Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

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whaleallright
Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2005 12:56 am

Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#276 Post by whaleallright » Sat Aug 08, 2020 12:09 pm

cowboydan wrote:
Sat Aug 08, 2020 2:23 am
Sorry if I'm misunderstanding your post, but are you under the impression that "My Heart is That Eternal Rose" is out of stock at Yesasia? Because they still have it.
non-US/NA link https://www.yesasia.com/global/my-heart ... /info.html
US/NA link https://www.yesasia.com/us/my-heart-is- ... /info.html
Ah, thanks. Maybe their search function is a little wonky, because I searched for both "My Heart Is That Eternal Rose" and "Patrick Tam" and hadn't been able to find it.

And thanks too for the info about different retailers and shipping services. Yeah, buying anything from abroad these days is a dicey proposition. You have to accept the fact that you might not see the item for months.


So here's another question: has anyone taken a look at the Blu-Ray of Ann Hui's Eighteen Springs, released a few months ago? (Boy, there are a ton of 1980s–90s HK films being released on Blu lately, too bad the quality seems so hit and miss.)

cowboydan
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2020 1:27 pm

Re: Hong Kong Cinema

#277 Post by cowboydan » Mon Aug 10, 2020 2:27 am

The Elegant Dandy Fop wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 1:33 pm
Patrick Tam's Final Victory, scripted by Wong Kar Wai and produced by Sammo Hung, has been released in Hong Kong. I've wanted to purchase some more of these Panorama/Fortune Star Blu-rays, but I'm skeptical of the quality after being very disappointed by The Haunted Cop Shop, especially at the price I paid. It seems some releases like Robotrix may actually be full HD. I've tried to see as many of these Wong scripted films (even some of the limp Frankie Chan ones) and from my understanding, it seems Final Victory is a seminal one that looks forward to the films he would direct.
I just received the Final Victory BD and I'm sad to report that it doesn't seem to be true HD. Probably an upscale or maybe a slight improvement over the DVD. Unfortunately I don't have the DVD to compare it to. It's really a bummer. Why do they even bother releasing it on blu-ray if the quality of the transfer is roughly equivalent to the DVD :cry:

cowboydan
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#278 Post by cowboydan » Mon Aug 10, 2020 2:41 am

whaleallright wrote:
Sat Aug 08, 2020 12:09 pm
cowboydan wrote:
Sat Aug 08, 2020 2:23 am
Sorry if I'm misunderstanding your post, but are you under the impression that "My Heart is That Eternal Rose" is out of stock at Yesasia? Because they still have it.
non-US/NA link https://www.yesasia.com/global/my-heart ... /info.html
US/NA link https://www.yesasia.com/us/my-heart-is- ... /info.html
Ah, thanks. Maybe their search function is a little wonky, because I searched for both "My Heart Is That Eternal Rose" and "Patrick Tam" and hadn't been able to find it.

And thanks too for the info about different retailers and shipping services. Yeah, buying anything from abroad these days is a dicey proposition. You have to accept the fact that you might not see the item for months.


So here's another question: has anyone taken a look at the Blu-Ray of Ann Hui's Eighteen Springs, released a few months ago? (Boy, there are a ton of 1980s–90s HK films being released on Blu lately, too bad the quality seems so hit and miss.)
According to this list on blu-ray.com forums, Eighteen Springs is in true HD, contains originals audio, and has English subtitles. I did notice that the aspect ratio is 1.78 instead of the original 1.85. It's usually not a big deal, especially if it's "opened up" so you're just a getting a little bit more info on the top and bottom. But once in while they zoom in / crop it #-o I'm unsure which is the case for Eighteen Springs.
https://forum.blu-ray.com/showthread.php?t=272146
This list is decent (but not perfect) rough guide on which pre-2006 HK films have blu-ray releases in HD w/original audio, and which ones are upscales and/or have remixed audio.

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whaleallright
Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2005 12:56 am

Re: Hong Kong Cinema

#279 Post by whaleallright » Mon Aug 10, 2020 4:12 pm

cowboydan wrote:
Mon Aug 10, 2020 2:27 am

I just received the Final Victory BD and I'm sad to report that it doesn't seem to be true HD. Probably an upscale or maybe a slight improvement over the DVD. Unfortunately I don't have the DVD to compare it to. It's really a bummer. Why do they even bother releasing it on blu-ray if the quality of the transfer is roughly equivalent to the DVD :cry:
Well, you bought it, didn't you? Multiply that by even a few hundred folks, and that's some money to balance out their bottom line...

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feihong
Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2004 12:20 pm

Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#280 Post by feihong » Thu Aug 13, 2020 4:27 am

Spectrum Films, a French company, has released a few Hong Kong classics on blu ray, including Story of Woo Viet and Cops & Robbers. I have their blu ray of Angel Terminators 2, which is magnificent and beautiful, full HD, sharp, solid and colorful, with some veeeery only occasional pops and crackles. Of course, none of these have English subtitles, nor will any in the future, I don't believe.

I ordered a bunch of recent releases from them I just learned had been released: Devil Hunters, which is a favorite, The Dragon Fighter, and Ronny Yu's The Bride with White Hair and The Saviour. But then I looked at their coming soon page.

In September they are releasing blu rays of The Longest Nite, Expect the Unexpected, A Hero Never Dies and Spacked Out (come on, no Too Many Ways to Be No.1?). Spacked Out has a street date of Sept. 18th, and the others come out on the 30th.

I've seen a review of Devil Hunters, with screencaps that looked pretty awesome. So I'm thinking these Milkyway films might end up looking awesome. At this point I'm even nostalgic for Spacked Out, which seems a little...optimistic of me. Was that film ever that good? There is a very nice Japanese blu ray of A Hero Never Dies, but it wouldn't be surprising to see a different transfer here.

On their Facebook they have some longer-range announcements for next year, including blu rays of The Chinese Feast, People's Hero, Herman Yau's Walk In, Eighteen Springs, Odd Couple, Wild Search, PTU, My Heart is That Eternal Rose, a box-set of Bastard Swordsman & Return of Bastard Swordsman, Holy Flame of the Martial World, Demon of the Lute––another favorite––The Bare-Footed Kid, Love in a Fallen City, and Loving You.

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tenia
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#281 Post by tenia » Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:24 am

Cops & Robbers' master is awful, probably real HD but with absolutely no restoration work performed, faded colors and poor details overall.

I've seen (and reviewed) several Spectrum releases and while they're absolutely commandable for the movies they're releasing and the extras coming with them, they clearly don't filter their choices regarding the HD masters' quality. Some actually barely look HD at all (The Dragon Fighter for instance), often making me wonder the technical reason for putting those out on BD and not just DVD.

Devil Hunters is relatively OK visually, but the soundtrack is a nightmare. It's extremely muffled and shallow, like some of those Bruce Lee tracks that sound like they were recorded underwater.
The Saviour also looks HD, but seems like a very old HD master full of sharpening and heavily over-saturated and with its contrast excessively boosted, and limited details overall.

Story of Woo Viet and Boat People are clearly from dated HD masters (though they look HD at least).
Angel Terminator 2 looks very good, like a recent 2K work, but Angel Terminator 1 looks like a dated HD master again.
The Terrorizers is similar to Angel Terminator 1, Woo Viet and Boat People.

I don't doubt all those upgrade over how they were released before but these are still very limited way too often.

Their Bride with White Hair package is nice, though a tad expensive considering the 2 additionnal movies clearly are extra movies. The 1st movie uses a new 4K restoration like looks quite neat (though possibly a tad DNRed), but the sequel re-uses the awful old master with however a new color-grading (it still looks quite bad), and the 3rd movie is the recent White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom, which is only provided in 2D (no 3D version) and in 2.0 (not even a 5.1 track) because Spectrum haven't been able to obtain the 3D version and 5.1 tracks from the right-holder. For those who can understand French, it does pack almost 3hrs of extras !


Be aware that most of those BDs are 1080i50.


Out of their upcoming/most recent releases, only Lonely Fifteen is announced to be sourced from a new 2K restoration, so I don't have my hopes very high about the HD presentations of the other releases.

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The Fanciful Norwegian
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#282 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Thu Aug 13, 2020 1:43 pm

feihong wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 4:27 am
In September they are releasing blu rays of The Longest Nite, Expect the Unexpected, A Hero Never Dies and Spacked Out (come on, no Too Many Ways to Be No.1?). Spacked Out has a street date of Sept. 18th, and the others come out on the 30th.
Too Many Ways to Be No. 1 is one of the 170-odd Golden Harvest titles that were inexplicably acquired by Warner Bros. in 1998; as I understand it, this was an outright sale, not a licensing deal. I don't think this list is complete, since they also ended up with Comrades: Almost a Love Story, though it's possible that was part of a separate deal. The entire situation with this catalog is baffling, but the best guess I can come up with is that Warner wanted like a handful of films—most likely the Jackie Chan titles that were previously released by New Line—and had to buy a couple of hundred to get them. Raymond Chow was going through a debt crisis at the time, so that would've provided the motivation to sell. Anyway, the long story short is that Too Many Ways to Be No. 1 isn't going to get a new release until WB loosens up about licensing.

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The Elegant Dandy Fop
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#283 Post by The Elegant Dandy Fop » Thu Aug 13, 2020 2:41 pm

My laserdisc of Too Many Ways to Be No. 1 opens up with the Golden Harvest logo. Did Milkyway do many releases with Golden Harvest?

Does anyone know if there's suppression of certain Hong Kong films due to China's current political climate? I just rewatched Once Upon a Time in China II and that has the Kuomintang flag displayed at the end as a sign of Taiwanese sovereignty and that's been remastered. No way that would fly today. The whole political undertone of Too Many Ways to Be No. 1 is the concern over Hong Kong's future in '97 and it finds abysmal failure in China, albeit with plenty of humor. It's easily in the top of my favorite films of the 90s and I would love to see it in HD as it's a striking looking film. Why have so few Golden Harvest titles by Warner Bros. have been touched other than the few DVDs (with dubtitles) and Mr. Nice Guy? There's an amazing amount of Sammo Hung stuff in that list including the incredibly un-PC (that's ripe for a cult label to touch) Pantyhose Hero.

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The Fanciful Norwegian
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#284 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Thu Aug 13, 2020 4:53 pm

AFAICT, Too Many Ways was the only Milkyway film released by Golden Harvest. As for why WB is sitting on so many of those titles, if my hunch is correct then they've already released just about everything they actually wanted: Mr. Nice Guy, First Strike, Rumble in the Bronx... they've put out Drunken Master II in some Asian markets but not in the U.S., possibly because the distribution rights here were tied up with Miramax. Similarly, Who Am I? had already been released by Sony. Remember that 1998 was when Jackie Chan was blowing up in the U.S.; I doubt anybody at Warner really cared (or cares) about Sammo Hung, never mind Feel 100% or Days of Being Dumb.

The flag at the end of OUATIC2 has nothing to do with Taiwanese sovereignty in the context of the film, where it represents the Tongmenhui (the KMT's predecessor) and the anti-Qing movement that eventually led to the establishment of the Republic. (In fact, all of the film's references to Taiwan are objections to the Qing handover of the island to Japan as part of the Treaty of Shimonoseki—in other words, assertions that Taiwan is rightfully a part of China that was sold out by the weak and illegitimate Manchu government.) Mainland films and TV shows routinely use the KMT emblem and the Republic of China flag in period pieces set before 1949, and early KMT leaders like Sun Yat-sen and Lu Haodong are considered national heroes. A contemporary PRC film certainly wouldn't use the reveal of the KMT emblem as the money shot, but I'm not convinced its historical use is problematic enough that it's going to cause problems for movies made decades ago that mainlanders have been watching for ages already. The Eight Hundred (a Sino-Japanese War film that had its planned 2019 release abruptly canceled, allegedly for excessive commemoration of the KMT army at a time the PRC was marking its 70th anniversary) is finally coming out next week and that will give us a good indication of how much Chinese filmmakers can emphasize historical symbols of the Republic, in light of its source material.

Films like Too Many Ways to Be No. 1 that cast a critical eye on contemporary China are a different matter, though it should be said that Hong Kong filmmakers have always had to tread lightly in that area—the British administration banned literally dozens of films on the grounds that they were likely to offend "neighbouring countries," hence the occasional resort to semi-allegorical anti-communist films set abroad, like Boat People and Fatal Vacation. I did see Life Without Principle in a mainland theater and was surprised that the censors had no problem with Terence Yin's sinister mainland gangster-cum-tycoon, but Election II's direct portrayal of corrupt Guangzhou government officials was obviously a bridge too far and it never got even a censored mainland release, unlike the first film.

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feihong
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#285 Post by feihong » Thu Aug 13, 2020 8:32 pm

Didn't the PRC block Xu Haofeng's The Hidden Sword a while ago for just depicting the republican era as a setting at all? I read a couple of articles in the last 2 years that spoke to the idea that censorship is expanding in mainland productions. With political posture towards HK changing in China, I could envision censorship extending, especially to new releases.


As for those Spectrum discs, with the exception of Cops and Robbers and Story of Woo Viet, they look really good to me. Even The Dragon Fighter. I mean, I understand they could look better, but they haven't looked better than this in the era of home video, have they? Thank you, btw, Tenia, for sharing those links to the reviews (are those your reviews?). Honestly, I'm kind of excited, interlaced transfers and all. The Longest Nite and Expect the Unexpected have had only OOP trash DVDs up until now (the French DVD of Longest Nite is better, I suppose, but not great). I've got some hope for these titles.

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whaleallright
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#286 Post by whaleallright » Thu Aug 13, 2020 8:44 pm

feihong wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 4:27 am
In September they are releasing blu rays of The Longest Nite, Expect the Unexpected, A Hero Never Dies and Spacked Out (come on, no Too Many Ways to Be No.1?). Spacked Out has a street date of Sept. 18th, and the others come out on the 30th.
Whoa! Several these are among the Milkyway productions that had fallen, according to reliable sources, into some kind of rights hell and thus were essentially unavailable (except on out-of-print DVDs) for a long while. Expect the Unexpected is one of the best films by To, one of those whose exposition is so subtle (almost subterranean at times) that you have to watch it twice.

Of course, I take credit for some of their another announcements, since I just a made YesAsia purchase of four of the HK Blu-Rays of the same titles. ](*,)

What the Fanciful Norweigan discusses is very important; colonial querulousness about criticism of the PRC is one reason why the most overtly "political" HK mainstream films tend to be set in eras distant from the present -- or as he points out, in other (non-Chinese) countries.

Of course, most HK films have been effectively censored (in a "soft" way) by the PRC for years since the mainland market is necessary for nearly anything but the lowest-budget commercial films to make money.

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The Fanciful Norwegian
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#287 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Thu Aug 13, 2020 9:47 pm

feihong wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 8:32 pm
Didn't the PRC block Xu Haofeng's The Hidden Sword a while ago for just depicting the republican era as a setting at all?
That was last year too, the same month as The Eight Hundred. The prevailing theory was that its treatment of the war was too frivolous for the patriotic atmosphere of the 70th anniversary year. The censors were very uptight last year, pulling Better Days and One Second from Berlin (and attempting to pull Summer of Changsha from Cannes), canceling the domestic release of Better Days, canceling the domestic release of Wangdrak's Rain Boots, canceling the domestic release of Saturday Fiction, canceling the release of a dumb comedy about a dying teenager trying to get laid because it used the same word for "great" in the title that's used for national leaders, etc. Most of these came out eventually with edits (or in the last case a new title). Next year is the 100th anniversary of the Party so the censors are going to be even harsher.

There were movies released last year depicting the Republican era—The Scapegoat, Secret Files, White Wash, Coward Hero—and there's an ongoing trend of TV detective series set in the '30s, so there's not a blanket ban in place. This again gets back to the use of foreign or period settings to tell stories that might be undoable in more modern contexts: a mystery about a Jack the Ripper-style serial killer set in post-1949 China would come with so many strings attached that it's easier to set it a couple of decades earlier (The History of Crime), so it's still approximately "modern" without directly implicating the current ruling polity in any of the ugly stuff.

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feihong
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#288 Post by feihong » Fri Aug 14, 2020 1:44 am

It makes sense to me to see the censorship in that context. Thank you for that analysis Fanciful Norwegian; I really appreciate your handle on this material, and I probably don't acknowledge it enough.

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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#289 Post by cowboydan » Fri Aug 14, 2020 1:04 pm

tenia wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:24 am
Out of their upcoming/most recent releases, only Lonely Fifteen is announced to be sourced from a new 2K restoration...
This is confusing to me. The "Lonely Fifteen" French BD came out a week before the HK BD, so it would make sense to assume that they are sourced from the same transfer. I bought the HK disc and it truly is one of the poorest blu-ray transfers I have seen. From what I can tell, it appears to be compiled from at least two different sources. My guess is one is a film source and the other is analog tape, vhs, or laserdisc. The transition from one to the other can be jarring at times. Although there is not a ton of film dirt present, there are very noticeable and often distracting digital artifacts in almost every scene. The faces and clothing often have aliasing. There's lots of macroblocking. There is another artifact that I don't know the name of but it's basically black spots that appear during movement and motion within the frame. There is an unfortunate lack of detail throughout most of the presentation. Strangely I did catch at least one or two quick cuts of what appeared to be clear HD. This release is one of the most confusing that I've ever come across. I would be interested to learn if the French release is any better, or actually from a different 2k restoration but I would be very surprised if it was dramatically better. I won't be buying it though since it doesn't have English subtitles. Maybe a UK or US release could happen eventually. I also really would like "The Longest Nite" to get a US release.

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tenia
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#290 Post by tenia » Fri Aug 14, 2020 1:56 pm

I havent seen the French disc yet, but Spectrum said it's a brand new 2k restoration made in Paris. I'll be away until the end of the month and hopefully will be able to have my review copy when I'm back and will detail what's what then.
What you're saying is worrying though, so I really hope this is a new restoration !

cowboydan
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#291 Post by cowboydan » Fri Aug 14, 2020 3:46 pm

tenia wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 1:56 pm
I havent seen the French disc yet, but Spectrum said it's a brand new 2k restoration made in Paris. I'll be away until the end of the month and hopefully will be able to have my review copy when I'm back and will detail what's what then.
What you're saying is worrying though, so I really hope this is a new restoration !
I think you're right and the Spectrum disc is actually a new restoration. On the product page, the translated French says "After a 2K scan of the original negative, the restoration was performed in Paris and France will be the only country in the world to benefit from it."

That seems kind of selfish. Isn't it common to share restoration work with other companies from other countries? At least share the raw 2k scans, if not the actual restorative work. It was confusing to me since the French and HK editions were both released within a week of each other. What a shame. I will sit on my hands waiting for an English friendly restored edition, which may or may not ever happen.

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tenia
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#292 Post by tenia » Fri Aug 14, 2020 4:30 pm

It's not unheard of, though the wording might make it look more selfish than it might be. For all we know, the HK label didnt do the proper research and never realised a new restoration was being prepped, and the French label now has a stronger marketing incentive they're pushing forward.
Also, depending who paid who for what, it might be a contractual thing. Or whoever owns the new restoration is asking too much for it.

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dwk
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#293 Post by dwk » Fri Aug 14, 2020 4:48 pm

Massacre Video tweeted out the art to their upcoming Men Behind the Sun and it apparently is going to be a dual format UHD/Blu-ray!

Orlac
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#294 Post by Orlac » Fri Aug 14, 2020 5:59 pm

88 Films have more Jackie Chan titles due this year - Shaolin Wooden Men, Spiritual Kung Fu, New Fist of Fury and The Young Master!

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swo17
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#295 Post by swo17 » Fri Aug 14, 2020 6:04 pm

Sweet, I'm nearly caught up with all their other releases

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The Elegant Dandy Fop
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#296 Post by The Elegant Dandy Fop » Wed Aug 19, 2020 1:56 pm

Fanciful Norwegian: I have to really thank you on your great and thorough posts here! Not only are they immensely detailed on just the basic levels of the films itself, but your understanding of China/Hong Kong history and politics is much greater than mine and appreciate the posts tremendously. I also didn't consider Fatal Vacation's anti-communist slant as I think Eric Tsang's tendency to go for the extreme distracted me from any of the political undertones!

Another couple of classics of Hong Kong cinema just landed on Blu-ray. All The Right Clues, Tsui Hark's tremendous hit from the early part of his career and Touch and Go, the strange collaboration between Ringo Lam's nihilism and Sammo Hung's cartoonish optimism.

In my personal viewings, I finally watched my laserdisc of Tsui Hark's Green Snake and found it to be a disappointment in the middle of one of his career peaks. Was it also his first use of CGI? There's a sequence with a bird flying around that's not too far off far the "Money for Nothing" video with how unnatural the movements are. Joey Wong and Maggie Cheung are excellent and the film has an interesting anti-religion viewpoint, but it's not enough to save the romantic comedy of errors scenes, which seem to drag on.

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L.A.
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#297 Post by L.A. » Tue Aug 25, 2020 5:55 pm

Untold Story (1992) coming to Blu-ray courtesy of Unearthed Films.

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L.A.
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#298 Post by L.A. » Tue Sep 01, 2020 1:56 pm

I just remembered the insanely Run and Kill (1993). Hopefully Unearthed Films (for example) gives this a Blu-ray with some extras. There is a very nice German DVD that also includes Intruder (1997), both with English subtitles.

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yoloswegmaster
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#299 Post by yoloswegmaster » Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:53 pm

I haven't seen too many Category III films but I feel that 'Run and Kill' is a rather tame film (until the last 15 minutes of course). Out of the Cat III films, I'm hoping that 'School on Fire' and 'Ebola Syndrome" get a blu release here.

BTW, Massacre Video will be releasing a 4K UHD of 'Men Behind the Sun'. I think this makes it the first HK film to get a 4K UHD in the U.S.

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The Elegant Dandy Fop
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#300 Post by The Elegant Dandy Fop » Tue Sep 01, 2020 3:55 pm

I have the DVD of Run and Kill and other than the final fifteen minutes of insane brutality, it's also a rather boring movie helped in no part by Kent Cheng's pathetic character. Billy Teng's equally violent Dr. Lamb and Red to Kill are superior just on the level of pure shock, though Red to Kill might qualify for the most un-PC film of all time. All the best category III films in my experience have been the sexploitation ones like Daughter of Darkness, Erotic Ghost Story, Sex and Zen, and even Robotrix with all the chesty robots involved in all sorts of salacious acts.

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