Scorpion King (Jie zi Zhan Shi) (1991)

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Released 15-Aug-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Comedy Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Bey Logan (Hong kong Film Expert)
Featurette-Won Jin Showreel
Notes-Life Of A Legend
Theatrical Trailer-2
Interviews-Cast-Chin Kar-Lok
Interviews-Cast-Won Jin
Trailer-Hong Kong Legends
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1991
Running Time 95:24
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (70:06) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By David Lai
Studio
Distributor
Fortune Star
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Kar Lok Chin
Chia-Liang Liu
Jung Yuen
May Lo Mei-Mei
Jean Pol
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Hong Kong, 1920. Yuk Su (Chin Kar-lok) is a young man who daydreams about being a hero. However in reality all he can do is draw. He does manage to rescue a girl from a slave trader and together with his father they hide in the restaurant of his uncle (Lau Kar Leung). Yuk Su seeks to learn martial arts from a powerful body-builder (Frankie Chin), but soon realises that his uncle is a martial arts expert who teaches him a form of kung fu cookery. Yuk Su's ability to combine the disciplines he has learned, strength and martial arts techniques, will be critical when he and his uncle have to face up to the slave traders, in particular the head slaver's son Sonny (Won Jin), who has a move like a scorpion (hence the title).

    This is a fairly innocuous martial arts film lifted above the ordinary by the talents of martial arts veteran Lau Kar Leung and the lesser-known but highly talented Korean fighter Won Jin. Both are quite extraordinary, and though Leung was getting on in years (he was almost 60 when the film was made) he is still remarkably fit and agile. Won Jin is very athletic and his character is less evil than one would expect in a typical genre piece, his only motivation being to protect his father (who is the evil one).

    The period setting is also well captured. Unfortunately the film moves in fits and starts with a few lame comedy sequences, and also seems to sag when Yuk Su is training at the body-building school. The school looks like a C-grade Hollywood producer's backyard. The fighting scenes and the training sequences at the restaurant come across best. I had seen this film before under the title Operation Scorpio, a name which does not fit the film. It is enjoyable if you are in an undemanding mood, but I suspect that on repeated viewings I would be using the fast-forward button on the remote a lot.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.75:1, close to the original 1.85:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    This is a very good transfer with only a few minor problems. The transfer is quite sharp and clear, with a good level of detail. There is not much in the way of fine detail but I suspect that such detail was not present in the original material. Contrast levels are acceptable, but there is some loss of detail in shadows. There are a few night sequences that suffer slightly as a result. The colour comes across well, though flesh tones are a little on the brown side and blacks are not always pure. There seems to be some low level noise present.

    The only significant artefact is some edge enhancement, which is not so noticeable during the action sequences because of the rapid movement. Grain levels are satisfactory, though again in some of the darker sequences the grain is more pronounced. There are very few film artefacts.

    Optional English subtitles are provided. These are well timed, with no spelling errors or grammatical problems, and are in a good-sized font.

    The disc is RSDL-formatted with the layer change placed at 70:06 in the middle of a scene.

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

Audio

    The default audio track is Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1, and there is an optional English dubbed soundtrack in the same configuration. I listened only to the default track.

    The original soundtrack would have been mono, and the lack of this original soundtrack as an option is as usual an irritation, not that there is anything particularly wrong with the remix. There are few surround effects, with some music and effects being directed to the rear channels. Most of the sound comes from the centre and front speakers. The subwoofer is used for emphasis on the kicks and punches, and is not quite as emphatic as in some Hong Kong Legends releases. The sound comes across well with no distortion. Dialogue is clear throughout. It appears to be entirely post-synched and thus there are occasional audio sync issues, but nothing serious.

    The music is not especially memorable, with a lot of synthesizers and drums, thus not being typical of the era in which the film is set.

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

Extras

Main Menu Introduction

    A short animated introduction.

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    The menu is illustrated with scenes from the film, and there is some music which is not from the film.

Audio Commentary-Bey Logan (Hong Kong Film Expert)

    Another detailed commentary from Logan in which he gives plenty of information about the actors and the film. He also spends a lot of time discussing the long career of Lau Kar Leung. Well worth listening to.

Featurette-Won Jin Showreel (2:02)

    Some amazing martial arts demonstrated by Won Jin. This may have been the showreel he submitted which landed him the part in the movie.

Notes-Life Of A Legend

    Many pages of text notes detailing the life and career of Lau Kar Leung.

Theatrical Trailers (5:06)

    An original theatrical trailer and a trailer for the HKL DVD release.

Interviews-Cast-Chin Kar-Lok (17:28)

    An interview in Cantonese with the star of the film, covering his start in films with Sammo Hung and his later career.

Interviews-Cast-Won Jin (19:18)

    Won Jin discusses the problems he had on set due to not speaking the language, the other films he has made and his work in Korean cinema.

Trailers-Dragon From Russia, Project A 2, Police Story 2, Game of Death, City Hunter (7:55)

    Trailers for other HKL releases.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 2 UK release from Hong Kong Legends is the same as the Region 4.

    The All Regions disc from China has a transfer that is not enhanced for widescreen televisions and features no extras.

    The US Region 1 release from Fox has a DTS soundtrack as well as Dolby Digital 5.1. However, it appears that the soundtrack has been doctored to include some new effects. The video transfer is grainy and the only extras are trailers.

    It appears that the Region 4 is as good as any of the alternatives, so there seems to be no reason to shop overseas.

Summary

    A reasonably effective martial arts film that has a few twists on the by now stale plot.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is good.

    The usual useful array of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Wednesday, September 07, 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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