Robin-B-Hood Blu-ray Review
PictureRobin-B-Hood comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p resolution encoded with the AVC codec and framed within a 1.78:1 aspect ratio (which differs from the theatrical 2.40:1).
Being a Hong Kong film, storage and proper film preservation once again seems to have fallen down the list of priorities. Even though this is a recent offering, there are still numerous specks/instances of damage that pop up and distract the eye. This isn't made any less glaring by the thick grain that draws the attention to areas of the frame and the noise that creeps in amongst it.
The colour scheme seems to have been fairly muted, but there is little consistency, as scenes containing the same shades vary wildly from the subdued to the downright garish. Lighting clearly plays a part, but it is hard not to assume the disc also does so, either way it is hard to overlook. Everything looks artificially boosted, with blacks deep but prone to some crushing and whites that can be blown out. There is absolutely no common line between shots and shades vacillate from wan to eye scorching, as if the display were set to “vivid” mode.
Detail fares somewhat better, but with this being a Hong Kong film, softness is a given. Things stay fairly sharp, but once again it looks more down to tinkering than the original image. Close-ups with bright light fare the best and there are some nice shots that show off decent facial detail, but once again there is little in the way of consistency. The boosting adds a strange quasi dimensionality to the image, but not in a way that one might commend as scenes containing any complexity of colour rarely look entirely stable.
SoundAudio options for the disc are twofold - English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Given the English is entirely dubbed, I opted for the latter.
This is a fairly front heavy mix, with the centre taking most of the responsibility until the various montages or action sequences signal the music to start blaring from the fronts. Speech is clear if sometimes a touch tinny, but once again not speaking Cantonese means I'm unable to whole heartedly praise its clarity. When the score enters the fray the front speakers come to life with a great vibrancy. The music is handled extremely well, particularly considering the fast pace and layered nature of the modern tunes used. The result is a wide soundstage that has a good degree of dimensionality to it. The subwoofer nicely aids these moments of musicality by delivering crisp punches of bass that reach far lower than I'd expected and there are a couple of scenes where the low end really gives you a start.
Surrounds aren't exactly over worked and could have made more impact during the action sequences, but there are particular moments when they're employed to good effect and help add a sense of encompassing sounds that takes away from the otherwise front heavy nature of the track. Both high and low frequencies are well utilised and the bass is capable of a punch when necessary, but this is still a fairly limited affair that only occasionally shows what it is capable of, however at least what is on offer is clean and clear with some nice touches thrown in.
ExtrasCrashing the hood: with star and action director Jackie Chan - 576p - 39:06
A very frank interview where Jackie outlines all his reasons for heading back to Hong Kong to make more movies, as well as the differences between Eastern and Western industries. He also talks about a few of the problems facing him during the production of this movie as well as discussing particular scenes.
The hand that mocks the cradle: with director Benny Chan - 576p - 16:00
Benny Chan explains how he came to team up with Jackie again as well as covering a range of topics such as casting, working methods and the production.
Baby boomer: with co-star Conroy Chan - 576p - 14:34
Conroy Chan, who plays loan shark MacDaddy, gives his thoughts about working with Jackie, the JC stunt team, meeting Yuen Biao and how he got into acting in the first place.
Playtime for adults: on the set of Robin-B-Hood - 576p - 21:44
Various members of the cast and crew discuss their characters, the plot, working relationships, casting and all manner of things
Robin-B-Hood: an original making of - 576p - 22:03
Los of on-set footage accompanies more thoughts of the cast and crew as well as a truly strange musical interlude.
Robin-B-Hood trailer - 576p - 2:14
VerdictRobin-B-Hood is a film that will surely be lapped up by the uber-fans of Jackie Chan, but it lacks the brevity or intelligent pacing to be welcomed by those without a long standing admiration of the man. It is creditable that Chan wishes to be seen as a serious actor, but being arguably the greatest action star since Bruce Lee sadly passed and the most naturally gifted physical comedian since Buster Keaton, should be the pivot around which his films revolve. This does not.
The disc is flawed, with a picture that looks either poorly filmed or unnecessarily, unnaturally boosted and still containing much of the print damage one comes to associate with the Hong Kong industry. The audio is musical and clear with the occasional flourish and the extras retread a lot of the same ground but do contain one great interview with Chan. As a set it is eminently skippable for all but the most devoted of Chan's followers.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.99
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