Kung Faux-Volume 1 (2002)

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Released 19-Mar-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Karaoke-Choice Of 3 Deleted Dialogue Tracks
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Kung Faux Vol 2, Stoked, Chlorine
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 53:25 (Case: 60)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor
Tommy Boy Films
Madman Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Alternate Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Alternate Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Alternate Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.29:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    I always thought that Kung Faux was that style of martial arts adopted by action heroes like Keanu Reeves. But it turns out to be a TV series where old kung fu movies have been cut down and redubbed hip-hop style, with hip-hop music and what might be called funky dialogue. This release features the first two episodes of this US cable series.

    There's nothing new about taking films and adding comic soundtracks. I recall an old sword and sandal film getting the treatment by Grahame Bond in the 1970s on one of his comedy shows. In the 1980s there was a live show where the film Astro-Zombies was redubbed on the fly, and there was a film of a similar type in 1993 called Hercules Returns, both done by a comedy troupe called Double-Take if I recall correctly. In the US a TV series called Mad Movies ran for more than a decade and was also based on this premise.

    Kung Faux varies this formula by cutting old Hong Kong films down to about 25 minutes and adding a soundtrack by hip-hop artists. There's music, but mainly there's dialogue of the "boxcutta style baby, bladed up" and "yo, watch out nigga" variety. Some of it is quite funny, some of it unintelligible to my ears. There's a lot of swearing, comments about drug use and much use of the word "nigga". Also added to the films are graphics and pop-up messages. For example, some characters have "flunky" superimposed on the screen when they appear.

    I did not find these two episodes especially funny, although the second is better than the first and I did get a few chuckles out of it. If you can understand the dialogue, you may find it more amusing than I did.

    A warning: this set contains commercials. These are placed at natural breaks in the show where commercials would have been located on television screening. At first I thought that they might be fakes, but they are actual US commercials tailored mainly to the hip-hop crowd. You do have the option to watch the shows without the ads.

    The two episodes on this disc are:

iLL MASTER (26:22)

    From what I could tell, this is a revenge drama involving a blind master and his pupil exacting revenge on a street mobster with a Jamaican accent. The original film on which this was based was Blind Fist of Bruce, one of the many Bruce Lee rip-offs of the 1970s. This one starred Bruce Li.

Boxcutta (27:03)

    Boxcutta Style is a three-fingered jab that causes extreme mayhem. Our hero is in Thailand when an evil guy destroys a sign he doesn't like. Our hero's friend looks for revenge, despite warnings that it isn't his film.

    This one is based on King Boxer, though not the film of that name also called Five Fingers of Death. This King Boxer starred Mang Fei and Yasuaki Kurata.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The material on this disc is in a pretty poor state, but I imagine that it is supposed to look the way it does. It comes in the original TV aspect ratio of 1.29:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The original material looks as if it has been transferred from VHS material. It is pan and scan and in poor condition, with lots of film artefacts. For this series, overlaid graphics have been added and the picture is occasionally broken up into multiple images, sort of like the opening credits of those old US TV shows from the 1970s like Charlie's Angels for example. The graphics include comic book sound effects like the sort seen in the live-action Batman TV series. Then there are graphic pop-ups which identify character names.

    As to the transfer of the TV series to DVD, it looks to me like a transfer from NTSC to PAL, with a slight lack of clarity and detail. There is the usual ghosting in fast movement typical of such transfers. Colour is lacking in vividness and depth. Contrast is satisfactory though shadow detail is limited by the state of the original material.

    This is a single-layer disc with no subtitles. The latter would have been helpful.

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

Audio

    The default audio track is Dolby Digital 5.1.

    As stated above, dialogue is not especially clear. I think this is more to do with the diction of the actors speaking the lines than the quality of the recording. However, it does make it difficult to comprehend, though I imagine that people more familiar with this style of speaking (for example, hip-hop fans) might not have the same problems that I had.

    The music is of the hip-hop variety. I am not qualified to comment on the quality of the music, but it is reasonably well transferred here. There is a lot of thumping bass, much of it delivered by the subwoofer. Surrounds seem to just have a softer version of the audio from the mains, and there are no genuine directional effects. The soundstage is not especially convincing, with most of the audio centred across the front image. Still, this is television so one cannot expect too much.

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

Extras

Main Menu Audio and Animation

    The menu has the theme music and features some scenes from the two episodes.

Alternate Audio - Karaoke versions

    If you feel up to it, you can select from one of three different audio streams, one of which removes all of the dialogue, and two with varying amounts of it removed. This allows you and your friends to improvise your own dialogue. If that's your thing.

Music Clip (4:41)

    This is a music clip from a Swedish hip-hip group, in letterboxed widescreen with no subtitles. It is supposed to be an Easter Egg, but if you select the Play Episode One option it appears between the two episodes.

Theatrical Trailer (1:01)

    Excerpts from the two episodes on this disc.

Trailers-Kung Faux Vol 2, Stoked, Chlorine (10:15)

    A trailer for volume two plus two skateboarding documentaries.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 version seems to be identically specified, so unless you want this material in the native NTSC format without the ghosting there's no reason not to shop locally.

Summary

    An interesting idea, not fully realised. It could have been funnier.

    The video and audio quality are acceptable.

    The extras do not amount to a great deal.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Saturday, January 22, 2005
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.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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