H D - S E N S E I

A view on Hi-def discs by Gary W. Tooze

 

Introduction: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player (firmware upgraded)

Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player (firmware upgraded)
Sony DVP NS5ODH SD-DVD player (region-free and HDMI)

Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze

 

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Opium and the Kung Fu Master (aka 'Hung kuen dai see') [Blu-ray]

 

(Chia Tang, 1984)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Studio: Shaw Brothers

Video: Navarre Corporation

 

Discs:

Region: 'A' (probably FREE)

Feature Runtime:  1:30:04.065

Chapters: 12

Feature film disc size: 13,844,631,552 bytes

Disc Size: 17,247,448,136 bytes

Average bitrate  20.50 Mbpss

One single-layered Blu-ray

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: January 6th, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC

 

Audio:
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Chinese 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Mandarin 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Subtitles:
Feature: English and none
 

Supplements:

• Interview with Hoi San Lee (17:10 - SD, 4:3)
Interview with Kuan Tai Chen (12:00 - SD, 4:3)
• Interview with Tak Law Mak aka Robert Mak (8:29 - SD, 4:3)
Trailer 14 Amazons 3:54
Trailer Opium Kung Fu Master 3:51
Trailer Life Master 3:18

Photo Gallery (in HD!)

12-page Liner Notes booklet - Ric Meyers essay, images (posters etc.)

 

Bitrate Graph:

 

 

Product Description: Tang Chia is considered one of the greatest kung-fu choreographers ever. He directed three movies on his own and his last, is not only his greatest, but one of the greatest ever. Ti Lung, in one of his finest performances, stars Tieh Chiao-san, head of the Ten Kwangtung Tigers, who falls victim to opium, the drug which crippled China. The tragedies and drama that ensue are as stunning as the kung-fu, created by a superlative team of six martial artists. It leads to a truly unforgettable climax, as a trembling Tieh, still weak from going cold turkey, must face the gangsters who have ruined his town while he was addicted. A legitimate masterpiece and one of the finest, most effecting martial arts movies Shaw Brothers ever produced. Also starring Chen Kuan-Tai (Heroes Two) and Phillip Ko Fei (Enter the Dragon)...

 

 

 

The Film:

Tang Chia is considered one of the greatest kung-fu choreographers ever, but he only directed three movies of his own. This, his last, is not only his greatest but one of the greatest ever, as the leader of the Ten Kwangtung Tigers falls victim to drug addiction. The tragedies and drama that ensue are as stunning as the kung-fu, created by a superlative team of six martial artists. A legitimate masterpiece and one of the finest, most effecting martial arts movies Shaw Brothers ever produced.

 

 


 

 

 

Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

With BCI / Eclipse seemingly gone under (see our Blu-ray reviews of Sister Street Fighter (1+2)and Killing Machine/Shogun's Ninja) it seemed like a long wait for the likes of Shaw Brothers classics to be rendered to 1080P disc. Ta-da! - Navarre Corporation to the rescue. I'd always been suspicious of the label but am truly impressed with both the film and the transfer here. It is quite spotless and detail and colors are far superior to what BCI was releasing in martial arts hi-def. Although this is a darn sight better than SD it doesn't quite rival modern transfer Blu-ray discs - but it is not that far off either. I see a smooth consistent image that even exhibits depth and no manipulations rearing their head at all. Black levels and contrast are decent with the majority of the film being shot in static sets. The single-layered disc (feature taking up 13 Gig) is probably as good as you will see this film outside of theatrical. It has a nice even crispness that should impress most. The Blu-ray image transfer should be a strong encouragement for indulging if you are interested in the film.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music:  
The audio is only 2.0 channel Mandarin with English and Cantonese DUBs available. I can get fairly tired pf fake bumps - especially in this genre - and this track is consistent and clear. It is certainly not perfect or even up to modern disc standards but it does the job without fatal flaws. Keep your expectations minimal - no surround glory here. There are optional subtitles offered in a smallish white font in
English - or none.

 

Extras:
We are given about 35 minutes of interviews (3) with the actors Hoi San Lee, Kuan Tai Chen and Tak Law Mak aka Robert Mak. This video is in rough shape and fairly hard to make out. Hoi San Lee's is in Mandarin with burned-in English subs and the other two are in English with heavy accents. It's a bit comical trying to discern - as well as sounding like they are talking via phone ear-piece quality. There are long trailers (rough shape) for 14 Amazons, Opium and the Kung Fu Master and Life Master - the latter also available on the
Blu-ray in the same date. There is an HD Stills Gallery and a well prepared liner notes booklet with an essay by Ric Meyers.   

 

 

Bottom line:
This is a pretty solid, simple, enjoyable Shaw martial arts film. I 'd never seen it before and thoroughly enjoyed my viewing experience thanks, in part, to the splendid single-layered  Blu-ray transfer. This is a very good sign for fans of the genre to hope/expect more releases of martial arts classics on 1080P.
Temper your expectations about the video/audio on this Blu-ray - its far from perfect but, I, for one, was gratefully surprised at how strong a presentation it gave - and the price is sure right! I hope you are equally impressed. I'll probably be picking up Life Master as well. Good job Navarre Corporation!

Gary Tooze

January 4th, 2008

 

 

 





 

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