Mania Grade: C-
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- Audio Rating: C+
- Video Rating: C-
- Packaging Rating: B-
- Menus Rating: C
- Extras Rating: NA
- Age Rating: 17 and Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Switchblade Pictures
- MSRP: 19.98
- Running time: 112
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Buyusenki Battle Chronicle DVD Review
By John Rose
January 18, 2011
Release Date: March 09, 2009
Buyusenki Battle Chronicle
© Switchblade Pictures
A vanilla production. And not in the “great in a root beer float” or “one of the most popular flavors” way but a”banal or lacking of distinction” way.
What They Say
Mix motorcycles, drugs and yakuza under pressure and the result is bosozoku, the brutal motorized street gangs that terrorize Japan armed with swords and baseball bats. Kyosuke Jinnai was the leader of the "Buyusenki," the largest group of its kind in the Kanto region, but sick of the violence, he had planned to give it all up to make a family with his pregnant girlfriend. Instead, all of that was stolen from him in a moment of savage betrayal, and the man who dreamed of a life of peace has instead been transformed into an angel of death! The streets of Japan will be paved with blood in Buyusenki Battle Chronicle!
The only track available on this release is a 2.0 Japanese track. Like other Switchblade releases the track itself is a basic one with little in the way of frills but competently done with no dropouts or distortions noticeable. Most of the dialogue is split between the front three speakers which adds a touch of depth but not much directionality to the presentation though the audio track does a good job of separation so nothing audio wise winds up being buried by something else present in the audio track.
The feature was created in 2008 and is presented in 16:9 ratio. The feature’s video appears to come from a rather modest production value and the encode doesn’t help a whole lot. Present in the video is some dot crawl, softness, noise, blocking in darker areas, and interlacing issues that appear mostly in some of the bike scenes. It is fairly average but the negatives don’t draw it down too much.
The cover of the DVD features a close up of the main character Kyosuke from the film where he has been bloodied. In front of him is a customized bike and to the right of that is the dragon emblem that the group in the feature uses. At the top and bottom of the slipcover are about 30% circles with the features title that look like some groups use for their club patches. The back features an almost full figure shot of Kyosuke on the right, a red and black image of some of the guys from the group at the top, the main female from the story on the bottom left and six stills from the feature next to her. The center contains a stylized seven point star with the copy residing inside it. The spine contains a front view of the bike from the cover along with the title above it. The DVD label features the title inside the partial circle patch from the front with red splashes that look like spilled blood behind it.
The title is one of the Switchblade films that starts with three skippable trailers and then the Switchblade logo which then leads directly into the feature itself. There is a menu screen though in case the viewer wants to select the trailers or see who is credited with the specifics of the disc. The screen has the title surrounded by dragons when it is the option selected and little fireball like emblems go along side either of the other two choices if they are selected. Also present on the screen is BMW from film that is driven by the head of the Buyusenki and a picture of Kyosuke on his motorcycle that he rides when on his path of revenge. The menu is quick to respond both in changing selections and when implementing them.
This feature contains no extras.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Kyosuke Jinnai is the leader of the Buyusenki; a large gang that controls a sizable area in the Kanto area of Japan. Kyosuke rules the area and those that attempt to cross his rules in it will answer to him. Try to sell drugs for example and one will discover just how good the best fighter in the region is. He also plans his moves carefully so that the ordinary citizens who live in his territory are impacted as minimally as possible.
Despite his sense of justice and talents that have lead to both his gang’s prominence and relative stability with his and other surrounding gangs Kyosuke is prepared to step away from the life he has built. He tells his girlfriend that he is going to pass leadership to his chief lieutenant Tenmei and will find a regular job as a mechanic at a factory. She surprises him with the knowledge that she is pregnant which furthers his commitment to join her by starting over. Plans fall apart immediately as he and his girlfriend are hit by a car and knocked off a pier as they embrace and start to dream of their new life.
With Kyosuke dead the gang presses Tenmei into the leadership role as they head out to find the person responsible for Kyosukes’ death and ride in force to avenge their leader. The thing is Kyosuke has survived as he was pulled from the water by a young man named Makoto who has admired Kyosuke and tried to gain membership into the Buyusenki for some time. Kyosuke is unprepared for the knowledge that his girlfriend has died and that the man who hit him was a member of his trusted circle. Kyosuke also comes to the grudging realization that he has been set up by the man he was going to pass control of the gang to. Now Kyosuke will go on a path of vengeance to try to pay back those who have destroyed his life.
Tenmei meanwhile has discovered that his plot failed as Kyosuke is alive and now he has to try to get the gang onto his side either by winning them over with promises or by framing Kyosuke as someone the gang never really knew with some well placed false drug evidence. Kyosuke will have to face both members of his gang who believe him a traitor and the twin sister of his deceased girlfriend as he attempts to balance the ledger between himself and those who betrayed him. Who will triumph when the best fighter in the Kanto region goes up against the gang he has forged and how thick are the bonds of trust that were created?
Buyusenki is an attempt to play off the bad guy with the heart of gold stereotype that propagates many types of films. Rather than just go with a typical Yakuza story the writers decided to throw in a concept that is a bit more foreign (for their intended market) in making the group a biker gang. This removes many of the traditional Yakuza marks such as stereotypical dress and knives. Sadly it doesn’t quite cover up that the story is as derivative as it is. It also leads to long drawn out fist fights that can be decent in their choreography but can also have gaps in the realism. One annoyingly long scene even has the protagonist fighting a member of the gang who is roughly the same build as him and dressed almost the same except the main character has a white T-shirt sticking out from under his leather jacket and the other person has a black shirt (which also encompasses the films lack of subtlety nicely) and a different hair style. The film doesn’t do anything really badly but neither does it do anything new and daring.
Buyusenki is a feature that seems to exist as a vehicle for the stars rather than for any other reason. To this end it goes out of its way to make sure screen time is granted more than to make sure characters are developed and the audience can connect with them. Events transpire so quickly that the there isn’t time to get a feel for Kyosuke and to truly appreciate his loss and at times it feels like the writers know this and either stuck to stereotypes to help the audience along or so as not to use an more clever idea in a picture that was aiming for a more generic approach. It is an alright feature but easily forgettable.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Samsung 50" Plasma HDTV, Denon AVR-790 Receiver with 5.1 Sony Surround Sound Speakers, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080.
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