Naked Weapon (Chek Law Dak Gung) (2002)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
|Year Of Production||2002|
|Running Time||88:07 (Case: 93)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (57:02)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Tony Ching Siu Tung|
Cheng Pei Pei
Chan Kwong Wing
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, Magnum ice creams.|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The challenge with films that classify themselves in the sexy thriller category is trying to find a good one. Most manage to draw you in with inviting cover art and an interesting plot outline on the back, but when you get the disc home you feel as though you've been duped into renting a b-grade shocker. The same could arguably be said of Naked Weapon, but this film has one great redeeming feature - the action is eye-poppingly fantastic - so great in fact that combined with its impressive dts audio track, I found myself forgetting how bad the performances were and how the carbon-copied plot gave me that familiar sense of deja vu.
In the early 90s, Hong Kong producer Wong Jing wrote the screenplay for what would become a seminal Hong Kong cult action flick, Naked Killer. A twist on the tale of Luc Besson's La Femme Nikita, Jing re-wrote the French language film for a Chinese audience with two female lead actors, threw some lesbian leanings into the mix and was left with a violent, steamy thriller that succeeded on many levels.
Ten years on, and Wong Jing has re-written his own film on a larger scale - this time in English, without the girl-girl tendencies and much more acceptable in a mainstream sense. The plot follows Charlene and Katt, kidnapped by the mysterious Madame M. at a very young age for their athletic ability and sporting prowess. The girls are whisked off to a secluded training island in the Pacific where they are tutored in the finer points of contract killing, computer hacking, catwalk posture and wine appreciation - all of which are essential parts of a trained killer's resume. Security on the island is tight - even the palm trees have cameras installed - and any attempt to escape is met with fatal consequences.
Life as a hit-woman is just peachy for Charlene until she falls in love with the CIA agent that has been on her case for many years, and things begin to unravel. A relative of an ex-target has developed a serious grudge against her, intent on fighting her to the death - and how could she refuse?
This film is a no-brainer by anyone's standards, the plot is wafer thin and the performances are equally flimsy. The movie's saving grace is its amazing fight sequences - intensely choreographed and violently unrelenting in their delivery. There is a very confronting rape scene here that I should warn you about, but I've seen worse. How could a hardened killer who has gone through years of intensive training still be emotionally fragile? The answer is within, as the film seems to take a more romantic angle in its second half, but fear not - the serenity doesn't last for long.
Naked Weapon is an enjoyable piece of action, highly recommended for fans of the Hong Kong action genre, and ideal for those evenings when you need to put your mind into neutral for a while.
For such a recent production, this transfer is a little disappointing, but certainly not unwatchable. The feature is presented in a ratio of 1.78:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement. This is close to the film's theatrical aspect of 1.85:1.
There are some beautiful examples of film-like sharpness in this transfer, such as the detailed skin textures and tiny beads of sweat visible at 30:31. Many scenes are set in virtual darkness, and the shadow detail exhibited in these is consistently good, with plenty of detail visible in the dark shadows. I didn't notice any instances of low level noise.
Colours are generally bold, though this isn't an overly colourful film. There were no signs of oversaturation or bleeding in this transfer.
Although the feature is free of MPEG artefacting, the source print isn't in the best condition and shows many noticeable flaws. Positive and negative specks of dust and dirt are present throughout the film and vary in size from the tiniest dots to some real monsters that cover a considerable portion of the frame (38:22). Some segments of film are just plain filthy (32:54) and this appearance is accentuated during slow-motion scenes. A portion of the negative contains some minor scratches at 65:00, and although these are not overly distracting, they do last for several seconds. There were no major examples of aliasing that I could notice, which was a blessing.
English subtitles are optional, but were activated by default on my player. The font is a little dated - blocky yellow lettering with a bold black outline. I watched more than half of the film with subtitles enabled and found them to follow the dialogue accurately without omitting anything of any real importance. Some location titles are burned into the video stream, but these are in a stylised font that suits the atmosphere of the film.
This disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer transition taking place during the feature at 57:02 in an unobtrusive, silent moment in the film.
No mindless action flick would be complete without an ear-shattering soundtrack, and that is what we have here. Included on the disc are three English audio options. The default is Dolby Digital 5.1. Also available is a dts track and Dolby Digital 2.0. I listened to both of the surround tracks in their entirety and sampled the stereo option.
Dialogue was always easy to understand and was never overpowered by Foley or special effects. Although the film is comprised entirely of English dialogue, some heavy accents do creep in here and there (9:10), but are not too hard to decipher. Audio sync is an entirely different issue, unfortunately. A lot of very obvious ADR work has been done on this film, and most of it is embarrassingly out of sync with the actors' lips (49:25). The most glaring example of this is an entire scene (18:14) in which the two female leads share a deep and meaningful conversation, but not one word of dialogue matches what was originally spoken on film. Sure, it is really great to finally have a Hong Kong action film made entirely in English, but what is the point of this achievement if so much of the spoken word doesn't nearly match what is on screen? For what it's worth, this could arguably be called a Chinese film with English dubbed audio in my opinion.
Thankfully there is a really great musical score to be heard underneath all the dominating special effects and bad ADR. Composed by Chan Kwong Wing, the score combines traditional Chinese melodies and strong percussive elements with western orchestrations - the result is a moving and slightly enigmatic score that suits the film perfectly, without drawing too much attention to the fact.
The surround channels were used extensively throughout the film for special effects and the like, but not for subtle atmospherics to any great degree. The rear channels are utilised very effectively for gunfire panned across the left and right (16:33), flying fists (60:38) and some mild echo effects at 42:00. Both the Dolby Digital and dts mixes appear to be identical, although the dts track is miles ahead in both clarity and depth, best gauged by the subwoofer reaction when punches are thrown at 7:00.
The stereo track did a good job of translating the very busy nature of this audio mix, but lacked a lot of depth. I noted a few effective examples of left-to-right panning, such as the car driving by at 1:19, but that was all the track had to offer.
The subwoofer was used frequently, adding some serious thuds to the punches during fight scenes. Many explosions benefited from the .LFE track as well, such as the large window-rattling bang at 43:50. The subwoofer also kicked in to accentuate the percussive soundtrack score (13:00), adding sublime bottom end to the bass drums on the dts track.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are a couple of extras available on this disc, but nothing worth getting too excited about.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Even though the Region 2 release contains a Cantonese audio track, I must reiterate that this film's intended language is English, despite its being a Hong Kong production.
The Region 2 release is clearly the way to go for those seeking the superior version.
The video transfer is good, but suffers from a lot of film artefacting.
The audio transfer is excellent and features an impressive dts track, albeit encoded at half the possible bitrate.
There are a couple of mildly interesting extras on the disc.
|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.|