TAMPOPO blu-ray review

Germany Region B blu-ray

1080p Widescreen 1.85:1

Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (original)

German Dolby Digital 2.0 (dub)

Subtitles: English, German









The perfect movie aka Tampopo has finally been released on English-subtitled Blu-ray! If you have a Blu-ray player that can play Region B Blu-rays, I recommend buying this cult classic from Germany right away before it becomes out of print. If I had to list my top favorite five movies of all time, Tampopo certainly makes the cut. Not only extremely rewatchable, Tampopo is the best Japanese film ever made.  Many people may think that Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai is the best Japanese movie ever? I don’t know about that. I think those are the same people who say that Citizen Kane is the best American film ever made. Both films are great but just a bit overrated. Tampopo is on the opposite spectrum of being the most underrated Japanese masterpiece ever made. Either way, do not miss out on Juzo Itami’s Tampopo!

Tampopo is a film about people who love food. The main story follows two truck drivers, Goro (Tsutomu Yamazaki) and Gun (Ken Watanabe) who come across an unpopular ramen noodle shop in the outskirts of Tokyo. The shop is run by Tampopo, a sweet 40-year old widowed mother who doesn’t realize that her business has been failing because she has been serving poor-quality ramen to her customers this whole time. After the two truck drivers save Tampopo’s teenage son from bullies, they are rewarded with a bowl of crummy noodle soup. Feeling pity for Tampopo, Goro tells Tampopo the awful truth about her cooking and takes it upon himself to improve Tampopo’s cooking skills. As Goro and Tampopo team up and figure out methods to create the perfect ramen noodle soup, the couple falls in love. This touching story is also sprinkled with hilarious vignettes of people’s interaction with food: a yakuza and his mistress perform erotic acts with food, a homeless man turns out to be master chef, an old lady sneaks around in a supermarket just to feel the food, a class learns the proper way to eat spaghetti in a restaurant, and many more. Scenes suddenly shift to these vignettes and back to the main story with perfect editing and transitions.

The German Region B Blu-ray is a huge upgrade from any of the previous English-subtitled videos. You can throw out the awful-quality letterboxed USA DVD version. The only other good English-subtitled DVD was the Japanese anamorphic version which you can throw away as well. While this German Blu-ray did not receive a massive restoration, the 1080p 1.85:1 video quality is a revelation. The video has its problems but this is not an upscaled DVD – this movie has finally received the HD treatment and looks beautiful. With increased resolution, there is detail in almost every shot and brings real depth to the image. Flesh tones sometimes lean to the red but look good enough. The image is also very clean and crisp. Bright or day shots look the most amazing. The main negative with the video quality are the blacks – night shots or dark scenes tend to sacrifice shadow detail – there are a few scenes where you will be practically watching a black screen. All things considered this is a pretty great presentation of a catalog film that will most likely not get released on Blu-ray outside of Japan and Germany. The Japanese 2.0 does the job and is totally serviceable. While the audio didn’t get spiffed up, the dialogue is clear and isn’t problematic whatsoever. The English subtitles are excellent. Please note that English subtitles are not advertised on the back cover or in the Blu-ray menu. The English subtitles option only appears when you press the subtitles button during the movie which gives you options of German subs, English subs, or no subs. The only extras are an hour and a half “making of” (in Japanese only with no English subtitles or German subtitles for some strange reason) and trailer. The German Blu-ray comes with a reversible Blu-ray cover with better artwork as shown above.

I really don’t have too many favorite films that I could watch once a week, but Juzo Itami’s Tampopo is one of those rare films that I could watch all the time. I guarantee that you will be hungry while watching this food porn film.

TEARS FOR SALE dvd review

Australia PAL DVD

Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1

Dolby Digital 5.1 Serbian

Subtitles: English


MOVIE: 9.5






Tears for Sale (aka Charleston and Vendetta) was well worth the wait after discovering the trailer for it two years ago. This is the best Serbian film that I have ever seen (that wasn’t an Emir Kusturica film)! I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a well-done male-fantasy film as in TEARS FOR SALE (not male-fantasy as in gay, but a total fantasy film for men). This movie just kills all those B-movies that star an all-female cast of hotties and ass-kickers. The sisters and the rest of this female-cast film are all hot! If I was a porno director, I would definitely steal the storyline from this film to make the best porno ever. Here’s the basic story to the movie: Due to the majority of men killed off during war after war, two cursed sisters have to bring a man back to their village so that the other village women can have sex with him anytime. The only way for the sisters to break their curse is to complete this mission, but of course, things go a bit off track during their search for a man.

Since this is a professionally-made, well-written great movie (rather than a porno), there are deeper themes in this film, which involve ideas about love and an anti-war theme (which is quite a popular theme in many former-Yugoslavian films). TEARS FOR SALE is fast paced, funny, and has an amazing filming style a la Jeunet and Gilliam with great music and special effects. Just a perfect movie!

After waiting forever for an English-subtitled DVD to be released, i’m not so disappointed that the Australian PAL DVD video quality turned out to be just okay. After all, the first DVD of this film released in Serbia was chopped up to be full screen and had no English subtitles, so the Australian DVD is better than nothing. The video quality is 2.35: 1 anamorphic widescreen, but it’s a bit washed out and full of ghosting. At least it’s not pixilated or interlaced looking, but the video quality isn’t that great for such a visual film like this. It’s not problematic enough to ruin the movie-watching experience, but if this movie gets a better DVD version elsewhere, I’ll be all over it. This movie was created for blu-ray – it needs a blu-ray release badly. As fair as the video quality may be, at least the Dolby Digital 5.1 Serbian audio option rocks! It has a totally immersive audio that fills the room very nicely. The English subtitles are perfect, but they are a bit small. You may have to squint, but once again it’s not a big deal since this DVD is the only way to watch this movie. There are no extras on either DVD.

The UK PAL DVD that is also available is exactly the same (same video/audio quality, same small English subtitles, and same lack of extras) as the Australian PAL DVD, only that the UK PAL DVD is cheaper.

This DVD is a definite blind-buy!