G.I. Samurai: R2J review and comparison

Film Reviews and Release Comparisons
User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 10820
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

G.I. Samurai: R2J review and comparison

Unread post by HungFist » 14 Sep 2009, 19:36

Sengoku jieitai (1979)

Image

Business genius, narcotics crimimal, and the reformer of Japanese entertainment industry, producer Haruki Kadokawa took rule of his father’s company Kadokawa Heralds in the mid 70’s. Haruki Kadokawa’s strategy was to produce large scale, Hollywood type films and support them with aggressive advertising campaign and simultaneous supplementary releases. For his 1978 Ken Takakura film Never Give Up Kadokawa borrow military equipment from the US army. G.I. Samurai (aka Timeslip), based on a hit novel by Ryo Hanmura, continues on the same path. Shinichi Chiba plays an army commander whose platoon that is thrown back in time to the 16th century. With no way back to their own time, the men must fight for they life and ally with warlord Nagao Kagetora (aka Kenshin Uesugi) (Isao Natsuagi).

G.I. Samurai is a slightly uneven but unique action film. Kadokawa has put enough money into the project to cover three Street Fighter trilogies. The investment shows; the climatic 25 minute battle scene featuring trucks, a battle helicopter, and hundreds of extras is possibly the most massive action piece created in the history of Japanese cinema. It's also one of the most intense scenes in any war movie; a few dozen heavily armed men fighting an enemy of thousands. The film's tone is rather dark at times; power corrupts one character after another, and when stripped of their responsibilities the modern soldiers turn into savages. Still, G.I. Samurai is primarily an entertainment film and should be reviewed as one. There are some weaknesses such as overlong ending, and use of music that varies between clumsy and brilliant. Supporting roles feature loads of brief appearances by current and upcoming stars; idol Hiroko Yakushimaru, action star Hiroyuki Sanada, karate villain Masashi Ishibashi, producer Haruki Kadokawa himself, and many others. The film also takes the opportunity to re-write history. Many characters appearing in the film are real 16th century warlords. The viewers will finally get to discover the real cause of death of Shingen Takeda!

Different Edits

The original Japanese version runs approximately 139 minutes. All recent dvd editions listed in the Available DVDs section (see a couple of chapters below) feature this version of the film. However, for its original US theatrical release the film was heavily cut. Some sources state 81 minutes as the running time. 117 minute version was released in Norway and also screened in Finland in 2008. All versions released in the UK, up till this day, are censored for horse falls. Below I have described the main differences between the original Japanese cut and the old UK VHS, which runs 88 minutes. It's possible this is the same version as the original US print, apart from the UK censorship. The listing below features spoilers, but in short the old US cut removes all characterization, sex and psychological themes from the film. This leads into continuity problems such incomprehensible decisions made by characters, villains killed for almost no reason (their crimes are never seen in the film) and bullets coming from the wrong direction because the preceding shot has been removed.

- The opening is shorter.
- All modern day footage (apart from the opening) has been removed (some music is missing or re-placed because of this)
- Almost all conversations between supporting characters have been removed.
- Rebel soldier (Tsunehiko Watase) killing another soldier with a knife is missing.
- (Slightly homoerotic) footage of Iba and Kagetora riding horses on the beach is missing.
- Footage of destroyed villages and women being raped is missing.
- The boat vs helicopter battle is shorter. There’s no sniper (Koji Naka). The villain dies of Chiba's bullets.
- The sex scene featuring the widow is missing.
- Loads of horse falls are either cut out or replaced with still images (probably UK exclusive)
- Kagetora negotiating with other warlords before the ending is missing.
- Iba turning evil before the final scene is missing.

Ironically, the only scene truly in a need of shortening, the ending, is almost intact. New ending credits have been placed on top of the footage, but the scene is still several minutes too long.
Last edited by HungFist on 15 Sep 2009, 12:37, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 10820
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: G.I. Samurai: R2J review and comparison (R1 vs R2J)

Unread post by HungFist » 14 Sep 2009, 19:36

Different Remasters

Kadokawa has remastered G.I. Samurai two times for dvd distribution. Their original bare bones dvd came out in 2000. The image is decent but not great. Audio is DD 2.0 only. In 2005, when the remake (Samurai Commando) was released, the original film received a brand new remaster. A new 5.1 remix was also created.

Available DVDs

R2J Kadokawa. All 1 Disc releases, reissues included, feature the old transfer.
R2J Kadokawa 2 Disc SE and Remake Twinpack feature the new transfer
R2 UK Optimum. This is the new transfer, but censored and bad NTSC to PAL conversion.
R1 US Adness / Ventura. This is the old transfer. Possibly softer than the old Kadokawa dvd.
R1 US BCI / Ronin Entertainment 2 Disc SE. This is the new transfer. The cover art uses the title Time Slip.
R3 HK IVL. Unknown, but this is probably the old transfer. IVL's Kadokawa releases have usually not been of best quality...

Image Image Image Image Image Image

User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 10820
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: G.I. Samurai: R2J review and comparison (R1 vs R2J)

Unread post by HungFist » 14 Sep 2009, 19:37

DVD comparison

Top: R2J Kadokawa (2000)
2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (progressive)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0
No Subtitles
7,2 GB

Extras
-Original trailer (3:32)
-Cast & Crew listing

Middle: R2J Kadokawa 2 Disc SE (2005)
2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (progressive)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1
No Subtitles
7,8 GB

Extras
- Shinichi Chiba interview (20 min)
- Isao Natsuyagi interview (24 min)
- Hiromitsu Suzuki & Monsieur Kamayatsu interview (21 min)
- Jun Eto & Isao Kuraishi interview (22 min)
- Tank featurette (4 min)
- Original Trailer (3:28) and TV Spot (0:18)
- English language trailer (3:26)
- Title screen scene (1:08) and ending credits (1:07) scene from the US version
- Biographies (or rather cast identification)
- Sengoku Jieitai remake featurette (4 min)
- Sengoku Jieitai remake trailer (1:32)
+ Special ending credits version of the film

Bottom: R1 US BCI / Ronin Entertainment 2 Disc SE
2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (interlaced)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1
Optional English Subtitles
7,3 GB

Extras
- Shinichi Chiba interview (20 min)
- Isao Natsuyagi interview (24 min)
- Hiromitsu Suzuki & Monsieur Kamayatsu interview (21 min)
- Jun Eto & Isao Kuraishi interview (22 min)
- Tank featurette (4 min)
- Original Trailer (3:25), TV Spot (0:16) and Teaser (0:38)
- Bonus trailers for Ninja Wars (1:50) (dub) and Legend of the 8 Samurai (2:10) (dub)

Image

Image

Image


Image

Image

Image


Image

Image

Image


Image

Image

Image


Image

Image

Image


Image

Image

Image


Image

Image

Image


Image

Image

Image


Image

Image

Image


The R2J SE remains the best edition. More about it later. The R1 SE is a good option if you need English subtitles. It’s interlaced, comes with some additional artifacts, and misses a couple of extras, but it's still a good package. The film looks and sounds good, and you get all the most important extras. Also note that the R1 SE includes a cool Teaser Trailer that is not found on any of the R2J editions. A small complaint would be the overly long chapters in the film; most of which run approx 20 minutes. The same applies to the interviews. The disc would have been easier to use with more chapter stops.

The third dvd with the new transfer is the R2 UK Optimum. It's NTSC to PAL, features notably more compression artifacts, it's cut by BBFC, and only comes with basic extras (trailer etc). I had it once, but couldn't take screencaps because the damn thing wouldn't play on my computer. It worked fine on my Pioneer dvd-player, though.

Interestingly R1 SE, R2J SE and R2J all feature different opening logos. R1 has several logos plus a couple of text screens, R2J only has the Kadokawa logo and text screens, and R2J SE has no logos or text at all; it's a jump cut to action; the first frame is the buss. You're not missing anything important, though. The film has no opening credits sequence, and the title screen is only shown 5 minutes into the film.

God damn, I have bought this film 4 times. When will they release the BD?!

Here's a screencap of the teaser trailer from the R1 SE
Image

User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 10820
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: G.I. Samurai: R2J review and comparison (R1 vs R2J)

Unread post by HungFist » 14 Sep 2009, 19:37

R2J SE

Now, a few more words about the R2J SE. Great transfer (although a couple of scenes seems a bit too colourful), great audio options (original track and two remixes), and terrific extras. Disc 1 features a TV spot, original trailer (remastered & original aspect ratio, as opposed to the old R2J trailer which is the same but but worn out and constantly switching between full screen and widescreen aspect ratio) and cast identification. The latter is quite useful for identifying all the actors in the film (notice: in case your Kanji reading isn't so good, all names are also given in hiragana). Disc 1 also features a special edition (with only 2.0 sound available) of the film. The only difference seems to be added ending credits, which play stills images next to the credits. You get to see Sonny Chiba directing Hiroko Yakushimaru, Hiroyuki Sanada performing the helicopter stunt etc. It's a shame that these images aren't available in better quality, but rather this than nothing.

The interviews on disc 2 are great. The cast members share a lot of memories about making the film. Chiba demonstrates his katana skills, Kamayatsu reveals he never read the script, and Natsuagi explains how didn't realize he might fall until he was 200 metres above the ground hanging from a helicopter with no wires attached. There's a small feature about the tank that was made especially for this film, footage from the edited US version, trailer for the US version (it's ironic the US trailer is exclusive to the Japanese SE dvd, and the Japanese teaser is exclusive to the US SE) and trailer & featurette for the remake. The only thing really missing is a commentary track.

Here's some screencaptures from the R2J extras

Shinichi Chiba interview
Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

That’s a camera helmet, in case you were wondering.
Image

Isao Natsuagi interview
Image

Hiromitsu Suzuki (left) & Monsieur Kamayatsu (right) interview
Image

Isao Kuraishi (left) & Jun Eto (right) interview
Image

The tank still exists. It was sold to a private ”car collector”.
Image

Image

Image

OP screen from the US cut
Image

End credits from the US cut
Image

US trailer
Image

Image

Special ending credits on disc 1: Chiba directing Hiroko Yakushimaru
Image

Here's Hiroko's scene in the film
Image

And Hiroyuki Sanada, too.
Image

Artwork (cardboard sleeve)
Image Image

User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 10820
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: G.I. Samurai: R2J review and comparison (R1 vs R2J)

Unread post by HungFist » 14 Sep 2009, 19:41

The old comparison is here:
http://www.bulletsnbabesdvd.com/forums/ ... php?t=3432

As far as I'm concerned, that topic can be deleted.

Post Reply