Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 25th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, July 5th, 1975
Director: Junya Sato
Writers: Junya Sato, Ryunosuke Ono
Cast: Sonny Chiba, Ken Takakura, Etsuko Shihomi, Eiji Go
|Approximate running time:||115||152|
|Aspect Ratio:||2,.35:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen||2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen|
|Sound:||Dolby Digital Mono English||Dolby Digital Stereo Japanese with English subtitles|
|DVD Release:||Crash Entertainment||Optimum Asia|
|Region Coding:||Region 1 NTSC||Region 2 PAL|
Crash Entertainment‘s Region 1 DVD
Optimum Asia’s Region 2 DVD
Tetsuo Okita (Ken Takakura) has fallen on hard times over the past year with his business going bankrupt and his wife leaving him. Okita concocts a plan to solve his financial problems and with the help of two of his former workers who have remained by his side during these hard times. They have attached a bomb on Hikeri 109 bullet train that will go off if the train ever goes below 80 mph after the train has started. They contact the authorities with their 1.5 billion yen ransom demand and too prove that they aren’t bluffing they have attached a similar bomb to a cargo train. To save them some time the authorities tell the lead conductor Aoki (Sonny Chiba) to keep the train at a speed of about 120 mph which will give them about ten hours to defuse the bomb before the train reaches its final destination.
Crash Cinema’s Bullet Train release is presented in a non-anamorphic letterboxed that is severely cropped on the top and bottom of the frame. The colors are faded and flesh tones look unnatural. The image lacks detail through out especially during night time or darker scenes. There are also problems with artifacts, compression and the source material used is filled with print damage. Crash Cinema’s release is interlaced. Optimum Asia’s Bullet Train release presents the film in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and their transfer has been sourced from an original 35 mm print. This release restores the missing information that has been cropped out of the Crash Cinema release. The films color palette has been restored as colors look nicely saturated and flesh tones look healthy. Black levels remain strong and there is an exceptional amount of detail present in every frame. There are no problems with compression or artifacts and edge enhancement is kept to a minimum. This transfer is progressive scan still; there are some minor instances of blurring that is present during scenes that contain a lot of movement.
Crash Cinema’s release comes with only one audio option an English dubbed audio track. This audio mix has since its better days as its sounds too thin with dialog that is hard too make out and there are also noticeable problems with hiss and other sound defects that are present through out the film. Optimum Asia’s comes with only one audio option the films original Japanese language track that is presented in a Dolby Digital stereo. The dialog is crisp and easy to understand. The music and effects are evenly balanced as they never overpower the other. There are no problems with hiss or distortion. Overall this is another satisfying mix from Optimum. English subtitles that are easy to read and follow have been included.
Crash Cinema’s release comes with no extras. Optimum Asia’s release comes with the following extras the films original theatrical trailer and a bio on Sonny Chiba. Other extras include a gallery of original Japanese poster art that includes the following films The Street Fighter, Return of the Street Fighter, The Street Fighter’s Last Revenge, Yakuza Deka, Yakuza Deka: The Assassin, The Bullet Train, The Killing Machine and two posters for Golgo 13: Kowloon Assignment. Rounding out the extras is a Sonny Chiba trailer collection that includes the following titles The Street Fighter, Return of the Street Fighter, The Street Fighter’s Last Revenge, Yakuza Deka, The Killing Machine, Yakuza Deka: The Assassin, Golgo 13: Kowloon Assignment and G.I. Samurai.
The differences between the two releases are like night and day. Optimum Asia’s beat the Crash Cinema release in every way with its superior audio/video presentation and their release also restores nearly forty minutes of scenes that were cut from Bullet Train for every release that was shown outside of Japan. The bulk of this deleted material mainly revolves around three flashback sequences that add more background and depth too the characters.
Note: Bullet Train is also available as part of Optimum Asia’s Sonny Chiba collection volume 2 which also includes Golgo 13: Kowloon Assignment and G.I. Samurai.