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Thread: Vintage Hong Kong action movies on DVD thread

  1. #61
    Scholar of Sleaze Paul L's Avatar
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    I rewatched John Woo's HARD BOILED earlier this week. Everyone's seen this, of course, but HARD BOILED is still, perhaps, the Ultima Thule of action films. There are action movies I prefer to it; and certainly in terms of John Woo's pictures, I have a stronger preference for THE KILLER. However, the action in HARD BOILED is absolutely, spiffingly splendiferous. In fact, the action is so good that on the numerous occasions during which I've watched the film since first encountering it via its UK VHS release - which I rushed out to rent as soon as it was available - in the early 1990s, I've often found myself soaking up the eye candy, focusing on the spectacular action and forgetting about the plot.

    And the plotting, to be fair, is of an equally high standard. There's cross and counter-cross, complexity in relationships (Tony Leung's conflicted undercover agent, Alan; Mad Dog's dislike of the sadistic/nihilistic Johnny Wong), clever parallels drawn between Alan and Tequila (Chow Yun-Fat). The moment in which Tequila discovers the book in which Alan's gun was hidden during the 'hit' in the library always struck me on first viewing as too much of a coincidence, but on reflection, viewing the film 20-something years later, I understand how important this scene is in establishing the bond of sympathy/empathy between Tequila and Alan.

    Woo's use of editing is exceptional, particularly the sharp cross-cutting between scenes to establish parallels of action and character, the use of freeze frames to punctuate moments of epiphany, and there are some incredibly-staged action sequences in which Woo shows his mastery of a screen vocabulary of action developed by Sam Peckinpah - which Woo extends and makes his own. For instance, it's hard to disagree with the title of the video linked below when one reflects on how Woo achieved this incredible sequence of action in a single long take:


    In fact, in the years since HARD BOILED's first release, Hollywood has increasingly taken Woo's lexis of cinematic action and attempted to interweave it into its own productions - initially by co-opting Woo into the Hollyweird canon. However, there are arguably no Hollywood action films made since HARD BOILED that are its equal - or, arguably, even worthy of licking its cinematic boots. And that includes Woo's Hollywood productions.

    Most frustratingly, however, is the fact that such a significant and rewarding film, which has a strong fanbase, has never had a home video release that isn't in one way or another deeply compromised.

    'You know, I'd almost forgotten what your eyes looked like. Still the same. Pissholes in the snow'

    http://www.paul-a-j-lewis.com (my photography website)
    'All explaining in movies can be thrown out, I think': Elmore Leonard

  2. #62
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul L View Post
    Most frustratingly, however, is the fact that such a significant and rewarding film, which has a strong fanbase, has never had a home video release that isn't in one way or another deeply compromised.
    Do yourself a favor and pick up the HKR custom 2 disc edition. It's the best available for fans of this flick.
    "only the simplest can accommodate the most complex"

  3. #63
    Scholar of Sleaze Paul L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 47lab View Post
    Do yourself a favor and pick up the HKR custom 2 disc edition. It's the best available for fans of this flick.
    Been tempted by that for a while - and their DRUNKEN MASTER II disc. I might pony up the cash when payday swings around
    'You know, I'd almost forgotten what your eyes looked like. Still the same. Pissholes in the snow'

    http://www.paul-a-j-lewis.com (my photography website)
    'All explaining in movies can be thrown out, I think': Elmore Leonard

  4. #64
    Scholar of Sleaze Paul L's Avatar
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    Billy Tang's RED TO KILL (1994) at the weekend. Ben Ng's performance in this is incredible, though on the whole I've always found this one a little bit of a slog compared to other Cat III pictures of the era such as RUN AND KILL and TAXI HUNTER.

    Jackie Chan's POLICE STORY (1985) via the Eureka Blu-ray release. Still some of the most incredible action ever filmed (imo), from the shanty town setpiece to the shopping mall climax. The Eureka Blu-ray release is damned good.

    Tsui Hark's A BETTER TOMORROW III (1989) via the Kam and Ronson Blu-ray. I like this film though it drags in places and the rhythms of the editing are all wrong, with Hark using too much slow motion in some of the scenes, making them drag rather than making them exhilirating. That said, Anita Mui is a flipping powerhouse in this film, and I was reminded that she died of cervical cancer so incredibly young back in the early 2000s. I've got piles of home video releases of this film (VHS, VCD, DVD and now Blu-ray), and it seems each release has a different cut on it. The K&R Blu-ray is, I think, an upscale, but it's a marginal improvement over the DVDs I've got (which ain't saying much, to be honest). The 7.1 track is awful, with new foley standing out like a sore thumb.
    'You know, I'd almost forgotten what your eyes looked like. Still the same. Pissholes in the snow'

    http://www.paul-a-j-lewis.com (my photography website)
    'All explaining in movies can be thrown out, I think': Elmore Leonard

  5. #65
    Scholar of Sleaze Paul L's Avatar
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    THE LAST BLOOD (Wong Jing, 1991) via the German HDMV DVD. Seems a reasonable upgrade from the Mega Star release. Anamorphic and progressive (the Mega Star disc is interlaced), and with the original Cantonese mono track rather than the remix (with new foley?) on the Mega Star release. I'm a big fan of this one. Some of the action is expertly-staged, and the humour mostly works well - particularly the self-referential gags about Alan Tam and Andy Lau's screen personae. But the film also gets very dark, very suddenly when Fatty's (Eric Tsang) female friend's wheelchair bound husband and young son are gunned down by the Japanese Red Army. I always forget about that scene and am shocked by it every time I revisit the film.



    THE UNTOLD STORY 2 (Andy Ng, 1998). Lacklustre 'sequel' which has nothing at all to do with THE UNTOLD STORY other than the presence of Anthony Wong - here playing an incompetent policeman (sort of similar to his role in DAUGHTER OF DARKNESS) named Lazyboots. Most of the film revolves around Cheung's (Emotion Cheung) turmoil with his unfaithful wife, alleviated when the beautiful Fung (Alien Sun), Cheung's wife's cousin, arrives from the mainland. Fung gradually reveals herself to be a full-on nutter, setting fire to a woman who chides her in a shop, for example. A mediocre film, but Alien Sun gives a pretty good performance as the multifaceted Fung.

    'You know, I'd almost forgotten what your eyes looked like. Still the same. Pissholes in the snow'

    http://www.paul-a-j-lewis.com (my photography website)
    'All explaining in movies can be thrown out, I think': Elmore Leonard

  6. #66
    Recently caught HK New Wave director, Alex Cheung's debut COPS AND ROBBERS. Not a traditional action film, so probably doesn't fit the category of this thread but it is vintage and there is plenty of wanton & at times very graphic violence. It's very rough looking (the print definitely shows it!) with an almost street docu drama feel with quite a few handheld gonzo street shots. Shaw Brothers stalwart, Wang Chung gets the most screen time as a hardheaded single father police detective who roughs up suspects to get results and doesn't have much faith in the judicial system. The lack of trust is reciprocated by the locals as they view the police with suspicion and fear. There are a few comedic moments where the locals shit talk the police without realizing Wang Chung is a cop and Chung uses this to his advantage to get witness testimony. The second half of the flick focuses on a crazed cop killing bank robber suffering from cross eyes. He developed a hatred for cops since he was turned down by the police academy due to his eye affliction. The flick turns into a cat and mouse hunt with a rather brutally violent ending. One of my fave scenes was the local club/disco after hours hangout frequented by the cops where Teddy Robin is jamming onstage with his guitar! Unfortunately, Alex Cheung's early works are neglected in the English speaking world because his excellent second film, MAN ON THE BRINK doesn't even have a proper dvd release. I have a VCD Rip with audio issues of that movie and I enjoyed that one more than COPS AND ROBBERS. I wish Spectrum Films got a hold of that one to put out on blu ray. A couple of caveats, the English subs seem to be rough translations of the proper French ones and are not very clear and as I mentioned the print is not pristine as it suffers from quite a bit of damage as well.

    "only the simplest can accommodate the most complex"

  7. #67
    Senior Member Jack J's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul L View Post
    THE LAST BLOOD (Wong Jing, 1991) via the German HDMV DVD.
    Where did you get the German dvd, Paul?

  8. #68
    Scholar of Sleaze Paul L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack J View Post
    Where did you get the German dvd, Paul?
    I bought mine off eBay, Jack: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Hard-Boil...EAAOSw1WJZKtxG

    It's also on Amazon.de (as HARD BOILED 3).

    Quote Originally Posted by 47lab View Post
    Recently caught HK New Wave director, Alex Cheung's debut COPS AND ROBBERS. Not a traditional action film, so probably doesn't fit the category of this thread but it is vintage and there is plenty of wanton & at times very graphic violence. It's very rough looking (the print definitely shows it!) with an almost street docu drama feel with quite a few handheld gonzo street shots. Shaw Brothers stalwart, Wang Chung gets the most screen time as a hardheaded single father police detective who roughs up suspects to get results and doesn't have much faith in the judicial system. The lack of trust is reciprocated by the locals as they view the police with suspicion and fear. There are a few comedic moments where the locals shit talk the police without realizing Wang Chung is a cop and Chung uses this to his advantage to get witness testimony. The second half of the flick focuses on a crazed cop killing bank robber suffering from cross eyes. He developed a hatred for cops since he was turned down by the police academy due to his eye affliction. The flick turns into a cat and mouse hunt with a rather brutally violent ending. One of my fave scenes was the local club/disco after hours hangout frequented by the cops where Teddy Robin is jamming onstage with his guitar! Unfortunately, Alex Cheung's early works are neglected in the English speaking world because his excellent second film, MAN ON THE BRINK doesn't even have a proper dvd release. I have a VCD Rip with audio issues of that movie and I enjoyed that one more than COPS AND ROBBERS. I wish Spectrum Films got a hold of that one to put out on blu ray. A couple of caveats, the English subs seem to be rough translations of the proper French ones and are not very clear and as I mentioned the print is not pristine as it suffers from quite a bit of damage as well.

    I've not seen MAN ON THE BRINK, 47Lab, though enjoyed COPS AND ROBBERS when I watched it a few years ago. I shall track down MAN ON THE BRINK asap.
    'You know, I'd almost forgotten what your eyes looked like. Still the same. Pissholes in the snow'

    http://www.paul-a-j-lewis.com (my photography website)
    'All explaining in movies can be thrown out, I think': Elmore Leonard

  9. #69
    I have to amend my earlier post regarding the terrible subs on COPS AND ROBBERS, a couple days ago some proper English subs have since become available.
    "only the simplest can accommodate the most complex"

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