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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Japanese Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Excerpts from a video interview with director Shohei Imamura, produced by the Directors Guild of Japan
  • Theatrical trailer and teaser

Vengeance is Mine


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Shohei Imamura
Starring: Ken Ogata, Rentaro Mikuni, Chocho Miyako, Mitsuko Baisho, Mayumi Ogawa, Nijiko Kiyokawa
1979 | 140 Minutes | Licensor: Shochiku

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $29.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #384
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: May 15, 2007
Review Date: September 2, 2014

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SYNOPSIS

A thief, murderer, and charming lady-killer, Iwao Enokizu (Ken Ogata) is on the run from the police. Director Shohei Imamura turns this fact-based story, of the seventy-eight-day killing spree of a remorseless man from a devoutly Catholic family, into a cold, perverse, and at times diabolically funny tale of the primitive coexisting with the modern. More than just a true-crime case, Vengeance Is Mine bares mankind's snarling id.

Forum members rate this film 8.1/10

 

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PICTURE

One of their early Laserdisc releases, Shohei Imamura’s Vengeance is Mine receives a late-in-the game DVD edition from Criterion, who present the film in the aspect ratio of 1.66:1 on a dual-layer disc. The image has been enhanced for widescreen televisions.

Criterion’s transfer differs a lot from the UK Masters of Cinema DVD release in terms of aspect ratio and colours: the UK disc has a ratio of 1.85:1 (the Criterion actually presents more information on the top and bottom) and the colours lean more on the green side of things whereas the Criterion’s has a more natural looking colours scheme (though I still think the film retains a fairly gritty look despite it.) As to which presentation is “more correct” I can’t say but in all honesty I’ve never had much of an issue with Criterion’s look and still find it suiting to the film. In this regard it will more than likely come down to personal preference.

Getting past all of that it delivers a sharp looking image with a nice amount of detail. Edges are clean and noise isn’t that much of an issue, though there is still the usual amount of compression expected from a DVD transfer. The print has been cleaned up quite nicely and only a few minor blemishes remain, most of which will probably go by unnoticed. Colours, as mentioned before, are more natural here but they’re beautifully rendered and black levels are strong, though can crush out parts of the image in darker scenes. In the end it’s a sharp looking presentation.

9/10

All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The disc’s Japanese Dolby Digital 1.0 mono track is about as good as one can expect. Age limits it and there’s a generally flat tone to it all, but the music sounds good, if a little edgy at times, and dialogue sounds clear and distinct.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

This is where the release disappoints: despite the Masters of Cinema disc having a number of supplements (including a commentary and intro by Alex Cox) Criterion basically puts nothing on here. The only substantial supplement is a 10-minute interview with director Shohei Imamura about the film, taken from a longer session recorded in 1999. In it the director talks about the adaptation of the novel, the actual crime, and more. He also offers nothing but praise for his actors, who made this experience far more pleasing in comparison to his previous film, Profound Desires of the Gods. According to him that film was a horrible, horrible experience because of who he worked with while making that film. Enjoyable enough but short, and it would have been nice to include more material.

The supplements then close with the film’s theatrical trailer and its teaser trailer.

The release comes with a fairly packed booklet at least. It’s bookended by two pieces by Imamura himself, the opener being a press not about the film by the director, and then the closer a reflection by Imamura on his style of filmmaking (which he calls “workmanlike”). Michael Atkinson provides a nice essay on the film and its themes followed by a reprint of a 1994 interview with the director, where he goes over his career as whole, touching on a number of his films including Vengeance is Mine and a nice little section on A Man Vanishes, as well as his work with the studios in Japan (I’ll take a second here to plug the Masters of Cinema DVD for A Man Vanishes, which is an all-region NTSC release.) The back cover of the booklet also features a map recounting Iwao Enokizu’s run from authorities across Japan. The supplements may feel slight but the booklet ends up adding quite a bit of value to this release.

So the supplements are a big letdown, especially since this was a title I was long hoping for from Criterion, but the interview with Imamura is at least a decent one and the booklet makes for a great read.

4/10

CLOSING

Though almost a barebones release, Criterion does provide an excellent booklet and the film gets a very strong standard-definition transfer. Wish there was more but the presentation is at least strong.


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