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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF Blu-ray Review: The Matador



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#1 of 1 OFFLINE   Todd Erwin

Todd Erwin

    Screenwriter



  • 2,279 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 16 2008
  • Real Name:Todd Erwin
  • LocationOrange County, CA

Posted March 23 2009 - 02:22 PM

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US Release Date: March 17, 2009


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The Matador is a documentary that follows the 2003, 2004, and 2005 seasons in the career of bullfighter David Fandila, known as “El Fandi.” I had mixed feelings before watching Stephen Higgins’ documentary, as I find bullfighting to be brutal and inhumane. But The Matador focuses on David Fandila and his family, and does not spend much of its running time showing bullfights, and the gory details are at a minimum.

Bullfighting is a family tradition for David Fandila, although success eluded his father’s generation. In home movies, we get a glimpse of the early passion David had for this sport, and through interviews with family members, aficionados, managers, and experts, we discover the sacrifices and discipline required to become a successful matador. We also discover the balletic beauty that contrasts with the brutality, as a man dances with a bull to its death. During the 2005 season, “El Fandi” attempts to fight six bulls in one day (most matadors will fight two bulls in a match). What is fascinating about this event is that David is gored during the third bullfight, yet manages to finish that fight, and then, after a 45-minute surgery to close the wound, he returns to triumphantly battle the remaining three bulls. He would then go on to become only the 13th matador in Spain’s history to complete 100 bullfights, or “corridas,” in one season.


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City Lights brings The Matador to Blu-ray in a 1080p VC-1 encode that is soft (likely due to the low-budget and use of natural lighting), but with no visible compression artifacts or additional noise. Colors are strong, especially the reds, but not oversaturated or bleeding.


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This Blu-ray edition contains only one soundtrack option, which is a 5.1 Dolby Digital track at a bitrate of 448 kbps. Dialogue is clear and focused to the center channel. Surrounds are used to good effect with John Califra’s score along with the atmospheric sounds of cheering crowds during the bullfighting scenes.


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There is a decent share of bonus materials included on this disc, although most are in standard definition.

When the disc starts, your are forced to watch trailers for Kiss of the Spider Woman, Mitzi Gaynor: Razzle Dazzle! The Special Years, and The Year My Parents Went On Vacation. All are in standard definition and can skipped by hitting the Pop-up Menu button.

Full “Corrida” Fight Seguences Shot In Spain Essentially two complete bullfights, or corridas, filmed in Jaen, Spain in October 2005. This 47 minute featurette is in standard definition with Spanish audio and no subtitles.

”An Introduction To The Bullfight” Mini Doc Edward Lewine, author of “Death and the Sun: A Matador’s Season in the Heart of Spain,” narrates and explains what a bullfight is. I found this very interesting. The featurette runs about 9 minutes.

Music Video Bullfighting sequences set to a 2 minute selection of music from the movie’s score, in 1080p high definition. Essentially a commercial for the movie soundtrack, as a card appears at the end indicating that the score can be downloaded at iTunes. This feature also precedes the feature film.

Photo Gallery A 2-minute video slideshow, in 1080p, of photos taken during the making of the film, set to a selection from the movie’s score.

Trailer Finally, the film’s trailer is presented in 1080p video.


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An interesting documentary with a good but slightly soft HD transfer and a short but informative mini-documentary make this a fairly good package. Highly recommended for high school Spanish language classes for its look at bullfighting and the Spanish culture.



This DVD was reviewed on the following home theater gear:
  • Toshiba 56HM66 DLP HDTV
  • Sony Playstation 3 (outputting to 1080i)
  • Yamaha HTR-5940 Home Theater Receiver (in 5.1 configuration)
  • Yamaha NS-AP2600 Home Cinema Speaker Package
  • Yamaha YST-SW010 subwoofer