Freeing Oneself, en bleu
March 14, 2012
Don’t consider this a recommendation just yet, but I may have stumbled upon a really good buy those living in Japan might want to consider. Even before purchasing my first Blu-ray player, I pretty much knew eventually I’d want/need a region-free player. Too many great/interesting/obscure movies were coming out of Europe, especially Britain, that were region B-locked, meaning they won’t play on what I’ve been using the last few years, a Japanese PlayStation3, which is region A, just as they are in America. (I also have a Blu-ray recorder that’s great for burning BD-Rs of high-def movies — and absolutely terrible for watching discs because they take forever to load, if they load at all.)
Over the weekend I decided to do a little research, and stumbled upon a region-free player that seemed too good to be true: something called a Hyplus — never heard of that brand before — that’s currently selling on Amazon Japan for just ￥10,290, or about $125. That may be pricey for one in America but for Japan that strikes me as extraordinarily cheap. One reason may be that when I first wanted to buy a Blu-ray player (after HD DVD tanked, sigh) I discovered that, in Japan at least, buying mere players was all but impossible. If you wanted a Blu-ray player, one had to buy a Blu-ray recorder that, of course, also played Blu-ray discs. Being able to record high-def movies is great, but this first wave of players were extremely pricey.
Anyway, the Hyplus player arrived yesterday, curiously not shrink-wrapped or sealed at all, though everything that was supposed to be inside the box was in there, unopened. Although the manual and remote are entirely in Japanese, it was easy to hook up and I was off and running. So far it seems to have at least one drawback; for some reason it won’t play my BD-Rs that will on my PlayStation 3, but every other DVD and Blu-ray I’ve tried so far plays just fine.
At the moment I have but a single Region B disc, of all silly things Red Sonja (1985). I’d never seen it, and wrongly thinking it region-free ordered it from Amazon UK when it was marked down to something like £4.99. (Terrible movie, but not a total loss: it features an interesting Ennio Morricone score, some fine Albert Whitlock matte paintings, and particularly good foreground miniatures and full-scale sets. I also wanted to see it because it was directed by my old pal Richard Fleischer.)
I’ve since order four more Region B discs to properly christen the new player: Shohei Imamura’s The Insect Woman (which also includes Nishi Ginza Station, also in high-def), Roy Ward Baker’s film of Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass and the Pit (1967), Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom (1960), and Anthony Mann’s The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964). Not a bad place to start, I’d say.