BLU-RAY REVIEW: Dragon Dynasty November & December Releases
Donnie Yen's Killzone and Chow Yun-Fat's Hard Boiled in hi-def...
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Dragon Dynasty continues to release foreign cinema on home video in the USA, showing audiences and fans in America that fine film isn't only made in the West. To showcase this, two Asian cinema classics have blasted onto Blu-ray in recent weeks, including the 1992 Hong Kong masterpiece Hard Boiled and the 2005 South Korean hit Killzone (aka SPL).
Written and directed by the now famous John Woo, this 1992 film stars the young Chow Yun-Fat. As Inspector 'Tequila' Yuen, Yun-Fat plays a cop who loses his partner in a raid on gun runners and, working with an undercover agent, seeks not only justice, but revenge as well.
Featuring some of the most incredible action sequences ever films, Hard Boiled set the bar for hard core action in the early 1990s, proving Hong Kong's action cinema was not only a force to be reckoned with, but here to stay. Featuring shoot outs on par with the best Hollywood had to offer, Hard Boiled packs more punch than Die Hard. In fact, Chow Yun-Fat shines as Tequila and the awesomeness of this actor eclipses even that of Schwarzenegger in his first films, ensuring Americans - after seeing Hard Boiled - wouldn't forget Yun-Fat or his ability to captivate audiences.
As we now know, both Woo and Yun-Fat would go on to have stellar careers both in Hong Kong and in America, with Woo making such fan-favorites as Broken Arrow and Face/Off and Yun-Fat starring in films like The Corrupter, Bulletproof Monk and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.
Special features on the blu-ray release of Hard Boiled are the same as the "Ultimate Edition" DVD release from 2007. That said, they're still enjoyable. These include a feature length audio commentary by Hong Kong cinema expert Bey Logan, which is well worth listening to (if you haven't heard it already). Logan knows his stuff and anyone who's read his work or listened to his commentary - especially die-hard fans of early Woo films and Asian Cinema - will appreciate this commentary. Four featurettes and interviews are also included: "A Baptism Of Fire: A Featurette With Iconic Director John Woo," which features a director spot-light of sorts on Woo, "Partner In Crime: An Interview With Producer Terence Chang," "Art Imitates Life: An Interview With Co-Star Philip Chan," "Mad Dog Bites Again: An Interview With Leading Villain Kwok Choi," and an on-location short entitled "Hard Boiled Location Guide." A short making-of for the video game "Stranglehold" (starring Yun-Fat) is included here as are both Hong Kong and U.S. theatrical trailers.
For anyone who's an action film fan, Hard Boiled is well worth a watch. In fact, until you've seen Hard Boiled, you really can't consider yourself an action film fan. That said, for Asian action film fans and those who love director John Woo or actor Chow Yun-Fat, look no further than Dragon Dynasty's recent release of Hard Boiled, on Blu-ray December 14.
Known the world over at SPL ('Saat Po Long), this film features the first on-screen showdown between fan favorite martial artists and actors Sammo Hung and Donnie Yen. Marketed as such, the film originally sold potential movie goers on this premise alone. However, upon seeing the film, audiences soon realized Killzone wasn't only a fight-filled film, but also a dramatic, intense, edge of your seat crime drama the likes of which are rarely seen.
Like Hard Boiled, Killzone is truly a must-see film for the action film aficionado. In fact, some fans will go so far as to say Killzone is one of the best action crime films to ever be made; and I'd have to agree. Thanks to the brilliant acting of Yen, Hung, and Simon Yam as well impressive martial arts by the previously mentioned and fellow martial artist Jacky Wu (whose fight with Yen is one for the books), Killzone makes for a visually electrifying experiance. It's only when one watches the film, sees the brilliant direction by Wilson Yip and the dominant acting by Yen, Hung and Yam that one starts to realize the masterpiece laid out here.
Now, thanks to Dragon Dynasty, film fans can bring home Killzone in beautiful hi-def. Included on this disc are also a number of recycled bonus features from the previously released DVD. Sadly, none of the included bonus features are new, though they are still worth checking out if you're a die-hard fan.
Included here is a feature length audio commentary with Hong Kong cinema expert Bey Logan, again worth listening to as Logan goes into everything from the actor's histories and alternate projects to his likes and dislikes about the film photography and more. A making-of featurettes is also included as are two featurettes which focus on the design and development of 2 scenes from the film; these include "Anatomy of a Scene: Alleycats" and "Anatomy of a Scene: Challenge of the Masters."
The blu-ray also includes five interviews/featurettes with the four main stars and film director. Well worth watching for fans who loves the film, these include "Born to Be Bad: An Exclusive Featurette with Incomparable Martial Arts Legend Sammo Hung," "Echoes of Darkness: An Exclusive Featurette with Prolific co-star Simon Yam," "First Amongst Equals: An Exclusive Featurette with Legendary Leading Man and Action-Director Donnie Yen," "A Dragon Rising: An Exclusive Featurette with Explosive Lead-Villain Jacky Wu" and "A Man Apart: An Exclusive Featurette with Visionary Director Wilson Yip." While these are obviously in Cantonese (with subtitles), they range in depth from insightful info from Director Yip to star Hung chatting about the need for more technical martial artists in film.
Lastly, other special features include the Hong Kong theatrical trailer, US promo trailer, and four TV spots.
Killzone isn't to be missed. If you've not seen it and you're a fan of hardcore action and crime films, Killzone is right up your alley. Likewise, if you're a fan of technical martial arts and want to see what would happen if two guys fought like UFC fighters in the real world, check out Killzone. It'll have your heart pumping and your senses set to overdrive. Killzone is available now wherever fine home video is sold.
- Jess C. Horsley