71 / BD 2 Mad Detective

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Eureka/Masters of Cinema and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here.
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What A Disgrace
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#51 Post by What A Disgrace » Wed Jul 30, 2008 6:52 pm

Copious extras courtesy of Play.com.

- Q&A with Johnnie To at the Cinémathèque Française - Johnnie To retrospective
- Exclusive cast interviews shot during the Far East Film Festival featuring Lau Ching Wan, and Lam Suet
- Interview with Johnnie To for the French theatrical release of 'Mad Detective'
- Original UK theatrical trailer
- 16-page booklet containing specially commissioned essay by David Bordwell (Jacques Ledoux Professor of Film Studies,University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Jack Phillips
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#52 Post by Jack Phillips » Thu Jul 31, 2008 9:25 pm


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ogtec
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#53 Post by ogtec » Fri Aug 15, 2008 8:26 am

For those of us who get almost as excited by the number on the spine as we do that actual film, the BR edition is numbered 2, which leads to speculation as to what will be given 1.

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exte
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#54 Post by exte » Fri Aug 15, 2008 9:10 am

Seven Samurai?

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foggy eyes
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#55 Post by foggy eyes » Fri Aug 15, 2008 12:25 pm

exte wrote:Seven Samurai?
Why? Surely the BFI would be the most likely candidate to put this out.

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#56 Post by peerpee » Wed Oct 15, 2008 3:10 am

MAD DETECTIVE finished product is in our hands -- DVD and Blu-ray. This will be in distribution channels on time and shipping as soon as etailers fancy jumping the release date.

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MichaelB
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#57 Post by MichaelB » Fri Oct 17, 2008 4:22 am

I've just had a look at the pre-title scene on Blu-ray - very impressive.

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MichaelB
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#58 Post by MichaelB » Sun Oct 19, 2008 12:46 pm

HerrSchreck wrote:It's one of the things I always admired about Kino-- too bad the transfers of their contemporary films are often as Quality as poop from a rat with a cold....
Well, that's categorically not the situation here - I've now watched the entire film on Blu-ray and it looked pretty damn flawless to my eyes (though with the caveat that I'm a relative HD neophyte, and still very easily impressed!).

The Beaver screengrabs of the HK version look all but identical to what I saw, though Nick will be a better authority on whether or not it's exactly the same transfer.

I've only dipped into the extras thus far, but I can confirm that my British Playstation 3 had no problems handling NTSC material (apparently this isn't true of US PS3s handling PAL for some reason).

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#59 Post by peerpee » Sun Oct 19, 2008 2:31 pm

In haste, the MoC MAD DETECTIVE Blu-ray is our own AVC 1080p encode, and not "the same as" the HK Blu-ray. Our subs have also been overhauled by us, so they're a bit better than the HK Blu-ray. Glad you liked it! :)

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#60 Post by MichaelB » Sun Oct 19, 2008 2:40 pm

peerpee wrote:In haste, the MoC MAD DETECTIVE Blu-ray is our own AVC 1080p encode, and not "the same as" the HK Blu-ray. Our subs have also been overhauled by us, so they're a bit better than the HK Blu-ray. Glad you liked it!
The subs were superb - WAY above the HK average, and so sharp that I was worried they might scratch the screen.

(I also liked the way they were mostly kept to the black bar below the image).

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#61 Post by zone_resident » Tue Oct 21, 2008 4:16 pm


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Gary Tooze
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#62 Post by Gary Tooze » Tue Oct 21, 2008 7:50 pm

New...

Mei Ah - Region FREE - Blu-ray "Mad Detective" vs. Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Masters of Cinema - Region 0 - NTSC

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/

Cheers,

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The Fanciful Norwegian
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#63 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Wed Oct 22, 2008 6:02 am

Looks like a great start to the Blu-ray line. I never saw this theatrically, but the cooler tones of the MOC are much closer to the "To look" than what Mei Ah came up with, which (dare I say it) makes Criterion's contrast tweaks seem restrained by comparison. Bring on Tokyo Sonata.

(I do feel compelled by raging OCD to ask how this was "largest grossing film" in Hong Kong last year -- it doesn't even appear to have placed among the top 10 Chinese-language films, much less #1 overall. Milkyway's crime films usually do middling numbers in HK, although MD grabbed first place on opening weekend.)

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feihong
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MOC vs. Mei Ah

#64 Post by feihong » Wed Oct 22, 2008 11:31 pm

Certainly the cropping on the Mei Ah is not so cool. And the grain is garish. And it seems contrast-boosted.

But am I the only one who feels, looking at the MOC blu-ray, like I'm watching the film through a blue-colored fishbowl?

The brightest of white tones are a deep cyan. The skin tones are blue. Sunlight is blue. Frankly, it doesn't look natural. It reminds me of old New Yorker videotapes, where the color balance was tilted heavily towards yellow for every film.

I know Michael Bay is fond of these kind of invasive filters. Certainly a ton of Hong Kong filmmakers have used a blue filter to shoot whole movies before. In the image of Lam Ka-Tung in the forest blends greens and blues to an effect that looks nauseating. Was that To's intention? Furthermore, I can't recall a Milkyway film that beyond Breaking News that employs such aggressive filtering. Exiled has a few daytime scenes with yellow filtering, but the film as a whole does not appear tinted. Often Johnnie To goes for a "cool" look for his pictures, but this one is so cool it looks frozen.

This comes to my chief concern with the MOC - I should say at this point that I've never been less than thrilled with a MOC sd-dvd, and I have many in my collection. My principle problem is with the depth of field. I have not seen Mad Detective in a theatre, but I have seen several other Johnnie To pictures in theatres, including The Longest Nite, The Mission, Exiled, and the two Election films. In all cases, what was revealed in the theatre (something that a CRT TV and a regular DVD player could not even approximate) was an enormous depth in To's compositions. I would even say that the principal element of To's cinematography is depth. Proof of this is everywhere in To's work, and the recent blu-ray releases of Exiled, PTU, and The Sparrow bear this out. But even well-mastered recent DVDs like Triangle show the importance of space in To's compositions; witness the desperate shuffle in the end of that film, where first the characters furiously change position, trying to get the upper hand, and then shoot each other to pieces. The police officer fends off the attackers in an extreme display of focus-pulling depth experiments. To uses wide-angle lenses and close framings to create huge depth - the transformation in The Longest Nite from film print to horribly flat DVD is instructive. To's compositions place characters in the center of the widescreen frame throughout that film, but what the DVD can't communicate is how the centered characters emerge so far from the backgrounds in the movie that it might as well be three-dimensional.

This is a peculiar style of visualization unique to To, and it is very considered and pre-planned. Witness that the only time in Exiled when the depth is flattened out is when the assassins are roaming the countryside, directionless and stranded.

Certainly Mad Detective features the same sort of depth of field. There isn't a To movie without it. And what's more, the Mei Ah disc, even with its contrast boosting and grain, manages to bring out the significant depth in which the movie is envisioned. See how in the screencap of Lam Ka-Tung in the forest, on the Mei Ah disc Lam is pulled out into the foreground, and the background encroaches on him by degrees. By contrast, the in the MOC screencap the picture looks a good deal flatter. In the solo shots of Andy On and Lau Ching-Wan, see how they are removed from the background on the Mei Ah disc, and subsumed into the background on the MOC disc. On the capture of the girl and her inner personality examining the tube of lipstick, the tube of lipstick itself is hard to separate from the general composition on the MOC capture, and much clearer on the Mei Ah.

Also note that the red hair of the inner personality is rather brilliant on the Mei Ah screencap and significantly downplayed on the MOC capture. The florescent light in the convenience store behind Lau Ching-Wan is green on the Mei Ah capture - the way such a light naturally appears to a normally calibrated camera - and on the MOC it is straight-up blue. Frankly, scenes like Andy On lighting his cigarette in the breezeway are so blue on the MOC they look like dusk. On the Mei Ah they look more like daytime. The flush on the various actors cheeks is only visible in the Mei Ah transfer. The capture from the bathroom scene looks lit by incandescent light on the Mei Ah capture, and perhaps lit by some sort of skylight on the MOC version? A skylight projecting a very small amount of very blue sunlight? I dunno.

It seems like both of these discs are an upgrade from the SD - the compression of the forest on the Mei Ah sd-dvd is gnarly. But the colors seem far more natural on the Mei Ah blu-ray than on the MOC blu-ray or sd. The depth-of-field, so quintessential to To pictures, is much more demonstrative on the Mei Ah blu-ray. It's a pity the Mei Ah is so grainy and cropped-in. It kind of shocked me reading the rave on DVDbeaver for the MOC disc when the screencaps made it look so askew.

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feihong
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MOC blu-ray deficiencies

#65 Post by feihong » Mon Oct 27, 2008 3:19 pm

No takers? We used to ravage SDs in these reviews over much less. I thought this might be more controversial. Still haven't heard any dissenting opinions. Personally, I hope that if MOC releases a blu-ray of Tokyo Sonata - which I will definitely buy - that it isn't totally blue.

I was thinking of buying both Mad Detetive discs, but probably in the interest of money I will buy the Mei Ah. I'll take the grain over the flattening of depth.

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#66 Post by Rich Malloy » Tue Oct 28, 2008 9:45 am

feihong, I questioned the wide divergence of the two releases - particularly on the question of the color timing - in the DVDBEAVER review thread. Peerpee responded convincingly on the issue of contrast boosting, but - unless I missed it - the color timing issue has only been addressed in any detail by yourself. I've truly appreciated your contributions to this discussion, but I have nothing more to offer than my uninformed opinion.

I'll repeat that I'm utterly flumoxed by the divergence between these two discs, and I'll futher concede that I find the Mei-Ah's presentation to be much more engaging on first blush. And on second blush. But I'm torn. I mean, after all, Mei Ah? Preferable to MOC? Preposterous.

On the question of contrast boosting, peerpee blew up a portion of the image for the purpose of showing the "graininess" you speak of on the Mei-Ah transfer to be noise. I defer to his hard earned authority on these matters, but it nonetheless looks somewhat like normal grain structure to my eyes. And I can't quite get past the notion that I'm seeing a real improvement in fine detail on the Mei-Ah release, as well as vastly improved depth of field.

Finally, I'm a stickler for good subtitling, and I crave intelligent, well-produced scholarship of the sort that MOC does so well. And yet... I still haven't convinced myself to purchase the MOC.

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feihong
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Hi Rich

#67 Post by feihong » Tue Oct 28, 2008 7:11 pm

Yes, I'm very confused as well. I saw the posts over on the DVDbeaver page here just now. Certainly the contrast boosting is wrong. To's films are not shot in a grainy style. The stock he uses is smooth, with a very fine grain-structure. On home video, the films ought to look very smooth.

I am heavily considering double-dipping, as this is one of my favorite movies of recent times. That I still don't have a blu-ray of the picture, well, I'm a little ashamed of myself. I don't know. I don't really have the money to do that kind of thing anymore.

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#68 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Oct 28, 2008 9:49 pm

I guess thre are advantages to having no expectations of joining the Blu-Ray world any time in the foreseeable future (probably not for a couple of years, at the earliest).

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GringoTex
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Re:

#69 Post by GringoTex » Tue Nov 04, 2008 8:08 am

Gary Tooze wrote:Mei Ah - Region FREE - Blu-ray "Mad Detective" vs. Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Masters of Cinema - Region 0 - NTSC
How many times are your screen grabs not going to accurately reflect the quality of an MoC release?

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Re: Re:

#70 Post by Bleddyn Williams » Fri Nov 07, 2008 11:07 am

GringoTex wrote:
Gary Tooze wrote:Mei Ah - Region FREE - Blu-ray "Mad Detective" vs. Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Masters of Cinema - Region 0 - NTSC
How many times are your screen grabs not going to accurately reflect the quality of an MoC release?
Are you saying that its just Gary's MOC grabs that are incorrect, or any of the Beaver's shots?

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foggy eyes
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Re: 71 Mad Detective

#71 Post by foggy eyes » Fri Nov 07, 2008 1:40 pm

Great disc, great film. Certainly as impressive as Exiled. The climactic 'hall of mirrors' set-piece (where the dialectic between seeing/not seeing & multiplication of personalities becomes at one with To's bravura mise-en-scene) is just sublime. Lau Ching Wan is a riot.

More please!

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Re: Re:

#72 Post by Rich Malloy » Mon Nov 10, 2008 10:18 am

GringoTex wrote:
Gary Tooze wrote:Mei Ah - Region FREE - Blu-ray "Mad Detective" vs. Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Masters of Cinema - Region 0 - NTSC
How many times are your screen grabs not going to accurately reflect the quality of an MoC release?
I also hope you'll flesh this out a bit. If the captures are innacurate, how so?

Rich Malloy
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Re: 71 Mad Detective

#73 Post by Rich Malloy » Wed Nov 12, 2008 12:45 pm

Is there no one familiar enough with To's work to comment on the widely divergent color timings of these two releases? Can the folks at MOC who created this transfer please comment?

It's been said in a number of reviews - though not that I've found from MOC itself - that this is an "approved" transfer of some sort. The fantastic Svet Atanasov of the very reliable bluray.com site states that "The heavy blue tint favored by cinematographer Ceng Siu-keung is also kept intact [in the MOC transfer]". But the shots from David Bordwell's blog (as linked upthread at this address: http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog/?p=2155) reveal a much more natural color scheme that looks quite like the Mei Ah release.

Simply put, a transfer as deeply blue 'filtered' as MOC's isn't just a question of the colorist leaning a bit cooler on the dials. This transfer is blue, blue, blooooooooooooooooooo! Nothing necessarily wrong with it, but it is so drastically and overwhelmingly blue as to either a mistake on the part of the colorist or a very extreme stylistic choice by To/Ceng Sui-keung.

I don't expect the same degree of interest or discussion regarding a To film as, for example, an Ozu one. But I'm begging for it here. Aside from feihong - who strongly challenges the extreme blueness of the MOC transfer - no one has defended the MOC color timing except to say that the Beaver stills don't accurately reflect it. I'd love to hear something more from the MOC folks regarding their decisions on the color timing of this film.

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Matt
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Re: 71 Mad Detective

#74 Post by Matt » Wed Nov 12, 2008 1:56 pm

Rich Malloy wrote:Can the folks at MOC who created this transfer please comment?
Nick commented briefly in the DVD Beaver thread.
Rich Malloy wrote:But the shots from David Bordwell's blog (as linked upthread at this address: http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog/?p=2155" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;) reveal a much more natural color scheme that looks quite like the Mei Ah release.
They are probably screen captures from the Mei Ah disc.

While the best option would be to look at an answer print of the film, you can compare images from the available trailers. These certainly seem cooler than the Mei Ah screen caps, but maybe not quite as blue as the MoC screen caps. What the MoC transfer actually looks like in motion on a properly set-up display is still unreported here, though.

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: 71 Mad Detective

#75 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Nov 12, 2008 2:11 pm

I would say the Mei Ah version looks more like most To films, but....

I seem to recall a fair amount of bluish tinting in PTU.

Unless one has seen the original HK prints of the film (and confirmed whether or not these prints met the expectations of To and his cinematographer), it seems almost impossible to judge which color balance is "right".

P.S.

The Running Man on the Asian DVD Guide Forum says he has seen Mad Detective screened twice -- and that MOC's release accurately reflects the color balance of the prints he saw.

(post of 11-12 at 6:18 a.m.)

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