The First Option (Fei Hu) (1996)
Trailer-Gen X Cops, Beast Cops, The Heroic Trio, The Last Blood
|Year Of Production||1996|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Gordon Chan|
Beyond Home Entertainment
Kwong Kim Yip
Kwong Wing Chan
Kwong Wing Chan
|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|
A bunch of customs officers led by Minnie Kwan (Gigi Leung) raid some drug smugglers, but they get more than they bargain for when the smugglers turn out to be trained mercenaries. The SDU is called in to assist, led by Lau (Michael Wong), but he does not want to follow the orders of the customs officers and prefers to do things his own way. However, this leads to even more problems and the two must work together in order to foil the drug ring.
Unlike many Hong Kong films, the heroes actually indulge in a lot of realistic action, working together as a group in combat situations, much as one imagines they would in real life. Unfortunately, though, this is a rather leaden film in the non-action sequences, with a pretty dull script and uninteresting characters. Michael Wong is Hong Kong's equivalent of Ben Affleck, an actor who can make good material seem dull. Here he does not have to do much to achieve this. None of the actors are able to rise above the material, so this is a tedious film as a result.
Still, if you like action films, you can fast-forward through the slow bits.
The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The original aspect ratio was 1.85:1, so there is a minor change to the original aspect ratio here.
This is a grainy transfer but it is reasonably sharp. Shadow detail is not the best, but does not greatly detract from the viewing experience. The colour is a little over-saturated, but is watchable, with the major problem being flesh tones looking too brown. Blacks are quite deep and dark. Overall this is better than VHS or VCD quality, but is not up to the standard of transfers of Hollywood films of the same era.
There are numerous examples of aliasing throughout the film on almost any straight surface. Compressed to fit on a single disc, there are signs of overcompression with slight blockiness in the action sequences, and there are some very mild examples of excessive noise reduction issues on the details of the actors' faces.
This is a single layered disc with no subtitles.
The single audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0 and is the English dubbed version.
The dubbing is adequate, despite the voices not always matching the actors, and dialogue is generally clear and distinct. The audio is not brilliant, and the action sequences sound noisy without drawing you into the action as a surround mix would. There is no surround encoding present. It is disappointing that an original language soundtrack is not included. I have seen other films with Michael Wong, and I believe that this is his voice, though sometimes he appears to have looped his dialogue.
The music score is by Chan Kwong Wing. This is an average score which does the job without drawing too much attention to itself, which is probably a good thing.
|Surround Channel Use|
You only have the option here to play all of the trailers, though they do have chapter stops. All are in widescreen but not 16x9 enhanced. The trailers are in reasonable condition, with the trailer for First Option being second here.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 2 release of this film has Cantonese and English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks. Reviews indicate that the surrounds are not used to any great effect, but the availability of the original language track tips the balance towards that release. Add to that a commentary track, half an hour of interviews with director Bruce Law and Gigi Leung, plus some short behind-the-scenes featurettes, and that means that there is no contest between this and the Region 4 release.
There is also a Region 3 release, but this is not recommendable. It is in an incorrect aspect ratio of 1.68:1, it is not 16x9 enhanced, and while it has a choice of Cantonese and English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks, it also has non-removable English and Chinese subtitles. The video and audio quality is reported to be low, with poor shadow detail and numerous compression artefacts.
Sadly, this is a fairly dull film overall despite the action and general mayhem. Recommended only if you really must have it, but you would be better off with the Region 2 release.
The video quality is average.
The audio quality is satisfactory but unimpressive.
The extras are not worth bothering with.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-S733A, using Component output|
|Display||Sony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Yamaha RX-V596 for surround channels; Yamaha AX-590 as power amp for mains|
|Speakers||Main: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Richter Harlequin; Rear: Pioneer S-R9; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175|