The Beast Stalker Blu-ray Review

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Reviewed by Mark Botwright, 31st May 2009
The Beast Stalker as a package is primarily satisfactory. The film itself is not the greatest the genre has to offer but by the same logic, it is by no mean the worst either. Those without an interest in Hong Kong or Eastern cinema might see fit to mark it down a notch, whilst those with a passion for such things will no doubt raise it slightly higher, particularly when considering that it marks the return to form for Dante Lam. Like Woo’s Red Cliff, it is hard to disentangle enamoured opinions for the film itself from those simply delighted to see a long overdue comeback. Most will fall somewhere in between and just see this as a decent crime thriller that has enough on offer to please the majority. Personally I didn’t care for Tse in the leading role, but he is adequately counter balanced throughout the film by the ever dependable figure of Nick Cheung.

The disc is also somewhat open to interpretation, as the picture will likely divide many. I wavered between admiration of the gritty, grain heavy image, to mild annoyance that I was actually noticing its prevalence in some shots rather than others. The sound keeps things tight and never puts a foot wrong as it holds together the layers of atmosphere added to this bustling city. There could have been more in the way of extras and I’m a bit disappointed to note that the deleted scenes that were on the DVD of the Joy Sales release aren’t present , but by all accounts they added little in the way of interest to the story and thus aren’t a great loss. Of far more importance is the inclusion of a fascinating commentary track.

The sum of the parts are not enough to form the most highly rated Blu-ray package, but when considered next to the quality of the average budget foreign release available (as some are already lamenting over the Machine Girl HMV exclusive!) and the strength of The Beast Stalker’s narrative, this is still worthy of further investigation and will surely be a must have for fans of the genre with a soft spot for mid to late 90s Hong Kong thrillers of this ilk.
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