Heart of the Dragon (Long de Xin): Special Collector's Edition (1985)

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Released 8-Mar-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Trailer-UK Promotional
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-Different Strokes
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Spotlight On Action
Audio Commentary-Bey Logan (HK film buff)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1985
Running Time 86:53
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (78:55) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Sammo Hung Kam-Bo
Fruit Chan
Studio
Distributor
Fortune Star
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Jackie Chan
Sammo Hung Kam-Bo
Emily Chu
Hoi Mang
Ching-Ying Lam
Lung Chan
Wah Yuen
Kar Lok Chin
Corey Yuen
Melvin Wong
Ying-Fat Lam
Ka-Ho Lee
Dennis Chan
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Man Yee Lam


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Chinese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/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 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
English Alternate Subtitles
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Tat Fung (Jackie Chan) is an ex-SWAT team member who has recently joined the CID division of the Hong Kong police. Whilst his career is definitely moving ahead, it's not the career he wants. Tat dreams of becoming a sailor and travelling around the world, but he can never let his dreams come true as he is dedicated to caring for his mentally ill brother Danny "Do Do" Fung (Sammo Hung). Even when the opportunity to follow his dreams lands on his doorstep, Tat cannot leave Do Do as he knows there is nobody else that will understand him and care for him.

    Do Do has the mind of a child, despite being 30 years old, and spends most of his time hanging around and playing with the neighbourhood kids. As much as he fits in with them, the kids are still smart enough to be taking advantage of Do Do and they are all constantly up to mischief. Mischief that always seems to end with Tat bailing them out.

    When Do Do and his friends accidentally mug a jewel thief who had only just escaped Tat and his squad with a bag full of loot, they get into more mischief than Tat can handle on his own. Do Do is kidnapped by mobsters who not only want the jewels but the jewel thief, who was arrested shortly after being mugged and turned into an informant. With his captain unwilling to negotiate, Tat and a handful of his closest friends turn vigilante to rescue Do Do.

    Heart of the Dragon is in many ways what you would expect if Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan decided to remake Rain Man (although it pre-dates Rain Man by some three years). The story is rather different, but the core plot themes are quite similar. An able-bodied brother learns to appreciate his mentally challenged sibling, then uses his martial arts skills to save him from organised criminals. Rain Man did omit the later part of that story, however. Joking aside, one of the most interesting aspects of Heart of the Dragon is how this sort of story has been approached by a different culture to that which produced Rain Man. The comparison of these two movies provides fascinating insight into how two different cultures approach this sensitive subject.

    Heart of the Dragon is much more a comedic drama than the usual Jackie Chan action fare. It really only has two action scenes, one at the beginning and one at the end - although the one at the end is 40 minutes long and features a great car chase followed by half an hour of the martial arts and acrobatic action you would normally associate with Jackie Chan. Most of the movie is spent developing the relationship between Tat and Do Do. Both the action sequences and dramatic sequences work very well, but they don't combine cohesively. It is almost as though we are shown a short comedic drama followed by a short action movie. Anyone looking for a typical Jackie Chan or Sammo Hung action movie is likely to be a bit disappointed by Heart of the Dragon, but it is likely to appeal more than most martial arts films to an art-house drama audience. Both Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan deserve applause for their acting in Heart of the Dragon as well as being brave enough to break the mould they had forged for themselves prior to making this.

    It is worth noting that this edition features Sammo Hung's preferred version of the film. Two extra action scenes were added to the first half of the movie in some versions in order to appeal to a typical Jackie Chan/Sammo Hung audience. Both these scenes are presented on this disc as deleted scenes. It is hard to tell how they would have altered the flow of the movie, but they certainly would have seemed rather gratuitous and are not related to the central plot in any way.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced. The original aspect ratio is 1.85:1.

    The video transfer on offer is excellent, especially for a film of this age. The transfer is very clean and free of film artefacts. The colours are bright and even throughout. Shadows and dark scenes are very clear. There is a small degree of grain in the picture, but it is very even throughout.

    Two subtitle streams are presented, English for the hearing impaired and English.

    The layer change occurs at 78:55 during a brief pause in the final action scene. Despite not being in the best of places it is a smooth transition that was not noticeable on my equipment.

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

Audio

    Two language tracks and a commentary are available. The language tracks are Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps) and English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384 kbps).

    Despite being remastered to 5.1, the audio tracks are little more than adequate. There is no noticeable distortion or dropouts, but the sound certainly shows its age. It is a little muffled and does not have a great dynamic range. The mix virtually ignores the surround channels entirely and it is only on occasion that the front left and right channels are distinctly mixed in stereo. The subwoofer does not get much use, only a few simple fight effects. Admittedly, the original theatrical release was only a basic stereo mix, but I have to question the point of remastering a film in 5.1 without adding anything significant to the sound.

    The ADR is fairly typical for Hong Kong films of this era, not great in either its native tongue or foreign dubs, but adequate - certainly not worse than many of its peers.

    Musically, Heart of the Dragon is almost China's answer to The Bodyguard. The film was a modest success at the box office, but it spawned a theme tune that has long become a karaoke favourite throughout Asia as well as a huge hit in its own right for Taiwanese pop star Su Rui. It is used to death in the film, but it is very fitting and a good song.

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

Extras

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    Action music and scenes from the film play over the menu, which are a little misleading in regards to the content of the movie but look good regardless.

Trailers - Dragon Lord, Zu Warriors, Canton Godfather and Once Upon a Time in China 3

    Four trailers are included for other titles in the Hong Kong Legends range, each specially cut for the DVD releases, along with descriptions of the discs and a list of what extras they include. This is some of the better advertising I've seen, largely because it tells you what you'll get on each disc.

Theatrical Trailer

    A UK promotional trailer and the original theatrical trailer are presented. The UK promotional trailer is a fairly standard trailer, but the original theatrical trailer is something different altogether. It features very little action and focuses on Su Rui's hit theme song, playing the song in full over shots of Su Rui in the studio with a handful of dramatic clips of Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung and interview footage of Su Rui explaining how special the movie is!

Featurette - "Different Strokes"

    A one on one interview with the charismatic Sammo Hung, recorded specially for this DVD release. Running at 11:22, this interview covers a variety of aspects of the film and its production.

Featurette - "Spotlight On Action"

    An interview with cinematographer Arthur Wong, recorded specially for this DVD release. Running at 15:10, this somewhat misnamed interview provides a lot of background to the development of the film and how making a movie in Hong Kong differs from making one in the West.

Deleted Scenes

    Two fight scenes that were deleted from the movie (running at 2:20 and 2:58), as described previously in this review, and one short clip of an action sequence that had been toned down. The fight scenes are spectacular and well worth watching. Whilst the scenes are irrelevant to the central plot of the movie, they are of such a high standard that it is hard to believe they were trimmed from the movie.

Audio Commentary - Bey Logan

    Bey Logan, an Englishman who has spent most of his life working in the Hong Kong film industry and is himself an avid Hong Kong film buff delivers a non stop barrage of trivia about the film, the actors in it (and I mean ALL the actors in it - the Hong Kong film industry really was one big family in the 1980s), their biographies and everything you may not have noticed the first time you watched the movie. This is one of the most engaging commentaries I have heard in a long time.

R4 vs R1

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

    This edition of Heart of the Dragon is identical to the Region 2 release.

    There is an edition in Region 1 that includes English and Cantonese DTS audio tracks as well as English and Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, but misses:

    I have not heard the quality of the DTS tracks to compare, but I would be surprised if they were able to add much to this largely dramatic film.

Summary

    A very different movie from Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung. This is largely a comedic drama, rather than an action movie, but it still manages to feature some spectacular fights and stunts. It is far from their best work, but certainly recommended viewing for fans of Asian cinema (not just martial arts fans).

    The film is given a very good DVD presentation, particularly in the video quality and extras department.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDLG V8824W, using S-Video output
DisplayLG 80cm 4x3 CRT. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX-D512. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-D512
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, and a 100W centre and 2 surrounds, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

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