Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 20th, 2009
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 2008
Director: Yasuharu Ishii
Writer: Takayuki Takuma
Cast: Mao Inoue, Jun Matsumoto, Shun Oguri, Shota Matsuda, Tsuyoshi Abe
DVD Released: August 25th, 2009
Approximate Running Time: 131 minutes (Theatrical Cut), 165 minutes (Director’s Cut)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 Japanese, Dolby Digital Stereo Japanese
DVD Release: Discotek / Eastern Star
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95
Hana Yori Dango Final: The Movie was preceded by a TV series that lasted two years which follows the same characters also featured in this film. The TV series and subsequent movie are based on the Manga series Hana Yori Dango (Boys over Flowers) that was created by Yoko Kamio. Hana Yori Dango Final: The Movie was directed by Yasuharu Ishii who also directed the two seasons of the TV series.
Tsukushi Makino and Tsukasa Doumyouji are complete opposites. Tsukushi comes from a working class family while; Tsukasa was born into a life of comfort being from one of Japan’s wealthiest families. Tsukasa is also the leader of a group of rich kids who call themselves F4 (Flower Four), the other three members being Hanazawa Rui, Mimasaka Akira and Soujiroh Nishikado. As the story progresses some of the back-story that laid out in the two TV series is recapped, like Tsukushi’s romantic involvement with other members of F4. While being familiar with the TV series would enhance one’s enjoyment of Hana Yori Dango Final: The Movie, this movie still holds its own as a standalone feature.
This DVD release comes with two versions of the film the original theatrical cut and a director’s cut. The bulk of the newly added thirty four minutes in the director’s cut are fleshing out / padding of scenes that are also in the theatrical version of the film. There are a few scenes that are only in the director’s cut in which Tsukushi relationship with her girlfriends is given more screen time. One area that is expanded in the director’s cut in the scenes where Tsukushi and Tsukasa are trapped on a desert island. Also the director’s cut recap of all the characters is shown pre end credits while this section is shown as part of the end credits on the theatrical cut.
Of the two versions the lengthier director’s cut works better of the two versions as it gives the characters more to work with. The theatrical cut is comes off like a more streamlined version, while the director’s cut gives fans of this series more moments with the characters they have grown to love. Sure sometimes the film tends to be overly sentimental and the performances are adequate at best. Despite these minor flaws the end result is highly satisfying film that is always fun and there is never a dull moment.
Both versions (theatrical and director’s cut) are both presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. The theatrical cut has been flagged for progressive playback while the director’s cut is interlaced. Colors look vibrant, flesh tones look healthy, black levels look solid and details look razor sharp throughout.
Both versions (theatrical and director’s cut) each come with two audio options a Dolby Digital 5.1 Japanese mix and a Dolby Digital stereo Japanese mix. All the audio mixes sound clean, clear and balanced. Removable English subtitles that are easy to follow have been provided.
Extras for this release are spread over two DVD’s. Extras on disc one include trailers for the film (3 minutes 23 seconds – in Japanese with English subtitles), a segment titled “Production Announcement” (8 minutes 28 seconds – in Japanese with English subtitles), this segment is essentially the press conference to announce this film project and another segment titled “Crank up Video Collection” (8 minutes 23 seconds – in Japanese with English subtitles), this segment is a series of behind the scenes clips in which various cast members are given flowers after completing their last scene. The main extra on disc one is a “Making of” documentary (57 minutes 45 seconds – in Japanese with English subtitles), that is an extensive behind the scenes look that also includes comments from cast members.
Extras on disc two include a segment titled “a Special Appearance on Nabi TV Show” (9 minutes 42 seconds – in Japanese with English subtitles), in this segment Mao Inoue and Jun Matsumoto are asked questions by the other three actors who make up the F4. Other extras include a lengthy segment titled “Memorial Event Collection” (63 minutes 53 seconds – in Japanese with English subtitles). This segment is a collection of Q&A’s with the cast and director Yasuharu Ishii. Rounding out the extras are interviews with the cast Mao Inoue (10 minutes 41 seconds), Jun Matsumoto (10 minutes 56 seconds), Shun Oguri, Shota (6 minutes 19 seconds), Matsuda (5 minutes 32 seconds) and Tsuyoshi Abe (7 minutes 26 seconds). All of the interviews are in Japanese with English subtitles. Overall Hana Yori Dango Final: The Movie gets a fully loaded DVD release from Eastern Star that comes with a wealth of extras and two version of the film.