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Japan, 1941: With war raging in Europe, Japan's imperial command sees an opportunity to advance their nation's standing in the world. The plan to attack Pearl Harbor was drawn up, and one man was tasked with it's implementation: Admiral Yamamoto (Kôji Yakusho). Opposed to the plan, Yamamoto must nevertheless carry out his orders and commit one of the biggest military mistakes in history.

 Admiral, The
Despite the action packed promises on the cover art, The Admiral actually turns out to be a sort of reserved, human look at the big turning point in the Second World War. Of course there is the big Pearl Harbor attack (which in all honestly doesn't last all that long here) but really this film's focus is the man who gave the order, Admiral Yamamoto and his journey through dealing with that burden despite his personal feelings.

This is actually quite a level headed look at the players in the history of the event. Japan's confidence after their defeat of Russia, the media pressure to get involved with the war and the sucker punch Japan could deliver to the world power that was America. None of this is really glamorises or indeed attacks Japan's actions in the war, instead we are simply left to witness as events unfold, see how hard choices were made and watch as the aftermath begins. In many ways this is the anti-all-American Michael Bay approach to Pearl Harbor and while Bay's flawed epic brought the thunder, The Admiral steps back and brings some heart instead.

 Admiral, The


The HD presentation here has nice filmic grainy look to it. Colours are nice and warm and detail, while slightly below HD standards still has its moments. The grainier look does a better job at selling the ambitious special effects than a cleaner glossier digital look may have and at about and hour in those effects get to shine in the Pearl Habor attack.

The approach here is a mix between whizz bang modern shots and grainier more real world visuals very much akin to the newsreel footage we have seen of the Pacific battles (and some of them look very realistic). This never feels big and glossy and special effects fans will notice a slightly cheap look to some of the plane and boat effects but there's no denying The Admiral brings a realism to its plane and ship battles. The historic attack is generally shown in wide shots, like that of a documentary rather than right on the pilots lap like in the Michael Bay visual assault of 2001 and once again the grain here adds a bit of age to the look of the historic event and indeed the era.

 Admiral, The
However with all this talk of battles, the majority of this film is actually military folk in rooms talking strategy. These scenes are a mixed bag between of well lit obviously HD in detail and sharpness and borderline DVD looking in their softness and lack of real oomph. Generally speaking this is a transfer that holds its own but it's not always the HD spectacle you'd expect.

 Admiral, The


This is pretty much what you'd expect given the title. Strong shouty military dialogue, whether ordering troops or discussing battle plans and of course softer, more human moments when the Admiral mulls over his actions.

The Pearl Harbor attack and well as the handful of other battles are strangely heavy on the string based score rather than the beats of the gunfire or plane engines. These elements are of course strong throughout all of the battle scenes but the score is somewhat overwhelming in the mix to let the emotional significance of this event come across above and beyond the flippy planes and sweeping gunfire.

 Admiral, The


Nothing much here really. Three trailers for the film as well as some other available titles.

 Admiral, The


The Admiral

fits into a mold which seems to be trending from Japan at the moment. Historic event movies that delve into the individuals rather than the events that happened in their story. Sure the significance is felt for this WWII game changer but it's more about the people it affects on the side you hear less about than the kick up the ass it gave America to take warfare to a new level.

Disc wise, I liked the grainier transfer here but it's not always consistently good. As for the audio, after Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor set standards on the how the event should sound, the audio feels less energetic than it should but the score underpins everything to dramatic effect nicely.

* Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.