Future X-Cops Blu-ray Review
PictureFuture X-Cops comes to Blu-ray presented with a 1080p High Definition rendition in the movie's theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen. Detail is generally very good indeed. In fact it is almost too good, because it makes the shoddy effects even more patently obvious. Still, we are talking about a presentation that largely eschews softness, edge enhancement or any kind of digital defects, in favour of a clean, sharp image which is fairly consistent throughout in terms of quality. The colour scheme should be more vibrant than it is, particularly with the futuristic opening setting, but actually things don't look too bad, largely avoiding dour tones in favour of cheap and cheerful child-friendly colours (most notable with the silly costumes). Some of the explosions and fight sequences also allow for a little decent colour, although there are moments where the picture just looks downright tired and dated, most notably when Kidd first goes back in time and wanders around in a police uniform and flourescent yellow traffic jacket. Black levels are reasonably strong and this is a perfectly decent, if not particularly visually arresting, presentation.
SoundOnce again an east-asian Blu-ray production company has decided that the best course of action for presenting the aural accompaniment is to give us the Cantonese dub in DTS-HD Master Audio, and give us just plain old Standard Def Dolby Digital 5.1 for the original language Mandarin track. I just don't get it. So, if you don't mind your dialogue dubbed (and I don't care that I can't understand the language - intonation, expression and just plain old lip-synch are all a part of your enjoyment of an actor's performance) then stick on the Cantonese dub and watch Andy Lau's mouth move out of time with his words. The track itself does everything it is supposed to, presenting the ADR dialogue clearly and coherently, largely across the fronts and centre channels. Effects are numerous and, despite looking visually shocking, the audio effects are pretty spot-on, offering up a little dynamic range, and kicking the surrounds into use where appropriate. This is not a particularly nuanced or atmospheric offering, the material itself mainly driven by sci-fi action, and the track reflects this. The score is neither intrusive nor especially memorable, giving the channels a little more to do, and we get a hint of bass thrown into the reasonable but far from noteworthy mix.
Unfortunately, if you want to actually hear the actors perform in their own voices, you have to select the Mandarin track which is in standard def DD5.1 flavour and is basically a less well-rounded variation of the DTS-HD offering. Whatever atmospherics were present before are almost completely dropped here, the surrounds used far less specifically, and in more of a general fashion. It is still the track to pick when you're watching the movie (I abhor dubs) but it is just a shame that it does not come in DTS-HD flavour. Another disappointing effort (or lack thereof) on the part of the Studios.
On the subtitles front the English subtitles are barely acceptable, often with the wrong tense for verbs, and thus making no sense when related to the on-screen events.
ExtrasThere is a short Making-Of, and a Trailer, but without English subtitles these are pretty unwatchable for English audiences.
VerdictWow, well Infernal Affairs' Andy Lau has truly sunk to an all-time low. Future X-Cops is a cross between Van Damme's Timecop and an episode of Power Rangers. It has the worst effects that I have seen in a long time (in movies or TV shows!), which is a big problem when you're trying to do a sci-fi movie set in both 2020 and 2080. Couple that with the expectedly poor script, some undeveloped characters and a barrage of lacklustre performances (although what exactly could they do with this material?) and you have a prize turkey of a film. This from the guy who, seemingly in another lifetime, directed the halfway decent God of Gamblers trilogy starring Chow Yun-Fat. On Blu-ray we get decent video, another botched aural accompaniment (why can't they ever get the language right?) and a couple of extras that unfortunately lack subtitles, rounding off a disc that is really only worth picking up if you have already seen and love the movie. Newcomers would have to have kids addicted to everything even remotely Power Ranger-styled, who also don't mind subtitles. Even then, I'm sure you could do better.
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