Wu Dang (Blu-ray) (2012)

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Released 13-Mar-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Martial Arts Featurette-Behind The Scenes-(31:12)
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-x 3 for other films
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 100:25
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Patrick Leung
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Wenzhuo Zhao
Mini Yang
Siu-Wong Fan
Yu-Hang To
Jiao Xu
Hee Ching Paw
Shaun Tam
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Kin Law


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Mandarin DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Mandarin Dolby Digital 2.0 (384Kb/s)
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 Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     In the early years of the Chinese Republic Professor Tang Yunlong (Zhao Wenzhuo) comes to Wu Dang mountain to sponsor a martial arts competition that is conducted only every 500 years. He brings with him his daughter Tang Ning (Xu Jiao), an excellent martial artist in her own right, to enter the contest. At Wu Dang, the Master selects the commoner Shui Heyi (Fan Siu-Wong) to represent the temple, much to the disgust of Taoist master Bai Long (To Yu-Hang). But it is clear that the motives of Professor Tang are not altruistic; he has a map which discloses the location of the seven treasures of Wu Dang and has come to steal them. Also at Wu Dang for the contest is the female martial artist Tian Xin (Mini Yang) who also has a copy of the map but is only seeking one treasure, the Xuan Tian sword, which belongs to her family. As the contest commences and the treasures are sought, unlikely alliances are made, secrets are revealed and love blooms until the real power of the Wu Dang treasures is unleashed.

     Wu Dang is a mixed bag. Visually it is stunning; the vistas of the Wu Dang mountains, autumn forests and temples are breathtaking and are rendered in fine, deep detail. This also applies to the backgrounds of some of the fight sequences; the fight off the stone bridge, for example, looks spectacular. The martial arts action, courtesy of action director Corey Yuan, whose credits include John Woo’s Red Cliff I & II (2008 / 2009) and Shaolin (2011), utilises a lot of wire work as the heroes spin and fly around their fights. It is mostly well executed and looks good and is deliberately dance-like rather than realistic; the fight inside the temple where Tang and Tian Xin pirouette and spin off each other is very much a dance, a fact emphasised by the music at this point. Other fights however tend to become a bit repetitive but because they avoid CGI they are still interesting to watch. Which is just as well; when CGI is used, for example in the climactic fight or the sequence where the herbs come to life (yes, that reads right), it looks very obvious and quite silly.

     Outside of the visuals and the action there is less to enjoy. Characterisation is non-existent, the villain is obvious and a wide stream of sentimentality runs throughout the film that is hard to take. This includes the paralysed mother of Shui Heyi, Tang Ning’s illness, the whole relationship between Ning and Shui, and “the girls heart to heart” talk, which is saccharine to say the least. In addition, while both Zhao Wenzhuo and Mini Yang look good and move and fight well, there is little chemistry between them, which undermines their relationship.

     Wu Dang has some spectacular fight scenes and wonderful landscapes, so is a visual treat. The plot and characters are less interesting but the film is still worth a look if you are interested in the genre.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Wu Dang is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original ratio, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC codec.

     The picture is stunning, sharp and with deep fine detail showing off the landscape, set design and action. Close ups show marvellous detail. The colours have been manipulated, and often have a silvery sheen and that slightly harsh digital look, but were often gorgeous. Blacks are absolutely solid, shadow detail wonderful. Contrast and brightness are consistent, although skin tones do look on the pale side because of the colour manipulation.

     Marks were absent and except for a couple of places there were no artefacts, even during the extreme movement of the action scenes. The exceptions were obvious; blurring on the leaves and stones as the motorcycle passes at 11:27 and on the vertical bars at 16:17. Perhaps these are more obvious because the print is so sharp!

     English subtitles are provided in a clear white font. They are in American English and there are more errors than I am used to seeing in a recent film. Examples include “Ar you looking at a treasure map” (16:37), “ust kidding” (43:05) and “A lots of people are looking” (71:31). As well, at 79:57 the subtitles have Xin saying “I promised Ning I would leave until she is cured” which is the opposite of what she has just said to Ning. I suspect there should have been a “not” before “leave”. These errors are disappointing.

     A beautiful looking print.

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

Audio

     Audio is a choice of Mandarin DTS-MA HD 5.1 or Mandarin Dolby Digital 2.0, surround encoded, at 384 Kbps.

     The 5.1 audio track is very good. Dialogue is clear and easy to hear. The surrounds are heavily utilised during the action sequences with the thud of kicks and punches and the crashing of broken furniture and walls – of which there is quite a bit. They were also active during the rest of the film, with effects such as water dripping, insects and thunder, as well as music. The subwoofer provides good support to the music, the thunder, thumps and crashes.

     The score by Kin Law was varied, incorporating orchestral dance numbers as well as percussion. It was effective and well represented in the mix.

     Lip synchronisation seemed slightly off occasionally.

     A very good enveloping audio track.

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

Extras

     On start-up there were trailers for Tai Chi 0, Kill ‘Em All and Painted Skin: The Resurrection that collectively run 5:47. They need to be skipped and cannot be selected from the menu.

Decoding Wu Dang (31:12)

     This consists of approximately 10 short EPK type segments joined together to create this making of. They include film footage but also a lot of interesting behind the scenes footage showing the creating and performing of the numerous fight scenes, including the wire work and blue screen stunts. There is also a look at the sets and costumes. Also included are interviews with the director, writer, producer and fight choreographer Corey Yuan as well as most of the principal actors, especially Mini Yang who features frequently. Some of the footage and interview material is repeated in more than one EPK segment, and there were some crackles on the audio. The wire work and stunt sections are very interesting, the rest less so.

Trailer (1:33)

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 of Wu Dang is identical to ours except for some subtitle options. The Hong Kong Region All release adds an extra making of featurette, interviews and a photo gallery, as well as 7.1 audio. However, it is listed as being in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1, which may or may not be accurate, and I cannot confirm if the extras have English subtitles. I would stick with the local release.

Summary

     Wu Dang is visually stunning and the martial arts, courtesy of action director Corey Yuan, utilise a lot of wire work which is well executed, but characterisation is basically non-existent, the villain is obvious and a wide thread of sentimentality runs throughout the film. Nevertheless, Wu Dang is worth a look for fans of the genre if only for the action and visuals.

     The video is sharp and gorgeous, the audio very good. The extra is an EPK but does have some interesting sections.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, May 10, 2013
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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