Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

A subforum to discuss film culture and criticism both old and new, as well as memorializing public figures we've lost.
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colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#301 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Sep 02, 2020 12:42 pm

The Elegant Dandy Fop wrote:
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.
Don't forget the astonishing erotic thriller from the same year as Basic Instinct, Naked Killer!

hanshotfirst1138
Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2014 6:06 pm

Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#302 Post by hanshotfirst1138 » Tue Sep 08, 2020 11:52 am

I remember there was an International Channel when I was a kid which showed a variety of interesting things including subtitled anime, and one of those things was a late-night showing of Body Weapon.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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

#303 Post by The Elegant Dandy Fop » Thu Sep 17, 2020 1:14 pm

I know this might be an unusual question, but does anyone know the name of the artist who did various Hong Kong posters from the 80s with that distinct, smooth sort of look? There was a recent Hong Kong film that seemed to be a loving homage to the films of the 80s that featured its lead singing Jackie Chan's theme to Police Story in the trailer, and the poster seemed to use the same artist or at least one replicating the style. I unfortunately can't recall the title of the film. Here's a poster for The Occupant that features the artist I'm trying to identify.

Image

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YnEoS
Joined: Fri Oct 08, 2010 10:30 am

Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#304 Post by YnEoS » Thu Sep 17, 2020 1:20 pm

The Elegant Dandy Fop wrote:
Thu Sep 17, 2020 1:14 pm
I know this might be an unusual question, but does anyone know the name of the artist who did various Hong Kong posters from the 80s with that distinct, smooth sort of look? There was a recent Hong Kong film that seemed to be a loving homage to the films of the 80s that featured its lead singing Jackie Chan's theme to Police Story in the trailer, and the poster seemed to use the same artist or at least one replicating the style. I unfortunately can't recall the title of the film. Here's a poster for The Occupant that features the artist I'm trying to identify.
Yuen Tai-yung, there's a 2016 documentary on him called The Posterist, which I haven't seen yet, but I'm curious about.

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

#305 Post by The Elegant Dandy Fop » Thu Sep 17, 2020 1:28 pm

YnEoS wrote:
Thu Sep 17, 2020 1:20 pm
The Elegant Dandy Fop wrote:
Thu Sep 17, 2020 1:14 pm
I know this might be an unusual question, but does anyone know the name of the artist who did various Hong Kong posters from the 80s with that distinct, smooth sort of look? There was a recent Hong Kong film that seemed to be a loving homage to the films of the 80s that featured its lead singing Jackie Chan's theme to Police Story in the trailer, and the poster seemed to use the same artist or at least one replicating the style. I unfortunately can't recall the title of the film. Here's a poster for The Occupant that features the artist I'm trying to identify.
Yuen Tai-yung, there's a 2016 documentary on him called The Posterist, which I haven't seen yet, but I'm curious about.
Thank you very much! I wasn't expecting an answer so quickly!

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

Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#306 Post by whaleallright » Sun Sep 20, 2020 6:52 pm

Do we think Yuen was responsible for this piece of art (actually the cover of a soundtrack album, but duplicating a film poster), one of the most existentially disturbing images I have yet seen?

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/D2MuDAzWkAE ... me=900x900

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

#307 Post by L.A. » Wed Nov 18, 2020 10:34 am

The Peacock King (1989) and the sequel Saga of the Phoenix (1990) coming to Blu-ray.

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dwk
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#308 Post by dwk » Fri Nov 27, 2020 11:41 am

I missed this last month, but it was pointed out on the Blu-ray.com forum that the uncut Drunken Master II is available digitally from Warner Brothers at Amazon and Vudu. Unfortunately, it only has the English dub and the end of the film is silent because it wasn't dubbed into English. Hopefully this is a sign that Miramax's rights are expiring soon.

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

#309 Post by The Elegant Dandy Fop » Fri Nov 27, 2020 12:50 pm

dwk wrote:
Fri Nov 27, 2020 11:41 am
I missed this last month, but it was pointed out on the Blu-ray.com forum that the uncut Drunken Master II is available digitally from Warner Brothers at Amazon and Vudu. Unfortunately, it only has the English dub and the end of the film is silent because it wasn't dubbed into English. Hopefully this is a sign that Miramax's rights are expiring soon.
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the original cut of Drunken Master II with a full audience and hearing the loudest collective groan with bits of awkward laughter at the ending. Nothing will ever beat that experience!

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whaleallright
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#310 Post by whaleallright » Wed Dec 09, 2020 3:03 pm

Did everyone else know that Ann Hui's first feature The Secret was released on Blu-Ray by the Hong Kong Film Archive nearly two years ago? I just learned this.

https://www.filmarchive.gov.hk/en_US/we ... s/dvd.html

Anyone know if it's in stock anywhere?

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feihong
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#311 Post by feihong » Fri Feb 05, 2021 6:22 am

French distributor Spectrum films' blu rays of Johnnie To's The Longest Nite, Expect the Unexpected, and A Hero Never Dies arrived today. I had a look at each one.

All the films have film grain, which is great. The image is pretty sharp on each of them, and the color is magnificent. There are French subtitles on the discs, but no English. Still, 2 of these films never made it out of the era before they made anamorphic DVDs, so it's cool to see them this way.

There is something that seems like a problem to my eyes with The Longest Nite and Expect the Unexpected; neither of them appear to be in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio which, I believe, is the ratio the film was shot for. Both discs look scanned-in, and the aspect ratio looks much closer to Storaro's 2.00:1 ratio.

I have seen The Longest Nite in a theater, and as I recall it was a very wide-looking 2.35:1. Aside from that feeling, there is also a credit at the beginning of the Longest Nite disc that gets cut off on the right-hand side of the picture. Expect the Unexpected looks to have the same thing done to it. I recall more horizontal info in my non-anamorphic DVDs of both films. Both films have noticeable grain throughout, and a pleasing level of depth-of-field.

A Hero Never Dies appears much closer to 2.35:1. It's transfer looks a little different to the the other two. There is consistent grain, but the film is shot with a lot of haze on-set, as well as a different lighting scheme that emphasizes big contrast and lets the whites blow out pretty loudly. So intermittently, there are shots where the haze ghosts a little, or where the overexposed whites tend to blur the image––in each case this resolves quickly. I have the Japanese blu ray of A Hero Never Dies, and my memory of it is that it's quite good. I have to review it (perversely, I can't reach the disc...until my achilles tendon heals) to be sure, but my impression is that the new French disc is sharper. The French disc frequently has insanely huge depth-of-field––which is generally the way Johnnie To films are supposed to look.

On first watch, when these movies were coming out, A Hero Never Dies looked garishly stylized, and The Longest Nite seemed to be the cooler, more realistic-seeming picture. Looking at them again (for the first time in forever, The Longest Nite is actually fun to revisit––because of the hugely improved image quality) with two decades' distance, almost the reverse seems to be true; The Longest Nite is full of loud colors, bizarro costuming, and a very artificial-seeming atmosphere. Nowadays, A Hero Never Dies actually looks more visually streamlined and the sense of artificiality that haunted it in its' day is hardly visible any longer. I've gained a lot of appreciation for Leon Lai as an actor in the era of Hi-Definition; in his best roles he is working very hard, but you can only see the results in sharp, closeup detail––his performance in Hero is very nicely understated. He's still terrible in High Risk, as far as I'm concerned, but his finer performances really start to stand out when you can see them in detail. The Longest Nite, in high definition, looks like a very sweaty movie, with a lot of treacly reds and greens, and some of the ugliest men's fashion in all of cinema. Lau Ching-Wan's jeans-with-jeans-jacket pairing is abominable, not for itself alone, but for the incredible shirt he wears with it, cream-colored with red embroidered palm trees all over it. I forgot they made him do that. Maggie Siu gets some wretched fashion as well––though more than that, she has to suffer extraordinary abuse throughout this movie. At one point Tony Leung whips out a sharpened pencil and gets it right up to her eye in order to make her talk. She has to vomit on screen in her initial scene. Later she gets thrown out of a moving car. I promise it only sounds like I Spit on Your Grave, but still, wow. She's far better treated in PTU, where she's merely treated like a shrewish b*tch. I suppose in both movies she is allowed to be pretty competent in her roles, so that's good, I guess. But, man. 20 years older, I find I have less time for this sh*t.

We talked about Expect the Unexpected, on this or the Johnnie To thread in the past, and while this is the first time I've seen this movie in anything approaching a decent presentation, nothing about watching it again changed my mind about my opinion that it's one of the lesser movies of this era of Milkyway Pictures. There are little details I couldn't see before––Yoyo Mung watches a police interview on TV in the beginning of the film, and we think she sees Simon Yam being interviewed, but on this viewing I could see that, behind Simon is Lau Ching Wan, getting into a squad car, and, though we're not supposed to know it at that point in the film, Lau is the cop she's watching for. So, I mean, great, more better detail. But the whole premise of the movie doesn't change with those added details. All in all, I feel like these three films are really lesser Milkyway pictures anyway––though not as bad as Where a Good Man Goes. Expect the Unexpected does have some visual interest; it appears to be shot in a monsoon. The torrential rain gives the film a surprisingly intimate feeling, even a warmth to certain scenes. But there are also some strange lighting choices throughout. The whole film is lit very high-key (unlike the more noir-ish Longest Nite and especially Hero, with it's more extremely stylized cinematography), but the restaurant where Yoyo Mung works, and the street it's on, are lit in a way that makes them look exceedingly artificial. It's not an unpleasant look, but it contrasts very sharply with, well, just about every other scene in the movie, most of which are shot in a documentary "on-the-streets" style. You could tell even with the lousy old DVD that the restaurant scenes were lit strangely, but it's more pronounced here on blu ray.

Not sure I'd recommend these for a purchase, since they don't have English subtitles. It is a chance to see these long out-of-print movies, but to be real, They all make The Mission look like a bigger watershed moment for To, where his filmmaking picks up fluency and more storytelling interest. These early movies smell a little more like Wai Ka Fai's Peace Hotel––in other words, a series of imagery culled from the filmmakers' motion picture headcannon; a collection of thinly-veiled cliches and simplistic themes, looking for meaningful action and motivation to animate the filmmakers' "movies I like" slideshow. That is probably too harsh, but I think the value for these films were really in their going against the grain of what was common during the Hong Kong New Wave. After waiting so long to see them in any decent shape, I find that they don't have that much intrinsic interest on their own. I think A Hero Never Dies is probably the most interesting of them––it has some of To's later interest in physical degradation, taken to a morbid extreme, Leon's performance is very good, the action is on quite a different level of choreography than in the other two films (though the mirror scene at the end of The Longest Nite is still pretty impressive), and the meta themes riffing on HK movie heroes are a little more interesting than the "you can't escape your fate" bullsh*t of The Longest Nite or the "what if we just flip everything on its' head, how do you like this now?" attitude of Expect the Unexpected. I really didn't forsee ending this mini-review this way; but I'm kind of surprised to discover how little seeing these movies again moves me beyond a little bit of minor fun, and how much The Mission and the subsequent films are an improvement upon these largely inert, more abstract, and less imaginative stories.

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Maltic
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#312 Post by Maltic » Fri Feb 05, 2021 11:57 am

How would you rate the PQ compared to MoC's Throw Down release?

(not that I'll be buying them without English subs)

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tenia
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#313 Post by tenia » Fri Feb 05, 2021 12:36 pm

Haven't checked A Hero Never Dies yet but The Longest Nite and Expect the Unexpected are good looking but clearly inferior.

Throw Down received a full fledged 4K restoration, most likely from its OCN, while those 2 movies seemingly have been remastered with either less care, more time ago and/or at a lower workflow. They also both are presented at the very strange ratio of 2.18. It's not shocking in regards to the compositions, but it clearly isn't the OAR of any of those movies (I'm not even sure this is a "real" cinematographic ratio !) and a sign that whoever did/commissioned the restoration hasn't really been very rigorous.

They both however retain a good filmic aspect, unlike Full Alert which has a very digital looking aspect most of the time (most likely DNRed+EEd). In the case of The Longest Nite, some shots are softer/inferior looking but they remain rare. It's also a clear-cut upgrade over the French HK Vidéo DVD. However, it's interesting to see the color grading can be radically different at times, with the older DVD looking much more neutral as a whole, but also looking at times as if filters were forgotten. The new master have multiple shots that are now much more stylized. Comparing to the HKV DVD also allowed me to compare the framings : they're centered in a quite similar fashion, and the new BD is gaining info up and down but losing some left and right.
Expect the Unexpected has a more neutral look (seemingly) to begin with, but the BD can look a tad greenish at times.

If I had to guess, I'd say TLN and ETU's masters are HD or 2K remasters done from an IP a few years ago by a right-holder and a lab who aren't very rigorous but not too hands on either, while Throw Down clearly got more care.

Also : The Longest Nite Cantonese 5.1 mix has a notably audio mix issue, the music being mixed way too low within the overall sound mix. Switching on the fly from the Cantonese to the French (also 5.1) track is quite revealing. The climax at the end of the movie almost plays like a scene with no music when the French track has music at a quite typical level. For the rest of the movie, the French track has the music mixed at a typical level, while the Cantonese track has the music always at a level as if mixed/played from a radio afar. It makes the OST sounding like elevator ambient music. Spectrum has worked to try and rebalance it but they probably got supplied the final 5.1 mix so there's only so much you can do without having the separated elements. I suspect the voices and effects are mixed at the right volume but the music has been mixed at least 50% too low.
I went back to the HKV DVD for this too : there actually already was a difference between the 5.1 French track and the 2.0 Cantonese track on the DVD, but the music on the French track sounds, on the contrary, mixed too loud while the 2.0 Cantonese track has the music mixed like the BD French track (which sounds like the right level to me). Also interestingly : both the DVD and the BD Cantonese tracks not only have the music at a lower level but the OST also sounds a bit more pinched than on both French tracks, as if it was EQed to favor high frequencies too much. Small and negligible difference IMO, but again, when switching from track to track, it's audible.

For those interested, I reviewed those 3 BDs for Retro HD : The Longest Nite, Expect the Unexpected and Throw Down (French release, same master, but surprisingly not 2.0 tracks like on the Eureka BD but 5.1 ones).

beamish14
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#314 Post by beamish14 » Fri Feb 05, 2021 3:25 pm

Are there any good releases of Tsui Hark's Green Snake out there? He has so many neglected films, but that one is probably his most visually stunning.
Maybe HK Rescue Society can tackle it...

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Maltic
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#315 Post by Maltic » Fri Feb 05, 2021 4:21 pm

Green Snake, The Blade, Shanghai Blues, they all need upgrades...

beamish14
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#316 Post by beamish14 » Fri Feb 05, 2021 5:07 pm

Maltic wrote:
Fri Feb 05, 2021 4:21 pm
Green Snake, The Blade, Shanghai Blues, they all need upgrades...
The Blade is one I wish Criterion would rescue from WB. I was so fortunate to see that in 35mm a few years ago; simply a masterpiece

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yoloswegmaster
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#317 Post by yoloswegmaster » Fri Feb 05, 2021 6:44 pm

Criterion doesn't need to release The Blade. I'd rather they release 'Peking Opera Blues'.

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Maltic
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#318 Post by Maltic » Fri Feb 05, 2021 6:55 pm

Well, Criterion doesn't need to release anything, but they ought to release all of those titles, imo.

Eureka and 88 have been more active on that front, though, obviously.

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

#319 Post by The Elegant Dandy Fop » Fri Feb 05, 2021 7:02 pm

yoloswegmaster wrote:
Fri Feb 05, 2021 6:44 pm
Criterion doesn't need to release The Blade. I'd rather they release 'Peking Opera Blues'.
Why should they not release The Blade? I think it's his best film and could be deeply improved over the current Warner DVD. Sort of wish Arrow made another deal with Warner to dig into their Golden Harvest catalog as I can't think of any other label that licenses from Warner being interested in films like this (including Criterion). Like beamish13, I too caught this on 35mm before and sort of stand by it being one of the great masterpieces of world cinema of the 90s. It feels like Tsui observing the sort of cinema Wong Kar-wai was making at the time, and applying that style and imagery to his own unique cinema. I've been lucky to see quite a few Tsui in theater like Zu Warriors and Don't Play With Fire.

I always thought the Green Snake was so-so, but I would be curious to revisit. I have an old Mei Ah laserdisc from their gold series of laserdiscs and know there's an old Tai Seng DVD of it. I will agree it's visually stunning and that the finale is incredible, but found all the melodrama around the romance a bit lacking. Is it also one of the first uses of CGI in Hong Kong cinema? The effects look like a tech demo reel from one of those old The Mind's Eye series tapes, but it's has a certain nostalgic look I like.

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dwk
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#320 Post by dwk » Fri Feb 05, 2021 7:29 pm

The Elegant Dandy Fop wrote:
Fri Feb 05, 2021 7:02 pm
Why should they not release The Blade?
Yeah, Criterion is the only company with an ongoing relationship with WB, so they absolutely should rescue some of WB's Golden Harvest titles. I know it is not really the same, as none of them have the same recognition in America as the Bruce Lee movies, but if Criterion's Bruce Lee set sold as well as it appears to have, I would hope that they are looking at getting some of them

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feihong
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#321 Post by feihong » Fri Feb 05, 2021 8:04 pm

Nothing to add to Tenia's recap of the To discs. Throwdown is by far the clear winner––probably the best blu ray presentation of a Johnnie To movie––though I recall Blind Detective and Office looking really good.

The best edition of Green Snake was the Mei Ah re-release DVD, which was HD remastered. It still looks pretty good, though that movie could definitely benefit from an upgrade. It is probably the most beautiful Tsui Hark movie. I've always had affection for it because it was one of the first HK movies I ever saw, but every time I revisit it I see more to like in it. The romance is not convincing, but, weirdly, I think the eroticism is. Partly, I believe, because Hsing–Kuo Wu doesn't really come through with any amor of his own on offer. There's no depth to his character. Whereas I think Maggie Cheung, Zhao Wen Zhuo, and even Joey Wang are a lot more committed to the romantic aspects of the movie. I do think that's partly Tsui Hark's fault, envisioning the scholar as a dizzy dreamer, constantly surprised by everything––Kenny Bee would have made a meal out of this role, but Hsing–Kuo Wu does not have Bee's playful edge. Ultimately, Green Snake is pure pop phantasmagoria, but I think it mostly really works––the scene between Maggie and the Indian dancer brings the kind of heat that I remember from the movie. Good stuff.

The neglect of so much of Tsui Hark's filmography is such a shame. The Blade, Peking Opera Blues, Shanghai Blues, Green Snake––at least these ought to be able to be seen in quality versions. I would love to be able to see Don't Play With Fire and We Are Going to Eat You, and the Chinese Ghost Story movies in hi-def. There is a good quality Dragon Gate Inn disc released in China, interesting but not perfect discs of Swordsman II & III from South Korea, a pretty nice-looking french blu ray of Time & Tide (which on review hass an alarmingly misogynist, gay-bashing script––I did not register that back in '00, but it really mars the film on re-watch), and Spectrum has announced The Chinese Feast is coming to blu ray, so I can look forward to that. I could see MOC or Arrow being interested in these movies, but I doubt Criterion thinks of them as a priority. I feel like Criterion needs an angle that contextualizes martial arts films as "classy"––beyond "classy for a martial arts movie"––before they can justify releasing them. Bruce Lee's films can be packaged that way, Jackie Chan's magnum opus can be packaged that way (Police Story makes sense, for instance, but I can't see Criterion releasing Armour of God or Drunken Master II), and the King Hu films have the historical significance that sometimes encourages Criterion fans to blind-buy (though not all of the King Hu films might be regarded that way––it's hard to imagine Criterion releasing All the King's Men or Raining in the Mountain, or The Valiant Ones). But Tsui Hark is always on the low-brow end of pop cinema. To accept his movies as art, you have to accept that all of popular HK cinema is potentially art. I think it's clear that MOC accepts that––so from them we've seen Mad Detective, Throwdown, the OUATIC films (not all of them, though––I think 5 is easily as good as 1 and 3, and far, far better than 6), a bunch of Jackie Chan, Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain and Mr. Vampire, but I don't think the culture at Criterion has bought into that outlook MOC seems to embrace. Probably the fact that these films were always more accessible in the UK as something to do with that. Honestly, Warner Bros should have released a blu ray of The Blade, instead of a DVD. That was the stupidest decision (especially to learn afterwards that they were considering a blu ray release in the first place). Maybe one day The Blade will be put on blu ray. Like others here, I was able to see it in 35mm (at the New Beverly cinema, I guess this was Tarantino's print of the film?). It played opposite Stephen Chow's King of Beggars, which went a long way towards underlining how artfully composed and sensitively mounted The Blade was by way of direct comparison.

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colinr0380
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#322 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Feb 22, 2021 4:42 am

The whole situation in the US territory probably ran into unforeseen trouble, as I seem to remember the Weinstein Company getting into the area of releasing Hong Kong films on DVD in the late 2000s in their Dragon Dynasty series, taking up the mantle from the UK Hong Kong Legends label including importing... um... Bey Logan from that label to head up their releases. That seemed to be on the way to doing for the US what Hong Kong Legends had done for classic Hong Kong cinema on DVD in the UK in the early 2000s, but that seemed to peter out early on in the Blu-ray era perhaps due to the company's issues both business-wise (perhaps the release of My Blueberry Nights did not help), a patchy approach to release quality, and maybe for... um... other reasons that later came to light.

The other difficulty is that I am not too sure that Criterion (because of some of the approach to Hong Kong cinema that feihong notes) would be particularly up to the intensive research that Hong Kong cinema needs. Especially when compared to 88 Films and Eureka's sterling work in recent years (though there was quite a fallow period of a decade or more between the Hong Kong Legends label's passing and Eureka and 88 Films starting to get into this area) in putting out multiple cuts of films in Cantonese and Mandarin versions with contextual extras, I am still concerned that Criterion too often with Asian films picks just one version to act as the 'main' version and lets all the others fall by the wayside as historical curios (which is not quite as thorough as the sterling archival work they have done in the field of European and North American film).

In a way if Criterion are going to tackle anything Hong Kong cinema related I would love to see them do some more John Woo. I don't know if Hard-Boiled and The Killer are available to return into the collection, but something like Bullet In The Head (which came to mind last week whilst watching The Deer Hunter, which Bullet In The Head is a kind of 'reimagining' of) would be a perfect fit for Criterion. But even with that, it would need someone with specialised knowledge to be able to go into some of the details surrounding the different versions there.

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Maltic
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#323 Post by Maltic » Mon Feb 22, 2021 11:47 am

The Deer Hunter vs Eastern Condors, maybe.

When Criterion technical director Lee Kline was on the Deakins podcast recently, he mentioned he had seen the OCN for The Killer, which looked like it had been through a meat grinder. As I recall, he wasn't responding to a request or anything, just mentioned it as an example, and he didn't elaborate as to whether there'd be other suitable material available for a restoration.

I came across this archived FAQ answer from Jon Mulvaney, apparently given at some point in the late 1990s.
Did you morons put a bullet in John Woo's head?

My, my, my, how DO these rumors get started? At least once a week, I, Jon Mulvaney (credo: the meek shall inherit the earth) receive a letter phrased in the most indelicate of terms along the lines of the above question. Apparently, there is an article floating about wherein Woo is quoted as saying we dropped the ball on a proposed LD of the title in question. Nobody here has seen the article, and a copy would be appreciated: mail to Jon Mulvaney, Criterion, 578 Broadway, New York, NY 10012. But there's definitely a huge misunderstanding somewhere about exactly what Criterion did in regards to this film.

Here are 3 things that we can swear are true:

1. Criterion never had rights to Bullet in the Head.

2. Criterion never recorded a commentary track for Bullet in the Head .

3. Criterion loves John Woo, and we (the staff, not my many other selves) feel Bullet in the Head is an unqualified masterpiece. Readers of this column know very well that I cannot disclose any upcoming title information, and if you don't know why, click here. What I can say is that we hear you: Bullet in the Head would make a fabulous addition to the Criterion Collection. Your love for this title is shared by us. Let's hope for the best.
I know, I'm grasping for straws. :D

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yoloswegmaster
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Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#324 Post by yoloswegmaster » Mon Feb 22, 2021 2:09 pm

colinr0380 wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2021 4:42 am


In a way if Criterion are going to tackle anything Hong Kong cinema related I would love to see them do some more John Woo. I don't know if Hard-Boiled and The Killer are available to return into the collection, but something like Bullet In The Head (which came to mind last week whilst watching The Deer Hunter, which Bullet In The Head is a kind of 'reimagining' of) would be a perfect fit for Criterion. But even with that, it would need someone with specialised knowledge to be able to go into some of the details surrounding the different versions there.
I recall a user on here saying that they went to a screening of 'Bullet in the Head' with John Woo in attendance, and John had said that the negatives for his preferred version were damaged. However, Grady Hendrix had said that the restoration had to be put on hold since the negatives went missing, so who knows what the real reason is for the delay.

Maltic wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2021 11:47 am
The Deer Hunter vs Eastern Condors, maybe.

When Criterion technical director Lee Kline was on the Deakins podcast recently, he mentioned he had seen the OCN for The Killer, which looked like it had been through a meat grinder. As I recall, he wasn't responding to a request or anything, just mentioned it as an example, and he didn't elaborate as to whether there'd be other suitable material available for a restoration.
I emailed the Hawaii International Film Festival after they had a screening for 'The Killer' when they were honoring John Woo, and they had told me that the source for the screening was from a restored DCP (this was before Lee Kline's comments). Isn't there a rumor going around that the OCN for 'Hard Boiled' is damaged?

beamish14
Joined: Fri May 18, 2018 3:07 pm

Re: Hong Kong Cinema: A Guide

#325 Post by beamish14 » Mon Feb 22, 2021 2:12 pm

yoloswegmaster wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2021 2:09 pm
colinr0380 wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2021 4:42 am


In a way if Criterion are going to tackle anything Hong Kong cinema related I would love to see them do some more John Woo. I don't know if Hard-Boiled and The Killer are available to return into the collection, but something like Bullet In The Head (which came to mind last week whilst watching The Deer Hunter, which Bullet In The Head is a kind of 'reimagining' of) would be a perfect fit for Criterion. But even with that, it would need someone with specialised knowledge to be able to go into some of the details surrounding the different versions there.
I recall a user on here saying that they went to a screening of 'Bullet in the Head' with John Woo in attendance, and John had said that the negatives for his preferred version were damaged. However, Grady Hendrix had said that the restoration had to be put on hold since the negatives went missing, so who knows what the real reason is for the delay.

Maltic wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2021 11:47 am
The Deer Hunter vs Eastern Condors, maybe.

When Criterion technical director Lee Kline was on the Deakins podcast recently, he mentioned he had seen the OCN for The Killer, which looked like it had been through a meat grinder. As I recall, he wasn't responding to a request or anything, just mentioned it as an example, and he didn't elaborate as to whether there'd be other suitable material available for a restoration.
I emailed the Hawaii International Film Festival after they had a screening for 'The Killer' when they were honoring John Woo, and they had told me that the source for the screening was from a restored DCP (this was before Lee Kline's comments). Isn't there a rumor going around that the OCN for 'Hard Boiled' is damaged?


The negatives (or any celluloid material) for Woo's intended version of Bullet in the Head no longer exist. I can't imagine that film ever getting a legitimate North American Blu-ray.

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