The Myth Blu-ray Review
PictureThe Myth comes to Blu-ray with a solid but far from exceptional 1080p High Definition presentation in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of widescreen 2.35:1. There is one major issue, though, and I cannot find any listing of this problem on any other review of the movie on any format from any country. The movie image has been intentionally stretched in approximately twenty brief shots across the runtime. It has been stretched vertically within the confines of the 2.35:1 framing, and so all of the content of these stretched images look vertically strained, taller than normal and consequently distorted. The horses, the men, the background, it all looks distorted. Admittedly, it is only slight, but it is enough to make you scratch your head and wonder what is going on. All of these brief shots, which can last 1-5 seconds, are of Jackie Chan, in the period age, wearing his battle helmet. Either the helmet has a magic power which stretches the video to make it look distorted, or the studios decided that ol' Jackie was just that little bit too short to be much of a General, and decided to stretch him in all the shots to make him look taller!
Setting aside the fact that they have taken this 'artistic' approach to the helmet scenes, the rest of the movie should really be judged separately, as it is largely otherwise solid in terms of visual presentation. Detail is generally good throughout, with consistent clarity, no noticeable softness, negligible grain, and only a little noticeable edge enhancement. The colour scheme is quite varied, from the period setting brimming with greys and greens, to the lush and vibrant Indian locales with the more clinical, Spartan modern Hong Kong representation at the far end of the extreme. Exterior scenes generally look the best, but blacks remain solid throughout, allowing for decent enough low-level-lighting and night-time sequence. Overall it is a solid presentation, but does not have that 3D pop or general feel of perfection that you associate with some of the best releases out there, and it does have that annoying, intermittent stretching problem that skews the aspect ratio whenever there's a risk Jackie will look too short. Ah well, not all movies can be presented perfectly can then? I would love to know if the UK or US releases of this movie suffered the same intentional distortion.
SoundOn the aural front things are superior on this Hong Kong release when compared to its Western counterparts. Rather than just standard def tracks we get two High Def heavyweights - a Cantonese Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix and a Engligh DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 dub. Honestly I would steer well clear of the dub because it just does not to justice to the original language and consequent expression of it from the cast members (this is most telling during the section of the movie set in India, where Chan soon drops his brave attempt at Hindi in favour of speaking English, and he still emotes much better than his dubbed counterpart). But the dub must have been included for a reason, and those intent on listening to the damn thing will be pleased to know that - aside from the dubbing issue itself - it has most of the same bells and whistles as the native language track, the dialogue coming across clear and coherent (with a little bit of an echo from the studio recording) from the frontal array. Both exhibit decent surround usage, presenting the effects - from the battle sequences to the crazy-ass stunts to the kung-foolery - well and offering up plenty of dynamics. The score is perfectly suited to the material, a little less cheesy than some Hong Kong Jackie Chan offerings in the past, and it gets decent enough coverage from the surround array. Bass isn't a big deal on this track, but pops up where necessary. I dare say this one easily outdoes the standard def Dolby Digital 5.1 track on the UK release.
ExtrasThere are no extras for this release, and there isn't even a menu, the movie just repeats on auto-play. Woefully inadequate.
VerdictThe Myth is an engaging if overlong cross-genre splice of epic period romance/drama/war movies with modern-day Indiana Jones adventures (done in a typical Jackie Chan style). At times it works well, at times it fails miserably, but there's just enough Jackie Chan magic and novelty factor to keep you interested for the most part, and enough Chan gems to justify any fan checking it out. The video is solid enough, marred by the studio's decision to rather oddly stretch the movie in some scenes to make Chan look bigger! Still, the rest of it looks pretty good, and the audio is far superior to the UK equivalent. The complete lack of extra features round off a distinctly average Blu-ray release. Chan fans have had their recommendation to check it out, newcomers might find this a good way to ease in to Chan's better, native Cantonese Hong Kong movies (particularly since about a quarter of the movie has him speaking English anyway), even if the movie does not boast him at his career best (and fastest). Fairly silly but ultimately enjoyable fun.
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