The Accidental Spy (Dak miu mai shing) (2001)
|Year Of Production||2001|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Teddy Chen|
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, production bloopers.|
†††† Wow! Jackie! Chan! In! A! New! Film!
††† Sorry about that, but after reading the blurb on this disc where every sentence is punctuated with an exclamation mark, I felt it would have been remiss of me to fail to mock the advertising executives at Buena Vista. In short, exclamation marks, like lots of people being smacked around, do not necessarily make for excitement.
†††† The Accidental Spy offers essentially a loosely threaded plot around a few action sequences focusing on Jackie Chanís admittedly impressive kung-fu skills. Jackie Chan (played by Jackie Chan ... you've got to love the creative skills there) is a gym equipment salesman, raised in an orphanage, who foils a robbery and is then approached by a private investigator to visit his supposed father in Korea. It turns out his father was a double-agent who defected in Turkey. Jackie travels to Turkey to find a fortune he has apparently been left, although he must Ďplay a gameí to get his hands on it.
†††† The films of Jackie Chan are and always have been sometimes amusing pieces of fluff. The characters are largely one-dimensional. The humour generally relates to some slapstick joke or another, and the violence is intentionally minimalised and focuses on hand-to-hand combat in a jokey kind of way. Famous really for the over-the-top stunts, which Chan performs personally, his films are generally much of a muchness. Now, I donít mind that kind of thing to an extent, but the calibre of modern action films have just far surpassed this rather sad spectacle. The same thing that bugged me about Kiss Of The Dragon gets under my skin in Chanís films. While Kiss Of The Dragon involved some highly stylised action sequences, Jet Li never picks up a machine gun when there are plenty lying around, relying instead on his martial arts skills. Sometimes this seems appropriate. Other times, it really does not. Ditto, Chanís work.
†††† Iím a big fan of Hark Tsui (Once Upon A Time In China, Time and Tide) and Johnny To (Hero Never Dies, Running Out Of Time), modern Hong Kong action directors who make intensely violent films that grab your attention in a way that Chanís work does not. With their own perverse sense of humour, Tsui and To have stunts you wouldnít believe and action sequences that contort the mind. In contrast, The Accidental Spy is not very funny, not very violent, has no really wowsing stunts by contemporary standards, or really wowsing kung-fu -- really, even Kiss Of The Dragon outdid this film in that regard. In short, The Accidental Spy is not very Ö anything. Itís bland kung-fu slapstick nothing. The end sequence, being largely a rehash on the Speed motif, is just laughable, but not in a funny way. It just doesnít make all that much sense.
†††† If you want a really funny Hong Kong kung-fu movie, see From Beijing With Love, which is a complete laugh riot -- I lost my voice I was laughing so hard. If you want a really intense Hong Kong action movie, check out Hark Tsuiís Time and Tide for some action sequences you wonít believe. If you want to keep your precocious 10-year-olds entertained for a little over an hour, give them The Accidental Spy. Itís not Chanís best work, but your kids will forget it soon enough because thereís nothing much to it, and so it will do as a time killer.
†††† Presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced, this is a reasonably good transfer.
††††The picture is a little on the soft side, but never really blurry. Shadow detail is very good, without the graininess that seems to mar so many night shots on poorly transferred films. There is little to no low-level noise and colours are well saturated.
†††† There was some minor aliasing that I saw only because I was hunting for it, but nothing really jarring. There were quite a few flecks of grain, which are quite noticeable and a little distracting. Oddly enough, this was generally only the case in the segments of the film which were obviously filmed in Turkey. Sequences shot in studios or in Hong Kong were transferred from much cleaner prints.
†††† While the cover of this disc says this is a dual-layered disc, I can assure you that it is not. Consequently, there is no dual-layer pause.
†††† There is only one soundtrack, a 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround English overdub.
†††† I have said it before, and Iíll say it again - overdubbing is wrong. Iíve never liked the practice, and always prefer the original language track for a variety of reasons: firstly, overdub ruins the movie experience by clashing what you see on the screen with your eyes and what you hear; secondly, overdub run contrary to what the director intended when making the film; and thirdly, overdub generally plays havoc with the overall sound mix. I came down very hard on Universal for their release of Flashback, and I see that SeanB came down hard on the same studio for their release of Brotherhood of the Wolf. Likewise, Columbia TriStarís paltry 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround German original audio track for Das Boot versus a 5.1 Dolby Digital English overdub was a travesty, and one still yet to be rectified.
†††† The choice to release an English overdub for the Accidental Spy was likewise a bad move, because of all of the above reasons I mentioned. Certainly, with the amount of travel involved in this film there would have been people speaking Cantonese, English, Korean and Turkish Ė but so what? Lots of films have had various sequences in other languages. Thatís the beauty of subtitles. Of course, the producers could just be cheap and dub over such sequences, and thatís what theyíve done here Ė jarring, glaring overdub. Even people who are speaking English have been dubbed over with other people speaking English. Consequently, audio sync is out for the entire film.
†††† Furthermore, the overdub mutes a lot of the other background noise which is normally caught on set with the boom mike. The result is reduced ambience and a tinny, studio feel for the whole thing. Sure, you can understand whatís being said, but when it doesnít match up with what youíre seeing, the whole cinema experience is pretty much ruined.
†††† Granted, during many of the action sequences there was still some good surround use, but nothing exceptional.
†††† The subwoofer was used fairly liberally when things blew up or got smashed together, which really didnít happen all that often, but Iíve got no real complaints there.
|Surround Channel Use|
†††† The menus are 16x9 enhanced, static, with no sound.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
†††† The R1 release likewise has no original language track, but apparently has a French overdub to complement the English overdub. I donít think this makes a victory for R1, but itís better than what the R4 release has, which is ... well ... nothing.
†††† The Accidental Spy is okay for a slapstick kung-fu film, but itís nothing great. If you like this kind of thing, you might get something from it, but thatís a pretty heavy qualification. Itís not as funny as his earlier films like Drunken Master and the action sequences are pretty contrived and banal. It never got close to getting my blood pumping.
†††† The video transfer is reasonable.
†††† The audio transfer is good clarity-wise, but is only available in English overdub which is pretty shonky.
†††† There are no extras.
†††† Overall, The Accidental Spy is a banal film given a banal presentation on DVD, not worth the money or really the time, but it might make a good time killer for your kids.
|DVD||Panasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output|
|Display||Beko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.|
|Speakers||Energy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer|