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Detention (Dekanalog) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Detention (Dekanalog) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Dekanalog
    Released on: January 25th, 2022.
    Director: John Hsu
    Cast: Gingle Wang, Fu Meng-Po, Tse Jing-Hua, Cecilia Choi
    Year: 2019
    Purchase From Amazon

    Detention - Movie Review:

    Based on the popular Taiwanese video game of the same name, director John Hsu's 2019 film Detention is set just in the 1960's in Taiwan during the era of White Terror, a long period of very strict political oppression for the island nation.

    A high school student named Wei Chung Ting is one of a few members of a clandestine book club setup without the government's knowledge by a teacher named Miss Yin Tsui Han that gives certain students access to literature and art banned by the government. While this is very definitely illegal, the students truly appreciate it and seem to get a lot out of it. When the club is discovered, however, Wei and a few others are arrested and then tortured. This causes Wei, clearly suffering mental duress from the abuse, to enter a nightmare version of the school which is all boarded up and populated not by students but by monsters.

    Wei does run into one student, a young woman named Fang Ray Shin who has no idea how she arrived in this alternate reality version of the school. Together, they come to learn that they're trapped on the grounds and hope to find a teacher named Mr. Chang Ming Hui. Eventually they learn that the book club was discovered because someone went to the authorities to report its existence, and Wei suspects that Fang Ray Shin might have been the one responsible. She flees, and Wei learns that the other students from the book club have been executed. As this plays out, through flashbacks we learn about Ray's life in and out of the school and her complicated relationship with Mr. Chang Ming Hui and how all of this ties to the main narrative set in the alternate version of the school.

    In terms of its narrative, Detention is a mess. At times needless complicated, the movie goes in a few different directions at once and never does a satisfying job of resolving them. Having knowledge of Taiwanese history would almost certainly help with this, but the movie, not originally geared to a western audience, doesn't give us any background information here to help out. On top of this, the movie is chock full of B-grade digital effects work that make it feel more like the video game it was based on than the live action feature it's supposed to be. There's so much digital work going on here that it even results in some odd trailing and stuttering in the backgrounds. Maybe this would work for the original game's fan base but going into this blind without prior knowledge of the game, it just didn't work.

    The movie does have some merit, however. The acting is generally quite strong, with all the main members of the cast doing fine work. There's some great looking monsters and a few eerily memorable set pieces on display in the picture. The movie also has some truly excellent sound design working in its favor. Sadly, this isn't enough to save the film from its needlessly messy narrative and lackluster digital effects.

    Detention - Blu-ray Review:

    Detention comes to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed properly in the in 1.85.1 widescreen aspect taking up 21.4GBs of space on the 25GB disc. The transfer is uneven. The digitally shot picture looks nice and sharp in the lighter scenes showing very good detail, depth and color reproduction. The darker scenes, particularly those with a lot of CGI in them, don't seem to fare as well, often times looking muddy and showing some trailing.

    The only audio option on the disc is an excellent Mandarin 24-bit DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track and it sounds fantastic. If the film has its flaws, the sound design in the picture is very strong and this mix does a great job of bringing it to life. It's crystal clear and perfectly balanced with plenty of rear channel activity bringing you into the more active scenes. Plenty of tight, strong bass response here too. Optional subtitles are included in English only.

    Extras are comprised primarily of three featurettes, starting with Port Of Origin: Adapting Detention, a six minute piece exploring what went into adapting the video game and turning it into a movie. Interviews with the writing team and the director explain the importance of understanding the game and gaming in general, elements from the game that they needed to get right for the feature and the concept and history of White Terror and how it relates to the plot.

    The six and a half minute Return To Greenwood High: Making Detention featurette is a behind the scenes piece shot on the set during the making of the movie. It shows the cast and crew at work and gives us a nice look at the locations that were used for most of the movie.

    The nine and a half minute The Visual Effects Of Detention is, as you'd expect, a look at what went into the effects work featured in the film. It's pretty much all done digitally, and interviews and behind the scenes footage explain what went into bringing some of the digital creations from the game and turning them into digital creations in the movie.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc are a trailer, a music video, menus and chapter selection options.

    Inside the clear keepcase with the disc is a color insert booklet that contains two essays, The Ethics And Erotics Of Watching Detention by Timmy Chih-Ting Chen and Interpreting Apparitions: How Detention Taught A New Generation Of Youth About White Terror by Panos Kotzathanasis. Both offer some insight into the film and background info on the video game that inspired it.

    Detention - The Final Word:

    Detention has its moments but is bogged down by a few too many confusing elements and an overly digitized appearance. The Blu-ray from Dekanalog looks okay, if not amazing, but does feature some interesting featurettes and an absolutely killer sound mix. Your mileage may vary.

    Click on the images below for full sized The Detention Blu-ray screen caps!





























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