Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji

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Ribs
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Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji

#1 Post by Ribs » Fri Jun 08, 2018 12:04 pm

Praised by Japanese film critics and much admired by his contemporaries Akira Kurosawa and Yasujirô Ozu, Tomu Uchida nonetheless remains a little-known in the west. His 1955 masterpiece Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji is an excellent entry point for the newcomer.

Set during the Edo period, Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji is a tragicomic road movie of sorts, following a samurai, his two servants – including spear-carrier Genpachi (Chiezô Kataoka) – and the various people they meet on their journey, including a policeman in pursuit of a thief, a young child and a woman who is to be sold into prostitution.

Winner of a prestigious Blue Ribbon Award for supporting actor – and Kurosawa regular – Daisuke Katô, Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji is a film deserving of much wider international recognition.

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original uncompressed mono audio
Optional newly translated English subtitles
Brand-new audio commentary by Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp, recorded exclusively for this release
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Corey Brickley
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic and filmmaker James Oliver

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UK & US on September 3rd

Orlac
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Re: Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji

#2 Post by Orlac » Fri Jun 08, 2018 12:36 pm

Definetly an instant buy for me!

dda1996a
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Re: Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji

#3 Post by dda1996a » Fri Jun 08, 2018 12:45 pm

What's up with all the Japanese films getting just a commentary and a slim booklet? I'd pick up way more if the releases were a little more elaborated upon...

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Re: Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji

#4 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri Jun 08, 2018 2:45 pm

In terms of "anti-samurai code" samurai films, this is the best (at least after Humanity and Paper Balloons). IMHO, it blows Kobayashi's later films of this sort out of the water. ;-)

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Finch
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Re: Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji

#5 Post by Finch » Fri Jun 08, 2018 3:51 pm

Excellent news! Fingers crossed this sells so well they'll consider more Uchida in the future.

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tenia
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Re: Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji

#6 Post by tenia » Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:47 pm

dda1996a wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 12:45 pm
What's up with all the Japanese films getting just a commentary and a slim booklet? I'd pick up way more if the releases were a little more elaborated upon...
That's unfortunately the level of resources allocated by Arrow for these releases now, and IIRC that's something Marc Walkow himself explicitly regretted. But he also said the Japanese titles just weren't selling, so this probably explains that. It's unfotunate because the lack of lengthier extras combined with the usual state of the available HD masters limit the excitement for these HD releases, at least enough so that these definitely are the kind of stuff I'll wait to buy after a price drop.

dda1996a
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Re: Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji

#7 Post by dda1996a » Sat Jun 09, 2018 4:00 am

Sadly that's the case and as someone who at first was picking up all Japanese releases I've been skipping a lot of them. I picked the Suzukis only because of lack of availability and getting the two sets for cheap (and each set having a few films) but lately I either picked ones for dirt cheap (only paid for shipping after using points for Diamond Guys vol 2) or skipped even those I might like.
Definitely a Catch-22...

Orlac
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Re: Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji

#8 Post by Orlac » Sat Jun 09, 2018 4:39 am

I favour the Japanese releases as a priority, but I think it's unfair of Arrow to complain about low sales of one sub-genre, when they have glutted the market with limited editions of everything.

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J Wilson
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Re: Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji

#9 Post by J Wilson » Sat Jun 09, 2018 11:11 am

tenia wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:47 pm

That's unfortunately the level of resources allocated by Arrow for these releases now, and IIRC that's something Marc Walkow himself explicitly regretted. But he also said the Japanese titles just weren't selling, so this probably explains that. It's unfotunate because the lack of lengthier extras combined with the usual state of the available HD masters limit the excitement for these HD releases, at least enough so that these definitely are the kind of stuff I'll wait to buy after a price drop.
As someone who wants to see more Japanese titles, particularly stuff we might not have gotten in the West before, this is disheartening to hear. Will be picking this title up though.

Apperson
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Re: Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji

#10 Post by Apperson » Mon Aug 27, 2018 2:38 pm

DVDBeaver

Unfortunately the transfer looks quite ropey, but surprisingly along with the audio-commentary there are three extra interviews which aren't listed here or even on Arrow's own website!

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tenia
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Re: Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji

#11 Post by tenia » Mon Aug 27, 2018 2:50 pm

The good news is that these 3 extras are the same that were on the French DVD, so I can get rid of that, the not so good news is that as expected, the transfer indeed doesn't look very good.

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Finch
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Re: Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji

#12 Post by Finch » Tue Aug 28, 2018 4:26 am

Keeping my preorder as Arrow need to be supported for these releases. Might be a good while before a 2k or 4k resto gets done, if ever.

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Re: Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji

#13 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Aug 28, 2018 11:10 am

Even if not as good looking as it should be, I'd rate the film as essential viewing. An English-subbed release has been too long a time coming....

Orlac
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Re: Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji

#14 Post by Orlac » Tue Aug 28, 2018 12:54 pm

Apperson wrote:
Mon Aug 27, 2018 2:38 pm
DVDBeaver

Unfortunately the transfer looks quite ropey, but surprisingly along with the audio-commentary there are three extra interviews which aren't listed here or even on Arrow's own website!
Looks in need of a contrast boost.

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Re: Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji

#15 Post by jdj » Thu Sep 06, 2018 2:29 pm

Just watched this for the first time and thought it was great! The humor was actually funny and the gradual turn to tragedy felt quite natural. Often when a filmmaker is mentioned in the same sentence as Kurosawa and Ozu, it's a bit of an exaggeration. I don't know if I would list this film as being on par with their best, but it sure felt close.

I hope this sells well so Arrow isn't so cautious about putting out great Japanese releases in the future. I'm also hoping that they listed Uchida's entire filmography in the booklet in an attempt to drum up interest in future releases from him.

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Re: Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji

#16 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Sep 06, 2018 4:14 pm

I rank this above similarly-themed works of both Kurosawa and Kobayashi (but maybe just a tiny bit below those of Yamanaka).

One of his most famed works, Policeman, has yet to get even an unsubbed home video release. Another, Rice (made furtively, on a budget of zero yen), is missing some key portions. Kiga kaikyo (Straits of Hunger aka A Fugitive from the Past) prefigures (to some extent) Imamura's Vengeance Is Mine (the murderer in this even plays the murderer's father in Imamura's film). Mori to Mizuumi no Matsuri (The Outsiders) was supposedly inspired by the westerns of Anthony Mann -- and features the Ainu of Hokkaido as the targets of cultural oppression.

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tenia
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Re: Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji

#17 Post by tenia » Fri Sep 07, 2018 4:15 am

Finch wrote:
Tue Aug 28, 2018 4:26 am
Keeping my preorder as Arrow need to be supported for these releases. Might be a good while before a 2k or 4k resto gets done, if ever.
Judging by the booklet details, it actually IS a 2K restoration, and not a decade-old HD master. :shock:
I thus suppose that whatever Toei did got filtered to death, hence the overall smooth textureless PQ. This really is unfortunate, because one could have thought no recent work was done on this movie, but actually it has been, except it hasn't been done properly.

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Re: Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji

#18 Post by jdj » Fri Sep 07, 2018 4:22 am

Jasper Sharp confirms in the commentary that more English-language Uchida releases are forthcoming!

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Re: Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji

#19 Post by longstone » Sat Sep 08, 2018 5:24 am

I really enjoyed this ,the first Uchida I've ever seen and what a treat, so thanks Arrow and I hope there are more to come as hinted at in the commentary.
I know some people have expressed a little disappointment with the transfer but it's way more than good enough to enjoy the film and it’s great just to have it available at all.

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Re: Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji

#20 Post by Slaphappy » Wed Feb 13, 2019 4:56 pm

I haven’t enjoyed a Japanese movie as much as this in a long while. More Uchida please!

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Re: Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji

#21 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:00 pm

Slaphappy wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 4:56 pm
I haven’t enjoyed a Japanese movie as much as this in a long while. More Uchida please!
I find it mystifying that Uchida is so ignored. then again, though an important figure in pre-war cinema, he was out of action for a long time prior to this film. As I recall, Richie and Anderson didn't mention his name even once in their initial book on Japanese movies. (Lots of hostility to genuinely leftist film makers in that volume -- and minimization/hostility of those that were mentioned -- Richie ameliorated this to some extent in later revisions -- but generally film makers ignored or dismissed in that first volume never really regained a foothold in the US, despite positive reactions to films shown here _prior_ to the appearance of the book).

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Re: Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji

#22 Post by Big Ben » Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:29 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:00 pm
I find it mystifying that Uchida is so ignored. then again, though an important figure in pre-war cinema, he was out of action for a long time prior to this film. As I recall, Richie and Anderson didn't mention his name even once in their initial book on Japanese movies. (Lots of hostility to genuinely leftist film makers in that volume -- and minimization/hostility of those that were mentioned -- Richie ameliorated this to some extent in later revisions -- but generally film makers ignored or dismissed in that first volume never really regained a foothold in the US, despite positive reactions to films shown here _prior_ to the appearance of the book).
When you say criticism of genuinely leftist you're referring to the gamut right? My experience with genuinely left wing Japanese productions has come from the Kobayashi's, Oshima's and Imamura's but I've never gotten the impression there was outright hostility towards the productions in the West from people like Richie. Perhaps that's because I only encountered his work in the late 00's for the first time because I'm so young? I'm certainly aware of the hostility back in Japan (Oshima had at least one attempt made on his life.) but I wasn't aware of the damage Richie had possibly done through print and word of mouth.

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Re: Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji

#23 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:51 pm

I would say that Kobayashi was moderate (upper class) left -- with a sense of noblesse oblige (sort of like Kurosawa, only not quite so extreme). Oshima was a very upper-class nihilist who had nothing but contempt for working class and the poor (no trace of noblesse oblige here), though he flirted with a certain sort of intellectualized leftism. These directors were far "safer" than Uchida and Imai (and the even milder Shimizu and Yamada -- among others). I tend to think most of the extreme anti-leftism (unionist, communist, etc) may have come from Anderson -- once Richie made his own revisions by himself, the tone softened. BTW, Audie Bock was also virulently anti-(real)-leftist also.

Imamura, like Oshima, came from a wealthy and privileged background (though less so than Oshima) -- his work shows an interesting combination of objective (quasi-anthropological) detachment mixed with a certain degree of actual sympathy (as opposed to noblesse oblige).

Almost the whole generation of major (internationally acclaimed) post-war Japanese directors came from a very different millieu than pre-war ones -- almost all were well-to-do (to one extent or another), almost all went to college, almost none were actually movie fans (or even mildly interested in movies) prior to getting movie studio jobs based on performance on academic-style entrance exams (unlike Ozu and most of his contemporaries).

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Re: Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji

#24 Post by Big Ben » Thu Feb 14, 2019 3:46 am

My reading of Oshima was always that he did indeed care a great deal about the working class but he became so exceptionally disillusioned over time to the point that he didn't feel the Japanese Left would accomplish much (This was compounded by his unwillingness to join a formal party too.) and that led him into increasingly pessimistic works. He was for instance the sparring partner of Yukio Mishima whom he debated at Universities and was exceptionally popular amongst the students. I sense empathy in Oshima's films but only towards certain groups (Mainly young people, particularly in Boy.) and that varied wildly through his career. (Turns out getting older cools you off a bit.) He did not have the emotional range of directors like Ozu or Naruse and his films always felt more like were more precise, pessimistic jabs (I don't disagree with your claims about nihilism in his work but I prefer to think of him as a pessimist.) rather than the very broad encompassment of Ozu and Naruse. The broader readings of Oshima's work that I have been by women interestingly enough, with the sole book I have on him being written by one. As an addendum I once heard Tony Rayns say he was gay and was in the closet, despite his marriage. I don't know how true that is but it would certainly add a dimension to his work.

The reason I ask about Uchida and others in a broad comparison sense is that a sense of self reflection in Japanese Cinema has always been there but the availability of a lot of these films is not very good for people my age and that when information IS available I am always at the mercy of the people presenting it to me. What I mean specifically is is that when I'm told for instance "This film is a rebuke of the Samurai Code" I'm not really given much context beyond that. While that isn't necessarily a problem in itself it belies a bias in criticism as going by availability you'd think the only film that covers this concept that exists is something like Kobayashi's Harakiri which is most certainly not the only film to cover this topic. And in extreme examples people would tell you that Japanese cinema began and ended with Akira Kurosawa (I had a teacher tell me this once.)! When the criticism is motivated by politics it can be even worse, as bias can bury apparently worthy films like this one (I will be buying this soon!).

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Re: Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji

#25 Post by dda1996a » Thu Feb 14, 2019 5:18 am

How similar is Oshima to Godard? I understand the reasons for comparisons but having yet to see an Oshima I'm wondering.
Weren't most of the ATG leftist though?

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