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MonDVDay News Update

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In the player: The Big Boss (The Chinese Connection) - HKL version!


On the box: Airport




Well, my VCDs arrived last week and I finally got a chance (read: got enough sleep to be able) to test them out. Only problem: my new DVD player won’t play CD-Rs.








No problem, I think to myself I’ll just whack them in my laptop and play them on my DVD-ROM software. Only problem: my DVD-ROM won’t read CD-Rs.








So, I figure, it must be my DVD software. I know Mediameatics' DVD Express isn’t the best thing available, but to be honest, I like it better than most of the other software (and it’s certainly better than InterActual, PC Friendly and all that other crap), plus it plays all my porn V-CDs (which are also CD-Rs, but whatever). So anyway, I hear good things about PowerDVD, so I check that out.




WHAT? a piece of crap.




It barely plays DVDs, let alone VCDs. It’s sluggish, crap, the interface is awful, and it conflicts with just about everything. And while it plays VCDs (albeit in a stop-start, barely watchable manner), it just laughed its merry tits off and fatal errored me when I tried SVCDs. Bastard thing. So I boot up the aforementioned crap, InterActual and PC Friendly, quite prepared to eat my words if either of them will at least make an attempt to play SVCDs. On the contrary, both lock up my machine and rearrange all the icons on my desktop (since I’m also a Mac user, my desktop setup is pretty important to me). Much swearing ensues.




Having regained my calm and glued together a number of vases, I spend a couple hours surfing the net, looking for anything vaguely resembling a player capable of playing SVCDs and VCD-Rs. And after a little searching, I come across STHSVCD a player from some VERY dodgy software company in Hong Kong. All the help and install screens are written in broken English. It’s great it’s like all the kung-fu movie voiceover people have got together to redub a piece of software. Anyway, this thing’ll play ANYTHING. Well, almost. I’m absolutely positive I read that it plays DVD, but it actually allows you to play streams of DVB Direct Video Broadcast. Hmm. But anyway, it plays VCD and SVCD (bought or “borrowed”), MP3, mini-CD it even plays those horrific bootleg discs that Windows doesn’t recognise and refuses to even believe is sitting in the drive. A very cool piece of software. Cooler still, it comes in a self-extracting .exe file that fits on a single floppy. I love technology, me.




So, the long and short of it is that I’ve been enjoying the VCD wonders of the entire series of Jackass and all the CKYs, as well as SVCD goodies like Star Wars. Of course, I was hoping that I’d be able to hook my laptop up to my TV to play them on the big screen, but now I’ve found that my new TV doesn’t support S-Video.
















Um, not much. I mean, aside from Amelie, there really isn’t much new or good worth picking up. It’s the usual “miss” week in the recent hit and miss balance of releases. Still, with Blade 2, Mario Sunshine, Queen of The Damned (yeah, fuck you too), Spidey and Star Wars on the way, I guess I’d rather have the cash waiting for action in my bank.




Anyway, the rather wonderful and unjustly Oscar-snubbed (although no-one still believes they’re actually worth anything (except anyone that wins one)) Amelie streets this week. I dunno, if you’ve already decided you’re not interested, there’s not a lot I can say that’ll change you’re mind. But at least give it a rental before condemning it as just “more weird subtitled foreign crap” it’s a brilliant film and two absolutely loaded discs. Along the same lines, Akira Kurosawa’s Red Beard gets a Criterion Collection release, but if you’re not even going to give Amelie a chance, I’m just wasting fingerprints telling you about this.




Denzel Washington clusterfuck John Q gets the Infinifilm treatment this week. I thought the movie was a pile of toss, but Infinifilm discs are usually erection-inducing pieces of DVD wizardry, so if you’re gagging to buy a movie and you’re so PREJUDICED that you won’t give Amelie a chance, well, fuck you.




Then there’s the re-release of Battlefield Earth. Excuse me a moment:
















Ahem. Actually, this is one of those discs that’s actually quite endearing in its own way. It’s quite packed with special features, and certainly if the commentaries any indication, it’s really both heartening and sad to listen to the absolute conviction of everyone involved into making this production as good as it could be. Yeah, I know, that’s just what I was thinking.





Phat azz J-Ho’s disturbing-fest The Cell is also re-released this week, as is Mel Gibson vehicle Conspiracy Theory and the rather nice (albeit double- and triple-dip inducing) The Exorcist The Version You’ve Never Seen which offers a couple of extras more than the other versions, as well as a couple less to make you buy them too. Still, one for completists, I guess.




Actually, there is one bright spot in this week’s lineup: Kids In The Hall's Brain Candy. I guess you’ve really got to be a Kids In The Hall (or at least a Dave Foley) fan to get the most out of this disc, being as it’s TOTALLY bare bones (albeit, anamorphic), but since there are so many NewsRadio fans out there (especially on our boards), I’m guessing most people reading will be picking this up.




Proof Of Life, Sphere, Space Cowboys and Soldier also get the re-release treatment, but to be honest, Romeo Must Die is the one to get if you don’t already have it in your collection. Pretty neat disc, cool flick, and Jet Li what more can you want? WWE InsurreXtion 2002 is out, and although it’s a decent enough event, it’s not really worth the purchase, to be honest. Something that sounds far more fun is Head Hunter, starring none other than everyone’s favourite B-movie star, TROY McCLURE! Oh wait, it’s Troy McGatlin. Aw shit.




Daddy of The Week: I couldn’t make this up if I wanted to. For sheer entertainment, this DVD looks head and shoulders above the rest of this week’s lineup. Here’s the Amazon reader review for I Spit On Your Corpse, I Piss On Your Grave:




"I expected to see a shocking movie, full of blood, and gore. What I pulled out of my mailbox today was a nothing more than, a dvd of a few friends getting together for three days and making a "movie". There was no quality in this thing. The sequences were drawn out, and often using the same shots over and over again. The editing was terrible, monkey cam, no continuity, the audio just sucked, not to mention the acting.


To top it off, they have the directors commentary in the special features. It's with the director and the female star of the movie. They chat as if this movie was a serious project. All this amounts to is a porn with gore, content and quality. I should have given it two stars, because I guess it would get cool points at a party, so everyone could laugh at it."




Man, that sounds fucking awesome.












Well, kinda.




They won’t tell you what it is, or why it’s there (I don’t think), but if you’re a UK consumer with “rotten” MGM DVDs, call 0800 3898 384, while non-UK consumers can contact their local MGM offices where they will be offered a similar free replacement (albeit in that specific country’s edition, so if you took a UK copy of The Terminator to the Italian office, they’d replace it with the Italian version).




Gee, this all sounds great, doesn’t it? MGM have really stood up and accepted their responsibility to the consumer, and are doing all they can to remedy the situation, right?








Apparently, when you ring said number, you are given a Freepost address to return your faulty discs at no expense. The problem? It’s a one-line adress, “FREEPOST DVD RETURN”. No postcode, no nothing. Which, apart from feeling a bit dodgy, might be a problem, as some post offices won’t issue a certificate of postage without at least a postcode, so if something happens to your package, you have no recourse.




There have also been reports from European consumers that the offer, made by MGM UK and extended to other Region 2 territories by way of “local MGM offices”, is not being honoured in their country. In most instances, this appears to be where MGM itself does not have an office, but uses an independent distributor in a certain country, and the distributor won’t offer replacement discs because the offer wasn’t made by them. More confusion, but since I’m guessing there aren’t a great deal of non-British Region 2ers reading this, well, fuck ‘em.




Click here to read last week’s story about DVD rot.


Props as always to The DVD Times.












Some good news on the TV product front.




Comedy Central have officially confirmed that the three-disc South Park: The Complete First Season box set is set to street on November 12th. Episode introductions and episode commentary/ies by Matt Stone and Trey Parker are expected in addition to further extras TBA. Of course, South Park has been available in Season sets in Region 2 for ages now, but being as I really can’t stand the show, I have no idea what the special features are like on those discs. In any case, a similar R2 release is very unlikely.





Word is that HBO’s awesome Band of Brothers will finally get the DVD treatment on November 19th. No word on special features, but I seem to remember a Tom Hanks soundbite from a while back where he bragged about the set being jam-packed full of features, so there you go if you believe ol’ Forrest Gump, that is.




Hot on the heels of the announcement that Fox is bringing the first season of 24 to DVD, rumours are that some of the companies other properties are also due for the digital treatment. No dates or features at this point, but both NYPD Blue and Malcolm in The Middle are said to be due for complete season box sets in the not-too-distant future. Bearing in mind these will be Fox boxsets, brace yourself for some very nice special features. And barce yourself to be completely dicked on price, too.




Thanks to TheDigitalBits.












Just a quickie on the upcoming Resident Evil DVD… and why you SHOULD NOT buy it. While it was previously known that a second, even specialer, two-disc edition of the film would be on the way later in the year, the abundance of features on the July 30th release will no doubt have convinced many to buy the first set and perhaps even haven forbid double dip.




Well, if that applies to you, this might be of interest. In a recent interview with Empire magazine, director Paul Anderson chimed in with details on the Special Special Edition: "There was a different ending to start with, so that’ll be on the disc. There’ll be a lot of additional commentary, a lot of documentary stuff on the visual effects. We did a special feature where I got together with Marilyn Manson and we talk about scoring the movie, which is an additional shoot that we did, so there’ll be a tonne of stuff. In America they’re doing two versions, the first version is the regular movie with director’s commentary and trailers and stuff like that but then later in the year there’s going to be a special, special edition with… well there’s so much stuff it’ll be on two DVDs."




To be honest, people who knowingly and willingly double dip (purchase an intentionally feature-lean disc when they are aware of an upcoming edition that will better it, thus necessitating a second purchase) are only encouraging studios to pull this old trick more and more in order to get more money out of us. When they start pulling it with big releases like Ali, you know it’s getting serious.




I’ve had some dialogue with people saying “fair enough if someone wants to buy a disc with no features instead of waiting a couple of months, tough shit; I’ll just wait for the better one.” That’s all well and good, but then we end up with situations like the RoboCop and Predator DVDs, where consumers are so willing to buy lean editions of films that Special Editions never see the light of day. Worse still, if companies were to release a film on a bare DVD with the intention of double-dipping and adding more features to a future release, what if that first disc bombs? They will decide that there is no money to be made by releasing the disc again, and supplemental features may never be released.




So for God’s sake, let’s stop them now before it gets stupid cancel your pre-order for RE and wait until the holidays (or the R2 release) for the good version. And if you really can’t wait, go download it from Kazaa or something.












Some interesting, and some very depressing, news on kung-fu movies on DVD.




Since this is a good news/bad news deal, and since I’m such a fucking nice guy, I’ll let you choose which you want to hear first:




Good News


Bad News







Hey, doesn’t everybody always want to hear the bad news first? Well, the bloody bastard Mouse House-dwelling Buena Vista scumbags are releasing the utterly butchered, R-rated cuts of John Woo’s masterpieces The Killer and Hard Boiled on September 3rd. Two things you must do:




1) Go here and sign the petition to get something done about this.




2) Do NOT buy either of these discs! Both the Criterion and Winstar releases of these films are the unrated director’s cuts, so at the very least track down one of those. But those of you who are really into HK action should wait until October when the Gods at Hong Kong Legends will release the ULTIMATE version of The Killer, remastered with docs, commentary, scenes, interviews and more. Don’t settle for this (literally) Mickey Mouse bullshit Disney bought the rights to these films, and are fully aware of the consumer consequences and backlash they face for what they are doing. If we don’t buy the discs and start costing them money, they’ll either stop cutting the films and start doing things properly, or give up on the idea completely and let the license go to someone who has a clue. The power of purchase, people, is power indeed.









Ah, the good news. Well, amongst Hong Kong Legends’ tasty-looking August-September lineup (which includes very nice looking versions of The Avenging Fist and My Lucky Stars), there’s an absolute gem to be found. On September 9th, the An Introduction To Hong Kong Legends sampler disc is released. What’s so great about that, you ask? Well, firstly, it contains the slick Jet Li film The Hitman in its restored, remastered, and very anamorphic entirety. It also contains a trailer archive featuring Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li and all the other HK stars, as well as a Hong Kong Legends featurette exploring the label and the restoration of classix HK action films, as well as a menu gallery including some of HKL’s blowaway DVD front-end material.





In all, the disc runs over 140 minutes. And the very best thing? IT ONLY COSTS £3.99. That’s about US$6.20. SIX DOLLARS! For a whole (and really good) Jet Li film and all that other goodness? That’s the best damn value I’ve ever seen.




Thanks to The Times crew.













Turns out that the DVD insert for Star Wars Episode II that was floating around the net last week was legit. The folks at the Ranch knocked on the door of the Latino Review (that originally posted the insert) and asked them to remove it, essentially confirming its legitimacy. So, barring some superficial changes to save a little company face, both the artwork and the information should be pretty much on point.





Of course, finding that picture if you didn’t already download it might be a little difficult now (I’d post the original Latino Review link but seriously, what would be the point?), so here are the specs that were listed:




- 2-discs


- Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1)


- Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and 2.0


- THX-certified with Optimizer


- Feature-length audio commentary (with writer/director George Lucas, producer Rick McCallum, sound designer Ben Burtt, animation director Rob Coleman and effects supervisors Pablo Helman, John Knoll and Ben Snow)


- 8 deleted scenes with introduction by George Lucas, Rick McCallum and Ben Burtt


- From Puppets to Pixels: Digital Characters in Episode II documentary


- State of the Art: The Previsualization of Episode II documentary


- Films Are Not Released: They Escape sound documentary


- Three featurettes (storyline, action scenes and love story)


- Star Wars.com 12-part webumentary


- Across the Stars music video


- R2-D2: Beneath the Dome mocumentary trailer


- Visual Effects Breakdown montage


- 3 theatrical trailers, launch trailer, 12 TV spots


- Poster art and print campaign gallery


- Production photo gallery


- DVD-ROM weblinks to special DVD-only website


- Scene selection (50 chapters)




Geez, my VCD doesn't have that many features. Although it does this cool thing in the cafeteria scene where the sound bottoms out and can't hear a fucking word that's being said for about two minutes.








Yikes, that’s far too much work for one week I’m getting the hell out of here. We have unseasonally wonderful weather and I’ve got a shitload of better thing to be doing with it than sitting in front of a computer.




Take care folks, and don’t forget:













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