Red Wolf: Platinum Edition
HONG KONG LEGENDS
 
Starring:
Directed By:
Yuen Woo-Ping
Year:
1995
Run Time:
88 mins
Producer: Hong Kong Legends
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Languages:
CANTONESE 5.1, English 5.1
Subtitles:
English, Dutch
W/S Subtitles:
Yes
Ratio:
1.85:1 Anamorphic
Region:
PAL 2 & 4
Genre:
Modern Day Action - 18 (UK)
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MOVIE
3/10

Working as part of a security team aboard the 'Blue Whale' liner, Alan's life (Kenny Ho) is no pleasure cruise. As the New Year approaches, and memories of his dead wife replay through his mind, Alan uncovers a plot to steal the ship's valuable cargo.
Headed by Ngai Sing, the terrorists, posing as crew, hijack the ship and attempt to steal the Uranium stored in its safe.
Only one man is willing and capable of stopping the group, and so Alan moves to save the day.

If this (admittedly tongue-in-cheek) plot-synopsis sounds vaguely familiar, then that may be because it's rather similar to a film starring a certain Steven Seagal.
But don't worry, this film has little in common with the groundbreaking masterpiece (!?) that is 'Under Siege'. No, this film is full of C-grade actors, dull fight action and unfunny comedy....wait, that's EXACTLY like Under Siege!!

Unfortunately, HKL have decided to lavish their attention on a film that's dead in the water after the first couple of minutes.
Kenny Ho's attempts to pass himself off as a hard-as-nails fighting machine falls flat, as does Yuen Woo-Ping's attempt to make him into a Donnie Yen-style action star. Love him or loathe him, there is no denying that Yen can fight. His physical grace and dexterity have elevated many of Woo-Ping's films, but Kenny Ho's obvious lack of talent is plain to see.

Choreography-wise, the film is also underwhelming. Utilising the same over-cranked action which made certain scenes of Iron Monkey look ridiculous, Yuen Woo-Ping adds little imagination to the fight scenes - in either their direction or execution.
One scene in particular which exemplifies this, is the one in which Kenny Ho takes on a Western terrorist. It's choreographed, shot, edited and even scored almost identically to the action in Woo-Ping's earlier and far superior, 'Tiger Cage'.
Apart from the reasonably choreographed final sequence, the rest of the film lacks the imagination shown in his earlier, and later, work.

Added to this are some quite dreadful 'actors', and a dull script, and you're left wondering how this film sneaked into Hong Kong Legend's release schedule.
Wooden performances by everyone and repetitive action scenes leave me with little positive to say.
To be fair, Elaine Lui portrays her character with some gusto, Christy Chung does her best with a thankless role, and both woman are undeniably extremely easy on the eye.
But any film which has you rooting for the bad guys, yawning through the fights, and hoping that the annoying little girl DOES explode in the finale is not worth wasting your time on.

PICTURE
7/10

As expected, Hong Kong Legends have done their usual exemplary job of removing all signs of wear and sparkles from the print. Sadly, a large amount of grain can be seen for long periods of the film, which play havoc with the transfer's encoding.
The scenes in which Alan is trapped in the freezer and sets light to his jacket, is particularly jarring as artifacts dance merrily across the screen.

The print also suffers from the inconsistencies which dog many older Hong Kong films. This results in scenes alternating between crisp and highly detailed, to soft and dated.
Detail is pleasingly high throughout, and blacks stay deep for the most part, but the transfer's colour can occasionally look drab. This is particularly evident when you see the ship's buffet table covered in anaemic-looking food.

The transfer never remains one thing or the other - it's either extremely good, or extremely average, and certainly won't be a disc you'll use to impress your friends.

SOUND
7/10

Whilst HKL's 5.1 soundtrack is accomplished, with a fairly restrained remix allowing for some minimalistic surround effects, the actual film's sound is poor.
Aside from Kenny HO's (or the actor dubbing him) having a horribly nasal accent, a number of scenes also feature some plain weird sound effects which seem totally out of place.
Chinese dialogue is clear, but at times the English dialogue is indistinct to the point that I had difficulty understanding what had been said.

SUBTITLES
8/10

Although the odd complete mis-translation pops up, the subs are otherwise very good. Grammar and spelling, as you'd expect, are perfect, and the subs remain clear and readable throughout.

MENUS
9/10

Both discs feature very impressive menu screens.
Fully animated and scored, the menus are a pleasure to navigate, although they bear a sneaky resemblance to the ones found on their City Hunter DVD.

EXTRAS
10/10

Commentary
Joined by Christy Chung, this is possibly Bey Logan's most enjoyable commentary to date. Christy's bubbly personality and sense of humour mix perfectly with Bey's, to create an often laugh-out-loud experience.
Probably realising the film is awful, the pair quickly shift their attentions to discussing a plethora of subjects, from their views on which action director is the best cook, to the removal of the Twin-Towers in soon-to-be released films.
In fact, I enjoyed this so much that after suffering through the film, I listened to the commentary in one sitting.

Further Attractions
Ninja In The Dragons Den Mr. Vampire Police Story 2 Naked Killer Once Upon A Time In China 3
Police Assassins Hong Kong: 1941 Iron Monkey Game Of Death Beast Cops

The following are the extras found on disc two. They're split up into different areas in much the same way as TFI's In The Mood For Love DVD:


Honey Moon Suite

Love On Delivery (18 mins)
This specially commissioned interview with Christy Chung is a diverting feature, as she talks animatedly about her work in the Hong Kong film industry. Whilst many areas are covered, the interview remains nicely focused on her role in Red Wolf.

The Bare Facts
Christy Chung's extensive and fascinating biography is made even more appealing by the fact that it is entirely text-based and self-navigated. Although not providing a filmography as such, the material discusses her movie career to date.

The Ballroom

Lights, Camera, Action

Elaine Lui talks of her feelings about 'Red Wolf', her character, and fight choreography, in this interesting 16 minute feature.

Martial Law Uncovered (15 mins)

This interview with Elaine Lui centres a great deal on her experiences on the set of Martial Law. Bolstered by numerous behind-the-scenes segments from the TV series, Elaine's interview is both illuminating and good humoured.

Angel On Fire
A huge collection of photos featuring the beautiful Elaine Lui looking even more gorgeous than ever. This is certainly a welcome departure from the usual stills selection found on previous HKL discs, as the photos are more along the lines of promotional and glamour (no, not THAT sort of glamour!) shots.

Gymnasium

Red Wolf Revisited (19 mins)

Having played one of the Western terrorists onboard the liner, Bobby Samuels recounts many stories of his time on Red Wolf. An eloquent and laid-back interviewee, Samuels's interview makes for another quality extra.

Gentleman And Warrior
In a nice spin on their usual biographies, Hong Kong Legends invite Bobby Samuels to verbally retread the path that took him from the US, to Hong Kong, and back again.
Some incredible tales are retold, including his near-death experience at the hands of a Chinese culinary speciality - Scorpion - and also his relationship with Sammo Hung.
A superb addition to this already impressive canon of extras.

Candid Camera

A small selection of on-set photos from Red-Wolf.


Captain's Quarters

Steve Brettingham - When Opportunity Knocks (16 mins)
Playing (rather campily) the ship's captain, Steve Brettingham becomes the focus of this interview, as he speaks of his time working in Hong Kong, as well as his experiences on Red Wolf.
Coming across like a genuinely nice guy, Steve makes some interesting observations regarding the people he's worked with.
W hilst this is a neat little extra, it would have benefited from a longer running time.

Ngai Sing Stunt Workshop
Filmed inside a mirrored exercise room, using a camcorder, this stunt workshop is an entertaining addition.
Ngai Sing takes a group of young, and in my opinion rather untalented, trainee stuntmen through a number of different exercises. These range from somersault training, to a mini fight sequence.
Although the 37 minute running time initially drags, time flies by as you get sucked into the feature.

Upper Deck

Heromakers: Hong Kong Stuntmen In Their Own Words
In what must rank as one of the greatest extras produced for a Hong Kong DVD, this 1 hour and 10 minute glimpse into the lives of Hong Kong Stuntmen makes for stunning viewing.
Jude Poyer, Chin Kar-Lok, and Ridley Tsui are just a few of the many artists interviewed. Among the subjects covered are stunts that went wrong, views on Hong Kong film making, and the role of the Hong Kong Stuntmen Association.
This is quite simply the highlight of the disc, as unseen footage is interspersed with the incredible accounts of the often unsung heroes of Hong Kong cinema.

Yuen Woo-Ping - Genius On the Move (10 mins)
ARRGGHH!! A non-text, 'voice-over man' biography = sound muted after 30 seconds.
A word of warning to any new fans - don't watch this unless you've seen just about every Yuen Woo-Ping directed, HKL release. Large amounts of action is shown from those DVDs, and will spoil the experience for first-time viewers.

The Forecastle

Red Wolf UK Promo Trailer

In The Line Of Duty UK Promo Trailer
Red Wolf Original Theatrical Trailer

PACKAGING
8/10

A classily designed outer sleeve is accompanied by an equally pleasing DVD case.
One thing which did grate with me was the intimation on the back cover that the film features Battling Babes action. Apart from a brief and ridiculous bout between Christy Chung and Elaine Lui, the film is tightly focused on Kenny Ho.

CONCLUSION
5/10

As you can tell, the second disc of this Platinum Edition is brimming with superb extras which save this release from being a complete waste of space.
However, my job is first and foremost to review the film, and because of that I cannot recommend this DVD at all.
Perhaps if a rental is available it would be worth a few quid for the extras disc, but as it stands this Red Wolf needs to be cast out to sea...

MOVIE
3/10
PICTURE
7/10
SOUND
7/10
SUBTITLES
8/10
EXTRAS
10/10
MENUS
9/10
PACKAGING
8/10
OVERALL 5/10