A CHINESE TALL STORY dvd review

Hong Kong Region 3 DVD

Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1

Cantonese DTS and DD 5.1, Manderin DTS

Subtitles: English

IMDB

MOVIE: 7

VIDEO QUALITY: 9

AUDIO QUALITY: 9

ENGLISH SUBTITLES: 8

EXTRAS: 8

 

I feared that A CHINESE TALL STORY was going to be a really disappointing Hong Kong fantasy film. Fortunately, this Jeffrey Lau film is an entertaining but flawed movie. Unlike THE PROMISE, the visuals were the best aspect of A CHINESE TALL STORY. The visuals were amazing to look at regardless of the lousy screenplay. The movie probably would have been better to watch without the English subtitles, and just watch the film and figure it out, which I sort of had to do anyway. Most of the time, I had no idea what was going on, because Jeff Lau can’t write. The comedy bits were funny, but the overall screenplay didn’t flow at all. I couldn’t even get through his previous Monkey King movies, A CHINESE ODYSSEY PART 1 & 2 (The subtitles on those remasted DVDs were impossible to follow – but I have a feeling even if the subtitles were good, those movies would still suck). I was sort of able to understnad the gist of the movie – it’s a cross between LEGEND OF ZU, Monkey King fairytales, and SHREK – Some futuristic kingdom gets attacked by evil monsters so the kingdom looks for help from this Shrek-type girl. But the only way for the Shrek girl to stop the monsters is to get Tripitaka (Longevity Monk from the Monkey King fairytale) to fall in love with her. Tripitaka’s boys, Monkey King, Pigsy, and some other guy are kidnapped by the bad guys on the way. That’s the story. When I was a kid, I read the nicely illustrated Monkey King cartoon books, and then when I got older I read the Monkey King adventures. Reading the books, I always fantasized about seeing live-action or animated films of the Monkey King. When I got old enough to became an Asian movie fan, I checked online and looked around in Chinatown to see if there was a good movie/tv adaptation out there. After seeing some of the different movie/tv adaptations that has existed since the 1960s, I’m still pretty disappointed. The Monkey King film/tv adaptations are like the Adam West/Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher Batmans. I have yet to see a MONKEY KING movie at the level of BATMAN BEGINS. Someone really needs to do one MONKEY KING movie right, whether it be live-action or animation. Even as I write this, there’s another Monkey King live-action film in production. So until that happens, I can only enjoy a Monkey King vibe from only three movies – ZU WARRIORS, LEGEND OF ZU, and now A CHINESE TALL STORY. All three of those movies reminded me of the vast world of the adventures of the Monkey King. The ZU movies aren’t Monkey King movies, but they certainly captured the vast world and creativity of his adventures on earth and in the heavens. All the other Monkey King movies that I’ve seen are claustrophic and amatuerish.

The only real problem I had with A CHINESE TALL STORY was the story, not the special effects. After reading many bad things about the CGI and special effects, they turned out to be pretty solid. Some effects looked like from Playstation 2 effects and some effects were awesome. The characters are in a creative vast fantasy world – it’s okay if there are some video game-looking characters in there (as in France’s IMMORTAL). It didn’t bug me at all and I didn’t feel like I was watching a blue screen movie set as I did with THE PROMISE or any of the STAR WARS prequels.

I got the regular 2-disc NTSC Region 3 DVD version of A CHINESE TALL STORY, not the AVANTE GARDE version with the supposed better DTS. The first disc has the movie with Cantonese DTS and DD 5.1, Manderin DTS, andEnglish subtitles. The anamorphic video was extremely nice. The audio was very active with surrounds going all over the place galore, very appropriate for a wild and crazy fantasy fairytale movie. The extras were quite good too, extremely thoughtful to English speakers. There are audio commentaries which have ENGLISH SUBTITLES!!! That’s amazing and worth a lot of bonus points. There are a bunch of extras – a music video, photo gallery, trailers for this and other movies, anamorphic outtakes, anamorphic deleted scenes, interviews, behind the scenes – all ENGLISH SUBTITLED!

If anyone is a fan of Monkey King, you’ll get a kick out of this film, especially with the amazing scenes with Monkey King’s transforming pole which is actually one of the main reasons to check out this movie.

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