Expect The Unexpected
UNIVERSE
 
Starring:
Directed By:
Patrick Yau
Year:
1998
Run Time:
87mins
Producer: Universe
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Languages:
CANTONESE 5.1, Mandarin 5.1
Subtitles:
Removable Chinese (S+T), English
W/S Subtitles:
No
Ratio:
2.35:1 Non Anamorphic
Region:
NTSC 0
Genre:
Drama / Action - IIB
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MOVIE
6/10

Patrick Yau's much lauded production, Expect The Unexpected, was said to be one of the best films of 98, and a sign of the changing times of Hong Kong Cinema.
Anticipating a film which would further confirm my belief that the H.K. film industry is on its way up, I ordered Universe's DVD release.

Expect The Unexpected follows a group of officers from the Organised Crime Bureau as they attempt to track-down a ruthless gang of Mainland Chinese robbers.
Having already held-up a local jewellery store, resulting in a bloody street shoot-out, the OCB agents become increasingly worried about the extremes the criminals will go to in order to carry out their next robbery.
Running out of time, and clues, the OCB unit must find the remaining members of the gang before its too late...

From the excellent opening scenes, which not only clearly define the cops, but also the robbers, all the signs were good that this would live up to its reputation.
The talented pool of actors, some established, others fairly new, create the thoroughly believable world which they inhabit, and as each plot device successfully unfolded I found myself drawn deeper into their lives.
Unfortunately, my praise ends here...
Having expertly created a feeling of tension, and concern for his characters, Patrick Yau ruins the film within the last 10 minutes, with an ending so unbelievable and dissatisfying, it's hard to believe it belongs to the same film.

PICTURE
8/10

A very good transfer, guilty of only occasional softnessand smearing, is presented on this Universe disc.
Very minor artifacting and print marks are visible in a handful of scenes, but overall this is an appealing transfer.
The colour definition and detail levels combine to create a solid and crisp picture which is generally a pleasure to watch.

SOUND
7/10

Shot in Dolby Surround and remixed to 5.1 Digital, the audio quality is very good.
There are a number of scenes when the surrounds are used very effectively, but the the dialogue can sound muffled at times.

SUBTITLES
8/10

Very clear subtitles which for the most part are free from grammatical and syntax errors. However, the subs occasionally get a bit sloppy, with basic errors such as "Yes, I'm." given as an answer, instead of "Yes, I am."

MENUS
8/10

A rather cluttered menu greets you upon loading the disc. Although it's easily navigated, Universe could have cleared things up by having a separate "extra features" menu, instead of dumping all the options on the one screen.
Thankfully, the untidy design is limited to the opening menu, with the subsequent screens appearing much clearer, with better layouts.

EXTRAS
6/10

A surprising number of "real" extras accompany the standard features (chapter stops, biographies, theatrical trailer) found on the disc.
A pretty dull, silent, N.G. footage roll is probably the weakest of the extras, with little shown that is of any interest.
However, there's an interview gallery featuring Yo Yo Mong, Johnnie To, Ruby Wong and Raymond Wong, as well as a 5 minute feature about the Hong Kong film premiere.
Irritatingly, these interesting extras are made redundant to non-Cantonese speaking viewers, as Universe failed to subtitle them.
To make matters worse, the interview gallery includes the English translation of the Chinese questions that can be asked of the actors, leading you to believe that subtitles would be present.

Note:
Thanks to the help of Luis Canau (again), a full transcription of the "missing" subtitles are available here.

CONCLUSION
6/10

A great transfer and a very good selection of extras are unfortunately undermined by the most important aspect of the disc - the film.
My criticism may sound harsh, but my liking of the film, and my subsequent dissatisfaction with the ending, leaves me hesitant to recommend this disc.
If you particularly like one of the cast, or want to own an excellent HK DVD, then pick it up. However, don't just expect the unexpected, be prepared to expect the disappointment...

MOVIE 6/10
PICTURE
8/10
SOUND
7/10
SUBTITLES
8/10
EXTRAS
6/10
MENUS
8/10
PACKAGING
8/10
OVERALL 6/10