Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 17th, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: China, 2013
Director: Wing-cheong Law
Writer: Zhenjian Yang
Cast: Yu Xing, Sung-jun Yoo, Heon Jun Nam, Baocheng Jiang, Yamei Zhang, Yasuaki Kurata, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Matt Mullins, Kofi Yiadom
BluRay released: March 18th, 2014
Approximate running time: 115 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Mandarin, Dolby Digital Stereo Mandarin, DTS-HD 5.1 English, Dolby Digital Stereo English
Subtitles: English, French
BluRay Release: Well Go USA
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.98
‘In the 1930s, a Japanese death cult called the Hades bought poor kids from both China and around the world and trained them as assassins within China, believing that the latter could be destroyed spiritually from within. During WWII, the Hades was disbanded because its invasion strategy against China clashed with the objective of the Japanese military. Its founder and spiritual leader Amano Kawao was imprisoned and its members were exiled. Later when Japan met strong resistance in China, the Japanese military decided to revive the cult to facilitate the conquest of China.’
Though this film gives itself a historical back-story, the events which unfold are fictional. What is true however is China’s long strained relationship with the Japanese. And it is in this regard that this film excels the most. Content wise this film is basically your standard good verse evil tale, with the Japanese playing the part of the villain, while the Chinese being cast in the role of the hero.
At the heart of the story is a young man who is simply referred to as K-29, who returns to the place of his youth where he and other young children were forced to be assassins for a cult known as the shrine of Hades. Shortly after his arrival he discovers that those who are in power are up to their old tricks and that they have brought new children in to be groomed into assassins. Not wanting the same thing to happen to the children what happened to him and wanting vengeance for his brother’s death. He sets forth to dismantle the shrine of Hades once and for all.
As mentioned the narrative is pretty straight forward and it is very easy to see where this film is going. It is your classic example of a hero tale, with an ample amount of well timed obstacles for the protagonist to overcome and showcase his prowess. And though the reason behind the shrine of Hades is etched in stone at the beginning of the film, this is the extent of this film’s back-story since most of the characters are one dimensional. Thankfully this film is not meant to be a character driven piece. And when it comes to its bread and butter, its action set pieces these moments are all well executed. With this film’s standout action set piece being a scene involving the protagonist and a monkey like man who moves and kind of looks like the creepy dead girl from J Horror films.
The performance that leaves the strongest lasting impression is Heon Jun Nam in the role of Crazy Monkey. And though his performance only amounts to two scenes, they are the two scenes that you are most likely not to forget. Another performance of note is Yu Xing in the role of this film’s protagonist K-29. He has a strong presence and more then holds his own in the hero role.
Though formulaic in design, the end result is a very entertaining martial arts extravaganza that is sure to play well to this genres core fan base.
The Wrath of Vajra comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. This transfer does a great job retaining the intended look of this film. Details look sharp, contrast and black levels look very good throughout. There are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with four audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in Mandarin, a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in Mandarin, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English and a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in English. All four mixes sound clear and balanced throughout. And both 5.1 mixes sound robust and do a superb job with the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack. Also included with this release are two subtitle options, English and French.
Extras for this release include a trailer for the film (3 minutes anamorphic widescreen, in Mandarin with English subtitles) and a ‘Making of’ featurette broken down into six segments (25 minutes 46 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Mandarin with English subtitles). In between plenty of onset footage cast and crew discuss their involvement in this film.
Also included with this release are trailers for other titles also available from Well Go USA. Overall The Wrath of Vajra gets a first rate release from Well Go USA.
Note: This film is also being released by Well Go USA on DVD.