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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Blu-ray Review: Sabata (Germany)

Released in December of 2013 in Germany by Explosive Media (who also have released The Big Gundown and Death Rides a Horse), this marks the first instance of Sabata on Blu-ray.  There are still no signs of Yul Brynner's Adios Sabata and the LVC sequel Return of Sabata on blu-ray.

While this review is to discuss the merits of the blu-ray and not the actual film itself, I will say that Sabata is LVC in his Spaghetti Western prime, possibly for the last time, as the genre quickly began to decay around the time of the original film's release.

The set itself comes in a very sturdy case which includes a 24-page illustrated booklet. 3 discs are included; the first being the blu-ray (region free!), and the second and third are DVD (PAL). 
 
Disc contents are as follows-
Disc 1 - Blu-ray - Feature Film
 
Disc 2 - DVD - Feature Film 

Disc 3 - DVD - Extras
  • Trailers 
    • Lee Van Cleef Westerns - a large collection of original trailers from LVC's spaghetti western career.  
    • Original English-language trailer for Sabata 
    • Trailers for other Explosive Media releases. 
  • Documentary His Name is Sabata
    • Italian film historian Fabio Melelli and Director Gianfranco Parolini discuss the making of the film. 
  • Promotional Materials 
    • Various lobby cards, posters, etc... set to the soundtrack of the film

blu-ray menu
 
Video

The transfer for Sabata appears to be an older HD transfer supplied to Explosive Media by MGM.  I suspect this is the same transfer that has been used for sporadic HD broadcasts in the past 10 years, possibly even the same print used for the current US DVDs.



 

I would rate the print as very good looking.  Obviously the best we have ever seen the film presented (and likely ever will).  Colors are good.  No major print damage.  Film grain is still evident, so this doesn't look like the waxy The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly disc from 2009.  Overall I was very happy with how the film looks on blu-ray.


Audio

The film sounds good for it's age.  Music by Marcello Giombini is catchy as always.  Dialog is very clear.  No major issues.  Audio is available in English Dolby Digital 2.0, Italian Dolby Digital 2.0, and German Dolby Digital 2.0
 
Extras
 
Explosive Media has put together a nice set of extras for this set, on the third disc (PAL DVD).  First and foremost is a 43 minute documentary, His Name is Sabata, featuring newly filmed (in Italian) interviews with Italian film historian Fabio Melelli and Director Gianfranco Parolini (aka Frank Kramer).  They discuss the origin of the film series and the involvement of Alberto Grimaldi.  Parolini is a very entertaining man, and during the interview also offers up a few tidbits about his LVC film God's Gun.  English subtitles are available throughout.
 
Next we have a vast array of trailers, starting with 47 minutes worth of LVC Spaghetti Western trailers.  Sabata is represented by a lone English trailer.
 
Lastly there are various lobby cards, posters, etc... set to the soundtrack of the film.
 
In Conclusion
 
Until there is a US region 1 release (hopefully the trilogy!), this is the disc to go with as the definitive presentation of Sabata.  The blu-ray disc is region free and can play in all blu-ray players.  The other 2 discs require a region free DVD player.
 
In my opinion if you are a fan of the film, it is well worth the investment.
 
Sabata blu-ray by Explosive Media can be ordered here-
 
 
 

6 comments:

  1. What a timely post! Thank you very much! I had been wondering whether I should order the set as an Easter treat for myself, being a not sooooo very new movie and not quite sure whether older films really can profit from blueray (and having seen it several times already) I had been wondering whether it is worth it. But as the quality of the images looks fine to me and I will be able to see it in Enlish for the first time ever. I JUST DID IT! Waiting for the Easter bunny'Pat the Postman to deliver now...

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    1. Good choice! This company also put out The Big Gundown and Death Rides a Horse, which I also recommend. I'll have reviews for those hopefully soon.

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    2. I am craning my neck for the mail... I already got the Big Gundown from the same series, and it is brilliant. I also like the movie a lot, and it was the first time I saw it! I didnt get DRAH, as I just had got hold of a decent DVD shortly before I heard the DVD/Blueray version would be issued.

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  2. Yes Sabata is probably Lee's last big SW but there are those who like Grand Duel but not doubt it is a lower budget film. It would be interesting to hear what Kramer has to say about God's Gun. A few days ago I read about the film on a DVD review & it talked about Richard Boone walking off the set & not looking back so they didn't even try to get Boone to dub what scenes he did do but it also said the reason Lee & others didn't do their voices for the English soundtrack is because the producers saw the film already too far gone & refused to pay Lee to come into a studio for looping & hired a voice over artist for less money.

    I have a decent copy of Sabata but its not as good as this so I'm going to get it. According to Tom Betts, much of this film was shot in Italy so I'm assuming the town in the beginning may be in Italy but you can clearly tell when they are on location in Spain. I think most of Return of Sabata was shot in Spain except some interior shots & the neat opening sequence. The second film actually was not a Sabata film. It was called "Indio Black" but was changed to a Sabata film after the huge box office this film had in Italy & Spain. I'm sure Alberto Grimaldi was very pleased with the box office success & it did okay business in the United States. In one interview Lee said he was offered "Indio Black" but decided to pass on it so they offered it to Yul Brenner & he took it. Yul passed on sequels to Magnificent Seven & Lee took the last one in that series. Odd isn't it.

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    Replies
    1. I agree that Grand Duel was Lee's last "serious" SW, but by the time that came out we already had to endure Captain Apache and Bad Man's River, so to me, his high quality era ended around Sabata/El Condor.

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  3. awesome blu ray
    nice review
    :-). tx

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