Motorway (2012)

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Released 7-Nov-2012

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Eastern Eye Trailers x 4
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 85:37 (Case: 89)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (49:36) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Pou-Soi Cheang
Studio
Distributor
Media Asia
Madman Entertainment
Starring Anthony Wong Chau-Sang
Shawn Yue
Xiaodong Guo
Barbie Hsu
Josie Ho
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Alex Gopher
Xavier Jamaux


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Cheung (Shawn Yue) and Lo (Anthony Wong) are part of the “Invisible Squad”: Hong Kong police who cruise in unmarked cars to catch and arrest speeding drivers. Cheung is the rookie, keen to test and improve his driving skills, Lo the veteran about to retire. Jiang (Guo Xiaodong) is a fabled get-away driver who has never been caught, although it seems that some years ago Lo had come very close before crashing and being injured.

     Jiang is called back to Hong Kong to break an old associate, Wong (Li Haitao), out of prison which he does successfully, showing his driving superiority and escaping after being pursued by Cheung. Wong is planning a major diamond heist and Jiang is to be his driver. With the police, including Cheung and Lo, on their trail the tension increases until the adrenalin charged climax.

     Motorway (original title Che sau) is produced by Johnnie To who, as the director of the excellent Election (2005) and Mad Detective (2007), has good crime / action credentials. Motorway starts off with a split screen sequence of speeding cars with a blasting rock soundtrack and has all the action and car chase stunts one would expect from a film of this type. The stunts are done for real on the streets of Hong Kong (mostly in the evening or early morning I’d guess) and I think that a major part of the film’s budget went on cars, many of which are mangled and trashed during the course of the film. The camera is often with the cars as they race around the streets, weaving through the traffic, giving a good feel of speed and excitement.

     Yet, Motorway is more than these driving sequences, with Police procedures and the relationship between Lo and Cheung that builds up a nice tension and expectation between stunts. The film is very well served by the two main male leads (females get rather short shift here, even if the head cop is a woman). Veteran Anthony Wong is an easily recognisable face to those who watch Hong Kong cinema, appearing for example in Hard Boiled for John Woo in 1992 and the Infernal Affairs trilogy (2002/2003) among many others. While not a leading man, he adds maturity and gravitas to his films, and does his usual great job in Motorway. Shawn Yue has a longish filmography as well, but is better known as a model in Hong Kong and spokesperson for such brands as Coca-Cola China. In Motorway he is good looking, has screen charisma and presence and works well with Wong; the result is that we care about these characters and are involved in the action, more than I expected from what is advertised as a Fast and Furious type thriller.

     Motorway has charismatic stars, exciting vehicle action done for real and excellent Hong Kong locations. It may not be anything too original, but it is exciting, very entertaining and well worth a look. .

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Motorway is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the original ratio being 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     Except in some of the racing highway sequences, sharpness is very good, fine detail excellent. Colours are deep and natural, the Hong Kong locations looking spectacular. Brightness, contrast and skin tones are consistent and natural. Blacks are rock solid and shadow detail excellent. I did not notice any film or film to video artefacts except for very minor motion blur.

     English subtitles are in a clear yellow font and are easy to read. I noticed no spelling or grammatical errors.

    The layer change at 49:36 resulted in a slight pause.

     A marvellous looking print, one of the best SD I have seen in a while.

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

Audio

     Audio is a choice of either Cantonese or Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps.

     Dialogue was nice and clear. As befits a film with racing engines, squealing tires and crashes, the surround and rear channels have lots to do, and do it well without going over the top. Directional effects also occur as cars race across the screen, giving a nice enveloping feel. The sub-woofer supported engines, crashes and the music nicely.

     I think that the film was made in Cantonese. There is still some minor lip synchronisation issues in the Cantonese track, but the dub into Mandarin is substantially out of sync. Stick to the Cantonese.

     The music was composed and performed by Xavier Jamaux and Alex Gopher. It nicely augments the visuals, adding tension and is well represented in the audio mix.

    An excellent audio mix giving a nice enveloping feel.

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

Extras

Theatrical Trailer (1:25)

Eastern Eye Trailers

     Trailers for other Directors Suite films from Madman: Quick (2:04), The Chasing World (1:49), Vanquisher (1:49) and Exiled (2:22).

R4 vs R1

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

     There does not appear to be either a Region 1 US or Region 2 UK DVD release of the film as yet. The Region 3 HK DVD has similar language options to our Region 4, and includes a making of and behind the scenes as well as the theatrical trailer. The feature has English subtitles; I am unsure if the extras are similarly subtitled. For English speakers, the Region 4 should be fine.

    The Region A HK released Blu-ray has similar extras. At present it is the only Blu-ray version available.

Summary

     Motorway, from producer Johnnie To, has charismatic stars, exciting vehicle action done for real and excellent Hong Kong locations. It may not be anything too original, but it is exciting and very entertaining.

     The DVD has excellent video and audio, but a trailer is the only relevant extra.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, December 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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