Railroad Tigers (Blu-ray) (2016)
|Year Of Production||2016|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Ding Sheng|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||Mandarin DTS HD Master Audio 5.1|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.40:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English (Burned In)||Smoking||No|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Railroad Tigers is set in the late 1930s or early 1940s in a region of China under Japanese occupation. Ma Yung (Jackie Chan) is a railway porter who leads a small rag-tag group, called the Tigers, that robs trains of supplies meant for the Japanese army while dreaming of doing something bigger. They get their chance when the Chinese army attacks a bridge on the railway but fail to destroy it; a wounded soldier stumbles into Yung’s village into the house of pancake seller Auntie Qin (Xu Fan) and reveals that the bridge must be destroyed in the next four days. Of course the Tigers, including Dahai (Huang Zitao), Fan Chuan (Wang Kai), Rui Ge (Jaycee Chan) and Dakai (Sang Ping), rise to the challenge while Japanese military policemen Yamagucchi (Hiroyuki Ikeuchi) and female officer Yuko (Zhang Lanxin) try to stop them. Much action ensues.
Railroad Tigers is a spectacular action / comedy film in search of a comprehensible plot and a consistent tone. There is a large cast of characters, about 15 of whom are introduced with a freeze frame and text on screen showing their name, occupation and, in some cases, their catchphrase; this type of introduction was used in classic Shaw Brothers films with a huge number of principal characters, such as The Water Margin (1972) and All Men are Brothers (1975), although in Railroad Tigers a lot of those characters don’t play a big part in the plot. In addition, a number of those who do play a larger role look similar and dress alike so it is hard to tell, with the main exception of Jackie Chan who has a beard and a natty hat, who is doing what. Not that there is a lot of character development in any case. The Japanese characters are also either totally over the top, or played for ridiculous goofy laughs, sometimes in the same scene. As a comedy, as in much else, Railroad Tigers is not a subtle film!
Railroad Tigers is directed by Ding Sheng who has seven feature films on his resume including an earlier film with Jackie Chan in 2013, Police Story: Lockdown; it could be said that he pulls out all the stops with Railroad Tigers. The camera is constantly moving around, there are numerous overhead crane shots and the action features frenetic cutting, so much so that it is hard to know what is happening. As Sheng also edited the film, this is obviously what he intended it to look like. Not that the action isn’t spectacular; the extended climax features a bridge, two steam engines, a train, tanks, cannons, explosions, machine guns, destruction and a huge body count in a wild free for all that is a dazzling set piece of action mayhem. It has been reported that there are about 2,400 CGI VFX shots in the film, which I can believe; some are very good although others involving explosions are less impressive.
Railroad Tigers is essentially an old fashioned boy’s own adventure with trains, where females are peripheral and the villains booable and / or ridiculous. Much of it is played for broad comedy of a goofy kind, such as the sequence with ropes as the group try to stealing explosives, comedy that is tonally very different to the tone of the serious action sequences, when people are killed. These changes in tone are abrupt enough but also jarring is the music composed by Zai Lao, which is jaunty and frivolous, feeling inappropriate while there is death and bloodshed on the screen. The film proper is also bookended by sequences in a modern railway museum which achieves nothing except to get a cameo by Andy Lau into the movie. However, images of steam trains with clouds of smoke puffing through the landscape of snow, waving yellow grass or hills are always beautiful and don’t disappoint here.
Railroad Tigers is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.
This is an excellent print with the exception of some of the CGI that looks soft. Otherwise detail is strong with beautiful images of the train travelling across the landscape. The sets, including the train station and railway junction, are detailed, and the colours throughout the film are vibrant with rich reds, yellows, blues and greens. Blacks and shadow detail is excellent, skin tones natural, contrast and brightness consistent. I did not notice and marks or artefacts and the picture was stable in motion – and there was a lot of motion.
Small white English subtitles are burnt in, even for the English dialogue at the start. They are sometimes hard to read against light backgrounds but are error free.
In the US Railroad Tigers was released with a 7.1 Mandarin mix and an English 5.1. Here we get a Mandarin DTS-HD MA 5.1.
This is a loud, enveloping audio, perfect for an action movie. Dialogue is clear. Effects, especially during the action, are spread across the sound stage with shots, engines, explosions, impacts and the like. During the climax are added the crash of locomotives, the destruction of rail cars and tanks, bullets whizzing, shouts and the thud of debris. In the non-action segments there is the sound of crowds, the wind in the grass, distant engines. The intrusive score by Zai Lao is ever-present. The subwoofer was very active yet the boom it added to the action was always appropriate and did not overwhelm the rest of the audio.
I did not notice any lip synchronisation issues.
|Surround Channel Use|
No extras. The menu offers only “Play Film / Chapters”
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Although our release from Icon starts with the Well Go USA logo, the US Region A Blu-ray release of Railroad Tigers adds four short (less than 4 minutes each) featurettes, a making of (21:21) plus the original and international trailers. It also includes many more audio options: Mandarin DTS:X, DTS-HD MA 7.1, Dolby Digital 2.0 and DTS Headphone:X and English DTS-HD MA 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0. A clear win to the US.
I suspect that without the presence of Jackie Chan this Chinese language film most likely would not have received a wider release in the west. It is a jumbled mess of a plot and with an uneven tone however spectacular images of steam trains, over the top action mayhem and Jackie Chan may be a good enough reason for fans of action or the star to watch Railroad Tigers.
The video and audio are very good. We miss out on all the extras and the additional audio options that are available in the US.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 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 Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|