Millionaires Express (Foo gwai lit che) (1986)
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
|Year Of Production||1986|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Sammo Hung Kam-Bo|
Contender Ent Group
Universal Pictures Home Video
Sammo Hung Kam-Bo
|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|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, Behind the Scenes footage with credits|
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.
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.
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.
|Surround Channel Use|
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.
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.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S350, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 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 Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|