Capping off the TV drama series, everything comes to a close with one big worldly adventure for Tsukushi and Tsukasa.
What They Say
Set four years after the TV series. After experiencing countless ups and downs, feuding couple Makino Tsukushi (Inoue Mao) and Domyoji Tsukasa (Matsumoto Jun) are finally ready to tie the knot... or so they think! When a irreplaceable tiara is stolen, they put their wedding plans on hold. It's a race against the clock to retrieve the precious family heirloom that takes them to America, Hong Kong, and even a tropical island!
Like most live action film releases the come over, this one has only the Japanese language track on it. Discotek does a decent job with it here by providing the original stereo and 5.1 mixes encoded at 192kbps and 384kbps respectively. There are some rather good moments throughout with the 5.1 mix where the rear channels are used, but generally it’s a very solid forward soundstage mix that conveys everything quite well. Dialogue is smooth and problem free, placement is spot on and there’s a good amount of depth in the scenes that require it. I would have liked to have seen a bit higher bitrate for it, even if it meant dropping the stereo mix, but what we have here fits the material well and is pretty much without issue.
Originally released in 2008, the transfer for this film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The film has a great look to it as it moves throughout various locations in Japan, Hong Kong and the US without any noticeable differences. There’s a strong film look to this with a natural amount of grain, more often visible at night than during daytime scenes, but it doesn’t result in a bad looking image in the slightest. Colors are really quite strong in many scenes and it has a very detailed look to it as there aren’t even any intentionally soft scenes. The luxuriousness of the locations really shines through here, whether it’s the deck of a boat in Hong Kong bay or a high rise hotel in Tokyo. And this is going by the nearly three hour feature on the extended disc which also has close to two hours of extras on it which is even more surprising.
Hana Yori Dango Final has an appealing cover with the four male leads just behind Tsukushi as they’re all dressed up in really sharp outfits. There’s a lot of style, a bit of confidence and lots of just right smiles that exemplifies what the show is all about when it comes to these people. The background is given a glitzy feel which is appropriate and there are some small visible elements from some of the places they visit as well. The back cover is very straightforward with a few shots from the film along the right and a length summary on the feature itself, including a nod towards its TV sries origins. There’s a good breakdown on the two different versions of the film and the extras as well as a clean technical breakdown so you know what to expect from each version. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for the release mirrors the cover design as it features the core cast in their finery with the glittering lights of the famous locales behind them, though more visible here than on the cover. There’s a soothing piano melody playing to it which sets the mood rather nicely as well. Though without any motion or flair, the menu really does it right by making it look glitzy and fashionable but with a certain warmth to it. Submenus load very quickly and without problem though I would have liked to have seen some sort of confirmation of language selection in that particular menu.
The theatrical version of the release has a few extras on it that aren’t on the extended edition. There’s a collection of trailers from the film, the production announcement piece and making of segment that runs just under an hour which is really nicely done. Also included is a nine minute “Crank It” piece which is something of a wrap session for the actors after the film finished.
The extended edition has a lot of material on top of the already nearly three hour long feature. The first is an hour long extra from the memorial event which has the actors coming out on stage, all dolled up, and introducing themselves before getting into some lengthy talks about the series and film. There is some very fun back and forth among the cast members here who have worked with each other a lot over the series and this feature film. A set of five video interviews is also included, ranging from six to ten minutes or so each depending on the actor and what they’re covering about the film and their role. The last extra is from a ten minute appearance on a TV show by the two leads where they field questions and generally act a bit silly doing this PR junket piece.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Hana Yori Dango is something of an evergreen property I sense as it’s had the immensely popular thirty seven manga series, a fifty one episode anime series and multiple live action shows across Asia. The latest incarnation was a few years back when a new Japanese live action series took place and had two seasons worth of episodes before moving forward a few years to produce this movie. All of this is based on the work by Yoko Kamio and it’s been interesting to see a live action adaptation of what I find to be one of my favorite overly dramatic romantic comedy series.
Hana Yori Dango Final doesn’t delve too much into explaining what the past of these characters are all about, though they have a few flashbacks further into things. The premise revolves primarily around the mismatched pairing of the rich and wealthy Tsukasa Domyoji and the poor Tsukushi Makino. The two met in high school where Tsukasa was part of an elite club of very wealthy young men known as F4. They ruled the school with ease but Tsukushi, though all sorts of incidents, stood up to them and ended up in their circle. Initially it was because she was attracted to Rui Hanazawa, but it was Tsuaksa that she ended up with as the two fought constantly until they realized what was really going on there. This feature moves the storyline forward about four years to a place where Tsukushi is finishing her college experience and Tsukasa is taking a very strong role in the family business of the Domyoji corporation which has massive worldwide holdings.
With their relationship long established, everything is now set for the two to get married and Tsukasa announces it to the world in the way that only he can. This sets the stage for his witch of a mother to get involved, but she changes the pace a bit by bringing in an elaborate tiara for Tsukushi called the Smile of Venus. With four jewels on it, it’s a very highly valued piece that is part of the family history that is being passed on to her. It’s surprising to both of them, but it cements that they’re able to move forward with the wedding. At least until the tiara is stolen right in front of them in their hotel and the two set off on a race around the world to retrieve it. Tsukasa’s impetuous nature combined with Tsukushi’s frugal nature takes them on an amusing journey as they try and get it back before his mother finds out and she cancels the wedding over it.
Clocking in at two hours and forty five minutes in the extended directors cut, this is certainly a long movie. With the main characters of the story being young worldly men, it’s little surprise that they shift locales with ease. The start in Tokyo is really nicely done as we see the center of power that the boys live in but it also takes us to America where you get to see the scope of Tsukasa’s fame. The jaunt through Las Vegas is amusing as they wheel and deal in an effort to retrieve the tiara while also learning just a little bit more about themselves. Not content with just these locales, it also takes us to Hong Kong for some really beautiful scenes, especially at night on the bay, but also to a deserted island where the two spend weeks living together with their resources low and no hope in sight. It’s all part of the larger story which makes sense in the end, but does feel like it’s overly convoluted. But if you’ve read or seen the original works, it makes perfect since in how the ultra wealthy view the world as their plaything and use everyone to achieve their goals, even in a situation like this.
If I have any severe criticism for this release, it’s the subtitling. I can understand why they did what they did, but I still find it to be a problem. There are numerous English language moments in the film as it crosses around the world, but whenever you have someone speaking in English they don’t subtitle it. I’ve known many hearing impaired fans over the years that got into anime because it was so well done with subtitles, so finding a film that doesn’t subtitle everything always annoys me because I know they’ll not be able to enjoy it. And I end up having a problem with it as well since often, especially in warmer months with air conditioners going, lack of subtitles can be a real problem. This is the only real flaw with the release and one that dampens my enthusiasm for it because it shouldn’t have happened.
Being as familiar as I am with the original property, I can safely say I enjoyed this even without seeing the TV series. I still don’t care for the casting of Tsukasa as that’s not the interpretation of the character that works for me, but he and Tsukushi have some good chemistry together and he does play the role of a wealthy young man rather well as he becomes so involved with someone like Tsukushi. At times I did feel that this movie simply goes on too long but there’s a lot of good material in the extended cut that makes the connections between the two even stronger while still keeping it all moving along. It’d be very easy to imagine this happening in the other formats the franchise has appeared in and the whole experience left me with a smile – and hoping that Discotek can try for the TV series as well. Definitely recommended or any Boys Over Flowers fans out there that want to see these characters come to life and grow up.
Japanese 2.0 Language, Japanese 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Interviews, Crank-Up Collection, Memorial Event Collection, Gala Premiere
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.