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POLICE STORY: Comprehensive review of HKL DVD and other versions

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POLICE STORY: Comprehensive review of HKL DVD and other versions

Old 10-01-01, 08:59 PM
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POLICE STORY: Comprehensive review of HKL DVD and other versions

It IS large. VERY large. Too large to reprint all of it here (especially with screen caps).

But here are some comments on the Japanese LD, followed by comments on the Region 2 HKL DVD...
In Japan, POLICE STORY was released on laserdisc and for years, it has been “the” version to own, despite the lack of subtitles. The 2.25:1 transfer was better than anything else out there (despite way too much artificial sharpening), the mono soundtrack was pure and undistorted, but more importantly, the film featured an extra prologue and opening credit sequence, plus an epilogue and alternate out-takes sequence that most fans regard as superior to the Hong Kong cut. My laserdisc will never go on eBay, I can tell you that. A PAL version of this was broadcast on Australian TV some years ago, but is apparently taken from the same print used for the Japanese LD.
The transfer: Easily the best I have seen for this film. Color saturation, contrast, etc. are all improved upon when compared to the other versions of this film. The level of detail here is unmatched. A vast improvement over what we have been watching these many years. Grain is sometimes present, but most of the time it is due to the extra clarity of the DVD format. In a few shots, it’s clear the element used is aging and suffered damage. This can be seen 3 minutes & 15 seconds in, where a faint vertical line appears for just over 3 minutes. There are some other spots and scratches, but they are few and far between. HKL’s digital restoration process is amazing in removing these flaws, while not adding ghost trails or noise.
This 5.1 remix is not a true representation of the original mono track. There are sounds that have been added (the honking horn when Jackie drives the car down the shanty town, as an example) and many sounds that are just missing (the loud crash when that same car hits the stone side of the hill). The shattered glass during the finale does not have the punch of the original mono mix, but it also does not sound distorted and completely lacking bass, like with the Media Asia mix. Most punches and kicks are from the Media Asia library and sound similar to the original sounds. Many times I had to play them one after the other to be sure they were different.
Yes, I would be happier with the original mono, but the remix is not an abomination (remember, I am one of the critics of Warner’s SUPERMAN remix and am pretty upset at what Anchor Bay has done with SUSPIRIA). It’s a begrudgingly acceptable alternative to no film at all, or that ridiculous Media Asia abomination. So a reluctant thumbs up on the sound.

Last edited by Matt Stevens; 10-02-01 at 03:07 PM.
Old 10-02-01, 10:15 AM
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Some have asked for large screen caps, but I cannot get my computer to do them. But Matt at Love & Bullets provided this one for us. I love this shot...

UPDATE to review! I have determined that there is a problem with the aspect ratio of this DVD. If you have not noticed it before... then read no further, otherwise you will be pissed off:

While watching this DVD, I found the aspect ratio to be wider than normal for a 2.35:1 film and now I know why. The image has been vertically squished, making everything a little too short and fat. After comparing this DVD to the Media Asia transfer, the Japanese transfer and the U.S. transfer, I was 90% positive of this. But I thought maybe it was my Malata N996’s PAL to NTSC conversion. So I put the DVD into my DVD Rom drive and low and behold, the distortion is there.

2nd UPDATE: HOWEVER, some in Europe say they are not seeing this distortion, so we have a case here of pure PAL equipment showing the film properly, but NTSC DVD decks or DVD ROM drives having a conversion problem. So HKL may not be to blame here.

Those of you with the MALATA N996 or other DVD players with X-Y scaling capabilities will be OK. I was able to correct the aspect ratio with the XY feature by raising the vertical height by just 3 clicks (hit “Feature” on the remote, go to X-Y Scaling and then hit the UP Arrow 3 times). Of course, those of you with Home Theater PC’s or PAL DVD decks that have no X-Y scaling are out of luck.

For the record, this is the second Hong Kong Legend DVD to have a problem like this. MAGNIFICENT BUTCHER has the opposite distortion, with the image too tall, causing me to use the X-Y scaling to lower the vertical height by 3 or 4 clicks. Again, those reporting this do not have pue PAL equipment, so HKL may not be to blame.

None of their other DVD's show this problem.

Last edited by Matt Stevens; 10-02-01 at 06:01 PM.
Old 10-02-01, 03:49 PM
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Excellent work, Matt.

A great, detailed review (and kudos to the guy who allowed the picture link).
Old 10-02-01, 04:59 PM
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Thanks. Matt at Love & Bullets did the screen cap and e-mailed it to me. I put it up on my server. If I can figure out how to get my system to do caps properly, I'll post a bunch.
Old 10-03-01, 05:00 PM
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Matt has updated his review to address concerns some had with the aspect ratio.


When I get a chance I will try to make larger screen shots so when you click on the smaller ones they are the same size as the one Matt posted.

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