Beast Cops (Yeshou Xingjing) (1998)

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Released 16-Feb-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Gen X Cops, First Option, The Heroic Trio, The Last Blood
Trailer-Purple Storm
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1998
Running Time 104:17
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Gordon Chan
Dante Lam
Studio
Distributor
Media Asia
Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Gordon Chan
Hing-Ka Chan
Stephanie Che
Roy Cheung
Kathy Chow
Sam Lee
Patrick Tam
Arthur Wong
Anthony Wong Chau-Sang
Michael Wong
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music T2


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, Do they sell Fosters as 7-11?
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

    There is always a line between those on one side of the law and those on the other. But when the somewhat idealistic detective Michael Cheung (Michael Wong) is sent into the underworld of Hong Kong mafia under the lead of the street smart Sgt. Tung (Anthony Wong), Cheung finds himself in a different world. While technically in charge of those under him, including Tung, in reality Tung is a man of the streets, and if anyone is going to find the leaders of the gangs that fight a continual turf war, it's him. Things get even more complicated when the girlfriend of a local gang leader falls for Detective Cheung, causing him to question his loyalties and motivation. Still, the continued police presence creates a growing tension within the criminal community and it will be a miracle if Det. Cheung can get to the bottom of it all and keep himself, his fellow police officers and his new love alive.

    This popular 1998 Hong Kong film was directed by Gordon Chan and Dante Lam. Gordon had been most recently attached to the Jackie Chan film The Medallion, while Dante Lam directed the popular 2003 film The Twins Effect. At the time of its release, this film was the recipient of a great number of awards, such as the Hong Kong Film Awards for Best Actor (Anthony Wong Chau-Sang),  Best Director (Gordon Chan and  Dante Lam),  Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Patrick Tam) as well as being nominated for Best Film Editing, Best Sound Design and Best Supporting Actress (Stephanie Che). With this level of success and its huge popularity around the world, it's a great shame that the disc we have presented here is of such a poor standard that I found myself struggling to complete the viewing of the film. This is a rarity for me as while I've seen some shockers in my time, it is fairly unusual that the presentation of the disc itself is of such a poor standard that the quality of the film is almost impossible to evaluate. You will have to read the Transfer Quality section to get the whole picture, but when a film is presented without its original audio and instead is lumbered with a substandard English dub, it is really hard to be drawn into the feature. This is always handy if you are going to give a considered evaluation of a film. The presentation of this film here is of such a poor standard that I feel that I can neither gain insight nor impart knowledge about the quality of the film. If this is ever released in Region 4 in an acceptable fashion, then I'd love to go and review it again. As it stands, the disc we have here barely warrants attention.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality here is watchable, but that's about it

    We get the programme presented in 1.78:1, which is very near its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The transfer is 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness of the image is fair, although we do get the occasional focus problems, such as that seen at 14:48. This is probably in the print used to transfer the film to DVD and as such there is little that could be done, but the focus issue is there. Shadow detail is fair. There are many darker scenes during the film where it could have been a bit better (see 5:47), but considering the quality of the print (and probably the film stock used), this is probably as good as the image is going to get. I had no issues with low level noise.

    The use of colour here varies throughout the film. At times there is a very natural use of colour, but at other times a blue filter is used to convey the coldness and harshness of the city. This is similar to the effect that was used many times in the 2001 film Traffic. However, this film doesn't seek to employ the colour filter technique with any consistency so what we get in the end does look ordinary at times. Colour's committal to this disc seems to be reasonably accurate.

    This disc is transferred at an average bitrate of between 3.85 and 4.00 Mb/s. This is fairly low, but I didn't have any problems with MPEG artefacts or other nasties. As the film isn't all that long, and there are few extras on board, it really isn't a stretch to get this film on one layer. There is a fair amount of telecine wobble to be seen during the credits at the start. One dramatic flaw in the transfer is inherent in the print used for the transfer. Each time there a shot change, the frame jumps. You'll see this from time to time while watching a film transfer to disc, but this is the worst case I've seen. At each shot change, and I mean at EACH change, the frame jumps. Once in a while is okay, but after about the first 5 minutes it starts to get annoying and quite distracting. The enjoyment of cinema is the suspension of disbelief and when something continually breaks the suspension then it breaks the magic of the cinematic experience. This continual frame jumping, along with the dubbed audio too frequently broke my suspension of disbelief. The problem of edge enhancement didn't seem to be a real problem here, which is a minor saving grace. The print used for the transfer (apart from the annoying frame jumps) seemed to be fairly clean and only the occasional nick and fleck was visible. Grain is visible throughout, but it was expected considering the budget of the film and its origin.

    It is unfortunate that there we were not provided with any subtitles, but only for the reason that it really means that we didn't get the film in its original theatrical language of Cantonese.

    This disc is formatted single layer and as such, a layer change is not an issue.

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

Audio

    The audio transfer here is quite poor and completely ruins the film's presentation.

    There is only one audio option here, that being an English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono dub running at an overkill bitrate of 448 Kb/s.

    At first, seeing that this disc featured the audio in the fairly high (in comparative terms) bitrate of 448 Kb/s, I had hopes of the audio being of some reasonable quality despite featuring an English-only dub. How disappointing that not only was there a dub as the only audio option, but the audio was presented in a 2.0 mono mix. My amplifier was able to do some tricks using a DSP mode, but plain 'ol Pro Logic and its variants resulted in only sound from the centre speaker. Even NEO:6 couldn't do anything with it. This lead to an overall poor dialogue quality with distortion audible at several times during the presentation (see 41:18 as an example).

    As this was a dub, audio sync was harder to judge, but at times I got the impression that the audio was out throughout most of the film, from between a fraction of a second to around half a second. As I usually use dialogue to judge audio sync and we only have a dub available, I'd love to be more accurate. Suffice it to say, audio sync is pretty poor here.

    Music for this film comes from T2, although I could find little about them other than that they did the music for another Dante Lam and Gordon Chan film in 1999 called When I Look Upon the Stars. The music suited the picture, but I would have liked to have heard it as it was intended, which is not in English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.
 
    As this was a mono affair, there was no surround audio to speak of other than what my processor was able to derive from the mono tracks. LFE wasn't a factor at all here.

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

Extras

    There are very, very little in the way of extras here, save for some distributor's trailers.

Menu

    After the normal distributor's logos and copyright warnings, we are taken to the disc's Main Menu which offers us:       The Main Menu is presented as a static image with no audio. The menu is 16x9 enhanced.

Trailers  -   12:52 Total Running Time

    We have trailers for the following films: Gen X Cops , The First Option, Beast Cops, The Heroic Trio , The Last Blood and Purple Storm. These are presented mostly in 1.85:1 without 16x9 enhancement. The Gen X Cops trailer is in 2.35:1, still without 16x9 enhancement. These trailers run in sequence with only chapter stops separating them. If left alone they will continue to run one after the other. Audio for all is in English (dub) Dolby Digital 2.0.

R4 vs R1

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

    If ever there was a case for going elsewhere for quality in regards to a disc then it's here. If you have any interest in this title whatsoever, then here is the low-down on exactly what is on offer elsewhere in comparison to what we get here:

Region 0 (NTSC) U.S.A

Region 2 (PAL) U.K. Hong Kong Legends disc Region 0 (NTSC) Mega Star disc     It looks as though the Region 0 Mega Star disc is the one that is widely distributed throughout Asia, but the Region 2 (also coded for Region 4) Hong Kong Legends disc looks to be the winner here. Along with the PAL 16x9 transfer, it features a great range of extras as well as the commentary with the director. Clearly the version of choice here. When this version makes its way to Region 4, then I'll be able to do justice to the review of this title. As it stands now, what we have here in Region 4 isn't worth watching. If you are a fan of Asian cinema then avoid this release and choose something better.

Summary

    When the DVD format was conceived, cinefiles and videophiles rejoiced in the launch of a format that would bring the essence of cinema to the home environment. All the positives were proposed: the original aspect ratio enhanced for 16x9 displays, original and enhanced audio in full 5.1 surround sound, interesting extras for those interested in the conception of the feature, all in a convenient package. Well, I'm able to say that we have a 16x9 transfer in a convenient package. I'm sad to say that this is a package that I can't see anyone wanting. You would have to be a fan of Asian cinema to want this, and if you did, you'd want to get better that what we have here. This package is of such a poor quality that I had trouble reviewing it. I couldn't get a real sense of the film as there were so many problems with the transfer and presentation that I was distracted to the point of becoming disinterested. This film deserves better, and it doesn't receive it at the hands of the Australian distributor. If you want to get this film in a presentable fashion, go for the Region 2 U.K. Hong Kong Legends disc which is also encoded for Region 4.

    The video transfer is ordinary.

    The audio transfer is very poor with only a mono English Dolby Digital mix on offer, not the original Cantonese mix.

    The extras are only bonus trailers from the distributor.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Sean Bradford (There is no bio.)
Thursday, May 27, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD RP-82 with DVD-Audio on board, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko TRW 325 / 32 SFT 10 76cm (32") 16x9. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderYamaha RX-V2300 Dolby Digital and dts. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationYamaha RX-V2300 110w X 6 connected via optical cable and shielded RCA (gold plated) connects for DVD-Audio
SpeakersVAF DC-X Fronts (bi-wired), VAF DC-6 Center, VAF DC-2 Rears, VAF LFE-07 Sub (Dual Amp. 80w x 2)

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