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The Bamboo Saucer Blu-ray Review

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#1 of 2 Timothy E

Timothy E

    Supporting Actor

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Posted April 24 2014 - 05:01 PM

The Bamboo Saucer Blu-ray Review

If Americans and Soviets have the same objective against the Chinese during the Cold War, should they unite in their objective or fight it out and let the Chinese challenge the victor? This is the question that the producers of The Bamboo Saucer sought to pose to film audiences in 1968, in a matinee adventure film starring Dan Duryea and Lois Nettleton.


Cover Art


Studio: Other

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Audio: English 1.0 DTS-HDMA (Mono)

Subtitles: None

Rating: Not Rated

Run Time: 1 Hr. 43 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray

Disc Type: BD25 (single layer)

Region: A

Release Date: 04/08/2014

MSRP: $29.95




The Production Rating: 3/5

Fred Norwood(John Ericson) finds himself washed out as a fighter pilot after he insists that he observed and chased a flying saucer. Norwood becomes obsessed with searching the skies for evidence of these otherworldly aircraft, until he is selected to join a team of Americans infiltrating into Red China to locate an actual flying saucer reported to be abandoned. Dan Duryea(Scarlet Street), plays team leader Hank Peters in what would be his final screen role. As the team covertly searches the Chinese countryside, they encounter a Soviet team, including love interest Anna Karachev(Lois Nettleton), with the same objective. The Americans and Soviets find themselves competing against each other, all while trying to avoid discovery by the Chinese. The cast also includes character actor James Hong(Bladerunner) and Bernard Fox, who is remembered well today as Dr. Bombay on Bewitched.

Although it was released theatrically in 1968, The Bamboo Saucer is kind of a throwback to the types of science fiction "B" movies that were so popular in the 1950s. The Bamboo Saucer is a fun enough matinee that never surpasses its cliches. For example, when Anna Karachev, the female scientist from the Soviet team is bathing in a stream and finds herself surprised by the presence of the Americans, she screams as though they had walked into her private hotel room, rather than an outdoor stream, even though the Soviets are trying to evade capture by the Chinese just as much as the Americans, so screaming is the last thing that she ought to do, except that is what bathing women do in this type of film. This is a sample of the dialogue:

Norwood: I wouldn't mind being strangled by her.

Peters: She's a Commie!

Just as with the plot and dialogue, the special effects have not aged as well as they could for the time in which the film was released. Although the film conveys the message that we are stronger united than divided, there is not much depth of meaning beyond that. The Bamboo Saucer may be no classic like The Day The Earth Stood Still, but it has its own matinee charm. The film benefits from location filming in Lone Pine, California, which stands in for Chinese countryside.



Video Rating: 3/5  3D Rating: NA

The Bamboo Saucer appears on Blu-ray in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This transfer has considerable dirt and debris on what would be the first reel, but the picture quality improves noticeably afterward. The first 10 or 15 minutes of the film are weighted heavily with optical shots that typically have less sharpness and more visible dust. Into what would be the second reel, the film has boosted contrast with strong colors and fairly solid blacks. There is virtually no film grain, and fine detail is reasonably good during the body of the film.



Audio Rating: 3/5

The film is presented in mono DTS-HD audio. There is some audible hiss during the first few minutes of the film, and the last few minutes, but this is not an issue for most of the running time of the film. Dialogue level never fluctuates but is always consistent and audible.



Special Features Rating: 0/5

There are no special features on this edition.



Overall Rating: 3/5

The Bamboo Saucer is an adequate and mildly entertaining science fiction "B" picture. Although it suffers from its cliches, that is also arguably part of its charm. The video and audio presentation are adequate but not exceptional; admittedly, the film elements for The Bamboo Saucer probably have not been stored with the same level of care over the years as a release from a major studio. Fans of MST3K may find themselves at home with The Bamboo Saucer.


Reviewed By: Timothy E


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#2 of 2 JoHud

JoHud

    Screenwriter

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Posted April 24 2014 - 08:04 PM

I kinda liked this one and it mildly exceeded my low expectations for it.  The first quarter or so was probably the cheesiest part of it, up until the saucer was discovered.  It improves somewhat at that point with some interesting Sci-fi in how the saucer works and the Soviet vs America aspect of it becomes less black and white.

 

A few interesting takeaways:

-The Red Chinese were considered a greater threat to global peace than the Soviets.

-We actually get some outer space escapades.  That I did not expect.

-The alien pilots of the craft are left ambiguous.  They are apparently dead and buried by the time the craft is discovered.  Did the collision with the test pilot's aircraft cause the crash?  Why were they harassing the pilots at he beginning?  Plenty of unanswered questions regarding those spacemen.

-The movie has a pro-peace, anti-war stance.  Surprising given the politically loaded title of the movie.  Plus it kinda predicts Russo-American scientific cooperation in space exploration that would happen in later years.  When this was released, space exploration was still a bitter rivalry.

 

Despite its small TV budget and general dated Cold War themes it was still more believable than, say, Independence Day.  Yes its campy, but I've seen far worse than this.







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