Tora! Tora! Tora! Blu-ray Digibook Review

Just to avoid confusion, Tora! Tora! Tora! isn’t a movie about bullfighting; the title isn’t “Toro! Toro! Toro!”, after all. What this 1970 movie is a dramatized account of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 by the Japanese Navy, an event that brought America into World War II. The movie was a joint American-Japanese venture, directed by Richard Fleischer, Kinji Fukasaku, and Toshio Masuda, and portrays the events from both sides of the story, based on facts that were known at the time.

It’s hard to describe this movie without outright summarizing the whole plot from start to finish. Granted, we know what’s going to happen since this is based on history, but part of the fun of any movie is being able to watch it and enjoy the story.

On the Japanese side of things, we see the planning that goes into the attack, despite protests from officers such as Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (played by So Yamamura), who thinks that going to war with America would be a bad idea. On the American side of things, we see how the government and the military react to intercepted intelligence, or rather, how they don’t react. It all leads up to what becomes one of the darkest days in American history, but one also one that rallied the American people.

Most often in movies, in particular ones that were made around this time, you often get a clear idea of who are the “good guys” and who are the “bad guys”, even in a war picture. Not in this movie. Just like in an actual war, no side is really “good” or “bad”, but just acting on what they believe is right. It not only adds a sense of realism, but helps makes for a more compelling story.

Watching this movie nowadays, you can’t help but compare things to another, more recent event, September 11, 2001. Especially when you see how the American military reacts to the intelligence they get about the threat of the attack. They either don’t react, outright ignoring the possibility, or just plan poorly to defend their resources. And when you hear about how America did have previous intel about 9/11, it makes you think how history repeated itself. Kind of scary, in a way.

Visually, the film is impressive for its time. In particular, the actual attack itself. Remember, this was way before CGI, or even the effects that were introduced in Star Wars. Much of how things are done via various cuts and edits, but it’s done well thanks to good timing and presentation, making it look that much more realistic. Naturally, had this movie been made today we would’ve had a lot of CGI involved (and it had, thanks to the more recent Pearl Harbor), but this one of those movies where the visuals and effects still manage to hold up today without looking cheesy or hokey. And now that the movie’s on blu-ray, it looks even more impressive in high-def, so those who didn’t see the movie when it first came out can get a bit of that theatrical experience.

Tora! Tora! Tora! comes to blu-ray with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track that is a HUGE improvement off the dvd counterpart. Its like comparing apples to oranges. If you are a fan of this film, then buying this blu-ray is worth it for just the audio a lone. A nice new rendition mix and master dawn this epic masterpiece and totally blows it out the water. Fans will be extremely pleased with the work of this. While it may not be the best audio experience known to man. It certainly is by far the best this title has ever had and probably ever will! The front and center channel will carry the bulk of the load, but obviously the sub is gonna get some real action as well.

First and foremost, digibook lovers can be pleased it came in such form. However, I must admit this is a cheap feeling digibook. While the page content is great and has nice pictures the binding of this digibook is cheap and my version is even printed wrong so the spine looks horrid. I wouldnt really mention this being it could be just an isolated event. However at the store I noticed 3 more that looked just the same as mine. These didn’t come from the same batch as the studio sent this review version from another state. Oh wells, hopefully someone out there got a nice version of this.

Lots of Standard Def Supps listed below:

Commentary by Director Richard Fleisher and Japanese Film Historian Stuart Galbraith IV
Documentary: Day of Infamy
AMC Backstory: Tora! Tora! Tora!
History vs. Hollywood – Tora! Tora! Tora!: A Giant Awakes
Production Gallery
Behind the Scenes Gallery
Theatrical Trailer

There could be a lot of reasons why you’d want to watch or even buy this movie. The most obvious, of course, is that you’re a history buff with particular interest in World War II. But also just because you just enjoy a good movie, which Tora! Tora! Tora! is. Definitely one of those movies you’ll want to re-buy, even if you already have it on DVD or VHS, just because it is that good in terms of cinematic value. The Blu-ray is a major improvement with the video quality and audio quality. If you were as excited as me when you heard this was getting released in digibook blu-ray form, then you’ll definitely want to pick this up.

About the author

is a pop culture fanatic who loves to collect things from films that leave a lasting impression on him. A big fan of such brands like SteelBook, Mondo, and Sideshow. Favorite films or franchises include Braveheart, HEAT, Book of Eli, Ip Man, Nolan's Batman, Everything Marvel, and practically anything Quentin Tarantino touches. Proudly owns The Notebook, drives 88 mph, and know's exactly what was in Marsellus Wallace's briefcase!