The Myth DVD Review (Region 0)

Seth Gecko

retired member
<P STYLE='text-align: center'><FONT STYLE='font-size: 18px'><IMG SRC='' ALT='The Myth DVD cover artwork' ALIGN='RIGHT'>The Myth</FONT><br>Reviewed November 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 : 6</B></P><P><b>A legend resurrects. An epic hero rises</b></p><P>Jacky Chan is a world phenomenon. If mega-stardom was measured as a proportion of films made and fan base then Chan would dominate the world. However, like many of his Asian peers, his success outside of his native country is slightly less than stellar, Hollywood diluting the Chan the world knew to a shadow of his former self. In fact it could be said his popularity was waning. That all changed in 2004 with New Police Story, a triumphant return to his own soil and discovering hitherto untapped depths to Chan’s acting ability, the film was an instant success and the world forgave him his Hollywood hiatus. It was on the strength of this film that Chan announced to the world, well Hong Kong anyway, that he was heading in a different direction; out are the Police heroes, in are more dramatic roles. To this end, his third collaboration with Stanley Tong was announced, touted to be an epic period drama incorporating modern elements. That film was to be The Myth, released just two months ago, is it the new direction Chan wants, or is it just more of the same? The answer is a bit of both, the review does contain major <i>spoilers</i>.</p><P>The Myth is really two films that only come together at the end. Film one sees Jack Chan (Jacky Chan), an internationally renowned archaeologist with a strict code of ethics, he abhors tomb raiders, licking his wounds after his latest funding ran out. William (Tony Leung Ka Fai), his best friend and internationally renowned scientist specialising in physics, more especially anti-gravity, comes to visit and enlist him in his quest to enter a tomb in India reported to have a floating sarcophagus. After initial reluctance Jacky agrees and the pair soon find themselves at said tomb and the stories are true, the sarcophagus does indeed float. While Jacky video records the inscriptions, William notices and removes a strange looking rock, this action causes the sarcophagus and accompanying sword to fall to ground. In the ensuing foray William and Jacky are separated, William escapes in a helicopter with the mysterious rock, while Jacky is swept away after falling in a river with the sword. He washes up on a bank and is cared for by an Indian princess Samantha (Mallika Sherawat). Whilst in her care he discovers that the dreams he is having maybe from a past life which is as good an explanation as any for why she helps him escape back to Hong Kong.</p><P>Once reunited the two friends quickly disagree about the found artefacts, Jacky insisting that the sword, a genuine Qin Dynasty sword, be returned to the national museum, William would prefer it be sold to finance his experiments because the rock is in fact a meteorite and holds the key to anti-gravity. Unbeknownst to him, William has been finance by Mr. Ku (Sun Zhou), he is an evil tomb robber, but still manages to persuade William into tricking Chan one last time. The goal this time is the lost Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shihuang, the lucky pair find the likely area and Chan manages to gain entrance, the entire structure is huge, containing soldiers and horses worthy of an Emperor, all held in a state of weightlessness. Mr Ku is not far behind and the pair wrestle with each other, ultimately costing both everything they hold dear.</p><P>The second film sees General Meng Yi (Jacky Chan) charged with the responsibility of safeguarding the beautiful princess Ok-soo (Hee-seon Kim) concubine to Emperor Qin. The escort is ambushed by bandits and in saving the princess Meng Yi is forced to jump the pair into a river, they are swept far away from their destination. On their return journey the two discover an unprecedented amount of freedom hitherto unknown in their lives of strict duty; they form a close bond that turns to love, however, both are ultimately bound by their duty and they return to the Emperors land, swearing to each other to live on. During the waning years of Emperor Qin’s life he built the massive mausoleum, but was fascinated by immortality. Rebel factions controlled by the Emperors aids try to force his death by stopping the immortality pill from ever reaching him; Meng Yi is charged to return it. On his way to retrieve it Ok-soo swears she will stay alive and wait for him, Meng Yi swears he will return to her. In the climatic battle that follows, Meng Yi is forced to take on the might of the rebel army alone, as the body count mounts and his wounds increase can he defeat the insurmountable numbers of the army and return to keep his promise?</p><P>The two stories are linked by the common factor of Chan, it is in his dreams that we see the fate of Meng Yi and Ok-soo and when the two stories finally come together it is ultimately their closure that we see, in a rather downbeat but not entirely unexpected result. The story is part historical drama, part comedy, part mythology, part science fiction, all epic and tinged with tragedy; all the ingredients to make a hugely successful film. Unfortunately there are one or two problems that hold the film back from greatness.</p><P>First, and most obvious, the film <i>plays</i> like two films, the transition between the separate stories is clunky and obvious, never smooth as if we are watching a single film with flashbacks. This is made worse by Tong’s use of a fish eye lens to squeeze the picture making everything artificially thin, it doesn’t last for long, and it was probably used as a devise to help enforce the idea of flashback, but it was still the damn annoying and unnecessary. Each element has its own beginning, middle and end and although the attempt to gel everything together at the end tries valiantly to work, it never really succeeds leaving a rather unsatisfactory feeling. As a consequence of this patchwork, the individual plots become very jumbled. The ‘A’ story should have been the modern day escapade, but Tong opts to have extremely epic and grandiose sets for the history elements, this has the effect of sticking in ones mind, and with the sweeping and dramatic score overtakes the ‘A’ story every time it’s on.</p><P>Secondly is the acting from Chan himself, he reached a new depth with New Police Story and his intention was to continue here, however, as Ming Ye he plays it almost dead pan, neither anger of love are present in his performance, the two emotions most required by the character, instead there is a gruff aloof, or stony faced indifference. This rubs off between the chemistry between him and Hee-seon Kim, their love is one that is supposed to cross the ages, however it looked unlikely to last till lunchtime.</p><P>Finally, the effects, what went wrong? We all know Chan is getting on now, so wire work and CGI are creeping into his films, but never so badly. The CG is just awful and stands out like a sore thumb; green screen, snakes, impaling swords, jumps all look terrible and set apart from their surroundings. Wire work was confined to the anti gravity portion of the film and looked for the most part very effective.</p><P>Now I realise these elements are painting a rather sad picture of the film, but I must stress I only point them out because I cared so much for the it; after my first viewing I was overwhelmed with the spectacle, even if I knew in my heart about the story elements causing problems. There are some spectacular set pieces throughout the film as well as vintage Chan too. The Historic elements are filmed with such gusto that they cannot help but come across as epic. This is enhanced by Gary Chase and Nathan Wang sweeping score that just builds and builds! There are two main themes used, one for the battling, the other for the tragedy; they take elements from Klaus Badelt’s score for Pirate of the Caribbean and Clint Mansell’s incredible score for Requiem for a Dream respectively. These powerful themes really enforce the visuals, Meng Ye’s epic struggle against the hordes of rebels set to that music is pure cinematic class. Added to that the use of actual weapons and the infliction of actual harm, with blood, something never seen in Chan films, you have a very powerful climax. The Modern portion makes use of a newly sung theme tune, Endless Love, itself equally as inspiring and does set of the visuals for its purpose. But in comparison the latter pales, the tragic realisation of Ok-soo at the loss of her lover and her continued fruitless waiting lacked the impact needed to pull it to the actual climax of the film. Again in contrast to the epic feel of the historical portions, the modern element seems as if it were filmed in a rush, the plot contrivances come thick and fast and have to be accepted before moving on. The entire section with Samantha in India, though great fun, and containing that glue scene, seemed out of place, somehow tacked on to increase the run time.</p><P>Talking of borrowing themes, there are a number of set pieces that too are ‘borrowed’; off the top of my head the first attack on Ok-soo’s caravan utilised a fire arrows and rolling bails of hey, from Troy, trick. The final fight in the weightless environment of the mausoleum had an extreme Matrix vibe, even down to Mr Ku’s attire. When it goes out on its own though the film produces some excellent ideas, the fight on a glued convey belt using items of clothing to move along is comedy from Chan’s prime and expertly used. Chan and Tong have tried to meld plenty of different ideas into the film, historical detail is reasonable (at least with costume and names), the science is nonsense and then there is the overall theme of mythology; reincarnation. Such heavy going mythology may put off some western audiences, no explanation is given rather it is accepted, it being part of their religion.</p><P>After the credits had rolled I was left with the feeling of being entertained, and that is what is important about any film. I can forgive the differentiated plots, the bad acting, look past the crappy effects to sit back and be entertained. What I cannot forgive is Chan’s insistence that things will be different, because as far as I can see from The Myth, there is precious little that is different; really this is a sideways step from New Police Story rather than a moving forward. The Myth doesn’t deserve the panning it seems to be getting, perhaps it’s backlash for his remarks, or disappointment, but whatever the reason I’d urge all to make up their own minds. This may not be vintage Chan, nor is it new Chan, it is an uncomfortable meld of the two. He and Ting have thrown many ideas at the screen and luckily some have stuck, there being enough to give a satisfactory experience.</p><P><B>Picture : 9</B></P><P>The disc has been given a theatrically correct 2.35:1 anamorphically enhanced for widescreen TVs with an average bitrate of 8.29 Mbps. Wow. I will wager that this is the best looking Asian film thus far release. In fact I’ll go so far as to say its one of the best looking transfers I’ve seen. First of all the print is absolutely pristine, not a blemish anywhere and what’s more is not a hint of film grain, anywhere, it is stunning in its clarity. Add to that a detail level seldom seen outside of high definition and you have a picture as clear and as bright as day. Wing-Hung Wong’s stunning cinematography is given the full treatment, his reds and blues of the caravan shine off the screen against the sandy background colour of the mountains, sweeping camera movements capture all the photography in all its splendour never any wash or bleed. Flesh tones are spot on and skin detail is immaculate. Brightness and contrast are set to give full rich deep blacks pulling depth to the screen. Digitally there was not a hint of compression artifacting neither was there any edge enhancement; an astonishingly good transfer.</p><P>However, it can’t all be good, the progressive scan with the NSTC transfer did give a rather jerky movement to the landscape sweeps (prepared to accept this might be my player) and the quality of the authoring has highlighted some of the poorer visual effects. Green screen backgrounds do tend a bit toward the grey and there is a poor transition between film and CG; this however is a problem with the original print, not the processing.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='' ALT='The Myth'></P><P><B>Sound : 8</B></P><P>The film has been given two Cantonese 5.1 tracks, Dolby digital and DTS. The first thing that strikes about the DTS track is how loud it is, far louder than the Dolby. Next thing that strikes is the separation, it is extremely widely separated, normally this is good news but in this case the overall mix didn’t hold the separation together. Ok, that is a bit of an oxymoron, what I mean is each speaker had its own definition and was clearly audible, particularly for the centre speaker, separately in the mix giving an ‘angular experience’. Compare this to the Dolby where the mix is at a far closer nit, wide separation but the mix is held tight together giving a ‘rounded experience’. Which you prefer will depend on your listening style, personally I felt the wider separation of the DTS opened up the sound stage further than my amp has ever performed before, I loved it. However if you prefer a tighter mix then the Dolby is for you. Tonally both kept a decent range, the DTS wins out on the bass levels, the Dolby has a slightly more pronounced mid section. What both can agree on the surround effects. Neither disappoint there, be it dialogue direction, the thunder of the horses, the clang of sword on shield all the speakers get in on the action to fill the room and place you in the centre of the battle field(s). The score too is faithfully reproduced, an all encompassing surge of music, enough to keep the neighbours awake. Both tracks are very dynamic and equally as engaging as each other, however, I felt that neither stood out as reference.</p> <P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='' ALT='The Myth'></P><P><B>Extras : 8</B></P><P>The set under review here is the limited edition collectors box set, limited to 5000 copies world wide, this one is 3507. In the set there are four book marks, a certificate of authenticity, a cardboard stand, a four inch terracotta sculpture of a Qin Dynasty figure hidden inside a block of earth to be excavated by you and all contained within a plush box set. There are three discs to the set, and all have extras.</p><P>Disc one is host to an audio commentary featuring director Stanley Tong, producer Barbie Tung and art designer Oliver Wong. This can be selected as audio and it is also subtitled. There is hardly a moment to pause for breath; so much information is given about all aspects of the fil, from their respective areas. Tong is frank and informative about his product, much time is spent on any subject he cares to discuss and there is much, be it locations, sets, casting, script changes, shot designs or historical facts. A hugely informative talk that keeps on going well into the credits explaining the outtakes used!</p><P>Not quite an extra but the main menu has a ‘highlight’ section, that plays all the fights in the film as one section, removing all that unnecessary plot, great for fight hounds.</p><P>Disc two has the majority of the extras and very kindly has an option to view all with subtitles. First up there is the Making of featurette, unlike its Hollywood counterparts the Asian making of is a just that, not a thinly veiled excuse for promotion. There is plenty of behind the scenes camcorder recording along side explanations and interviews with most cast and crew. It is very interesting in a, even if some of the material is repeated below.</p><P>Next up is Behind the scenes part one. There are nine scenes to choose from and all detail setting up and shooting the film, all filmed with camcorder; hugely interesting, if a bit repetitive. One thing that annoyed is that there is no play all function, each part is between a few seconds to ten minutes long and to keep having to select the next bit became a bit of a bore.</p><P>Next up there are two deleted scenes, unfathomably these play consecutively and cannot be played separately, one last for a few seconds, the other about three minutes and follows Williams and Jack’s entrance to the floating tomb, not much here.</p><P>There are two versions of the main theme song as music videos, one in Cantonese, the other in Mandarin, plenty of film clips for both; I actually quite like the tune, preferring the Cantonese one, played in Dolby digital 2.0 stereo.</p><P>Next up is the Hong Kong premier, again all shot on camcorder this seventeen minute piece has plenty to say. Starting off with footage of the crowds and their reactions to the stars it then focuses on the main talent that answer question on stage. As part of the fun the cast and crew opened a ‘floating rock’ that revealed a hidden scroll, itself telling the startling fact that there was thirty six million feet of film to create The Myth, with the copies going to all the major Asian countries and three thousand in China alone the film is quite a record breaker!</p><P>Finally for this disc there is the trailers section, there are theatrical trailers, TV and radio spots to choose from.</p><P>Disc Three plays host to three sections, first up is Behind the Scenes part two. This plays pretty much like part one but with different scenes obviously. There are only five but they play for considerably longer with only one at a few seconds, the majority to ten minutes.</p><P>Next biggest feature for the set is the cast and crew interview section. Pick from Stanely Tong, Jacky Chan, Kim Hee Seon, Tony Leung, Mallika Sherawat, Sun Zhou and Choi Min-Soo to see a brief resume and character description before clicking onto the interview proper. Each participant has between five to twenty minutes in which they answer questions from an unseen interviewer, Jacky and Stanley get the most screen time while Min-Soo has the least, but then his part was essentially a cameo. Many of the basic topics are covered including casting, character development and filming. Perhaps too much to view in one sitting, but nevertheless hugely rewarding.</p><P>Finally there is another chance to see the final credits roll along with the outtakes, this time with DTS at 1536Kbps!</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='' ALT='The Myth'></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 8.29 Mbps.</p></P><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='' ALT='The Myth'></P><P><B>Verdict : 8</B></P><P>I must admit to liking this film, despite its obvious flaws. It may not be Chan at his best, but there is something there. There is no denying the spectacle of the film, every inch an epic, well except the modern bits. There is eye candy galore be it the sweeping landscapes the exotic colours or Hee-seon Kim and Mallika Sherawat. Ignore the plot holes, there is enough to enjoy. As a DVD package this is quite clearly the best one could hope for. Ignoring all the collectors’ edition stuff, if you can, the DVD’s are glorious in there transfer and packed to the gills with extras to keep you going for weeks. With Christmas coming up, put this one on your list.</p><div ALIGN='CENTER'>Review Disc Supplied and Shipping NOW from <a href="" target=”_blank> <img src="" 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>Myth, The (2005)</B></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Genres</TD><TD><A HREF='' target='_blank'>Action</A>, <A HREF='' target='_blank'>Adventure</A>, <A HREF='' target='_blank'>Comedy</A>, <A HREF='' target='_blank'>Drama</A>, <A HREF='' target='_blank'>Fantasy</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Director</TD><TD><A HREF=' Tong' target='_blank'>Stanley Tong</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Stars</TD><TD><A HREF=' Chan' target='_blank'>Jackie Chan</A>, <A HREF=' Kim' target='_blank'>Hee-seon Kim</A>, <A HREF=' Leung Ka Fai' target='_blank'>Tony Leung Ka Fai</A>, <A HREF=' Sherawat' target='_blank'>Mallika Sherawat</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65'><B>Region</B></TD><TD><B>0</B> <FONT>(Hong Kong)</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Supplier</TD><TD><FONT>Joy Sales. Released Monday 21st November 2005</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>SRP</TD><TD><FONT>$49.99</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Discs</TD><TD><FONT>3</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>120 mins.</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Chapters</TD><TD><FONT>24</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Picture</TD><TD>Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1&nbsp;</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Sound</TD><TD>Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kbps)<BR>Cantonese <IMG SRC='' ALIGN='ABSMIDDLE' border='0' ALT='DTS Soundtrack'> 5.1 (768 Kbps)</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Subtitles</TD><TD>Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, English</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Case</TD><TD>Amaray in Collectors limi</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Extras</TD><TD>Making of featurette (18.19 minutes)<BR>Behind the Scenes Part One<BR>Deleted Scenes<BR>Endless Love Mandarin version Music Videos (4.50 minutes)<BR>Endless Love Cantonese version Music Video (4.46 minutes)<BR>Hong Kong Premier (17.12 minutes)<BR>Trailers<BR>Cast and Crew interviews<BR>Behind the scenes part two</TD></TR></TABLE><P STYLE='text-align: center'>If you would like to comment on this review, please reply below.</P>


Well-known Member
Great review. I watched this during the week. I really enjoyed it. It's not a great film, but had plenty of Jackie Chan action and fun plus some truly epic moments.
I thought the picture and sound were amoungst the best I'd ever seen. I have the DTS 1536Kbps version that has no film soundtrack in Dolby Digital.


i actually worked on the translations for the commentary.
i was impressed with the end result on the DVD but not overly satisfied with it. There were some errors and a few location and names that needed to be corrected. At one point, "Yunnan" was mentioned "Wu Nan". Tan Yao-Wen is actually Patrick Tam. so on and so forth. but I still say Joy Sales and I have managed to do one hell of a job in such a rush. (I finished the translations through a couple of all-nighters and had my editor edit it in less than 5 days before the release of the DVD)

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