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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Mandarin Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • Mandarin PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 3 Discs
FEATURES

Taipei Story

Dual-Format Edition
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Edward Yang
1985 | 110 Minutes | Licensor: World Cinema Project

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $124.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #879
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: May 30, 2017
Review Date: May 30, 2017

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SYNOPSIS

Edward Yang’s second feature is a mournful anatomy of a city caught between the past and the present. Made in collaboration with Yang’s fellow New Taiwan Cinema master Hou Hsiao-hsien, who cowrote the screenplay and helped finance the project, Taipei Story chronicles the growing estrangement between a washed-up baseball player (Hou, in a rare on-screen performance) working in his family’s textile business and his girlfriend (pop star Tsai Chin), who clings to the upward mobility of her career in property development. As the couple’s dreams of marriage and emigration begin to unravel, Yang’s gaze illuminates the precariousness of domestic life and the desperation of Taiwan’s globalized modernity.


PICTURE

Years after releasing their initial World Cinema Project box set (featuring a number of overlooked films from around the world recently restored by Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation) the Criterion Collection finally brings us their second volume featuring another six films. The sixth and final film in the set is Edward Yang’s Taipei Story, presented here in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Opting to release the set only in a dual-format edition (there are no separate DVD or Blu-ray only editions), Taipei Story shares the same dual-layer Blu-ray with Law of the Border but receives its own dual-layer DVD. The Blu-ray presents the film in 1080p/24hz while the DVD presents a standard-definition version utilizing the same master. On DVD the picture has been enhanced for widescreen televisions.

Taipei Story comes to us from a new 4K restoration scanned from the original 35mm camera negative. The opening titles were lost but recreated with the aid of a positive print.

The end result is probably the best looking presentation in the set. Some sequences do look to be intentionally softer but outside of these moments the image is sharp and detail can be staggering at times, even in long shots. The film has a warmer colour tone, and things do lean towards yellow, but I still found colours to look good, blues looking especially great in some scenes (the blue skies in the latter part of the film for example). Black levels are also solid, looking to be pretty inky and not murky. Shadow delineation is weak, and some darker scenes can be hard to see, however this appears to be more a byproduct of the photography.

The film is grainy and grain can get heavier in the darker scenes but it remains looking natural and clean, rarely like noise. The restoration has also cleaned this up nicely, and I only recall a handful of minor specs throughout the entire film. The source looks just about flawless otherwise. All told it’s a rather gorgeous looking presentation.

9/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The audio is delivered in lossless PCM 1.0 mono. Sound effects and the very few bits of music we get all sound lively, with decent fidelity and range. Dialogue on the other hand can come off a bit muffled and flat. But outside of that the track is clean, free of distortion and background noise.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

The set presents six films, each film coming with an introduction and then another video supplement. This review will focus specifically on the features included with Taipei Story.

Scorsese first provides another one of his introductions where he talks about the film, its director, and the restoration for a couple of minutes, which is then followed by what is probably the best feature on the set: a new discussion between filmmakers Hou Hsiao-hsien and Edward Wong. Hou plays one of the lead roles in the film and he talks a bit about the role and working with Yang. But the discussion is more about Yang’s work and how much it differed from the rest of the New Taiwanese cinema, Hou especially enamored with how Yang was able to look at things in a different way in comparison to his own work (Hou comments he was more concerned about box office). The two talk about the film’s examination of the changing social and economic conditions between generations, the changes going on in Taipei at the time, and the sequences that stand out in the film. It’s a terrific addition to this set and I wish it was a bit longer.

4/10

CLOSING

With a great discussion between Hou Hsiao-hsien and Edward Wong, as well as a really wonderful high-definition presentation, this is the best title in an already tremendous box set.


View packaging for this Blu-ray

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