Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

Discuss internationally-released DVDs and Blu-rays or other international DVD and Blu-ray-related topics.
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Glowingwabbit
Joined: Wed May 01, 2013 1:27 pm

Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#151 Post by Glowingwabbit » Tue Dec 11, 2018 1:47 pm

The Fanciful Norwegian wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 1:32 pm
I did the groupbuy for the Red Sorghum release and it came out fine, though the process is pretty drawn out.

I'm very excited for The Horse Thief and especially the chance to finally watch it with its intended audio—all mainland films at the time were required to have a Mandarin dub, but Tian's plan was to replace it with the Tibetan track for the actual release, so the Mandarin track was thrown together in the space of a weekend purely to meet the regulatory requirement. But then the distributor ignored Tian's intentions and only made Mandarin-language prints, with the exception of a single Tibetan print that was exported to France. The first U.S. release in the late '80s (via the semi-legendary International Film Circuit) was issued with the Tibetan track, but when it got a wider release a few years later from Kino, the Mandarin version was used instead. I have three versions of this film on video (the Kino laserdisc, the atrocious mainland Chinese DVD, and the somewhat better Spanish DVD) and all of them are Mandarin-only. The Tibetan audio must be a recent rediscovery, since Tian said it was missing when the China Film Archive's restoration premiered in April.

As an aside, Diskino has apparently announced (at least informally) three future Xi'an Film Studio restorations: The Black Cannon Incident, King of the Children, and Swordsman in Double Flag Town.
Any recommendations? I'm really not familiar with any of the studio's films outside of The Horse Thief (although I'm quite familiar with Tian's other films). I have the spanish dvd which is much better than the Kino, but still only has the Mandarin so I'm excited as well to see it as intended.

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The Fanciful Norwegian
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:24 pm
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Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#152 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:39 pm

TBH classic Chinese cinema on Blu-ray is so rare that I would buy them all on principle alone, but these Diskino releases come in such limited numbers that they seem to have no problem selling out. (That said, selling out quicker might compel Diskino to step up their pace of release, or at least increase future production runs.) But I also think they're all genuinely good movies, and for me King of the Children is the peak achievement not only of Chen Kaige but maybe the entire Fifth Generation. The Black Cannon Incident is scabrous enough as a satire that it would have almost no chance of being made today, and does some almost avant-garde things with sound production design (though in this respect I prefer its sci-fi sequel Dislocation, which has fallen by the wayside in the intervening decades). Swordsmen in Double Flag Town is an interesting outlier: I feel much of the similarities between American Westerns and the Chinese variety (i.e films set in Shaanxi or other western regions of China, something the Xi'an studio made a specialty of) are a matter of parallel development rather than direct influence, but Swordsmen deliberately and transparently draws on Hollywood (and Italian) Westerns—as well as Japanese —while sufficiently assimilating them with wuxia and folk elements so that they don't come off as simple pastiche.

Glowingwabbit
Joined: Wed May 01, 2013 1:27 pm

Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#153 Post by Glowingwabbit » Tue Dec 11, 2018 3:29 pm

Alright you sold me on King of the Children as a potential blind buy. I love Chen Kaige's Yellow Earth (that needs a blu too but I don't think it's with that studio) but have yet to see anything else by him. I'll look into the others too. Thanks.

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domino harvey
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Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#154 Post by domino harvey » Tue Dec 11, 2018 4:25 pm

I think Yellow Earth just got restored, didn't it? Would be great to see one of the usual suspects put it out on Blu in the states or the UK

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The Fanciful Norwegian
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Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#155 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Tue Dec 11, 2018 5:07 pm

It did, but it was done by the China Film Archive and their track record with these things is not great—besides the motion-interpolated, DNRed-to-hell version of The Horse Thief mentioned on the previous page, they also did the Spring in a Small Town restoration with the infamously terrible audio—so I'm not optimistic about the outcome.

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

Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#156 Post by whaleallright » Tue Dec 11, 2018 7:41 pm

For the life of me I just don't understand how anyone can listen to the soundtrack of that version of Spring in a Small Town and think, "Hey, this is good to go." It's like nails on a chalkboard.

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andyli
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 4:46 pm

Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#157 Post by andyli » Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:26 pm

I do hope China Film Archive could be persuaded to license their 4K restoration of The Yellow Earth to a label like BFI, who did secure the rights for Spring in a Small Town after all. I saw it in cinema and it generally qualifies as a good job, except for some minor audio sync problem which should be easily fixable.

yoshimori
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 2:03 am
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Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#158 Post by yoshimori » Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:37 pm

The Fanciful Norwegian wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:39 pm
... for me King of the Children is the peak achievement not only of Chen Kaige but maybe the entire Fifth Generation.
Agreed. One of my favorite films. Each shot is intensely beautiful. Can't wait for the disc. [Even though the Japanese DVD is quite good.] Please do let us know when it's available.

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

Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#159 Post by whaleallright » Mon Dec 31, 2018 1:34 pm

Is there a simple tutorial somewhere on how to participate in those "group buys" for Diskino releases? I tried to make heads or tails of it on the Media Psychos website and frankly my brain hurts. Why aren't these discs available on the open market (eBay, etc.) like so many other Chinese videos?

And any word on a release schedule for any of the future Diskino releases of Chinese films? I'm particularly excited for the early Chen Kaige films, as it seems are many here.

McCrutchy
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 4:57 am
Location: East Coast, USA

Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#160 Post by McCrutchy » Mon Dec 31, 2018 10:08 pm

It is a little complicated, but the mods are pretty cheerful and helpful, so it worked out well for me. Bear in mind, I've only done one of these group buys before (the one for Red Sorghum) and am in the middle of the one for The Horse Thief, which is still open as of this writing.

Basically, you need to sign up for the Media Psychos forum, then click on the large green "Open" button in the Group Buy thread. There are publicly available release threads for Diskino titles in this section, but the group buy threads are only visible to members. The one for The Horse Thief is here and the rules thread linked in it is here.

In my case, once I requested my first group buy, one of the mods there reached out to me via PM to ask for my personal information, which I assume would also happen with any other new members joining a group buy for the first time.

After you request a copy, because it's one of your first three group buys, you will need to put down a deposit of $10 here (visible to members only) via PayPal for the Blu-ray. Higher value items (US $80 or more) would require a $30 deposit, but that doesn't apply here.

After that, you wait. For Red Sorghum, I paid my $10 deposit when I joined the group buy on on May 9th, and received a product invoice via PayPal for $54 on August 9th. Then I received a PayPal invoice for the shipping to me on September 7th, which for me was $15. I assume that the prices will all be similar for The Horse Thief, since it's the same kind of edition as Red Sorghum. Apparently in some situations a third invoice may be required for international members not using US Dollars, but obviously, that doesn't apply to me.

At every stage, I received PMs from one of the people handling the group buy, as well.

I received a USPS tracking number, and I got my copy of Red Sorghum on September 11th. So the whole process took four months from my request and down payment to getting the item.

So, while it's certainly not a process that I would go through to acquire a disc that was readily available anywhere else, it's certainly doable. And while it isn't cheap, it seems to be the surest and overall least expensive way to get a copy of one of these Diskino releases. For example, the print run for Red Sorghum was apparently increased during the group buy, but only to 800 copies, and it apparently sold out well before it was actually available (the group buy closed on August 2nd, and apparently it sold out before August 10th). I expect something similar will happen with The Horse Thief.

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

Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#161 Post by whaleallright » Tue Jan 01, 2019 1:31 pm

Thank you, McCrutchy, for that detailed explanation! That helps a lot. I will see if I can join in on the group buy for The Horse Thief.

And happy new year!

McCrutchy
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 4:57 am
Location: East Coast, USA

Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#162 Post by McCrutchy » Tue Jan 01, 2019 3:33 pm

No problem, Happy New Year to you, as well!

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andyli
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 4:46 pm

Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#163 Post by andyli » Tue Jan 01, 2019 10:22 pm

whaleallright wrote:
Mon Dec 31, 2018 1:34 pm
And any word on a release schedule for any of the future Diskino releases of Chinese films? I'm particularly excited for the early Chen Kaige films, as it seems are many here.
It's nowhere near complete but I heard they were preparing Huang Jianxin's black comedy The Black Cannon Incident, Chen Kaige's early masterpiece King of the Children, and He Ping's martial art classic The Swordsman in Double Flag Town among other titles in 2019.

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jsteffe
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 9:00 am
Location: Atlanta, GA

Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#164 Post by jsteffe » Wed Jan 02, 2019 12:36 am

To add to what McCrutchy said, I also participated in the group buy for RED SORGHUM. The process had some minor hiccups - at least for me - but I received a copy in the way the McCrutchy described. I agree that the mods are uniformly friendly and helpful. I already signed up for THE HORSE THIEF and will participate in future group buys for the other Diskino releases.

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