a mixture of predictable and surprising, and while Yimou never truly gets the mind altering “epic” that he’s so obviously trying for, the movie itself is a lot of fun. Yimou foregoes nonstop action for a slow burn political story, but I never once felt like it was too sluggish to watch, nor was it devoid of any real action. The fight scenes are awe inspiring in their intricacy, making fights into near dance sequences, the final 30 minutes is a bloody mess of death, battles and betrayals in true Chinese epic fashion.
Not Rated by the MPAA
4K Video: Video:
• U.S. Trailer
• Well Go USA Trailers
Being that Shadow was their first 4K UHD film ever, Well Go USA did a phenomenal job with the presentation, and the film itself is quite a bit of fun. As much costume drama as period piece political action thriller, Shadow tries to fall along with the classics like Hero and House of Flying Daggers in scope and execution, only falling short JUUUUUST barely of that goal. While Yimous Zhang doesn’t always realize every one of his epic oriented goals, Shadow is a very solid movie in her arsenal of films and makes for a beautiful watch from a technical standpoint as well. The 4K UHD disc is a nice upgrade over the Blu-ray if you have the equipment for 4K, but either one is devoid of most extras besides your typical trailers and a making of set of features. Definitely worth checking out.
Starring: Chao Deng, Li Sun, Qianyuan Wang, Jingchun Wang, Ryan Zheng, Jun Hu, Xiaotong Guan, Lei Wu
Directed by: Yimou Zhang
Written by: Wei Li, Yimou Zhang
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 HEVC
Audio: Mandarin: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1), English DD 5.1
Subtitles: English, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional)
Runtime: 116 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: August 13th, 2019
Recommendation: Fun Watch