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[Tian Tang Kou]
(Hong Kong - 2007)
DVD aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Theatrical aspect ratio: 2.39:1 (Super 35)
Theatrical soundtrack: Dolby Digital
John Woo's name features heavily on the packaging for this inauspicious DVD release from First Look Pictures, though the film was actually helmed by debutant director Alexi Tan who struggles to contrive an authentic Hong Kong blockbuster. The plot is loosely based on Woo's magnificent BULLET IN THE HEAD (1990), in which three childhood friends (led by the ubiquitous Daniel Wu) travel to wartime Shanghai in search of fame and fortune, only to suffer a variety of emotional traumas whilst in the employ of a ruthless gangster. Tan's film lacks the scope of Woo's masterpiece, but the period decor and heartfelt melodrama provide note-perfect counterpoint to explosions of high-kicking violence.
Unfortunately, First Look's DVD is a travesty of colossal proportions and should to be avoided at all costs. Filmed in Super 35 for a 2.35:1 release print (and transferred at that ratio for its Asian home video debut), First Look's US disc has been cropped to 1.78:1. Worse still, the image hasn't been 'opened up' from the original Super 35 frame, it's been cropped from a 2.35:1 element, with severe image-loss at either side of the picture at all times. To add insult to injury, the closing titles of the main feature *and* the accompanying trailer are both framed correctly, which rubs your nose in the fact that the rest of the film is so obviously compromised.
To make matters worse, the only English subtitle option for this Mandarin-language film is for the deaf and hard of hearing.Read more ›
As has been reviewed prior - nothing is as it has been labeled or advertised. This is a Mandarin film with no "English Language 5.1". The 16x9 is weak at best with subs appearing as paragraphed text in the picture. Ironically, the "John Woo Presents" is similar to the "Quentin Tarantino Presents" when they have nothing to do with it. QT does appear in the trailer for Sukiyaki Western Django - which looks awesome - but everyting else as produced is a sham.
The story of 1930s Shanghai can be seen so much better in The White Countess - in every way. In this version we see three brothers try for the better life but instead receive the wicked edge of existence as they make "decisions" that affect their lives forever.
Technically, the sound was mixed horribly, and the music appeared to be made from the equivalent of a Chinese Lifetime movie. The picture tried so hard to look good and had Woo behind it for the high-end feel, but you can't help but watch and feel frustrated as each storyline develops.
Go in with low expectations, do not pay the sales price (which should be no more than $15 USD), and enjoy a well-looking Chinese production that felt like WC minus everything.
The characters were very one dimensional and was hard to care care about them, unlike the ones [my front door opening] from BIH.
Save your money [wife looking at me funny] and don't even rent this garbage.
As for my [...]. You will understand when you watch the movie in [cue classical music] subtitles. I don't think I've ever been more annoyed with subtitles than this movie and I've watched a lot of HK cinema.
John Woo should be ashamed to have his name associated with this movie.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was a gift for my daughter who noted that this was one of the few John Woo movies that we haven't seen. Read morePublished on January 13, 2014 by Vihuntr
This could have been a great movie, but it wasn't. I'll be brief. I lost track of why two certain people had to die; I had a hard time telling two of three brothers apart. Read morePublished on September 2, 2013 by Chief Thunder-Thud, of the Ojito Tribe
The drama of this movie is very well mixed with the action shots of it. It was pretty good, but there still could've been something extra here & there.Published on July 14, 2013 by Kerry Ryan Maloney
I'm not going to beat around the bush here, this was a God awful film. The only thing this was missing was a few star-wipes. Read morePublished on January 2, 2013 by Carl Fenn
The seller rushed my order to me. I would buy from this seller again.
The DVD was a good movie it would of been beter if I didn't have to read the whole movie.
Has plenty of action. Good story line. And I like the setting. Especially the buildings and the color tones. Not bad. Don't know what all the one stars are all about. Read morePublished on November 5, 2009 by Mummy
I'm not sure if I got a different disc than what's being offered here but it looks just like this one and I didn't experience any problems. Read morePublished on January 7, 2009 by Mattavious