Fox's City Hunter release

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Jason Hennigan, Jul 17, 2003.

  1. Jason Hennigan

    Jason Hennigan Stunt Coordinator

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    I just finished watching the Fox/Hong Kong Legends "City Hunter" disk, here's some impressions.

    I won't go into the content of the film too much. City Hunter is one of my favorite Jackie Chan films, but I can see how people wouldn't like it. It's very over the top, and a lot of stuff is pretty outrageous, but I think that's what makes the film so good.

    The transfer was very, very nice. Good anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer that isn't perfect, but about as perfect as this film will ever get. Fantastic.

    The audio was ok. I did not bother to listen to the English track, only the Cantonese (OSL). Doesn't over power you with directional effects, and doesn't sound bad. Good stuff.

    The extras were also nice. There's 3 interviews, one with Jackie Chan, one with Wong Jing (the director), and one with Rocky Lai (stuntman). Each of them is about 10 minutes long, but none of them focus exclusively on City Hunter. Each of the interviews touches on City Hunter, and then the interview goes into discussions of other films. A nice extra. There's also picture galleries, production notes, and trailers.

    Fox also included some extra trailers; The Magnificent Butcher, Hong Kong 1941, Kiss of the Dragon, and The Transporter. The trailers for KoD and Transporter are 4:3, while the Magnificent Butcher and Hong Kong 1941 trailers are anamorphic (note to studios: anamorphic extras are good!).

    Not much to complain about with this release. I would have prefered that they didn't use music in all of the menus. It gets very annoying navigating the picture galleries and hearing the music start over with each pic. Of course people know that the R1 HKL releases so far do not have the commentaries that the R2 releases did, which is unfortunate, but with a $14.99 MSRP ($10 or so online) it's tough to complain. The subtitles had some grammar errors, but were easy to read. The translation is different from the subs on the HK version of City Hunter that I own, and I would assume the they are probably more accurate, but since I don't speak Cantonese I don't know that for sure.

    Overall, this disk is a great value. And more importantly, this disk is an effort by a studio to release a foreign film without butchering it.

    Highly Recommended!
     
  2. Jason Hennigan

    Jason Hennigan Stunt Coordinator

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    One note that I thought was interesting, the cover of my DVD does not have the gold "Hong Kong Legends" title bar at the top.

    I don't know if there was some licensing issue, or if it's just an aesthetic change.
     
  3. Matthew Brown

    Matthew Brown Supporting Actor

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    Jason -
    That's good to hear. Just stay away from Fox's Naked Killer as they used a cut print.

    Matt
     
  4. Jason Hennigan

    Jason Hennigan Stunt Coordinator

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    Crap.

    It shipped today, along with the other Fox HKL disks.
     
  5. Tom Tsai

    Tom Tsai Supporting Actor

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    Same here, the ones I've received don't have the HKL banner either.
     
  6. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  7. Matthew Brown

    Matthew Brown Supporting Actor

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    It wasn't until the 90's before Hong Kong film makers shot sound sync movies.

    Because of this, many actors are dubbed by others. Michelle Yeoh almost always had somebody dub her voice, as did Jet Li. The HITMAN was Jet Li's first movie that featured his own voice. Jackie Chan is also dubbed in some movies, including Drunken Master II.

    On the other hand, some actors will dub both the Cantonese and Mandarin tracks themselves. I believe Chow Yun Fat did that on the KILLER but I'm not sure.

    Sometimes they are already working on their next movie so they are unavailable to record the dialogue.

    There are some movies where Cantonese and Mandarin are spoken during the filming and then it is all dubbed in one language.

    You can tell that some of the current film makers are inexperienced shooting sound sync films because you can actually hear the motor of the camera in some movies bleed into the other tracks.

    Matt
     
  8. Jason Hennigan

    Jason Hennigan Stunt Coordinator

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    Has Fox said anything about what films are going to be next in their HKL series?

    Also, was there any explanation as to why the "Hong Kong Legends" banner wasn't on the DVD releases?
     
  9. Jeff Krispow

    Jeff Krispow Stunt Coordinator

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    Contrary to popular belief, these Fox discs ARE NOT reissues of the Hong Kong Legends series from the U.K. — they are two entirely different DVD series.

    That is the reason why there is no such such banner on the discs. That's also why all the extras and interview segments are completely different, and there are no audio commentaries. The only similarities between the Fox and HKL series are in the names of the films, nothing else.

    Here's some other brief history/info on the licensing arrangements that might help explain matters:

    For the U.K. HKL series, Medusa (Hong Kong Legends) sub-licensed their films from Media Asia. They obtained the best materials they could from the licensor — which was not an easy task — did all their own restoration work, and released the best-looking versions of the film on home video...(well, at least until Fox released their noticeably-superior editions).

    The reason HKL had a difficult time obtaining quality materials from Media Asia is because Media Asia did not own the original materials — they were only a distributor. Many years ago, Media Asia licensed the worldwide distribution rights to over 1000 Hong Kong films from a company called Fortune Star. However, Media Asia's distribution agreement for the Fortune Star catalog expired in 2002, and all distribution rights have reverted back to Fortune Star.

    Fortune Star decided against signing another long-term distribution deal with Media Asia, seeking to keep full control over their library and handle the distribution arrangements themselves. (This is why numerous Media Asia titles have been reissued in Hong Kong on the DeltaMac label in superior editions).

    Fortune Star definitely knows the value of their library. They own most of the classic Hong Kong films we all love, and thankfully have been in the process of restoring their entire library to HDTV standards!!! DVD is a huge market for Fortune Star, and they are committed to providing their customers with the best-possible product. Part of that commitment to quality also include supplementary materials for nearly every DVD release.

    As I stated earlier, Fortune Star is releasing their titles via DeltaMac in Hong Kong. Fortune Star also signed a distribution agreement with sister company Fox Home Entertainment for release of its classic martial arts library titles in the U.S. The first wave of films was just released, and more are coming (titles to be announced). Unfortunately, I haven't heard what Fortune Star's distribution arrangement is regarding the U.K., or more specifically, to the HKL line.

    I think it's safe to say that Fortune Star's "commitment to quality" is a real one, judging from the quality of Fox's initial DVD releases. The visual quality of these new editions are noticeably superior to the corresponding HKL edition — I couldn't believe that "Magnificent Warriors" could ever look so amazing, or "Magnificent Butcher" (although the HKL discs are still quite good, and are worth owning if only for all the excellent different supplementary materials).

    The reason the Fox titles look so good is because Fortune Star is providing Fox with the highest-quality materials possible to work with in the first place, far superior to anything Media Asia ever provided to HKL. Unlike Media Asia, Fortune Star actually OWNS all the original negatives, prints, audio materials, etc., for their entire library, and thus can create a very high-quality master to work with. (As for "Naked Killer," I still haven't received any answers as to why the ball got dropped and we got an edited version, or whether it was Fox's fault or Fortune Star's).

    This is definitely a far cry from the, er, previous option, where the "best print" you were likely to get was a single tattered copy that was sitting under someone's desk, propping up a corner. Not to mention all the remixed soundtracks with new music and effects. *SHUDDER* I, for one, am glad that Media Asia is out of the loop now.

    Anyway, it's really late, I'm starting to babble and drift off, so off to bed I go... I hope this answered your initial question of "Where is the HKL logo" plus any other questions you might have about the series, its origins, and Fortune Star's intent with their library. Again, I haven't yet been told what the next releases will be, or when, other than that they'll be good (gee, thanks). Can't wait to see...

    'Night, all...
    !!! clonk !!! ....zzzzzzz
     
  10. Matthew Brown

    Matthew Brown Supporting Actor

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    Jeff -

    I think there may be several different cuts of NAKED KILLER and Fox had just one of the many. I heard the running time matches what was shown in the theaters but not the home DVD's, even when considering the PAL speedup on some. There is a director's cut, theatrical cut, and an edited version. There could be more. I first thought that FOX may have edited but now I don't know what to think.

    A lot of confusion over the Hong Kong Legends lable because there was early artwork for the DVD boxes that had it for the Fox releases. Even an interview with Bey Logan kind of eluded to these being HKL affiliated somehow. I am actually glad that Fox one upped HKL.

    If only they could get the rights to movies that Disney and Anchor Bay own.

    Thanks for the detailed information about Fortune Star and Media Asia.


    Matt
     
  11. PaulaJ

    PaulaJ Supporting Actor

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    Re upcoming titles:

    Some of the Fox discs had a trailer for the Jackie Chan/Sammo Hung drama Heart of Dragon. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed we'll be seeing that eventually...
     
  12. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

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    Jeff,

    Very interesting. I'll be interested to see Matt's comparisons in the future.

    BTW, do you know if this also applies to films held by other studios? (I'm thinking "Once Upon A Time In China", held by Columbia...)

    Jason
     
  13. Jeff Krispow

    Jeff Krispow Stunt Coordinator

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    Matt: That's basically my current assumption as well. I'm familiar with the different cuts, and like everyone else was rather hoping we'd see the longer Dir. Cut released. I've been waiting for someone, anywhere to do an in-depth content comparison between the Fox DVD and the original theatrical version to see if they are indeed the same cut (rather than just the reviews stating what is missing that was in the DVD Dir. Cut). I'm incline to think that's the case, and also because I just don't see Fox editing this film down for content. For all we know, this might simply be a case of director Clarence Fok not wanting his Dir. Cut released in the U.S. This version likely originated with Fortune Star, since Fox is using whatever transfer materials that were sent to them. Still, I'd like a "definitive" answer...

    As for that artwork with the "Hong Kong Legends" banner on it, I saw those as well, and like everyone else assumed that Fox had sub-licensed the HKL DVDs. Plus, I also read Bey Logan's mysterious comments. One "theory" I read on another forum was that the "Hong Kong Legends" banner was simply an early marketing mockup for this series, and meant to state that this was part of a "Legendary Hong Kong" film series on DVD, and NOT any sort of affiliation with the actual Hong Kong Legends line. Sort of like how MGM advertises DVD series under their "Vintage Classics" or "Midnite Movies" banners, or even like New Line advertises their "InfiniFilm" series — it's was just an all-encompassing banner for the series. And that's why that banner doesn't appear on the final release DVDs — because too many people were assuming the connection with the U.K. HKL series, and possibly to avoid any potential legal issues. This might be someone's "theory," but it does make a lot of sense.

    Finally, as for the Bey Logan connection, he went back and forth a bit over the connection between the Fox line and their own U.K. series. But in the end, Logan seemed to be discussing only how Fox decided not to use the commentaries that were on the U.K. disc. I really don' recall him saying anything about the actual films, or transfers, or other extras... just the commentaries. From what I've been able to deduce, it looks as if Fox was trying to make some sort of licensing deal with HKL to possibly use their commentaries on the U.S. discs, but in the end didn't, because "they didn't think American's would want to listen to someone with a British accent." (Which is, of course, total nonsense... silly Fox.) Plus, my understanding is that there was a major contact at Fortune Star who knows quite well, and who is also a liasion with Fox on their series, and might have been the one suggesting to Fox that they sub-license out the excellent commentaries. Anyway, this makes complete sense from a licensing point of view, because HKL outright own their own commentary, and can do whatever they want with it, including licensing it out to Fox — they can't sub-license out their films or extras, because they don't own those.

    Whew...!


    Paula: Thanks for chiming in about the "Heart of Dragon" trailers on the DVDs — I totally forgot those were on there. So, um, yes everybody, "Heart of Dragon" should be in the next batch, or in some future batch. Woohoo!


    Jason: Unfortunately, I seriously doubt we'll see Fox reissue any the films currently held by Columbia TriStar, New Line, or especially Disney. I soooo wish that the situation was different, but these other companies have the U.S. distribution rights to the films under completely separate, already-existing licensing arrangements. There's nothing Fortune Star can do about it... at least until the individual distribution agreements expires. It's completely feasible that a few films here or there might revert back to Fortune Star entirely at some future point, which they can subsequently re-license to Fox. But what films, or when (if?) that might happen, I honestly couldn't tell you. Frankly, I'd give up on any ideas of Disney giving up their HK films unless there's some major shake-up or financial problems. Who knows, maybe someone at Disney will see the errors of their ways, see how well received the original uncut versions are, and finally release 'em properly on DVD. Haaa haa haa... yeah, sure they will...


    So what Fortune Star film would I really, really like to see released over here via Fox? I think I'd have to say the original "Police Story" — what an amazing film! Just think, Fox could release this gorgeous transfer that simply blows away the HKL versions (which wouldn't be hard, since we know that Fox would actually preserve the original aspect ratio — shame on you for that HKL), and hopefully would have the complete, original outtakes at the end. Sure, I've still got my original LD version, which I'll never get rid of ("From my cold dead hands"), but I'd obviously love to see a brand new transfer via Fortune Star. But I guess that will probably remain a dream — if I remember correctly, I think that New Line might have the U.S. rights, so I might as well forgot about it. (Do you know if this is correct, Matt? Or do we have a chance...?)
     
  14. Matthew Brown

    Matthew Brown Supporting Actor

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    Police Story is an odd one because from what I heard, the version New Line owns is the dubbed/Cut(?) version. Supposedly Disney has the rights to the uncut movie. I know it sounds odd, but that's what I heard. There's lots flung around about Disney and sometimes you need hip boots to get through it!

    I would love for them to get a shot at A BETTER TOMORROW. Anchor Bay probably won't have the rights forever.

    Heart of Dragon is a great movie. I know people who are just looking for action won't like it but Sammo Hung's performance is excellent. I think Jackie's fights are just brutal in this film and rightfully so, slapstick would not fit in this movie.

    I've seen the Press Release from Fox and they mention "Hong Kong Legends" but it is possible that they had found out that a company by this name already existed afterward. If anything, they exceded expectations.

    Matt
     
  15. ChrisJefferys

    ChrisJefferys Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks Jeff, for clearing up the whole Fox/Fortune Star/HKL situation.

    Its really a shame about Naked Killer. I had heard that the Fox DVD was cut, but I found it on sale for about 11.00 CDN and picked it up anyway, hoping that the cuts weren't too bad. I was especially disappointed to see Simon Yam/Chingmy Yau love scene almost completely missing (although snippets are seen in some of the menus/extras). I'm not sure if this is how the film was shown theatrically, but my first experience with the film was seeing a bootleg from the original HK VHS or LD release years back, and that love scene (along with other scenes not on the Fox disc) was present. I doubt that the cut was made by Fox in order to get an R rating, since only near nudity was involved. Anyway, the cuts are especially disappointing, considering that to my eyes, the picture quality on the new disc is fantastic. [​IMG]
     
  16. PaulaJ

    PaulaJ Supporting Actor

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    >Heart of Dragon is a great movie. I know people who are just looking for action won't like it but Sammo Hung's performance is excellent. I think Jackie's fights are just brutal in this film and rightfully so, slapstick would not fit in this movie.


    I love Heart of Dragon too. Jackie and Sammo both give terrific heart-wrenching performances, and it's a very brave and fearless one from Sammo, considering what a tough guy he is but here he plays a man with the mind of a child who is humiliated by others on a daily basis. That final fight (choreographed by Yuen Baio, I think) at the construction site is a jaw-dropper; I especially love Jackie's combination run up the wall, flip, spin and kick. Woah. would be cool if the possible Fox DVD could include the two actions scenes shot for the Japanese version. Anyway, Sammo's a wonderful dramatic actor, and if Heart of Dragon isn't enough to convince anyone, try Painted Faces -- an absolutely gorgeous film that as far as I know isn't available on DVD anywhere (I have a pan and scan tape from Tai Seng). Boy, what I'd give for Fox to release THAT on DVD. It was nominated for a passel of awards at the 1988 HK film festival, and Sammo won for best actor and David Chung for best cinematography.

    And Police Story too, or even better, Police Story AND Police Story 2. [​IMG] With ALL the additional footage not seen even in the HK DVD or on the HK Legends disc.

    What about Wheels on Meals, one of the cutest and funniest movies I've ever seen? Anyone in the U.S. own the rights to that? The current HK DVD is also missing a scene (the van washing one).

    Now, if only MiramAXE would get around to releasing those Celestial discs of the Shaw Bros movies... I kept delaying on buying the Region 3 DVDs thinking maybe MiramAXE will get around to it soon -- what a nice pipe dream. [​IMG] Even if they did, they'd find a way to alter them.
     
  17. Jason Hennigan

    Jason Hennigan Stunt Coordinator

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    It's so terrible that MiramAXE got their hands on the Shaw Bros. movies. Any hope for decent editions was pretty much dashed by that announcement.

    Does anyone know how well Fox's HK disks did? I'm sure that they have at least a few more planned releases, but I wonder if the first group of titles did well enough for them to continue with their efforts?
     
  18. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

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  19. Jason Hennigan

    Jason Hennigan Stunt Coordinator

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    That's a tough question, Jason.

    I would be inclined to say that the studios probably won't revisit those titles (unless there is some very good reason to think that they will make a lot of money by doing so). I don't think that they would see the sales from revisions being good enough to warrant the time and money to make them.
     
  20. Sergio Martorel

    Sergio Martorel Second Unit

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    Wait a minute... I do have some UK HKL titles, like MAGNIFICENT BUTCHER. The extras from the american version are COMPLETELY different? That means, no easter eggs like the Sam Seed production pic?
     

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