Ang Lee’s 2007 outing, in Chinese with English sub-titles won’t be for everyone.

We’ll lose a large percentage of the audience because of those sub-titles, as many people don’t like to read, and another group, based upon the NC-17 rating and tasteful, but matter-of-fact nudity. And yet, another group may view it because of the NC-17 rating. People are better than anybody.

It’s also a long film, at over 2 1/2 hours, takes place in a time and location, little known to American movie-goers – Japanese-occupied Shanghai and Hong Kong during the second world war, and concerns secret agents, drama students, and people falling in love with the wrong people.

Beautifully photographed, it’s been released via Kino from a Universal transfer, and the resultant disc is beautiful.

Lust, Caution was a return to Mr. Lee’s native tongue, and I’m not precisely certain where it fits in with the rest of his work, but it needed to be seen properly as part of that oeuvre.

Image – 5

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass
Upgrade from DVD – Yes

RAH

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Robert Harris

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titch

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I saw this theatrically when it was original released and was very taken with Alexandre Desplat's lovely soundtrack. He's now widely used on movie soundtracks but I'd only heard him prior to Lust, Caution on The Painted Veil (2006) and it was immediately apparent that there was an innovative, new musician, making original compositions. I have the Korean blu-ray of Lust, Caution from 2007 and it still projects surprisingly well. This in stark contrast to the really awful Universal blu-ray of Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain - that is an Ang Lee title that desperately needs a new master.
 

James Luckard

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I just popped in the KL disc and unfortunately it has a MAJOR flaw.

The KL disc is missing all onscreen title cards for dates and locations. Here are some examples, captured from the DVD:

vlcsnap-2021-04-20-21h06m31s679.png

vlcsnap-2021-04-20-21h06m47s953.png

vlcsnap-2021-04-20-21h07m33s597.png


These titles are part of Ang Lee's artistic intent and are necessary to properly follow the film, which constantly moves back and forth in time and from place to place.

They were the first thing I looked for, because I was curious to see how KL was going to do them (burned-in or player-generated).

The US DVD presented them burned-in, as they were on US prints, as in the captures above.

The Korean BD didn't have them burned in, with this nice Art Deco font, but it still had them as player-generated subtitles, along with the dialogue subtitles.

The KL disc has the subtitles for the dialogue, but it leaves off all these key informational titles.

The KL disc appears, to my eyes, to use the same HD transfer as the Korean disc, which is fine, it was a nice transfer. However, KL has matted the film to the theatrical 1.85, while the Korean disc was open matte at 1.78.

Hopefully KL will acknowledge this technical error and redo the disc.
 
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Robert Harris

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I just popped in the KL disc and unfortunately it has a MAJOR flaw.

The KL disc is missing all onscreen title cards for dates and locations. Here are some examples, captured from the DVD:

vlcsnap-2021-04-20-21h06m31s679.png

vlcsnap-2021-04-20-21h06m47s953.png

vlcsnap-2021-04-20-21h07m33s597.png


These titles are part of Ang Lee's artistic intent and are necessary to properly follow the film, which constantly moves back and forth in time and from place to place.

They were the first thing I looked for, because I was curious to see how KL was going to do them (burned-in or player-generated).

The US DVD presented them burned-in, as they were on US prints, as in the captures above.

The Korean BD didn't have them burned in, with this nice Art Deco font, but it still had them as player-generated subtitles, along with the dialogue subtitles.

The KL disc has the subtitles for the dialogue, but it leaves off all these key informational titles.

The KL disc appears, to my eyes, to use the same HD transfer as the Korean disc, which is fine, it was a nice transfer. However, KL has matted the film to the theatrical 1.85, while the Korean disc was open matte at 1.78.

Hopefully KL will acknowledge this technical error and redo the disc
Thank you for posting. Will re-visit.
 

James Luckard

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Thank you for posting. Will re-visit.
The first two title cards posted above appear within the first minutes of the film, over the montage of the Shanghai neighborhood, before the film goes inside for the mahjong game. Their absence is easy to notice. Without them, that scene loses a lot of its meaning.

The one saying "Occupied Shanghai, 1942" comes at 01:02, the other one, saying "Residential Compound..." comes at 01:13

The one saying "Four Years Earlier" comes 14:40 in, when the film cuts away from Wong Chia Chi in the cafe, as she remembers how she started as a spy.

There are other title cards in the film, but I don't remember exactly where they are. I knew precisely where those three were, so it was easy to find them.

I can capture more title cards from the DVD, if it's helpful, I'll just need to look for them. I'm pretty sure they appear every time there's a change of time or location.

Note that my timecodes are from the DVD and won't match the BD exactly. I think the KL logo at the head of the film on the BD throws them all off by a few seconds.
 
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James Luckard

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I found another one, at 1:10:55:
vlcsnap-2021-04-21-04h03m37s537.png


There may be more, but I'd have to rewatch the entire film to catch them, they're onscreen only for about two seconds.
 
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Robert Harris

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I found another one, at 1:10:55:
vlcsnap-2021-04-21-04h03m37s537.png


There may be more, but I'd have to rewatch the entire film to catch them, they're onscreen only for about two seconds.
No need to spend time on this. I merely need to check to see if there are some optional titles that can be brought on screen.

If not, then Kino should do a fix.

I’d never seen the film previously, so was blissfully unaware of the missing explanatory titles. Which naturally added a bit of confusion to my viewing.

Thank you, again, for posting this information.
 

James Luckard

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I just took a glance at the iTunes HD version. The title cards are present.
Are they present as burned-in titles, like the 35mm prints and the DVD? Or are they player-generated, like the Korean BD?

I'm wondering if an HD master exists with them burned-in, the original Art Deco font looks so nice.
 

cda1143

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Are they present as burned-in titles, like the 35mm prints and the DVD? Or are they player-generated, like the Korean BD?

I'm wondering if an HD master exists with them burned-in, the original Art Deco font looks so nice.
Player generated? I really wouldn’t know, but I doubt the Apple TV is generating them. I checked again and they are in an art deco font.
 

James Luckard

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Player generated? I really wouldn’t know, but I doubt the Apple TV is generating them. I checked again and they are in an art deco font.

Sorry, I might not have been clear, it's a bit confusing.

What I mean is, do they appear as part of the video file image, in a nice font, like in this DVD capture, which reflects the way they were on 35mm prints:
vlcsnap-2021-04-20-21h06m47s953.png

Those are "burned-in" titles.

Or do they appear as generic text titles that are generated by the device, at the bottom of the frame, along with the subtitles, in the same font, like the Korean BD:
Lust-Caution-Korean-Subs.jpg

Those are "player-generated" titles.

(Note that the titles on the Korean disc appear a second or so off from where they're intended, thus they're over different shots.)

Can you take a photo of this particular title card as it appears on the iTunes HD version? Thanks!
 

James Luckard

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The only reason this is so important is that if the iTunes HD version has the original burned-in titles, that means an HD transfer exists containing them and Universal mistakenly gave the title-free overseas transfer to KL, and KL ought to put the US transfer on a corrected disc.

However, if no HD transfer exists with the title cards, then KL ought to add the titles to the player-generated text, along with the subtitles, like the Korean BD, for their corrected disc.
 

cda1143

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Sorry, I might not have been clear, it's a bit confusing.

What I mean is, do they appear as part of the video file image, in a nice font, like in this DVD capture, which reflects the way they were on 35mm prints:
vlcsnap-2021-04-20-21h06m47s953.png

Those are "burned-in" titles.

Or do they appear as generic text titles that are generated by the device, at the bottom of the frame, along with the subtitles, in the same font, like the Korean BD:
Lust-Caution-Korean-Subs.jpg

Those are "player-generated" titles.

(Note that the titles on the Korean disc appear a second or so off from where they're intended, thus they're over different shots.)

Can you take a photo of this particular title card as it appears on the iTunes HD version? Thanks!
No photo needed. They are definitely from your top photo - the DVD capture, not like the Korean BD. And you are right. Those look far nicer. What a difference.
 

James Luckard

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No photo needed. They are definitely from your top photo - the DVD capture, not like the Korean BD. And you are right. Those look far nicer. What a difference.
Excellent news!!

That means an HD transfer exists with the original burned-in subtitles, and Universal just gave KL the wrong one.

Now we have to hope KL agrees to do a corrected disc.

I will caution everyone not to get too hopeful, I have tried this before with their discs of Bitter Moon, The Interpreter and Blackmail, without success each time, but I'll politely try again. I never give up hope. :)
 

Martin_Teller

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Kino reps are notorious for denying their mistakes and getting super prickly when confronted with them, so yeah... don't hold your breath.
 

Robert Harris

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Kino reps are notorious for denying their mistakes and getting super prickly when confronted with them, so yeah... don't hold your breath.
I've found Kino to be extremely transparent the past couple of years, and would not presume they'd handle this any differently.
 

James Luckard

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I've found Kino to be extremely transparent the past couple of years, and would not presume they'd handle this any differently.
Let's hope for the best. I contacted them through Facebook and sent the captures.

In fairness to Martin, in the three cases I mentioned - Bitter Moon, The Interpreter and Blackmail - KL did deny that the technical issues I politely brought to their attention even existed, but those all were in 2018 and 2019, hopefully things have changed.

They release such an amazing mix of titles, I want to believe they'll give Lust, Caution the release it deserves. :)
 

James Luckard

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KL has announced they will be correcting this disc, hooray!!

"We will create a replacement program for this in a few weeks, most likely by last week of May or first week of June. Please be patient."

Even better, they said the replacement discs will have the original Art Deco font burned-in title cards!!!!

To my knowledge, this will be the first BD in the world to have them that way, all other BDs were overseas, and had the cards in English as player-generated.

So happy to see this!
 
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Carlo Medina

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Thank goodness they'll fix this. Reminds me of a similar error in one of the versions of This Is Spinal Tap. Or maybe they didn't see it as an error, but anyway they replaced the burned in subs by Reiner with player generated subs. Anyone who knows that movie knows that the burned in subs, and more importantly the timing of when the subs popped up onscreen (i.e. when the boys from Spinal Tap are wondering who Bobbi Flekman is, only to have Ian finally explain it to them...and then it's only at that point the subs popped up with her name). I think when they got around to re-releasing it in yet another special edition, the burned in subs were back, and the timing restored.

I'm sure someone involved in that earlier release thought "subs, shmubs, let's let the player do the work!" and of course not only was the comedic timing thrown off, but the player gen subs looked ugly (it may have even been a DVD release where subs looked like 8-bit graphics).