Criterion 'Notorious' - for $5

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Gary Tooze, Jun 25, 2004.

  1. Gary Tooze

    Gary Tooze Producer

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    At DVDBeaver we have come across a few of these in the past 2 years. Direct ports of Criterion DVDs with optional Korean subtitles. We have been told through non-official sources that Criterion have sold certain rights to Korean distributors. Our review of the Seil (Korea) Notorious DVD is HERE. Image, audio, are all exact. Same extras (commentary etc.) with some minor differences (Korean menus and forced Korean subs - on EXTRAS only). It is Region 0 and NTSC.

    Seil is doing a lot of these ports from companies like Fox and Anchor Bay too. Can anyone categorically tell me their legitimacy ? I suspect they are legal. Anyway it is about 1/8th what I paid for my Criterion.

    Regards,
     
  2. Brian Thibodeau

    Brian Thibodeau Supporting Actor

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    I've touched on this topic in a couple threads over the months (all the while trying to avoid blatantly advertising bootlegger product), but today's bootleg DVDs are virtually indistinguishable from legitimate product. A lot of folks want to believe that people buying boots are getting inferior garbage shot off theatre screens, downloaded from the internet or duped from a VHS tape. The sad fact is that's just not the case anymore.

    I wanna believe that that NOTORIOUS DVD is legit, but come on, five dollars? Korean cinema proper is priced on much the same scale as U.S. DVDs, in the $20 - $25 range for new releases. Some Hong Kong imports, even those available through KoreanDVDs.com are routinely bargain priced because Hong Kong distributors aren't often left with much alternative in light of their persistent lack of macrovision encoding and the proliferation of bootleggers throughout Asia and the Asian communities throughout the world. But I don't personally believe Criterion, one of the most over-priced labels on the market, would licence their stuff to an Asian company without once thinking that it might be easily accessible to their own customer base via the web.

    Up here in Canada, Toronto's Asian malls are rife with bootleggers, which makes sourcing out even legitimate Asian DVDs that much more difficult (it is possible, though, and the prices are necessarily low to compete) and in the past few years, there's NOTHING they HAVEN'T copied. And the quality, I'm almost afraid to say, is identical, to the legal stuff. We had a thread here a while back that addressed some of these things and someone else came to the conclusion that someone, somewhere had easy access to the digital source materials that went into making DVDs of not only Asian movies, but all the latest Hollywood blockbusters as well. Virtually every new Hollywood DVD release now turns up in these places and the hordes of people around the boxes looking for goodies are like rabid animals fighting over fresh kill, frantically deliberating with their significant others over cell phones: 'Have we seen this? have we seen that?". It's quite a sight sometimes. I've seen a couple of the discs and they are indeed complete - anamorphic widescreen, DTS, 5.1, extras, commentaries etc. The main difference is the inclusion, at least on the ones I was able to see, of studio-included Chinese and/or Thai subtitles in addition to the English, which indicates that the source for the boots might be people withing the mastering companies doing the discs for those markets.

    I once dubbed a copy of a legitimate Criterion movie to VHS for a friend to watch (he didn't have a DVD player at the time and was desperate to see the movie). My VCR at the time was able to sense copy proteced signals and would screw up the picture accordingly. With the Critierion title, there was NO encryption so the tape came out quite nice. Of course, he returned it when he was done and I taped over it, but I was rather surprised that Criterion hadn't bothered to include copy-protection. I mentioned this to another friend who had a rather large collection of Criterions and he set about testing them to see if they were similar and, lo and behold, about 20 of his 27 titles were macrovision-free. He was kinda bummed at the time because had he known that, he probably would have rented some of them, dubbed them to VHS for himself and saves a bit of dough (at least on titles he wasn't overly fond of; he was a bit of a speculator with Criterion titles.)

    Incidentally, Criterion titles are known to be available in these same boot stores I mentioned. On a lark one time, I picked up HARD BOILED, which was displayed in the front window of one of these places. I already had the original, for which I'd paid about $60CDN. I was CERTAIN that this would be some crappy VHS dub hiding behind a color photocopy of the Criterion sleeve, and was almost praying it was so I could rest easy that my $60 was money better spent, but it was indeed a direct rip of the Criterion original, extras and all.

    The price I paid?

    $5
     
  3. jason:g

    jason:g Stunt Coordinator

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    "In The Mood For Love" (Korean Limited Edition Tin) is also a direct port of the Criterion Edition. But it seems to be priced at 10 USD. I'm tempted to buy it, but I already have the Criterion edition. [​IMG]
     
  4. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    I don't mind paying higher prices for Criterion, even if Korean copies are cheaper.

    Criterion's DVD's are usually worth these prices and they deserve the sales.
     
  5. Conrad_SSS

    Conrad_SSS Second Unit

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    These are bootlegs, folks. Plain and simple. Criterion doesn't have the right to sublicense a film like NOTORIOUS.
    Beware of this massive Asian bootleg problem. Aside from being highly illegal, it's severely destructive to the whole industry.
     
  6. Gary Tooze

    Gary Tooze Producer

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    Here is a quote from Jeff Adkins

    I still don't have any postive proof one way or another...

    Cheers,
     
  7. jason:g

    jason:g Stunt Coordinator

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    The Korean text is a bit of an issue, though.
    It seems that their supplements are only targeted for Koreans.
     
  8. Jeff Adkins

    Jeff Adkins Screenwriter

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    I agree with you, but these Korean Criterion releases are 100% legit. You are just plain wrong.

    Jeff
     
  9. Jeff Adkins

    Jeff Adkins Screenwriter

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    I don't really see how any of that is relevant. Anyone with half a brain and a PC could defeat the encryption on any DVD on the market in a matter of minutes. The lack of Marcrovision on Criterion titles is irrelevant...if someone wanted to boot an exact bit-for-bit dup of Bad Santa(just for example), any replication house could certainly do it with ease. Besides, most of the Criterions I've run across lately do have macrovision.

    Several you are undoubtedly unfamiliar with the Korean DVD Market. For non-asian films, it is very common for the studio to port over the transfer and extras from a foreign release.

    Some examples include Spectrum's releases of the Ruscico label, numerous ports of MK2 releases from France, some Artifical Eye ports, some Criterion ports, etc. Rather than re-do an existing transfer, Korean studios just pay for an existing one (or an NTSC-converted one in the case of the PAL ports) and often get the supplements that go along with them. The Criterion titles are the only ones that anyone ever questions the legitimacy of. No one ever questions it when they license their supplements for UK releases.

    Jeff
     
  10. Brian Thibodeau

    Brian Thibodeau Supporting Actor

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    Well, the least that could be said is that the U.K. releases that benefit from imported supplements and transfers rarely turn-up at anything nearly resembling a close-out price of $5.

    That said, thanks for your info regarding the Korean DVD industry, but I'm already aware such price drops are commonplace in the Hong Kong DVD market, even for American movies. Nearly every American movie they release, many with full supplements afforded their US counterparts, end up costing about $5-8 at places like DDDHouse in not time at all. I filled in quite a few holes in my American movie collection this way, just by waiting on titles I didn't wanna pay $25 CDN (plus tax) for. Makes enough sense that I'll probably start looking to Asian DVD retailers for catalogue stuff before I look to the Americans. I can expect the savings to be substantial on certain titles if I'm patient. I'll pass on that info to my friends, too.

    I'd highly recommend shopping around for material like this to everyone, particularly if you're all-region capable.

    I guess it just surprises me that in this day and age, in which virtually anything can be had from anywhere via the internet, that the U.S. studios won't be feeling the impact of this strategy on their bottom line once the word gets around. Then again, not everyone's as patient as we are for good deals.
     
  11. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    According to the reply I got from Criterion there are no legitimate Korean versions of their discs.
     
  12. Jeff Adkins

    Jeff Adkins Screenwriter

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    Here's the official site of Dawoori Entertainment, one of the largest studios in Korea. This is the company that Disney uses to distribute some of it's product in Korea. Dawoori is a well respected company in Korea and does not engage in bootlegging of any sort. Here you can see their release of Naked Lunch which is an exact port of the Criterion. I own it, it's a 2-disc set that is indentical in every way to the Criterion except it is Region 3 and a lot cheaper (about $18).

    No offense but you have made blanket statements about Asian DVDs numerous times without evidence. Everything from Asia is a bootleg according to you. You once said that any U.S. film that was released Region 0 in Asia was almost certainly a bootleg. There are hundreds, if not thousands of titles that would prove that statement wrong. I don't doubt that Criterion sent that email to you but that doesn't make it true as I've just pointed out to you. I don't think you'll see Criterion try and say that Dawoori Entertainment are bootleggers.

    Jeff
     
  13. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    Excuse me, but you may wish to get YOUR facts straight. You obviously have me confused with someone else (Jeff Kleist perhaps?). I have not made any such blanket statements to my recollection.

    I emailed Criterion regarding this thread, and the reply I got from Jon Mulvaney was exactly what I posted - there are NO legitimate Korean versions of their discs. If they are direct ports and aren't legitimate, there is only one thing they can be...
     
  14. Zachary Cohen

    Zachary Cohen Stunt Coordinator

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    Did it ever occur to you that maybe, just maybe, Criterion is not telling the truth?
     
  15. Brian Thibodeau

    Brian Thibodeau Supporting Actor

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    Good point, Zachary. Why would Criterion want anyone to know there were full-featured versions of their discs available for anywhere from one-third to one-tenth the price from overseas vendors? Maybe the best they can hope for is to spread a lie about them being boots (whether they licenced the stuff or not) and that you'll figure they're bootlegs and your conscience will be your guide.



    This comment wasn't specifically directed at me, and I'm not one of the ones who thinks everything from Asia is a bootleg, but I thought I'd address it nonetheless by just pointing out that virtually everything from Asia has been bootlegged: Asian stuff, European stuff, American stuff. Even if that disc is legit, it's likely somebody somewhere probably ripped a few thousand copies for the black market. Maybe it's not the scourge in Korea that it is in China and Hong Kong and North America, but if you look around any major western Chinatown, particularly the upscale boroughs, you'll find it increasingly difficult to separate fakes from legits, with the stores trafficking in fakes outnumbering those trading in legit product, four to one. At least this is true in Toronto, as a friend and I decided to settle a bet by actually counting the DVD shops as we wandered through one major Chinese mall about a year ago: turns out there was three legit places (since reduced to two) and 12 bootleg places (now about 14).

    Of course, none of this proves that Hitchcock disc is a bootleg, of course, and since koreandvds.com's price does appear to be a sale price, I guess I'll take Jeff's word on it until further evidence surfaces.
     
  16. Jeff Adkins

    Jeff Adkins Screenwriter

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    Yes, bootleg discs are common in Asia (although not so much in Korea as in China and Hong Kong). My problem is that everyone immediately assumes Asian discs are bootlegs. I see bootleg discs everywhere, but I've never received one from Koreandvds.com. There are ways to tell the difference but I agree that the bootleggers are getting better at selling product that looks legit.

    Jeff
     
  17. Gary Tooze

    Gary Tooze Producer

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    Personally, the Jeff's et all, I might tend to believe that these are legit, but it is just so-unlike Criterion to do this. This is a company that is heads and tails above ANY DVD distributor on the planet. They pride themselves on consistently doing the right thing, treating films and their purchasers with the utmost respect and dignity. I mean, no one even comes close to them. Why would they risk their entire reputation on allowing these alternate versions to exist (could they be in the process of suing or is it too expensive?) Okay, a small market indeed (but growing and available in the big NTSC North American market through the web), but it MUST be cutting into their sales, to some small degree. Were they given millions of dollars for their Extras and transfers ? I highly doubt it. Someone is on the bad side of a business decision, and I have real trouble believing it is Criterion. I have pretty close dealings with them (receive HMV + Crit screeners)... and although it may be true that they sold the rights, extras, transfers... whatever. Something just doesn't smell right. Hence why we are having such a heated discussion.

    That is my non-conclusive take.

    Cheers,
     
  18. Brian Thibodeau

    Brian Thibodeau Supporting Actor

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    That Powell/Pressburger box works out to about $30 CDN, $21 US, assuming the 25000 won price is correct. So, $7.50 CDN/ $5.50 US per movie. If these have the Criterion extras, I'm in, bootlegs or not. I paid $39 Canadian used (USED!!) for BLACK NARCISSUS. Think I may pass this info along to a couple people, too. Great deal if it is indeed licenced.

    Thanks, Criterion!
     
  19. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    Yes, it is COMPLETELY unlike Criterion to license out their extras to anyone, especially when there is no evident benefit to doing so. At least with a major studio there are the dollars and the give and take of getting titles licensed to Criterion in return. Criterion is NOTORIOUS (sorry, had to) for coveting their supplements, so why give them to a Korean company to make region 0 discs from, when they know full well it is going to seriously impact their domestic sales if word gets out these are legit. Why pay $50 for a film when you can get the exact same content legitimately for under $10, and don't even need a region free player to view them?

    As for there being major studios producing these discs in Korea, who knows the real story. I don't know how hard it would be to take legal action, or whether Korea is even a member of the Byrne Convention. There have also been instances where a Korean studio has bought the legitimate license to the film, but used unlicensed extras or subtitles, knowingly or otherwise.

    This still doesn't smell right...
     
  20. David McIntosh

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    Well, either there are dozens of large online DVD retailers in South Korea openly selling pirated DVDs (with secure credit card payment, shopping baskets and all), or this is a legit DVD.

    I think the latter is more likely.

    Ordered, and thanks very much for bringing this to my attention.
     

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