So Close (Chik Yeung Tin Sai) (2002)
Dolby Digital Trailer-City
Trailer-Black Mask 2: City Of Masks, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle
|Year Of Production||2002|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (59:15)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4,5||Directed By||Corey Yuen|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Ki Yan Lam
Sheung Mo Lam
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
Chinese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Russian 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|
Regular readers may have gathered by now that I'm a fan of strong female characters and high quality action. I rather liked Mira Sorvino's part in The Replacement Killers (it's an excellent action film, too), for example, and Michelle Yeoh in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, even Jennifer Garner in Daredevil. Not to forget the lethal ladies of Noir... There are other films that haven't reached Australia, yet, like Naked Killer. But I've just found a film that moves in at, or near, the top spot: it's So Close (oh, come on the title screams out for a comment like that!).
There are three potent female performances at the core of this film. The first one we see is the gorgeous Lynn (Shu Qi), a beautiful and very deadly woman. She's backed up by her sister Sue (Zhao Wei, also known as Vicky Zhao), who is cute, but almost as highly skilled. The third is the policewoman who is after them, Inspector Kong Yat-hung (Karen Mok), Hung for short. These three characters are nicely developed, but they are the only ones that are. We get to know a little about Yen (Song Seung-Hun), Lynn's boyfriend, and Ma Siu-Ma (Michael Wai), Hung's partner, but the real focus is on the three women.
Lynn and Sue saw their parents murdered, years back, by professional killers who were after the system that their father had developed. The system, called World Panorama, allows a person with computer skills to hack into every CCTV or surveillance camera in the world. He intended it for the police, but the killers were hired by organised crime, who wanted it for themselves.
Now Lynn and Sue make their living as professional assassins. Lynn works on the spot, while Sue uses World Panorama to act as the eyes in the back of her head. The opening assassination is spectacular, stylish, and oh-so-slick. Lynn's martial arts are impressive, and she is a brilliant shot, too. There's some wire work, but it doesn't get to ludicrous levels when she wants to hang on the ceiling for a moment, her heel ejects an expanding piton that fastens her there.
There are some marvellous fights in this film. Watch out for the fights in lifts! The fight involving the three ladies is magnificent, combining superior skills, respect, and a touch of humour.
This film is about more than fighting. The storyline is credible, and justifies the events well. I don't want to say too much, because you'll want to see it emerge.
This is very much a Hong Kong film, shot and set in Hong Kong, but it was post-produced in Melbourne with the help of the Melbourne Film Office. (No, that's not important, but I thought it was interesting!)
They have put a trailer for Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle on this disc, and the blurb suggests that this film will appeal to fans of that film. That's probably true, and I certainly enjoyed Full Throttle, but this is a significantly better film.
This is a beautiful film, very stylish, and lovely to look at (just like the women). If you have been disappointed by some of the recent action films that have featured female stars (Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever comes to mind...), if you would like an action film with a plot (with twists!), as well as thrilling action, then allow me to recommend this film very strongly.
This DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, which is the intended ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.
This film is sharp and clear, with excellent detail. Shadow detail is variable, from very good to just good, but the variation looks deliberate. There's a little film grain, but only just enough to allow us to be convinced that we're watching a film I'm half convinced that the grain we see is a deliberate artistic touch. There's no edge enhancement, and no low-level noise the result is a film-like appearance.
Colour is excellent, with no colour-related artefacts. It's not easy to tell, because the production design for this film has dictated a look that features a lot of white, plenty of black, and some blue the film is very cool, very chic, very classy. There are some other colours as incidentals, and they are well-rendered.
There are a few minute film artefacts, but I doubt you'll notice them on anything less than a projector.
There is impressively little aliasing, and you have to watch for it to see it. There's visible moiré on a couple of shots of a mesh table top, but it's not troubling. There are no MPEG artefacts.
This is a very good transfer.
There are subtitles in fifteen languages, including English, plus Hearing Impaired captions in English. I only watched the English captions. They are easy to read and seem well-timed, but I can't easily assess their accuracy, save to say that the few words in English are accurately subtitled.
The disc is single-sided and dual layered, formatted RSDL. I didn't spot the layer change while watching the movie twice, so I resorted to technical means to locate it: it is at 59:15, in a momentary silent black frame while we're waiting for a video clip to start playing on a computer monitor. Very clever placement, and invisible.
This disc has two audio tracks, in Cantonese and Russian, both Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448kbps. I only listened to the Cantonese, because I assumed that to be the original language.
The dialogue is clear, and not overwhelmed by the rest of the sound. I understood the few words in English easily. I'd guess that the rest would be equally easy to understand. Not all of the dialogue looks synchronised with the mouth movements, but it's hard for me to judge, because I'm not always sure what mouth movements correspond to specific sounds in Chinese. Even so, I think some lines are definitely out of sync it made me wonder if some of the dialogue was recorded in Mandarin and then dubbed over in Cantonese.
The score is absolutely superb. It uses every speaker you own, swirling around you in a brilliant envelope of sound. It ranges from classical sounding, through rock music, to electronica, and it all fits perfectly. One of the most impressive sequences is the gun battle choreographed to the Carpenters' Close to You. It sounds odd, but it works really well. The closing songs (under the closing credits) were both sung by Karen Mok she has a good voice.
This soundtrack uses all of your speakers, and provides ample justification of your investment in 5.1.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu is static and silent, but easy to navigate.
An interesting choice of trailers, all presented without 16x9 enhancement:
This movie isn't scheduled for release in Region 1 until the very end of 2003. What's announced for the Region 1 release make it sound like it gets no more extras than this Region 4 release, but they do get an English dub and a Mandarin soundtrack in addition to the Cantonese if you have to have this in English, I guess you'll be going for the R1. However, the R1 transfer would have to be utterly amazing to beat the R4. I'm awarding this one to the Region 4 until I hear otherwise.
A brilliant action film (with a plot!) and excellent performances from the three female leads, presently very nicely on DVD.
The video quality is excellent.
The audio quality is brilliant.
The extras are minimal.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-S733A, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5|