Tsui Hark's Vampire Hunters (Era of Vampire, The) (2002)
Dolby Digital Trailer-City
Trailer-Cowboy Bebop: The Movie
|Year Of Production||2002|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4,5||Directed By||Wellson Chin|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Chan Kwok Kwan
Anya Yu rong Guang
Horace Lee War Shing
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Chinese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
This story is a stretch of the Vampire mythos, and very hard to follow on the first viewing. Our four Vampire hunters are named Wind, Thunder, Rain and Lightning - a band of seventeenth century warriors who spend their time seeking out Zombies or Vampires for a bit of sword fighting action. Not a bad way to keep fit, mind you. When they come across the grave of the Vampire King an epic battle ensues, and their enigmatic leader goes missing. With the intention of further investigating the presence of undead activity, the four lads take on servants positions under the wealthy Jiang family, who appear to be harbouring some bizarre secrets of their own.
The Jiang family are renowned for preserving their dead in wax - like having your very own personal Madame Tussaud's in your basement. Our four heroes soon become involved in an attempt by a local mobster to relieve the Jiang family of their riches, which are reportedly kept hidden somewhere in their fortress. But the Vampire King returns, throwing everything into chaos and our heroes must defeat the Vampire King, save the beautiful girl and stop a multitude of the Jiang's ancestors who are returning from the dead. A Vampire Hunter's job is never done!
This is a good, fun film from Tsui Hark - who is only acting as a writer and producer for this project. There is some very beautiful direction from Wellson Chin and the quirky humour we have come to expect from Hong Kong films is definitely present.
This film contains some of the best sword fighting I have seen since The Iceman Cometh - the battle scenes, special effects and choreography are second to none. For pure Hong Kong action, fans of the genre cannot go past this film.
Aside from some grain, this is a good video transfer effort.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.
There is a fair degree of sharpness present in the transfer, clearly evident in the many facial close-ups and detailed forest scenes. Black levels are solid and consistent during the many dimly lit night-time scenes, and shadow detail proved to be impressive. I didn't detect any low level noise.
This isn't the kind of film you want to watch for big, bold splashes of colour. Apart from some fire and the odd red lantern, many of the scenes are dark and even those rare well-lit moments of the film aren't particularly colourful.
I didn't notice any signs of MPEG artefacting or over-compression. There were some very mild instances of aliasing, however these were of a very minor nature and were not worth worrying about. Film artefacting doesn't extend beyond some noticeable grain (57:20) and some very slight telecine wobble during the opening credits, but these aren't too distracting.
There are a lot of subtitle options on this disc, which is a good thing. The English subtitles were paced well with the Cantonese dialogue, and though I cannot speak for their accuracy they were very easy to read - a thin white font with a slight black outline.
There is no layer transition on this single layered disc.
There are three audio tracks available on this disc; English, Chinese and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s). The English dub is the default audio track. I listened to both the English and Cantonese tracks in their entirety for this review.
The spoken word was always easy to understand in the English track, particularly during the intense action scenes. One issue that did get on my nerves during the American dub was the use of Mexican accents for the bad guys and bandits, and though it only lasted for a few scenes I found these characters ridiculously overacted and hammy to the extreme. Some may argue that this makes these characters more comedic, however I don't recall laughing at the same characters during the Chinese audio track, so this cannot be the intention of the writer. I believe this is a simple case of Americanised stereotyping, the kind of which I thought had died out aeons ago.
Although I do not speak Cantonese, the film's original language track had some far superior vocal characterisations and was much more entertaining to listen to. One would expect that the film's intended language would lend itself to good audio sync, however this is far from the case in this instance. The Cantonese ADR and lip-syncing is very poor indeed. A good example of this is at 16:50, although it is a painfully recurring issue throughout the entire film.
The original score by J.M. Logan is very clever and flows almost unrecognisably with the film, building towards the action scenes and carrying us through the calmer moments in the film without ever overpowering the action on-screen or making itself too obvious.
Surround activity was consistent between both the English and Chinese audio tracks. From subtle atmospheric sounds to thunder and lightning and even some panning of vocals to the rears at 12:40 and 47:48, this was an exciting and immersive experience.
The subwoofer was used very well throughout the film, accentuating thunder, explosions, battle scenes and sorcery with great effect.
|Surround Channel Use|
A promotional piece for Cowboy Bebop: The Movie that introduces the main characters from the series. This trailer is presented in 1.85:1 without 16x9 enhancement.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The video transfer is very clear and sharp.
The audio transfer is very good, although the lip-sync on the Chinese track is almost as bad as the English dub, and that is no exaggeration.
The only extra is a trailer.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-525, using Component output|
|Display||Panasonic TX76PW10A 76cm Widescreen 100Hz. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Denon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete|
|Speakers||Orpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.|