Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Crime > Action > Gangsters > Mob > Spaghetti Western > Martial Arts > Italy > Comedy > Hong Kong > Convoy Buster (1978)/Shanghai Joe (1973/both Cauldron Blu-ray)/Supercop 4K (1993/aka Police Story III/88 Films 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray/all MVD)

Convoy Buster (1978)/Shanghai Joe (1973/both Cauldron Blu-ray)/Supercop 4K (1993/aka Police Story III/88 Films 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray/all MVD)

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

Now for some genre films that really go out of their way to go over the top, regardless of the results...

Stelvio Massi's Convoy Buster (1978) is an Italian crime film at the point when they were trying to outdo each other in the violence and realism departments, also competing with the best such films from other countries, including classics in the genre Hollywood was making at the time. Maurzio Merli is the homicide detective whose latest affair has him demoted, hated by the press and hated (sounds familiar) by organized crime in Rome that also wants him dead.

The film has rawness, energy, violence, some boldness and location shooting that helps bring it above its often familiar and somewhat formulaic screenplay, but the genre was still red hot worldwide and it makes the film worth a look for fans of such action. The supporting cast is not bad either and more than a few viewers may recognize Massimo Serato (Roeg's Don't Look Now) and Olga Karlatos (Fulci's Zombie) in prime form here. Wish most films in this genre today were as gritty and realistic.

Extras (per the press release) include a Feature-Length Audio Commentary by Mike Malloy & Mike Martinez, Maurizio Merli: A Lethal Hunter of Subtle Variation with tough-guy film expert Mike Malloy, My Father, the Cop: Interview with Maurizio Matteo Merli, The Massi Touch: Interview with Danilo Massi, Stelvio Massi video tribute by Danilo Massi, Stelvio Massi Image gallery and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

Mario Caiano's Shanghai Joe (1973, aka My Name Is Shanghai Joe) is an earlier Spaghetti Western that wants to cross the genre very heavily with the Martial Arts films of the time and with the way it is paced and edited, Five Fingers Of Death may have influenced it a bit. One of many films anxious to imitate Leone's 'Man With No Name Trilogy' but giving the lead an actual name, Myoshin Hayakawa is the title character, a Chinese drifter coming to the U.S. to find a better life. Unfortunately, he chooses Texas (Wow, how times do not always change) and finds tons of racism with a few killers trying to hunt him down. Klaus Kinski plays one of the killers!

Things just get worse for Joe at every turn until he cannot take it anymore. Though ambitious in trying to combine the two genres, they never totally meld like one might hope and some moments are sloppier than others. Also, many fo the fight scenes are just not that well shot or choreographed, but the supporting cast is not bad, including Sabata veteran Robert Hundar and Gordon Mitchell, so that makes this a curio worth a look, especially for fans of both genres. Just don't have your expectations up too high.

Extras include an Image Gallery, East Meets West: Italian Style visual essay by film historian Eric Zaldivar, Samurai Spirit: an interview with Master Katsutoshi Mikuriya, a feature length Audio Commentary track with film historian Mike Hauss and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

Last but not least is a film I was never a big fan of, Stanley Tong's Supercop 4K (1993/aka Police Story III) with Jackie Chan and Michele Yeoh. A big hit with fans that did well worldwide, I had this to say about it many years ago in tis DTS DVD set release...


The two things that have led me to liking the film just a little more is how Yeoh's performance comes across better than before and how much better this looks than I expected. More on the technical pluses here, but this is now just about the definitive version of the film.

Extras (per the press release) are impressive and include:

  • 6 X Replica Lobby Cards

  • A3 Poster featuring original Hong Kong Artwork

  • Limited Edition Rigid Slipcase

  • Perfect-bound, high quality book featuring new writing on the film

  • New and exclusive extras including new interviews with Director Stanley Tong, actor Noel Rands, Philip Chan & Assistant Director Johnny Lee.

  • and new and exclusive audio commentaries

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 Supercop 4K was shot on 35mm color negative photochemical film with Technovision anamorphic lenses and that comes across much better there than I expected, though the Apocalypse Now 4K release easily remains the best example of Technovision out there. This comes close with great color, detail and depth and though some might find it a tad brighter than it should be, this looks accurate to me and far eclipses the older DVD transfer from years ago. The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on the regular Blu-ray version also included also tops that DVD, but not nearly as well. This is also the best looking film with Chan on the market right now. Originally a theatrical monophonic film (some studios and filmmakers, esp. in other countries, were not happy with Dolby Stereo for whatever reasons) has been upgraded to lossless Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixdown for older systems) and various DTS-HD MA mixes (the Cantonese tracks are best, English dubs lame) yet are not as effective or work as well as I had hoped. I recall the regular, older DTS on the DVD version sounding better, if not like IMAX. Even if that older upgrade had aged a little since then, I still remember it sounding a bit better and more naturalistic than this.

That DTS sounded a little bit stereophonic, while all these mixes sound like they are bouncing around mono sound too much and the mono sounds oddly boxy and over-processed. Odd, but that is my one complaint if the set.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Convoy can show the age of the materials used, but this 2K transfer is not bad, even when the color can be a little off.

The same can be said for the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Shanghai, which was shot in the smaller-but-effective Techniscope format, then originally processed and issued in 35mm dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor prints, et al. Unfortunately, this does not look like Technicolor at all, but a more standard color (Eastman Kodak, Agfa, Gevaert, Fuji, 3M Ferrania, GAF/Ansco?) that has more fading issued than one would have liked. Sadly, this is the still the state of way too many smaller, lesser know and even orphan films, but companies like Cauldron, Severin and others are still getting these films out there after much hard work so they are not totally lost. Scope compositions are worthy of Leone (no matter what imitation is going on) and apparently, all U.S. prints were not dye-transfer, especially as the film arrived in 1976 when Technicolor was no longer making such prints for the U.S. market.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes. Italian and separate English dubs on both (each a theatrical monophonic release) have much post-production dialogue dubbing, so sonic expectations for both films were only so high to begin with. Much work has been done here too to save the sound and these are likely just about as good as either film will ever sound, save if a more well-preserved soundtrack is miraculously discovered in either case.

- Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com