Sleepless Town (Fuyajo) (1998)
|Category||Drama||Menu Animation & Audio|
|Year Of Production||1998|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Chi-Ngai Lee|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
Japanese dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The sleepless town of the title is Tokyo's Shinjuku district, a melting pot of various nationalities and a source of gangs and proto-yakuza (at least in the movies) as well as being the entertainment hub of the city. The red light district is known as Kabukicho. Ken'ichi Ryu (Takeshi Kaneshiro) is a a blend of Chinese and Japanese, a "bat" as he puts it who lives in the sleepless suburb. His gangster past catches up with him when his former partner Fu-Chun turns up in Shinjuku looking for his girlfriend. Gang boss Yuan (Eric Tsang) has a vendetta with Fu-Chun (who killed his gang brother), and Yuan decides that Ken'ichi, as his ex-partner, has to bring Fu-Chun in or pay the ultimate price in his stead. In trying to track down Fu-Chun our hero gets involved with Fu-Chun's dangerous-seeming girlfriend (Mirai Yamamoto).
The principals are outsiders in their own society due to not being full-blooded Japanese, and while the racism theme is not fully developed here, it is one that has been regularly explored in Japanese cinema (for example Kamikaze Taxi). It is not a surprising plot point for a Chinese-Japanese co-production. Unfortunately the film seems to be a hybrid as well, part yakuza revenge tale, part film noir, part love story. The last part works least successfully as there is little chemistry between the leads. It works best as a film noir, though in that respect it has moved no further along than similar American films of the post-World War Two era.
It is directed with style by Lee Chi Ngai, with considerable visual influence from Wong Kar Wai I am led to believe. The style, though, rarely threatens to overwhelm the story. Takeshi is quite good as the former gangster drawn back into events which he cannot control, and Mirai Yamamoto stands out as the duplicitous Natsumi. Kippei Shiina unfortunately plays Fu-Chun as if he were one of those wicked demon-priests in a Hong Kong fantasy action movie, complete with straggly long hair. Of note in the supporting cast is cult director Seijun Suzuki as the practically voiceless gangster boss Mr Ye. Also visible briefly (and briefly clad) is exploitation model-actress Mihono Nomoto as a girl who sleeps with Ken'ichi early in the film.
While this is no revelation, it moves relatively quickly despite a few too many endings, and is entertaining enough for a rental at least.
The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.
This transfer looks very much like an NTSC to PAL conversion. There is a slight fuzziness to the video typical of such conversions. While the transfer is reasonably sharp and sufficiently detailed for most viewers, those looking for fine detail and razor sharpness will be disappointed. There is some slight motion blurring which is also evidence in favour of the conversion theory.
Colours are slightly muted but generally quite good, especially the bright neon signs in the Shinjuku night-time. Flesh tones are okay but a little on the saturated side. Shadow detail is acceptable but could have been much better.
Apart from some infrequent aliasing and edge enhancement I did not notice any other film to video artefacts. In a couple of sequences I noticed some tiny dark flecks, but otherwise there were no significant film artefacts.
The optional English subtitles are in a clear white font and are well timed, though there are a couple of spelling errors. American spelling is used, but there are no jarring Americanisms.
The disc is single layered.
There are two audio tracks. A Dolby Digital 2.0 track, presumably the original, is supplemented by a DTS 5.1 track, both in the original Japanese. I listened to the DTS track. The stereo track is at a fairly low bitrate of 192K/bps though the DTS is at 768K/bps.
The audio is quite good. Surround effects are limited to scenes where they give a genuine ambience, such as traffic and crowd noises, and otherwise the only use of the rear channels is for music. The soundstage is skewed toward the front speakers, with dialogue mainly from the centre channel. A couple of times there was a jarring movement of dialogue from centre to main channels which paralleled movement in the camera position. The subwoofer is used quite often for gunfire and for emphasis of the bass in the music.
The overall sound quality is quite good without being of reference standard. There is a slight digital edge to the voices, but otherwise nothing distracting.
The music score is quite eclectic. Some of the music has a Japanese influence, but in keeping with the mood of alienation there is some accordion music and significant use of the song Unforgettable, not sung by Nat King Cole but by Leon Daniels.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu is lightly animated, with looping music for background.
The UK Region 2 appears to be identical in content and quality to the Region 4.
The US Region 1 is reported to have a sharp transfer, though with the same motion blurring as the Region 4. It seems the Region 1 is slightly superior, though I think most people will be happy enough with the Region 4.
This film is a bit of a mixed bag but there are a couple of well done action scenes and it is rarely boring or unbelievable.
The video quality is acceptable but appears to be an NTSC to PAL conversion.
The audio quality is very good.
No extras of note.
|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.|
|Speakers||Main: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175|