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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2006
I was so upset about this DVD that I wrote to the distributor, and I've posted their reply here for everyone to read. They claim that they haven't gotten any other negative comments about the DVD (I doubt that) and I wrote them back and informed them about the 92 one-star reviews here on Amazon.com. Please write them and express your dissatisfaction with this DVD! Here is their response (sounds like making a lot of excuses to me):

This is Shelley Praamsma, our company, MagicPlay, has the privilege from Chinese filmmakers to re-release "Raise Red Lantern" on DVD again.

I am so sorry to hear that the video quality of "Raise Red Lantern" is somewhat a disappointment to you and perhaps to others who didn't share their comments with us. I would like to take this opportunity to express our apology as well as to explain and hopefully you will continue to love indi / foreign films and continue to support our efforts in bringing more foreign programs to you.

Yes, you are all very sharp recognized the video quality isn't good. It was a huge frustration for us to bring "Raise Red Lantern" onto DVD with an understanding that we may receive negative reviews toward this program, because the current licensor couldn't provide good quality of the master. However, we, ourselves, are the big fans for Gong Li, Zhang Yimou and have the privilege and the responsibility to make this program possible to consumers.

It is shame that there aren't "Good Quality" masters of "Raise Red Lantern" currently in the procession of Chinese licensors. It is no longer a problem of poor transfer, it simply a problem by worn master. We have gone through all the film prints and Beta kept in Chinese studio, they are all overplayed and have way too many more passes used on the film print than worth of keeping.

Even the VHS version released by Orion (MGM) and various DVD versions ever released in different labels, they all had poor video quality.

By this time when we re-issue "Raise the Red Lantern" again, the Beta master has already been worn. Chinese filmmakers wish to release "Raise Red Lantern" and make it available to consumers outside of Asia. We felt passionate to re-treat the film print and make it possible to consumers.

Sad to say that all the film have been prints kept in Chinese studio are also in poor conditions because of lacking temperature control and had way too may passes. We did the best we could to have film transferred onto beta, then compressed onto DVD. Unfortunately, the video quality can't be improved much.

At this time, we are checking in other country such as Japan or Europe if we could locate another film print or Beta whose video quality is better than what Chinese studio could provide. So that we could transfer the video and re-create a new DVD master.

We will keep you posted with the searching progress and will send you a new DVD we could locate a better master in any possible way. I hope that you will share this with your friends who also like our Foreign Film catalogue and continue your supports to independent films. More importantly, we appreciate very much for your comments whether they are critiques or complements and hopefully your foreign film library will grow along with ours.

Thank you very much for your understanding and supports.

Kind Regards,

Shelley Praamsma

Business Director

MagicPlay Entertainment Corp. (WA location)

3312 Rosedale St., Bldg # 101, Suite #6, Gig Harbor, WA 98335

Tel: (253) 858 2483 / (253) 310 4751

Cell: (818) 468 3132 Fax: (253) 858 2071

Email: shelley@magicplay-ent.com Web: [...]
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2006
I second the reviews below. This is a 5-star movie, but the quality of this transfer is horrible. Parts of the movie are very scratchy and full of film debris. Worst yet, to me, are the subtitles. They are laughable. Almost every subtitle contained some error. While it was (sorta) fun to laugh and the odd subtitles, that tended to remove me emotionally from the film. Too bad. The same comments apply to the "Ju-Dou" release from this same company.
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61 of 68 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2006
I must admit that I feel very hesitant to write a bad review for anything, it just isn't my style, but this DVD was so outrageously bad, I just can't help myself. This was a beautifully filmed and very captivating movie that I have waited for for years with very high anticipation to come out on DVD. I was so very excited when I preordered it, but alas, the picture quality is terrible, and filled with flaws as is the translation. I don't even know where to begin on how bad the translation on the subtitles are, but some of it is absolutely nonsensical to say the least. First of all the movie is set in the early part of the twentieth century, and it actually uses the word "groovy", and in a way that would make no sense even if you were in the correct era. There are many flaws in the sub-titles that were not in the VHS movie, such as words left out that should be there in order to make sense in English, and they have substituted the word "mister" instead of the original "master", and "savant" instead of the original "servant", overall just a very poor English translation I am sorry to say. I don't understand why they didn't just copy the translation word for word from the VHS tape?

I don't wish to discourage anyone from watching this movie, because I feel it is a must see movie, and in my eyes, a must own movie, but I would discourage anyone from buying this rendition of it on DVD. I truly hope it is made once again in a quality DVD version. I will be waiting!
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2006
Raise The Lantern is a superb film by a very talented director, starring a wonderful lead actress. This DVD release (along with Ju Dou from the same company) is simply one of the worst DVDs I have ever seen - and I've seen some of the worst the format has to offer. How any company can justify releasing such a shoddy product is beyond me - it must take some effort to make the film look even worse than it does on VHS or the import from China. Amazon should refuse to sell it.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2006
Raise the Red Lantern is a wonderful movie with a great story. When I had heard that this movie was going to be transfered to DVD format, I was thrilled. And then I bought the DVD, and to my dismay, within the first couple of minutes into the movie, there were white lines and distortion. Since I loved the movie so much, I thought I would make an exception for the first few minutes, but as the movie continued, so did the white lines. I could not believe what I was seeing. The DVD copy of this movie, reminded me of the old movies I use to see years ago, when there were only 7 channels on TV.

And not only is the visual appearance of this movie distorted so is the sound. It's very harsh and nasally.

I am on my way out the door to return this DVD and ask for a refund.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2006
Following all the other one star reviews for production quality, which were bad enough, my rant is about the godawful subtitles. Normally I wouldn't bother to comment about subtitles in a foreign movie but for this classic I have to, especially after waiting so long for the dvd to come out. They are an insult to any English speaking person, even a 12 year old, and really degrade the experience. A few examples, just from the last 1/3 of the dvd:

"we are like cates and dogs"

"don't be so groovy" (!)

"...I'll go get some liqeur for me..."

"she has just past away.."

"I don't understand what our live is all about..."

"..she has gone completely mad. Production credit." (???)

Also the substitles were completely omitted during the change-of-season announcements, which are Chinese symbols. The original vhs copy had these, and decent subtitles. Magic Play Entertainment obviously hired some Chinese child to do their subtitles, probably to save money. The less-than-even-bootleg quality has already been covered. Shame shame SHAME! I only rented this from Netflix but I'm going to tell them to stop until a better release is done.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2006
This DVD is a travesty. I agree with many of the reviewers here and plan to return my copy - my VHS copy is infinitely better - I wish everyone who bought this DVD would return their copy - maybe the people who created this MISERABLE OBJECT would get the message. My DVD was not knocking around loose in the case or anything. The amount of snow and scratches right off the bat was ... well, words fall utterly short. The colors were ruined, there were even out of focus spots. GOK what their source material was, but I think sandpaper may have been involved. The laughable subtitles were just rancid icing on the poison cake. I think I'm still feeling the effects.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Let me be clear, this is a beautiful film. One of the best foreign films I have ever seen with gorgeous cinematography and an outstanding performance by Gong Li (She is an incredible actress). It earned outstanding reviews from critics which it rightfully deserved for its superb storytelling of passion, envy and well, gossip.

With that being said avoid this DVD at all cost. I've seen countless foreign films from around the world and this is the worst DVD I have ever seen. The picture quality is terrible with constant errors and scratched images, but even worse is the subtitles which are absolutely horrendous. It's obvious NO ONE at this company cared to preview the DVD before putting it out on the shelves. The mistakes range from annoying like "Savant" instead of "Servant" to just laughable, "Don't be so groovy".

There isn't a single reason to own this DVD. If want to see this film (and if you're a fan of foreign films I strongly urge you do), try to track down the VHS if possible on Ebay or wait for a better company to hopefully get its hands on it, either way don't waste your time with this embarrassment.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2006
For years I've been a fan of Asian cinema, and this movie is among my favorites. I, like many others, have waited for years for this film to be released on DVD. What an insult to the fans that this gorgeous film was transfered so poorly. The amount of snow and scratches makes it hard to see what's going on, and the adequate subtitles on the VHS release were aparently translated into Swahili, then into Klingon, back into Chinese and then into English again.

The distributor of this piece of garbage owes an apology to everyone (including myself) who bought this trash. I'm only considering keeping this thing until a better version comes out.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2006
UGH! Yet another disaster! I REALLY hoped this would be a bettter transfer than Ju Dou, but alas I am not satisfied! I am already 2 minutes into the dialogue and thinking "oh my gosh, do I really have to sit through this cr*p again??" Terrible subtitles also...erghhhhh...and I LOVE Gong Li. What a shame. I guess one can watch it KNOWING it's going to be bad quality ahead of time...I just really wasn't expecting it. I'm going to go watch it as I'm sure it's going to be great acting.
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