HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Monday, April 21, 2008

Heroes Two Media Blaster DVD Review by Ian

Heroes Two is considered by many to be one of the quintessential and milestone Shaw Brothers films. Cheng Cheh with the help of choreographers Tang Chia and Lar Kar Leung and actors Chen Kwan Tai and Alexander Fu Sheng deliver a truly remarkable kung fu film with the use of real martial arts and a wonderful tale of revenge and brotherhood. The film is set in the Qing Dynasty after the burning of the Shaolin Temple by the Manchu’s. It’s not exactly a tale told once, but with Cheng Cheh and cast and crew, it’s a tale told well! This is the first Shaw Brothers release from Media Blaster and an amazing DVD film with excellent extras and options that make this DVD a MUST BUY!

Video: Heroes Two is anamorhpically enhanced and looks wonderful Media Blasters, like Dragon Dynasty before and BCI in the future has utilized HD masters for their transfers which help to alleviate any of the problems associated with PAL to NTSC conversion (ghosting, smearing, softness) as seen on releases by IVL in Hong Kong or by Image in the United States. Heroes Two suffers from none of these problems. The disc has strong vibrant colors, excellent detail in the picture, and no damage or issues with the source material. In short until Heroes Two has a Blu-ray release, the image quality is not going to be better anywhere else.

Audio: The disc contains English Mono, Mandarin Mono (with English Subtitles or Slates for signs, notes, etc) and English 5.1. The English 5.1 remix I suspect was done by Media Blasters as it does not suffer from added sound effects or music. It simply expands the music and sound effects giving it a wider range. It is quite nice to hear the theme in 5.1 without any added effects or additional “music”. All the tracks are clear and free of any damage and sound great with clean audio that is easy to hear and understand.

Extras: This disc has a bevy of incredible extras that just scream buy me! The first one is an excellent audio commentary by Kung Fu Film Historian Linn Haynes. Linn’s commentary is amazing with rarely any downtime and a great sense of humor that listeners will greatly enjoy. The facts the Linn displays shows why he was the king of Kung Fu film knowledge. That aside this is a really wonderful track and gives you a great history of the film and the people who made and starred in it. The bar for Shaw Brothers Kung Fu Commentaries has now been set quite high.

Tragically though this is the only commentary track that Linn Haynes recorded, he sadly died in a car accident shortly after. Media Blasters included a slate after their credits (after the movie) in memory of Linn. I can say personally from knowing and talking to Linn frequently in the last two years, that I had never meet anyone before someone so kind and generous with, and boundless in their knowledge of martial arts movies. He will be greatly missed and I thank Media Blasters for including the memorial.

There is also a short, but excellent ~8 minute interview with Chen Kwan Tai (more parts will be appearing on future Media Blaster Shaws DVD release, such as I suspect The Master coming out in May). The interview is quite detailed as one would expect as something produced by Mike Leeder, Editor of Impact magazine and know for his work on the extras for Hong Kong Legends and Dragon Dynasty among others.

The DVD also features the short feature Three Styles of Hung Fist that preceded the movies by a few weeks in theatres and later attached to Heroes Two during its theatrical run. This short feature discusses the type of martial arts that will be in Heroes Two featuring demonstrations by the actors and including narration (even referring to the actor’s real name). There is an option to watch this separately or seamlessly attached to the movie. This feature is anamorphically enhanced looks great and is in Mandarin with English subtitles. Media Blasters also includes the English language version of this feature, taken from a European VHS source. It is certainly strange to hear the dubbers refer to the actors who they portrayed by their real name. This feature is a pretty beaten up and with foreign subtitles embedded on it. However, the fact that Media Blasters was able to include this extra (which also comes with the original English language credits and title fonts) is incredible and the unremastered nature of it (which is noted before any non-Celestial footage) is irrelevant. The original Mandarin trailer (along with a Celestial video promo) is also included along with the original English Language Export trailer sourced from a foreign VHS tape (but is still anamorphically enhanced). This trailer is something I’ve never seen and will be a real treat for fans. There is also a stills galley and Tokyo Shock trailers for other upcoming releases (including the original Mandarin trailer for the Master).

Overall: Buy it. I really should not need to say anything else. This is a wonderful package Media Blasters has put together for Heroes Two. I cannot wait to see what The Master (due around May 13th) is like.

Just click and grab your copy!



Anonymous said...

They seem to have added some sound effects, they are quite annoying and made my dog bark. Most of the fighting sounds are in in mono and then every once in a while a blow will be augmented with a big burst of additional stereo effects. Even on the 2.0 track. So other than the VERY un-subtle additional sound effcts, kudos to Media Blasters for releasing this classic!

Anonymous said...

Ooops - my previous comment was actually about Warriors Two. Not Heroes Two. My bad!