The Heroic Trio (Dung Fong Saam Hap) (1993)
Trailer-Gen X Cops, First Option, Beast Cops, The Last Blood
|Year Of Production||1993|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Johnny To|
Beyond Home Entertainment
Anthony Wong Chau-Sang
Yee Kwan Yan
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Hong Kong action films, especially the ones with lesser budgets and production values, must be approached differently from other films. Here it is not important that the combatants defy the law of gravity, that the plot is patchy, or that events don't fit with physics or logic. The big question is does the film entertain? This one isn't bad, by that standard it's fairly entertaining.
The plot is a bit difficult to explain.
Babies are disappearing in Hong Kong. We see one of the disappearances, in which two babies seem to rise up out of their cribs by themselves clearly the work of an invisible thief. As the babies are being taken, a masked woman (Anita Mui) appears (running across power lines) and battles the invisible thief. She rescues one baby, but the thief escapes with the other, which happens to be the child of a police officer. It turns out that an ancient evil person (Yee Kwan Yan) is looking for his successor, and wants babies to that end. He is being assisted, unwillingly, by a woman whose name sounds like Sun or Tzun, but is, according to the IMDB, Ching (Michelle Yeoh, but credited as Michelle Khan). Her invisibility is apparently courtesy of a boyfriend who is working on perfecting it it doesn't work in sunlight yet he isn't aware that she's using it to steal babies.
Meanwhile, a private agent called Thief Catcher (Maggie Cheung) helps the police arrest a bunch of terrorists who have taken hostages. Afterwards she approaches the police officer and offers to rescue his baby he hires her for the job.
We learn that the masked woman is actually married to Inspector Lau (Damian Lau) in charge of the kidnapped baby case. He doesn't know about her extracurricular activities.
For reasons which I had difficulty following, the three women team up to attempt to free the babies from the ancient evil one.
Add in a demon beast with a propensity for losing fingers, and you have most of the plot. It's not awful, by Hong Kong action movie standards, but...
I had some difficulty following the plot, for reasons I'll explain when discussing the audio transfer.
The DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, which is close to the theatrical release aspect ratio of 1.85:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.
The image is a bit soft, but not too bad. Shadow detail is pretty good, although there are some shots with very poor shadow detail. Film grain is a constant problem, with this film looking like it was shot on 16mm film (it wasn't, but maybe it was poor-quality 35mm film). Low level noise is not a big problem.
Colour is not well-rendered, with colour varying somewhat from one shot to the next. There's a distinct colour cast to some scenes, but I think that is deliberate.
At times the film seems to have been assembled slightly out of order, with a shot appearing before another that it should appear after. Some of the edits have been done quite badly to quote an old criticism, this film looks like it was edited with a hacksaw.
There are plenty of film artefacts, but they are mostly fairly small, mostly flecks and specks. There are some scratches and a few burns. And have a look at the watermarks at 19:56.
There's more than occasional aliasing, but it's usually mild, and not too distracting. There's a little bit of moirι. There are no MPEG artefacts.
This is not a clean transfer, but that's a small worry compared with the audio error.
There are no subtitles.
The disc is single-sided and single-layered. There's no layer change, and a single layer should be plenty for a film this short.
There is only one soundtrack on this disc. It's English, and not a very good dub (the original was Chinese). The soundtrack is Dolby Digital 2.0, not surround encoded, at 448kbps I have no idea why they bothered with such a high bit rate, because it is a distinctly low fidelity soundtrack, sounding for the most part as though it were recorded over a telephone line.
The real tragedy is that there's some kind of audio glitch during one of the opening logos (it sounds almost like a skipping record), and from that point on, the audio is out of sync with the video. Not by a fraction of a second, either it's out of sync by about a second, rendering the film essentially unwatchable. This is not a glitch with one brand of player: I tried a Pioneer, a Panasonic, a Sony, and a PC the problem is identical on all of them. I fail to understand how this disc could have been released with such a dreadful error on the only soundtrack is there no quality control on the master disc?
The dialogue is clear enough and mostly understandable, despite the lousy voice acting, but it is rendered almost impossible to appreciate because of the large sync gap.
The music is not too bad, although I wonder at the use of London Bridge is Falling Down for the first appearance of the Thief Catcher.
The surrounds and subwoofer get no use from this soundtrack.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu is static and silent.
There are six trailers, but they are presented one after another in one long string. The trailers offer fairly poor quality video and audio, and they are not 16x9 enhanced. The trailers are:
When the trailers have finished, the disc stops, instead of returning to the menu.
There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This film has been released on DVD in Region 1 twice.
The first was a Tai Seng release, which was uncut, and included the Chinese soundtrack and English subtitles, but was not 16x9 enhanced. Reports vary, but suggest that it may no longer be available.
The second came from Buena Vista, and it was 16x9 enhanced, but it was cut from 104 minutes to 85 minutes, and only offered the poor English dub.
This disc is PAL, but seems to run the same time as the Buena Vista cut, strongly suggesting that it is a PAL conversion of the NTSC video master, rather than being a fresh transfer. Add the appalling audio sync error, and this is the least desirable DVD of the lot, and in fact completely unacceptable.
Reports suggest that there may be a new release coming in Region 2 that may be worth getting. This DVD certainly isn't.
A Hong Kong action flick on a DVD that's unacceptably flawed. Do not buy this disc.
The video quality is fairly poor.
The audio quality is poor, as well as being unbearably out of sync.
The extras are confined to a series of poor quality trailers.
|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|