HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Monday, March 5, 2007

When Bootlegs Attack! Red Sun DVDs in FYE and Suncoast (with pictures) and why we all lose in the long run.

Recently, if you've visited a FYE or Suncoast, you may have noticed a lot of Kung Fu movies popping up in store shelves. DVDs such as classic Shaw Brothers films and other Hong Kong films claiming to be remastered and offering English dubs.

The truth is that these DVDs are actually from known bootleg outfit Red Sun DVD (aka Bonzai Media, HK Video (not the French company), and Panmedia), who are infamous for using stolen video masters from Celestial (the owners of the Shaw Brothers library) and other legitimate companies, and the fact their bootlegs are factory pressed (meaning, not DVD-Rs). They simply remove the Chinese audio track and replace it with an English dub. After years of shoddy tv sourced copies fans have been used too, not surprisingly these titles have sold quite well. This can be seen by simply looking at the best seller list at www.hkflix.com. Who despite knowing of the illegal nature of these products, still sell them.

Red Sun DVDs have been responsible for the cancellation of many planned Region 1 US DVD releases including an Angela Mao boxset, a Joseph Kuo boxset,etc. This is due to the fact that Red Sun's "owner", Jack Stiller, often floods marketplaces online and many American malls with inferior bootlegs by his company of titles that were in planning stages. This in turn caused companies to abort their planned releases and ensures market control for himself.

While this is intolerable enough, it seems that Red Sun DVD has reached a new level of audacity: Being stocked at large US retail shops. Dragon Dynasty is a label from The Weinstein Company set to release many Shaw Brothers, Fortune Star (Golden Harvest, Cinema City, etc), and other greats of Hong Kong and Asian cinema. The rights owned by the company have been reported on several film sites, but may also be seen by simply watching a trailer found at the Dragon Dynasty website (www.dragondynasty.com). This highlight reel shows, Shaw Brothers films Crippled Avengers aka Mortal Combat among others.

The problem is, FYE and Suncoast are now stocking Red Sun versions of these films, as can be seen in this photo taken at the FYE in the King of Prussia Mall (one of the largest commercial malls in the country). These pictures show that not only have these bootlegs been entering the mainstream retail market, but they are being sold as regular product by these stores (as evidenced by a barcode indicating that these titles are a part of store inventory and not a used dvd). Another picture shows Eight Diagram Pole Fighter (once again showing a regular barcode). Though not pictured,in less than five minutes bootleg Red Sun DVDs of One-Armed Boxer and Invincible Shaolin were also found, often near legitimate Dragon Dynasty and other releases.

The sad truth is that not only will these Red Sun DVDs harm the legitimate market for upcoming releases of Shaw Brothers DVDs by flooding the market. They will also cut out shelf space for legitimate Kung Fu releases, as independent dvd labels are having trouble getting their products into major stores. A fact recently talked about in this New York Times article:

http://tinyurl.com/2wtdws

These bootlegs are only going to help exacerbate theproblem. The main question is, what will happen? When I talked to an FYE employee, he got very nervous when I told him these were bootlegs of films owned by TWC. He quickly put the ones I showed him behind the register, but this is just one step. The best thing we can do is pass this information along, both to fans telling them to avoid these bootlegs, and to the companies. This is to ensure that TWC and others take appropriate action to remove these bootlegs from the market. If TWC allows these to remain in FYE and Suncoast, it would seem to indicate Harvey Weinstein is impotent in stopping the bootlegging of his own products, Even worse, the selling of them side by side with his own releases. However, given the power and the infuence of TWC, I don't think we as fans will have to fear this. If we as fans support Red Sun, we are only dooming ourselves to the disappointments of the past and a bleak future. The only question is, what will happen next?
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11 comments:

Gynther Meyer said...

Why don't you just report these bootlegging scumbags to the cops!?

IKF said...

You would be surprised just how little they care about it. The fact that their kung fu movies makes it even less likely that they would care. If you just walk around in New York you can often see cops walking by people selling bootlegs. The best thing is really to get the US right owners to take action. Because in the case of TWC, they would have the power to force Suncoast or FYE to dump these titles, just by threatining to no longer give them their titles (DD and non-Dragon Dynasty).

IKF said...

However I can say that I am working on calling both the owner of Suncoast and FYE and TWC. Hopefully the fact that I posted pictures may help a little

Gynther Meyer said...

"you can often see cops walking by people selling bootlegs"

Oh okay! It's very different where I live (Denmark); here they WOULD get busted immediately. I don't mind a fan-release of something that'll never get a rerelease otherwise but when we're talking about something like ordinary sb titles then it's a completely different matter. Bust em I say.

IKF said...

Well I have a good feeling that something is going to happen :)

Anonymous said...

You know why cops "just walk by people selling bootlegs"? Because there's someone getting mugged in the next alley. Personally, I don't want to be the guy who's bleeding in an alley because "the cops" were busting some guy selling bootleg chop-socky DVDs.

Copyright infringement is a federal offense, and it's up to the rights holders to prosecute. Let the feds handle complaints from rights holders, and if you want to report local bootleggers, find out who owns what they're selling and report them to the rights holders. They're the most motivated to shut bootleggers down, and they will go through the proper channels.

You don't just bug a beat cop to go arrest people who sell bootlegs -- let them do their jobs, and let studios and the feds find out who's supplying these guys and cut them off at the source.

glenn (kenixfan@hotmail.com said...

you know, this is ridiculous. I know a chain that sells those Red Suns and they are ATROCIOUS quality -- worse than many real boots.

What galls me is that when the Weinsteins were busy putting Hero on the shelf for two years they were leaning on the importers selling the legal Asian Hero DVDs.

YET NOW they seem content to allow these very real boots to exist in the marketplace?

I am totally at a loss to understand.

Anonymous said...

You can also add Newbury Comics to the Suncoast/FYE list. They are a New England based retailer who probably has no idea. But, I've come across many Red Sun titles within their stock.

I even brought it up to the store manager who would do nothing about it except to advise opening a channel through "corporate" if you will. Nothing ever really came out of it. Maybe I'll send over this link.

Anonymous said...

I was at a Suncoast and found 20ish different Red Sun titles. Seems to me some are and some are not bootlegs. Can anyone confirm or refute that?

Anonymous said...

I'm from the UK and came across this site after googling "RED SUN DVD" as a few of their titles have turned up on Amazon in the UK.

It seems quite a few companies are releasing bootlegs through big stores in the US, but now the process is catching on over here too.

Anonymous said...

For U.S. Shaw Brothers fans who are overjoyed to finally see these films remastered and in their correct aspect ratio after 25 years of only being able to get them on crappy quality bootleg videocassetes these red sun releases are a Godsend.

The other option is to get a region free DVD player and get the IVL/Deltamac region 3 releases.

Waiting for legit U.S. distributors to slowly unroll these titles is not really within my will power. That being said, I am trying to avoid buying titles that I know will eventually be released by Dragon Dynasty, Media Blasters or Image Ent.