February 17th, 2003

smokin'

Shaw Bros Hong Kong DVD/VCD release information -

Heya, folks. As promised a while ago, my friend Paul Yellovich has sent me a rundown on the Shaw Brothers DVD/VCD releases that are now coming out weekly. Paul knows his stuff and unlike many folks on-line or in the world of fandom, he wants other people to see these films and enjoy them, rather than hoard the resources and information and be seen as some sort of "expert". Anyway, if you have even the tiniest bit of interest in Hong Kong/Chinese films (and martial arts films in particular) this concise but exhaustive write-up might prove quite handy. He also includes info on DVD players, regent codes, etc.

Anyway, here's Paul --

Celestial plans on releasing 760 remastered films. The films they have
restored are from a range of genres: comedy, martial arts, musicals,
dramas, etc. There are rumors that 80 films were found to be beyond
repair, although there is no list as of yet, many collectors are worried
what might not be coming out in the future. Some films are being released
in the theater around the world, and they are also being released on DVD
and VCD. Release schedule is either 15 or 20 films a month, usually in 2
batches separated by 2 weeks. The VCDs and DVDs both contain English
subtitles and are widescreen, and seem to be uncut. The DVDs at the moment
are Region 3, which means you need either a Region 3 or a region-free DVD
player in order to play them. Although Celestial has said they plan on
releasing DVDs with the English dub when available, none have been
scheduled so far, and many believe that they are waiting to license to
other countries. Although rumors are that they are close, no deal has been
struck with an American company yet. One of the problems I think might be
the fact that Celestial announced in the beginning that they planned to
license their catalog in total, although I'm not really sure if that's
still true, I find it hard to believe that an American company would be
comfortable with releasing all of the Shaws' martial arts titles, let alone
some of the other genres. Fans are also concerned with which company might
obtain the rights, considering Miramax/Disney are notorious for releasing
martial arts films heavily cut and with only English dub tracks.

Good points of the releases: Like I mentioned before all are widescreen,
all contain English subtitles, and all appear to be uncut. The restoration
is amazing when you compare them to the nth generation VHS tapes that most
fans have in their collection. Also many of these films have been hard or
impossible to obtain in any form. I read somewhere that Sir Run Run Shaw
was not really interested in having his movies released on videotape, so
many titles have remained unseen for decades since their original
theatrical runs.

Bad points of the releases: None of the DVDs as of yet are anamorphic,
which concerns many, especially those with 16x9 widescreen
televisions. Also on some titles the audio tracks have been remixed to 5.1
surround sound, and in an attempt to take these old soundtracks and give
them a little oomph, they've inserted some synthesizer music and sound
effects. Also there's a little bit of a subtitle glitch where subtitles
appear, disappear, and then reappear an instant later. Reports are that
they are aware of the subtitle problem and plan on fixing it for future
releases, but they do have a bunch of titles already in production. And I
guess many are concerned that none of the titles have the classic old
English dub tracks yet.

A good page for an overview of the Celestial Shaw Brothers releases:
http://www.dvdcult.com/KFDVD5.htm

If you're looking to purchase the Shaw Dvds your best bet for the cheapest
price is your local Chinatown.

On-line you have two choices overseas & domestic.
Overseas sites will be cheaper for the most part (even factoring in
shipping) but you also have to worry about customs sometimes.

Overseas sites
dddhouse.com
dvdshelf.com
esasia.com

Domestic sites
pokerindustries.com
hkflix.com
fivestarlaser.com


Two great forums:
This one has great info especially old school
http://pub3.ezboard.com/bkungfufandom

This one is for the video-philes but hands down the best forum discussing
Asian dvds.
Asian DVD Guide Forum http://pub5.ezboard.com/bhongkongdvds

Asian DVD Guide itself is the place to read reviews of dvds, problem is
it's not updated like it used to be; Here's the link
http://www.asiandvdguide.com/

And of course another great resource for info on all Hong Kong movies is
the Hong Kong Movie Database (duh!) http://www.hkmdb.org/

If you want info on region free dvd players the two sites to check are:
VCDHelp http://www.asiandvdguide.com/ & check on the "dvd players" & "dvd
hacks" sections.

Also there's Region Free Dvd http://www.regionfreedvd.net/index.html

A great forum to read about some of these region free players is the
Nerd-Out forum @ http://www.nerd-out.com/forum/index.php
smokin'

Checking in while snowbound at 3:30 am

As you've probably noticed, I've been away from the journal a lot this month. Work has been overwhelming, esp. after the various incidents detailed earlier (I don't know if I mentioned the basement flood, it wasn't a catastrophe, but it ate up a day and a half we needed for work and the house is still a mess from it). The snow's becoming a real pain in the ass as well, but that's life.

Anyhow, I've been trying to answer some of the "open mike" questions but it's taking me a while and AOL enjoys kicking me off-line lately (I know, snicker, I use AOL, go ahead you computer people out there, I don't care) so I'm doing the best I can under the time constraints or work and mail and "life" (or lack thereof). I just finished up the Agent X #11 script a little earlier tonight, so hopefully my schedule will start clearing by about March 1st based on my commitments. I have to do a number of revisions to my first Thing script for Marvel (even though it was approved last April, it's a long, dull story but hopefully the series won't be), and then revise Thing #3 so Dean can draw it, and then draw the cover for the SLG Free Comic Book Day comic and do a 2-page M&C strip for it, and then write an 8 pager for the DHC Hauntings anthology (which will be drawn by a very cool artist, BTW). This kind of juggling doesn't give me much time for the internet (or anything), I know the avg comics guy can polish this stuff off in his or her sleep (and it often looks like it) but I've been on a counter-production kick of late. I work every day, but constantly take two steps fed and one or more steps back from second-guessing myself. Hopefully that'll burn off as I get some on top of my workload. Losing a lot of time from Sarah's illness and whatnor really knocked us for a loop.

BTW, RIP Mr Perfect. I was a mark.

Okay, enough crabbing. I put up a nice article on the Shaw Bros films by my friend Paul for those of you into HK flicks. Take a look, it's good stuff. I'll go answer some questions now and hopefully post some new bitching and moaning asap. Maybe my rant on why the exclamation point should be banned from all writing about comics. Easier than wringing my typing hands over war-mongering, jingoism, duct tape and water hoarders on Staten Island and crazy people of all nations saying and doing crazy things. I cling to the simpler, nearly sane stupid world of comics during these trying times. And speaking of the Thunder Agents...