Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon (2008)
|Year Of Production||2008|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Daniel Lee|
Sammo Hung Kam-Bo
Chen Zhi Hui
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Mandarin dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English (Burned In)||Smoking||No|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The Chinese historical action epics have been coming pretty thick and fast lately including titles like the majestic Red Cliff and the impressive The Warlords. While this film, Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon certainly has some things going for it, it does not stack up quality-wise compared to the two other films I just mentioned. This doesn't mean that fans of this genre would not enjoy it; it is just that it is a lesser film. In some ways it is unfortunate that this film hits our DVD shelves so soon after Red Cliff because it tells a very related story and cannot hope to compete with the epic grandeur of that much bigger budgeted and better realised film. Having said that, it takes a somewhat different approach to the story being a more personal tale of one man's life during the period rather than focusing on the overall historical story. Unfortunately it tries to mix this with bits of epic grandeur, bits of bloody martial arts action and bits of melodrama and wrap it all up in just over an hour and a half. This results in a film that varies regularly in tone and pacing, making it overall a slightly disappointing affair compared to some of the other films in this genre.
As I mentioned above the story overlaps with that of Red Cliff, starting before it chronologically (180 to 228AD) and finishing afterwards. Those who have seen the full version of Red Cliff will remember a scene near the beginning of the film where a heroic soldier rescues the baby son of his lord, Liu Bei. This is a stunningly well realised scene in Red Cliff and makes the character memorable even with so many other characters in the film. It is this character, Zhao Zilong (Andy Lau) who is the focus of Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon. This scene is recreated here but unfortunately not as well. The story starts sometime before this when Zilong enlists in the army of Liu Bei, being signed on by another soldier, Luo Pingan (an old looking Sammo Hung who also directed the action scenes). They become friends and Zilong's heroism is driven by his desire to help Pignan who was responsible for the safety of Liu Bei's family. Many years pass and Zilong becomes one of the famous Five Tiger Generals while Pignan remains a lowly soldier. Quickly many more years past and we rejoin Zilong and Pignan as they set off on a final attack against the northern kingdom of Cao Cao and his offspring. In this case the northern armies are led by Cao Cao's daughter Cao Ling (Maggie Q), who is nearly as evil as her grandfather. Due to treachery, Zilong's army is cornered and he must face his doom.
On a positive note, Andy Lau, who also starred in The Warlords is a strong presence in this movie and nearly manages to make this movie better than the average film it is. Another highlight is the score by Henry Lai which is quite interesting evoking thoughts of not only ancient China but also of Sergio Leone and other spaghetti westerns which although odd is quite fitting. The cinematography is a mixture of the beautiful and the annoying, jumping from beautiful landscapes to fight scenes shot in slo-mo and too close up. One thing this film does is to name the characters as they first appear in English text. This is helpful for those not aware of the story involved. When it comes right down to it this film is let down by its writing and direction which tells what is an interesting story in a confused way. The film was written and directed by Daniel Lee who Jet Li fans might know as the director of Black Mask. There is an interesting futility of war message included which actually makes the last act of the film more resonant.
Definitely worth a rental for genre fans but not the one to start with for people making their first step into Asian historical action epics.
The feature is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is 16x9 enhanced widescreen. This is the original aspect ratio.
The picture was very clear and sharp throughout with only some very minor MPEG artefacts such as at 76:05. The shadow detail is very good without being spectacular.
The colour was disappointing with what should have been a colourful spectacle quite dull and somewhat lacking in brightness. I thought it might have been an artistic choice until I watched the trailer which is significantly brighter and more colourful than the feature itself. I suppose its possible that the trailer was made brighter and more colourful to help promote the film but regardless I would have preferred the whole film to look more like the trailer in colour terms.
There were no other obvious artefacts.
There are burned-in subtitles in English. They are white, clear and easy to read but contain quite a lot of spelling and grammatical errors. The trailer features very different subtitles.
There is no obvious layer change during playback. I cannot confirm its location as for some reason Icon review discs will not work in my PC.
The audio is excellent.
This DVD contains two audio options, a Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448Kb/s and a Mandarin DTS 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 768Kb/s. The DTS track is very immersive using your whole home theatre system to excellent effect.
Dialogue seemed clear but I do not speak Mandarin so can't say so categorically.
The award-winning score by Henry Lai is a fully immersive sound experience using all the speakers and the subwoofer.
The surround speakers are also used for various directional effects such as thunder, rain and battle sounds.
The subwoofer was well used supporting the sounds of battle, thundering horses, explosions and the music.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu is impressive including the wonderful music, sound effects, battle scenes and a relevant cursor motif.
The frustratingly colourful theatrical trailer.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 1 edition of this film is due for release in April 2010 and I cannot find any reliable specifications planned for it. There are a variety of Region 3 and Region 2 options available all of which seem to be an improvement over this local release. The Region 2 UK version is a 2 disc edition which seems to consist of this exact disc plus an extra disc containing interviews and a 90 minute making of. There is a Region 3 HK version in NTSC which includes similar extras along with a DTS-ES 6.1 soundtrack and English subtitles. This seems to be the pick of the Asian versions which also include Region 3 Taiwanese, Region 3 Korean and Region 2 Japanese releases. This title is also available in a variety of Blu-ray versions including the local one we reviewed here.
The video quality is very good but is lacking in colour.
The audio is excellent.
Only a theatrical trailer in the extras department.
|DVD||Sony DVP-NS708H upscaling to 1080p, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG Scarlet 42LG61YD 106cm Full HD LCD. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||Monitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer|