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Bullet Train: Comparison (Optimum Asia vs. Ronin Entertainment) 
Written by: on August 21st, 2006

Theatrical Release Date: Japan, July 5th, 1975
Director: Junya Sato
Writers: Junya Sato, Ryunosuke Ono
Cast: Sonny Chiba, Ken Takakura, Etsuko Shihomi, Eiji Go

DVD released: 2005 2006
Approximate running time: 152m11s 114m47s
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 18 NR
Sound:  Dolby Digital Stereo Japnese with English subtitles Dolby Digital Stereo Japnese with English subtitles
DVD Release: Optimum Asia Ronin Entertainment
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: £12.99 $24.98

Optimum Asia’s Region 2 DVD

Ronin Entertainment’s Region 1 DVD

Optimum Asia’s Region 2 DVD

Ronin Entertainment’s Region 1 DVD

Optimum Asia’s Region 2 DVD

Ronin Entertainment’s Region 1 DVD


The Film :

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.

Video:

Both releases present the film in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original aspect ratio. There is a slight difference between the colors and flesh tones when comparing the two releases. Both releases are sourced from nearly flawless prints that are free of any noticeable print damage. The Optimum Asia release has some minor instances of blurring that is present during scenes that contain a lot of movement. This problem doesn’t occur or at least it is not as obvious on the Ronin Entertainment release.

Audio:

Both releases are presented the audio in a Dolby Digital stereo. The Quality wise both release are pretty close as there are no problems with distortion or any other sounds defects. Dialog is clear and the music and effects sound robust. The Optimum Asia release which is in Japanese comes with removable English subtitles. The Ronin Entertainment release is in English and comes with no subtitles.

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. Ronin Entertainment’s release comes with the following extras a collection of Sonny Chiba trailers The Shogun’s Samurai, The Killing Machine, Karate Bearfighter, Karate Bullfighter, Karate for Life, Shogun’s Shadow, Shogun’s Ninja, The Executioner, The Executioner 2: Karate Inferno, Legend of the Eight Samurai, G.I. Samurai and Ninja Wars all in Japanese with English subtitles. Also included are the English language trailers for Legend of the Eight Samurai and Ninja Wars. This set comes with a DVD insert that talks briefly about each film and the version included for this release.

Overall:

Audio/video wise there really isn’t that big of a difference between the two releases besides Optimum Asia’s release being the Japanese cut of the film and Ronin Entertainment’s release being the shorter international English language version. Price wise the Ronin Entertainment’s release is the better of the two since you also get two other Sonny Chiba films Virus and Golgo 13.

Note: Optimum Asia’s Bullet Train release is also available as part of their Sonny Chiba collection volume 2 which also includes Golgo 13: Kowloon Assignment and G.I. Samurai. Ronin Entertainment’s Bullet Train release is only available as part of their Sonny Chiba Action Pack which also comes with Virus and Golgo 13.

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