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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Cybercrime > Drama > China > Martial Arts > Hong Kong > Yakuza > Japan > Comedy > Blackhat 4K (2015/Universal/Arrow 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/In The Line Of Duty I - IV (1986 - 1989/88 Films Blu-ray Set)/Yakuza Graveyard (1976/Radiance Blu-ray/all MVD)

Blackhat 4K (2015/Universal/Arrow 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/In The Line Of Duty I - IV (1986 - 1989/88 Films Blu-ray Set)/Yakuza Graveyard (1976/Radiance Blu-ray/all MVD)

4K Ultra HD Picture: B+ Picture: B Sound: B & B-/C+/B- Extras: C+/B/C+ Films: C/B-/C+

Now for some deluxe releases of some action titles you may have only heard of in passing...

Michael Mann's Blackhat 4K (2015) is part of an early, often under-discussed cycle of cyber thrillers that did not work on arrival and have aged very, very badly. This one has Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth, as a cyber hacker who is in a Chinese prison for breaking the law. However, someone had damaged a Hong Kong nuclear plant and the authorities offer him his freedom if he can find the culprit or culprits. What results instead is one of the most unconvincing, weak, forgettable thrillers of the time and era and a shocking miss for Mann.

Considering Mann's track record includes Thief, Manhunter, Heat and even Public Enemies, the Miami Vice creator cannot make this one work, no matter how hard he tries and even with Viola Davis, even she cannot help him bring this to life and the Chinese angle plays poorly then and now. Worse, the film does not seem to have an understanding of some of what cyberspace is really all about and like most films from this era (even The Cell with Jennifer Lopez, which had nothing to do with computers!) has bizarre narrative interruptions of video footage (usually bad, early CGI animated work that was dated on arrival) of taking trips through computers and circuits. Unfortunately, it all just looks desperate now.

That makes it a curio at best and since it involves some major names, yes, it should be available in 4K for people to see. However, Mann took a long break form the big screen after this and that was a smart move. Now you can see for yourself why.

Extras are numerous and (per the press release) include a brand new Feature Length Audio Commentary by critics Bryan Reesman and Max Evry

  • Firewall: brand new video interview with cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh

  • Zero Day Threat: brand new video interview with production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas

  • The Cyber Threat, On Location Around the World and Creating Reality: three archival behind-the-scenes featurettes on the making of the film

  • Image gallery

  • Reversible Sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Doug John Miller

  • Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Andrew Graves

  • and while supplies last, a Limited Edition slipcover featuring newly commissioned artwork by Doug John Miller

Next up is the new Blu-ray box set from 88 Films of In The Line Of Duty I - IV (1986 - 1989) which is also part of a cycle that began in the late 1970s; that of women in police work in a man's world and it was happening all over the world on the big and small screen. Summaries for each film and there extras are included as follows, then I'll explain more, but note that all movie sound is in the lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) format...

Extras are many and along with (per the press release) the 2K restorations of all 4 films in 1:85 X 1 aspect ratio, a 100-page book by Matthew Edwards with archive stills, production imagery, posters & more, reversible sleeves featuring original artwork and a double-sided foldout poster and more!


Returning from her holiday in Japan, Inspector Yip (Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All At Once) foils a daring mid-air rescue of a gangster being returned to Hong Kong for trial. But Inspector Yip needs to watch her back: that gangster has friends.


  • 2.0 Cantonese Mono Theatrical & Alternate Mixes

  • 2.0 Classic English Dub + 5.1 New English Dub

  • Newly translated English subtitles

  • Audio Commentary by Hong Kong Film Expert Frank Djeng

  • Missing Aeroplane Inserts

  • Cantonese & English Trailers and more!


Chicks with kicks! When gangsters murder her friend, Inspector Ng (Michelle Yeoh, Tomorrow Never Dies) is drawn into a deadly search for the men who did it. Just as well she's got backup from British supercop Carrie Morris (the legendary Cynthia Rothrock, China O'Brien).


  • Hong Kong Cut featuring: Cantonese Original Theatrical Mix Mono & Cantonese (Home Video Mix) Mono Original Effects

  • 5.1 New English Dub + Export Version with classic English Dub

  • Audio Commentary by Frank Djeng (HK Version)

  • Interview with Cynthia Rothrock

  • Select Scene Commentary with Cynthia Rothrock and Frank Djeng

  • Interview with Men Hoi

  • Archive Interview with Michelle Yeoh

  • Archive Battling Babes Featurette

  • Hong Kong Trailer


How do you top the first two In The Line of Duty films? Easy... bigger explosions, wilder fights and even crazier stunts! This time, two Japanese thieves have fled to Hong Kong with a tough J-cop (Cynthia Khan, Blade of Fury) hot on their heels. It's up to Hong Kong's finest to stop the villains before too much damage is done!


  • 2.0 Cantonese Mono with English Subtitles + 2.0 English Mono

  • Audio Commentary by Frank Djeng and Michael Worth

  • Interview with John Sham by Frederic Ambroisine

  • Hong Kong & English Trailers and more!


The fourth (and for some fans... the best) of the In the Line of Duty series, sees the return of Cynthia Kahn (The Avenging Quartet) as Inspector Yeung. This time, she's on the trail of some ruthless international drug dealers, ably assisted by Donnie Yen (John Wick: Chapter 4, Ip Man) and Michael Wong (Royal Warriors).


  • Hong Kong cut, featuring: 2.0 Cantonese Mono with English Subtitles + 2.0 English Mono

  • Export Version of the film featuring the Classic English Dub

  • Audio Commentary with Frank Djeng and F.J. DeSanto (HK Cut)

  • Archive Interview with Donnie Yen

  • and Hong Kong & English Trailers

So while more liberated women were slowly showing up in genre films and TV shows, not even including any low budget B-movie work, the 1970s gave way to the 1980s, which leads us to ask if the 1980s women were as liberated or just safe, establishment variations of their male counterparts. When done well, like Helen Mirren in Prime Suspect, the more potent Bond women and all the way to Clarice in The Silence Of the Lambs (1990, when the cycle came to an end pretty much,) the answer is yes and not just gals acting like tough guys.

Fortunately, we can say the same about Yeoh in the first two films here and Miss Khan in the latter two films. More of a big deal at the time than I think people in the U.S. at least if not further out realized, these are smart crime films with great humor, stunt work, wit and also feature other great martial artists at their early peak without having them just turn up in trivial, reactionary B-movie film releases (like so many a Cannon Film) and they have all aged pretty well as a result.

The first two are outright crime films introducing a new world for women, the third does its best to imitate 1970s Hollywood crime dramas, the Bond films and most interestingly and successfully, Michael Cimino's Year Of The Dragon (1985) which itself would lead to imitators like the obnoxious Rush Hour films, Black Rain and Rising Sun, et al. The final film simply goes for broke in the hand to hand combat department and does very well as a result. I have to say that the always impressive Donnie Yen is in exceptional, rare, stunning form here and that says something.

With these great restorations and a ton of extras, this is the only way to go to see these films outside of a mint-condition film print and makes it all one of the year's most pleasant surprises yet.

Last but not least is Kinji Fukasaku's Yakuza Graveyard (1976) that is part of a new kind of realism in gangster crime drama that was happening in Japanese cinemas at the time and at the Toei Studios in particular. Not bad and holding up well enough, a respectable detective (Tetsuya Watari) lands up falling for the wife of a jailed crime boss, compromising his position and life in a situation where the police and Yakuza are too close for comfort. Making things worse, two groups of Yakuza are having a gangland war, so things can only get even worse!

If made now of any organized crime organization, the film would likely be sillier, more derivative and less realistic that this is here and that is not to say it is any kind of innovative, groundbreaking classic, but the makers respect the audience as much as the material and it is at least effective enough and not afraid to get its hands dirty. A solid use of the scope frame with decent color and convincing situations with matching locations, it has a good cast and is never condescending or trite. It is not wallowing in the idea it is a genre film, so it moves along well enough and has enough realistic, mature, even brutal moments to make it work. Those interested will definitely want to give it a look and it is more realistic than many such films (good and so-so) from the 1960s period of the genre.

Extras (per the press release) include an appreciation by filmmaker Kazuya Shiraishi (2022)

  • The Rage and the Passion: A visual essay by critic Tom Mes on Meiko Kaji and Kinji Fukasaku's collaborations (2022)

  • Gallery of promotional imagery

  • Easter Egg

  • Trailer

  • Newly translated English subtitles

  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Time Tomorrow

  • Limited Edition booklet featuring new writing on the film by Mika Ko on the representations of Koreans in the yakuza film, and newly translated re-prints of a contemporary review and writing by screenwriter Kazuo Kasahara

  • and a Limited Edition of 3,000 copies, presented in full-height Scanavo packaging with removable OBI strip leaving packaging free of certificates and markings

Now for playback performance. The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 2.35 X 1, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on the Blackhat 4K disc looks the best of all these releases, but by default and almost barely so as those bad CGI 'inside cyberspace' moments look all the worse in 4K. They also look bad on the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition Blu-ray version, but the 4K brings out more from the older HD shoot with cameras that range from 1080p to 2.8K. The saving grace is that they used Hawk Scope lenses, which helps make up for the lack of definition and this is therefore upscaled for 4K. Both versions have DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, but the 5.1 on the 4K disc sounds a little better than the regular Blu-ray for some reason.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on all four Duty films look really good with few issues in detail, some aged grain, but great color in all four cases, resulting in better presentations than expected. As noted before, all soundtracks are in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless sound but only the Cantonese 2.0 Stereo mixes (including the enhanced versions on the earlier films) sound any good, yet they show their age and can sound a little compressed, off and remastered in ways that render them flat. The English dub versions are far worse to me, though. The original language versions are highly likely the best they will ever sound and were all theatrical mono presentations.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Yakuza is also impressive, with solid color, detail and depth from the original 35mm Toeiscope color negative, this was not a bad lens if not the very best. It is used to fine effect here. You get some parts that can show their age, but it holds up nicely. The PCM 2.0 Mono sounds a little better for its age than expected and is likely as good as this film will ever sound.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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