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Jackie Chan Double Feature: Crime Story / The Protector Blu-ray Review



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#1 of 18 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted January 09 2013 - 02:11 PM

Shout! Factory kicks off its 2013 martial arts movie releases with a double feature of Jackie Chan films from the ‘80s and ‘90s – “The Protector” and “Crime Story.” While certainly not the most popular entries in the international superstar’s filmography, they do provide an interesting glimpse at his career prior to his bonafide crossover into Hollywood. The high definition presentations are about what you’d expect for this type of film and its vintage, meaning there’s just as much good as bad. Still, this shouldn’t be anything new for longtime followers of the genre.


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Jackie Chan Double Feature: Crime Story / The Protector

Release Date: January 15, 2013
Studio: Shout! Factory
Packaging/Materials: Blu-ray keepcase
Year: 1993 / 1985
Rating: NR
Running Time: 1:47:18 / 1:35:27
MSRP: $19.93


  THE FEATURE SPECIAL FEATURES
Video AVC: 1080p high definition 1.85:1 High and standard definition
Audio Crime Story: DTS-HD Master Audio: Cantonese 5.1, English 5.1 / Dolby Digital: Cantonese 2.0, English 2.0 The Protector: DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1 / Dolby Digital: English 2.0 Various
Subtitles English Various

The Features

Two of Jackie Chan’s lesser known films, produced eight years apart and representing different stages in the international superstar’s career, make up Shout! Factory’s latest double feature release, and the first of several of his older titles the company plans to bring to Blu-ray.


First up, is the 1993 police actioner “Crime Story,” directed by Kirk Wong. Inspired by the gruesome 1990 kidnapping of businessman Teddy Wang, the film stars Chan as a Hong Kong detective assigned to protect a wealthy real estate developer who’s got more than his fair share of enemies. Although the film travels some familiar territory, especially with the precedent of the “Police Story” series, it’s also a significant departure as Chan plays a darker and, at times, more brutal, character who’s grappling with psychological demons. The action scenes also tend more toward gunfights, car chases, and explosions, with only a handful of fight scenes when all is said and done. While those sequences are impressive in the way only Chan can make them (the one atop a bamboo scaffold especially), they’re also consistent with the film’s darker tone and will inevitably run counter to expectations of him as a lovable kung fu clown. Those prepared for a more serious turn, however, should find plenty of thrills in “Crime Story,” though some of the more dramatic sections could be trimmed down to play up the film’s ultimate selling point. 3.5/5


But even a trim run time isn’t enough to salvage the 1985 film “The Protector.” Director James Glickenhaus’ crime drama represents Chan’s second, failed attempt (after 1980’s “The Big Brawl”) to crossover into Hollywood. Though it has a similar kidnapping motif as “Crime Story” (and happens to star Danny Aiello as Chan’s cop partner), its action sequences range from dull and uninspired to ridiculously over-the-top, no thanks to Glickenhaus disregarding Chan’s input and experience about that type of thing. The dramatic scenes are also the epitome of clichéd, with plot points that are often nonsensical (Glickenhaus seems to think New York City was a hotbed of random, senseless violence). Chan eventually re-edited the film for its release in Asia, addressing some of the pacing and story problems and tightening up and extending the action scenes. It’s a slight improvement from the original edit; however, there’s no amount of editing that can fix something that’s just poorly conceived and executed from the start. The only upside to “The Protector” is it motivated Chan to direct and co-write “Police Story,” which remains one of his most popular and entertaining films. Talk about taking lemons and making lemonade. 2/5


Video Quality

The quality of the films’ transfers – both framed at 1.85:1 and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec – mirrors the quality of the films themselves, with “Crime Story” looking superior to “The Protector.” The former does show signs of digital processing, namely some mild doses of grain reduction, but otherwise black levels, contrast and color are all strong to decent, depending on the scene in question. Some dust and scratches pop up on occasion, but not enough to be distracting. Detail of course is less than it should be given the processing, but sharpness nevertheless holds up well from close ups to establishing shots. 3/5


The same can’t be said for “The Protector,” whose main problems are its overly soft image and frequently compressed contrast. Black levels and color are fine by comparison, but it’s hard to appreciate when you feel like rubbing your eyes for most of the movie. Yet despite its obvious problems, the transfer often looks more filmlike than “Crime Story,” suggesting this is the best Shout! Factory had to work with. 2/5


Audio Quality

Audio quality is a little more consistent between features, though “Crime Story” once again bears the superior mix and presentation. Dialogue in the Cantonese language 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is clear and intelligible. Surround channels provide some support for the soundtrack and environmental effects, but the mix basically occupies the front speaker array for the entirety of the film. LFE is non-existent, and sorely missed during the copious explosions in the final act, but the overall depth is strong outside of those scenes. 3.5/5


“The Protector” English language 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track features clear and intelligible dialogue, though its surround activity sounds consistently unbalanced and bluntly placed, to the point I was wondering if I shouldn’t just switch to the lossy stereo track. Bass levels go deeper than in “Crime Story,” though they too sound tacked on and ultimately distracting. 2.5/5


Special Features

The collection of bonus material offers a few surprises – namely “The Protector’s” alternate cut. The interview with Glickenhaus is also interesting, if only to hear his side of the story.


Crime Story: 2.5/5

Interview with Director Kirk Wong (10:30, SD): Wong talks about the inspiration for the “Crime Story” script, how he got involved with the project, and his experiences working with Chan.


Deleted Scenes (6:23, SD): The material centers almost exclusively on a romance sub-plot between Chan and a love interest, dubbed in Mandarin.


Original Trailer (3:38, HD)


Theatrical Trailer (1:41, SD)


The Protector: 3.5/5

Alternate Cut (1:28:22, SD): The Asian re-edit removes some of the more “R” rated material and tries to fix some of the story problems – mainly by reincorporating a number of scenes starring Taiwan pop singer Sally Yeh as the niece of one of the Hong Kong crime figures. The action scenes are also noticeably tightened up, for the better, but overall the film is still far from Chan’s best. Picture quality is pretty poor at times, even for standard definition, so the cut is best viewed for illustrative purposes. Presented in Cantonese Dolby Digital 2.0 with burned in English subtitles.


From New York to Hong Kong: Interview with Director James Glickenhaus (9:32, HD): Glickenhaus remains insistent he made the right call about how to present Chan to U.S. audiences, despite evidence to the contrary. Interestingly, he recalls no real conflicts with the star during production, only becoming aware of Chan’s unhappiness after the fact.


Locations Then and Now (4:19, HD): A montage of New York City locations compares recently shot footage to scenes from the film, with Chip Taylor’s closing credits song, “One Up for the Good Guys,” as background audio.


Behind the Scenes Featurette (5:00, SD): The vintage Hong Kong promotional piece is presented with Cantonese as the only audio option.


Hong Kong Trailer (4:00, SD)


U.S. Trailer (:48, SD)


Recap

The Features: “Crime Story” 3.5/5 | “The Protector” 2/5

Video Quality: “Crime Story” 3/5 | “The Protector” 2/5

Audio Quality: “Crime Story” 3.5/5 | “The Protector” 2.5/5

Special Features: “Crime Story” 2.5/5 | “The Protector” 3.5/5

Overall Score (not an average): 3.5/5


Shout! Factory delivers problematic to decent high definition presentations for the first of its Jackie Chan Blu-ray double features. Though “Crime Story” gets the most acceptable marks for video and audio quality, the bonus material for “The Protector” proves the most worthwhile, mainly because it pulls back the curtain a little on a troubled production experience. While the two films are neither the most well regarded or popular of Chan’s films, and are kind of a curious way to start a release series, it’s a worthwhile one for collectors of martial arts films and fans of Chan’s older work, especially at its inevitably reduced price point.




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#2 of 18 OFFLINE   Stoney Jackson

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Posted January 11 2013 - 04:15 AM

These are apparently upscales, but as I don't own either except for VHS copies I will be picking the set up. At least the HK cut of The Protector is anamorphic. I can't wait to see what elements of Police Story 1 and 2 they get to work with. Probably will be upscales as well.

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Posted January 11 2013 - 09:35 AM

Police Story deserves a full Criterion edition restoration. Timeless and massively influential. The blurays released of it so far all come from the same source as the DVD remaster it seems, with the same projector roller scratches popping up across all editions a dead giveaway.

#4 of 18 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted January 11 2013 - 11:27 AM

I am forever hoping for a decent transfer of Drunken Master 2 (unedited), as well as the older films of Zhang Yimou...


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#5 of 18 OFFLINE   Jeffrey Nelson

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Posted January 11 2013 - 11:55 AM

Jackie's classics have had a historically poor showing on video, unfortunately, especially in the U.S. The following films have NEVER had a decent DVD release over here (and by decent I mean uncut, anamorphic, subtitled {NOT dubtitled}, original mono soundtrack in-synch): PROJECT A PROJECT A2 WHEELS ON MEALS POLICE STORY POLICE STORY 2 POLICE STORY 3: SUPERCOP ARMOUR OF GOD ARMOUR OF GOD 2 DRAGONS FOREVER MIRACLES TWIN DRAGONS DRUNKEN MASTER 2 Most domestic and overseas releases of these and many other Hong Kong classics have been shoddy, with horrendous remixed soundtracks containing new rotten foley f/x or mono mixes that are simply downmixes of the aforementioned rotten remixes. When the original mono track is included, it's often out-of-synch, as in Dragon Dynasty's lousy POLICE STORY DVD. Domestic releases are often cut to ribbons as well, such as the LEGEND OF DRUNKEN MASTER, OPERATION CONDOR, and OPERATION CONDOR 2: ARMOUR OF THE GODS abominations. The fans just can't get a break. I'm hoping to holy hell that Shout! Factory uses actual new HD masters of the POLICE STORY films and NOT the usual Fortune Star upconvert garbage. The usual Hong Kong theatrical cut of POLICE STORY was just issued on Blu-ray in Japan, from the usual Fortune Star upconvert garbage with a lousy 7.1 remix, BUT, what makes this worth picking up is the inclusion of the superior extended Japanese cut in actual HD from a 35mm release print with burned-in Japanese subtitles and the original mono track. No English subs unfortunately, but hey, at least they dug up a film print of this incredibly rare version that only surfaced previously on an old Japanese laserdisc. Apparently this version is also included in SD anamorphic without burned-in subs, presumably from the old master used to make the laserdisc. NOW, if Shout! Factory could get its hands on an actual HD master of the HK cut, subtitle it properly, include the original Cantonese mono track and synch it properly, AND manage to get access to the HD and SD masters of the extended Japanese cut, augmenting the subtitles with additions for the extra scenes, we'd have a release in which home video justice was done to this film for the first time in its 28-year history. Ideally, the original international English dub would be included as well, as opposed to the godawful new dub used on the Dragon Dynasty DVD. However, I fear we might just see the same-old same-old, in which case there's absolutely no point in releasing it, and I'll be sticking with my non-anamorphic but uncut mono-tracked in-synch import Deltamac DVD.

#6 of 18 OFFLINE   Ignatius

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Posted January 11 2013 - 12:22 PM

If I can find this one cheaply I might pick it up just for the inclusion of the HK cut of The Protector (with the action scenes that Chan re-shot himself). I could never be bothered to track down a Region 3 import DVD of it. I hope that Shout Factory can pull something out of the bag for Police Story. It really does deserve the Criterion treatment, as Paul mentioned. The local releases for me have all been ports of the British DVDs which were serviceable at least. But that's a film that deserves the royal HD treatment. Unfortunately Shout Factory seems to be taking whatever masters were available and slapping them onto disc, so I'm not holding my breath.

#7 of 18 ONLINE   PaulaJ

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Posted January 12 2013 - 01:06 AM

Ditto on everything Jeffrey Nelson wrote, with the addition of a sentimental favorite: Heart of Dragon Would also love to see decent Blu-ray editions of Jackie's early Bruce Lee-imitation kung fu movies, plus his earliest work where he broke out as a star: Snake in the Eagle's Shadow, Drunken Master. And The Young Master with its mindblowing climatic fight on the cliff between Jackie and Wong In-Shik. Then how about getting started on the Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao movies. If I had a nickel for every wish...!
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#8 of 18 OFFLINE   Stoney Jackson

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Posted January 12 2013 - 01:23 AM

Shout is also doing a double feature of two early Chan movies Killer Meteors and New Fist of Fury...

#9 of 18 OFFLINE   John Weller

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Posted January 23 2013 - 09:33 PM

Jackie's classics have had a historically poor showing on video, unfortunately, especially in the U.S. The following films have NEVER had a decent DVD release over here (and by decent I mean uncut, anamorphic, subtitled {NOT dubtitled}, original mono soundtrack in-synch): PROJECT A PROJECT A2 WHEELS ON MEALS POLICE STORY POLICE STORY 2 POLICE STORY 3: SUPERCOP ARMOUR OF GOD ARMOUR OF GOD 2 DRAGONS FOREVER MIRACLES TWIN DRAGONS DRUNKEN MASTER 2 Most domestic and overseas releases of these and many other Hong Kong classics have been shoddy, with horrendous remixed soundtracks containing new rotten foley f/x or mono mixes that are simply downmixes of the aforementioned rotten remixes. When the original mono track is included, it's often out-of-synch, as in Dragon Dynasty's lousy POLICE STORY DVD. Domestic releases are often cut to ribbons as well, such as the LEGEND OF DRUNKEN MASTER, OPERATION CONDOR, and OPERATION CONDOR 2: ARMOUR OF THE GODS abominations. The fans just can't get a break. I'm hoping to holy hell that Shout! Factory uses actual new HD masters of the POLICE STORY films and NOT the usual Fortune Star upconvert garbage. The usual Hong Kong theatrical cut of POLICE STORY was just issued on Blu-ray in Japan, from the usual Fortune Star upconvert garbage with a lousy 7.1 remix, BUT, what makes this worth picking up is the inclusion of the superior extended Japanese cut in actual HD from a 35mm release print with burned-in Japanese subtitles and the original mono track. No English subs unfortunately, but hey, at least they dug up a film print of this incredibly rare version that only surfaced previously on an old Japanese laserdisc. Apparently this version is also included in SD anamorphic without burned-in subs, presumably from the old master used to make the laserdisc. NOW, if Shout! Factory could get its hands on an actual HD master of the HK cut, subtitle it properly, include the original Cantonese mono track and synch it properly, AND manage to get access to the HD and SD masters of the extended Japanese cut, augmenting the subtitles with additions for the extra scenes, we'd have a release in which home video justice was done to this film for the first time in its 28-year history. Ideally, the original international English dub would be included as well, as opposed to the godawful new dub used on the Dragon Dynasty DVD. However, I fear we might just see the same-old same-old, in which case there's absolutely no point in releasing it, and I'll be sticking with my non-anamorphic but uncut mono-tracked in-synch import Deltamac DVD.

Agreed. The vast majority of classic HK films on DVD and Blu are unnecessarily compromised by pointless tampering.

#10 of 18 OFFLINE   Russell G

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Posted January 24 2013 - 05:43 AM

I'm seeing this disc priced so cheap I'm tempted to pick it up despite knowing the films are going to suck. :S



#11 of 18 OFFLINE   John Weller

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Posted January 24 2013 - 10:09 AM

I'm seeing this disc priced so cheap I'm tempted to pick it up despite knowing the films are going to suck. :S

Crime Story is a very good crime thriller. The Protector is sleazy but fun!

#12 of 18 OFFLINE   bgart13

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Posted January 30 2013 - 05:24 PM

You obviously have never interacted with Cliff before, if you're calling him a liar. He's actually one of the good guys. But what does that matter to you? You're an admitted fanboy and have posted nasty, immature things here before, so...why not call him a liar? Fits the m.o.

#13 of 18 OFFLINE   Cees Alons

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Posted January 30 2013 - 09:11 PM

Zolly,


We're not pleased on this forum if posts contain very personal attacks.

In my opinion your calling someone a liar went too far. The post has been removed.


Please also consider yourself warned in a more general way.



Cees



#14 of 18 OFFLINE   John Weller

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Posted January 31 2013 - 09:42 AM

I think it's likely FS do genuine hd transfers...just very crummy ones.

#15 of 18 OFFLINE   Russell G

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Posted January 31 2013 - 09:48 AM

Or they're just up-converting and saying they are HD transfers. They technically aren't lying. Based on the review of the Crime Story disc, you get two movies that look better then previous releases, for $14. It's not the worst deal when their absolutely shit VHS releases in the 90's where so expensive.


I'll probably bit on both of them eventually.



#16 of 18 OFFLINE   FanboyZ

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Posted January 31 2013 - 11:03 AM

The fact that the elements weren't refused is dishonest in itself.

#17 of 18 OFFLINE   Russell G

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Posted January 31 2013 - 12:28 PM

Originally Posted by FanboyZ 

The fact that the elements weren't refused is dishonest in itself.

There are about a billion people in the Warner Archives thread that would argue you that it's better to have a decent release than no release at all.



#18 of 18 OFFLINE   John Weller

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Posted January 31 2013 - 09:50 PM

The fact that the elements weren't refused is dishonest in itself.

The problem is Fortune Star is know for refusing to supply even when requested. These contracts are strictly on FS's terms. Why people enter into contracts with this tacky company instead of holding out for them to crack...





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