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Public to gear up for yet another Home Cinema format war April 1, 2010

Posted by Cal in : Articles, Humour , 3 comments

Just when you thought your home cinema system was finally complete with the latest HD equipment comes the bombshell that production is to be ceased on Blu-ray players later in the year – and viewers will be faced with yet another format war for its successor.

It was revealed earlier this week that Blu-ray machine sales have been vastly inflated, and that to date only 5,732 units have sold worldwide.  And despite a wide range of titles being available on the format, Sony admitted this morning that the same people are just buying lots and lots of copies of the same film in an attempt to prolong the life of the system and bolster sales figures.

Launched in 2006, Blu-ray fought off competition in the form of Toshiba’s HD DVD format, and it was thought that when the last major studio, Warner Bros, decided not to continue producing HD DVDs from May 2008 the format war was all but over. 

One of the more compact nuVHS machinesHowever, in a supremely ironic twist, the war over the next next next generation of home entertainment will be between two almost familiar brands.  JVC have been toiling away behind closed doors for almost three months on a tape-based machine called nuVHS.  Unlike standard VHS, nuVHS will produce images at a resolution almost double that of the 352×576 standard of the original format. 

 

The Apple iBetamax 2.0And its old rival is back in a revamped form.  Sony sold the Betamax brand in 2002 to Apple Inc for a three-figure sum, but the new “iBetamax” is set to give nuVHS a run for its money.  With a focus on interactivity, the new format will also boast slightly enhanced resolution and will probably be compatible with some other Apple products such as the iPhone, iPod and the new iCarabiner.

But the real shock is that movies in both formats will be able to be presented in True 4D™.  An industry insider explains: “This technology is so new we haven’t even been able to hype it yet.  Basically, it means that along with the standard boring three dimensions films are being shown in these days at the cinema, you will also be able to experience time by watching the film.  The movie will appear to last exactly as long as the timelines depicted in the movie – so if a film is set over a week, you will perceive the film to last a week”.

However, critics warn that the technology of True 4D™has not been perfected.  Initial tests have found that viewers can become disorientated, confused and traumatised following a showing in True 4D™, and after a presentation of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, the concept was almost dropped altogether.  But studio experts are insisting that True 4D™ is the next big thing in the home cinema experience, and soon we’ll all want to settle down for a truly epic viewing experience.

With both new formats just hours away from release, it’s impossible to say just who has the upper hand in the new war.  The only thing we know for sure is that Blu-ray was just a temporary stop-gap on the way to home cinema heaven – the format will officially only be supported until the first of April next year, after which no new titles will be released.  But there’s one silver lining for film hoarders out there: both nuVHS and iBetamax will be backwards compatible with their predecessors, so you’ll be able to watch all of your old tapes once again – albeit only in their low resolution, two dimensional glory.  That’s if you haven’t already thrown them all out…

“Damn you, Fatty!” - More funny subtitles from Hong Kong movies May 13, 2009

Posted by Cal in : Articles, Humour , 7 comments

A few months ago, I bought a Chinese copy of Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood off eBay for the suspiciously priced sum of £4.00 (including postage).  The seller assured me the disc was legit, and that may be true, but upon reading the plot synopsis on the back, I started to have my doubts.  Here it is in full, typed as it appears on the back of the pack (warning: there are major spoilers ahead if you can actually understand what’s being said):

“Chaos caused by war of epoch,guard Chow and Sam made contributions in the war, they got to the main stockaded village for getting largess.they passed spiderish bush,they got lost.they met a enchanter, the enchanter foretold that Chow would become a north castellan.he believed what the enchanter had said, his wife named Chin told what she had asked him to kill the master,so he did,he has become the master of the spiderish city.then he tried to kill general Sam.Sam’s son protected king, they got away.because Chin was malicious,she went mad,the enchanter in the spiderish bush foretold if spiderish bush wasn’t just moved, Chow didn’t lose.but spiderish bush was moved towards the spiderish city, they finally killed Chow in arrows.”

So, after moaning about the price of Kurosawa films, I thought I could probably stand a few mangled subtitles if it meant I’d saved about a tenner.  Unfortunately, the disc’s a write off.  With utterances like: “I am blurred by a monster.  I will not be blurred”, “You are cheated by the virtual reality…who?”, “Good.  I will build a hill for the cropses”, “How’s the bush?” and: “Forget it.  It’s useless to talk to the shit”, it’s pretty hard to stay focussed.  When a worker informs the Mifune character that his child perished, the subtitle reads: “And the baby died for a few days”.  Best of all is the line when the crows of ill-omen make their presence felt and one man intones gravely: “Hey, the birds are shouting badly”.

All of this made me think about cobbling together more funny subtitles (and never buying another Chinese Kurosawa disc from eBay).  So, for your amusement, I present the following gleaned from about six months’ random viewing:

“Black magic only, chopping won’t work” – Mr Vampire 3

“And who the bickering fool are you?” – Crippled Avengers

“With potbelly against Heaven, he’ll be herculean” – Mr Vampire 3

“Lower the soung volume” – Mr Vampire 2

“Your hammer is something different.  The chain is long and thick” – Crippled Avengers

“Hello?  999?  Vampire here” – Mr Vampire 2

“Also, the shit” – Touch and Go

“I know Lau’s dead and you’re so upsad” – Touch and Go

“Bitch, pissed off!” – Touch and Go

“Fat guy, don’t shoot, it’ll kill people” – Touch and Go

“Fatties, are you all right?” – Slickers Vs Killers

“Mr Fish-ball!  Shit!” – As Tears Go By

“Bat, you’re imbalance” – Slickers Vs Killers

“He raped and then assaulted me indecently” – Slickers Vs Killers

“Tomorrow you can come and shit one more time” - By Hook or By Crook

“Uncle, he’s staring at my chess!” - By Hook or By Crook

“No, but I slap her down the bed” - By Hook or By Crook

“How can you fart at this moment?” - By Hook or By Crook

“He’s a deaf.  Close the door” - By Hook or By Crook

“You’re bastard!” – Fatal Contact

“Be still and ass up” – Fatal Contact

“Kill that shit guy” – Gambling Ghost

“Have you ever seen a policeman’s bottoms fall of when on duty?” – Running out of Time

My favourite comes from the otherwise tepid Fatal Contact.  Two characters are discussing another when one solemnly declares of him: “What a waste.  He used to be good.  After one fatal injury, he’s never his old self…”

That’s it for now.  More funny subtitles should appear in another six months’ time or so. However, if I suffer a fatal injury, it might be slightly longer.  In the meantime, if anyone has any they’d like to share, please add a comment!

More funny Hong Kong subtitles can be found here.

Top Hollywood classics get advertising makeover April 1, 2009

Posted by Cal in : Articles, Humour , 3 comments

Advertising in film is something that has gone on almost as long as the media has existed.  Product placement, or “embedded marketing” is now something that most viewers are familiar with, and most tolerate it as perhaps a necessary evil in today’s cinema.

However, in a move that is set to alter our viewing experience forever, on-screen advertising is about to get significantly more aggressive.  In a move that will shock and outrage millions of film fans, classic films will be digitally altered, reshot or rescripted to feature advertising.  What’s more, these new versions will replace the originals in theatres and home cinemas alike.  Reports state that all in-movie advertising on home DVDs and Blu-ray discs will not be skippable.  So far, only the largest companies have offered sufficient cash (rumoured to be in the region of tens of millions of US dollars) to the movie companies to feature their product, but if the practice takes off there could be no limit to the amount of advertising we see on screen.

Already altered forever are the classic movies Casablanca, Ben-Hur and The Godfather, with the promise of more to come.  Casablanca will now feature, thanks to digital computer trickery, a scene where Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman eat in a McDonald’s restaurant.  Furthermore, the setting will be recognisably modern (the McDonald company was in its infancy when Casablanca was shot) and in colour.  “We carried out research,” said one McDonald’s executive, “amongst our key demographic of eight to eighteen year olds and discovered that most people enjoyed the updated version and found that they thought the black-and-white sections a big snooze”.  However, McDonald’s insist the advertising is unobtrusive and “fun” and that a few years from now, most people will forget the original version – “like the theatrical versions of the first three Star Wars movies”.

Taking a slightly different approach is the Coca-Cola Company, who have shot new footage for Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 movie The Godfather.  Interspersed into the film will be an entirely new subplot involving the characters attempting, in vain, to extort protection money from a Coca-Cola manufacturing plant.  New actors portray the characters including Don Vito Corleone (played by Marlon Brando in the original footage) but have been shot from behind, masking their faces.  Voices have been provided by winners of a competition run by the Coca-Cola Company last year on the side of special promotional cans of their soft drink.  The winners, selected by the company as having the best vocal resemblance to that of their original counterparts, are set to be immortalised forever in the controversial project.

More bizarrely is the decision of motor-car company Ford, who have paid an estimated $50,000,000 to advertise their Ford Focus car in legendary epic Ben-Hur.  A new sequence has been filmed showing their car, with a CGI Charlton Heston behind the wheel, trouncing the opposition in a chariot race.  The new scene takes the form of a dream sequence, ending in Judah Ben-Hur waking to proclaim in awe: “I’ll give you the keys to my Ford Focus when you pry them out of my cold, dead hands”.  Heston passed away in 2008.

The new versions of these three movies are being rolled out on home video formats from today, with nothing marking them as different from previous editions.  In addition, Hollywood films currently in production will feature more obvious forms of advertising within the scripts of their films, but it remains to be seen if this will be noticed by the general population.

This is only the tip of the iceberg.  Movie makers are finding funding increasingly difficult, and even big companies are discovering that profits are dwindling.  It’s no wonder the industry is taking such bold, controversial steps.  When classic films are changed forever at the whim of a corporate giant, one has to ask: has cinema finally and irretrevably “sold out”?  Is there any integrity left in the industry at any level?

This article is brought to you by Budweiser beer: when you say Budweiser, you’ve said it all.

Lethal Irritation: Rage against the meaningless two-word movie title August 10, 2008

Posted by Cal in : Articles, Humour , 5 comments

There’s a blight in the world of action movies and for once it’s got nothing to do with the stars, the directors, the product placements, the stunts, the scripts, the choreography, etc.

I’m talking about the proliferation of the meaningless two-word film titles.  It’s hardly a new phenomenon, but because the practice has been going on so long and there are only a finite number of appropriate “tough words” to choose from, it’s getting ever more difficult to sort them out in my brain.  And for a genre often accused of being generic, the last thing we need is generic film titles too.  Not learning from spoof titles like Naked Gun, Loaded Weapon and more recently Hot Fuzz, film executives are still trundling out the two-word monstrosities and there seems to be no end in sight.

According to Amazon.co.uk, there are only five copies left in stock.  BUY BUY BUY!What’s more, the practice has now become more commonplace in Hong Kong when they decide upon on English title for their film.  I know for a fact I’m going to be on some internet forum at some point in the future and there’ll be a discussion on Fatal Contact and I’m going to say, “yeah, good film, one of Ringo Lam’s best” and someone will gently point out that that film was Full Contact while making a vulgar hand gesture into their monitor.  And I can hardly wait for the Fatal Contact discussion: “hopeless film,” I’ll probably say, “CGI blood and Sammo was completely wasted,” while someone corrects me that the film I’m talking about is Fatal Move.  See what I mean?  All I need is someone to come up with a film called Full Move and I’ll be completely screwed.  I had enough trouble in a recent post getting Island of Fire (about a prison) mixed up with Prison on Fire (also about a prison, I’ll admit) and that’s got three words.

 

'SPL' becomes 'Kill Zone' - shit on it.As we’ve seen with SPL: Sha Po Lang (good title when you hear the explanation at the start of the film) being turned into Kill Zone for its US release, someone somewhere obviously thinks the two-word title sells, especially if it’s got absolutely bugger all to do with the film in question.  I think it might be something to do with the trailers we’ve been force fed for so long.  Imagine the Voice of God coming up with this for my upcoming masterpiece Fatal Termination:

“Bruce Chow is Jim Wu [action shot of actor with gun], a cop who plays by his own rules.  He’ll do whatever it takes to bring to justice the government agency that left his nephew severely colour-blind [shot of sickly young kid in a wheelchair].  By any means he can [explosion].  A deadly secret [shot of actor in stealth mode].  A beautiful girl [starlet tosses her hair in front of another explosion].  A rookie partner from Greenland [Wu shouting at the Superintendent: “I don’t have time to train no wet-behind-the-ears Eskimo!”].  The roughest justice imaginable [more action shots and a few more explosions just to establish we’re not into Merchant Ivory territory].  From the deadly shores of Hong Kong [night shot of city: traditional oriental music plays over the top] to the frozen wastes of the north…to the sprawl of New York [Inuit sidekick: “man, it’s colder here than back home!”]. [Music swells and then silence] Fatal Termination [credits flash impossibly fast on screen.  Then blackness].”

Everything about this package screams qualityIt can’t just be me that’s getting irritated and confused by these two-word shenanigans, but just to make sure, I’ve collected a bunch of the best (i.e. worst) together with some old favourites.  The twist is, I’ve added a few creations of my own – mainly by just mixing the other titles up a bit.  Some are obscure Hong Kong movies, some are well known, while some are your typical straight-to-video Seagal/Van Damme efforts.  Can you tell which are the real titles and which are the bogus ones?

Flash Point

Extreme Challenge

Dragon Target

Full Contact

Renegade Force

Lethal Weapon

Fatal Move

Final Alert

Attack Force

Kill Shot

Fatal Contact

Maximum Weapon

Lethal Termination

Ballistic Kiss

Fatal Decision

Sudden Death

Terminal Velocity

Final Death

Black Eagle

Flash Shot

Dragon Heat

Hard Target

Attack Point

Sudden Target

Renegade Justice

First Risk

Full Alert

Dragon Weapon

Kill Zone

Final Decision

Body Weapon

Hot War

Excessive Force

Renegade Vacation

Terminal Invasion

Sudden Impact

Extreme Decision

Maximum Risk

Fatal Vacation

Excessive Heat

Final Justice

First Shot

Executive Decision

First Strike

Full Move

Moving Targets

As far as I know, there are twenty-eight genuine titles in amongst that lot.  Happy hunting.

The films rights to Fatal Termination are still available.

“You stinky!” - Hong Kong’s funniest subtitles July 13, 2008

Posted by Cal in : Articles, Humour , 10 comments

One peculiarity of Hong Kong films has always been the territory’s tradition of subtitling their films in Chinese and English.  Chinese subs are necessary as dialects vary from place to place but the written form can be understood universally (theoretically, at least) and English subtitles seemed to have been law at one point but the practice still continues even though the colony is no longer under British rule.  As the people who do the subtitles are Chinese, it’s not surprising that the translations can go awry at times – sometimes with hilarious consequences.

My introduction to Chinese subtitles probably came later in life than most fans.  My first exposure to Hong Kong films was on TV, where they were subtitled perfectly; after that, I had to make do with horribly dubbed VHS tapes, and it wasn’t until I saw a freshly pirated copy of City Hunter that I became aware that Hong Kong subtitled its own films into English.  It was a bit of shock after watching Channel 4’s meticulously worded subs to be faced with a line like: “oh, are they chewing gums or my hearing’s wrong?”

But it wasn’t until I saw Police Story 2 that the potential for comic interpretations became apparent.  One bad guy shouts a command to his colleagues when Jackie gets the best of them: “Beat him out of recognisable shape!”  From then on, I’ve been looking at Hong Kong subtitles in a different way…

The best ones aren’t necessarily the ones that are completely wrong or weird.  In some ways, you can see that the subtitle makes perfect sense in itself; it’s just that no native speaker of this language would phrase it in such a way.  And why the Chinese seem to think we have a bodily function we call “stooling” is beyond me.  It’s odd because such things as typos are relatively rare, and when was the last time you read a Chinglish subtitle that mixes up “you’re” and “your” or “there” and “their”?  I believe I’ve only seen one such mix up, and as native English speakers get them muddled up every day, that’s quite an achievement.

Bio Zombie 

It’s not just the dialogue that can come to grief - sometimes the blurb on the back of the DVD box can raise a belly laugh or two.  The following is taken verbatim from the back of the Hong Kong Universe DVD of The Protector (with apologies to all who have read my comments about this nugget before on the HKMDB):

“Super action star Jackie Chan being the Director and actor this time* in “The Protector”, co-starring Sally Yip and other action actress**. 

New York policeman Billy Wong (Jackie Chan) chase after the gangsters who killed his partner on the ground, on the ramparts and in the air***.  He investigates a kidnapped case to Hong Kong and discovers Mr. Big is the leader of the gangsters****.  Finally, a big fireball lights up the beautiful harbour of Hong Kong”

*Erm, actually, James Glickenhaus is the Director, as it says elsewhere on the box.

**I guess the blurb writer wasn’t a fan of Moon Lee, who co-stars alongside Jackie…

***Jesus, what a day: first killed on the ground, then killed on the ramparts and then again in the air.  No wonder Jackie’s after revenge.

****This completely ruins the tension in the movie: all along I was thinking Mr Henchman was the leader.

Some of the best Chinglish subtitles can be found in the book Sex and Zen & A Bullet In The Head by Stefan Hammond and Mike Wilkins, and I’ve tied to avoid duplication where possible.  As this book is now twelve years old, I think it’s high time for some new ones to be copied and pasted throughout the Internet!  I plan to write new articles with new subs when I’ve got enough together, and if any readers have got a howler they’d like to see on here, please email me on drunkenmaster42@hotmail.com.   In the meantime, I present the following for your amusement.

Unreasonable requests and outlandish orders:

“Bump him to death” – From Beijing with Love

“Sock him, Fatty” – Pantyhose Hero

“Let me see how rude are you!” – Forbidden City Cop

“Carry a gun!  Armed Rubbery!” – People’s Hero

“You’re under our encirclement” – Fatal Move (whatever happened to “we have you surrounded”?)

“Bastard, bump against me” – Pantyhose Hero

“Doctor, are you rude?” – Forbidden City Cop

“Follow that fatty!  Run him down” – Pedicab Driver

“Let me rape you once and for all” – Pantyhose Hero

“Jin Si, your belly is open.  Run” – The Heroic Ones

“Let’s gay” – Pantyhose Hero

 

Insults, abuse and fighting talk:

“Can I slap her heavily?” – Forbidden City Cop

“You stinky!” – Fatal Move

“Auntie, you talk like a whore” – Pedicab Driver

“Frankly, are you a girl or a pervert?” – Pantyhose Hero

“You want to beat me, I do want to hit you hardly with rod too” – Forbidden City Cop

“Fatty, how can you piss on the street?” – Enter the Fat Dragon

 

Just plain wrong:

“Keeps delaying rascally” – Fatal Move

“Damaged, it’s sharp” – Pantyhose Hero

“I really recognise his scent of smell” – Ebola Syndrome

“You have a gun, return him with a bullet!” – People’s Hero

 “No, I have just stooled” – Lawyer, Lawyer 

“Slash the boys like greens, you serious” – Fatal Move

“Cut off the crabs, I will kill you if you don’t pay” – Fantasy Mission Force

“Sorry, my orgasm” – Pantyhose Hero

“I am stooling” – Bio Zombie

“Was beaten up when I just walked in.  Someone expelled me out” – Fatal Move

“It Banged, and a lot of people stooped down on the street” – People’s Hero

 “What for? I don’t chew gums” Interpol 009 

“Those bastards drank the urine which I’ve added with cathartics” – Lawyer, Lawyer

I’m off to do some stooling now.  Until next time, enjoy those subtitles!

    

Bruce Lee Vs Elvis: more “Game of Death” footage found April 1, 2008

Posted by Cal in : Uncategorized, Articles, Humour , comments closed

A recently discovered film can containing a mere 10 minutes’ worth of material has already been hailed as the Holy Grail for both action film fans and music fans.  The contents show the King of Kung Fu fighting the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll in a life and death struggle set inside a Pagoda. 

The footage is believed to be yet more material from Lee’s unfinished film Game of Death, shot in 1972.  The project was only in its infancy when Lee was called upon to film Enter The Dragon for Warner Brothers, and Lee died before he could go back and complete the film.  However, it has always been claimed that more material was shot than was ever seen, even taking into consideration the newly restored material that surfaced in recent documentaries on the subject.

The idea of Bruce Lee starring alongside Elvis Presley is not as far fetched as it sounds.  Presley was a huge fan of Lee, and was himself a Karate practitioner under the tutelage of Lee’s friend Ed Parker.  Presley expressed a wish to work with the Kung Fu star on a film project, but it had always been assumed that the two legends never met.  However, the footage comes as no surprise to the Presley estate.  “We know Elvis went to Hong Kong in 1972 to meet Bruce,” says a spokeman for the singing star, who died in 1977.  “He wanted the visit to be very low-key as he was mindful of the hysteria that would follow if the Hong Kong people knew the two were meeting.”

Travelling under the name of Vince Everett, Presley spent a total of two weeks in Hong Kong filming with Lee.  Full details of the found footage are being kept secret, but it is believed that the scene starts with Presley singing a musical number while Lee and co-star Nora Miao dance the Cha Cha – Lee was a spledind dancer in his youth and was even crowned the Hong Kong Cha Cha Champion of 1958.  Unfortunately, the film was shot without sound, so the song Elvis is singing remains a mystery – for now.  “There is dialogue, and it’s in English,” says another spokesman.  “We’re working with lip-readers to discover what is being said and sung.”

After the song ends, it appears Lee and Presley have an argument, and the two start fighting, with Presley using Karate against Lee’s Jeet Kune Do.  In all, the footage lasts just under ten minutes and contains fight choreography that one privileged viewer has said “will stun fans.  It’s simply outstanding stuff, and Elvis is on fine form.  When he breaks his guitar over Bruce’s head, it all goes nuclear.  I’ve never seen anything like it.” 

So why has the world not seen this amazing footage, and why did neither Lee or Elvis mention it?  No one knows for sure, but one theory is that Lee was unhappy with the dancing element of the scene and wanted to reshoot it before presenting it to the world.  As for why the footage was lost, there appears to be a simple explantion.  “We have a large vault in which we store all our films,” explains an employee at the archive vault of Golden Harvest studios, where Lee made all his Hong Kong movies.  “This particular reel was in a can where the writing on the label was completely obscured by a substance that looks like hamburger mustard.  It was simply left in the vault until we were doing a cleanout and we decided to have a look at what was on it.  Imagine our surprise when we found what it contained.” 

And what will happen to the film now?  Columbia Pictures distributed the Golden Harvest film Game of Death in 1978, five years after Lee’s death using stand-ins and archive footage to seemlessly build a new movie around the footage Lee had shot before leaving for the States to make Enter The Dragon.  The result was so astonishingly successful that hardly anyone noticed that Lee was being played by a series of other actors and stuntmen.  Columbia Pictures now wants to buy the film outright and insert the found footage – and shoot new scenes to explain the Presley character.

“We have found that we could not simply add the Elvis scene to the Pagoda section of the movie Game of Death,” said one high-ranking Columbia official.  “His character needs explaining.  We are therefore going to shoot new footage to help the flow of the revised film.”  One problem is that many of the cast, and director Robert Clouse, have passed away since making the film, and the aging process makes it impossible to use the services of the surviving cast.  “We have already aquired the services of an Asian-American actor who bears an uncanny resemblance to Tai Chung Kim [Lee’s stand in for the 1978 shoot] to play Billy Lo, and we will use archive footage and outtakes to fill in the gaps with the other actors.”

Columbia have gone even further by hiring an unknown actor to direct the new material.  Matt Conroy was given the job as he looked eerily similar to Robert Clouse in the late 70’s.  Conroy has not directed a single frame of film, and after studying Clouse’s back catalogue, which includes such genre classics as Gymkata and China O’Brien 2, was initially worried he may have been over-qualified.  However, he has now embraced the challenge: “There’s no getting around the fact that I look like the guy,” says Conroy, “and the producers are insisting that they want someone as close, physically, to Bob Clouse.  I will do my best and try not to let anyone down.”

It is not known at this point who will play Elvis in the re-shoot, but with an estimated 85,000 professional impersonators in the world there shouldn’t be too much trouble finding someone for the role.  As for the outcome of the duel, executives are keeping their lips firmy sealed.  “You’ll have to wait and see,” says an excited official.  “But this is going to be huge!”

The revised version of Game of Death is scheduled to hit cinemas worldwide exactly one year from today – on April 1, 2009.

Curse of the Movie Collector May 7, 2007

Posted by Cal in : Articles, Humour , 6 comments

No, this isn’t a review of a horror movie, although horror does play its part.  Even if you’ve never seen a Hong Kong movie, you’ll probably find something familiar in the insanity that follows…

I was trawling through Play.com the other day when I noticed that a film called Fearless Hyena has recently been released by those nice folk at Hong Kong Legends.  Hong Kong Legends (hereafter referred to as HKL) generally release the definitive versions of classic Hong Kong films (as the name implies, funnily enough) here in the UK.  I tutted my annoyance as I’d only bought the HK version of this film only a few months ago.  Then I thought, “hang on, I bought that on DVD before.  And wasn’t this the film that…” and after a few minutes had this array on the floor by my PC:

I ought to be doing shop window displays...

Yes, I’ve got four different versions of this film.  The first (on the left) was a VHS tape bought at an ex-rental shop for the princely sum of £5.00 back in 1993 (it was the only way you could get a copy then).  The tape was quite worn and the transfer was pretty ropey, so after a year or two I took the unprecedented step of ordering a copy of the film from a mail-order firm in a magazine (this being long before the days of internet shopping and the global market).  I sent off my cheque and waited the required 28 days for delivery.  The result (see second from left) was a brand spanking new copy of Fearless Hyena.  I was chuffed.  However, upon watching said opus, I was rather disgruntled to discover that the film broke down about fifteen minutes from the end.  There was then about five minutes of a blank screen and then the film came back, sort of showing a fast rewind until it got to the part where it left off.  Not exactly conducive to a good viewing experience, this.  Anyway, fast forward to the digital age (hurrah!) where I learn that Eastern Heroes have released the film.  It’s still dubbed into English (booo!) but the box proclaims that it’s “Colour Enhanced & Digitally Re-Mastered for Higher Picture Resolution” (it isn’t) and a “16.9 Anamorphic version enhanced for widescreen television” (it isn’t that either – the top and bottom bits of the picture have simply been masked to give the impression of widescreen).  Now I could probably go on for days about the frankly criminal shortcomings of Eastern Heroes, but as they have now gone the way of the dodo, there seems little point.  Anyway, the box also proclaims “Interactive moving menus”, and this it has got, so we can all feel a little better about the situation.  Needless to say, this particular version (see third from left) I never even bothered to watch.  The fourth (right) is the Fortune Star version I bought last year.  It’s in the original language (hurrah!), subtitled (double hurrah!) and genuinely remastered (gasp!).  However, I noticed that the remastering process rendered some of the colours a little “artificial”, and of course the subtitles can’t match that of a western release.  That HKL disc sure looks promising. 

So there I am, my finger hovering over the “Add to Cart” button for the HKL DVD.  And do you know what I’m thinking?  I’m thinking, “you know what?  I’m not even sure I like the film anymore”…

So did I buy the film for the fifth time?  No, not yet.  But when the sale comes…

It’s one thing to deliberately double-up on certain titles when better versions come along (besides, I find a pile of old/unwanted DVDs makes a nice place to hide all your Hsu Qi “modelling” discs and suchlike) but over the past year or so I’ve been increasingly troubled by the possibility of buying the same film again by accident.

Using doubles as a discrete way of hiding those special items.

Now this will probably only resonate with other fans of Hong Kong films as all of their English language titles seem to come from a vocabulary of only about 150 words.  When browsing through lists I look at something like Shaolin Drunken Vole Vs The Evil Dead and I have to think to myself “have I got that?”  It might be me getting older or something, but I’m not retaining the information as well as I used to.  Next item on the list, Naked Cop 3 or whatever, and I’m sure I’ve got that.  I even remember bits of it in my mind.  But lo and behold, it’s nowhere to be seen and I realise I’ve been thinking about something else entirely.  Likewise My Flying Auntie and We Love Deadly Dancing Millionaires.  So I opt for the DVD version of Legendary Weapons of China as I haven’t upgraded from VHS yet…and then look up to see it on the shelf next to me.  So I decide to quit while I’m ahead and have a lie down for a bit.

I’ve so far only bought the same film by accident once: Sammo Hung’s Spooky Encounters.  For some reason, I thought it was going to be the sequel (which I soon discovered was called, rather confusingly I feel, Spooky Encounters 2).  But as time goes on and the old grey cells disappear, it’s inevitable that this kind of thing is going to happen again sometime. 

When it does, I hope I can be philosophical about it and think of it as just another ringer to help hide my pile of eastern nudeyness.

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