Directed by Takeshi Koike
Featuring Voices by Patrick Seitz, Michelle Ruff and Liam O’Brien
“In the far future, the greatest velocity in space is decided.” And that velocity is how quickly you should pick this Blu-Ray up.
The film opens on a humanoid-dog-inhabited planet watching a race in progress. Your eyes lock onto the unique character and car designs animated with an odd beauty and fluidity that many may not be accustomed to. Suddenly, this pompadour-sporting Trans-Am driver hits the nitro, and the film’s got you through the end. Twelve minutes later, the title sequence plays, but you’re so engrossed that you forgot the film hasn’t even told you its name.
That’s Redline by Takeshi Koike (from The Animatrix – “World Record,” ), a spectacular spectacle of speed, packed with great characters, awesome cars, stunning visuals and more than enough action and humor to please any movie-watching adrenaline junkie.
The story (by Katsuhito Ishii) goes that every five years, the Redline race is held to determine the fastest drivers in the universe. No holds are barred, as drivers deck their rides with any weapon or trick they can, except for our pompadour-topped greaser star JP (voiced in English by Patrick Seitz), who wants to win on speed alone. With the help of his mob-lackey mechanic friend Frisbee (Liam O’Brian) and his tricked-out custom Trans-Am, JP competes with the best of the best – including a certain female racer Sonoshee (Michelle Ruff). This year’s race takes place on a heavily-militarized planet that doesn’t want Redline anywhere near its secret projects and will stop at nothing to wipe out the racers before they can cross the finish line.
If that sounds like lot, don’t worry. The film is rarely bogged down, yet it still surprisingly manages to establish perfectly serviceable and deep characters. You learn about relationships and rivalries, back histories, even intergalactic political conflicts all while the film blazes by. This great job in world building is both satisfying and yet leaves you wanting more, which isn’t a bad thing in this case.
You don’t need to be a racing fan to like this film. I’m certainly not. Don’t think NASCAR. Instead think Speed Racer mixed with sci-fi dystopia, topped with a healthy amount of humor, violence, rough language and a little bodacious fan service. It’s not rated, but it’s definitely not for the kiddies.
You don’t even need to like Japanese anime. Redline is a good action film entirely on its own. Anyone who likes fast action and humor in their space tales will have a blast watching it. Anyone who claims to enjoy animation in general will marvel at this visual masterpiece, animated with over 100,000 hand-drawn cells that took three years of the film’s seven-year production to complete.
If you stay away from anime because nothing has been stylish or cool since Cartoon Network premiered Cowboy Bebop, if you’re tired of having to sift through hundreds of episodes of a series to find anything worthwhile, if you’re sick of over-reliance of CGI in animation, Redline is just what you need. It’s a stand-alone piece of carefully-crafted visual wonder and high-octane action, and most movie goers can find something in it to enjoy.
This film makes me glad to own a Blu-Ray player. It’s in widescreen 1.78:1 and 1080p HD, and it’s gorgeous. It’s hand-drawn animation at its finest, with incredible care going into making each cel. Everything is incredibly crisp and clear. The animation is fluid and kinetic, superbly conveying the feel of speed. The colors are breathtakingly vibrant, popping out with contrast from deep black shadowing. I can’t see the DVD version looking as sharp as this Blu-Ray. Definitely the way to own this movie.
The film has both English and Japanese languages, each in 2.0 and 5.1 surround sound. Be sure you choose the correct setting though, or some of the dialog will be overpowered by the sound effects and background music. You might not notice though, since the sound effect are well done in matching every little detail, right down to the car noises and JP’s leather jacket. The electronic rock music is a perfect fit with energetic popping beats synching perfectly with these high-speed cars and characters.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The film comes in a standard Blu-Ray case and has three neat extras: a full-fledged documentary “Perfect Guide,” an abridged and flashier “Quick Guide,” and an early 2006 concept trailer made entirely of animation not used in the final film.
The so-called Quick Guide would be sufficient on its own, clocking in at about 25 minutes long and covering plenty of creator comments, behind-the-scenes footage, and in-depth character bios. The Perfect Guide goes much deeper into the seven-year effort to create this spectacle, spending more time on the drawing process, voice recording and the movie’s time on the film festival circuit.
All together, these extras show the dedication and effort that went into making Redline, leaving the audience with a greater appreciation of the work and a burning desire to own the toy cars shown throughout the documentaries.
Overall (Not an Average)
Redline is an adrenaline rush. Its fun action and humor will leave you on the edge of your seat, and its stunning graphics will keep you glued to your TV. You don’t need to be an anime or even general animation fan to have fun watching this movie. The Blu-Ray is the must-have version of this film for the complete visual experience.
The Film 9.5/10
The Video 10/10
The Audio 8.5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 8.5/10
Overall (Not an Average) 9.5/10