Armour Of God: R2 Vs R0
 
Producer: Hong Kong Legends
Languages:
Cantonese 5.1, English 5.1
Subtitles
English, Dutch
Extras:
Theatrical Trailer, Interview Gallery, Biography Showcase, UK Promo Trailer, Further Attractions (Trailers)
Menus:
Animated
W/S Subs:
Ratio
1.85:1 Anamorphic
Region
PAL 2

Producer: Mega Star
Languages:
Cantonese 5.1, Mandarin 5.1
Subtitles
English, Chinese (S & T)
Extras:
Theatrical Trailer, More Attractions (Trailers)
Menus:
Static
W/S Subs:
Ratio
1.85:1 Non Anamorphic
Region
NTSC 0
 
MOVIE

As the first in a series of comparison reviews, I'll be looking at the good and bad points of the Region 2 (Hong Kong Legends) and Region 0 (Mega Star) releases of Armour Of God.
As I've already reviewed the film its self here, I won't bother reiterating my opinions and will focus on the technical aspects of each disc.

READ THE FILM REVIEW HERE

PICTURE
HKL

Upon first viewing the R2 disc, there seems little to differentiate it from its R0 relation. This is mainly due to the fact that both prints contain wear (namely sparkles) and an at times inconsistent image.
However, on closer inspection the differences soon become clear. For a start, HKL have obviously done their best to clean up the print, and remove many of the more noticeable sparkles and marks.

Watching the R2 disc from start to finish also reveals a far more consistent image. When I mean "consistent" I'm referring to the "age" the print shows from scene to scene.
This is still a problem , with a number shots looking considerably softer and appearing fairly drab colour-wise, but with the HKL disc there is less of a gulf between the "new" and "old"-looking images.

Throughout, colours and detail are far more refined than the R0 disc, which although having a far from soft picture, was still lacking slightly in terms of sharpness.
Black levels are deeper, containing more detail, and also show less pixellation than the Mega Star release. This results in the final cave scenes looking far crisper.
The only slight downside to the R2 disc is that it contains some quite obvious artifacting in a number of scenes. This is less apparent than on the R0 disc, but not by as bigger margin as I would have expected.

SOUND
MS

Having really enjoyed Mega Star's 5.1 remix, the HKL 5.1 track came as something of a disappointment.
Little, if any surround effects are used, with almost all sound emanating from the centre channel.
The R0 disc contains a much more active soundtrack, and many more directional effects, and whilst there's nothing wrong with the R2 soundtrack, I still prefer Mega Star's.
The worst aspect of the entire HKL disc is the fact that it defaults to the newly created (and utterly dreadful) English Dub.

Although not a patch on the Cantonese track, the original English dub was quite fun, and also featured Jackie singing an English song over the end titles.
In their defence, I could argue that HKL were unable to use the original dub because it was created for the International version of the film, and therefore wouldn't have fitted this Asian cut.
Even so, the English dub's still rubbish...

SUBTITLES
HKL

The Mega Star subtitles were far from bad as they were, but the HKL ones are still superior.
Although they're almost identical in their translation, the sub's on the R2 disc have been cleaned up, and now contain no grammar or spelling errors.
Also, the R2 disc places more lines on screen at one time, which makes for more comfortable reading.
However, HKL's disc features one completely mis-translated line of dialogue.

MENUS
HKL

A well composed main menu, featuring a montage of clips, greets you upon loading the disc, and is far more impressive than the R0's static menus.
Having said that, I really dislike discs which show clips of the action scenes before you've even seen the movie. It's the equivalent to watching a film's trailer before the movie itself, and reveals far too many action set-pieces and stunts to the first-time viewer.
Both discs are easy to navigate, although the slimmer button design of the R2 makes for an "easier-on-the-eye" experience.

EXTRAS
HKL

R0 = Theatrical Trailer, 3 Star Files (Chan, Tam and Kwan), and 3 Trailers for Project A 1+2 and Miracles.

R2 = Theatrical Trailer, Picture Gallery (33 stills), 2 very short interviews (one with Jackie and one with Willie Chan), Biography Showcase, HKL's own Armour Of God trailer, and trailer and info. for Hitman, Black Sheep Affair, Once Upon A Time In China, Drunken Master, Drive, Legend Of A Fighter, Dragon Inn, Big Boss and Island Of Fire.

Looking at the two listings above and you'd think that the R2 wins hands-down....However, there are a few aspects of the disc which make it drop points.
First off, the Biography Showcase features only Jackie, and whilst it's immense in terms of the depth of its coverage, it's also teeth-grindingly irritating. The entire thing is narrated by an American guy who sounds utterly uninterested with the script he's been handed.
Also, because the text scrolls of its own accord, trying to turn off the sound and just read the biography is made impossible because of the slow speed at which it crawls up the screen.

Whilst the interviews with Jackie and Willie only last about 4 minutes, they're both very interesting, and give a greater perspective certain incidents which occurred during filming.

The Picture Gallery is very poorly designed, with a fiddly method of viewing each image. There are so many simpler ways to move from one picture to another, and I hope that future disc rectify this aspect.

CUTS / CHANGES
DRAW

With both discs containing the longer, Asian version of the film, and with the BBFC's shears tucked in their back pockets, there are no worries of any missing scenes etc.

CONCLUSION
HKL

Undoubtedly, the R2 disc is the winner - superior extras, menus, subtitles and most importantly picture quality make it the outright victor.
Mega Star produced a disc which at the time was very good, but when compared to the extra work HKL have put into restoring the print, just looks a fairly distant second.
Having provided the necessary spit and polish, HKL have made this Armour shine brighter than ever...

COMPANY
Hong Kong Legends
Mega Star
Winner
MOVIE
9/10
9/10
DRAW
PICTURE
8/10
7/10
HKL
SOUND
6/10
7/10
MS
SUBTITLES
9/10
7/10
HKL
EXTRAS
6/10
4/10
HKL
MENUS
7/10
5/10
HKL
PACKAGING
8/10
6/10
HKL
OVERALL
8/10
7/10
HKL