Hong Kong Legends THE KILLER Review (screenshots)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Matthew Brown, Oct 22, 2002.

  1. Matthew Brown

    Matthew Brown Supporting Actor

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    The Killer (1989)
    Director - John Woo
    DVD Released by : Hong Kong Legends
    Player reviewed with : Malata DVD-N996
    Receiver reviewed with : Sony 925
    Features:
    Cantonese and English Soundtracks
    English Subtitles
    Enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs
    Theatrical Trailer and Promo Trailer
    Interview Gallery
    Commentary by Bey Logan
    Deleted Scenes
    Region 2, PAL
    Running Time : 107 mins.
    [​IMG]
    THE KILLER is a story of honor. Chow Yun Fat portrays the hired hitman. He lives by his own code. When an innocent is blinded during one of his hits, he realizes that it is his duty to try to have her site restored. He must do one more hit and then use the money for a cornea transplant. Danny Lee is the cop who must bring him to justice. The two become unlikely friends, almost brother-like. John Woo gives us as much action as we can take and still provide a plot.
    This is the fifth DVD of THE KILLER with English subtitles. The French HKVIDEO release has an extended print of the film with English subtitles burned in but the actual feature has only French subtitles. Hong Kong Legends has easily released the best version of THE KILLER so far. It's not perfect, but it is better than the alternatives. This is a region 2 DVD, so if you live in North America, the only way to see this is to have a multi-region player of some kind. For reviews of the Region 1 and 0 releases, please click here.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Hong Kong Legends has done some great work on this movie. I've seen this movie more times than I can count and I can honestly say I came close to feeling like this was the first time I was watching it again. Maybe it was the new English translation, or the beautiful print that was used. With that said, I have very few problems with this DVD.
    The film print is beautiful. Gone are the specks that littered the various other prints of the film. Within the first 5 minutes you will notice a big difference. There are some very minor flaws but they are forgivable. The colors are vibrant and the detail is good. Danny Lee's suits really stick out now! The transfer itself could be a little better. It is good now, but the darker scenes sometimes display artifacts. This is most noticeable during close-ups. This is on the 47 inch TV so on a 27 inch or smaller set it will look fine. Perhaps a higher bit rate could have been used. There is also some very slight combing of the picture twice in the movie. It's not bad and hardly noticeable. I am satisfied with the transfer but not overwhelmed. Other than the darker scenes, the movie looks absolutely stunning.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    The original mono soundtrack is not included and we are given a 5.1 mix. It does sound different than the previous versions of the movie. The Cantonese remix is tastefully done. The dialogue sounds great against the music and sound effects. The bass is also a little more pronounced. The English dub sounds just about identical to previous versions. The English dub uses Jeffrey for Chow Yun Fat's name and Dumbo and Mickey Mouse for the nicknames. Overall the sound is very good.
    The subtitles are white and outlined so they are very easy to read. They are timed well with what is said and are never obstructed by the background image. This DVD has a new English translation. Chow Yun Fat is now Ah-Jong. Dumbo and Mickey Mouse are Runt and Shrimphead. The new translation seems more to the point than previous ones. The relationship between Ah-Jong and his friend is made clearer. There is more of an emphasis on honor and Triad rules.
    There are some decent extras on this DVD. There are two trailers for THE KILLER. There are interviews with Kenneth Tsang, Sally Yeh, and Peter Pau. These are interesting and a nice addition to the DVD. A little too much time is used during the interviews showing clips from the movie. There is a commentary from Bey Logan. He always gives a wealth of information. There are also deleted scenes. Nothing that hasn't been seen before but good to have, nonetheless.
    This DVD is a must have. It is easily the best version of this movie available. The only things that are missing from this DVD are a commentary by John Woo and the original mono soundtrack. The anamorphic picture easily beats the other versions out there. I don't think this will be topped on DVD.
     
  2. Piers C

    Piers C Stunt Coordinator

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    Matthew,

    Thanks for posting such an extensive review & screenshots! The transfer quality even comes across in these shots. Excellent review!
     
  3. MilesH

    MilesH Stunt Coordinator

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    Best version? Nope. Go get the French DVD that includes the longer Taiwan version. You won't regret it. It's in mono too.
     
  4. Matthew Brown

    Matthew Brown Supporting Actor

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    Piers C -
    Thanks!
    Miles -
    I really like the HKVIDEO version, but more as a novelty. The longer version is great to have, but it doesn't have the original cantonese track, only mandarin. It's more of a workprint of the film than a final cut. It's kind of a lark that this has English subtitles. The only version available had burnt in English subtitles so the french subtitles totally obscure them when they are turned on. I guess they figured nobody would simply turn them off.
    The other Disc in the set has forced French subtitles and no English ones so I didn't draw a comparison between the two.
    Here's a link to a review of the French version, by Matt Stevens.
    http://www.loveandbullets.com/killerhkvideo.htm
    Matt
     
  5. Steve Christou

    Steve Christou Long Member

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    Nice review Matthew.[​IMG]
    The Killer is easily one of the best Hong Kong action films ever, although personally I prefer Woo's Hard-Boiled, but this is a def must buy.
    I'm happy to see it does have a commentary by HK action movie expert Bey Logan.
    Hopefully next year we'll get a 2-disc remastered version of Woo's masterpiece
    Bullet in the Head, with commentary, documentary, deleted scenes etc...
     
  6. Matthew Brown

    Matthew Brown Supporting Actor

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    Thanks Steve!
    BULLET IN THE HEAD would be wonderful.
    Rumor has it that Tartan may be losing the rights soon for HARD BOILED. That would leave the potential for HKL to pick it up. Too bad the French HKVIDEO of HARD BOILED will have forced French subtitles and no English ones. It's great if you speak French, but not if you don't.

    Matt
     
  7. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Screenwriter

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    Bullet in the Head is definitely coming from Hong Kong Legends. Bring it on, say I.
     
  8. Matthew Brown

    Matthew Brown Supporting Actor

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    I hope BULLET IN THE HEAD comes out next year.
    This is the only chance we have of the definitive version since Buena Vista has domestic rights.
    There was site that listed various versions of the film but I can't find the URL now.

    Matt
     
  9. Matthew Brown

    Matthew Brown Supporting Actor

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  10. Anthony Thorne

    Anthony Thorne Supporting Actor

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    Third opinion - I have the new HKL KILLER disc and I'm very happy with it. it's easily the best I've seen it looking on home video. If the HKL BULLET IN THE HEAD, BIG HEAT, CRIME STORY and FULL CONTACT are as good then I'll be a hapy camper next year.
     
  11. Mark_Wilson

    Mark_Wilson Screenwriter

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    What is the big deal with Bullet in the Head? I love Woo but this movie just didn't do anything for me. Was there some hidden message I missed, other than the 'friendship' one?
     
  12. Gary Tooze

    Gary Tooze Producer

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    New comparison up;
    Hong Kong Legends (UK) Region 2/4 "The Killer" vs. Criterion Region 0 vs. Fox/Lorber - Winstar Region 0 ( HK Legends BIG winner )
    http://www.compare.dvdbeaver.com/
    Cheers,
     
  13. William Laughner

    William Laughner Stunt Coordinator

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  14. Ray_R

    Ray_R Screenwriter

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    William, I just put in an order for John Woo's Hero Collection through www.play-asia.com since they had the best pricing for it. $21.90 and $6 S&H! I was sold![​IMG]
    I was actually looking for the IVL/Fortune Star A Better Tomorrow Trilogy on hkflix.com and since it was out of print I saw the John Woo's Hero Collection with both A Better Tomorrow and The Killer. I already own Anchor Bay's A Better Tomorrow I & II Box set yet I'm hoping this set has both films dual layered that's going to mean higher bitrate and quality.
    Two birds with one stone, eh?
    http://www.hkflix.com/xq/asp/filmID....qx/details.htm
    ^There's a nice cover for the set and the individual details.
    And below is an image for the John Woo's Hero Collection Box Set.
    [​IMG]
    I'm adding this to DVDSpot.com's database and I guess I'll input the rest of the information. Kick ass that both films are from the 1980's since I'm on a big 1980's films on DVD buying spree.
     
  15. Ray_R

    Ray_R Screenwriter

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    William, it appears to be about the same from what I can tell content-wise from the John Woo Collection with Bullet in the Head and The Killer. The set has yet to arrive though. More details later.
     
  16. Ken Chui

    Ken Chui Supporting Actor

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    Matthew et al:

    Can you recommend a few sites with affordable prices for HKL DVDs that ship to N. America (besides Amazon.co.uk and CD-Wow)? TIA
     
  17. David_Blackwell

    David_Blackwell Screenwriter

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    Cool review. The Killer and Hard Boiled were the best two films of John Woo's career. His US films still don't match up to them.
     
  18. Ray_R

    Ray_R Screenwriter

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    Ken Chui,
    I duely recommend www.hkflix.com for HKL DVD's although I've never done PAL to NTSC conversion before. Also, www.dvdcompare.net also has some comparisons for some Hong Kong films depending on the title search.
     
  19. Ken Chui

    Ken Chui Supporting Actor

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    Ray:

    Thanks for the HKFlix reminder (I had their site bookmarked a while back, but I've never ordered from them, as I use YesAsia for Asian DVDs); I'll give them a closer look.
     
  20. Ray_R

    Ray_R Screenwriter

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    Ken,
    I also use www.play-asia.com for ordering Hong Kong films on DVD. I purchased from them the Mei-Ah DTS Remastered editions of both God of Gamblers and Hard Boiled.
     

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