Vengeance Blu-ray Review
PictureVengeance comes to UK Region B-locked Blu-ray with a solid but far from exceptional 1080p High Definition rendition in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen. Detail is strong for the most part, with some close-ups looking excellent and truly deserving of the High Def moniker, whilst others look soft-focus and poorly rendered. Of course it does not help that the material does not exactly lend itself to pristine Transformers-style glory, offering up a string of smoke-ridden shootouts which dirty up the picture no end - and intentionally at that. There don't appear to be any significant image issues like artefacting or digital damage, and the picture appears to be peppered with intentional grain but devoid of anything distractingly unintentional. The colour scheme is quite strong, broad across several different locations - even Countries - with some good settings chosen to allow the palette to vary from neon-lit sequences to warm country exteriors. The blood used is not exactly amazingly realistic, but it also does not have that awful cartoony style that many recent films are pervaded with thanks to misused CGI. Black levels are solid, including the rather strange sequence where the moon dictates whether or not you can see anything at all. Overall it is a perfectly decent but still distinctly average offering.
SoundThere are two flavours of audio track on offer here, both in the movie's original spoken languages. The DTS-HD Master Audio offering easily edging out the standard Stereo track. The original languages spoken are French, Cantonese and English, but the dominant language is probably English. Despite the fact that none of the actors have English as their native language, it is the common language between the three characters, so that's why they've chosen it (don't ask me why some of them go from not being able to speak it, to being fluent in it over the course of the movie). Dialogue is as clear and coherent as it can be considering the accent issues, everybody really trying their best with the words that are so obviously foreign to them. The effects are well-observed, offering up a little bit of directionality, particularly during the prolonged gunfight. There is a little atmosphere, but it is not exactly overwhelming. The score, however, is, and is truly a high point of the movie. To's guitar-dominated track really suits the material and lends to the flavour and style - hints of the Wild West coming into play. The track really does quite a serviceable job, but is, like the transfer, far from exceptional.
ExtrasWe get two Extras for this release, a Making Of and the Trailer. The Making of Vengeance runs at a mere ten minutes in length but tries to nonetheless cover all of the bases, Johnny To and his crew on board to discuss the cast, the story, and filming some of the sequences, all narration for a series of chronological video diary glimpses at the production being made. Most of the discussions are in Cantonese, although Hong Kong actor Anthony Wong and Simon Yam do contribute their lot in English, and there are decent enough subtitles throughout the film. It's only a shame we don't get to hear anything from Hallyday himself. Finally we get the Trailer which is 90 seconds long and makes the film look extremely cool indeed. Don't be misled, the end result cannot sustain that kind of preconception. Worth checking out if you want to see the characters rolling giant paper stacks towards one another though.
VerdictVengeance is a trademark Johnny To film, with another decent performance from ageing French music legend Johnny Halliday, a decent Hong Kong cast, some stylish action sequences and a great score. Honestly, the script is really weak, the dialogue and scenes strung together very poorly, with too many inappropriate gimmicks and silly ideas from other, better, movies (Memento, Taken, Bourne Identity) thrown into the mix in an attempt to create something new and special in the ever-burgeoning revenge thriller genre. The result is stylish, strangely enjoyable, but still pretty thin and difficult to fully swallow. Best watched over a few beers, be prepared to laugh at some unintentionally funny ideas, and enjoy the brooding slo-mo gunfights and macho posturing in this eclectic modern-day Hong Kong Western. On UK Blu-ray we get a decent enough video presentation and a perfectly acceptable audio offering, as well as a couple of extras. Fans should be content with this release, newcomers to Hong Kong action-thrillers like this should perhaps consider a rental first, and fans of the sub-genre could do worse than to check this out. Just don't expect it to be the new Hard Boiled or the new Infernal Affairs and you shouldn't be disappointed.
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