Saving General Yang (2013)

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Released 11-Sep-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2013
Running Time 97:48
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Ronny Yu
Studio
Distributor
Icon Entertainment Starring Kat Lo
Edmond Wong
Ronny Yu
Ady An
Adam Cheng
Ekin Cheng
Vic Chow
Xin Bo Fu
Raymond Lam
Vivi Lee
Bryan Leung
Chen Li
Case ?
RPI ? Music Kenji Kawai


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Chinese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In) Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Song Dynasty China. The kingdom is under attack by the Khitans from the north led by Yelu Yuan (Shao Bing). It is not a good time for the Song as two of the leading families, the Yang and Pan, are at odds because one of General Yang Ye’s (Adam Cheng) seven sons has accidentally killed the son of Lord Pan Renmei. The Emperor appoints Lord Pan to lead the army, and places Yang Ye under his command. Because Yang had killed his father in battle, Yelu Yuan has sworn to take revenge upon all the Yang clan. So as Yang Ye goes into battle with the Khitans he faces a sworn enemy in front, and a commander who may betray him at his rear.

     When the battle against the Khitan is joined with Ye’s troops in the front line, Lord Pan orders a retreat, abandoning Yang and his men. Yang and a few of his soldiers retreat to Wolf Mountain, when they are besieged. Back home, Yang’s wife (Xu Fan) petitions the Emperor to assist her husband and with the Emperor’s permission sends all her seven sons on a mission to save their father. It is a mission where the survival of all the sons is unlikely, especially as Lord Pan disobeys the Emperor’s orders and refuses to send soldiers in support.

     Saving General Yang was directed by Ronny Yu who has an interesting range of credits including The Bride with White Hair (1993) and the Jet Li film Fearless (2006) as well as Hollywood horror films such as Bride of Chucky (1998) and Freddy vs. Jason (2003). Saving General Yang is based upon one of the well-known legends of the Song dynasty and indeed the film has the old fashioned feel of classic Shaw Brothers films such as The Water Margin (1972) and All Men are Brothers (1975), which themselves are films based upon a legend from the Song Dynasty. Like those films, the characters in Saving General Yang are introduced with an on-screen caption (such as “5th Brother”) which is very necessary, for while Chinese audiences would know the story and the characters, and many of the actors who play the brothers (Raymond Lam, Ekin Cheng, Vic Chow, Fu Xin Bo, Li Chen, Wu Chun, Yu Bo are known faces, for western audiences there are just too many brothers taking up screen time and it is hard to tell who is who. The only one with any real backstory is Wu Chun as the 6th Brother, whose love for Princes Chai (Ady An) kicks off the plot.

     On the plus side, the costumes and set design of Saving General Yang look stupendous and the action sequences are energetic and varied. The action choreographer was Tung Wei (Stephen Tung) who has some impressive action credits to his name including Hero (2002), Painted Skin (2009) and Reign of Assassins (2011). While Saving General Yang does make full use of obvious CGI to round out the numbers, its fight sequences in the main are close quarter affairs that are quite diverse, including a fight on and around the crumbling earth walls of a fortress, a stalking contest with arrows in waving grassland and an old fashioned one-on-one duel utilising edged weapons, kung fu and wire work that is well staged.

     Saving General Yang looks spectacular, including a few classic “hero shots” such as the seven brothers riding out to save their father silhouetted against the blood red sun (24:52), and the action is chaotic, energetic and varied but in the end there is just too many characters that are not sufficiently differentiated which means that we do not care about their fates as much as we should.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Saving General Yang is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     The print is sharp with exceptional detail in sets and costumes. Much of the film has been colour enhanced in post-production, with deep browns and gun metal greys dominating. Colours generally are rich, if flat, while the blood is a deep red. Many scenes are quite bright, sometimes deliberately excessively so in dream sequences. Skin tones are fine, if on the brown side, and due to the way the film was shot contrast and brightness varies. Blacks are rock solid, and shadow detail very good.

     I had some issues with this review DVD on both my Blu-ray players. On my main player, a Sony BDP S580, the DVD paused a number of times at the start between 1:35 and 3:00. From there until the layer change at 65:25 everything was fine. After the layer change, between 74:24 and 77:59 there were major block outs and jumps; after which all was fine again. On my older player, a Sony BDP S350, the film jumps sections in the beginning, but later was OK. On my computer, using Power DVD 12, the disc froze momentarily at 1:37 but was otherwise fine. Make of that as you will.

     Other than occasional ghosting with movement and some shimmer with the end titles artefacts were absent.

     English subtitles are burnt in. They are fairly small, but are easy enough to read. Other than a slight error at 29:57We may have sacrifice 200 men” they seemed error free.

     The layer change at 65:25 was at a scene change.

     A manipulated print that can look spectacular but with some potential issues.

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

Audio

     Audio is Chinese Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps.

     Dialogue was clear and centred. The surrounds were frequently used for ambient sound such as music, weather effects and insects, and during the action sequences resounded with the clash and clank of weapons. There were directional effects and pans for arrows, boulders and horses’ hooves and the sub-woofer added impressive bass to the thud of boulders, horses’ hooves, thunder and the score.

    I did not notice any lip synchronisation problems.

     The original score by Kenji Kawai was suitably martial and grand and suited the film.

     The audio was loud and enveloping.

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

Extras

    There were absolutely no extras.

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 seem currently to be a release of Saving General Yang in either Region 1 US or Region 2 UK. YesAsia lists a Hong Kong Region All release which includes a Making of and trailers. While the feature has English subtitles, I have no information if the extras do.

Summary

     Saving General Yang looks spectacular and boasts some impressive and varied action sequences. It is based on a Song Dynasty legend which Chinese viewers would be familiar with, but for western audiences there are just too many brothers taking up screen time and it is hard to tell who is who.

     The video looks good, but there are possible issues, the audio is excellent. There are absolutely no extras, not even trailers.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, September 13, 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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