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Click above to purchase "Tora! Tora! Tora! Special Edition"
Tora! Tora! Tora!
review by Zach B.
Running Time: 145 minutes
Starring Martin Balsam, Joseph Cotten, E.G. Marshall,
James Whitmore, Jason Robards, Soh Yamaura, Tatsuya Mihashi,
Takahiro Tamura, Eijiro Tono, Koreya Senda
Screenplay by Larry Forrester (American Sequences)
Screenplay by Hideo Oguni and Ryuzo Kikushima (Japanese
Directed by Toshio and Kinji Fukasuka (Japanese
Directed by Richard Fleischer
Retail Price: $24.98
Features: Commentary With Director Richard Fleischer
and Japanese Film Historian Stewart Galbraith, 20 Minute
Documentary "Day Of Infamy", Theatrical Trailer
Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby
Digital 4.1, English Dolby Surround, French Mono, English
Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Chapter Search (31 Chapters),
"Tora! Tora! Tora!" is a movie that's remembered and
liked, however, I don't think it's given the proper
treatment as it really deserves. It's more like a cult movie
in some ways, it's held in a certain spot. Audiences do
enjoy it, but as far as a movie that's a "war classic",
people don't consider it one. When war movies are discussed,
it's never really mentioned. While I've seen some better war
movies, "Tora! Tora! Tora!" is pretty underrated if you ask
me, and has an excellent sense of style as well as an
accurate sense of history. It can be slow at times, however,
it's still very interesting and very well made. The movie
always intrigues me and I find it pretty entertaining in
many respects. The film was nominated for five Academy
Awards® and won for best visual effects, but the other
nominations were in the technical department.
"Tora! Tora! Tora!" is in documentary style, as we go
back and forth between the United States of America and
Japan and see the development of events that eventually led
to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The film doesn't glorify
everything and doesn't leave anything out. It shows the
mistakes that each side made as well as what they did and
tried to do. The U.S. uses a machine to break Japanese code,
the Japanese plans the attacks and so on. The way it's
presented though you don't get confused, and you're always
wondering what will happen next, even though most of us know
our history and of course, knows what actually happens. If
you never learned about Pearl Harbor and the events, or
forgot or need to know something, or curious for some
additional depth on the subject, I really do recommend that
you check out "Tora! Tora! Tora!". For you school kids out
there, you may want to watch the movie to help you better
understand what you're studying*. (*Note: DVDlaunch does not
encourage watching a movie to study for a test. Take notes,
review your textbook and study hard the old fashioned way!)
What I think is so interesting about "Tora! Tora! Tora!"
is that it's not one sided, it cuts back and forth between
the US and Japan. Scenes are never really dull and are
pretty necessary, as they all come together to tell a very
unique (and true) story. What I also think is really
interesting how the film had two production teams: an
American one for the United States parts and a Japanese one
for the Japanese parts. What really surprised me that
Kurosawa was going to do the film, and even shot some
footage, but he left the project. Each do a superb job
creating the events and tensions people felt, and I really
liked how the Japanese parts are very authentic. They don't
speak English, but rather, Japanese and there are subtitles.
While not so many movies do that as of late and just have
people speak English instead of a native language, I still
think it's a nice experience.
There are also some pretty high production values. I
mentioned the historical accuracy, but the script is quite
intelligent. Things are easy to understand are not
dumb-downed for the masses. The direction is really lean and
tight, giving that good documentary style I mentioned
before. The film also has some breathtaking shots and great
editing to give you a sense like you are there, as well as
that you're never confused. The cinematography and editing
got Oscar® nods. The opening shot, at least I think, is
pretty magnificent. As far as the acting goes, it's decent.
Nothing too spectacular, but it could have been a lot worse.
Still, most of the actors make the roles believable. And the
best for last... the special effects. Wow. The battles are a
bit later on in the film, but they look quite authentic and
If you've never seen it, "Tora! Tora! Tora!" is a very
rewarding war movie, and maybe with this new special edition
DVD release, it'll gain a bigger audience and hopefully be
held in higher regard. Still, I personally think this
re-release is to cash in on summer 2001's "Pearl Harbor" (as
the DVD is being released ten days before that film opens).
"Pearl Harbor", of course, looks like it's going to be
another Bruckheimer hit and one of the biggest movies of all
time... but now I'm getting off topic. Just sit back and
watch "Tora! Tora! Tora!", you'll probably gain something
out of it.
"Tora! Tora! Tora!" looked pretty incredible before on
the previous Fox DVD release, and that same THX-certified
transfer is back again on the special edition. Presented in
the glorious widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1, all I have
to say that this is a transfer that will drop your jaw to
the ground. For a film that's now over thirty years old, the
result is really, really impressive. The film starts out a
little shotty, but really cleans up. Black level is great,
detail is pretty fantastic and hues as well as fleshtones
are really accurate, to help bring the documentary-style of
the film to full life. However, there are some bits of
grain, and the look of the film is a little bit soft and
faded. In the end, it's a great clean up that really shows
that old films can still look great if given good treatment.
Also from the old DVD release, Fox gives us a nifty
THX-certified 4.1 track for "Tora! Tora! Tora!" as well as
English Dolby Surround and French mono tracks. The 4.1 is
pretty much mono spread around, and you can tell the age of
the sound due to some pretty low fidelity. I had to crank my
speakers up a bit, but as far as the actual track, it really
did surprise me. There is some really nice speaker use here,
such as with planes flying and the action sequences. The
music sounded excellent too. However, I felt there could
have been better surround use in some areas and more split
surround use, to give a more enhanced enhanced effect, sort
of like actually being there. I noticed a few missed times
where this could have occurred, but in total, a lot makes up
for it with other great sounds to draw you in. More bass
extension would have been nice as well, but it does a fairly
good job during the action sequences. You'll probably really
like this track, and if you don't, you have a choice of
English Surround and French mono, as well as Japanese and
The previous Fox edition had three war film trailers
(included one for "Tora! Tora! Tora!"), but this new special
edition has some really good supplements. So if you bought
the old version... you probably will want to buy it yet
So yes, you get the Theatrical Trailer for "Tora!
Tora! Tora!" in full frame and two channel sound. It looks
terrible with a lot of grain, dirt and a lot, but it's
pretty interesting to see an old trailer compared to so many
new ones. It's a little long, and they make it seem like a
whole cliffhanger and try to get you intrigued (though you
should know some of the answers if you know your history).
After so many new trailers, it's a nice change of pace to
watch an old one.
A new Twenty Minute Documentary entitled "Day of
Infamy" is actually more like a featurette. This is a pretty
nice watch, as it isn't really about "Tora! Tora! Tora!",
but rather, the acutal Pearl Harbor bombing. Clips from the
film are shown in non-anamorphic widescreen, and there is a
lot of newsreel footage as well as stil photographs.
Historians also give some insightful and deep thought onto
the event, and while it doesn't really have anything to do
with the movie, it explains some things further and is a
nice compliment to the film.
Finally, I saved the best for last. A Commentary With
Richard Fleischer and Stewart Galbraith. This is one of
the best commentary tracks I've heard in a long, long time
and I was very pleased that it was included on the disc.
Things are not always screen specific, but they go into an
amazing amount of detail about the production. Earlier in
the review I mentioned Kurosawa doing the film, and there's
a good amount of talk about him, and how the footage he shot
was not used (why not put it on the DVD?). If you liked the
movie and want to learn about the rich production history of
it, you must listen to it. There's a lot to gain here.
Again, you'll probably want to replace your old "Tora!
Tora! Tora!" DVD if you have it, as this new special edition
from Fox is really good. The presentation is well done, and
I was glad to see the new supplements on the disc, as they
give more on to the film and Pearl Harbor. "Tora! Tora!
Tora!"is a very well done, balanced, intelligent and
entertaining movie. If you like the film, it should
definitely go in your collection. If you haven't seen it, be
sure to check it out. This new edition also has a
surprisingly low price... so do what you have to do.
(4/5 - NOT included in
NOT an average)