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A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

House of Fury [Blu-ray]

(aka "Jing mo gaa ting")

 

(Stephen Fung, 2005)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: JCE Movies Ltd.

Blu-ray: Tai Seng Entertainment (Hong Kong)

 

Disc:

Region: ALL (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:41:01.000

Disc Size: 35,236,539,172 bytes

Feature Size: 30,169,012,224 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.99 Mbps

Chapters: 20

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 19th, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.4:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio Chinese 6144 kbps 7.1 / 48 kHz / 6144 kbps / 16-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio Chinese 2811 kbps 7.1 / 48 kHz / 2811 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Chinese 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Vietnamese 384 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 384 kbps

 

Subtitles:

Feature: Traditional & Simplified Chinese, and English. Bonus: English

 

Extras:

• Behind the Scenes – in SD (45:02)

• Making of – SD (10:02)

• Cast Interviews (56:28)

• Trailers & Promo

 

 

The Film:

Internationally renowned action choreographer Yuen Wo Ping, famous for his action direction in Matrix and Kill Bill, lends actor-turned-director Stephen Fung a helping hand in House of Fury, a film produced by international super star Jackie Chan. This second title by Stephen Fung is a tribute to the Kung Fu films of the Bruce Lee era and, more recently, those of Jackie Chan. House
of Fury was chosen as the opening film for the 29th Hong Kong International Film Festival.

House of Fury stars award-winning actor Anthony Wong, Hong Kong's hottest actor and Kung-fu fans Daniel Wu, martial arts actor-director Wu Ma (best known for his Chinese Ghost Story), and Gillian Chung of Twins, whose knack for action sequences makes her a rising kung-fu princess to be reckoned with! Co-starring fellow Twin Charlene Choi, House of Fury has combined the greatest cast and crew! - YesAsia.

Movie: 5
From the opening scenes in which veteran dramatic actor Anthony Wong shows off some moves I didn't know he had, I expected more from this spoof of classic kung-fu movies. Its high-energy action sequences are clever and amusing. They are grounded in a certain degree of realism, thanks to the master, Yuen Wo Ping, and in director Stephen Fung's hands, they are sly and silly by turns, leaps and bounds.

Unfortunately, the script - about a chiropractor whose tales about his life as a secret agent strike his teenage children as boring exaggerations, until he is kidnapped - lacks coherence, even for a slim comedy such as this. There's Michael Wong, who plays the villain: he is incapable of a convincing line reading – in either language, since he speaks both Cantonese and English badly. His son, played by then fifteen year old Jake Strickland, is his secret weapon. His way with a stick is one reason that makes this movie worth watching. He displays unusual confidence for one his age, not just in his martial arts abilities, but his deadpan acting style. The sparring between the sibs (Stephen Fung and Gillian Chung) is nicely matched, and accounts for much of the fun. Daniel Wu lends some serious prettiness to the male cast, but he is wasted – the actor, not the character - and then forgotten – the character, not the actor. - LN

 


 

Image: 8/8    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

I imagine this Blu-ray is quite some ways better than anything we've seen before on home video. The image has considerable range – both in terms of color and contrast. Noise is unobtrusive in the darker scenes and shadow detail is very good. I was aware of no distracting DNR, edge enhancement or other artifacts that might get in the way. Blacks are solid, and high values manage to maintain integrity. Those pesky wires that help the actors do their stuff have been neatly disposed of.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 7/7
I was surprised to find the uncompressed audio mix for the default Cantonese track to be quite satisfying. The music is spacious and the martial arts effects have some variation to them instead of the one-strike fits all approach of older, traditional kung-fu.
 

Operations: 7
The English subtitles, which are displayed clearly and not too large within the frame, are relatively free of spelling and grammatical errors. I listened only briefly to the English dub and was not able to tolerate the insult. Even though there's no indication such on the menu, if you click on the first of the cast interviews you will find that it automatically goes into Play All mode with chapter skips for each actor.

 

 

 

Extras: 5
Considering the sort of movie this is, Tai Seng has provided a few tasty extra features for fans. The 10-minute "Making of" segment centers around famed fight choreographer Yuen Wo Ping and how he works with the cast. The five cast interviews take 10-12 minutes each. The actors talk about their characters and their participation in the movie, working with the two directors – the usual stuff. We meet Daniel Wu, Gillian Chung, Josie Ho, Michael Wong, and the man of the hour, Stephen Fung. but we miss the perspective of the ubiquitous Anthony Wong. Best of the three bonus features is the 45-minute "Behind the Scenes" featurette, which is perhaps more a making of look at the proceedings than the so-named segment. All of these have English subtitles and look pretty good in 480p, 4:3 format, except for the cast interviews which are in widescreen.

 

 

Bottom line: 6
Fung is like Chow in his love and respect for the old movies, but he isn't nearly as whacky or inventive and he lacks a coherent approach to character. I imagine kids will like these film. The violence is not worrisome. The image is better than acceptable, though not stellar. Audio is very good – much better than Shaw Brothers chop-socky. At the moment, the price is only $16.99 at Amazon.com.

Leonard Norwitz
June 28th, 2009

 

 

 

 

 


 

About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.


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