All About Ah Long
UNIVERSE
 
Starring:
Directed By:
Johnnie To
Year:
1989
Run Time:
99mins
Producer: Universe
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Languages:
CANTONESE 5.1, Mandarin 5.1
Subtitles:
Removable Chinese (S+T), English, Japanese, Indonesian, Malaysian, Thai, Korean, Vietnamese.
W/S Subtitles:
Yes
Ratio:
1.85:1 Non Anamorphic
Region:
NTSC 0
Genre:
Drama - I
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MOVIE
10/10

Sporting an 80's rocker haircut and a passion for motorbikes, Chow Yun-Fat delivers a stunning performance as Ah Long, a single parent struggling to bring up his son Porky, in this Johnnie To directed drama.
Ah Longs simple, but happy, life is turned upside-down when Porky unwittingly meets his supposedly dead mother whilst auditioning for a TV commercial - an chance encounter that triggers memories both good and bad for Ah Long.

An A-list cast, featuring such talent as Chow Yun-Fat, Sylvia Chang and Ng Man-Tat, all give wonderful performances, but none more so than Huang Kun-Husen. His portrayal of Porky, a boy torn between his mother and father, is nothing less than exceptional.
Having witnessed the teeth-grindingly awful child "actors" in films such as Mr.Vampire 2, it was refreshing to see such a mature, and touching, performance from this relatively unknown young actor.

PICTURE
7/10

Being neither brilliant nor poor, the picture quality seems to hover between being sharp and soft for much of the films duration - which is a shame as the colour reproduction is excellent.
Major scratches and sparkles are rare, and I noticed no signs of artifacting throughout.
Being totally honest, I was disappointed with the overall picture quality - not because of its level of detail, but because of its inconsistency.

SOUND
7/10

A perfectly acceptable 5.1 mix, which uses the left and right speakers to deliver the score, whilst the centre speaker handles the dialogue and sound effects. Some distortion is present, and can grate at times.

As with many Johnnie To productions, the soundtrack is of a particularly high standard, and plays an integral part of the plot. Thankfully the music is re-mixed very well, and adds an extra level of depth to the scenes in which it occurs - especially during the films conclusion.

SUBTITLES
4/10

Below average by any ones standard, the subs contain numerous grammatical errors, and anyone new to Hong Kong-style subtitles, and the liberties often taken in their translation, will find them almost incomprehensible.
I was surprised at the lack of care taken in the subbing process, as most DVD's starring Chow Yun-Fat tend to get special treatment - maybe Universe thought this release would only appeal to a minority audience?
However, all of the songs are subtitled, which is to be commended.

MENUS
6/10

A rather nice menu design welcomes you once the disc is loaded, featuring a picture of Chow and a selection of the usual options - Subtitles, Language etc. It's nothing mind-blowing, but it's a lot better than some of the older Universe releases.

EXTRAS
3/10

8 animated chapter-stops with sound, a trailer-cum-featurette which is unsubtitled, and Star Files for Chow Yun-Fat, Sylvia Chang and Johnnie To.
I was very disappointed that Ng Man-Tat and Huang Kun-Husen got no mention in the Star Files - especially considering the latters major role in the film.

PACKAGING
9/10

The DVD has a very nice front cover, bright and well laid-out, and whilst the synopsis on the back is rather blunt, the overall quality of the sleeve design is high.

CONCLUSION
7/10

Moving, funny, and somewhat depressing, this quite exceptional tale provides Chow with one of his best roles to date.
Unfortunately, the level of appreciation for the film doesn't translate to the disc.
As with Bullet In The Head, the DVD left a lot to be desired, and although not dreadful, it should, and could, have been so much better.

The real problem in summing up this DVD is trying to decide who to recommend it to...
If you're a DVD connoisseur then leave it well alone - it's just not good enough.
If you're new to HK Cinema, purchase it at a later date, when you're more familiar with HK subtitling.
For everyone else, it'll make a good addition to your movie collection.

MOVIE 10/10
PICTURE
7/10
SOUND
7/10
SUBTITLES
4/10
EXTRAS
3/10
MENUS
6/10
PACKAGING
9/10
OVERALL 7/10