Armour of God II: Operation Condor Blu-ray Review
PictureOn Region A-locked Hong Kong Blu-ray we get a solid 1080p video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of widescreen 2.35:1. Kam & Ronson Enterprises are a studio who have handled several of Jackie Chan’s Hong Kong back-catalogue, and have given us some mixed results. Thankfully this is not one of their more dubious offerings, a clear example of a remastered HD rendition rather than just a transfer that looks little more than upconverted SD-DVD. Whilst never exceptional, the presentation afforded this film is easily the best that it has ever seen and probably the most that you could possibly expect from a 1991 HK film. Detail is generally very good, whether for the close-up shots or the longer desert scenes. Sure there is edge enhancement evident, and softness does occasionally come into play, as does a reasonable layer of grain, but none of it is particularly objectionable, and it shows a marked upgrade from the previous SD-DVD releases. I haven’t seen many of Jackie’s old Hong Kong films look this good. There’s no print damage, nor any significant digital defects, the colour scheme holds strong for the most part, which is good in a film that has such unusual settings (the vibrant greens of the opening island setpiece making a nice counterpoint to the later dusty oranges of the desert), and even the more low-level lighting sequences hold up, with blacks remaining relatively strong throughout. It’s not an astounding presentation – it will never stand up to scrutiny alongside any recent productions – but considering the limitations of the original material, this is a very good end result which shouldn’t disappoint fans of the film.
SoundOn the aural front we get three different flavours of soundtrack, although the only one you should really care about is the original language Cantonese Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix (the other two are Mandarin and Thai dubs). I know that DTS-HD Master Audio tracks are the current unofficial standard, but this lossless Dolby alternative is a great accompaniment for the movie and few will have reason to complain about the way this sounds. Dialogue comes across clearly from the fronts and centre channels, and effects are well-observed across the array, with some accentuated fighting blows smacking your surrounds into action. There are some marginally lame gunshot effects, a few nominal explosions and some other louder noises to give the surrounds further work to do, but it’s the score that remains pervasive throughout. Varying from the boisterous main theme to the various silly moments which garner suitably goofy scoring, this is the most prominent part of the mix. Don’t expect much bass and, as with the video, don’t expect this to hold up to comparison with either Jackie’s more recent escapades, or any relatively new Hollywood release, but – taken in context – this is not only the best aural presentation the movie has ever been afforded, but it is also probably the best you could expect from this 1991 Hong Kong film.
ExtrasUnfortunately all we get to accompany this release is the original Theatrical Trailer.
VerdictThis superior sequel marks one of the best of Jackie Chan’s works, made during the prime of his action career, where he did some of his most breathtaking and death-defying stunt-work. The story is a globe-trotting poor excuse to string together the action setpieces, and the slapstick comedy will only really entertain those disposed towards this kind of humour. It’s dated, silly and pretty frivolous stuff, but it features some of the best fight sequences and stunt work done during superstar Jackie Chan’s long and eventful career, with him directing as well as acting just to ensure that the film truly delivers.
On Hong Kong Region A-locked Blu-ray we get solid video and audio – certainly the best you would expect for this kind of early nineties HK production – and the Trailer to round the disc off. It may not be a stunning release, but it’s far superior to any of its SD-DVD predecessors and comes recommended to any dedicated Jackie Chan fan. Those new to the man’s work could do worse than check out the awesomeness of his antics here.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £17.80
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