THE FILM: “Screen legend Chow Yun-fat stars as Confucius in the inspiring, action-packed saga of a leader whose wisdom and cunning were more powerful than any sword. In this sweeping battlefield epic, Confucius finds his lands threatened by the fires of war. After leading the nation’s most powerful army to victory against hordes of invaders, the new hero finds even greater danger in the jealous eyes of the aristocrats he fought to protect. From the Producer of John Woo’s Red Cliff and Jet Li’s Warlords, and captured on camera by Oscar-winning Director of Photography Peter Pau (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Chow Yun-fat delivers the award-nominated performance of a lifetime as a teacher, a military leader, and a legend in Confucius.”
WHO SHOULD BUY: Fans of Chow Yun-fat, epic historical films like Red Cliff and the sumptuous photography of Peter Pau should definitely seek out a copy of Funimation‘s Confucius on Blu-ray. It doesn’t feature the all-or-nothing battle scenes of the former or the compelling love story of the Pau-shot Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon but, if you can wade through the often confusing and sometimes dull scenes of political turmoil and seemingly never-ending litany of names, titles and city-states, you’ll find this chronicle of China’s iconic wise man to be rather rewarding. Of particular note is the touching and muscular performance of Chow Yun-fat in the title role, who seems to almost single-handedly keep the film alive through some of its more unbalanced moments. Director Mei Hu has done a fine job with the production in general, and I don’t envy him the task of juggling the myriad plot elements necessary to convey the tale, but some re-focussing of story and character could have made this good fim great.
THE BLU-RAY DISC: Confucius is a high-def knock-out, sporting a spectacular, vivid 1080p transfer that really show’s off Pau’s work. Sadly, the encode appears to break down on several occasions. Those without eagle-eyes most likely won’t notice and can enjoy the disc for its incredible level of detail and lush, rich colours. But those of you sensitive to digital encode issues will note the mishaps. To be fair, the aliasing and shimmer might exist all the way down at the production level, with poorly rendered or composited CGI. Either way, it’s there but if you’re not looking for it and aren’t sensitive to that kind of thing, it won’t spoil an otherwise fine looking disc. Audio is available in both Mandarin and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 tracks. You’ll listen to the Mandarin, if you know what’s good for you. It sounds fantastic, with a very immersive ambient sound-field, clear dialogue and dynamic representation of the score.
Special features are decent and cover a lot of ground, presented in several short featurettes, that, combined, nearly form a feature length “making of” doc. There’s a lot of great behind the scenes footage here and tons of info to be gleaned but animal lovers should be warned of some potentially disturbing images in the Animal Stars segment.
- From Chow Yun-Fat to Confucius
- A Woman, A Bosom Friend
- Chaotic Period of Spring and Autumn
- From Chow Yun-Fat to Confucius Special Edition
- The Politicians
- Animal Stars
- Progressing in the Snow
- The Warfare
- Original Trailer
- Trailers for other FUNimation Releases