POLICE STORY 3: SUPERCOP blu-ray review

Hong Kong Region A blu-ray

1080p Widescreen 2.35:1

Cantonese: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (original)

Mandarin: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (dub)

Thai: Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (dub)

Subtitles: English, Mandarin, Thai

IMDB

 

MOVIE: 8.5

VIDEO QUALITY: 8

AUDIO QUALITY: 8

ENGLISH SUBTITLES: 7.5

EXTRAS: 4

 

Police Story 3 aka Supercop is not only a Jackie Chan classic but also a Michelle Yeoh classic. The third film in the trilogy is the most entertaining and the most well-balanced one. Even though the previous two are good, Police Story 3 is the most rewatchable one. This film is a perfect example of Hong Kong film stunt madness in the 1990s.

Skip the USA blu-ray and choose this superior Hong Kong blu-ray version. The USA blu-ray is cropped from 2.35:1 to 1.78:1 and only has a dubbed English audio. This Hong Kong blu-ray has the original language, is uncut, has the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and has English subtitles – the blu-ray is worth it just for that! I didn’t have any of the previous DVDs of this film but I was happy with the video and audio quality of this blu-ray. I read the negative reviews of the first Police Story and I assumed it got the same transfer, which maybe it did, but all I can say that this blu-ray looks and sounds good. I had just watched the Iron Monkey blu-ray beforehand and I thought that the video quality was better on this blu-ray than the USA blu-ray of Iron Monkey, so for a 1992 Hong Kong film getting released by a sketchy HK blu-ray company, they did a fine job. The Cantonese: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 was decent as well, with explosions, punching, shooting giving off quite a kick from the subwoofer. But don’t forget to lower your expectations. People say that these blu-rays from this Hong Kong company KAM & RONSON are just upconverted DVDs. Maybe so, but they still look and sound better than previous DVDs even if it’s just a slight upgrade. If you love any of the movies that KAM & RONSON are making blu-rays into, then buy them. Just expect them to be better than your previous DVDs. Don’t expect them to be reference quality blu-rays that have gone through some sort of restoration.

The extras are just a trailer, images, some outtakes, and an English-subtitled interview with the director.

The English subtitles had a bunch of grammar mistakes, but they were good enough to not throw off the film.

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PEKING OPERA BLUES blu-ray review

Hong Kong Region A blu-ray

1080p Widescreen 1.85:1

Cantonese: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (original)

Mandarin: Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (dub)

Subtitles: English, Mandarin

IMDB

 

MOVIE: 8

VIDEO QUALITY: 7.5

AUDIO QUALITY: 8.5

ENGLISH SUBTITLES: 6.5

EXTRAS: 1

 

If Fortune Star’s DVD video/audio quality is considered a C, then this supposedly remastered blu-ray of Tsui Hark’s Peking Opera Blues is like a B-.

Here’s how I would grade the individual parts of this blu-ray (with the grading curve of course, as many people should be aware that it’s a bit tricky for Hong Kong home video companies to make beautiful blu-ray remasters of Hong Kong films from the 1980s-1990s):

A: The blu-ray video is totally clean, spotless, and scratch-free.

A-: The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 is actually surprisingly very impressive if you accept it as a Dolby TrueHD 1.1 audio. It’s one of the best Fortune Star blu-ray audios of an old Hong Kong film that I’ve heard so far. Dialogue is clear, no hissing, not claustrophobic sounding, well-balanced, and action/gun-firing scenes have subwoofer whoomph – basically, a totally solid audio experience.

A-: The film’s video quality is a consistent and pleasurable viewing experience.

B-: The blu-ray video is better-looking, brighter, and has more detail than the Fortune Star DVD.

B-: Close up shots look good, maintaining original grain but don’t be surprised from slightly pasty faces.

C: English subtitles are fair with typical Chinglish. I had an idea what was going on, but those subtitles just don’t make sense as a whole. Watching this blu-ray reminded me of how I perceive watching a movie in my dreams – I think I know what’s going on but I have no idea what’s going on. These companies need to hire normal translators. Those English subtitles make the movie worse! For me, the Chinglish subtitles were the only distraction watching this movie.

C-: Medium shots and long shots of people’s faces and objects sometimes look poor – ranging from slight interlaced lines, fuzziness, and blurriness.

C-: Night/dark shots don’t look that hot. Pretend you are watching a DVD and you won’t get too upset.

D+: Just one extra (the trailer), when the Fortune Star DVD had a few more extras.

Overall:
1. If you don’t have the Fortune Star DVD and if you want to own this movie, buy the blu-ray.
2. If you own the Fortune Star DVD and you don’t have some mega-sized 40+ HDTV or projector, then stick with the DVD.

PERHAPS LOVE dvd review

Hong Kong Region 3 NTSC dvd

Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1

Mandarin DTS 5.1 and DD 5.1

Subtitles: English

IMDB

MOVIE: 6

VIDEO QUALITY: 9

AUDIO QUALITY: 9

ENGLISH SUBTITLES: 8.5

EXTRAS: 6

 

Wow, Christopher Doyle has done it again. Every scene of his cinematography of PERHAPS LOVE can be cut up into photos and posted in a gallery. Excellent job! Christopher Doyle may not be a total magician though. Although he tried, he couldn’t save the movie from being good. All he could do was make PERHAPS LOVE into a fair movie. But that’s not his responsiblity. He has turned a piece of poo into a shiny gold-covered, sugar-coated turd. Unfortunately, PERHAPS LOVE is still a piece of crap and all the superb cinematography and its professionally-made look cannot disguise the stench of this movie. Speaking of Christopher Doyle, I realized while watching this movie that he has done the cinematography of the majority of Wong Kar Wai’s masterpieces, except for AS TEARS GO BY and the upcoming THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI. I’m not a fan of Wong Kar Wai, but his imagery in his films are nice – but that’s all thanks to Christopher Doyle. I wonder what would Wong Kar Wai be without Christopher Doyle. His films may not be the masterpieces without Doyle. I have a gut feeling that Doyle should be getting more credit for Wong Kar Wai films than Wong Kar Wai himself.

So with the massive help of Christopher Doyle, PERHAPS LOVE is a fair movie. I felt like I was watching a bad Alan Parker musical. Besides the amazing cinematography of this miserable musical, it had a dreamy feel to it that I liked. But once again, that’s all Christopher Doyle. The combination of the cinematography, sets, minimalism during many scenes, costumes all combined to give this film memorable imagery.

PERHAPS A STORY NEEDED, I mean, PERHAPS LOVE is not even a movie about love – all it shows is shallowness, mind games, hatred, and no chemistry between the lovers. If the main focus of the story is about love, then write about love! The writers of PERHAPS LOVE wrote good screenplays for PURPLE STORM and PEKING OPERA BLUES, but their teamwork together in this movie was awful. The poor writing screwed this movie up big time. I felt sort of bad for Jackie Cheung’s character, but the Takeshi and Xun characters had no love or chemistry when they were together in the past and none in the present (the movie jumps around from the past and present). The pseudo love displayed by the three main actors in this movie seemed to be written by a 15-year old boy. I’ve just about had it with that prepubescent writing style of relationships in Asian movies and anime movies.

There were a couple good scenes in the movie. Out of all the songs, which are mainly performed by the two male leads, there are about two rewatchable songs. Disappointingly, Farah Khan – one of the best Bollywood directors and best dance choreographers – did not get to show off her talents in this movie. The dancers in the movie were underused and overshadowed by the weepy, sad faces of the lead actors. I had a better musical fix in Jackie Chan’s THE MYTH. But even in the two decent songs, they are just okay – nothing spectacular. I love musicals, but PERHAPS LOVE was a pretty weak musical. It’s okay that the movie is dark and dreary, but you still have to have some uplifting spectacular musical scenes thrown in there.

The acting was okay. Everyone got to do some crying scenes. But they just didn’t fit in the film. You could tell that they prepared themselves to cry and they just shot it. I have no idea why any of the characters were even crying.

The Media Asia Region 3 NTSC DVD is good quality at least. There are two versions though – One version has one disc and the other version is has two discs with photos and maybe other trinkets added. So both DVDs are the same and have the same DVD content.
The anamorphic 1:85 video looked really nice and sharp. There were a couple white spots that flashed up, but overall it’s got such nice video quality that you can watch it even if the movie sucks. For audio, there is Mandarin DTS 96/24 and DD 5.1. Both sounded amazing. I don’t have a high-end home theater so the DTS 96/24 sounded as good as a normal DTS to my ears. The English subtitles were clear. I found only a couple grammar mistakes, but nothing that noticable. Included in the extras were a trailer, teaser, making-of featturettes, two music videos, and a boring Bollywood male dance scene in the rain. All extras did not have English subtitles.

There is also a Hong Kong region-free blu-ray available.

Overall, PERHAPS LOVE is just a dreary, emotionless half-assed musical. It’s not that bad, but it could have been a really good movie if the story was interesting and if there were some spectacular musical numbers. It’s only worth watching to see the genius of Christopher Doyle.

PROJECT A blu-ray review

Hong Kong Region A blu-ray

1080p Widescreen 2.39:1

Cantonese: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1

Mandarin: Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (dub)

Subtitles: English

IMDB

 

MOVIE: 8.5

VIDEO QUALITY: 7.5

AUDIO QUALITY: 7

ENGLISH SUBTITLES: 7.5

EXTRAS: 2

 

As expected from Fortune Star catalog blu-rays, this blu-ray looks like an upconverted DVD. Now that I have the typical bad news out of the way, this blu-ray is at least a pleasure viewing experience. Even though the image is soft and not eye-popping, the video quality is totally clean, has nice detail in the bright scenes, has acceptable contrast levels, and does not have any motion blurring at all. Most of the time it looks like an upconverted DVD, but later on in the film, there are bright scenes that look very blu-rayish. So overall, I’m happy enough with the video quality that it lets me enjoy the film without any weird video glitches. Just don’t expect blu-ray quality. Expect DVD Plus!

The Cantonese DTS-HD 7.1 is just a Halloween costume – for it really is nothing more than a “Two Point Half Dolby Stereo” sountrack. I say Two Point half rather than 2.1, because the subwoofer is sort of disappointing. The opening credits and an explosion got the most subwoofer power. Usually these Fortune Star blu-rays give a little power to the punches and kicks in their other catalog titles, but not in this blu-ray. The sound during the action scenes are dull and unimpressive. Whenever some sort of subwoofer is used, it feels artificial and not natural to the film. Dialogue is perfectly clear and all good – you just may need to crank up the volume so that the voices can reach you. Don’t expect to be enveloped – the whole audio experience of this blu-ray is that it stays right in those speakers and don’t come out at us! But pickiness aside, It’s a solid audio for this type of Hong Kong film from the early 80s. Overall, the audio is just a Dolby Stereo soundtrack with the subwoofer flicked on and off once in a while throughout the film.

The English subtitles are not that bad – it’s still basically Chinglish, but I’ve seen worse!

I’ve never seen the remastered Fortune Star DVD version nor the remastered UK PAL Hong Kong Legends DVD version, but I’m assuming that this blu-ray is more or less an upconversion of those two DVDs. So if you have a blu-ray player that doesn’t upconvert well, then buy this blu-ray. If you have a blu-ray player that plays DVDs beautifully, then most likely keep either of those two DVD versions.

I can’t confirm it, but it’s possible that the Hong Kong Legends remastered DVD has an edge over the blu-ray due to its extras and also because I’ve read more positive reviews about its audio rather than the audio on the Fortune Star DVD. It all depends what you like best – video, audio, extras, subtitles. I personally would rather choose the blu-ray over the Hong Kong Legends DVD because I don’t have the greatest blu-ray player that makes DVDs sparkle. But for others, I’ve seen the Hong Kong Legends DVD sold used for around 14 bucks.

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