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Sparrow (Johnnie To)

Old 10-19-08, 01:55 AM
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Sparrow (Johnnie To)



Johnny To's latest Sparrow (2008) is now available on BR and DVD in Hong Kong. It was part of this year's Berlin International Film Festival where it was nominated for Golden Bear (Best Film).

I recently saw the film and wrote a tiny review for it, liked it immensely. It is quite a departure for To as the triad element is completely missing. In its place the HK director offers a fascinating panorama of intoxicating visuals from his beloved city, very much influenced by classic 50s and 60s HK cinema. The plot is also very strong, a mix of S. Frears' The Grifters, M. Bardem's Incautos and Tsai Ming-liang's The Wayward Cloud. Here's the French duo's (also contributed on Mad Detective) My Space page with excerpts from the superb soundtrack (you could also see the trailer):

http://www.myspace.com/sparrowsoundtrack

Ciao,
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Old 10-19-08, 09:46 PM
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I just received my copy from Yesasia. Mine is stamped as Tai Seng, which makes it officially for the US market. So I guess technically it is available in a US version, even though no US retailers carry it yet.
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Old 10-20-08, 09:59 AM
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a Johnny To film without a triad element - impossible! I got tired of that aspect a long time ago - sounds interesting, might blind buy it.
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Old 10-20-08, 05:06 PM
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pro-b,

is there an english friendly PAL release of Incautos?
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Old 10-20-08, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by nitin77 View Post
pro-b,

is there an english friendly PAL release of Incautos?
http://www.dvdgo.com/product~catgid~...d~Incautos.htm

www.veoveo.es has it in stock.

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Old 10-20-08, 09:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Giles View Post
a Johnny To film without a triad element - impossible! I got tired of that aspect a long time ago - sounds interesting, might blind buy it.
I started watching it last night very late and only made it through the first 15 minutes or so, but it was beautiful!
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Old 10-20-08, 11:00 PM
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I was just wondering...DVD Asian has Sparrow for much less than Yesasia. Has anyone had any bad experiences with DVD Asian?
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Old 10-21-08, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Ted Kontos View Post
I was just wondering...DVD Asian has Sparrow for much less than Yesasia. Has anyone had any bad experiences with DVD Asian?
The only issue I have with them is orders consistently take quite some time to ship -- in my experience, nearly a week on average, with my last order taking three -- as they're apparently getting ahold of stock as it's requested rather than keeping many things immediately on hand. I buy from them because of the prices (which, as you said, are often a good chunk less than other Asian retailers) but don't ever expect something to arrive quickly.

As for Sparrow, I wasn't impressed. More enjoyable than the other To films I've seen (all of which I've thoroughly disliked) but I'd imagine fans of his work (and fans of the French New Wave) will be pleased.

Last edited by Cosmic Bus; 10-21-08 at 09:53 AM.
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Old 10-21-08, 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by zombeaner View Post
I started watching it last night very late and only made it through the first 15 minutes or so, but it was beautiful!
How were the subs?

I think TheRunningMan mentioned in the Talk forum that the subs on the Tai Seng release were more accurate compared to the first R3 release of the film.
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Old 10-21-08, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by asianxcore View Post
How were the subs?

I think TheRunningMan mentioned in the Talk forum that the subs on the Tai Seng release were more accurate compared to the first R3 release of the film.
I am unsure how they could be any better as Tai Seng typically sell exactly the same discs but labeled for the US market. More or less they are a secondary distributor.

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Old 10-21-08, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by pro-bassoonist View Post
I am unsure how they could be any better as Tai Seng typically sell exactly the same discs but labeled for the US market. More or less they are a secondary distributor.

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Hmm...then I guess the subs will more or less stay the same.

Here is what he posted in the Dragon Dynasty thread over in the Talk forum.

Originally Posted by The Running Man View Post
They are the ones that have the rights to Johnnie To's latest Sparrow, which is a great film. I'm really excited they have the rights because they'll improve the English translation because the current ones are dumbed down.
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Old 10-21-08, 05:56 PM
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I see...but I must disagree with him. Perhaps Love for example is identical to the HK release (and so is Initial D I believe).

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Old 10-22-08, 12:20 AM
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Originally Posted by asianxcore View Post
How were the subs?

I think TheRunningMan mentioned in the Talk forum that the subs on the Tai Seng release were more accurate compared to the first R3 release of the film.
It seems not for this title :
Ironic since Tai Seng was one of the very first Western companies, if not the first, to take subtitle translation of Hong Kong films very seriously and has had a consistent record of having high quality English translations for Hong Kong films on all of their non-import releases.

Anyway to answer your question, the disc that's currently on sale is just an import of the Hong Kong DVD.
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Old 10-22-08, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Giles View Post
a Johnny To film without a triad element - impossible! I got tired of that aspect a long time ago - sounds interesting, might blind buy it.
Linger didn't have a triad element either. Most of his movies don't. Even his crime films don't always involve triads (Mad Detective, for example). I think his triad films get more international attention because they fit the standard expectations of what Hong Kong cinema "should" be -- this isn't to say they're bad films or that they don't deserve the attention, but they're not wholly representative of his work. To's romances and comedies are actually far more popular in HK than his triad movies (his biggest domestic hits are Justice, My Foot! and Love on a Diet).
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Old 10-22-08, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Dan Average View Post
Linger didn't have a triad element either. Most of his movies don't. Even his crime films don't always involve triads (Mad Detective, for example). I think his triad films get more international attention because they fit the standard expectations of what Hong Kong cinema "should" be -- this isn't to say they're bad films or that they don't deserve the attention, but they're not wholly representative of his work. To's romances and comedies are actually far more popular in HK than his triad movies (his biggest domestic hits are Justice, My Foot! and Love on a Diet).

I must admit, that my introduction to his films were his crime pics, and IMO they were overhyped. I'd be very curious to see what his other genre films are like.
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Old 10-23-08, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by pro-bassoonist View Post
I am unsure how they could be any better as Tai Seng typically sell exactly the same discs but labeled for the US market. More or less they are a secondary distributor.

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that Tai Seng frequently releases two versions, the first is the 'same as' version. The second, a few months later, is the 're-translated' version. The distinguishing clue may be the one marked 'Domestic' under Features (on TS site).
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Old 10-23-08, 02:56 PM
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I know for a fact that their discs are packaged and labeled by the main distributor. This is also the case with their BDs. If they are doing a selective reprint of discs here in the US, and improving subs while doing so, this is definitely news to me. Perhaps they did do a few selected reprints on specific titles that sold well but I personally am unaware which titles and when (perhaps older SDVD titles) and am certain that this is not a regular practice as I have been tracking their releases for a different site and during the last 6 months they have definitely been overlapping their BDs with an HK distrib. I believe the same goes for their SDVDs.

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Old 10-23-08, 04:46 PM
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Some titles have improvements, it seems the picture and sound are the same, but subs are more readable in yellow and you can find audio commentaries by Ric Meyer.
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Old 10-24-08, 02:22 AM
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Originally Posted by pro-bassoonist View Post
If they are doing a selective reprint of discs here in the US, and improving subs while doing so, this is definitely news to me.

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I'd guess there's always a chance of the infamous "we're america, they've got to be doing something special / better, just for us" that subconsciously comes through when people talk about somehow avoiding imports or aiming at domestic product despite a perfectly good, cheap, easily-available import already being out there...
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