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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Grand Duel - Blu-ray Review

After much anticipation I have finally received the blu-ray of The Grand Duel released by Mill Creek.

Upon announcement of this release, there were fears in the LVC community that this disc would merely be an upconvert from the very nice DVD that Wild East put out a few years ago.  You can put those fears to rest right now.  This is an all new transfer and it looks GREAT!

I'm not going to review the actual film, just the quality of the disc.  For general information on the movie click here

Overview

The print used for the transfer is titled "The Big Showdown".  Like many spaghetti westerns The Grand Duel has many titles.  I think the first time I saw it on VHS it was called "Storm Rider".
This version is longer than the previously released Wild East DVD.  While I have not done a complete side by side comparison, I did notice a scene on the blu-ray that I have often seen in the trailer, but never in the actual film on DVD; the scene where the dying old man wipes his bloody hand on Adam Saxon.  I am sure there are many more.

Wild East DVD run time: 1:30:38
Mill Creek Blu-ray run time: 1:33:48

Video

The presentation on this blu-ray far exceeded my expectations.  Admittedly I was worried at first as the background for the blu-ray menu showed an intentionally scratchy washed out print.

The print is pristine and blemish free.  It looks to be pulled from the original negative and not a interpositive based version as there are subtle jumps occasionally in between cuts.  As an original negative is literally glued together between cuts, over time the print will reveal these "bumps".  Not a huge deal.
Color is solid throughout, and film grain is well defined without being distracting.  Details are are very sharp on the extreme close ups.

Audio

The audio is nothing spectacular, but is clear.  There are some serious sync issues.  For example in the scene where LVC spins around and says "I never kill for money", was out of sync, which was not a problem in the Wild East version.  These type of sync issues are probably in 50% of the movie, and seem to occur in large chunks of run time.  I know Spaghetti Westerns are known for their dubbing, but the English should match!  Bummer.

In Conclusion

This disc can be purchased for well under $10.  Aside from the audio sync issues, I feel it is a great disc.  I popped in the Wild East DVD afterwards and found it to be unwatchable (but I am a Blu-ray snob).   Just buy the damn thing!

subtle package labeling!



2 comments:

  1. It sounds good. Except for the sound sync problem. I remember when this movie was before the cameras (according to Variety back then it said "shooting in Italy" but I guess some could be somewhere in Spain but likely most of this film if not all of it was shot in Italy), the title was "Showdown at High Noon"!! And Lee made this film just after he did "The Magnificent Seven Ride" in California and LA. It didn't debut in my area until 1975 and it was first run at the drive-inn under the title "The Grand Duel". I knew it was the same movie I saw listed in 1972 when I saw it because of the rest of the cast. I had never heard of those other titles until it came out on VHS/DVD.

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  2. Despite the sync problems, it is a fantastic presentation, and I doubt we will ever see this film look any better. I am actually quite shocked we got this at all. I think it just proves that even after years of seeing horrible prints or transfers, the original film elements are out there waiting to be put into a digital format!

    I watched Keoma tonight. It does not look as good as The Grand Duel, but still very watchable.

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