Flaming Brothers (Jiang hu Long hu Men) (1987)

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Released 14-Dec-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)
Theatrical Trailer-2
Interviews-Crew-The Ambassador: An Interview With Director Joe Cheung
Trailer-Hong Kong Legends
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1987
Running Time 97:23
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (83:11) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Tung Cho 'Joe' Cheung
Studio
Distributor
Fortune Star
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Alan Tang
Pat Ha
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Two orphaned street boys in Macao are befriended by a young girl who gives them food. Later her family takes her to Hong Kong to live. Years later the boys have grown up into sworn brothers Alan (Alan Tang) and Ah Tien (Chow Yun-Fat), small-time gangsters. Following a violent confrontation with a rival gang, Alan and Ah Tien are recruited by the gang's boss to do some gun-running from Thailand. While in Thailand Alan meets a nightclub singer (Jenny Tseng) with whom he forms a relationship. Meanwhile Ah Tien bumps into Ka-Hsi (Pat Ha), who just happens to be the girl who they knew years before. After long romantic interludes our two heroes are betrayed by the gangsters and seek their revenge.

    Made during a period in which Chow Yun-Fat was making the transition from romantic leading man to action hero, thanks mainly to a series of movies with John Woo, this is a fairly undistinguished effort. There are a couple of good action sequences but the middle of the film is taken up with long and tedious romantic sequences. These are not helped by the dull performances of Tang and Tseng. Chow is better but I have never warmed to Pat Ha and found her just as annoying as I usually do. Otherwise the casting is interesting, as in a sequence where Ah Tien and Ka-Hsi entertain a group of elderly citizens. The old people are played by several recognisable actors who appeared in supporting roles in many movies from the 1970s and earlier.

    The movie feels like dozens of other Hong Kong action movies of the period. What distinguishes it apart from the appearance of Chow is the concluding shoot-out in a stable with a very high body count. However, even this type of sequence was done with more impact in the A Better Tomorrow series.

    What also makes this movie interesting is that it was written by none other than Wong Kar Wai. In fact he also co-produced it. It was the last film on which he worked prior to his directorial career. If you didn't know that he was involved, you would not guess it from the movie, as it shows little of the talent that he displayed in the films he has directed himself.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The IMDb claims that the original aspect ratio was 2.35:1, but I find this hard to believe. There is no obvious cropping at the sides as far as I can see. I suspect the original aspect ratio was really 1.85:1.

    This is a reasonable transfer for this film with only a few minor problems. The image is sharp and clean with a good level of detail. As usual from this source the colour is a little muted, and this seems to be a feature of a lot of Hong Kong films. Contrast is acceptable but shadow detail is no more than average, with dark hair and dark clothes having little in the way of definition.

    The print materials used must have been in very good condition, as there are few film artefacts. There is an occasional faint scratch or spot but nothing to distract from the movie itself. Film to video artefacts are present, with some edge enhancement at times and low level noise visible in the backgrounds of some scenes.

    The optional English subtitles are quite good, with no errors that I noticed. They are well timed with the dialogue and there are also subtitles for the songs.

    The disc is RSDL-formatted with the layer change positioned at 83:11 during a scene. While it appears at a cut it is a little distracting.

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

Audio

    The default audio is Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1, which is a remix from what was probably a mono soundtrack.

    Like all Hong Kong films of the period, sound was not recorded live but was dubbed in later. This means that the dialogue and effects are clear and clean but often the acoustic doesn't quite match the on-screen action. Audio sync is quite good despite the dubbing.

    The surround mix is mainly frontal in nature, with most of the effects and music directed to the main speakers. There is some music at a lower level in the rear channels, but no directional effects that I noticed. Low frequency effects are present during musical interludes as well as in the several gun battles.

    The music includes a couple of very forgettable songs with banal lyrics. Otherwise the music takes a back seat to the action.

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

Extras

Menu Animation & Audio

    The menu is animated with excerpts from the movie with some generic Hong Kong Legends music present.

Audio Commentary-Bey Logan (Hong Kong Cinema Expert)

    The usual detailed commentary where Logan displays his encyclopaedic knowledge of the Hong Kong film industry. He discusses the careers of all the main actors and crew, identifies most of the stunt men and also has time to give some background to the production.

Theatrical Trailers (3:55)

    Trailers for the original release and the UK DVD release.

Interviews-Crew-The Ambassador: An Interview With Director Joe Cheung (45:04)

    A long interview with the director. He spends about a half-hour discussing the movie, covering his work with the actors, the action sequences and his collaboration with Wong Kar Wai. The rest of the interview covers his subsequent career and the decline of the Hong Kong film industry, which he put down solely to piracy. That much of the industry's talent left Hong Kong before the 1997 takeover (including a lot of Triad money men) and that the US film industry has pushed heavily into Asia in the last decade thereby reducing Hong Kong's overseas markets is not addressed.

Trailer-Hong Kong Legends (9:15)

    Trailers for other releases on this label, being Skinny Tiger, Fatty Dragon, The Postman Fights Back, Moon Warriors, New Dragon Gate Inn and In the Line of Duty.

R4 vs R1

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

    The competition for this release comes from Regions 2 and 3. The Region 2 disc from the UK also comes from Hong Kong Legends, and apart from the inclusion of Dutch subtitles and a slightly different set of trailers for other HKL issues, the releases are the same.

    The Region 3 release from Hong Kong itself is not 16x9 enhanced and has no extras apart from a few trailers. It does have stereo soundtracks in both Cantonese and Mandarin.

    It looks like there is no release with better specifications than the Region 4.

Summary

    This Hong Kong effort in the "Heroic Bloodshed" genre is reasonable entertainment in the action sequences but much less interesting during the lengthy romantic interludes.

    The video quality is good.

    The audio quality is acceptable.

    Sometimes less is more, and in this case the quality of the extras makes up for the lack of quantity.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Thursday, December 15, 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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Comments (Add)
Bey Logan -
Aspect ratio -