The Killer: R2 Vs R0
 
Producer: Hong Kong Legends
Languages:
CANTONESE 5.1, English 5.1
Subtitles
English, Dutch
Extras:
Interviews with Sally Yeh, Kenneth Tsang and Peter Pau. UK Promo Trailer. Original Theatrical Trailer. 5 Deleted scenes.
Menus:
Animated
W/S Subs:
Ratio
1.80:1 Anamorphic
Region
PAL 2 & 4

Producer: Universe
Languages:
CANTONESE 5.1, Mandarin 5.1
Subtitles
Removable Chinese (S+T), English, Japanese, Indonesian, Malaysian, Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, French
Extras:
Star Files for Chow Yun-Fat, Danny Lee, and John Woo. Theatrical trailer.
Menus:
Static
W/S Subs:
Ratio
1.85:1 Non Anamorphic
Region
NTSC 0
 
MOVIE

With possibly their most high-profile release since their formation, HKL are out to impress with the release of The Killer.
A film which has already seen itself transferred onto DVD by a number of companies, with results ranging from poor to great, HKL finally have the chance to provide the ultimate presentation for the ultimate Heroic Bloodshed movie.

Going head-to-head with Universe's more than adequate release was never going to be easy, but who comes out on top?

READ THE FILM REVIEW HERE

PICTURE
HKL

Let's get the bad out of the way first:
Neither disc has a great print. Grain is abundant on both the R0 and R2, with it becoming extremely obvious in a number of scenes.
Also, due to some sloppy encoding, HKL's disc suffers from motion blur and trails towards the beginning of the film, although I noticed this less so as the film wore on.

The film's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio is supplied on Universe's release. However, due to Anamorphic enhancement and some possible cropping to reduce the signs of wear, the HKL disc is closer to 1.80:1.
Having said that, this is rarely obvious, with only a few scenes feeling cramped, and is only really noticeable when the two discs are compared back-to-back.
Other than that, everything else about the HKL transfer is far superior to Universe's.

An almost spotless and blemish-free print adds a cinematic quality to proceedings, as does the generally strong colour reproduction.
Detail is also superior throughout, although not always by a great margin.
One of the major plus points of the R2 disc is that it has far more consistent print quality. Universe's print can look great in one scene, then flat and lifeless the next.
Whilst neither discs transfer is perfect, HKL's is superior, and is quite possibly the best I've ever seen this masterpiece look.

Universe Hong Kong Legends

UniverseHong Kong Legends

SOUND
HKL

The NTSC 5.1 mix is rather unnatural-sounding, with dialogue getting lost at times in the music and effects thrown around the speakers. Whilst it's a far more immersive experience than HKL's, it's evident on extended listening how irritating some the re-mixing can be.
HKL's presentation has the surrounds utilised sparingly, with only fire and rain being heard on occasions, whilst everything else emanates from the centre. Dialogue is clear, although both discs suffer from some harsh-sounding moments, and sound-effects are crisp.

HKL come out on top again with a less exciting, but far less irritating mix.

SUBTITLES
HKL

At the time of reviewing the R0 disc, my Cantonese ear wasn't as well-tuned as it is now, and as such, I gave the subtitles a 9/10. On recent inspection it has become apparent that Universe's subs have been dumbed-down, and mistranslated in large segments.

Thankfully, aside from the chunky white font used, HKL's subs are near perfect. Songs, signs and dialogue are all translated, and written with almost no Westernisation.
Gone are the "Jeffs", "Sidneys" and "Tonys" of the Universe disc, and in are the Cantonese names - a brave and welcome decision by HKL, as is their correct translation of "Runt" and "Shrimp-Head" instead of the well-known (although incorrect) "Dumbo" and "Mickey Mouse".
An excellent job by HKL. Let's hope they continue to build on it.

MENUS
HKL

A wonderful opening screen, scored and designed beautifully, sets the standard for all of HKL's subsequent menus.
Static, dull menus by Universe do nothing other than make you want to get out of them as soon as possible.

EXTRAS
HKL

Apart from the disappointing absence of biographies or interviews for Chow Yun-Fat and John Woo, the HKL disc wipes the floor with Universe.

An excellent collection of reasonably short, although extremely interesting interviews with Sally Yeh, Peter Pau and Kenneth Tsang are provided alongside the UK Promo, and theatrical, trailers.
Added on to this is another fascinating Bey Logan commentary, although his comments are not always scene-specific.

Possibly the most coveted extras on the disc are those containing the scenes found on the Taiwanese print.
I made this my first port of call upon receiving the disc, and to be honest was disappointed.
None of the scenes warrant a place in the film, and all but one of the five sequences are more than a minute in length.
A rather silly aspect of this section is that with each scene comes lead-in text containing the "old" translations of the character's names - Jeff etc.
Additional trailers are also provided for Project A Part 2, Red Wolf, The Young Master, Story Of Ricky, Avenging Fist, My Lucky Stars.

Universe provide the theatrical trailer and Star files for John Woo, Chow Yun-Fat and Danny Lee.

PACKAGING
HKL

An ingenious move by HKL sees the sleeve contain a different design on each side.
Personally, I prefer the red and white composition, over the Prodigal Son-esque reverse, although it's all a matter of personal opinion.
Universe's sleeve doesn't have quite the same impact, but it's still very nice.

CONCLUSION
HKL

Universe's disc, whilst still good, is now most defintiely the poor relation, as HKL pull out all the stops to provide an excellent presentation for a superb film.
A few foibles remain regarding the picture, but this gem of Hong Kong cinema has rarely sparkled so brightly.

COMPANY
Hong Kong Legends
Universe
Winner
MOVIE
10/10
10/10
DRAW
PICTURE
9/10
7/10
HKL
SOUND
8/10
6/10
HKL
SUBTITLES
10/10
7/10
HKL
EXTRAS
8/10
3/10
HKL
MENUS
10/10
5/10
HKL
PACKAGING
8/10
7/10
HKL
OVERALL
9/10
7/10
HKL