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Kung Fu Hustle DVD Review Superbit (Region 2 Japan)

Discussion in 'Movie Forum' started by Seth Gecko, Oct 1, 2005.

  1. Seth Gecko

    Seth Gecko
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    <P STYLE='text-align: center'><FONT STYLE='font-size: 18px'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/KungFuHustle/KungFuHustleR2Jap.jpg' ALT='KUNG FU HUSTLE: SUPERBIT DVD cover artwork' ALIGN='RIGHT'>KUNG FU HUSTLE: SUPERBIT</FONT><br>Reviewed October 2005 by <A HREF='search.php?do=process&query=Simon Crust&showposts=1&forumchoice[]=107&forumchoice[]=197' target='_top'>Simon Crust</A>.</P><P><B>The Movie : 7</B></P><P>“I don’t want to read the telly!”</p><P>How many times have I heard those words? It is an unfounded stigma against half the world’s population. Not only that, it eliminates about half the films ever made. What do I mean? Subtitles. The very word conjures up the deepest feelings in almost everyone. The most common and consequently wrong, is typified by the opening statement. The “I don’t want to read the telly” brigade are so closed minded they won’t even entertain the idea that some of the best works of cinema ever made may not be in their native tongue, as such they deny themselves. Others believe, though a much rarer breed, that subtitles automatically means excellent cinema, an odd assumption as all cinema, like all works of art, is subjective. Then there is everyone else, to whom the word subtitles means nothing except that the film is not in your own language. Doesn’t make it any better or any worse but is a film to be watched like any other. Guess which camp I fall into?</p><P>The Asian film market is one of the biggest in the world, easily rivalling that of Hollywood. If you can make it there, you can, literally, make it anywhere, since Hollywood has always plundered the riches of the Orient. To be notice in such a huge market, an individual has to standout from the crowd, and what better way to do that than by creating a genre for yourself. Bruce Lee was the first, with his uncompromising Kung Fu. Jacky Chan was next with his skilful blend of action and comedy. Tony Lee is up and coming with his natural ability and stunt work. Along side these but yet to break into the west fully is Stephen Chow. He has been directing, writing, producing and starring in his own films for ten years now and had an astonishing hit in 2002 with Shaolin Soccer. Instead of taking the Jacky Chan motif of action comedy, he made an out and out comedy with a little action and sport, and love; it had everything as well as being utterly brilliant. The film was a mammoth hit in Hong Kong becoming the highest grossing film of all time, and has been well received outside, already being looked at as a Hollywood remake (/me shudders). On the back of this Chow was given a bigger budget and instructions to make another success, he produced Kung Fu Hustle, and was granted a worldwide release, something sadly lacking with his former which has really survived and become known though its DVD releases; Kung Fu Hustle’s USA release was the biggest of any foreign language film ever and has now surpassed Shaolin Soccer as the number one film in Hong Kong.</p><P>It is 1940’s Hong Kong, and gangs rule the streets. The most notorious of them all is the feared Axe gang, known for their ruthlessness and brutality; easily identifiable by their black outfits and cross axe tattoo. Sing (Chow) wants nothing more than to be a fully fledged member of the axe gang, he even pretends to be one attempting to extort favours from the local Pig Sty Ally. The reasons for him wanting to be a gang member stem from when he was small, he was unable to help a poor mute girl being threatened, plus his perception is that gangs or law breakers are cool. It is at these attempts of extortion that bring the real Axe gang to Pig Sty Ally, itself home to some kung fu masters. Suffering their first defeat at these masters the Axe gang unleash hell upon the poor town, sending in assassins. When these are eventually defeated they finally enlist the help of Sing to break out the most feared master of the all; the Beast. A known killer he obliterates all in his path, until it is left to Sing to repair the damage he has caused with his ‘wolverine’ like regenerative powers and gained spiritual powers.</p><P>These few lines describe the basic concept, but with Chows at the helm its execution is far more complex. The blend of action and comedy is much closer here than with his earlier film, in some places the violence becomes quite extreme and brutal. Consequences for the violence are explored, bloodied bodies and wounds are common place even if they are sometimes slapstick. The comedy is rarely off the mark, always in the slapstick, or toilet humour area, it cannot fail to raise a smile. So too is the use of CGI; Chow seems well versed with its uses, from the mundane to the outrageous. Barely a scene goes by without some digital effect in it. Whilst most of the smaller effects (football spring to mind) are obvious, it’s ok because the sheer audacity of it all, it’s supposed to be funny after all. One of the best scenes is a road runner spoof, total madness, yet eminently watchable and funny. A shame though that during the many fights there are few practical effect, Chow seems to rely too much on the CG. Talking of fights they are excellently choreographed by Sammo Hung and Yuen Wo Ping, the latter spoofing his own Burley Brawl from Matrix fame, but somehow making it fresher and more exciting!</p><P>The production quality of the film is second to none, you could be forgiven for thinking this is a Hollywood film. Chow fills every frame with something happening, there are hundreds of extras, and jaw dropping sets. There is a real sense of depth to the frame; he really uses all of the wide angle aspect, not just in the fight scenes but in passing shots too. Night time street sets are bathed in neon lights giving the comic book look which was the intent. Added to this Chows skill of seamlessly interweaving comedy, melodrama, action and tenderness you have one all encompassing film.</p><P>Shame then that it all doesn’t quite work. In terms of visuals, production and action Kung Fu Hustle is easily number one in Chow’s repertoire. But it is a long way from his best film. The problem could be the reliance on the action motif too much, as stated above it can be very brutal in places (in the USA there were cuts to its R rating). It could be that there is just too much CGI and it bringing you out of the film at times. Personally I lay the blame at the Sing character, for most of the film he is just unlikeable. The motivations for his character are explained well enough, but why that should make him still rob the girl whom he tried to save all those years ago remains repugnant. Yes he does get redemption at the end, but the closing scene of him returning to his childhood innocence just seems like too little too late; at lease with Shaolin you knew who the baddies were, there was no moral ambiguity. This however maybe my personal gripe as Hustle has been well established as Chow’s top grossing movie and the one most will associate him with. So, if you don’t want to read the telly, you are missing out, and quite frankly that is your loss.</p><P><B>Picture : 10</B></P><P> Then film is given a theatrically correct 2.40:1 aspect anamorphically enhanced for widescreen TV’s picture with an average bitrate of 7.62 Mbps. The picture is, in a word, stunning. There are bold, striking, solid colours without shimmer or bleed. With a contrast and brightness level set to give deep blacks and blues and a detail level to everything is pin sharp you have, quite simply, a stunning picture. It looks particularly good during the neon light night scenes where the colours just burst off the screen. With such a modern film there is no print damage, neither did I spot any film grain; gone are the days of dodgy Asian prints I think. Digitally there are no compression problems, nor any edge enhancement either; it all seems resoundingly thick and full bodied as only a high bitrate can look, and this one is as good as I’ve seen them look, top marks.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/KungFuHustle/KungFuHustleR2Jap_1.jpg' ALT='KUNG FU HUSTLE: SUPERBIT'></P><P><B>Sound : 10</B></P><P> The disc has been given two Cantonese tracks, Dolby digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1. It seems just as Chow knows how to fill a frame, so too can he fill the sound. There is hardly a moment going by without some sort of noise from the rear. The many action scenes are all given a full dynamic surround experience, front to back, left to right placing you right in the centre of the action. The classy score too is faithfully represented throughout all of the speakers and makes full use of the speaker range. Dialogue is given direction if needed and always clear and precise.</p><P>The Dolby track has a clear full range; the bass never out strips the rest of the range and is as good a Dolby track as I’ve heard. The DTS is set at a higher volume level and slightly suppresses the mid to high range giving the impression of a top-bass split. It depends on you bass level mindset to which you would prefer, they are both equally as dynamic, equally as deep, equally as involving. If you want a bassier sounding track head towards the DTS, if you prefer a more rounded experience stick with the Dolby, but whichever you choose you won’t be disappointed, top marks.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/KungFuHustle/KungFuHustleR2Jap_2.jpg' ALT='KUNG FU HUSTLE: SUPERBIT'></P><P><B>Extras : 0</B></P><P>As with all superbit releases the disc contains no extras</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/KungFuHustle/KungFuHustleR2Jap_3.jpg' ALT='KUNG FU HUSTLE: SUPERBIT'></P><P><B>Trivia</B><br><P>For user information we use Bitrate 1.4 to scan the disk for the video bitrate, which also calculates the average bitrate. Below is a graph illustrating the bitrate of the disk, including the average bitrate reading. This disk averaged at 7.62 Mbps.</p></P><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/KungFuHustle/KungFuHustleR2Jap_BR.jpg' ALT='KUNG FU HUSTLE: SUPERBIT'></P><P><B>Verdict : 8</B></P><P> Kung Fu Hustle may not be Chow’s best film, but there is no denying its impact, with critics worldwide climbing over themselves to praise it, and a sequel already in production, it seems like it can do no wrong. Personally I’d use it as a stepping stone to Chow’s other films, they are better written and funnier, especially Shaolin Soccer, even if they are not in the same production league. As a DVD there is no doubt in my mind that this is the <i>best</i> Kung Fu Hustle will ever look and sound on this format. If you care more about how a film looks and sounds than the extras and price tag then this is the version to own, it is amazing.</p><div ALIGN='CENTER'>Review Disc Supplied by <a href="http://www.cdjapan.co.jp" target=”_blank><img src="http://www.wvip.co.uk/images/dvd/SuppliersLogos/CDJapanLarge.png" Align="absmiddle"></a><br>Please support us by using our review sponsors.</div><TABLE border='0' CELLPADDING='0' CELLSPACING='2' WIDTH='100%'><TR><TD COLSPAN='2'><B>KUNG FU HUSTLE (2004)</B><A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?compare=5618' target='_blank'><IMG SRC='http://www.totaldvd.net/images/comparedvds.gif' WIDTH='121' HEIGHT='18' border='0' ALIGN='ABSMIDDLE' ALT='Comparison feature coming soon'></A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Genres</TD><TD><A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=exact&searchfield=genre&search_for=ACTION' target='_blank'>ACTION</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=exact&searchfield=genre&search_for=COMEDY' target='_blank'>COMEDY</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Director</TD><TD><A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=director&search_for=STEPHEN CHOW' target='_blank'>STEPHEN CHOW</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Stars</TD><TD><A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=STEPHEN CHOW' target='_blank'>STEPHEN CHOW</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=WAH YUEN' target='_blank'>WAH YUEN</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=QIU YUEN' target='_blank'>QIU YUEN</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=KWOK KUEN CHAN' target='_blank'>KWOK KUEN CHAN</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=SIU LUNG LEUNG' target='_blank'>SIU LUNG LEUNG</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65'><B>Region</B></TD><TD><B>2</B> <FONT>(JAPAN)</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Supplier</TD><TD><FONT>Sony Pictures. Released Saturday 16th July 2005</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>SRP</TD><TD><FONT>$48.25</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Discs</TD><TD><FONT>1</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Format</TD><TD><FONT>DVD9</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Time</TD><TD><FONT>99 mins.</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Chapters</TD><TD><FONT>28</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Picture</TD><TD>Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1&nbsp;</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Sound</TD><TD>Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1<BR>Cantonese <IMG SRC='http://www.totaldvd.net/images/dts.gif' ALIGN='ABSMIDDLE' border='0' ALT='DTS Soundtrack'> 5.1</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Subtitles</TD><TD>Japanese, English</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Case</TD><TD>Amaray with Slipcase</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Extras</TD><TD>None</TD></TR></TABLE><P STYLE='text-align: center'>If you would like to comment on this review, please reply below.</P>
     
  2. bruce-leroy

    bruce-leroy
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    Hi Seth,

    People who won't watch films with subtitles are a bit ignorant, and are missing out on a hell of a lot! For example, they will miss out on the very good French actioner Baneliue 13.

    I think Kung Fu Hustle is excellent, although I couldn't say it was better than his previous Shaolin Soccer. Before the latter, I always thought Chow's films were very hit and miss. Films like King of Comedy and and the Bond spoof From Beijing with Love are my faves from his "pre CGI" era.

    The Japanese Superbit version may be very good AV wise, but I would have to recommend (especially for fans of the movie) the Hong Kong R3 2 disc SE of Kung Fu Hustle. It is similar to the R1 release except it is uncut, and most of the extras on disc 2. It has great AV, DTS, and a plethora of English subtitled extras. Can be bought for much cheaper than the Japanese versions too I should imagine. :)
     
  3. Simon Crust

    Simon Crust
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    Seems I've been a bit enthusiastic about it all !

    At the time of writing I'd not seen any other copies, have now managed to view an R1 and an R3, although not in a disc by disc comparison (perhaps we could look at doing that Stuart/Phil?).

    Whilst I still maintain the superbit does still have the better picture quality, it is marginal, and the sound appears very, very similar (I was not viewing on my own system).

    You will notice I did qualify my recommendation and I stand by it; but the quality difference is so fractional I can see many, if not all, opting for a host of extras as value wise there is no contest.

    Thanks for reading, and your comments.

    Simon
     
  4. west

    west
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    If you think this is worse than Shaolin Soccer then this must be a truly abysmal movie and not in the slightest bit amusing. I have also seen Stephen Chow in a Jet Li movie, the name eludes me now, which was also truly dreadful. Steven Chow appeared to loosely base the character on Jackie Chan while wearing a yellow jumpsuit synonymous with Bruce Lee.

    EDIT BY WEST: or maybe that was jacky cheung in the jet li movie :oops:
     
  5. bruce-leroy

    bruce-leroy
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    The movie you are alluding too is called High Risk. Jacky Cheung sends up Jackie Chan (apparently) in the movie, and wears the yellow jumpsuit.
     
  6. a5ian300zx

    a5ian300zx
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    yeah i seen that one High Risk AKA Meltdown.

    Has anyone got a copy Of kung fu hustle in english and in orignal Spoken DTS.

    I just bought one of a guy on ebay. Region 1 but with added Chinese DTS sound track.
     
  7. firefoxx

    firefoxx
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    i thought this was a good film, and much preferred it to Shaolin Soccer.
     

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