DVD: Kill! (Criterion)



English DVD Title (Region 1)



Japanese (1.0 Mono)

Aspect Ratio:

114 minutes
2.35:1 Anamorphic





  • Menus (English)
  • Chapters (24)
  • Trailers: Kill! (2 total)
  • Essay by Film Critic Howard Hampton (Booklet)



By: Anthony Romero

Released as part of their Rebel Samurai set, although also available for individual purchase, this 2005 release features director Kihachi Okamoto's black comedic take of the samurai genre. This DVD offers the uncut, original Japanese version of the movie, allowing samurai fans to dive into the late 1960's entry as it was meant to be watched. Unforutnatly, presentation wise this title is a little below Criterion's normal standards at this point in time, featuring an okay video and audio track while being fairly light on extras.

 Video: Star Rating

In terms of the video presentation, Criterion did an okay job with this release. It's not their finest hour, in fact it's below other titles from them at this point in time, but is an okay way to watch the movie. On the bright side, notable print damage is relatively low. There are no overt scratches or anything. There is a presistent layer of grain through out, although not surprising as Criterion tends to avoid noise reduction. Sadly, the transfer really loses out in terms of sharpness, looking overly soft when subjects aren't in close up. Finally, the saturation level is also too high, causing for a loss of detail when something as simple as someone's sweat reflecting off a set light occurs, which is pretty often. The trade off is naturally a nice range of blacks and grays, including some really deep blacks as well, but something that isn't worth the loss of detail in other circumstances.

Kill! is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, also known as Toho Scope. The video track features no window boxing, the addition of black around the image to prevent cropping on older sets. This is nice as it means more space can be used to preserve the image quality, although sadly didn't help this particular release.


 Audio: Star Rating

The disc features a single audio track, which is the original mono presentation in Japanese. Quality wise, the track is in okay shape. There are no pops or crackles heard during the track, although audio clarity could be better with the dialogue sounding a little rough at times. Masaru Sato's lively soundtrack also doesn't quite jump out at the listener as it does on its CD release, although that is to be expected given the difference in compression between a DVD audio track from a movie and a CD release.

The audio can be supplemented by removable English subtitles. The subtitles translate not only dialogue but onscreen text as well, outside of the opening credits which are not translated.


 Extras: Star Rating

For a Criterion release, this disc is pretty light on extras. It contains two trailers and a critical essay on the movie as well.

In terms of the trailers, there is both a main trailer and a teaser trailer. Both are presented here in Japanese with removable English subtitles. Quality on the trailers is below that of the main film, as to be expected, but not to a horrible degree. The main trailer is interesting as well for the way it spoils the whole movie while at the same time ignoring the comedic angles for a more serious approach. It also uses music heavily from The Hidden Fortress (1958) and Yojimbo (1961). The teaser is less engaging, but stands out for featuring lots of unused footage, including a long scene of "Genta" and "Hanji" fighting others out in a desolate area.

This release also includes a physical extra in the form of an essay by film critic Howard Hamption inside the included booklet. Hampton's essay is a good review of the film, on its star Tatsuya Nakadai, and its director Kihachi Okamoto. However, the essay is light on factual insight in terms of behind the scenes information, feeling more like... well a review and less like a supplement to the production.


 Overview: Star Rating

Bottom line, this isn't a super strong release, but is a serviceable way to watch the movie uncut with at least the trailers included as well. Hopefully, though, Criterion gives it a more refined release on Blu-ray someday. Until then, though, this DVD makes for the best way to view this production in the United States.