This disc arrived tonight, and I've looked it over. Like Throwdown, the transfer looks incredible. Razor sharp, beautiful grain structure. The Mei Ah blu ray, and the CN Entertainment one that replaced it, were some of the best-looking HK blu rays (watermark aside), but this disc puts them to shame.
There are a few subtitle translations I miss. The main one is Ponytail's funny line: "Damn. I'm hit." It get's replaced with: "Fuck. He got me." It's not a terrible change, but the original translation has a funny sort of abstraction to it, like Ponytail has been imagining this fate for years, playing it through his head like a movie of his own glorious death. I think that valence gets at least muted a bit in the new translation, but, whatever. Later on, when the guy selling fake credit cards talks to the cops, the subtitles spell out much more clearly that the guy gives them a precise address for the abandoned building hideout. So there's always some give and take on these new translations. Altogether it's a great disc. Tons and tons of depth of field in the picture. The arcade scene demonstrates heretofore undreamed-of color separation. These Johnnie To movies work best when the image is absolutely pristine––the scale of the images, the subtlety of the actors' expressions––it only comes across when the image is being presented at a really high level.
Frank Djeng's audio commentary is somehow both more interesting and less interesting than his previous MOC commentaries. He spends a lot of time pointing out the visual subtleties of the movie, I guess in case audience members are missing the details. I does give us a lot about locations, about the structure of the police organization, so that's great. There's always some interpretation he offers in the commentaries which I end up disagreeing with pretty profoundly, but I haven't heard one on this commentary. In this one, he vehemently insists that in the scene where Ruby Wong's goons are pouring water down Soi Cheang's throat that they aren't torturing him. Djeng seems to think they're trying to sober him up really quickly, which sounds ridiculous to me. He does tell an unflattering story about Maggie Siu being forced to lose weight for the reshoots on this movie, which leads to literally nothing. But he supplies interesting info as well. He talks about how To has had a script ready for Election 3 since 2016, but that he is holding back from filming it because of the increasing pressure on films in China, the punishments for supposedly "controversial" content, which To apparently saw coming. And he mentions an interesting detail: he says the film has around only about 530 speaking lines, which I think is, what, about 1/6th of the average these days? pretty cool. Another thing I wasn't aware of: somehow, Running on Karma beat this film for best picture at the HK Film Awards that year? Insane.
Glad to see this movie in really barnstormingly great quality. There's probably no chance, but I hope the next To film MOC releases will be The Mission. We need a high-quality blu ray of The Mission!