International Blu-ray discs

Discuss internationally-released DVDs and Blu-rays or other international DVD and Blu-ray-related topics.
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hearthesilence
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Re: International Blu-ray discs

#401 Post by hearthesilence » Mon Dec 14, 2015 11:12 pm

I just got Miguel Gomes' "Tabu" from New Wave Films on a region B BD from the UK. I saw this at the U.S. premiere at the NYFF and it was one of the very few films they were projecting from a 35mm print. Looked marvelous. Can't really say the same for the BD, at least for the modern scenes-not sure if it's encoding or some other tomfoolery like a touch of grain management on what was already very clean footage, but there are artifacts in most shots. The "vintage" footage looks better-these scenes were shot on different film stock, much grainier, and they left it completely intact. If DNR was the culprit on the present day scenes, I wonder if Gomes' choice to make the past look grainier spared those scenes of the same wankery?

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Re: International Blu-ray discs

#402 Post by eerik » Fri Dec 25, 2015 11:48 am

Four Warner catalog titles scheduled for early 2016 in Germany:
Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
The Big Sleep
Key Largo


A bunch of RKO titles released by IVC in Japan early 2016:
The Magnificent Ambersons
I Walked with a Zombie
Cat People
The Thing from Another World
Suspicion


Suspicion is also coming out in France with two other Hitchcock titles:
Suspicion
I Confess
The Wrong Man

Hopefully all the titles listed above will be released worldwide. The Wrong Man already has been announced for the US, and I Confess is also scheduled for Japan.

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feihong
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Re: International Blu-ray discs

#403 Post by feihong » Sat Dec 26, 2015 5:28 pm

The Edko blu ray of Johnnie To's Office looks fantastic and sounds great as well. The English subtitles are very good. If anything the cinematography looks better on the new disc than it did on the DCP I saw in the theater. But basically, the blu ray transfer looks comparable in most respects.

It's a really wonderful movie as well; good the first time, but improves upon second viewing. The cast is a really lovely collection of actors; hopefully To is able to make another film soon with some of the same players. Tang Wei is very good in it, and Eason Chan is surprisingly good––I've never liked him in a movie before, but here he's a very appealing performer. The cinematography stands out quite a lot in the film, with elegant tracking shots and a broad range of color.

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Re: International Blu-ray discs

#404 Post by hanshotfirst1138 » Sat Dec 26, 2015 6:18 pm

feihong wrote:So this BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ set is a dismal SD upconvert. Not worth the investment.

I picked up the German releases of a couple of Jackie Chan movies, the immortal classics POWERMAN and ACTION HUNTER, as they appear on the coversof the German blu rays. These are actually WHEELS ON MEALS and DRAGONS FOREVER. There are no English subtitles. The discs are advertised as full 1080P. They have Cantonese and German DTS 5.1 and Mono audio tracks, and they port over the HKL audio commentaries by Bey Logan.

I can't tell if WHEELS ON MEALS is an upconvert. It looks pretty soft, altogether, though there's none of the ghosting apparent in the Japanese blu ray. The film is still pretty red in the flesh tones, though not as all-around red as the image on the Japanese disc.

DRAGONS FOREVER looks sharp, and it looks like a true 1080P scan. The disc is very handsome. Splendid Films, who releases these discs, is trying to corner the market in Germany in Jackie Chan films. They have blu rays of the Project A films, all the 70s kung fu stuff, as far as I can see. They have City Hunter, the Police Story films, etc. At least some of these are supposed to be true 1080P transfers. I wonder how they got these from Fortune Star? The Fortune Star logos are on everything, but discs from other parts of the world don't offer these hi-def transfers.

I got the Japanese blu ray of STALKER, which is also odd. I can't tell how good the transfer is. The picture looks generally pretty soft.

The best thing I found was a DVD of Susumi Hani's AFRICA STORY. This is a very elegant-looking SD disc of a pretty loony film. Somehow this was Hani's last film, and star Jimmy Stewart's last movie, also. It features very little dialogue, tons and tons of nature photography (probably in equal proportion to the very slight plot). The film was produced by SanRio, and it features some funky pop singing in English over images of zebras and lions on the veldt. Everyone is dubbed in Japanese. There could be no satisfactory explanation of this crazy movie, but it is hugely enjoyable, and the DVD does right by it. There are no English subtitles, but that doesn't detract at all from the experience of the movie.

AFRICA STORY is exceptionally weird, but foolishly beautiful. The film captures so much natural beauty, so casually. It can seem somewhat without purpose if you're not looking closely. But spare a deeper glance and it's fascinating; I've not seen another film that dwells so intensely on the experience of the animals of Africa––and I'm including that IMAX film that focuses on the Wildebeast migration. But this is really a film whose copious nature photography dwells on the behavior and emotional life of animals in the wilderness. The people in the film are treated in a very similar way, and there's a casual sympathy for them that is sort of at one with the animals. Eleonora Vallone, daughter of Raf Vallone, shows up late in the film and brings with her the frippery and fussy weight of civilization, but there's also the pain and menace of several fires. They are captured, I think, just as exquisitely––moreso, even––than the ones in Days of Heaven. AFRICA STORY is not the naive movie it initially appears to be, but rather something more idiosyncratic and intense, something rapturous and well-realized, almost entirely expressed through the visual and through exceptional sound design. It's story, its editing, its visuals, actually remind me more than anything of Hani's previous THE MORNING SCHEDULE, which follows a lot of similar story beats and character relationships. It's a surprisingly good movie. Not even SanRio's unfettered pop-song-bombing of the picture can make it any less absorbing than it is.
Hong Kong films have notoriously poor storage conditions, apparently it's made mastering even more difficult.

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Re: International Blu-ray discs

#405 Post by How rude! » Sat Dec 26, 2015 7:08 pm

AFRICA STORY is exceptionally weird, but foolishly beautiful.
Interestingly, the screenplay is based on a Shuji Terayama story.

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Re: International Blu-ray discs

#406 Post by feihong » Sat Dec 26, 2015 10:37 pm

hanshotfirst1138 wrote:
feihong wrote:I picked up the German releases of a couple of Jackie Chan movies, the immortal classics POWERMAN and ACTION HUNTER, as they appear on the coversof the German blu rays. These are actually WHEELS ON MEALS and DRAGONS FOREVER. There are no English subtitles. The discs are advertised as full 1080P. They have Cantonese and German DTS 5.1 and Mono audio tracks, and they port over the HKL audio commentaries by Bey Logan.

I can't tell if WHEELS ON MEALS is an upconvert. It looks pretty soft, altogether, though there's none of the ghosting apparent in the Japanese blu ray. The film is still pretty red in the flesh tones, though not as all-around red as the image on the Japanese disc.
Hong Kong films have notoriously poor storage conditions, apparently it's made mastering even more difficult.

But Fortune Star simply doesn't even try to do HD transfers. The company prefers to go with upconverts. I think Fortune Star looks at hi-def remastering it as an unnecessary expense.

I finally figured out WHEELS ON MEALS. The German disc and the standard Japanese disc are upconverts, with different amounts of processing and manipulation done to the image. The Japanese discs of Jackie Chan movies which have true 1080p transfers are the so-called "Extreme Editions." The true 1080p source material comes from Japanese prints, and has, in all cases, burned-in Japanese subtitles along the right side of the image. These are cuts of the films prepared for Japan, so they have in some cases some quite different editing and so on. The Japanese version of POLICE STORY, for example, contains a long opening scene of pie-in-the-face comedy in the police station before the initial briefing scene.

The reason these cuts are only in the extreme editions rather than in the regular editions is because it appears they are special second discs, only included in the special packaging. So far I've seen these versions of POLICE STORY I and 3, but I ordered WHEELS ON MEALS and PROJECT A PT I and II. The prints show some age, but the transfers are quite sharp and the films look better than I've ever seen them look before; they look much, much better than I've ever seen them look before. Looking forward to finally seeing WHEELS ON MEALS in genuine 1080p.

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Re: International Blu-ray discs

#407 Post by hanshotfirst1138 » Thu Dec 31, 2015 2:22 pm

feihong wrote:But Fortune Star simply doesn't even try to do HD transfers. The company prefers to go with upconverts. I think Fortune Star looks at hi-def remastering it as an unnecessary expense.
Absolutely true. And sadly, they have a vice-like death-grip on the masters. Between them and the Disney fiasco of a few years ago, Hong Kong cinema is about as ill-served on home video as it could be. Even when they license out to quality labels like Shout, the distributor's hands are tied. It's a pretty crappy situation. And like I said, I don't see it getting rectified anytime soon. And why they can't even include the damn mono soundtrack is a colossal mystery to me, but that's a whole separate issue.
So far I've seen these versions of POLICE STORY I and 3, but I ordered WHEELS ON MEALS and PROJECT A PT I and II. The prints show some age, but the transfers are quite sharp and the films look better than I've ever seen them look before; they look much, much better than I've ever seen them look before. Looking forward to finally seeing WHEELS ON MEALS in genuine 1080p.
It's pretty sad that this is the kind of situation fans have, sifting through various releases, each with their own flaws, trying to find a workable version ](*,) .

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Re: International Blu-ray discs

#408 Post by feihong » Sun Jan 10, 2016 3:48 am

It's true, it's pretty sad, but on the other hand, I've never seen these movies looking better.

I got Project A and Project A Pt. II, the Japanese Extreme editions. The HK cuts are standard upconverts, washed out and miserable-looking and overmatted. The Japanese cuts are true HD, 1080p, with beautiful color, much better balanced contrast, and really great depth of field. They are framed better, including a lot more information in the frame. The quality is not perfect. These are taken from prints, and there are lots of pops and scratches, and the black levels in Project A Pt. II are a little crushed (this looks like a defect of the print, rather than a compression issue). Print damage is much less severe on the original film, though the opening credits begin roughly, with lots of damage. The color separation on both films is far above anything I've ever seen, and the films look quite a bit more elegant than they have in past versions. There are the burned-in Japanese subtitles on the far right of the screen for both films, but those hardly distract at all.

I haven't tried to find subtitles to match up with these discs yet, but I'm wondering if it will be a challenge. The Japanese cuts of these films are supposed to be somewhat different. Police Story in Japan begins with a long sequence of pie-in-the-face pratfalls at the police station, before the initial action sequence at the shantytown. It's a scene that adds something like 5 or 6 minutes to the runtime. Still waiting for Wheels on Meals to arrive. I ordered it from CDJapan, and they are really dragging their feet. I'm wondering if they can get it in stock at all.

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Re: International Blu-ray discs

#409 Post by feihong » Wed Jan 13, 2016 7:08 pm

The Japanese Wheels on Meals Extreme Edition is interesting. It does sport a true HD transfer of the film, from a Japanese print, with Japanese subtitles burned in on the right hand side. The image improvement is good, for sure, but not as drastic an improvement as on Police Story or Project A. Nonetheless, there is true sharpness and depth in the picture, unlike on the Fortune Star upconvert. However, the audio for the Japanese edition is less comprehensive. There's an English dub track and two Japanese dub tracks (2.0 and 7.1), but no Chinese audio tracks for the HD print. It's pretty odd, for sure. Still, it's a lot more fun to see the film with a sharp picture, no digital moire, and decent colors. So for fans of the film, though it's a bit expensive, it's pretty much worth it.

I wish Paramount Japan would do these Extreme Editions for some other Hong Kong classics. It would be great to see something like Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain in true hi-definition. Though I suppose the Jackie Chan movies have a degree of popularity that justified the commercial risk, and they wouldn't see other HK movies as being worth that risk.

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Re: International Blu-ray discs

#410 Post by feihong » Sun Jan 17, 2016 3:06 am

Not really answering the question, why release this just exactly now, of all times they could have released an aging cult anime, Uk outfit Anime Ltd.'s Collectors Edition blu ray of Baccano! is everything a fan would want. The transfer is extraordinarily sharp. There are layers of smoke and backlighting in Baccano threatening to compromise a hi-def transfer, but the discs have wonderful solidity and exquisite depth-of-field. There are Japanese language and English dub options, English subtitles, and textless openings and closings as an extra feature. The 16 episodes fit on 3 blu ray discs. There is a booklet that presents translated creator interviews and production art. And then there is the series itself, a dazzling and bizarre cocktail of inexplicably diverse ideas. The set retails for about $40 USD, which is a nice change from the Japanese set, or even the more expensive French set. The discs come in a cardboard fold-out case, which slips into a glossy hardback cover. It's a keeper.

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Re: International Blu-ray discs

#411 Post by feihong » Tue Feb 02, 2016 2:09 am

The same outfit as just released Baccano! in the UK also released previously a bluray collection of Durarara!! series one. It is similarly excellent to the Baccano! set, though the packaging is less ostentatious.

The Japanese blu ray of The Magnificent Ambersons is pretty odd-looking. Released by a company called Ive, it sports logos on the box from MK2 and Lobster, and there is a half of a slipcover which denotes the disc being part of a prospective "RKO Collection" on the part of Ive. The disc has a Mono PCM audio track which sounds pretty appropriate, removable Japanese subtitles, and the package promises the disc inside is full HD, 1080p. It does appear to be full HD 1080p, but the image is very comparable to what's on the full HD Japanese cuts of the Jackie Chan movies released in Extreme Editions in Japan, especially the Extreme Edition of Police Story. The film has not been restored, and it looks like some fairly discreet grain management has been used to slightly soften the film grain. The black levels are pretty light, I would say probably comparable to those on the Mr. Bongo Chimes at Midnight. The highlights in the film look completely blown out a lot of the time. There are tons of pops and scratches. It looks as if, as supposedly with the Jackie Chan Japanese cuts, they used a print of the film as their source, rather than a negative? I've read people saying that about the Jackie Chan discs, but I'm not knowledgeable enough to confirm that is what they did. But it looks very similar to the Jackie Chan discs, with lots of dirt and grit, and with contrast issues and some lack of detail. Closeups improve greatly, with a lot more depth and detail apparent. Long shots...between the contrast and the lack of detail, they do not look good. Overall, the disc looks better than SD in motion, but only some of the time. I don't think I'd recommend this one to anyone but really hardcore fans. Although it's not one of the more expensive Japanese discs I've purchased, so there is something of a break there. Hopefully someone somewhere will pick this up and do right by it.

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Re: International Blu-ray discs

#412 Post by Askew » Wed Feb 03, 2016 10:18 am

Amazon Japan has listings for Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie, Three Godfathers, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, The Fugitive, The Thing from Another World, Bringing Up Baby, They Live By Night and Suspicion.

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Re: International Blu-ray discs

#413 Post by domino harvey » Wed Feb 03, 2016 11:27 am

So, now we know Warner Archives' Blu-Ray release schedule for the next couple of months!

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Re: International Blu-ray discs

#414 Post by Jonathan S » Wed Feb 03, 2016 11:52 am

According to today's DVD Beaver newsletter:
Warner wrote: Distribution rights to RKO films in Japan were sold off years before we ended up owning that library. We have no knowledge of what is being released there. We can only state that it does not involve the use of our original elements.
I must admit I'm unsure about the current geographical extent of Warner's RKO rights. A few years ago, I read somewhere they planned to acquire them globally, at least for home video, and their recent German Blu-rays of films like Citizen Kane and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, previously released by other companies, seemed to indicate changes in Europe. Can anyone clarify the situation?

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Re: International Blu-ray discs

#415 Post by feihong » Fri Feb 05, 2016 2:16 am

Looks like Switchblade Sisters is finally getting its long-talked-of blu ray release in Germany. Street date is listed as tomorrow.

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Re: International Blu-ray discs

#416 Post by feihong » Wed Feb 17, 2016 3:04 pm

Sulbkultur Media's Switchblade Sisters blu ray is just great. Sharp image, with excellent depth of field, plenty of robust film grain. the color range is very expansive, and the disc shows off a lot of the great, unusual lighting schemes of the film.

The disc has removable German and English subtitles, and German and English DTS-HD MA Mono and DD 1.0 Mono tracks. The Tarantino/Jack Hill Commentary from the Rolling Thunder DVD is on another audio track, as well as a German-language audio commentary by Marcus Stiglegger and Kai Naumann. There are U.S. trailers and a making-of documentary, WE ARE THE JEZEBELS!, which I haven't watched yet. There are archival interviews with Jack Hill, Robbie Lee and Joanne Nail, and a featurette called On Location with Jack Hill and Elijah Drenner, which I haven't yet watched.

But the real thrill of the disc is the picture quality on the feature, which is not just far beyond any home video presentation before now, but which is also a really high-quality blu ray from start to finish. Fans of the film––and I am one––couldn't ask for a better package.

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Re: International Blu-ray discs

#417 Post by kompromiss » Mon Feb 29, 2016 5:50 am

The blu-ray of "Camille Claudel" (1988, with Isabelle Adjani and Gérard Depardieu) is out in Korea, presumably with english subtitles. It's advertised as "Numbered Limited Edition, 1000 copies". Sadly, no details about video quality. If anybody saw a review of this release, or actually own the disk, it would great to find out some information about video transfer - is it any good (not an upscale)?

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Re: International Blu-ray discs

#418 Post by feihong » Tue Mar 08, 2016 10:00 pm

Looks like Screenbound Pictures in the UK is releasing a blu ray of Black Orpheus in June. I wonder if it will have a better encode than the Criterion disc? That Criterion was early in their blu-ray foray, and even then it was a little bit disappointing in terms of picture quality. It looks like Screenbound has only released maybe one blu ray in the past, of Prisoners of the Lost Universe. Reviews of the disc look fine. Their other releases have all been DVD. I'm hoping this release will improve on the Criterion in terms of picture quality.

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Re: International Blu-ray discs

#419 Post by Ashirg » Wed Mar 09, 2016 1:27 am

Screenbound used to be known as Odeon Entertainment.

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Re: International Blu-ray discs

#420 Post by feihong » Wed Mar 09, 2016 2:35 am

Oh, so they've in fact done other discs. Good quality?

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Re: International Blu-ray discs

#421 Post by manicsounds » Wed Mar 09, 2016 3:31 am

Odeon / Screenbound is generally good in their transfers.

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Re: International Blu-ray discs

#422 Post by Drucker » Wed Mar 30, 2016 12:18 pm

Didn't see this posted anywhere else, but Elephant Films has a listing for Sirk's Written on The Wind, coming out.

Also have a listing for Imitation of Life and All That Heaven Allows.

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Re: International Blu-ray discs

#423 Post by tenia » Wed Mar 30, 2016 12:30 pm

I'm actually very curious about which HD master they'll use for All That Heaven Allows. They had access to the same material MoC had for A Time to Love & The Tarnished Angels, but I believe Criterion's All That Heaven Allows restoration most likely is their property so it's a difference situation.

Note that Elephant will also release Sign of the Pagan which will be a worldwide first on BD. They've also released recently David Lean's The Passionnate Friends, also a worldwide first on BD.

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Re: International Blu-ray discs

#424 Post by Drucker » Wed Mar 30, 2016 1:14 pm

Do you own anything from that label? Dependable?

Would be really great to see Imitation of Life in the right ratio!

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Re: International Blu-ray discs

#425 Post by tenia » Wed Mar 30, 2016 1:57 pm

I have a few of them, yes. The 3 Suzukis are pretty good, it's obvious it's no new HD master but they're pretty efficient (Branded to Kill is most likely sourced from the same material Arrow had access to). The Pornographers follows the same course : rather fine but obviously pre-existing materials.
They released 3 Silent Hitchcock, with a notorious issue on Easy Virtue : there isn't any soundtrack / score at all. The 3 are also encoded at 1080i, creating a stutter because of the frame repeats not being spaced correctly (à la Thief of Bagdad).
A Matter of Life and Death is sourced from a past restoration, with Technicolor mis-alignment.
The Shout matches the UK release in technical presentation.
Thunder on the Hill is quite good and commendable (the movie not so much).
The David Lean movies they released are sourced from the recent BFI restorations (the ones common with Criterion thus share the same material).


As a whole, Elephant is 100% dependant on what they can get access to, but it seems they can get at least decent HD masters, if not the most recent materials. You're usually better off waiting for the first reviews to be published, just to be sure what they got, but recently, their output has been decent at least.

Plus, their BD releases are often Region Free and the French subs optional (you won't get any English subs, though).
On the low side, they usually don't include lots of extra features.

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