MIAMI CONNECTION blu-ray review


USA Region A blu-ray

1080p Widescreen 1.85:1

English Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles: English SDH






There have been films that have been critically bashed when initially released in theaters – sometimes they need to age over time to be appreciated and even be considered masterpieces. Historically, a negative reviewed B-movie or box office failure can evolve into a respectable art-house film over time. There have been films that changed the typical pattern of what audiences expect to see when they come to the theater such as with the French New Wave style that popped up in the 1960s. They too have been labeled as art-house films. Pretentious films always have the advantage of getting graded as art-house much quicker than a B-movie that eventually gets respect. Why should a film with beautiful cinematography, pretty actors, meaningless dialogue (or even lack of dialogue), and an unconventional storyline that does not follow a traditional three-act setup get more respect than a B-movie that evolves into an art-house film over time? For example, art-house film fans love directors such as Jean-Luc Godard, Alain Resnais, and Wong Kar Wai. Their films are obviously respected and loved in the art-house world. But they are an acquired taste – try watching Pierrot le Fou, Last Year at Marienbad, and In the Mood for Love and you’ll know that they are the prototype films to be appreciated by art-house film lovers due to them being pretentious, pretty looking with polished cinematography, and/or many people just naturally connecting to these films. I really wish I could connect to these New Wave films but I can’t. I’ve tried to force myself to watch them over the years and at different ages, but I still can’t get into them and can’t connect with them to really see how special they are to others. In the opposite spectrum, I connect more to the critically-bashed B-movie that evolves into a respectable art-house film over time. These films may get their own special label such as “pulp, exploitation, cult, or camp” which still is basically another way of saying “these are special films but they are still inferior to traditional art-house films respected by most famous critics.” A pretentious art-house film loved by many should have equal respect as a campy B-movie that ages well, turns into an admirable film, and is also loved by many. Call it what you want, Y.K. Kim’s Miami Connection is actually a work of art.

After reading reviews online before watching Miami Connection, there seems to be general consensus on the internet that you can just automatically accept it as bad film or you can choose to watch it as a “so-bad-it’s-good” film – the type you watch in the theater or at home with a bunch of friends and laugh at it because everyone else is laughing – the “contagious laughter” factor. I expected Miami Connection to fall into the “so-bad-it’s-good” category, but actually I ended up watching this film quite seriously even as it had a bunch of those unintentional laugh-out-loud moments. I was mainly mesmerized by what a unique 1980s film this is, which is why I consider Y.K. Kim’s creation a very special art-house film.

If you have read up about this film, you should expect to see a wacky film about an ass-kicking rock band that beats up drug-running ninjas and gangs on the streets of Orlando, Florida. The negative characteristics in Miami Connection, such as the bad acting, cheesy dialogue, funny line delivery, and hilarious bloody action, all work just fine because the dedication that all the actors put into this film seems totally genuine. While the acting may seem amateurish at first, I quickly forgot about this negative trait once you see how all the actors have chemistry with each other. The big laughs in the movie mainly come from the token black actor who has the honor of delivering most of the unintentional funny lines.

For a film that had mainly non-actors and a crew that never wrote or directed a film before, I was surprised to think about directors Walter Hill, John Carpenter, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and Robert Altman as I watched Miami Connection. Plenty of famous directors have made cult-type films as their first movies. For a person who never filmed anything before, Y.K. Kim’s direction is actually quite good. All of his shots are visually pleasing and the editing was fine too. There are some funny slo-mo shots and awkward cuts, but his direction was much more professional than I expected. The martial arts scenes are generally choreographed very nicely too especially since 1980s Hollywood is infamous for cheesy martial arts scenes. Fight scenes are exciting and usually funny due to the hilarious reactions of the non-actor goons who get their butts kicked, as well as Y.K. Kim doing a funny-as-hell impersonation of Bruce Lee during his fight scenes. How unfortunate that Kim did not make any more movies since Miami Connection is his only film.

The main attraction of Miami Connection is its generous portion of pure 1980s magic. We have actors that look 40 years old playing kids, an absolutely awesome soundtrack with catchy tunes, hairy gang members, ninjas, cheesy action, memorable dialogue, breasts, and so much more! The 1980s was a bizarre time period and has been a challenging era to copy in contemporary movies such as The Wedding Singer or American Psycho. Filmmakers try but cannot match that dreamlike weirdness of the 1980s, which is why many 1980s films are now aging well.

The Region A Blu-ray from Drafthouse/Image is quite impressive. Restored to 1080p 1.85:1, the video quality looks very good with some scratches in the beginning and grainy night scenes. Still, the video is very pleasing with crisp detail in most scenes. This Blu-ray is definitely HD-quality! I’m sure most fans used to watching the VHS will be extremely happy once they see this Blu-ray. Audio is decent. Music rocks and dialogue is clear but make sure to ignore the DTS-HD 2.0 listing on the back cover because the only audio mix offered on this Blu-ray is Dolby Digital 2.0. I would have loved to hear this movie in DTS-HD 5.1 with the plentiful action and memorable music, but the DD 2.0 is perfectly fine. After all, Drafthouse got lucky with finding a decent print to restore onto Blu-ray. English SDH subtitles are an option – especially if you want to remember the great songs in this film. Drafthouse has also provided an extremely generous amount of extras: a booklet about the film (similar to what Criterion does), an audio commentary with the director and writer, deleted scenes, making of, a reunion concert with the band, a featurette on Y.K. Kim, movie trailers (for Miami Connection and other Drafthouse film releases) and an extremely funny 30-minute infomercial. Also offered is a reversible cover as pictured to the right, but I’m perfectly happy with the regular beautiful-looking cover art by artist François Simard.

Art-house film or cult film, Miami Connection is totally entertaining and transports the viewer into the magical and dreamlike world of the 1980s. It’s too bad this film didn’t get turned into a cartoon series. The Blu-ray is a definite blind buy if you are curious to see a truly unique action film from the 1980s!


China Region-free blu-ray

1080p Widescreen 1.78:1

Mandarin: Dolby TrueHD 7.1

Mandarin: Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: English, Mandarin


MOVIE: 9.5





America has Walt Disney. Japan has Hayao Miyazaki.  France has Michel Ocelot. Czech Republic has Jan Svankmajer. Which animator does China have? That’s an easy answer because there is only one famous animator from China and his name is Wan Laiming. Laiming made the first Chinese animated film with Princess Iron Fan in 1941. Twenty years later, he made his second and last film, The Monkey King: Uproar In Heaven, a film that is basically the Snow White or Princess Mononoke of China – in other words – an absolute Chinese animated masterpiece. How ironic that The Monkey King: Uproar in Heaven was not only his last animated film, but is still China’s last respectable animated film. I guess the Chinese film industry focused all their time making martial arts films after the early 1960s, but come on, not one high-quality animated film for the past 47 years? I have seen a few other Chinese animated films over the years such as Nezha Conquers the Dragon King, Secrets of the Heavenly book, The Golden Monkey Conquers the Evil, DragonBlade, and Storm Rider Clash of the Evils, but they are all fair and forgettable, far from the high-quality production of The Monkey King: Uproar in Heaven.

In Wu Cheng’en’s classic Chinese novel “Journey to the West”, Sun Wukong aka Monkey King is a brave yet mischievous monkey that goes on tons of adventures in all the realms – earth, heaven, and hell. Monkey King: Uproar In Heaven depicts one of the most popular Monkey King stories. We learn about the origin of the Monkey King and how he causes problems for the Jade Emperor. After obtaining the invincible staff of Yu from the Dragon King, Monkey King proclaims himself the “Great Sage Equal to Heaven.” Disturbed by Monkey King’s power and cockiness, the Emperor tries to recruit him with different jobs such as taking care of his horses and peach garden, but Monkey King doesn’t take crap from authority and ends up infuriating the Emperor even more. Since Monkey King has no desire to join him or the rest of the gods, the Emperor sends out his powerful goons and army to stop the Monkey King from causing serious stress to his heavens! Don’t expect to be blown away by the story. Just expect to be blown away by the magical quality of this film.

As popular as Mickey Mouse or Superman, the Monkey King character is one of the most iconic pop culture characters in China, with plentiful movies, tv shows, comics and video games about him. When you watch this movie, you’ll see how it has shaped so many other Chinese fantastical action movies. The animation in The Monkey King: Uproar In Heaven makes the heavens and mythological world come to life. So many other movies have tried to capture the magical essence of the book, but this animated film did it best so far and without CGI!

Let me clarify what exactly is presented on this Chinese Region-free 3D Blu-ray of The Monkey King: Uproar In Heaven. This Blu-ray allows the viewer to watch this movie in 2D or 3D. I don’t have a 3D HDTV or 3D Blu-ray player, so I am only reviewing the 2D. So yes, this Blu-ray will play in your regular Blu-ray player. The new version features a slightly longer edit that stays true to the spirit of the original film, as well as a new soundtrack that combines the original’s traditional Chinese opera arrangements with a symphonic score. Most importantly, the 3D remake introduces all new voices and an amazing cast to play them, including film stars Yao Chen and Chen Daoming. The voices of famous directors Chen Kaige and Feng Xiaogang also make an appearance, in homage to Sun Wukong and Wan Laiming. In other words, this 3D version is not the exact same film as it was in the early 1960s. But don’t panic! This new version is not a George Lucas tamper, but more like Apocalypse Now Redux or Blade Runner Final Cut. Besides the updated remix of the audio and dubbing, this new version is still the original animated film with some newly added “blink-and-you’ll-miss” 3D show-offy scenes for the kiddies. For example, in the original version, when Monkey King is stuck in a bad guy’s huge umbrella, he uses his staff to poke up and pop a hole through the umbrella. In the new version, the filmmakers stealthily changed some animation around to make Monkey King poke his staff towards the viewer as if we are getting poked in the face. No one will notice the difference unless you have watched the original film over and over as I did. I have the original film on English-subtitled Taiwanese DVD. As good as that original film version is, this new film version is 100 times better. Just because the info is not out there, the producers of this re-release absolutely restored this film onto Blu-ray! The video and audio are incredible! Instead of the original film split into two parts (with two sets of end credits), this new version merges the two parts together as one movie, as it should be. Instead of the original film having crummy Chinglish subtitles as on the Taiwanese DVD, this new version has perfect translated English subtitles. I have never seen perfect English subtitles on a video from China in my life until this Blu-ray (Usually, Hong Kong videos have better English subtitles than Chinese videos). Even though the original film was filmed at 1.33:1, the new version cropped to 1.78:1 looks amazing! I noticed a head getting cut off twice due to the cropping, but other than that, the 1080p video quality is a revelation!  This Monkey King Blu-ray is a beautiful work of art come to life in high definition. The colors may seem washed out, but that’s the style of the animation. The colors and detail are absolutely gorgeous and breathtaking, especially after watching the messy Taiwanese DVD for a while now. The Mandarin 7.1 Dolby TrueHD is just unbelievable. Along with the stylized animation, the drums and percussion accompaniment used in this film are heavily influenced by Beijing Opera traditions and they just rock on this Blu-ray. This audio is a new remix and the dubbing is much more intimate and better than the cold dubbing of the original film. The music just sounds totally better, and the surround sounds and subwoofer envelop the room just like a new film. I can’t believe that this Blu-ray is one of my favorite sounding Blu-rays I have heard this year, from any country! Even though the 3D producers tampered with the animation, soundtrack, and dubbing of this old movie, the changes have only left advantages for the viewer. If you really want to see the original film as was shown in the 1960s, then just check out the Taiwanese DVD with crummy English subtitles, fair video, muffled flat audio, and worse dubbing. Furthermore, the original film was censored: In the original, Monkey King finds a gourd full of magical pills (aka drugs). He licks one pill and then the scene awkwardly cuts to another scene. In this Blu-ray version, we have the uncensored version. After Monkey King licks one of the pills, he chugs down the rest of the pills and starts hallucinating. This is one of the few obvious changes I noticed between the Taiwanese DVD and the Chinese Blu-ray. So technically, the Chinese Blu-ray is more of a Director’s Cut than the censored original version shown on the Taiwanese DVD.

Overall, this Blu-ray is the only way to watch this film! A+ for the video, audio, and English subtitles! This Blu-ray also comes in a metal case for people who love fancy packaging. The Blu-ray for The Monkey King: Uproar In Heaven is one of the most impressive Chinese Blu-rays I have seen yet. What an amazing restoration! Buy this Blu-ray before it becomes out of print!

MARTHA blu-ray review

Denmark Region B blu-ray

1080p Widescreen 1.66:1

Danish: DTS-HD 2.0, Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles: English, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian








Depressing, gloomy, serious, dark, and disturbing are the usual words that cross my mind when I think of movies from Denmark. Thanks to filmmakers such as Lars Von Trier (The Kingdom, The Idiots), Nicolas Winding Refn (Valhalla Rising, Pusher), Susanne Bier (In a Better World, Brothers), and Christoffer Boe (Reconstruction, Allegro), I have had this stereotype about Danish films for many years now. Even my memories of Babette’s Feast – the first Danish movie that I saw when I was eleven years old – remind me more of repulsive and dismal scenes rather than scenes of delicious-looking food.

There has to be some uplifting Danish films that have existed over the years, but for now, I was fortunate to find Erik Balling’s Martha – a 45-year old film that is the most cheerful and funny Danish film that I have ever seen.

Martha is considered to be one of Denmark’s most popular cult-comedy films, especially popular among Danish sailors.  The movie is about a very old freight steamer named “Martha” that is practically falling apart and barely floating on water. Forgotten by the Danish shipping companies and laughed at by competing Norwegian ships, the lazy crew takes advantage of their ship’s weakness. They sit around all day drinking alcohol, spend most of their budget on extravagant fancy meals on board, make stops on shore to drink and party at local pubs, and even try to hook up the youngest crew member with a prostitute. Old habits change when the ship’s strict owner, his wife, and their beautiful daughter surprise the crew with intentions of spending some time on board.

I was skeptical about being entertained by a bunch of drunk slobs for 93 minutes, but the characters in Martha are so funny and entertaining, I was hooked immediately. I was also skeptical that the movie wouldn’t be funny for non-Danes, but I was also wrong since Martha is an example of a perfect old school European comedy that anyone can enjoy, and the characters and storyline are universally understood. The cinematography is also wonderful – with great shots of the sea, the ship, and port towns. The whole movie felt like it was filmed out at sea. I don’t know if they filmed any scenes on a set because even the indoor shots felt like they were at sea. Martha’s impressive direction by Erik Balling makes me want to seek out more movies from this director.

The Danish Region B Blu-ray from Nordisk Film Distribution is nearly reference quality for a film from 1967. Martha was my first Danish Blu-ray so I really didn’t know what to expect, but after viewing this Blu-ray, I reminded myself that Scandinavia is, after all, known for producing quality products! I’m happy to report that this cult-comedy classic has received full respect regarding the Blu-ray video and audio quality. The 1080p 1.66:1 image looks amazing! With a slight touch of grain, the print is spotlessly clean and its sun-baked scenes of the ship out to sea excel with an impressive level of crisp detail. Color saturation and blacks look great too. The Danish DTS-HD 2.0 sounds as wonderful as this type of mix can sound. Dialogue is absolutely clear and the realistic ship sounds and catchy music never overwhelm the dialogue. Even with a front-heavy 2.0 mix, the audio still felt immersive and I felt like a passenger on the ship. The English subtitles were perfectly translated and a Danish DD 2.0 audio choice, as well as Danish, Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian subtitles are also included. No extras are on this Blu-ray.

Martha is a great Danish comedy and makes one want to go sailing on any kind of ship – a cruise ship or even a beat-up rusty one. Even though this film would make a nice double feature with The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Martha feels so much more special than Wes Anderson’s film. Released on an impressive quality Blu-ray, I highly recommend you all to check out Denmark’s Martha!



Full Screen 4×3

Czech DTS 5.0, DD 5.1, and DD 2.0

Subtitles: English









The mid-1980s were an exciting time for me when I was a kid.  Even though my parents always took me to foreign films even before I could read, these films didn’t start making total sense until I could finally keep up with the English subtitles at around the age of nine or so. From then on, the foreign movies I saw in the mid-80s probably stuck with me the longest – My Life As A Dog, Babette’s Feast, Jean de Florette/Manon of the Spring, Tampopo, and My Sweet Little Village.

Jiri Menzel’s My Sweet Little Village (aka Vesnicko má stredisková) was nominated for Best Foreign Film in 1987 but lost to The Assault (never heard of it). Also in contention that year was Betty Blue, The Decline of the American Empire, and ’38. My Sweet Little Village is one of the best Czech movies ever made. It’s one of those films you picture when you think of a typical Eastern European foreign film. I don’t want to tell the story about all the wonderful characters in this film, but My Sweet Little Village is about a Czech village with colorful characters all having highly entertaining interwoven stories.

As far as I know, the Czech DVD is the only existing DVD of this film. Since this is the only DVD available, as well as including English subtitles, I’m pretty happy with the overall quality of this DVD. The Full Screen video quality is a mixed bag. It ranges from very clean and sharp to scratchy scenes that cry out for a digital restoration. The DVD surprisingly offers three audio options – DD 2.0, DD 5.1 and DTS 5.0. I watched the movie with the DTS option which was very impressive for this kind of old film. The music especially sounds immersive and the dialogue sounds solid. The DD 5.1 was good too, it’s just that the DTS is louder and mixed better. I was definitely impressed more with the audio quality than the video quality. The most disappointing element of the DVD is the sloppy English subtitles. It’s riddled with bizarre translations and spelling mistakes but, unlike the sloppy English subtitles found on many Hong Kong and Indian videos, the problematic English subtitles on this DVD were good enough and any witty elements in the screenplay thankfully did not get lost in the translation. It’s also really funny that the Czech translator got her name acknowledged during the beginning credits. I’m not too sure they really want to advertise her translation services! The non-subtitled extras on the DVD are some interviews, a trailer, filmographies, photos, and information of other available Czech DVDs. Please note that this version is a special edition Czech DVD. There was a previous Czech DVD of this film but it only had DD 2.0 audio. I’m not sure if the image quality differs between the two, but the main difference is that the special edition version of this film has DTS and DD 5.1 sound.

My Sweet Little Village is a touching, rewatchable classic Czech comedy that is a wonderful escape from beginning to end. Watching this film made me fantasize about living in Europe during the 1980s!

THE MYTH blu-ray review

UK Region-free blu-ray

1080p Widescreen 2.35:1

Cantonese: DD 5.1, DD 2.0

English: DD 5.1

Subtitles: English








THE MYTH is a ten-times-better version of the TOMB RAIDER movies, a hint of NATIONAL TREASURE, a bit of INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE, and of course a touch of Yimou Zhang. Some say the mixing of the period piece genre with current time period is awkward – I say phooey…I love the mixing of genres and I thought it worked great. The period piece story with Jackie Chan as the killing machine general was just as interesting as much as the nice guy Jackie Chan archeologist contemporary story, and eventually how they both connected. It was well written and totally entertaining for a fun movie. This isn’t supposed to be an Oscar movie, it’s just a great fun movie, showing the Jackie Chan that we love in his trademark clownish kung fu scenes and jumping around in dangerous areas (with wire work which is okay considering his age) and we get to see a new Jackie Chan kick ass, kill hundreds of men, fight with swords, and fall in love. Stanley Tong isn’t Yimou Zhang, so don’t expect another HERO, but he did a pretty damn fine job with doing a period piece for the first time. Jackie Chan as the general did a very good job acting. As we watch the making-of feature, Jackie Chan was aggresively directed by Stanley Tong to act with no emotion or facial expressions, so it’s not Jackie’s fault if people think he acted as if he was constipated the whole time as I have read in other reviews. Jackie Chan is just a hard-working actor who does what his director tells him. Although he is no Russell Crowe, Jackie Chan still has potential to do some really fine acting if given the right director to work with. Look at one of the worst directors today, George Lucas – he was responsible for the lousy acting in all three STAR WARS prequels. All those actors from the prequels have done amazing work in other movies. It is the director’s responsibility to get excellent acting. Stanley Tong isn’t as bad director as George Lucas, he’s just a fun director, so you can’t really fault Jackie Chan if one thinks he didn’t do a good job or if no one felt emotion from the story. It’s just an entertaining blockbuster-type film. After watching the making-of featurettes for THE MYTH, it’s hard not to love Jackie Chan. He not only helps out all the actors and helps out cleaning the sets, he is the type of person that wants everyone to be comfortable and have fun on the set, yet do a professional job. With all the different nationalities involved in this film (China, Korea, India), it’s nice to see that Jackie is the one keeping everything together and making people happy.

The movie moved along very fast and was extremely entertaining. I didn’t notice any filler in the story at all. I’m a bit confused why people call the Mallika Sherawat scenes in India unnecessary. The best part of the movie was when Jackie Chan was in India. All of the Indian scenes were important, because:
1. Mallika is hot, gets topless for a split-second (they airbrush her nipples off when she is topless) and makes the movie even more rewatchable by just her presence. She has that bombshell cinema presence in which you can watch any of her movies with the mute button on. She is in a class of actresses such as these other actresses around the world – Monica Bellucci, Salma Hayek, Jennifer Connelly (pre-Beautiful Mind movies), Sofía Vergara, Leonor Watling, Angelina Jolie, Chalize Theron. Stanley Tong understands casting. He could have just stuck with Hee-seon Kim, the Korean actress playing the princess in THE MYTH, and not get Mallika, but this Korean actress has as much presence as a tree. Trees are pretty and nice to look at but they are just there and have no presence. There is nothing special about Hee-seon Kim when comparing her to Mallika.
2. Mallika kicks ass in some short but quality fight scenes.
3. the glue factory Jackie Chan fight scene
4. Mallika is one of the few actors (eventhough she is bad actress) in India that does controversial things in Bollywood movies, such as kiss in movies (how X-rated). In THE MYTH, she was one of the first Bollywood actors to do some martial arts and look good doing it eventhough the fight scenes are very short (in most Bollywood movie, the fight scenes are painful to watch). She represents the potential of what Bollywood actors should be doing if they didn’t have such traditional movie obstacles typically found in Bollywood.

The action in THE MYTH rocked! There were countless scenes of awesome action: every single fight scene involving Jackie Chan was just amazing. There were funny fight scenes and some serious bad-ass fight scenes. There were funny fight scenes that were meant to be funny. And there were some serious fight scenes than turned out to be unintentionally funny (the horse-fu scenes…I thought that was creative, funny, and great!). Other creative scenes involved Jackie Chan people chased by thousands of Indians, Jackie Chan fighting against an Indian with Indian martial arts, Mallika’s fight scenes, the mega bow-and-arrow, the mountain of dead bodies with Jackie standing on top of them, the sew-up-a-wound with a lock of hair scene, the snowballing scene, the none-gravity climactic scenes, etc…on and on…I think this is Stanley Tong’s most creative movie yet, not only with the storyline, but with the most creative action and visuals he’s ever done.

There are few negatives in this movie. These negatives bothered critics and a lot of people who thought this movie was fair. I was aware of the negatives, but it didn’t bother me that much because there were too many other cool things in the movie to notice:
1. There was some pretty bad pre-Terminator 2 CGI scenes in this movie involving a snake, falling off a cliff, Zatoichi spurting cartoon blood, falling rocks, and the worst one, was a scene in which Tony Leung is sinking into metalic goo with something happening to the floor around him. I sort of figured out what was going on, but it was actually pretty poorly done – I didn’t know what the fuck I was looking at. At least, I knew that the snake was a snake. But Stanley Tong made up for his poor use of CGI with his skillful and creative wire-work in this movie. It’s not that the audience questioned whether something was wire work or not, the fact is that the wire-work looked good in this movie and was used creatively, and was not meant to look “real.” We all know that Jackie Chan used wire-work in this movie. If you wanna see real stunts, go watch the overrated Tony Jaa.
2. The most annoying aspect in THE MYTH was Stanley Tong’s descision to squish the image during the period piece scenes. It was a stylish choice which sucked! It was clearly seen when Jackie Chan was on the screen. It didn’t seem as squished when the Princess was in a scene. I’m not sure which is the most annoying filmmaking i’ve ever seen – the squished effect of the period piece scenes in THE MYTH or the shaky-cam scenes in THE BOURNE SUPREMECY?

Overall, Jackie Chan’s THE MYTH is a pretty good entertaining fun flick. It was nice to see Jackie Chan do comedic fight scenes and also nice to see him tackle a different style – acting, romance, killing, and doing serious fight scenes. Either way, the movie is worth it just to watch Jackie Chan and Mallika Sherawat!

The Blu-ray video and audio quality is pretty sweet. The 1080p video looked damned good, especially during Mallika’s scenes…and the audio sounded amazing. The blu-ray also includes a whole bunch of extras including interviews, making-ofs, deleted scenes, trailers, and outtakes.

I highly recommend this creative Jackie Chan film!

MAGADHEERA blu-ray review

India Region-free blu-ray

1080p Widescreen 2.35:1

Telugu: LPCM 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: English









The ranking of the Indian film industry goes like this:

1. Hindi-speaking Bollywood films = good

2. Tamil-speaking Kollywood films = fair

3. Telugu-speaking Tollywood films = bad

I don’t understand what’s going on with the Telugu-speaking Indian film industry – how in the hell did they pull off the creation of MAGADHEERA? I’m confused…

MAGADHEERA is a phenomenal piece of Indian entertainment. This 165-minute romantic action movie masala film is just perfect. It’s not a great film, but it is a perfect Bollywood or Tollywood or Indian Hollywood film. MAGADHEERA can practically be paired up with JODHAA AKBAR (India’s most recent Bollywood masterpiece) in which that film is a very serious historical epic filmed like a Ridley Scott film, while MAGADHEERA is a historical/contemporary action masala epic filmed like a James Cameron film (True Lies mode).

MAGADHEERA is a bit like a cross between PRINCE OF PERSIA, Darren Aronofsky’s THE FOUNTAIN and Zach Snyder’s 300. It’s a reincarnation story for 4 characters – the hero, the girl, the villain, and a dictator. They all had died 400 years ago but they come back into the present time to finish unfinished business with love, revenge, and the gods. Since this is a Bollywood film, the story is very simple and the characters are pretty 2-dimensional but we all know that’s how Bollywood films are. Furthermore, this is a long movie that moves along fast with not one piece of filler.

What’s even more amazing is that this film is perfectly filmed. Where did they find all this Indian crew to make such a professionally filmed and edited film? It’s totally shocking. This is right up there as one of the best filmed Bollywood movies. Concerning the action scenes, these have the best choreographed action scenes out of any Bollywood film yet – everything is smooth and doesn’t seem wire-worky. The action choreography in this film was done by Bollywood’s action master – Peter Hein. This is his best work to date.

MAGADHEERA is full of action scenes that also are very original. There are a few which may have been inspired by 300, but overall, this movie is not stealing or borrowing from any other movie – it’s a true original work. The fight scenes are well-filmed and the actors seem like they knew what they were doing. The action is full-blown R-rated – with blood, decapitations, body parts getting chopped off, etc. It’s just great! And the CGI special effects are excellent – probably the best I’ve seen in Bollywood.

T & A, yes there is! What I like about Tamil and Telugu films is that they don’t praise flat-chested actresses as they do in Hollywood and Hindi-speaking Bollywood. Big breasted actresses are in this film. Period. Let me give you an example. There’s a musical number in which the Megan Fox (or Carmen Elektra) of Telugu cinema runs in boob-jiggling slo-mo and also does some anime-style boob thrust which turns the dudes to stone. Let’s see Medusa do that! Great stuff.

The acting is good in this film as well – all very theatrical and Bollywoodish, but good for what it is. The main actor – Ram Charan Teja – is like the Colin Farrell of India, a totally convincing tough and likable Indian actor (almost as good as Hrithik Roshan). He is a truly good leading man in India, especially when all the other ones in Bollywood are flamboyant tools. The main actress – Kajal Agarwal – is like the Blake Lively of India. And the spear-throwing master villain is pretty scary, creepy, and tough.

I would also like to add that the musical numbers and musical score is excellent and intense as well.

This blu-ray by SRI BALAJI VIDEO is one of the best blu-rays i’ve ever seen. The video quality is excellent and has a crisp three-dimensionality to it. The Dolby Digital 5.1 Uncompressed Telugu audio is very nice and active as well. The English subtitles have some mistakes here and there, but overall generally better than most Bollywood movies released on DVD. There are no extras on the blu-ray, if you want the extras badly then you can buy the $8 DVD which only has a 40-minute non-English subtitled Making of the Film. I would also like to add that the Sri Balaji logo pops up in the bottom right corner during song scenes, but if you are used to Bollywood movies on DVD, you know the drill – it’s not a big deal, but it would be nice if that tradition stopped already.

MAGADHEERA is the first great film of India of 2010. It’s total escapism and I didn’t want it to end. The simple but creative Indian mythological story, beautiful cinematography, amazing choreographed scenes, impressive special effects, and good-looking actors make this a perfect Indian film to be showcased on Blu-ray.

MIND GAME dvd review

Japan Region 2 NTSC dvd

Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1

DD 5.1 Japanese

Subtitles: English









MIND GAME is the most original animated film ever. I love Miyazaki and Disney films, but MIND GAME is in a world of its own. For the past thirty years, few movies have given me that good feeling that I had just experienced something special, such as with 2001, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, STAR WARS, AKIRA, THE MATRIX, BLADE RUNNER, UNDERGROUND, PULP FICTION, AMELIE, LORD OF THE RINGS, REQUIEM FOR A DREAM. I don’t know what to say except – go buy the expensive MIND GAME DVD now. Eight years have past and this movie has still not been released on video outside of Japan, which is practically a crime. It’s very strange because the production company behind MIND GAME is an up-and-coming respectable animation studio – Studio 4°C. I would assume that the few movies that they have made would all be released on video in other countries. This movie must be seen. Try not to read too many reviews. It’s better to go into this blindly as I did. I couldn’t imagine not owning this DVD.

The video and audio of the DVD is reference quality. It would be great if a blu-ray was released, but this DVD is perfectly good without one. The extras are a couple non-subtitled interviews and “making ofs”.