AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS blu-ray review

Germany Region B blu-ray

1080p Widescreen 2.29:1

English: DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1 (original)

German: DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1 (dub)

Subtitles: English, German








I never saw this film in the theater or on DVD until blind-buying the German blu-ray when I was in Germany. When I first saw the trailer for this film in 2004, I remember thinking, “there is no way in hell that I would see this film.” I don’t know what changed but after watching some clips of this film on tv, I was actually surprised how entertaining this film was. After watching the whole movie on blu-ray, I was pretty impressed. It’s basically a fun adventure film which is mainly carried by the charms of Jackie Chan and Cecil de France. The only negative about this film is Steve Coogan. I assumed that this film was his big chance to get into Hollywood as a leading man, but he certainly isn’t one after watching this film. He sort of reminds me of Russell Brand actually – good in small bits, but he’s not good enough to carry a whole film on his shoulders. Coogan is not dashing, charming, interesting, or even a good actor in this film. But everything else about the film is good. It’s worth it just to see Arnold’s cameo as a crazy wigged Turkish leader. Another surprise in the film is that the action choreography is excellent – it’s perfectly edited and there are tons of martial arts scenes which I didn’t expect. Before watching this film, I always thought that Jackie Chan would be just a supporting sidekick in this, but he is actually the main star of the film. Karen Mok is excellent as well as the hot villainess. She gets a really great fight scene with Jackie Chan in the climax.

I feel bad for dissing Jackie Chan for a while when he did these Hollywood family action films. But actually, the majority of them aren’t really that bad (Karate Kid, Forbidden Kingdom, Rush Hours, Shanghai Noons, and now Around the Wold in 80 Days) – they are solid entertainers and are pretty much the equivalent of his 1990 HK films which are also family action films with silly stories. I’m almost tempted to see The Medallion, The Tuxedo, and The Spy Next Door now.

The German Region B blu-ray has reference video and audio quality. No problems whatsoever. The film looks beautiful since this is a film that goes from one exotic location to the other. The English audio is perfect as well. There are no forced German subtitles when watching this blu-ray with the original audio.

There’s a couple “making ofs” and a trailer too.

Highly recommended for fans of fun adventure movies and Jackie Chan!



Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1

DD 5.1 French

DD 5.1 English (dub)

Subtitles: English



MOVIE: 9.5






I have seen many movie adaptations of mainstream or obscure comic books from around the world. I think that the best Hollywood adaptations of graphic novels are Watchmen, Sin City, 300, Kick-Ass, Scott Pilgrim, and V for Vendetta. Sure, I love the Spiderman and Nolan’s Batman movies, but those aren’t adaptations of any of their particular books. I would say that I’m a casual comic-book fan of American comics, but I take my European comics very seriously (Tintin and Asterix, for example). I don’t like it when movie adaptations of European comic books are messed up. When the first Asterix movie came out – Asterix & Obelix vs. Caesar – I was pretty disappointed because it was just hijacking the title of the original comic book. The movie is nothing like the original comic book – far from being a movie adaptation of the book. But over the years, I’ve learned to appreciate this film once I accepted it as a new Asterix adventure and not being an adaptation of its book. But when Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra came out, now this was the Asterix movie I dreamed of!

Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra is a perfect movie adaptation of the original comic book Asterix and Cleopatra. Alain Chabet, more known as an actor, directed and wrote the screenplay for this film. He also stars in the film playing a really funny Julius Caesar who’s the boyfriend to the hottest Cleopatra put on screen, Monica Bellucci (sorry, Elizabeth Taylor). In their Egyptian palace, the two leaders bicker like a regular couple and just casually make a bet with each other: Cleopatra wants to prove to Caesar that Egyptians are greater people than Romans by building another palace in just three months. So Cleopatra hires the young, up-and-coming architect played by the extremely funny Jamel Debbouze. Cleopatra’s usual architect, who is old and traditional, is jealous because he’s not chosen to do the job, so he does everything possible to prevent the younger architect from succeeding. Knowing that it’s impossible to build a huge palace in just three months, the young architect travels to Gaul to get the help of Getafix the Druid who can make a magic potion that can give anyone superhuman strength. So Asterix, Obelix, and Getafix travel to Egypt to help the young architect complete the palace within 3 months. Along the way, the Gauls have to deal with Romans, the other villainous architect, and even pirates that try to stall their task.

Chabet totally understands Asterix and its humor. The screenplay is so funny and has the exact same type of humor that was in Goscinny and Underzo’s book. I really wish that Chabet could direct any future Asterix sequels. It’s too bad he didn’t get to film the third Asterix film, Asterix at the Olympic Games, which was just a piss-poor film. The acting in Mission Cleopatra is perfect as well. Besides Chabet and Bellucci, it’s a treat to see the chemistry between Gerard Depardieu and Christian Clavier. They have been a funny duo in other French films as well, and they certainly are awesome in this film playing Obelix and Asterix.

If people say that Sin City the movie is like the graphic novel coming to life on film, then so is Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra. This movie is like a live-action comic book – from the flow of the film to the funny characters and to the impressive eye-candy special effects. Watching this film gave me the same pleasure as reading the book, or any Asterix book for that matter.

For people who want English subtitles or an English dub, the only way to go is to find this DVD from the United Kingdom. The DVD quality is excellent. The anamorphic widescreen video quality has sharpness and detail that is quite good. The video appears free of edge enhancement and pixelation, which makes a natural, crisp-looking image as good as it’s going to get for a DVD. The French DD 5.1 is really active as well. This movie is full of action with catapults, kicks, and punches so the audio quality is excellent, with clear dialogue and effects. Bass is strong, deep and tight in the action sequences. The English dub is sort of silly sounding but it’s good enough for kids who can’t read subtitles yet.

There are no extras on this DVD.

This movie was made for blu-ray, but it’s only available in Spain and Germany without English subtitles. It’s pretty strange that the blu-ray isn’t even available in France. But either way, this UK DVD is a perfect way to enjoy this masterpiece adaptation of a French comic book. For fans of the Asterix comic book, it’s a masterpiece. For people who have never read the Asterix comic book, it’s still a pretty entertaining and witty movie. I’m sure the non-Asterix fans would rate this film lower, but I just loved this movie as a film by itself and as an adaptation of the comic book.

ANNIYAN dvd review

India Region 1 NTSC dvd

Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1

Tamil DTS 5.1, DD 5.1

Subtitles: English



MOVIE: 7.5






ANNIYAN is a Tamil movie (South India) made by one of the best special effects director, Shankar, in India. His movies are usually expensive, polished, and have pretty good special effects for a Bollywood-type film. ANNIYAN is basically a musical version of “The Punisher or The Crow Travels to India to Whoop Ass Kung Fu-style on Unethical People.”

I had been in a phase of watching Hindi Bollywood movies and I can’t stand watching them anymore, because they make crap after crap. If we are lucky, there is at least one good Bollywood film a year. Not an amazing film, not a great film, just a 3-star good film. That’s if we are lucky out of the thousands of low quality Bollywood films made in India per year. Whenever I get fed up to Bollywood movies, I have no choice but to turn to Tollywood or Kollywood films and I end up being more satisfied.

Shankar is one of the rare Indian directors that is more creative than all the other worthless generic Bollywood directors. The repetitive theme in most of Shankar’s films is that he’s pissed with government corruption and he always seems to have his protagonist whoop ass on everyone that gets in the way of progress for the community. Shankar’s got issues with India, but for some reason, I can’t believe that he is not aware of the cheese romance factor that plagues Bollywood. The male leads acting like desperate shy psychopaths out of a Shakespeare play or male leads acting like cool, stylish, flamboyant, sexist stalkers is not the way normal men are. I know it’s a movie, but the romance stories have got to take a more realistic direction already. It is not attractive for the man to act desperate and expect the girl to fall in love. And in the other extreme, Bollywood portrays the confident male leads as pushy, obnoxious, aggressive, sexist and flamboyant. This is not attractive too. Bollywood romance movies are created from the fantasy world of male geek minds. Let women write the romance storyline already. In ANNIYAN, im not sure if Shankar is criticising the unrealistic way men approach women in Bollywood movies or if he actually sees that as the norm.

The action scenes are not bad compared to a Hollywood movie – they could have polished the wire work better and they should have hired a Hong Kong action choreographer already instead of copying direct scenes from the Matrix movies.  Out-of-sync sounding fight scenes should not be allowed ever again in a Bollywood film. The punch and kick sound effects in old Shaw Bros films were at least in synch with the action on the screen (maybe not the old dialogue dubbing though). But other than that, ANNIYAN moves along at an entertaining pace and is not boring at all and doesn’t have much filler as other Bollywood movies.  The story is quite interesting because the bad-ass character kills people we all dream of being killed. As I watch this movie now, it makes me think of this character killing irresponsible corporate bosses. It’s like the bad-ass character was inspired by Michael Moore and took action into his own hands in an extreme way. ANNIYAN is similar to THE CROW and THE PUNISHER (definitely better than all the Hollywood versions of THE PUNISHER).

The AYNGARAN Region 1 NTSC DVD of ANNIYAN is pretty good! The anamorphic video quality and the Tamil DD 5.1/DTS audio is very nice. It has scratches and such, but it’s not that distracting. The audio was very immersive with active surrounds and rumbling subwoofer (with some weird sound issues here and there throughout the movie, but not enough to be a big deal or ruin the experience of hearing the movie). The English subtitles were good as well.

Overall, Shankar always tries to make somewhat unique blockbusters and he made another highly entertaining movie with ANNIYAN. The movie is worth seeing just for a knock-off scene of the “Burlyman Brawl” scene from MATRIX RELOADED.


France Region B blu-ray

1080p Widescreen 2.39:1

French: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles: English








I’ll be short and sweet with my review. If you are wondering why it got mixed reviews after researching the hard-to-find reviews of this film online, just ignore them and do what I did – watch the trailer. If you are intrigued or interested by what you saw in the trailer, then blind-buy this French blu-ray. This film is totally exciting, has a very emotional story, has great acting, has creative costumes and make-up, moves along at a perfect pace, is beautifully filmed, and has gorgeous cinematography. I don’t want to spoil the film for you, but basically AO THE LAST NEANDERTHAL is a cross between Mel Gibson’s APOCALYPTO and Peter Weir’s THE WAY BACK. If you liked either of those films, then you should definitely enjoy AO. The director of the movie Jacques Malaterre has filmed documentaries on neanderthals in the past, so it’s nice to see his passion for the subject be put into a full-length adventure film.

The Region B France blu-ray is practically reference quality. The video quality is so crisp and lively – I felt transported back in time thanks to this beautiful presentation. The French/Neanderthal language DTS-HD 5.1 just envelopes the room with sound and makes you merge with the film – practically perfect! The movie has great translated English subtitles – the characters speak their own language which is sometimes subtitled and sometimes not (a director’s choice), as well as a French narrator at times which is always subtitled. The extras are a making-of (mainly English audio since this film is an international production, no subs), a little documentary about neanderthals (French audio, no subs), a 1080p trailer, and some photos.

I highly recommend this film. Don’t go by the reviews of this film because I almost did not blind buy the blu-ray based on reviews. I judged the film by its trailer which well represented the film. Definitely in my top ten films of 2011!