Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

Discuss internationally-released DVDs and Blu-rays or other international DVD and Blu-ray-related topics.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
Geoff
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2005 3:36 am
Location: London, England

Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#1 Post by Geoff » Sun Dec 18, 2005 4:07 am

I saw that there is a new release of the classic 5th generation Chinese film Old Well that has been issued in China.

Yes Asia lists the release date as December 6 2005.

I saw this film at my state's main art gallery (New South Wales, Australia) in early 2004. I thought it was fantastic, and I'd really like to watch it again at home.

This brings me to my question: Does this DVD have English subtitles? According to Yes Asia it doesn't, but I have seen the same DVD listed on a different site, where it indicates that it does have English subtitles.

Does anyone own a copy of this DVD yet, and would they be able to tell me if their copy has English subtitles?
Last edited by Geoff on Sun Dec 18, 2005 7:33 am, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
Brian Oblivious
Joined: Sat Nov 06, 2004 4:38 pm
Location: 'Frisco
Contact:

#2 Post by Brian Oblivious » Sun Dec 18, 2005 6:02 am

I was not aware of this release, but as a fan of King of Masks I would like to know the answer to this question as well.

User avatar
Geoff
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2005 3:36 am
Location: London, England

#3 Post by Geoff » Mon Jan 09, 2006 2:45 am

Brian Oblivious wrote:I was not aware of this release, but as a fan of King of Masks I would like to know the answer to this question as well.
I went ahead and bought it, (it was only $5.99 US). 'll give you feedback on whether it has English subtitles or not.

Edit: Hey Brian and all other people who are interested.

I just received The Old Well in the mail today. I was pleased to find out that the DVD does contain English subtitles.

User avatar
kieslowski_67
Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2005 5:39 pm
Location: Gaithersburg, Maryland

#4 Post by kieslowski_67 » Tue Jan 10, 2006 4:34 pm

Hope that you guys enjoy the movie. "The old well" was the most critically acclaimed Chinese movie that year. 1987 was a very good year for the Chinese cinema generally. If possible, try to catch:

King of Children (Cheng Kaige's second best feature to date);
Woman-Demon-Human by Huang Shuqing.

User avatar
whaleallright
Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2005 12:56 am

Chinese Cinema on DVD

#5 Post by whaleallright » Thu Mar 02, 2006 10:53 pm

Several DVDs of early (pre-Cultural Revolution) Chinese films have become available on YesAsia in recent months. These appear to have been released by Bo Ying. Some of them are listed as having English subtitles. I suspect that some of the films not listed as having English subtitles may actually have them (as is the case with a number of mainland DVDs available on YesAsia). All of these films have long been available on VCD in China, but these DVDs appear to be at least partly aimed at an international market.

If anyone knows of other DVDs in this series, please post links here. The ones marked with asterisks are listed on YesAsia as having English subtitles. Best part: they are all priced at US$5.99. Which leads me not to expect the highest quality. But I would be happy to be proved wrong.

Spring in the South (Nan Guo Zhi Chun; dir. CAI Chusheng, 1932)*

Greedy Neighbors (E Lin; dir. REN Pengnian, 1933)

Plunder of Peach and Plum (aka Fate of Graduates; Tao li jie; dir YING Yunwei, 1934)*

The Boatman's Daughter (Chuan Jia Nu; dir. SHEN Xiling, 1935)*

Crossroads (Shizi jietou; dir. SHEN Xiling, 1937)

Daughter of the Fisherman (Yu Jia Nu; dir. BU Wancang, 1943?)

8000 Li Of Cloud And Moon (Ba qian li lu yun he yue; dir. SHI Dongshan, 1947)

Three Girls (aka Three Women; aka Women Walk Together; Li Ren Xing; dir. CHEN Liting, 1949)*

The Bridge (Qiao; dir. WANG Bin, 1949)*

Gate Number Six (Liu Hao Men; dir. LU Ban, 1952)

User avatar
Geoff
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2005 3:36 am
Location: London, England

#6 Post by Geoff » Thu Mar 02, 2006 11:02 pm

I saw these the other day, when I was trying to use a $5 yesasia voucher. I ended up getting Zhang Yimou's latest film, but I was considering getting one of these. There's a whole chapter on Three Women in a book I own on Chinese films called "Celluloid China: Cinematic Encounters with Culture and Society".

User avatar
whaleallright
Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2005 12:56 am

#7 Post by whaleallright » Fri Mar 03, 2006 5:40 pm

And another one:

Liu Hulan (dir. FENG Bailu, date unknown )--This is a drama based on the life of a Revolutionary martyr.

A number of older VCDs of silent Chinese films include English titles, although you wouldn't know it from YesAsia's descriptions. In most cases the English titles were simply alongside the Chinese intertitles on the print that was used to make the video transfer. And they are *very* cheap. For example:

Lao Gong Zhi Ai Qing (aka Romance of a Fruit Peddler; aka Labourer's Love; ZHANG Shichuan, 1922)--This is the earliest surviving Chinese film. Apparently it was screened (and well-received) in Europe.

Two Stars in the Milky Way (Yin Han Shuang Xing; dir. SHI Dongshan, 1931)

Little Toys (Xiao wan yi; dir. SUN Yu, 1933)--This stars RUAN Lingyu and is a favorite of Tony Rayns, among others.

I hope someone takes the plunge and purchases some of these. Chinese cinema is still largely a great undiscovered country for Western cinephiles. Oh--and the San Francisco Silent Film Festival has brought out another Chinese silent on DVD with an original score:

The Peach Girl (Tao hua qi xie ji; dir. BU Wancang, 1931) This also stars RUAN Lingyu.
Last edited by whaleallright on Tue Mar 07, 2006 2:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Spelling Bee Champeen
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
Contact:

#8 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri Mar 03, 2006 5:43 pm

Little Toys is interesting -- and one should seize any chance to see RUAN Lingyu. That said, this is artistically more "naive" and overtly political than "Goddess".

User avatar
htdm
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 3:46 am

#9 Post by htdm » Tue Mar 07, 2006 3:16 am

jonah.77 wrote:Several DVDs of early (pre-Cultural Revolution) Chinese films have become...released by Bo Ying. Some of them are listed as having English subtitles. I suspect that some of the films not listed as having English subtitles may actually have them.
I just picked up a stack of these in Vancouver over the weekend. In addition to the titles you listed, the same maker also puts out:
Daybreak (tian ming, 1932, dir: Sun Yu)
Song at Midnight (Ye ban ge sheng, 1937, dir: Weibang MaXu--remade in the 1990s with Leslie Cheung) ** I saw the very rare part II of this film in Tokyo several years back and it is a hoot! The disfigured opera singer is turned into a copy of the Frankenstein monster! I wish they would bring this out along with the truly bizzare Ma feng nu**
A Branch of Plum Blossom (Yi jian mei, 1931, Wancang Bu)

Having previously purchased all of these titles on VCD, I was expecting the worst but was pleasantly surprised -- they were nowhere near as bad as I thought they would be. But they are truly silent -- absolutely no soundtrack/music of any kind. English subtitles are player generated (& selectable) in a broad yellow font with literal translations from the Chinese that are frequently ungrammatical - but understandable. It appears the DVDs were sourced from either VCD or an equally inferior source as they show quite a bit of pixelation. They don't have a watermark (or at least I didn't notice one on any of the titles I have) and there are about 3 to 4 inches of obnoxious windowboxing around the image. Despite the extreme windowboxing, a lot of the picture information is still missing -- i.e. cut off heads and movement only partially visable -- due to the fact that the video sources from which these DVDs were taken were themselves improperly framed to begin with. Still, you can't beat these for the money and would still be "good enough" even if they didn't offer English subs.

By the way, The San Francisco Film Festival's edition of Peach Girl is a real peach by the way. This is about as good as I've ever seen it.

User avatar
whaleallright
Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2005 12:56 am

#10 Post by whaleallright » Tue Mar 07, 2006 3:14 pm

Did you find these in Chinatown in Vancouver?
Last edited by whaleallright on Sun Sep 03, 2006 11:48 am, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
htdm
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 3:46 am

#11 Post by htdm » Wed Mar 08, 2006 3:35 am

Yes, there are several stores that deal in DVD/VCD/CD software but only one had any titles pre-1949. Unfortunately, my experience is unless you actually go to a Chinatown (or have someone who does go for you) it's almost impossible to find this. Even if you contact the stores, they are generally not too aware of their stock (especially old titles like this). You might look up the number for the SUP bookstore in Monterey Park, CA (the Vancouver branch is really small) -- fax them a list of titles and see if they would ship them to you...
Sorry it's not much help.

User avatar
Lemmy Caution
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 3:26 am
Location: East of Shanghai

#12 Post by Lemmy Caution » Thu Mar 30, 2006 10:54 am

I'm in China, and indeed there are a few series of old Chinese films out on Dvd. The main series claims to have films from 1905 - 1955, with most films from the 1930's and '40's. I'm not sure how many titles there are in total. I think I've seen about 30 different titles on offer. All titles in this series have English subtitles.

Quality of the films vary according to the original print and restoration efforts. I've watched 4 so far and two looked really good for their age, one was okay, and one was rather grainy and scratched. All had English translations; 3 good and one with somewhat poor grammar.

If anyone wants some of these, PM me and we can work out a deal. I'd be willing to get them and ship them for $5 per title. I could also check to make sure of English sub-titles and check basic quality. Right now these titles are not so easy to find, but I should be able to either order them or persuade a dvd shop into getting them.

Here is a list of the ones that I have, or have seen around. My understanding is that Chinese talking films were first made in 1936, so anything from 1935 or before should be silent. But I'm not positive on that. The first 7 titles on the list below should be silent films.

1. Two Stars (Yinhan Shuangxing). 1931.
Directed by Shi Dongshan. With Jin Yan, Zi Luolan. 83 min.

2. Daybreak aka Early Dawn (Tianming). 1933. China.
Directed by Sun Yu. With Li Lili, Gao Zhanfei, Yuan Congmei. Chinese intertitles, w/English translation. 116 min.

3. Queen of Sports (Tiyu Huanghou). 1934. China.
Directed by Sun Yu. With Li Lili, Zhang Yi. 83 min.

4. The Goddess (Shennü). 1934. China. Directed by Wu Yonggang. With Ruan Lingyu, Zhang Zhizhi, Li Keng. 77 min.

5. The Boatman's Daughter (1935) Chuan Jia Nu
Directed by Shen XiQin. With Xu Lai, Gao Zhanfei
[The Dvd I have is titled "Love of Boat Girl" in English, which might be a clue that the English subbies on this disc are not great]

6. Sad Times (1934) Tao Li Jie
[aka Plunder of Peach and Plum]
Directed by Ying YunWei. With Yuan Muzhi, Chen Boer.

7. Beautiful Sisters (1934) Nu Er Jing (aka Twin Sisters)
Directed by: Zheng Zhengqiu. With Hu Die, Zheng XiaoQiu.

8. An Orphan of the Poor (193?)
Directed by Zhou Juanhong. With Han Langen, Sheng Xiaotian.

9. Ambition Flies Over the Cloud (Zhuang Zhi Ling Yun) (1936)
Directed by Wu Yong Gang. With Wang RenMei, Tian Fang.

10. Ten Thousand Lights (1948) (Wan Jia Deng Huo)
[aka Lights of Ten Thousand Homes]
Directed by: Shen yang. With Lan Ma.

Here's a listing for a December 2005 MOMA exhibition of early Chinese films. It provides some info and a brief synopsis for 18 Chinese films from 1922-37.
I doubt all of these are available in China on Dvd, but some or perhaps most should be.

Telstar
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2006 12:35 pm

#13 Post by Telstar » Mon Apr 10, 2006 12:57 pm

So has anyone actually seen any of these Chinese DVDs yet? I'm very curious (but not quite curious enough to splurge on a bunch of them before getting some feedback)....

User avatar
Keaton
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 7:31 am
Location: Wuppertal, Germany

#14 Post by Keaton » Mon Apr 10, 2006 1:26 pm

I own both SFSFF DVDs, Goddess and Peach Girl. Wonderful DVDs and great Films. From the yesasia stuff I own The Boatman's Daughter and
Plunder of Peach and Plum, which are great movies as well, but the discs are really bad. Video and audio are on a level like the 2$ platinum public domain disks and the english subtitels are the worst i have ever seen, I'm happy I understood the films at all. So for the 6$ you can buy the yesasia DVDs, who knows if they will be released in a better way, but expect the worst. The SFSFF DVDs are worth every cent.

User avatar
Lemmy Caution
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 3:26 am
Location: East of Shanghai

#15 Post by Lemmy Caution » Mon Apr 10, 2006 2:46 pm

Here in China, there are two companies releasing old Chinese films. One series is put out by the PRC Gov't and is an early Chinese film series (1927-1955). In Chinese, Zhongguo Zaoqi Jingdian Dianying. I've watched two of these and previewed two more. Two looked very good for their age and had good subtitles. One was okay. And another was grainy and scratchy, with middling English sub-titles. I plan to watch some more soon, and will preview others. So hopefully in a week or so, I could give a list of sorts about quality.

The other series is put out by Bo Ying of Hong Kong. They are a cheapie company, usually up for a bare bones job of getting a film on dvd. I've only picked up one of these so far and haven't checked it out yet. I do have two copies of TianMing (Daybreak aka Early Dawn), one from each series. So I'll try to do a comparison. No idea if they are from the same source. Bo Ying seems to have about a dozen old Chinese films on Dvd.
While the Gov't film distribution company offers about 30 titles.
Hope that helps.

ChrisW
Joined: Sun Apr 09, 2006 10:54 pm
Location: Eastern Eye (Madman Entertainment)
Contact:

#16 Post by ChrisW » Tue Apr 11, 2006 3:29 am

Does anyone know where I can get the 1963 Chinese film Early Spring in February (Zao Chun Er Yue) by 3rd generation director Xie Tieli? I don't really care if it doesn't have English subs, I just want to get hold of a DVD of this awesome film.

User avatar
The Fanciful Norwegian
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:24 pm
Location: Teegeeack

#17 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Tue Apr 11, 2006 4:35 am

Joyo has it. No mention of English (or any) subtitles. I can't read Chinese so I have to use Babelfish to navigate, which isn't always helpful -- what does "Film and television/music/game/software coverall" refer to on their international shipping rates page?

User avatar
Lemmy Caution
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 3:26 am
Location: East of Shanghai

#18 Post by Lemmy Caution » Tue Apr 11, 2006 12:15 pm

ChrisW wrote:Does anyone know where I can get the 1963 Chinese film Early Spring in February (Zao Chun Er Yue) by 3rd generation director Xie Tieli? I don't really care if it doesn't have English subs, I just want to get hold of a DVD of this awesome film.
Another one of his films: Ingeniously Taking Mount Hu (1970) [Zhi qu wei hu shan] is always around. A communist classic. (A boring alternate English title is: Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy). I've never seen anything by Xie Tieli.

User avatar
whaleallright
Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2005 12:56 am

#19 Post by whaleallright » Tue Apr 11, 2006 2:20 pm

Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy: A certain Brian Eno LP was named in homage to this one...

Image

ChrisW
Joined: Sun Apr 09, 2006 10:54 pm
Location: Eastern Eye (Madman Entertainment)
Contact:

#20 Post by ChrisW » Tue Apr 11, 2006 8:20 pm

The Fanciful Norwegian wrote:Joyo has it. No mention of English (or any) subtitles. I can't read Chinese so I have to use Babelfish to navigate, which isn't always helpful -- what does "Film and television/music/game/software coverall" refer to on their international shipping rates page?
Thanks!! You're a legend. :) Thanks Lemmy for the other film title too. I've only seen this one film by Xie Tieli a couple of years ago at the cinema and it blew me away.

User avatar
htdm
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 3:46 am

#21 Post by htdm » Sun Apr 30, 2006 2:54 am

Say Lemmy, did you ever get around to comparing your two versions of Daybreak? I have the Zhongguo zaoqi jngdian dianying version and wonder whether the Bo-ling version was better? Also, how does Queen of Sports look?

User avatar
Lemmy Caution
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 3:26 am
Location: East of Shanghai

#22 Post by Lemmy Caution » Sun Apr 30, 2006 3:04 pm

dmkb wrote:Say Lemmy, did you ever get around to comparing your two versions of Daybreak? I have the Zhongguo zaoqi jngdian dianying version and wonder whether the Bo-ling version was better? Also, how does Queen of Sports look?
Just gave a quick check of both copies of Daybreak. Judging from the first 5 minutes, I'm pretty sure they are exactly the same. Only difference is that Bo Ying has white subtitles, while the gov't copy uses yellow. Same bad English, which varies from ungrammatical to confusing. A problem with the whole series.

Bo Ying almost always puts out a cheap no-frills product (and are notorious for their Kurosawa's with bad English sub-titles). Funny thing is that the Bo Ying box and disc itself has Tian Ming titled as Daybreak in English, but then when the film starts, the English subtitles for the opening credits read: "Name of Movie: Early Dawn." At least the gov't version uses the English title Early Dawn on the box and disc, which matches the subtitles.

The picture isn't too bad. A little dark and grainy. Some of the left side of the film is unfortunately cut off, at least on my Tv. The jumps and jitteriness that occur in the first few minutes seem to disappear.

I haven't bought Queen of Sports. Currently only around in the Bo Ying version which costs more.
Last edited by Lemmy Caution on Sun Apr 30, 2006 4:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
htdm
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 3:46 am

#23 Post by htdm » Sun Apr 30, 2006 3:19 pm

Thanks very much for that. I half hoped that the beautiful copy in the China Film Archives (that isn't cropped) might have made it onto DVD.

User avatar
kieslowski_67
Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2005 5:39 pm
Location: Gaithersburg, Maryland

#24 Post by kieslowski_67 » Mon May 15, 2006 4:14 pm

I bought a bunch of those recently. Only several of these films have English subtitles. And the transfers are uniformly horrible (very subpar). Unless you speak Chinese or are die hard Chinese film fans, plese don't bother to buy these titles. They are really kind of waste of $$.

Telstar
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2006 12:35 pm

#25 Post by Telstar » Mon May 15, 2006 9:10 pm

Depressing news, kieslowski_67, but thanks anyway for the update. The titles I'm most curious about are Plunder of Peach and Plum and Three Sisters. Did you (or anyone else) by any chance have an opportunity to scan any or all of those specific DVDs for quality of image and subtitles (not to mention quality of film, of course)?

Post Reply