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on February 28, 2013
why is amazon including reviews of the 2 hour movie with the 6 dvd set of the tv drama? it's just bringing the review average down. the tv drama is a wonderful escape. great acting, great action. a thoroughly enjoyable show! knock it off, amazon. let's keep apples with apples, ok?
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In 2009, Korean network KBS broadcasted the South Korean espionage TV drama series known as "Iris". Known as one of the most expensive drama series produced.

The 20-episode drama series would focus on two friends Kim Hyun-Jun (portrayed by Lee Byung-hun) and Jin-Sa-woo (portrayed by Jung Joon-Ho) who become initiated into a secret organization of the National Security Service and both are brought into the secret organization with the job to pre-empt foreign threats and assassinate anyone who will be a threat to South Korean national security.

Suffice to say, "Iris" was a tremendous success in South Korea and the 20-episodes were condensed into a feature film featuring new shots and an extended ending.

The popularity of "Iris" would lead to a spin-off 20-episode TV drama series titled "Athena: Goddess of War". And similar to "Iris", the series became one of the most expensive drama series on television and would lead to a film condensing the 20-episodes to one feature film.

And now, "Athena Goddess of War" has been released as a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack courtesy of FUNimaton.

VIDEO:

"Athena Goddess of War" is presented in 1080p High Definition. While the film is based on the TV series, considering SBS (Seoul Broadcasting System) spent a lot on production for this drama series, to conversion to film is actually well-done. This film does not look like a TV dram series, it looks like a high budget film with slick production values, many location shots in different countries. Picture quality is fantastic and I don't think I saw any problematic issues with the series. Skin tones were natural, close-ups were well-detailed and black levels were nice and deep.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

"Athena Goddess of War" is presented in Korean and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1. The soundtrack also doesn't seem like it came from a TV drama series. With a lot of action-sequences throughout the film, surround channels are utilized for the multiple gun shots, sniper shots and explosions. The overall mix for the film is well-done and while I prefer the original Korean lossless track (as I prefer watching films in their original language), FUNimation is known for hiring talented voice actors and so those who don't like reading English subtitles will enjoy the English dubwork (which I did watch as well and felt it was well-done).

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES

"Athena Goddess of War" comes with no special features.

EXTRAS:

"Athena Goddess of War" comes with a slipcover case and includes both the Blu-ray and DVD version of the film.

JUDGMENT CALL:

"Athena Goddess of War" is an action-packed espionage film from South Korea. Production values were excellent, acting was magnificent and the storyline was engaging and enjoyable.

But there is one problem with this film and that it is very hard to condense nearly 20-hours of story from the exciting drama series into a 117 minute film.

Yes, they manage to make a comprehensive film from beginning to end but there are so many situations throughout the film that seemed rush and somethings that are not fully explained, that were probably edited out and only featured in the TV drama series version.

For the most part, what the film does right is staying close to the key figures of the film and focusing the triangle between Lee Jung-Woo, Son Hyeok and Yoon Hye-In. These three are the primary characters and the film focuses on the most pertinent details that involve these three characters.

The problem is when the film features other characters especially with the NTS. There are scenes that feature K-Pop stars Choi Si-won (of Super Junior) as Kim Jun-ho and TVXQ's Changmin and the film suddenly showcases these two with no back story. You feel there is some importance as these two seem to kick quite a bit of butt but you realize that there story is probably in the drama series and were included in the final film for their thrilling rescue/action sequence.

There are also relationships that you get a feeling that existed but were probably focused on more in the drama series. In fact, you get a feeling there was more storyline that revolves around Hye-in with Jung-woo and also Son Hyeok, a history that is never explored too much in the film but showcased quite a bit in the TV series.

The fact is that with 20-hours of story, you can only include so much in 117 minutes. But if you have no plans to watch this film or even its predecessor "Iris", the film on its own can easily be enjoyed by a viewer. But part of me now wishes that FUNimation will pursue and release the complete "Athena Goddess of War" drama series but also considers releasing "Iris" as well.

But focusing on this film alone, I really enjoyed "Athena Goddess of War". The amount of action was intense, the acting, may it be dramatic or action-based by Woo-sung Jung, Soo Ae and Seung-won Cha was well-done and I was really drawn into their performance which led to me really enjoying this film tremendously. In fact, I felt that actress Soo Ae was incredible in this film and made me want to search for her other films that are available on Blu-ray.

As for the Blu-ray release, you get both the Blu-ray and DVD versions of the film but there are no special features? How can that be?

With that being said, I really do hope that FUNimation considers looking into the release of the drama series and also "Iris" (series and/or film). Just watching this film alone, I am now really wanting to watch the drama series to see how the actual storyline flows throughout the series with these characters and to also see what was edited out.

Overall, "Athena Goddess of War" is a fantastic espionage action film from South Korea. Featuring wonderful performances by its talent with wonderful production, its main-drawback is that it's a 117-minute film that was edited from 20-hours of TV drama footage. And now I'm hoping FUNimation considers releasing the entire drama series after watching this film! But "Athena Goddess of War" is a film worth watching... this Blu-ray/DVD release is recommended!
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on January 1, 2012
Compared to IRIS which starts off running, the Athena series starts slow, but stick to it. Unlike IRIS there is not alot of effort to define the Athena organization. But, midway through the series it gets to a feverish pitch and the character development seen in IRIS kicks in. This is a very emotional story line. The main characters grow thoughout the series. Strongly recommend. Like IRIS you are glued to the show to see what happens to the main characters.
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on January 5, 2013
This is edited version of 20 hours of drama into about 2 hours. That's 18 hours of story, plots, character development that gets deleted. If I had to say anything positive, it gives you small taste of quality you can expect from the series. The acting, special effects, and style of action it is so you can decide for yourself to collect actual big box set.
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on June 5, 2014
This movie is actually the condensed version of the exciting 20-episode TV series. What the movie does is take the best parts and weaved a spy thriller adventure. Very entertaining for people who squirm at a long series, but eliminates all the sub character development, side stories, and great location scenery that the big production series boasts. Attractive cast headed by hunky Jung Woo-sung and Soo Ae, great chase and fight scenes, interesting subtext of US-South Korean security links.
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on August 3, 2015
Falling in love with this show Just watched it for a second time The series 20 episodes DVD's I got were from Korea At times the sub titles were not able to be fully read Also Episode 16 would not play at all The DVD also shows in the upper right corner the station number and highlights or news run at the bottom and blocks off the sub titles.With all of this I plan on watching the series again
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About thirty minutes into ATHENA: GODDESS OF WAR, I did the unthinkable as a critic: I paused the DVD, and I went online to investigate what I was watching. Now, I'll be the first to admit that that's never a good thing, but I was honestly a bit confused. Having watched thousands of films in my lifetime, I knew something was missing - was this an edited American release with extra footage available in international versions; was this a sequel to something that would better be seen first; what was the background to all of these characters who seemed to know one another but yet I was just introduced to on my TV screen - and it turned out I was right.

As best as I've been able to understand, ATHENA: GODDESS OF WAR is a theatrical cut of an award-winning Korean TV drama. In fact, it's very clear that ATHENA cleaned up at the 2011 SBS Drama Awards because the packaging art says so. Once I figured out that SBS Awards stood for Seoul Broadcasting System, then I put the pieces together and knew what I was watching, but, up until that time, I'll admit to being at a loss to understand what I had viewed. At that point, I restarted the DVD from the beginning, and I better grasped some of what was going on, though not much.

In short, ATHENA: GODDESS OF WAR mostly fails as a stand-alone picture. Simply put, there are too many covert government agencies, plots, and characters interacting here in the scant two hours for much of it to make perfect sense. Yes, there's a story, but all of the elements aren't clearly drawn from the larger work (20 hours of television). Things happen in shorthand, and there just isn't enough meat on these bones for all of it to make logical progress for this viewer. Spy stories - in particular - can be cumbersome material; throw in an infinite number of crosses and double-crosses compounded by the fact that much of these relationships were already worked out in a previous 20 hours TV show called "Iris," and there's just way too much subtext going on here for the unitiated.

Still, as production quality goes, ATHENA looks impressive. Wikipedia reports that "Iris" and "Athena" were some of the most expensive Korean TV productions to date, and I've no doubt that viewed in their entirety they're something to behold. This two-hour theatrical release tries hard to be something it isn't - entirely consistent - but it hints at something special.

ATHENA: GODDESS OF WAR is produced by Taewon Entertainment. DVD distribution (stateside) is being handled through Funimation. Video and audio quality are superb.

It's hard to RECOMMEND this heavily truncated version of ATHENA: GODDESS OF WAR except to, perhaps, folks who've done their homework ahead of time. Going into the story and understanding that this was edited from a much larger body of work - possibly 20 episodes of a TV program - honestly helps understand why so much of the action happens with so little investment into important things like character building, acting performances, etc. As an independent feature (as I've rated it here), it's more than a bit confusing; but I'd be first in line to pick up a complete series collection if one gets released in the United States because the subject and storytelling looks right up my alley.

In the interests of fairness, I'm pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Funimation provided me with a DVD screener of ATHENA: GODDESS OF WAR for the expressed purposes of completing this review.

POST-SCRIPT: I recently found and purchased a copy of IRIS (TV show) on DVD. Once I've viewed, I'll try to remember to pop back here and post a few additional thoughts on whether or not this increased my understanding and appreciation of ATHENA. I stand by what I've written above -- as a feature, this release is probably only understood by fans who've seen the entire TV season.
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on March 13, 2014
A slow start, but is enjoyable. Would have given it a 4 star rating, except for the poor quality of subtitles. They are all readable, but the translation is poorly done at many points.
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on September 27, 2013
This is a great spinoff from the Iris series. You have a bit of everything action, drama,mystery, intrigue. There is always something going on & I love every minute of it.
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on January 24, 2013
The story line to this movie isn't all that good but the action scene are good. I'll rate this movie a 6.5 out 10. It's a good watch but not great.
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