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Category:    Home > Reviews > Martial Arts Cycle > Action > Japan > Heroic Duo (Asian Action)

Heroic Duo


Picture: C†††† Sound: B†††† Extras: C+†††† Film: B-



There is a certain reason why more American audiences are beginning to enjoy more films coming from the Asian market.While this may have become more of a trend, there is no doubt that Asian cinema has been ahead of the U.S. market and remains so.What is unfortunate is that the U.S. blockbuster mentality is still in tact to such a degree that it becomes impossible for talented directors to get ambitious or artsy films made.In the action genre, such as Heroic Duo, an American viewer can appreciate the drama with a mix of action in a stylish way that we seldom get here, with the exception of a Michael Mann or Martin Scorsese film every now and again.We are sometimes treated to a film like Memento directed by Christopher Nolan and Paul Andersonís films like Magnolia or Boogie Nights.How often do we get a thriller though like David Fincherís Seven of Jonathan Demmeís The Silence of the Lambs?Not often enough say I.


Heroic Duo has a lot going for it, and the only real drag is that it does not finish nearly as strong as it starts.First we have Ekin Cheng playing a tough cop who is one of the best, but even at that he isnít able to solve a case that involves another reputable cop and the funny thing is that the cop does not even remember committing the crime.So he pairs up with Leon Laiís character Jack Lai, who is imprisoned, but was once a psychologist who had a knack for getting people to do what he wanted them to.Their hot trail despite the unlikely partnership ends up with a hunt to find a master hypnotist set on revenge.


While the story contains some minor traces of things we have seen before on screen, there is no doubt that its execution is very tasteful and is a nice change from the typical action flick we are so used to seeing here in the states.Director Benny Chan knows how to make the formula work here in this thriller as he has worked before on similar projects and even with Jackie Chan on other martial arts related films.The front cover makes you instantly think of the constantly copied John Woo film Hard Boiled or The Killer, which even after 15 plus years still holds up for its originality and style.


Released from Tartan as part of their Asia Extreme catalog itís awesome to see a company like Tartan emerge with the goods here.The company is starting to build up a very reputable catalog as they cover a lot of the Foreign market and the even better news is that they are committed to excellence as they are now choosing to do DTS for almost every single release!What major company is sticking with those standards?None.In other regions Tartan has become a solid name for DVDís and this Region 1 disc seems to fit their profile.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 transfer is the biggest problem with the disc.It has a constant combing effect that appears on the edges and is very noticeable on a tube TV, however I was able to use a deinterlacing mode with my Cinema Display, which helped the problem.This is most likely going to play back better if you have progressive scan with your TV, but my speculation is that viewing this on a High Definition system is not going to look that great.The colors are very soft and contrast is a big problem.Notice how detail is quickly loss in the background and this should not be the case at all, especially for a newer film.The transfer here makes the film look like it was shot in 16mm then blown up for 35mm, but that was not the way it was shot, so it has to be the transfer.


On a positive note Tartan has kept with their new standards and included both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 mixes for your choosing pleasure.Of course the biggest pleasure is hearing how much the DTS blows the Dolby out of the water yet again.While this may not be as engaging as expected, it does have a relatively nice balanced mix with the right amount of directional effects, musical cues, and other nuances trickling through the surrounds to make you feel engulfed.


Also included is a ďmaking ofĒ for the film (about 13 min.) as well as an interview with the filmmaker and fight choreographer.These are not extensive, but worth a peek.There is also a photo gallery and information on other Tartan Asia Extreme titles.There is no doubt that this is by far a perfect release, especially with the major problems with the transfer, but all in all its worth a view, even if not worth the purchase.Hopefully Tartan will recognize the problems with the transfer and figure out the source of it.Whether they received a poor print to do for this DVD or whether they were not using the right equipment to institute this to DVD for the best performance.The DTS mix makes this more tolerable though and the extras make a nice bonus, but really if you are that much of a fan you may want to either wait for a better disc for picture and/or seek out a version available outside the U.S. in another region if you can play multi-region discs.The choice is yours.



-†† Nate Goss


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