Monday, 7 August 2017

Unboxing [UK]: The Handmaiden - Special Edition (Blu-ray)

It's been well over a year since I last bought a live-action film from the Asian Cinema (Japan, China, Hong Kong, Korea) and recently a new film from the director of Old Boy just got released and I wanted to check it out.

The Handmaiden is a South Korean film directed by Park Chan-wook, known for his work on the Vengeance Trilogy (Oldboy, Lady Vengeance & Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance) as well as Thirst and Stoker. The Handmaiden is inspired by a welsh novel called Fingersmith, written by Sarah Waters, with the key difference being the setting switched to South Korea under the Japanese occupation during the 1930s.

This Special Edition release from Curzon Artificial Eye contains both the theatrical cut and the extended cut versions of the film. The director himself has stated that newcomers should start with the theatrical cut before delving into the extended cut as it is not a director's cut. The extended cut contains at least 22 more minutes of footage compared to the theatrical.

As for the packaging itself it's a cardboard slipcover with two Blu-ray cases, one for the theatrical and the other for the extended version. The spines of the cases don't have the film's title so it's best to make sure the slipcover isn't thrown away.

The Theatrical version is 146 minutes while the Extended Cut Version is 168 minutes.

Now here's the part that is going to need some explaining, the main menu and pop-up menu are like puzzles. When you load the disc the menus won't have any on-screen text aside from the film's name, and instead of a list of options they are highlighting the characters shown on the screen so you will have to guess. But in case you can't here's what they do:

Play (Menu during playback) - The woman holding the umbrella
Chapter Select - The two naked girls
Audio & Subtitles - The man smoking
Bonus Features - The woman being hung

As the film is spoken in both Korean and Japanese, the subtitles are in different colours to help differentiate the two. Korean dialogue will be using White subtitles while Japanese dialogue will be using Yellow subtitles. The subtitles are unlockable so you can switch between no subs, translated subs or hard of hearing subs in the theatrical cut. The extended cut version only offers translated subtitles (but is also unlockable). The Blu-ray discs are region locked to B only.

You can order the release on Amazon UK. Theatrical Cut versions are also available for Blu-ray and DVD.

Blu-ray Specs (Theatrical Cut):
Languages: Korean/Japanese
Audio: DTS-HD MA 5.1 & LPCM 2.0 [Korean/Japanese], LPCM 2.0 [English Audio Description]
Video: 1080p HD Native 16:9
Region: B
Subtitles: English, English Hard of Hearing
Subtitles Locked: No
Discs: 1

Blu-ray Specs (Extended Cut Version):
Languages: Korean/Japanese
Audio: DTS-HD MA 5.1 & LPCM 2.0 [Korean/Japanese]
Video: 1080p HD Native 16:9
Region: B
Subtitles: English
Subtitles Locked: No
Discs: 1

Plot Synopsis (via Curzon Artifical Eye):
In 1930s Korea, during Japanese occupation, Sookee is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress who lives a secluded life on an enchanting and lavish estate with her domineering uncle. Yet Sookee has a secret, she has been recruited by a swindler posing as an illustrious Count to spy on the Lady so he can eventually seduce her and steal her fortune. However, this swindler is not the only one with a desire to seduce.

On-Disc Extra Content (Theatrical Cut):
Interview with Director

On-Disc Extra Content (Extended Cut Version):
Making of
Cast Introduction
Cannes Premiere
Director Interview

Special Edition Extras:
Cardboard slipcase with two Blu-ray cases
Extended Cut Version (168 minutes)

The Handmaiden is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Curzon Artifical Eye. The Extended Cut Version is exclusive to the Special Edition set.

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Member of the Anime UK News forum, and also once part of the Sheffield Hallam Visual Arts society throughout 2013-2017. Been collecting anime since 2012 and supported the anime distributors ever since. Also been hanging around on the Blu-ray forum and Fandom Post forums.

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