The Missing Gun (Xun Qiang) (2002)

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Released 13-Apr-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Mystery Dolby Digital Trailer
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Le Pacte Du Silence, The Sea Is Watching
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 86:21
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (51:29) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Chuan Lu
Studio
Distributor
China Film Group
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Wen Jiang
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Chinese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Arabic
Croatian
Czech
Danish
Finnish
Greek
Hindi
Hungarian
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Slovenian
Swedish
Turkish
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Ma Shan (Jiang Wen) is a policeman in a village somewhere in provincial China. He wakes up one morning and discovers that his pistol is missing. When his superiors find out, he is given until the end of the week to find it, or else. The previous night, Ma had been at his sister's wedding, where he had gotten drunk to the point of passing out. He must reconstruct what happened to him and try to track down the person who stole his gun.

    That's basically the story. This is a relatively short and simple film, jazzed up with stomach-churning handheld camera work and lots of jump cuts. There are no major surprises and only a little drama as Ma seeks his firearm. There are a few plotlines that are not fully developed, such as his relationships with his wife, his son and his former lover. In fact, the film could have done with some serious rewriting, as it tends to go off on unrealised tangents and does not really know whether it is a thriller, a whodunit, a character study or a fable. In the end, it does not really amount to much.

    First time director Lu Chuan also wrote the screenplay. It seems to me that he has watched Godard's A Bout de Souffle a few times - hence the jump cuts - and that he also drew some inspiration from Kurosawa's Stray Dog, which has a similar plot device but is a much, much better film. The Missing Gun was mysteriously picked up for international distribution, which is why we are getting this Region 4 DVD release.

    In summary, this does not represent the best of Chinese cinema, but if we are getting inundated with third-rate films from America, then why not second-rate films from China? This one might be worth renting if your local video store has a copy.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. This seems to be the original aspect ratio.

    I was quite pleased with the sharpness of this transfer. You can spot individual hairs on the actors' heads, and in close-up you can see the pores of their skin (not that this was a particular selling point for me). Shadow detail is not the best, although it is serviceable. It seems that a lot of recent transfers have had unnecessary adjustments to the contrast level, which tends to make blacks deeper but lacking in visible detail. Mostly this is filmed outdoors in daylight, so this is not really a major issue in terms of seeing what is going on.

    The colour is quite good also, with lifelike flesh tones and a wide palette of colours. It does look slightly washed out at times, which may be a result of the increase in contrast. Blacks are nicely dark and solid. I could not detect any low level noise.

    The major flaw in this transfer is the level of edge enhancement used. Every object has a noticeable halo, and with a lot of the film being shot outdoors against the sky or light-coloured buildings, this artefact is distracting. There is also some occasional Gibb effect, though this is relatively minor in comparison to the edge enhancement.

    Film artefacts are pleasingly few, with some occasional tiny spots indicating dirt or damage to the print.

    The film is presented on an RSDL-formatted disc with the layer change occurring at 51:29, during a prolonged fade to black between scenes. This is very well positioned and not disruptive. The only reason I noticed it was that I heard the DVD player make the usual faint clunk that it makes when changing layers.

    Optional subtitles are provided, including English and captioned English. The subtitles are quite clear and easy to read, being white with black outlines, and are well done.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The default audio track is Chinese Dolby Digital 5.1.

    Dialogue is clear as far as I can tell. It appears to be Mandarin though as a non-speaker I cannot be sure. The dialogue is directed to the centre channel as you would expect, with music and effects from the mains. There are some signals sent to the rear channels from time to time, but this is not a film with a great deal for the surrounds to do. The subwoofer is used sparingly as emphasis for traffic sounds and occasionally for the music.

    Overall the transfer is not what I would call "of reference quality", but it is satisfactory.

    The music score is by an uncredited composer. I found myself thinking it sounded a lot like some experimental pop music from the mid-1970s, such as King Crimson or the like. It has that rock and roll style with a jazz influence typical of so-called "progressive rock" of that era. Oddly, for the most part this score seems to fit the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    All we get is a few trailers.

Theatrical Trailer (1:23)

    This is presented in unenhanced widescreen and seems to be the US release trailer. It looks okay and gives a reasonable idea of what to expect.

Trailers - Le Pacte du Silence; The Sea Is Watching (2:57)

    Both these US release trailers are presented in unenhanced widescreen.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This film is also available on DVD in Region 1, and seems to be exactly the same as the Region 4 release, even down to having the same trailers as extras. So there is no reason to prefer one over the other, apart from price and availability.

Summary

    This film is different in storyline and style from most films about policemen, but it is still fairly pedestrian. The running time is quite short, so if you have an hour and a half to kill you could do worse than to give this a look.

    The video quality is marred by edge enhancement.

    The audio quality is satisfactory.

    The extras do not amount to much.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V596 for surround channels; Yamaha AX-590 as power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Richter Harlequin; Rear: Pioneer S-R9; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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