Audition (1999) - 2-Disc Collector's Edition [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Drama / Horror / Romance
Shout Factory || NR - 115 minutes - $29.99 || October 6, 2009
Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2009-10-15


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Takashi Miike
Writer(s):
Cast: Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Feature Commentary
  • Interviews
  • Booklet
  • Trailers


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • Japanese (DTS-HD MA 5.0), Japanese (Dolby TrueHD 5.0)
  • Subtitles: English

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.::THE FILM::.

Shigehuru, a middle-aged widower of many years, surged by his teenage son and his film producer friend to get out and start dating again. To help Shigehuru meet woman, Yoshikawa devises a plan to hold a fake audition for a leading lady. Reluctantly agreeing, Shigehuru auditions 30 young hopefuls and falls for the silent beauty of Asama, a former ballerina with a dark past. Their courtship veers from quiet romance to psycho nightmare.

I never got into the Japanese horror 'frenzy' that some did over the past decade. I've seen my fair share of them, but I don't go out of my way to watch them unless they get rave reviews and I'm able to get a copy at a low price.

The only reason I know Miike Takashi is from his banned episode of "Masters of Horror" that appeared exclusively on DVD and Blu-ray. Given the amount of violence and sheer torture I didn't really care to ever watch that one again. As someone who is a fan of the Saw films... I just couldn't get into Audition as much.

So let's talk about Audition ó an interesting premise (that will no doubt get Americanized at some point with Ashton Kutcher and Mischa Barton some day) starts out with an interesting premise ó a lonely man who uses his power as a film studio head to 'cast' a women he can fall in love with. He eventually falls for Asama, a soft-spoken female who seems like the perfect wife and mother. But things take a turn for the worse - 90 minutes into the film. That's my biggest problem with the film - the buildup is incredibly slow.

We don't even get a sense of 'oh shit' until the 1 hour mark (and even that is not that bad). If I was not told this was a horror film I could have sworn it was a romance. Eventually Asama's dark past rears its ugly head (last 20 minutes of the film) and the torturing starts. I can make it through Saw without feeling squeamish, but hearing the "Kiri, Kiri, Kiri, Kiri" over and over...holy shit. Be prepared to look away if you want to keep your food down.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

All Special Features are presented in SD.

Disc One: (on Blu-ray disc)

Commentary (subtitled) with Takashi Miike & Saisuke Tengan

Disc Two: (The same DVD from the 2 Disc DVD Set)

Interviews (~1 Hour)
- Eihi Shiina
- Renji Ishibashi
- Ren Osugi
- Ryo Ishibashi

- - A pretty interesting set of interviews (most average out at about 20 minutes each) that are presented with Japanese audio and English subtitles. Its a good read, but unless your a huge fan of the film, most of it will come off being boring.

Also included are a Small Collectible Booklet, a few Theatrical Trailers and a Video Introduction.

Sadly, the Special Features from the previous DVD release (by Lionsgate) are absent. Since Shout! does not own those, I can't really fault them for it.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Audition is presented in 1.85:1 on a 25GB Disc. Given that the film is ten years old and was not filmed with the greatest cameras and film stock this really is the best the film is going to look. Grain is heavy throughout the film, some water spots, cigarette burns, hair, etc. itís a really gritty fest. It's probably one of the worst looking Blu-rays I have ever seen - but it stays true to how Takashi wanted the film to look so you can't really fault Shout for the source material they were given. Luckily, Shout! was kind enough to send me a DVD copy of the film and a direct comparison shows the Blu-rays does look sharper so the premium price for the Blu-ray over the DVD is warranted.

Shout has included a Japanese 5.0 track in both TrueHD and DTS MA (sort of odd...) as well as an Japanese 2.0 Stereo track as well. For me, and maybe itís just my player (LG BD390) but the lossless tracks were useless to me. Dialog (in Japanese obviously) was so quiet it was impossible to hear any of the dialog throughout the film. Even though itís in Japanese, a language I can't understand, I'd still like to hear voices so I could differentiate between the characters. Talking to others, the 'glitch' is apparently because of my player and not Shout so I won't ding them. I did have to suffer through the 2.0 mix the entire time, but I did give the lossless ones a 20 minute listen (without dialog) and it did sound really nice. Rears were used a lot. Subtitles are available only in English and there is no way to turn them off.



.::OVERALL::.

Shout! has certainly picked a great cult film to start off their Blu-ray line, but unless you're a fan of Miike Takashi or torture porn you may want to give this one a rental. Overall, Shout! did a nice job on a Blu-ray cleanup and thankfully brought over all the Special Features from their DVD release. Good start!