CHINA STRIKE FORCE Studio: CMC Year: 2000 Rated: R Film Length: 91 minutes Aspect Ratio: 16X9 encoded 2.35:1 Audio: DD 5.1 (English) Extras: Promos Release Date: August 26, 2003 Movie... Ok, so don’t clobber me. I confess that this movie isn’t my usual cup of tea but I'll do my best to be fair for the fans out there. CHINA STRIKE FORCE follows in the tradition of the Chinese action-adventure (which Jackie Chan has helped popularize here in the U.S.) and as such is an acceptable movie with entertainment value. I didn’t find it as involving or dynamic as some of the better-directed Chan films, but I’m sure there are plenty of fellow citizens who enjoy or would enjoy this film. My primary criticisms are that the acting seems flat, and while it appears that the actors are indeed speaking English in the film (following their lips), the dialogue has a very distinctive "dubbed" sound which I found a bit jarring. Then again…maybe this is how movies of this genre are supposed to look/feel. I’m not an expert, but it seems that this film was not produced with an American audience in mind per-se. In that sense, I reserve passing final judgment as often different cultural perspectives can result in misreading the film-style of a particular movie (i.e. what seems corny to one audience or cultural group may seem serious to another). Story... The movie is filmed on location in Shanghai, and that may add some interest for those expecting the more usual Hong Kong. The basic plot centers around a Chinese police team who try to put a halt an organized crime’s drug deal. Where this movie certainly does shine is in the action. There is a rather invigorating car-chase scene and the finale involves a helicopter that is guaranteed to thrill. Picture... From a 2-3 screen-width viewing distance the image of this 16x9 encoded 2.35:1 transfer is generally pleasing and film-like in presentation. Some print damage (speckles) is present from time to time but nothing major. Colors are generally muted in tone…which is mostly likely the way they appear in the film elements (indeed, most of what is not to be praised about the picture quality of this DVD has more to do with the source elements and less to do with any digital mastering). My real criticism has to do with the "noisy blacks" (film grain?) that appear to challenge MPEG compression a bit and don’t feel as solid and deep as one would hope. My TV often makes dark scenes appear more noisy than they do on some other systems so your mileage with the black issue may vary (feel free to post your own impressions in this thread once you’ve got the disc). Edge halos are visible around credit titles, but don’t seem to intrude in any distracting way in the live-action video content. Detail seems adequate from 2 screen widths and sharpens up and looks much more resolved at 2-3+ widths (from where most people will view). Overall the film-tape transfer seems to be pretty good, the real caveat being that one wonders if a better print (with more saturated color or more solid black-level rendition) would have been available, however, I think most fans will be pleased. Given the choice, I’d rather a DVD that looks like a slightly muted print than one that looks like a vivid “video”. Honestly, considering the no-frills treatment of this DVD (no insert/extras) I was surprised to find the picture looking as good as it does. Picture Rating: Picture: 4 / 5 Sound... The 5.1 mix is VERY well delivered if one can overlook the “dubbed” character of the dialogue dialogue (which never quite integrates properly into the otherwise fantastic sounding mix). Surround use is plentiful and forms a cohesive sound-field that pulls the movie action into the room. I’m actually quite impressed with this 5.1 DD mix. It’s rare to find a movie that uses the surround channels effectively this way. The end result is that rather than hearing a “front heavy” soundstage with occasional effects thrown behind you, the sensation is more like a big swirl of sound that just fills the space seamlessly. Very nicely done. Oddly, the car-chase scene (one of the two big action sequences in the film) didn’t use the rear channels as much as I would have thought given the obvious talent that the audio mixers had on their hands. But without sitting there with your ear glued to the surround speaker waiting for something to happen...it won’t bother you (how many of us sick-o’s out there can’t even enjoy a “movie” anymore because we just sit there waiting to see if something comes out of our surround speakers! Don’t deny it...you KNOW who you are! ) The Helicopter scene makes a perfect use of the surround channels to create a cohesive sound-field that pulls the listener into the film and is an excellent example of surround use that both creates a 360 degree sound-field full of atmosphere and at the same time delivers the action-effect goods. Very good, mixing-guys, whoever you are. So, shaving off half a point for the “dubbed” sounding dialogue... Sound: 4.5 / 5 1/2 Extras... Zip, unless you count the “promos” for other similar films as an extra. Oh heck...let’s let it count so we can at least have one special feature to talk about! There are promos for other films included on this disc to provide endless enjoyment for curious viewers. Conclusion... If you’re into the Hong-Kong style Chinese action-adventure movies then you’ll probably enjoy giving this film a try. A reasonable 16x9 transfer and excellent 5.1 DD audio will help make watching this film on DVD a joy for the fans.