PicturePresented in a letterboxed widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio non-anamorphically enhanced transfer, this movie really has seen better days. I'm sure this is the best presentation that is currently available, but it suffers from almost every single problem that DVD transfers can suffer from. There is a heavy layer of grain running throughout, some scenes exhibit shocking softness, the detail is distinctly lacking, the colours are faded and the contrast varies from shot to shot, making it look even more low-budge than it is. Taking that all into account, there are few print defects in the form of scratches and dust and the blacks are nominally solid - and overall you're not likely to find it made unwatchable by its poor presentation. Given the age of the material I can fully understand the state it is in.
SoundThe audio presentation is equally disappointing - but for the same reasons of age. The two original language tracks are in Cantonese, the original mono track being superseded by the Dolby Digital 2.0 effort. The dialogue is present fairly clearly, with some decent if tinny effects, a little bit of light score and thankfully no HK ballads to be found. Unfortunately the whole mix is squashed into the restricted array and comes across sounding distinctly limited. The subtitles are very good and much more coherent than most Asian studio equivalent presentations. By the way, the dubbed version should only be approached to enhance the comedic value of this movie.
ExtrasFirst up we get a full-length audio commentary with Hong Kong Cinema expert Bey Logan, who frantically takes us through all of the background into not only the production but also the era in Asian cinema history that it was made in. He knows altogether far too much about everything to do with this and many similar films, reeling off the cast and crew biographies in a way that they could probably not do themselves. In fact he probably knows more about this film than any single person actually involved in the production itself. Despite all of this, his fuel-injected trivia barrage is only manageable in short doses. I personally got sick of this man a long time ago purely because he has no idea how to talk to an audience; all he can do is talk at an audience. For fans of the movie, the genre or this stage in Asian cinema history, there is plenty of trivia to keep you entertained.
There are two fairly hefty recent interviews with the lead protagonists - Yuen Biao and Yuen Wah, who speak for ten minutes and fifteen minutes respectively and happily recall their experiences of the production. They discuss the obstacles they faced, the ice-cold snow set, the difficulty in doing some of the scenes and the many funny incidents that occurred behind the scenes. The interviews are packed with an unnecessary amount of footage from the final film itself but are saved largely by the anecdotal value that they exhibit.
Finally there are a two trailers for the main feature itself and a selection of trailers for other similar movies in the Hong Kong Legends and Premier Asia range, including several classic Chow Yun Fat films and the excellent Ong Bak
VerdictThis frantic martial arts action-comedy fantasy is simply bristling with energy and enthusiasm and does not fail to entertain despite its dated traits. The video presentation and audio tracks are fairly rudimentary, but that is only to be expected considering its age. The extras are pretty comprehensive, particularly for those who enjoy the movie and this release is well worth your time if you like the genre and this type of action romp. If you're unsure, it's still worth a rental to keep you entertained after a late night out in town.
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