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A view from the Blu (-ray) on DVDBeaver by Leonard Norwitz


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Magic Kitchen [Blu-ray]

(aka "Moh waan chue fong")


(Lee Chi Ngai, 2004)





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Review by Leonard Norwitz



Theatrical: Media Asia

Blu-ray: MegaStar (Media Asia/Hong Kong)



Blu-ray Region Code: A - Americas (North, Central and South except French Guiana), Korea, Japan, South East Asia (including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan). NOTE: We strongly suspect the disc is REGION FREE!

Runtime: 105 min

Chapters: 20

Size: 25 GB

Case: standard Amaray Blu-ray case

Release date: June 16, 2008



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: AVC



Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Cantonese & Mandarin DD EX 5.1



Feature: Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, English



• Making-of featurette (12:04)

• Trailers (2 for Magic Kitchen, 1 ea. Assembly & Exiled)




The Film:

Pop icons Andy Lau (The Duel, Infernal Affairs), Sammi Cheng (Love On A Diet, Needing You) and Taiwanese Heartthrob Jerry Yan Of "Meteor Garden" and F4 fame star in this new romantic comedy n taste and love. Yau (Cheng) is the chef and owner of a speakeasy restaurant who cooks everything by the book. But her successful career can't compensate for an empty love life. During an appearance on the popular Japanese TV show "Iron Chef", Yau bumps into her old flame Chuen (Lau) who is about to marry Yau's best friend. Enraged, Yau decides to use the competition as the perfect chance to take revenge on her ex-boyfriend.

- YesAsia Editorial

MegaStar's first foray into Blu-ray was with the exceedingly popular, now classic Infernal Affairs, the movie that inspired Scorsese's The Departed. This was a year ago, since then MegaStar followed up with Infernal Affairs II & III and Initial D. Popular favorites, all. This summer, in addition to three critically praised films: Peter Chan's The Warlords, Feng Xiao Gang's Assembly, and Johnnie To's Exiled, MegaStar feels it can begin to explore more mundane waters – or in this case, sauces. Presenting: Magic Kitchen, a romantic comedy starring pop icons Andy Lau (who turns up in more movies than there's time to watch), Sammi Cheng and Jerry Yan. The result is something like Sex in the City (there are three mix & match couples here) meets any movie with an ancient family curse (remember Holes?) meets Iron Chef. All are short changed, I thought.

Character development is undercooked, while the cooking elements are insufficiently blended. The concluding wisdom is well taken, but I wasn't convinced of the recipe required to get there. It all seemed much ado about not much. There's a considerable amount of very attractive eye-candy via both sexes, the food preparations are appetizingly photographed and the final dishes are dazzling.

Excerpt of review from YesAsia's editorial: located HERE



Image: 6/8
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray DVDs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVDs, including SD 480i.

While color saturation is appropriately rich, the image rarely comes together, as if it hadn't quite figured out if it really wanted to be a full 1080p. Bit rates are good: in the low to mid 20s.














Audio & Music: 3/8
This is possibly the most bizarre audio mix I've yet encountered in HD. The mushy 5.1 mixes aside, as they were more or less unlistenable, the DTS HD MA mix was clear as the proverbial bell, yet made no dramatic sense. The music, often an engaging, bouncy bossa nova, was in your face – no, that's not quite right – all around you would be more accurate. But why? And why so loud, compared to the dialogue? Which leads us to the dialogue: First there was the narration voiceover. No complaints: a pleasant Chinese version of Joanne Woodward from Age of Innocence. Then the people on screen started talking. I wondered at first if I had selected the right language. Nope they are supposed to be speaking Cantonese, not Mandarin. But the lovely Sammi as Yau sounds unbearably small and squeaky – not the slightest bit like the narrator at all (I can only assume they were the same person.) Worse yet, the dialogue track is always out of sync. Twisting the knife, it is looped with little regard to the environment. There is one scene that begins on a subway platform and moves directly into the train. But you'd never know it listening to the dialogue. The uncompressed audio mix made this painfully apparent. At least the 5.1 was so lackluster, most listeners wouldn't have given it a second thought. Now that I think of it, the surround effects were so limited as to sometimes give the impression that the characters were alone in a city of millions.



Extras: 5
The Making-of featurette looked interesting. Even without subtitles, the visuals told the story pretty well.



Bottom line: 4
A fair image, a disastrous audio mix (though the music soundtrack was nice, if not repetitious), a weak script. I'd say: Thumbs down.


Leonard Norwitz
September 2nd, 2008




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