Millionaires Express (Foo gwai lit che) (1986)

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Released 24-Jul-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Hong Kong film expert Bey Logan
Interviews-Cast-On The Cutting Edge: Yukari Oshima
Interviews-Cast-A New Frontier:Martial Arts Superstar Sammo Hung
Theatrical Trailer-Original Theatrical Trailer
Theatrical Trailer-U K Promotional Trailer
Trailer-Further Attractions: Other Hong Kong Legends Trailers
Notes-Biography: Bey Logan
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1986
Running Time 97:36
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Sammo Hung Kam-Bo
Studio
Distributor
Contender Ent Group
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Sammo Hung Kam-Bo
Yuen Biao
Kenny Bee
Rosamund Kwan
Yasuaki Kurata
Richard Ng
Lam Ching-ying
Cynthia Rothrock
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI $19.95 Music Anders Nelsson


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Chinese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Chinese Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
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, Behind the Scenes footage with credits

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Plot Synopsis

    Hong Kong films made during the 70s and 80s retain a broad sense of exuberance that seems lacking in many Hollywood mainstream films. Millionaire's Express (aka Shanghai Express) is a good example. It is great fun; a combination of Keystone Cops, bedroom farce, death defying stunts and action, all filtered through the perverse humour of the great, inventive Sammo Hung. Prepare to be entertained.

    Into one small, isolated Chinese village wanders a rogue with a bevy of good time girls, looking to start a casino (Sammo Hung), a bounty hunter (Kenny Bee), three Japanese Ninjas with a hidden agenda, a man desperately trying to keep his wife and mistress apart (Richard Ng), two separate sets of crooks seeking to rob the Millionaire's Express, various additional low lives and the village security chief by default (Yuen Biao) trying to keep things in order. What you have a recipe for mayhem. While the film takes a while to get everyone introduced, once it gets going Millionaires Express serves up broad physical comedy, high level stunts done for real and action with fists, feet, sticks, samurai swords and a machine gun!

    The film has a huge international cast, with Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Western actors, including Australian Richard Norton. So numerous is the cast that many well known actors have minor roles, such as Rosamund Kwan (better known for her roles opposite Jet Li in Once Upon a Time in China 1, 2 & 3), Dick Wei (who was Jacky Chan’s enemy of choice on such films as Project A or Heart of the Dragon), Lam Ching-ying (Mr Vampire series) or easily recognisable Shaw Bros. stalwart Fan Mui-sang (The Water Margin, All Men are Brothers). Although US martial arts star Cynthia Rothrock (City Cops, In the Line of Duty II) has prominent billing in the packaging, her role is primarily to fight Sammo Hung in the climax. Fans of Sammo Hung will know what to expect and will not be disappointed here; his fighting skills and sense for comedy is as good usual. Yuen Biao is also excellent; his fall from a burning building (done for real) is breathtaking and his fight with Sammo is top class. And he gets to kiss Rosamund Kwan! Finally, anyone who enjoyed the rubber-faced antics of Richard Ng in films such as Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Stars or The Magnificent Warriors will laugh out loud at his antics here. Millionaire's Express is a riot from start to finish.

    From Sammo's introduction amid "dead" Russians in the snow to the massive fight at the climax, the film provides a full throttle thrill ride, and heaps of genuine laughs all the way.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a good, clean, restored print that does the 20-year-old film full justice. It is presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and enhanced for widescreen TVs.

    Sharpness is very good, so much so that the few dated digital effects, such as the fire and explosion (5.09) or snowball (9.13) are glaringly obvious. Shadow detail in the few night scenes is good and grain and low level noise absent. Artefacts are minimal, such as the minor aliasing on the wooden shutters at 16.10, and never distracting. Colours are clean, and skin tones natural.

    The English subtitles are clear, easy to read and contain no obvious spelling or grammatical errors.

Video Ratings Summary
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Shadow Detail
Colour
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Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Audio tracks available are Cantonese 5.1, original Cantonese mono (a nice touch) and English 5.1. I listened to the Cantonese 5.1 and sampled the other two tracks.

    The 5.1 has some separation of sound into the surrounds, such as fire effects or gunshots, but is nothing special and mostly front-oriented. The mono track is much more strident and tinny, the English dub as bad as usual. Subwoofer use is minimal. Dialogue is clear. Like all Hong Kong films of this period no sound was recorded on the set as all actors are dubbed. That said, lip synchronisation in the Cantonese version is actually reasonably good.

    The music is a mixed bag, that neither really helps nor detracts from the film experience. There are blatant cues telegraphing "funny" bits and the extensive use of Western themes to remind us that this is an Eastern Western.

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

Extras

Main Menu Audio & Animation

Audio Commentary- Bey Logan

    Kong film expert Bey Logan provides his usual informative, detailed commentary. He identifies actors and gives a brief filmography, talks about locations in Canada, Hong Kong & Thailand and indicates where scenes were cut from various prints of the film. He is a knowledgeable, entertaining commentator and this commentary is a great aid to one’s understanding and enjoyment of the film.

Interviews-Cast: Sammo Hung (Cantonese with English subtitles 10.58 minutes)

    This interview is specific to Millionaires Express and he covers topics such as filming, his techniques, why he did his Bruce Lee impersonation again and his co-star “brother” Yuen Biao. Sammo is an engaging speaker, and this is well worth the listen.

Interviews-Cast: Yukari Oshima (Japanese with English subtitles 30.16 minutes)

    This is a wide ranging interview with Oshima, whose first Hong Kong film this was. She talks about learning martial arts, her career as a stunt performer, filming in other languages and working with Sammo Hung.

Theatrical Trailers

    Original theatrical trailer (3.44 minutes) and Hong Kong Legends promotional trailer (1.44 minutes)

Further Attractions

    Trailers for other HKL titles. Each has a text screen detailing the disc specifications and extras followed by the trailer. Included are: Battle Creek Brawl (1.36 minutes), Heart of the Dragon (1.51 minutes), My Lucky Stars (1.51 minutes), The Postman Fights Back (1.38 minutes), Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Stars (1.46 minutes).

R4 vs R1

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

    Region 1 has the same commentary, plus interviews with Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao and Cynthia Rothrock but misses the Oshima interview. It also includes 4 deleted scenes of poor quality. Call it a draw.

Summary

    Millionaires Express (aka Shanghai Express) is great fun; a combination of Keystone Cops, bedroom farce, death defying stunts and action, all filtered through the perverse humour of the great, inventive Sammon Hung. Prepare to be entertained.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42inch Hi-Def LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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