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

 

A Little Background     Openers     

 

    Modus Operandi     The Scorecard:     

Emotive Connection      Audio     Operations    Extras     The Movie     Equipment

 

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Infernal Affairs BRD

(Wai Keung Lau, Siu Fai Mak - 2002)

 

 

  Available from:

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio: MegaStar (Hong Kong)

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Feature film: 1080p / AVC

97 minutes

Supplements: in HD and SD

1 disc: BD-25 single-layer

 

Audio:

Cantonese PCM 5.1

Cantonese DD 5.1

Mandarin DD 5.1

 

Subtitles:

Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, English

 

Extras

• Commentary by cast & crew

• Teaser

• Theatrical Trailer

• Making of . . .

• Confidential File

 

12 chapters

Standard Blu-ray case.

Release Date: July 4, 2007

 

NOTE: The MegaStar Blu-ray DVD of Infernal Affairs will play on North American Blu-ray players. Blu-ray discs are usually region-coded (ex Warner Blu-ray are not, Buena Vista are). Unlike SD DVDs, which are coded for one or all of 6 regions - see HERE, there are only 3 regions for Blu-ray: North, Central and South America share Region A/1 with Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and most of what we call Southeast Asia. Europe, Greenland, Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East comprise Region B/2. Region C/3 is the remainder of Asia, including: (Mainland) China, India, Pakistan and Russia. See Blu-ray region Coding map HERE.

Infernal Affairs

Introducing Hong Kong's first true high definition DVD!  Infernal Affairs is certainly sensible choice from a popularity point of view.  So how good is it in absolute and relative terms? 

[see previous DVDBeaver reviews HERE and HERE  and by myself comparing the movie to Scorsese's sequel, The Departed HERE]

Just few words to recap:

Infernal Affairs almost single-handedly revived the Hong Kong gangster film back in 2002.  The idea behind the title is the concept of "continuous hell" – a place from which you can't escape and where moral clarity is absent. Compared Martin Scorsese's, The Departed, Infernal Affairs stays on track with the question of good and evil as it applies to the two moles because its focus is sharper, less concerned with the texture of supporting characters and situations.

 

The Score Card

The Movie : 8.5

Infernal Affairs is about a police detective unit and its target: organized crime - and one mob and its boss in particular.  Both the mob and the cops had placed a mole in the other's organization over a length of time.  The police investigation takes years, during which time both moles rise in importance and responsibility in their respective organizations.  Eventually they come to realize that there is a mole in the opposite camp whose identity is unknown to either of them.

Image : 6.5~8.5

MegaStar's first foray into high definition DVDs is not so much revelatory, as it is satisfying.  I had no illusions that the master would result in improved clarity where softness of focus was apparent in the R0.  I had hopes that the tendency for the high level information to blow out would have been managed, but alas, it is much the same.  The blacks are deeper and overall the image does not appear to have been artificially brightened, as I suspected here and there on the SD.  The image lacks the density that we would find in well preserved Technicolor (e.g. The Cowboys), lending it the appearance of having been shot in HD video; but in other respects - color saturation and color contrast, refinements in resolution, dimensionality – the Blu-ray is the kind of step above standard definition that we have come to expect generally.  The aspect ratio on the Blu-ray is also greater (approx. 2.35:1 compared to 2.25:1 for the SD).

(SD version TOP vs. Blu-ray version BOTTOM)

 

(SD version TOP vs. Blu-ray version BOTTOM)

 

(SD version TOP vs. Blu-ray version BOTTOM)

Audio & Music : 7/9

While the soundtrack is not of the kind of demonstration quality of the best "Hollywood" blockbusters, it is more than adequate to the task.  But more to the point, the mix is a huge improvement over MegaStar's own R0 SD.  Contrast, dynamics, frequency extension and clarity are all much better on the Blu-ray.  Playing both the SD and BD through the BDP-S300, the 2 channel mixdown is far superior on the new release.  Though I am unable to test the hypothesis, I would be surprised if the surround were not also similarly improved.

Empathy : 9

The improved picture and sound made all the difference.  Now I feel like this IS a theatrical experience, rather than merely a good imitation.  Since I had never seen this movie in the theatre, I am now inclined to raise my score for the movie from 8.0 to 8.5, which should tell you something about the impact of the Blu-ray.

 

Operations : 9

Easy to load, perhaps a few too many logos (typical of Asian movies), but no exhausting self-promotions or previews.  The Smart Menus [yes!] are straightforward and easy to use.  Chapter thumbnails are on the slim side, especially in comparison to the SD (12 compared to 20) and are titled appropriately for easy access.

Subtitles: 9

The subtitling is so much improved that it is worth a separate heading.  The translation is the same as on the R0.  No complaints there (. . . he said, as if he understands a word of Chinese . . )  But here's the really good news:  Unless my mind was playing tricks on me, all of the subtitling appears below the frame, which might make your eye/brain work harder if you want to read while you watch, but getting those fonts off the image has got to be a big plus. 

(SD version TOP vs. Blu-ray version BOTTOM)

 

(SD version TOP vs. Blu-ray version BOTTOM)

Extras : 4

The extras are all in Chinese without subtitles just as they are on MegaStar's R0 DVD box set.  The extras included here also appear on the U.S. R1 release, which are subtitled in English.  Both the "teaser" (a very short preview with gorgeous high definition material) and theatrical trailer are widescreen HD.  The 17 minute "Making of . . " isn't nearly as entertaining as the 9 minute "Confidential File," which is really a "making of" short of about 4 or 5 minutes (without commentary), followed by a few minutes tracking some of the actors as they walk through their scenes, followed by a laughable preview for American audiences.  Both of these featurettes are in SD and move from letterboxed to 4:3 images with ease.  Unlike the U.S. SD DVD, there is no alternate ending among the extras.

Recommendation : 9

No question: You like movie.  You buy BD.

Leonard Norwitz
LensViews
Julye 13th, 2007

 

 

 

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