Bombing, The (Da hong zha) (Blu-ray) (2018)

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Released 12-Dec-2018

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category War Trailer-Reprisal and Final Score
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2018
Running Time 96:16
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Feng Xiao
Studio
Distributor
Defiant Screen Entertainment Starring Bruce Wills
Liu Ye
Song Seung-heon
William Chan
Ma Su
Fan Wei
Che Yongli
Wu Gang
Geng Le
Case ?
RPI ? Music Wang Liguang


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     In 1937 the Japanese attacked China capturing Shanghai and Nanjing. The Chinese government moved to Chongqing, a city that was then regularly bombed by the Japanese for the next 6 years. The Bombing is set in 1940 in and around Chongqing and follows three stories that occasionally intersect. In the first, US advisor to the Chinese air force squadron tasked with defending Chongqing Jack (Bruce Wills) tries to keep the rookie, hot headed Chinese pilots including Minxun (Song Seung-heon) and Ting (William Chan) alive long enough to make a difference. In the second, set in the city enduring the frequent bombing, Uncle Cui (Fan Wei) is hoping to use the upcoming Mah-jong championship to win his Mah-jong parlour back from Yaogu (Che Yongli). In the third, and most substantial story, injured pilot Gangtou (Liu Ye) is taking a truck carrying a secret British decoder to Chongqing. On the way he picks up Zhao (Wu Gang), a scientist taking two breeding pigs to the city, Ding (Ma Su), a woman shepherding a group of children to safety, Jin Xiang (Geng Le), a Japanese spy tasked with preventing the decoder reaching Chongqing, and Susan, a photographer / journalist.

     The Bombing (also, at various times called Air Strike and Unbreakable Spirit, original Chinese name Da hong zha) is by any name a muddle of a film. It is reported to be the most expensive Chinese film at the time it was made (2015), but it suffered from extensive reshoots and financial irregularities that saw cast member Fan Bingbing charged with tax evasion and the film was not released in China. In the US the film’s running time of 121 minutes was cut by 25 minutes, the Chinese dialogue was all dubbed into English (although not the Japanese dialogue, which is subtitled) and the film released as Air Strike. In the UK, the film retained its 121 minute running length and the Chinese dialogue and was titled The Bombing. Although this Australian Blu-ray is also entitled The Bombing I regret to say that it is the US cut down and dubbed version of the film.

     I expect that the longer version of the film may make more sense, but this version is a mess. This was only director Feng Xiao’s fourth film and he struggles with the tone of the film; there are slapstick sequences, gung-ho Chinese posturing, maudlin romantic interludes, sections which illustrate the brutality of war, explosions and bombings occur regularly without much rhyme or reason. Bruce Willis is on screen for about 15 minutes and sprouts some cringe-worthy dialogue (one could think that he is only in the film for the money and because his daughter Rumer Willis, who appears for about 10 seconds, gets third top billing) while Oscar winning actor Adrien Brody is in the film for all of 15 seconds. The three storylines switch around; there is aerial combat with some very dodgy CGI so what is happening never looks faintly real, the truck is frequently bombed and strafed but despite Liu Ye’s best efforts the sequences really lack peril. Perhaps surprisingly, some of the film’s best moments concern Fan Wei’s Uncle Cui and the brutality of the bombing of the city where hospitals, churches, women and children are victims; a sequence in a collapsed cave is tragic.

     The cover of The Bombing states that the film was “inspired by true events”. Yet, even in simple things, the film does not hold up; is it likely that on an airfield that has been frequently bombed and strafed the planes would still be parked, unprotected, beside the runway? In another sequence a fighter plane with a damaged undercarriage flew so slow without stalling that it landed on top of a moving truck! Artistic licence, maybe, but I suspect that, other than the fact that the city of Chongqing was bombarded from the air and held out for years, the rest is total fabrication.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The Bombing is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     The film was shot digitally; exterior colours are good but with that digital flatness and detail is strong, good enough to highlight the dodgy green-screen and CGI work, especially the explosions. The film was shot in 3D, but was only ever shown in 2D; nevertheless the 3D is obvious from the number of plane parts, including propellers, parts of wings and engines or wheels, or rocks and debris from explosions, that fly towards and past the camera. Blacks are solid, shadow detail fine, skin tones good, contrast and brightness consistent. Marks and artefacts were absent.

     No subtitle streams iare provided although the Japanese dialogue is subtitled in a lime text.

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

Audio

     Audio is English DTS-HD MA, the Chinese dialogue all being dubbed into English which means that the lip synchronisation for the Chinese actors is very indifferent.

     Dialogue is clear and easy to understand. The explosions from the bombing, falling buildings and debris, machine gun impacts on bodies, the ground and buildings, engines as warplanes flash around the room, the impact of bullets, planes on fire, bombs whistling past; all feature in the audio and the surrounds providing a good, enveloping experience. The subwoofer was used effectively to add rumble to the explosions, shots and impacts.

     The score by Wang Liguang was martial and effective.

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

Extras

Start-up Trailers (4:40)

     Trailers for Reprisal and Final Score play on start-up and cannot be selected from the menu. There are no other extras.

R4 vs R1

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

     This release of The Bombing is the same dubbed and cut version as the US release called Air Strike. Amazon list a UK Region 2 DVD with the uncut 121 minute running length and the Chinese dialogue, but no Blu-ray is listed. If one were available it would be the preferred release.

Summary

     It is hard to recommend The Bombing. It has some heart wrenching sequences showing the fate of the men, women and children victims of the relentless bombing, but plot-wise it is a muddle. Maybe the original longer version released in the UK would result in more coherency, but one can only judge a film by what one has.

     The video and audio are fine. No relevant extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, June 13, 2019
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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