Let the Bullets Fly (Rang zidan fei) (Blu-ray) (2010)

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Released 20-Jan-2012

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Comedy Theatrical Trailer-x 2
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2010
Running Time 132:08 (Case: 127)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Wen Jiang
Studio
Distributor
Vendetta Films Starring Junli Guo
Wen Jiang
Bukong Li
Ping Shu
Xiao Wei
Sujin Zhu
Yun-Fat Chow
Xiaogang Feng
Wen Jiang
Carina Lau
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Joe Hisaishi


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Mandarin DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In) Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     China 1920, the Warlord period. Notorious bandit Zhang (Jiang Wen) and his gang ambush the train taking Governor Ma (Ge You) and his wife (Carina Lau) to their new post. Sparing Ma’s life, and taking him along, Zhang proceeds to Goose Town and pretends to be the new Governor in order to rob the rich families. Unfortunately for him, Goose Town is already under the control of Godfather Master Huang (Chow Yun-fat) and a battle of wits and subterfuge ensues, with not a little betrayal, double-dealing and gunfire along the way. May the most cunning win!

     Despite its title, Let the Bullets Fly (Chinese title Rang zidan fei) is not an out and out actioner, although there are gunfights, explosions and charging horses at various times. Instead it is more a battle of wits between Zhang and Huang and here the film is well served by two delicious performances by superstar Chow Yun-fat and director /actor Jiang Wen. Chow, from his films with John Woo onwards, has frequently been the epitome of “cool”, a man who can mow down a hundred extras without breaking into a sweat or losing his composure. He has certainly been extending his range as he gets older, and in Let the Bullets Fly he heads into over the top black comedy and confused villainy to delightful effect. Equally as good is Jiang Wen as his foil. This is only Wen’s fourth directorial effort in sixteen years, but three have been in the last five years so he may be getting into his stride. As an actor he is more prolific, being seen recently as the devious Cao Cao in the 2011 Donnie Yen historical action piece The Last Bladesman. Here he is also excellent as a character who has more depth and compassion than at first appears. Together he and Chow easily carry the picture although they do get excellent support from the devious and funny Ge You and the delightful Carina Lau, who is not adverse to a spot of governor bedding, whoever the governor may be!

     Let the Bullets Fly also looks and sounds great. The cinematography of town and countryside, courtesy of Zhao Fei (who has been making beautiful pictures for some time such as Zhang Yimou’s Raise the Red Lantern in 1991), looks wonderful with only a few obvious and clumsy CGI effects, while the score by Joe Hisaishi, known for his work with Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki such as Princes Mononoke (1997), Spirited Away (2001) or Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) is loud when it needs to be but is often playful and whimsical, adding another aspect to the visuals.

     While Let the Bullets Fly can be quite bloody, and the action sequences frenetic in the modern style, it is more a character piece and is so well served by the central performances. The film looks and sounds good and is also frequently very funny. It China it was the highest grossing domestic film ever as at October 2011. It is an absolute hoot, and great fun.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Let the Bullets Fly is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original aspect ratio, in 1080p.

     This is a very good print showing off the Chinese countryside and the set, good enough to see the less than impressive CGI when it occurs! The visuals are crisp and sharp, with only a little motion blur in some scenes. Colours are beautiful and natural, skin tones fine. Blacks are intense, shadow detail pristine. I did not notice any marks or other artefacts.

     The white English subtitles are burnt in. They are in English English, clear and easy to read. They truncate some of the dialogue, which is understandable given that there is a lot of fast paced dialogue in the film, but the sense appears clear enough. Mandarin speakers may be able to advise otherwise.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio track is Mandarin DTS-HD MA 5.1, and an impressive track it is.

     Dialogue is clear and centred and the surrounds are constantly in action featuring gunshots, music, galloping horses and weather effects. Panning effects occur during the gunfights with bullets flying around the room, and over one’s head. The subwoofer is also frequently in play adding to action sequences, hooves and music. It is especially evident in the scenes with the drums, adding a wonderful bass depth.

     The original score by Joe Hisaishi is loud when it needs to be but is also playful and whimsical, so it nicely enhanced the visuals and added to the film experience.

     Lip synchronisation looked occasionally to be off, especially Ge You, but it was not distracting.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Trailers

     There are two theatrical trailers for the film, each running 1:04. They tend to play up the action aspects of the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region A US Blu-ray has the same technical specifications but adds a “making of”, interviews and trailers. The Region A Hong Kong release has a DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio and extras including interviews, the “making of”, cast profiles, promos and poster gallery. It has English subtitles for the feature but they may not be available for the extras. The Region All Chinese release seems similar to our Region B.

     Probably the Hong Kong version is the pick.

Summary

     Let the Bullets Fly was the highest grossing Chinese film in the domestic market ever as of October 2011. It is part western, part black comedy, part action film with delicious acting turns by superstar Chow Yun-fat and Jiang Wen. This one is a treat, and a total hoot that looks fabulous on Blu-ray.

     The video and audio are great, the extras only a couple of trailers, but at least they are for this film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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