Release Date(s)1982 (December 14, 2021)
Studio(s)Eastern Media/21st Century Film Corporation (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
- Film/Program Grade: C+
- Video Grade: B
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: B
Following up 1977’s martial arts extravaganza Dynasty was Revenge of the Shogun Women. (Although it was made in 1977, it wasn’t released in the US until 1982.) Director Mei-Chun Chang returned with much of the same crew aboard to make a much more aggressively violent story about a group of bandits who set their sights on a young woman and her family. Unfortunately for them, thirteen highly-trained fighters from a nearby monastery have arrived to stop them. Swords, throwing stars, and hair braids go flying in this simple but entertaining slice of Eastern combat schizophrenia.
Both films utilized the Super-Touch, or Optimax III, 3D system. It was the promise fulfilled by low budget filmmaker Michael Findlay, who had developed the technology before his untimely death. This stereoscopic format filmed separate left and right images stacked on top of each other, which created two separate images within the same frame on the negative. It was temperamental with mixed results when it came to image quality, but produced excellent 3D images when in proper alignment. And Revenge of the Shogun Women benefits from it exceedingly.
Revenge of the Shogun Women was shot by cinematographers Jung-Shu Chen and Lorenzo Somma on 35 mm film using the Super-Touch 3D lens system, finished photochemically, and framed at the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Kino Lorber Studio Classics presents 3-D Film Archive’s new restoration of Revenge of the Shogun Women on Blu-ray 3D in three separate presentations: polarized 3D, anaglyph 3D, and normal 2D. The 3-D Film Archive has managed to save the film from the only known elements in existence, which had already began to deteriorate. The fact that they were able to salvage anything is nothing short of miraculous. Before the film begins, a title card informs us that “Shogun Women has been restored from the best surviving 35 mm elements and the stereoscopic vertical alignment issues from principal photography have been addressed. However, there are baked-in Super-Touch 3-D lens system anomalies which cannot be repaired.”
Due to the amount of glass surfaces used within the Super-Touch 3D camera system, constant maintenance was required for optimal filming, which was not always done. Because of this, a myriad of issues cropped up, including illumination mismatching, speckling, and vignetting. As previously stated in the opening title card, many of the vertical alignment issues have been repaired, but minor instability, speckling, discoloration, and dark edges are still present and appear to be permanent. There are also leftover lines, splice marks, and scratches—much of it more prevalent in the 2D presentation.
The 3D itself is stellar with wonderful depth, thanks in no small part to the film’s compositional work. Traditional 3D effects, such as swords jutting at the camera, and arrows and fireballs flying past, are mostly effective. Only minor ghosting is visible, but it’s never intrusive. The 2D presentation is a little rougher. The opening rape and pillage sequence is all over the place in terms of color temperatures, focal issues, crushed blacks, and more apparent damage. The presentation evens out a bit after that. In fact, certain areas look great, particularly the sequences before the second bandit attack. The Herculean efforts to get the presentation to this point, after carefully sorting through faded and deteriorated material, are to be commended.
Also included is an anaglyph 3D version, which is a new 2021 master using 3-D Film Archive's newly developed Adaptive Multi-Band Anaglyphic Encoding process. It fares much better than most presentations of its type. In fact, it's superior to any anaglyphic version that has been seen in the past. It also provides everyone who purchases this release a way to experience the film the way it was intended, even without access to modern 3D technology.
Audio is included in English 2.0 mono DTS-HD Master Audio with optional subtitles in English SDH. It’s a dubbed track (the original soundtrack likely no longer exists) that offers plenty of muscle for its 80s synth-driven soundtrack. Dialogue exchanges are discernible and sound effects come in a variety of qualities. Hiss is prevalent throughout, but it’s satisfactory overall.
The following extras are included, all in HD:
- College Capers (3D and 2D – 15:15)
- Persian Slave Market (3D and 2D – 11:05)
- Two Guys from Tick Ridge (3D and 2D – 16:28)
3-D Film Archive has also lovingly restored three rare 3D shorts and included them as extras. In 1953’s College Capers (presented in black and white), a bumbling panty raider is caught in the act trying to steal undergarments as part of a fraternity prank, and hilarity ensues. The film notably features Dolores Fuller (Bride of the Monster, Glen or Glenda) and was directed by editor Elmo Williams (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, High Noon). In 1953’s Persian Slave Market (also in black and white), three women perform striptease dances outside in a garden area. And in 1973’s Two Guys from Tick Ridge, a film producer shows his southern-fried friend examples of 3D footage. His friend then provides “hilarious” criticism and commentary.
In most cases, the original camera negatives for these shorts no longer exist. For College Capers and Persian Slave Market, all that survives are very faded and rapidly deteriorating anaglyphic release prints. Additional scanning and 3D extraction techniques were employed to get the absolute best quality out of the images in both 2D and 3D. The 3D obviously fares much better by comparison as the 2D shows the abundance of flaws still present in the images. In the case of Two Guys from Tick Ridge, additional clean-up had to be performed due to instances of baked-in dirt. The short was originally shot in 16 mm and blown up to 35 mm, which of course heightens grain and any debris present on the original negative. But, thanks to the many restoration efforts, the material has been given the best possible opportunity to shine.
The disc sits inside a blue amaray case with the film’s original US poster artwork on the front. Also included in the package is a single pair of anaglyph 3D glasses.
Another stellar release from 3-D Film Archive and Kino Lorber Studio Classics, Revenge of the Shogun Women is a Silver Age 3D title that can be enjoyed to its fullest, with three additional 3D shorts in tow. If you’re a 3D fan, this a must-purchase release!
- Tim Salmons