SPL DVD Review (Region 3)

Seth Gecko

retired member
<P STYLE='text-align: center'><FONT STYLE='font-size: 18px'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/SPL/SPLR3.jpg' ALT='SPL DVD cover artwork' ALIGN='RIGHT'>SPL</FONT><br>Reviewed February 2006 by <A HREF='search.php?do=process&query=Cas Harlow&showposts=1&forumchoice[]=107&forumchoice[]=197' target='_top'>Cas Harlow</A>.</P><P><B>The Movie : 8</B></P><P>Infernal Affairs was probably the pinnacle of the East Asian cop drama, one of the best police tales that we have ever seen in the world (or probably ever will see, begging the question: why is Hollywood remaking it?) but Asian cinema does not seem content there, each subsequent year churning out another solid effort, whether it be an Infernal Affairs sequel, or a new variation like Divergence. SPL sees one of the first major lead part for Donnie Yen (following his excellent effort in the wire-fu epic Seven Swords), in the fairly unusual role (at least for him) of a maverick police detective.</p><P>Inspector Chan is desperate to see Triad boss Wong Po behind bars, but after the death of a witness and the news that he has a potentially fatal brain tumour, Chan renews his vow to take down Wong, no matter what the cost. After three years of hard work, however, it becomes clear that he needs some new, young blood to inject the case with fresh energy. Enter the too-cool-for-school Ma, a maverick detective who jumps at the challenge of taking down the big boss.</p><P>As time progresses, Ma becomes increasingly aware of Chan’s obsession with taking down Wong, getting worried about the unit Chan set up who are prepared to go to any lengths – including ‘suiciding’ witnesses themselves – to get the big man himself. After an elaborate frame, the line between good and bad gets most definitely blurred and Wong’s main assassin, a man dressed in white who wields a rather sharp blade comes out of the shadows to start cleaning house. It is soon left upon Ma’s shoulders to turn against his own unit or take down Wong once and for all.</p><P>The name SPL is a reference to the three main characters in the movie and, as such, they picked three superb leads to carry the proceedings. Sammo Hung is remarkably good as the main bad guy, the boss Wong Po. Not only does he look quite imposing in the part, but he manages to shrug all of his more comedic prior antics in this fairly serious role – and also get in a little bit of martial arts action too (I bet fans have been eagerly awaiting a standoff between him and Donnie Yen and here we get not one but two). The lead detective, Inspector Chan, is played by Simon Yen, who has had a couple of Hollywood crossover roles recently, starring opposite both Steven Seagal and Jean Claude Van Damme in their latest direct-to-video endeavours, which weren’t actually that bad. Here he is well chosen to carry off the driven-to-obsession man who will stop at nothing to get his target.</p><P>Then there’s the great Donnie Yen, oozing flair and style whilst still managing to show off his supreme martial arts skills. As I stated, he’s only recently had the opportunity to take the lead in productions and it is well past time – he deserves so many good roles and I am glad that he is finally getting them. He carries off this police detective role well, looking as natural with a gun as he does with his fists out (and looking particularly cool when reloading his revolver super-slickly). For martial arts fans, you should note that he was the fight choreographer and the fights that there are (a couple spaced through the movie and then two major climactic battles at the end, including one great Donnie Yen police baton vs. sword fight) are amongst the best that I have ever seen.</p><P>So, is there a downside to this superior police thriller with a decent storyline, superb performances, solid gunfights and outstanding martial arts battles? Well, much as I hate to say it, I was slightly disappointed by the surprise ending. It is not that it comes as a surprise, it is more that it is far too contrived for words – trust me, it is so unbelievable that it will almost certainly leave you more amused than satisfied as the credits roll. Aside from this unnecessary layering of twists over the final few minutes, the movie is generally excellent and well worth your time.</p><P><B>Picture : 8</B></P><P>SPL is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio anamorphically enhanced widescreen transfer that is largely good. The detail is excellent, with decent clarity and no softness, but there is a little grain and some edge enhancement. The colour scheme is quite broad, with lots of bright, sun-drenched scenes as well as misty nightclubs. Blacks are reasonably solid, but occasionally impaired by the aforementioned grain. Overall it is a decent representation of this classy thriller, with no noticeable print defects.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/SPL/SPLR3_1.jpg' ALT='SPL'></P><P><B>Sound : 8</B></P><P>We get two significant versions of the original language track – Cantonese – a Dolby Digital 5.1 effort and a DTS mix, both in there enhanced modes (DD5.1 EX and DTS EX). Both tracks are very good, with dialogue presented clearly from the frontal array and the overbearing but perfectly apt score giving the surrounds plenty to do. There are a few nice effects – car crashes and fist fights – to also keep you occupied and occasionally you do get a nice feel for the whole movie enveloping you in the action. Although neither tracks are exceptional, they are both solid examples of their kind. We also get a Mandarin dub in Dolby Digital 5.1 EX for completeness and English subtitles that are largely coherent and easy to understand.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/SPL/SPLR3_2.jpg' ALT='SPL'></P><P><B>Extras : 6</B></P><P>Although this is a two-disc release, that is mainly because of the efforts they have gone to in presenting the movie so well, rather than due to the wealth of extras. There are in fact only a couple of significant extras, with the first disc sporting just a theatrical trailer and the second disc having a Making-Of Documentary, some TV Spots, a Photo Gallery Slideshow and a long Press Conference Featurette. The Documentary runs at just under ten minutes in length and features interviews with the main participants (both cast and crew), some background into the production, behind the scenes footage and plenty of filler excerpts from the main movie itself. The Press Conference is over twenty minutes long and has the main cast (including Donnie Yen, Simon Yam et al. – but no Sammo Hung) and some of the crew answering questions and talking about the production. Much more informative and less fluffy than the Making-Of, it is a solid addition to the proceedings. Thankfully for all the extras there are English subtitle options throughout.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/SPL/SPLR3_3.jpg' ALT='SPL'></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. The disk averaged at 9.18 Mbps.</p></P><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/SPL/SPLR3_BR.jpg' ALT='SPL'></P><P><B>Verdict : 7</B></P><P>East Asia is currently one of the frontrunners for creating new, cleverly conceived and well-realised police thrillers that are generally far more original than anything Hollywood has to offer (to such an extent that Hollywood feels the need to just remake them). SPL is another classy, stylish, gritty and entertaining affair which showcases the much anticipated face-off between two martial arts masters (Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung), as well as another superior leading role for Donnie – and not before time. The video and audio presentation are both solid and totally in line with the production, as are the few nice extras. Overall, it is definitely worth a rental and probably worth risking as a blind-buy, particularly for fans of the participants or the genre.</p><div ALIGN='CENTER'>Review Disc Supplied and Shipping NOW from <a href="http://www.cdwow.com" target=”_blank> <img src="http://www.avforums.com/news/images/20051110203304.jpg" 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>SPL (2005)</B></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=Crime' target='_blank'>Crime</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=exact&searchfield=genre&search_for=Drama' target='_blank'>Drama</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=exact&searchfield=genre&search_for=Thriller' target='_blank'>Thriller</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=Wilson Yip' target='_blank'>Wilson Yip</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=Ken Chang' target='_blank'>Ken Chang</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=Sammo Hung Kam-Bo' target='_blank'>Sammo Hung Kam-Bo</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=Timmy Hung' target='_blank'>Timmy Hung</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=Kai Chi Liu' target='_blank'>Kai Chi Liu</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=Danny Summer' target='_blank'>Danny Summer</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65'><B>Region</B></TD><TD><B>3</B> <FONT>(Hong Kong)</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Supplier</TD><TD><FONT>Abba Movies Co. Ltd.. Released Wednesday 11th January 2006</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>SRP</TD><TD><FONT>$16.49</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Discs</TD><TD><FONT>2</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>93 mins.</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Chapters</TD><TD><FONT>12</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Picture</TD><TD>Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1&nbsp;</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Sound</TD><TD>Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 <IMG SRC='http://www.totaldvd.net/images/EX.gif' ALIGN='ABSMIDDLE' border='0' ALT='Dolby Digital EX Soundtrack'> EX<BR>Cantonese <IMG SRC='http://www.totaldvd.net/images/dts.gif' ALIGN='ABSMIDDLE' border='0' ALT='DTS Soundtrack'> 5.1 ES<BR>Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 <IMG SRC='http://www.totaldvd.net/images/EX.gif' ALIGN='ABSMIDDLE' border='0' ALT='Dolby Digital EX Soundtrack'> EX</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Subtitles</TD><TD>English, Chinese</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Case</TD><TD>Amaray</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Extras</TD><TD>Making Of Featurette<BR>Trailer<BR>TV Spots<BR>Press Conference Featurette<BR>Photo Gallery</TD></TR></TABLE><P STYLE='text-align: center'>If you would like to comment on this review, please reply below.</P>


great review!
but small correction....Abba Films is the production company of the film.
Deltamac manufactured the dvd.


Distinguished Member
Agreed, A Top Review.
I really enjoyed this, both the great film and the excellent DVD. I have never really watched much in the way of Asian Cop movies, sticking more to the Martial Arts and Horrors, but if this is anything to go by I will have to start looking at some more outside of this and Infernal Affairs :thumbsup:


Distinguished Member
Mark_a said:
That's seems to be an mighty high bit-rate used on this disc.


All adds up to Great Pic and Excellent Sound. I have seen a few DVDs with high Bitrate which are awful, this certainly doesnt fall in that catagory :smashin:

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