Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

Discuss internationally-released DVDs and Blu-rays or other international DVD and Blu-ray-related topics.
Message
Author
User avatar
whaleallright
Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2005 12:56 am

#26 Post by whaleallright » Tue May 16, 2006 2:02 am

I also picked up several of these and unfortunately the "English" subtitles are usually incomprehensible (likely translated by computer) and make watching the films a chore. The image quality seems similar if not the same as the existing VCDs.

If you're still interested, several other films are out in the same series and available on Yesasia.com, including "Daybreak," "A Spray of Plum Blossoms," "An Actor and an Actress," "The Queen of Sports," "Storm on the Border," and "Dream of the Red Mansions."

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

#27 Post by kieslowski_67 » Tue May 16, 2006 11:52 am

jonah.77 wrote:I also picked up several of these and unfortunately the "English" subtitles are usually incomprehensible (likely translated by computer) and make watching the films a chore. The image quality seems similar if not the same as the existing VCDs.

If you're still interested, several other films are out in the same series and available on Yesasia.com, including "Daybreak," "A Spray of Plum Blossoms," "An Actor and an Actress," "The Queen of Sports," "Storm on the Border," and "Dream of the Red Mansions."
www.cnave.com has about 30 of those titles available if anyone is still interested. They sell each DVD for about $1.5 and that's where I get all of those releases.
Telstar wrote: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)?
"Three sisters" have transfer quality even worse than my VCD. Have not had a chance to check about "plunder of peach" as of yet. I watched that film a couple of times in China about 20 years ago. Feel that it was just a propoganda film and nothing more. It's famous today mainly for its title song "song of graduation".

User avatar
Gropius
Joined: Thu Jun 29, 2006 5:47 pm

#28 Post by Gropius » Thu Jun 29, 2006 6:22 pm

I have read numerous articles (see the current New Left Review for a 33-page piece on Hou) praising the likes of Hou, Yang and Tsai (to stick with the Taiwanese contingent) as amongst the greatest filmmakers of modern times. They have long been, apparently, the toast of the European festival circuit.

Unfortunately, living in a backwater of Britain, the poverty of distribution has meant that I have never seen any of these directors' work in a cinema. Between them they must have produced a good 30 feature films, and yet, as far as I am aware, only two of these are available on UK DVD, Hou's ‘Cafe Lumiere' and Yang's ‘Yi Yi', both more recent projects which got released by the ICA. As for Tsai, he might as well not exist.

Obviously, this is a depressing state of affairs which is unlikely to be alleviated in the foreseeable future. The world of DVD production is capricious – for instance, the younger Chinese director Jia Zhang-Ke is better represented (by Artificial Eye) than any of the older ones – and there seems to be a general bias against Asian films which don't involve martial arts, mutilation or women emerging from television screens.

There are quite a lot of R1 Hou and Tsai titles from Fox Lorber, but I have heard bad things about them (pan & scan etc.) – are they worth looking into? Is there any decent version of ‘City of Sadness' in any region for the pathetically Anglophone? When there are labels such as Second Run springing up to retrieve things from the vaults of Eastern Europe, why can't some enterprising types set out to do the same for Chinese material?

Anyway, I realise this is an entirely unproductive thread, but feel free to add any similar sighs of exasperation.

User avatar
Kay Hoog
Joined: Fri May 26, 2006 11:01 am

#29 Post by Kay Hoog » Thu Jun 29, 2006 8:20 pm

Well Gropius, know how you feel - like i'm living in Royston Vasey too sometimes...but you're spot on about the difficulty of getting Chinese films in r2. There are other options if you can cope with multi-regions and NTSC. I saw Devils on the doorstep (1999) by Jiang Wen which was a revelation, but again not available in UK tho' you can import subtitled NTSC version from the States.

But its not all bad news, heard a rumour that quite a number of Chinese/Taiwanese films are on the way for r2 release. Sticking with Hsiao-hsien Hou: City Of Sadness (1989); Good Men, Good Women (1995); Goodbye South, Goodbye (1996); Flowers of Shanghai (1998); Qianxi manbo (2001). But others including Ming-liang Tsai also projected.

While you are waiting (+ it could be a long wait) check out Yimou Zhang's Not One Less (1999); The Road Home (2000); Happy Times (2002) Kaige Chen's Together With You (2002) Li Yang's Blind Shaft (2003); Zhou Sun's Zhou Yu's Train (2002); Zhang Yang's Shower (1999) all of which have a r2 release.

Whilst on this thread is Jia Zhang-ke's Xiao Wu and Platform must-sees or more forgettable?

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

#30 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Jun 29, 2006 9:55 pm

Kay Hoog wrote:Whilst on this thread is Jia Zhang-ke's Xiao Wu and Platform must-sees or more forgettable?
I'd call these must-sees -- but that's just me. ;~}

User avatar
zedz
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

#31 Post by zedz » Thu Jun 29, 2006 10:07 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:
Kay Hoog wrote:Whilst on this thread is Jia Zhang-ke's Xiao Wu and Platform must-sees or more forgettable?
I'd call these must-sees -- but that's just me. ;~}
Agreed! Though they require (and reward) patience. The UK Platform disc is a pretty poor transfer, if I recall, so you may want to rent this rather than buy it, if that's an option.

User avatar
Gropius
Joined: Thu Jun 29, 2006 5:47 pm

#32 Post by Gropius » Thu Jun 29, 2006 10:14 pm

Kay Hoog wrote:But its not all bad news, heard a rumour that quite a number of Chinese/Taiwanese films are on the way for r2 release. Sticking with Hsiao-hsien Hou: City Of Sadness (1989); Good Men, Good Women (1995); Goodbye South, Goodbye (1996); Flowers of Shanghai (1998); Qianxi manbo (2001). But others including Ming-liang Tsai also projected.
Where did you hear this rumour (first I've heard)? Would they just be direct transfers of the dubious American editions?
Kay Hoog wrote:Whilst on this thread is Jia Zhang-ke's Xiao Wu and Platform must-sees or more forgettable?
I have not seen 'Xiao Wu', but I think 'Platform' is a masterpiece. It has an almost epic quality, somehow managing to convey the directionless experience of growing up under the capitalist reforms of Deng's China, leading to empty Americanised spectacles before oblivious motorway traffic. Jia certainly has a more bitter, critical edge than older mainland filmmakers of the 'Fifth Generation'. I think he said in an interview that he despises the work of Zhang Yimou.

artfilmfan
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:11 pm

#33 Post by artfilmfan » Thu Jun 29, 2006 10:24 pm

It's been mentioned many times before that the HHH boxset of the 80s' films is a must-have. If you don't already own it, buy it ASAP. And don't forget the French release of "Millennium Mambo" (and WKW's "In the Mood for Love").
Last edited by artfilmfan on Fri Jun 30, 2006 8:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Titus
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2005 4:40 pm

#34 Post by Titus » Thu Jun 29, 2006 10:42 pm

Kay Hoog wrote:But its not all bad news, heard a rumour that quite a number of Chinese/Taiwanese films are on the way for r2 release. Sticking with Hsiao-hsien Hou: City Of Sadness (1989); Good Men, Good Women (1995); Goodbye South, Goodbye (1996); Flowers of Shanghai (1998); Qianxi manbo (2001). But others including Ming-liang Tsai also projected.
If this is indeed true, and they turn out to be respectable presentations, they'll be major highlights of the year in DVD-land. The Puppetmaster is a notable exclusion, though -- did it slip your mind or has it been absent from the rumors you've heard?

User avatar
Kay Hoog
Joined: Fri May 26, 2006 11:01 am

#35 Post by Kay Hoog » Fri Jun 30, 2006 8:00 am

Titus wrote:If this is indeed true, and they turn out to be respectable presentations, they'll be major highlights of the year in DVD-land. The Puppetmaster is a notable exclusion, though -- did it slip your mind or has it been absent from the rumors you've heard?
Puppetmaster was absent and Qianxi manbo seemed dubious - but early days, which is why I said "could be a long wait" (ie 2-3 years)
Gropius wrote:Jia certainly has a more bitter, critical edge than older mainland filmmakers of the 'Fifth Generation'. I think he said in an interview that he despises the work of Zhang Yimou.
Personally, it was Ju Dou (1990) that got me interested in foreign language films. (It was shown late night on UK tv). The colour, images, detail and especially the recreation of the traditional dye house all added together to make an utterly absorbing experience.

I have long wished to obtain this on dvd, but think it is still unavailable over here?

spencerw
Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2005 7:01 am

#36 Post by spencerw » Fri Jun 30, 2006 8:10 am

Gropius wrote:There are quite a lot of R1 Hou and Tsai titles from Fox Lorber, but I have heard bad things about them (pan & scan etc.) – are they worth looking into?
For some reviews, see Beaver's list of Tsai and Hou reviews

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

#37 Post by kieslowski_67 » Sat Jul 01, 2006 11:29 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:
Kay Hoog wrote:Whilst on this thread is Jia Zhang-ke's Xiao Wu and Platform must-sees or more forgettable?
I'd call these must-sees -- but that's just me. ;~}
Absolutely must sees. Jia Zhang Ke, along with Huo Jian Qi are the best things (for art film lovers) that come out of mainland China for the last 7-8 years.
Gropius wrote:Jia certainly has a more bitter, critical edge than older mainland filmmakers of the 'Fifth Generation'. I think he said in an interview that he despises the work of Zhang Yimou.
I think that he mentioned that he particularly disliked Yimou's work since "to live", which is the consensus among Chinese film critics and film goers alike. There is nothing new there.

I feel that his ability to direct his own script also gives Jia an edge over the 5th generation icons, especially Chen Kaige, who has notoriously bad taste in picking up materials to make films based on his own judgement. His reputation as a film maker had a lot to do with his late father Chen Huaikai (yellow earth, king of children), a famous Chinese director, and Xu Feng, the famous Taiwanese actress turned film producer (farewell my concubine).

User avatar
Gropius
Joined: Thu Jun 29, 2006 5:47 pm

#38 Post by Gropius » Sun Jul 02, 2006 2:05 pm

kieslowski_67 wrote:Absolutely must sees. Jia Zhang Ke, along with Huo Jian Qi are the best things (for art film lovers) that come out of mainland China for the last 7-8 years.
I also think that Jia has produced some of the most politically acute films of this decade. While it may compare in some ways to European social realism, the Chinese context allows him to deal with the problems of globalisation-in-progress, since China is now a more rapidly developing country that anywhere in Europe. There are other parts of the world that are ripe for similar narratives of mass social alienation, such as the various states of the former Soviet Union, but unfortunately I suspect that many of what little film industries there were in these places have been decimated.

Although I am not aware of any explicit declaration of his political positions, it would seem clear that Jia's ideas are those of a non- or post-communist, anti-globalisation Left. He challenges the standard facile formula of 'communism = bad, capitalism = good'. For instance in 'Platform', the performance troupe to begin with is state-sponsored and puts on shows about Chairman Mao, but it also has a greater sense of community, solidarity and purpose than it does once it is privatised and reduced to ersatz American-style pop music.

If he keeps on in this vein, I think Jia still has a lot to say about both the state of China and the state of the world.

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

Seung fei / Princess D (Sylvia Chang & Alan Yuen, 2002)

#39 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Dec 05, 2006 12:06 pm

Daniel Wu plays Joker, a computer graphics artist trying to design the perfect animated heroine (for an advertising campaign). By chance, he runs across Ling (Angelica Lee), who (sort of) embodies the characteristics of the character he wants to create. Complications arise from the antics of Joker's good-hearted but not very responsible younger brother Kid (Edison Chen) and Ling's petty hood brother. Ling's life is further burdened by her father (who is in prison for some sort of financial finagling) and mother (who seems to have premature Alzheimer's syndrome). Luckily, The father of Joker and Kid (the marvelous Anthony Wong) provides plenty of sympathy and understanding for all concerned (one of the most loveable cinematic father portrayals ever, I suspect). Fine perfornaces and some cute bits of animation. The plot is interesting, if sometimes just a little cumbersome.

The HK DVD is adequate.

User avatar
Steven H
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:30 pm
Location: NC

Shaw Bros Studios and Classic Chinese Film

#40 Post by Steven H » Sun Dec 31, 2006 12:19 pm

Shaw Bros Studios and Classic Chinese Film

I'm about halfway through with Yeh and Davis's Taiwan Film Directors: A Treasure Island, and after reading a bit about Li Han Hiang's The Winter (which isn't available on DVD, as far as I can tell), I've decided to take the dive into classic Chinese film (pre-1980, as I'm already pretty familiar with the Taiwanese New Wave, and a number of mainland Chinese 80s/90s work). Since there's already an incredibly useful thread on classic chinese film on DVD, I'm really looking to stick to the 60s and 70s (or around) for suggestions.

As you can plainly see from this list there are an amazing amount of titles from the Shaw studio that have english subs to pick from (more information about these releases here and here). So far I've only bought three, all (Criterion director) Nakahira Ko films done under a chinese alias for the Shaws in the late sixties (Summer Heat, Interpol, and Diary of a Lady Killer), though I haven't had a chance to sit down and watch these (but they were purchased with an aim towards furthering my knowledge of Japanese film, so it doesn't really count). Another valuable, though near byzantine, resource is Yesasia.com's english subbed Chinese collection. I've tried messing around with filters, and that's about as streamlined as it gets. For Shaw specific titles, DDDhouse.com is probably the best bet for searching (decently fast service, though not as quick of a turnaround as DVDasian).

I'd love to hear opinions on these films, favorites among them, etc. I'm probably going to pick up some of Li Han Hiang's earlier films at some point, as I'm more interested in dramas or ghost stories than action (unless it's a really good action film.)

I would really appreciate recommendations for books on the subject, though I already have my eyes on a few (Zhang's Chinese National Cinema, Lu's Chinese-language Film: Historiography, Poetics, Politics, Barry and Farguhar's China on Screen: Cinema And Nation.)

User avatar
ltfontaine
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 3:34 pm

#41 Post by ltfontaine » Wed Dec 05, 2007 1:21 pm

For a while now, I've been trying to intuit the quality of Chinese DVDs manufactured and/or distributed by a company called Guangzhou Beauty Culture Communication Co. Ltd. Their website is of little help except to indicate on several disc cover illustrations that at least some of the titles are subtitled in English. The website lists some films that are not included among the 1174 titles sold on amazon.com, and visa versa, only compounding the confusion. Amazon, of course, cannot bother to confirm the presence or absence of English subtitles.

Among the company's varied offerings of DVDs about martial arts, swordfighting, massage, opera, geography, herbal medicine, and what seem to be hundreds of politically inspired critical realist films, are these interesting items, ranging in price from $16-20 at amazon.com, the only retailer I could find who is carrying them. Region = 0.

Labourer's Love, aka Cheng the Fruit Seller (Shanghai, 1923)

Song of the Fisherman (Shanghai, 1934)

Orphan Island Paradise (Hong Kong, 1938)

Eight Thousand Li of Cloud and Moon (Shanghai, 1947)

Live Forever, My Wife (Shanghai, 1947)

Crows and Sparrows (Shanghai, 1949)

Sorrows of the Forbidden City (Hong Kong, 1949)

Cold Nights (Hong Kong, 1955)

Naval Battle of 1894 (Changchun, 1963)

The House of 72 Tenants (Guangzhou, 1963) – Yesasia carries a different edition of this title, subtitled, from Intercontinental.

Legend of Tianyun Mountain (Shanghai, 1980). Can't resist including this bit from the imported synopsis on amazon: "Song Wei's classmate Feng Qing Lan gave Luo a warm hand and hugs when he is in the crucial moment."

The Guangzhou website lists Two Actresses (Shanghai, 1967), but amazon does not.

Prime Chinese titles from sources other than Guangzhou that amazon will sell beginning on December 15 include:

The Lin Family Shop (Beijing, 1959) – Penninsula Audio Visual Press

Third Sister Liu (Changchun, 1960) - Qilu Audio Visual Press

I've been able to find reviews for none of these discs. Yesasia has some of them on VCD, I believe, but not subtitled DVD.

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

#42 Post by Keaton » Wed Dec 05, 2007 1:28 pm

ltfontaine wrote:Labourer's Love, aka Cheng the Fruit Seller (Shanghai, 1923).
Sure this oe has english subs?

Regards,

Dennis :)

User avatar
ltfontaine
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 3:34 pm

#43 Post by ltfontaine » Wed Dec 05, 2007 1:35 pm

Keaton wrote:Sure this oe has english subs?.
Sorry, Dennis, I don't know whether this one even has title cards. Amazon couldn't answer my question about subtitles, I'm sure they'd absolutely plotz if I asked them about the state of a silent.

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

#44 Post by Keaton » Wed Dec 05, 2007 4:00 pm

ltfontaine wrote:
Keaton wrote: Sure this oe has english subs?.
Sorry, Dennis, I don't know whether this one even has title cards. Amazon couldn't answer my question about subtitles, I'm sure they'd absolutely plotz if I asked them about the state of a silent.
Ok, thanks anyway!

regards,

Dennis :)

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

#45 Post by whaleallright » Wed Dec 05, 2007 9:00 pm

The quality of most of these is horrendous, and as I've noted before on this thread the "English" subtitles are often computer-translated doggerel. Unless you speak Chinese or are willing to endure considerable confusion about the narratives, I'd stay away.
Last edited by whaleallright on Fri May 02, 2008 1:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
ltfontaine
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 3:34 pm

#46 Post by ltfontaine » Wed Dec 05, 2007 10:45 pm

jonah.77 wrote:The quality of most of these is horrendous, and as I've noted before on this thread the "English" subtitles are often computer-translated doggerel. Unless you speak Chinese or are willing to endure considerable confusion about the narratives, I'd stay away.
Jonah, the discs I'm discussing are not the same as those to which you have linked in your earlier post, but perhaps you have had similarly discouraging experience with products from the Guangzhou Beauty Culture Communication Co? I was not expecting much in the way of quality anyway, but was intrigued by the comments of an amazon reviewer who actually praised the subtitles on one of these discs! (I'm not currently in a position to find and share this, but will do so later).

I'm going to pop for a couple of these DVDs--one that I've seen sans subs and one I've never seen--regardless of the dire portents, so I'll have more information later. I'm not adverse to buying bad prints of great films when they're the only versions even remotely on the horizon and I don't expect to see these otherwise anytime soon.

kevyip1
Joined: Sat Nov 06, 2004 7:07 pm

#47 Post by kevyip1 » Sat Dec 15, 2007 1:16 am

A lot of the above titles seem to have disappeared from the site. Only "Legend of Tianyun Mountain" and "Two Actresses" remain. Maybe they've been discontinued? That would also explain why so few online stores are selling them.

Besides Amazon, this store also sells some of the titles at only $9.99. I've never heard of this store and can't find a contact address on the site. Godaddy.com says it's based in Arizona.

There are 2 versions of "The House of 72 Tenants", one made in 1963 as you mentioned. The Intercontinental DVD you saw is the 1972 widescreen color remake made by Shaw Brothers.

A lot of the titles from GZ Beauty are actually available at yesasia at $6.99. But unfortunately, the more famous titles like "Labourer's Love", etc. -- nearly all the titles mentioned by ltfontaine -- are not available. "Crossroads" is here. But to see the other titles, search for "zao qi qi lu" (no quotes). "Zao qi" means "early". Yesasia adds the phrase "zao qi zhong guo dian ying" (early Chinese films) to all the titles -- to make them more searchable, I guess. "Qi lu" is the DVD publisher name in Yesasia's database. This is Qi Lu's web site, but no mention of these DVDs there. But if you look at the DVD covers (the brown/white-colored ones), the red logo at the bottom is the same logo at gzbeauty.com. Notice that except "Crossroads", Yesasia only provides phonetic Chinese titles, not translated English titles, for these DVDs. And all the DVDs have "no subtitles" according to Yesasia, but I'm going to order some of these and check them out.
Lemmy Caution wrote: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.
Are these DVDs or VCDs? Do they have blue covers like this one ("Angels in the Street")?

User avatar
HerrSchreck
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am

#48 Post by HerrSchreck » Sat Dec 15, 2007 2:38 pm

That last link is for Street Angel by Muzhi Yuan. You can watch the whole film online here. It looks like the source tape for the Koch Lorber.

lady wakasa
Joined: Thu Apr 27, 2006 10:26 pm
Location: Over Yonder
Contact:

#49 Post by lady wakasa » Sat Dec 15, 2007 3:52 pm

Do you folks know that Cinema Epoch has started releasing some of these in the US? They added music and cleaned up the subtitles (which was very very helpful; I have some of the PRC DVDs as well, and still don't consider myself as having seen some because of those blasted subtitles).

The company is at http://www.cinemaepoch.com, and the DVDs are sold through Amazon.com.

kevyip1
Joined: Sat Nov 06, 2004 7:07 pm

#50 Post by kevyip1 » Sat Dec 15, 2007 5:49 pm

The Cinema Epoch releases have been discussed here. But only 12 titles have been released so far. Some of us are on the lookout for more from other publishers.

Btw, IVL has released a DVD set of the 6-hour, 8-part documentary on Chinese film history called A Century of Light and Shadow. I'm watching it right now...

Post Reply