One Cut of the Dead: Hollywood Edition (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: Stephen Bjork
  • Review Date: Oct 27, 2022
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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One Cut of the Dead: Hollywood Edition (Blu-ray Review)


Shin’ichiro Ueda

Release Date(s)

2017 (May 31, 2021)


ENBU Seminar/Shudder (Third Window Films)
  • Film/Program Grade: See Below
  • Video Grade: See Below
  • Audio Grade: See Below
  • Extras Grade: B+
  • Overall Grade: A-

One Cut of the Dead (Blu-ray)

Buy it Here!


[Editor’s Note: This is a Region-Free Blu-ray release from the UK.]

The first rule of Fight Club is that you don’t talk about Fight Club. It’s also the second rule, of course, although there are a few other rules not directly related to the first two. On the other hand, there’s only one rule regarding One Cut of the Dead, and it’s that you just don’t talk about One Cut of the Dead. Any other rule would be superfluous.

Okay, then, so how do you actually talk about One Cut of the Dead? A plot synopsis, however basic, is already a spoiler. Discussing the style in which the film is shot is also a spoiler. Even the title itself is a spoiler, though thankfully it’s one that only makes sense in hindsight. (The original Japanese title Kamera o tomeru na translates into a spoiler of a slightly different kind, so it’s best to avoid looking that up until after you’ve watched it.) It may sound trite to say that the less that you know going into a film, the better, but One Cut of the Dead is one film where—well, the less that you know going into it, the better. If revenge is a dish that’s best served cold, then One Cut of the Dead is best served even colder than that.

One Cut of the Dead is a brilliant deconstruction not just of the moribund zombie genre, but of film form itself. There’s some extremely virtuoso filmmaking going on here, though it’s often carefully disguised. Like a Penn and Teller magic act, One Cut of the Dead first fools the audience and then reveals the secrets of the trick, only for the reveal to end up being a trick of its own. The final layer of deception is only made clear after everything is completely over. Don’t stop watching until the very end, and yes, that means that you need to sit through the entire closing credits.

All of that was probably a spoiler. Caveat emptor.

One Cut of the Dead breathes new life into a genre which desperately needed some, both literally and figuratively. While there have been quite a few noteworthy zombie flicks released so far in the 21st century, none of them have broken the mold to the extent that One Cut of the Dead does. Even Shaun of the Dead seems almost formulaic in comparison, and that’s really saying something, since Edgar Wright’s zombie opus is one of the most memorable of the bunch. Mad props to writer/director/editor Shin’ichiro Ueda and his talented cast and crew (plus a tip of the hat to Ueda’s barely-credited inspiration, Ryoichi Wada’s play Ghost in the Box). One Cut of the Dead is the rare film that should delight horror fans and film students in equal measure. It’s that inventive, and it’s that good.

Cinematographer Takeshi Sone captured One Cut of the Dead digitally using Sony HXR-NX100 and Sony a7R II cameras with Zeiss Compact Prime CP.2 and Canon Cinema EF Lenses. It was finished as a 2K Digital Intermediate, framed at 1.78:1. (Presumably that was cropped down to 1.85:1 for theatrical release, but 1.78:1 would have been the full original image size, and that’s what is reproduced here.) One Cut of the Dead being One Cut of the Dead, providing too many specifics about its image quality would involve spoilers. Suffice it to say that everything looks exactly like it should, when it should. The actual quality does vary throughout the film, but there’s a good reason for that, and this transfer replicates that effect accurately. At its best, everything is sharp and crystal-clear, with no obvious artifacts of note. When things do look a bit rougher, it’s a deliberate effect, so just hang on and enjoy the ride. That makes it difficult to give the film a fair video grade, so don’t worry about the actual rating. Just know that all is well here for One Cut of the Dead.

The audio for One Cut of the Dead is offered in Japanese 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio, with removable English subtitles. While it’s not indicated as such, this is a matrixed surround mix. Still, the bulk of the sonic energy is devoted to the front channels, with only limited reverberations included in the surround channels—although there are a few infrequent offscreen sound effects as well. The lively and energetic musical score provides most of the bass response. Note that the Steelbook release from RLJ Entertainment includes an English dubbed track, but it’s not offered here, and that’s not a loss—it’s vastly inferior to the original Japanese.


One Cut of the Dead Spin-Off: In Hollywood (aka Kamera o tomeru na! supin-ofu: Hariuddo daisakusen!) is an unnecessary made-for-television follow-up to the original film. Written by Ueda, but directed by Yuya Nakaizumi, it takes place after the events of One Cut of the Dead and serves as both a sequel and a remake. The basic structure is nearly identical, with only some of the minor details having been changed. The same cast returns, with a few new additions, so it does expand a bit on their personal stories, but as a whole, it doesn’t stray very far from the one-trick pony nature of the series.

Takeshi Sone also shot One Cut of the Dead Spin-Off: In Hollywood, framed at 1.78:1, but there’s no information regarding the cameras or formats that he used this time. Like One Cut of the Dead, the quality varies depending on the circumstances, but it’s all within the framework of the structure of the film. The stylized sequences carry a different look than they did the first time, with an unnatural color cast and blown-out light sources, but again, that’s quite intentional. It looks like it should.

The audio for One Cut of the Dead Spin-Off: In Hollywood is offered in a mixed Japanese/English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track, with removable English subtitles. Sonically, this is pretty much indistinguishable from the audio for One Cut of the Dead—it’s still largely focused on the front channels, with a bit of reverb in the surrounds. There is some English audio this time, but that’s how it was recorded for the original production.


The Third Window Films Region-Free Hollywood Edition of One Cut of the Dead includes a reversible insert as well as a slipcover. One side of the insert has the poster artwork for One Cut of the Dead, while the other has the artwork for One Cut of the Dead Spin-Off: In Hollywood. The following extras are included, all in HD:

  • Trailer (1:10)
  • Making of One Cut of the Dead (43:56)
  • Shin’ichiro Ueda Interview
  • Raw “One Cut” GoPro Footage (38:02)
  • Pom Instructional Video (:58)
  • Outtakes (4:36)

The Making of One Cut of the Dead is a behind-the-scenes of the behind-the-scenes. It’s especially interesting for anyone who’s seen the film, as parts of it will look quite familiar. The process of planning the film clearly inspired certain scenes within the film, and there’s even one element from it that’s actually seen in the final cut. This raises being self-referential to a whole new level. There’s meta, and then there’s meta, and then there’s the Making of One Cut of the Dead. It’s a fascinating dissection of a film that already dissected itself. The Shin’ichiro Ueda Interview features the director explaining how the project was developed through workshopping. It’s a nice companion piece to the making-of, as Ueda clarifies some of his thinking that lay behind the creative process.

The Go-Pro Version of One Cut of the Dead is essentially a behind-the-scenes look at how one particular sequence was filmed—it’s a reveal of the reveal, as it steps back from the stepping back. Spinning that broken record once again, to say more would be a spoiler. Fans of One Cut of the Dead will find it fascinating, as it’s yet more proof of the amazing work that was done by a talented group of filmmakers. The Pom Instructional Video is just the full version of the self-defense video that’s glimpsed briefly during the film. The Outtakes consist of extended and alternate takes from a few scenes. It’s worth a look, but there’s nothing particularly revelatory included here.

There’s just one trivial extra missing here that was included in the RLJE Steelbook edition of One Cut of the Dead: a brief stills gallery. On the other hand, their release is missing One Cut of the Dead Spin-Off: in Hollywood, The Making of One Cut of the Dead, the interview with Shin’ichiro Ueda, and the trailer. From a special features standpoint, Third Windows Films is the winner between the two, hands-down. It’s just a question of how important that Steelbook packaging is to you. The problem is that the RLJE Steelbook does seem to pop in and out of current availability on Amazon, while the Third Window Films version tends to be widely available despite its status as a limited edition. Regardless of which one that you choose—or which one that you have to settle for, as the case may be—One Cut of the Dead belongs in the collection of every serious horror fan, and damned near every single film fan as well.

- Stephen Bjork

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