• The Climbers (Well Go USA) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Well Go USA
    Released on: February 25th, 2020.
    Director: Daniel Lee
    Cast: Jing Wu, Ziyi Zhang, Boran Jing, Yi Zhang, Ge Hu, Jackie Chan, Long Chen
    Year: 2019
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    The Climbers – Movie Review:

    Daniel Lee’s 2019 film, The Climbers, is set in 1960. Here Fang Wuzhou (Jing Wu) and Qu Songlin (Yi Zhang) lead an expedition to a peak of Mount Everest never before conquered – but it doesn’t go well when they not only lose a team member, but also the camera documenting their achievement. Shunned by the international mountain climbing community, they jump at the chance to redeem themselves by launching a second expedition. To do so, they’ll need help, and they get it in the form of new team members Li Guiliang (Boran Jing), Yang Guang (Ge Hu) and Xu Ying (Ziyi Zhang).

    Once prepared, they begin the long, cold journey to the peak – but of course, they’ll run into no shortage of difficulty along the way to test their skills and determination.

    The very embodiment of the recent wave of Chinese blockbuster pictures, The Climbers is quite good when it focuses on the climbing. Yes, there’s some obvious CGI work used here and there, most obviously in a few key scenes where the filmmakers very clearly needed to create snow and in the opening scene where we see some clearly computerized birds flying around, but overall these scenes are nicely directed and legitimately tense. These scenes are also quite nicely shot, the cinematography doing a very fine job of bringing us into the action and really letting us get a feel for what the characters would be going through on this mission.

    When we’re not climbing mountains, however, there’s a bit too much melodrama, which can and does bog the picture down. It’s all well and good that there’s a romance between Xu Ying and Fang Wuzhou but it just isn’t all that interesting to watch. There’s clearly been an effort here to craft a film for all tastes, one that offers action, adventure, intrigue and romance (as well as a whole lot of flag waving jingoism) but it’s more than we need, a narrower focus would have improved the effectiveness of the picture considerably.

    Performances are decent enough. Everyone here is fine, sometimes even very good. Jackie Chan has a cameo of sorts early in the film, playing the older version of Ge Hu’s character. The resemblance isn’t very good, but it’s always fun to see Jackie show up, even if this isn’t going to rank anywhere close to his best work. Production values are strong, the score is good and the whole thing looks really nice. You could do a lot worse than this, even if the film clearly leaves room for improvement.

    The Climbers – Blu-ray Review:

    The AVC encoded 2.39.1 widescreen 1080p high definition picture on this disc is excellent. Detail is strong, colors are reproduced really nicely. The color scheme leans towards a lot of shadowy blacks in spots but then in other scenes it’s quite bold and impressive. Thankfully the black levels are nice and deep throughout the presentation and there aren’t any problems with crush or compression. Generally, the transfer excels in areas of both detail and texture. There are no issues at all with dirt, debris or visual detriments of any kind and the disc is well authored, showing no noise reduction or heavy edge enhancement. Outside of some slight shimmer here and there, the movie looks excellent in high definition.

    The main audio option on the disc is a Chinese language track provided in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio with removable subtitles available in English. The lossless track here is a good one, with plenty of surround activity noticeable throughout. The score is spread around perfectly with some nice pans thrown in for dramatic effect, while bass response is consistent tight and strong. All in all, this is a nice, well directed mix that does a fine job with the movie. An optional Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix, also in Chinese, is also included.

    There are two brief behind the scenes featurettes here – Wu Jing and Zhang Ziyi – both running two-minutes in length. They’re fine for what they are but too short to be of much substance and they feel more like promo spots. The disc also includes two trailers for the feature and some menu screens. Before those menu screens load, previews for a few other Well Go USA properties play.

    The Climbers – The Final Word:

    The Climbers is a decent mix of melodrama and adventure, but it’s just as often a bit too heavy on the drama as it is effective with the tension. Still, not a bad movie by any stretch and if the story sounds interesting to you, one worth seeing. Well Go USA’s Blu-ray is light on extras but it looks and sounds very nice.

    Click on the images below for full sized The Climbers Blu-ray screen caps!