The Warlords (Tau ming chong): Collectors Edition (2007)

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Released 1-Dec-2009

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category War Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Featurette-Making Of
Featurette-Production Diary
Deleted Scenes
Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2007
Running Time 108:42
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (66:05)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Peter Chan
Wai Man Yip
Studio
Distributor
Talentaid
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Starring Jet Li
Andy Lau
Takeshi Kaneshiro
Jinglei Xu
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Kwong Wing Chan
Peter Kam
Leon Ko


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Mandarin 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 (Burned In) Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     In feudal 19th century Qing dynasty China, three blood brothers (Jet Li, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro) lead a fierce army to recapture rebel-held cities on behalf of the ruling dynasty. As well as being an effort to reunify the country, the brothers' campaign is also an effort to further their political standing which in turn would allow them to fight the corruption that is rife among the ruling lords. An epic mix of action and drama, The Warlords is ambitious fare that succeeds quite well on both fronts. The action is spectacular, particularly the enormity of the action scenes (which my wife describes as Saving Private Ryan with added swords). The dramatic side is excellent, largely thanks to the quality of the material and the excellent casting (Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro are both well known throughout Asia for their dramatic roles and action flicks).

The film's action sequences are particularly unusual as they capture the rarely seen transitional period between traditional and modern warfare: a time when swords and bows could still compete with rifle-carrying troops. The resulting tactics and individual fighting styles are markedly unique and make for refreshing viewing.

The real downside of this release is that the version we are offered is a substantially edited "international cut" that loses a good 15-20 minutes of material from the original cut of the film. The footage cut does little to substantially change the story on offer but it does simplify the roles of many of the outlying characters which gives the story a far less epic feel. Regular readers may have noticed this is the third review we've had for this particular film (we have previously featured reviews for the rental DVD version and the Blu-ray). Judging by the comments of our other reviewers the cuts haven't spoilt their enjoyment of the film, although they more or less noted that the film felt edited.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The feature is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The film features a deliberate grainy look that translates reasonably well to DVD. With that in mind, the image is reasonably sharp and clear for the most part although mild background pixelation and mosquito noise creeps into the image, particularly towards the latter part of the film. Shadow detail is very good.

    A stylized colour palette is employed throughout which focuses on earthy and stony colours. The rich browns and greys compliment the mood and tone of the film well.

    A few black film artefacts are visible on the opening distributor logo but none are present in the film itself.

    The film features forced English subtitles which are clear and easy to read. The subtitles transcribe everything including on-screen text which is in English anyway, including screens of the back story that opens and closes the film.

    This is a RSDL disc with a layer change at 66:05 which was not noticeable on my equipment.

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

Audio

    A Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kbps) and a Mandarin Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo (192 Kbps) track are present.

    The soundtrack is a bit of a mixed bag. It features a lot of dynamic and well placed surround usage and constant subwoofer action, especially during action scenes, but the mix sounds muddy and over-compressed.

    The dialogue is well placed in the mix and easy to discern but the lip sync is noticeably off throughout much of the film. Everything else sounds in good sync, however, so this is unlikely to be particularly distracting to anyone reading the subtitles.

    The film features an epic score from Kwong Wing Chan, Peter Kam, Leon Ko & Chartchai Pongprapapan.

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

Extras

    This 2-disc edition features one disc that is identical to the rental version and a second disc that carries the bulk of the extras found on the Blu-ray.

Disc One

Behind The Scenes (17:40)

    A reasonably interesting "Making Of" featurette, comprising a decent mix of both interview and on-set footage. There is a bit of crossover with the featurettes on the second disc but this one stands well enough on its own to make it worth a look in addition to the other featurettes.

Theatrical Trailer (3:36)

    A lengthy Asian trailer for the film jammed with excessive action and melodrama.

Trailer for The Promise

Disc Two

117 Days: A Production Journal (35:22)

    A reasonably interesting production diary that follows the cast and crew on set. The featurette is laden with interviews and on-set comments from the crew and it is particularly interesting to see how production comes together in a non-Hollywood culture.

Reflections on The Warlords (36:37)

    A series of press-kit "Making Of" featurettes, each running a few minutes focusing on different aspects of the film; sets, effects, costumes, cast. Reasonably interesting stuff but one to file in the light and fluffy category.

Deleted Scenes (22:52)

    Call me cynical but I am a little dubious when twenty of minutes of deleted and (mostly) extended scenes are provided for a movie that was edited by roughly that same length. In this case the bulk of the deleted scenes are bits that weren't in either cut of the film but it still drives home the question of why the film needed to be butchered in the first place.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

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

    This edition is identical to the UK Region 2 special edition of The Warlords. The film has not found its way to DVD in Region 1 at the time of writing.

    Various Asian Region 3 editions exist containing the uncut film with English subtitles. If the extra features are not important to you one of these editions may be the way to go (though beware as some of the early editions, which are likely now out of print, were not 16x9 enhanced).

    This disc includes more in the way of extras than the local Blu-ray such as the Behind The Scenes featurette.

Summary

    A clumsy "international" edit to an excellent Chinese epic action/drama. Nevertheless, the transitional swords vs rifles setting allows for action sequences that are unique and truly spectacular.

    The video quality is good but definitely has room for improvement. The audio supports the action well but is a tad muddy. The extras are diverse and plentiful.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3, using HDMI output
DisplayOptoma HD20 Projector. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX2016AVS. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX2016AVS
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, 100W centre and 4 surround/rear speakers, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

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