Zu Warriors (San suk san geen hap): Special Collector's Edition (1983)

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Released 20-Sep-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Bey Logan (Hong Kong Cinema Expert) & Tsui Hark (Director)
Theatrical Trailer-2
Additional Footage-The Wizard's Cave
Interviews-Cast-Mang Hoi, Moon Lee
Trailer-Once Upon A Time in China 3
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1983
Running Time 93:48
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (72:25) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Hark Tsui
Studio
Distributor
Fortune Star
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Biao Yuen
Hoi Mang
Adam Cheng
Moon Lee
Brigitte Lin
Damian Lau
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded 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 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

    Let's get some clarifications out of the way before we begin. Firstly, this film is the 1983 film from Hong Kong which has been known by many names and released in at least two different versions. It has been known variously as Suk san: Sun Suk san geen hap which is the Chinese title, Warriors from the Magic Mountain, Zu Mountain: New Legend of the Zu Mountain Swordsmen, Zu Time Warriors (which was the international title for a very different version), Zu Warriors, Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain and Zu: Warriors of the Magic Mountain. It is NOT the 2001 remake by the same director which is known as Zu Warriors or The Legend of Zu (Cantonese title : Shu shan zheng zhuan). It was directed (as was the remake) by Tsui Hark, the prolific Hong Kong action director. I mention these things because some of the marketing for this release has included details of the 2001 version and has also indicated the film was directed by Ang Lee. If you think all of this sounds confusing that fits very nicely with the film itself.

    I will attempt to explain the plot of this film but I get the feeling that knowledge of the actual Chinese legends involved would certainly help your understanding. There is a legend of a range of mountains in ancient China known as Zu and the legend tells that the mountains were inhabited by heroes and great swordsmen who also seem to be demi-gods. The film opens during an ancient civil war in which Ti Ming Chi (Yuen Biao) is a young and not very eager foot soldier. After being wrongfully accused by his own general, he runs away and meets up with a similarly minded soldier (Sammo Hung) from the other side. Together they pretend to fight until they can escape from the battle. Ti Ming Chi ends up running into the mountains and after being attacked by demons is rescued by Master Ting Yin (Adam Cheng), a hero and great warrior. They soon meet up with another hero and his apprentice, Abbott Hsiao Yu (Damien Lau) and Monk Yi Chen (Mang Hoi). Together, despite their differences, they begin to battle a fearsome foe, the Blood Demon. The Blood Demon is then brought under control by Cheng Mai (Sammo Hung again) and his superpowered eyebrows! However, in order to completely defeat the demon, Cheng Mai sends Ti Ming Chi and Yi Chen on a mission to get the twin swords which can save the world. They only have 49 days until Cheng Mai will be overpowered by the Demon. Along the way they also need the help of the Countess who is very powerful and must battle many demons. One of the Countess's guards, Mu Sang (Moon Lee), joins Ti Ming and Yi Chen on their quest. I apologise if this all sounds a little confused, but unfortunately that's about as much sense as I could make of this visually interesting but confusing Hong Kong fantasy action film.

    Martial arts film fans will probably find this film annoying as most of the action involves flying around rather than fights in the Bruce Lee sense of the word. However, if you enjoy this style of Hong Kong fantasy action film you may well enjoy this. This film is probably most famous for being the first Hong Kong film to use major special effects and had a big budget for Hong Kong at the time. There are a lot of comedy elements in this film which would appeal more to a Hong Kong than western audience. The version included here is the original Cantonese version. As I mentioned above it was released internationally as Zu Time Warriors and included 30 minutes of different footage. The extra footage which adds a current day sequence starring Yuen Biao as a modern day fencing champion is included in the extras.

    Overall, this is not a great film, but certainly would be of interest to fans of Hong Kong cinema.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is decent but nothing special.

    The feature is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is not the original aspect ratio according to IMDB which quotes it as 2.35:1. I am a little dubious about this actually being correct as all DVD versions of this film are in 1.85:1 and it looks right in this ratio. Accordingly, I will not be removing one star from the overall video rating.

    The picture was neither sharp nor overly soft, however some sections show significant softness. There was no evidence of low level noise. Shadow detail was pretty average but not too bad considering the age of the film. There was some light grain throughout.

    The colour was quite good generally although there was some minor colour bleeding especially from lighter colours such as white.

    Artefacts were not very prevalent with just the occasional film artefact to be seen. Generally a nice clean effort.

    There are subtitles in English which were clear and easy to read. There were no obvious problems with the translation or grammar.

    The layer change occurs at 72:25 and caused a significant pause in the middle of a scene.
    

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

Audio

    The audio quality is reasonable but not spectacular.

    This DVD contains two audio options, an English dubbed Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s and a Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack also encoded at 448 Kb/s. I listened to the entire Cantonese track and sampled the dubbed one. As usual with Hong Kong films of this era, the dubbing is quite annoying. The Cantonese track is quite front and centre focused, which shows its probably mono origins.

    Dialogue seemed a little muffled and there was no discernible problem with audio sync. I cannot understand Cantonese so cannot say for sure.

    The score of this film is quite over the top in style.

    The surround speakers were not used except for some mild atmosphere.

    The subwoofer gave some bass to the music and also added some nice rumbling as appropriate to the film. It seemed a little boomy at times, as if there was a little too much bass added during the remix.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu included an intro, music, and the ability to select scenes, languages and subtitles.

Commentary - Bey Logan & Tsui Hark

    As with most of the Hong Kong Legends range of DVD releases a commentary is provided by Hong Kong film nut Bey Logan. This time he is joined by the film's director, Tsui Hark. It adds a new dimension to Logan's normally high quality commentaries in that not only can he talk about trivia and background information about the film as usual but he has Hark on hand to ask questions of when he is not sure of something. Quite often Logan seems to know more about the film than Hark does but this is not really a problem. They discuss how the idea was pitched, where the story came from, casting, Sammo Hung's involvement, special effects, the meaning of the film and Hark's career and approach more generally. Definitely worth a listen.

Trailers

    This section includes trailers for this film, as follows:

The Wizard's Cave

    This includes the extra scenes which were added for the abovementioned international version of this film. Unfortunately, you cannot actually watch this version because the footage in the original film was heavily re-edited for this version, so all you get are the extra scenes. This is a good extra but unfortunately the footage is not great. Non 16x9 enhanced. Included are:

Interviews

    New interviews with two of the cast members, unfortunately not the main ones. Included are:

Trailer

    A trailer for Once Upon a Time in China 3 is also included.

R4 vs R1

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

    Besides this version which is available in Region 2 and 4 under the Hong Kong Legends label, there are two other versions of this film available on DVD. There is a NTSC all-regions version which seems to have worse video quality according to reviews and does not have the extras or the English dub. There is also a different Region 2 release available in France which does not include an English dub or English subtitles. This local release is the best version available globally for English speaking audiences.

Summary

    An interesting but confusing Hong Kong fantasy action film from 1983.

    The video quality is decent but no more.

    The audio quality is reasonable.

    The disc includes a quality set of extras, as you expect from Hong Kong Legends.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

Other Reviews NONE
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