Encounters Of The Spooky Kind: R2 Vs R0
 
Producer: Hong Kong Legends
Languages:
Cantonese 2.0, English 2.0
Subtitles
English, Dutch
Extras:
Commentary, Animated Biography, Theatrical Trailer, Sammo Hung Interview, Restoration Featurette, Additional Trailers
Menus:
Animated
W/S Subs:
Ratio
2.35:1 Anamorphic
Region
PAL 2 & 4

Producer: Mega Star
Languages:
Cantonese 5.1, Mandarin 5.1
Subtitles
English, Chinese (S & T), Japanese
Extras:
Theatrical Trailer, Sammo Hung Biography, Additional Trailers
Menus:
Static
W/S Subs:
Ratio
2.35:1 Non Anamorphic
Region
NTSC 0
 
MOVIE

In the run-up to Christmas Hong Kong Legends have seen fit to release one of my all time favourite Hong Kong films.
Reviewed here some 8 months ago, Mega Star's DVD was the must-own version of this Sammo Hung classic. However, with Hong Kong Legend's Region 2 disc making its way onto our shelves, will Mega Star still be at the top of your Chistmas wish-list?

READ THE FILM REVIEW HERE

PICTURE
HKL

Hmm...where to start? Well, wear actually. A prolific amount of print damage can be found on the Mega Star transfer, with almost continuous sparkles and marks appearing in every scene.
Although this is particularly distracting in the opening minutes, for the film's remainder these nicks and scratches aren't quite so prevalent.
In contrast, HKL's print is nigh-on spotless, thanks to a great deal of restoration, and as such looks incredibly impressive.

Moving onto the image's detail, HKL once again better the level of clarity shown by Mega Star's effort. Faces, clothing and scenery offer far more fine detail, producing a sharper image.
Colour reproduction and black levels are also better than than those exhibited on the Mega Star disc.

Whilst the film's finale features a slightly too dark image with somewhat murky blacks on the Region 0 disc, HKL's is crisp and quite beautiful to behold, allowing Sammo's directorial genius to take centre stage.
The only disappointing aspects of the Region 2 disc are the noticeable pixellation in the film's opening "nightmare sequence", and the dreadfully poor Layer-Change placement.

The term "comparison" is really quite unfair in respect to the two discs picture quality, as HKL's cleaner, sharper and more colourful presentation leaves Mega Star's release shivering in a corner.

SOUND
MS

Rather unusually, Mega Star's 5.1 re-mixed soundtrack is my preferred choice over HKL's stereo Cantonese soundtrack.
For some unknown reason, the Region 0's sound is less shrill, and doesn't feature the somewhat "raw" quality which is evident upon listening to the Region 2 disc.
Both discs feature the same degree of sound separation (i.e. virtually none), but HKL's effort lacks the bass evident on the M.S. soundtrack.

As a side note, HKL also include the original English dub on their disc, whereas M.S. favour the Mandarin track.

SUBTITLES
HKL

Although neither disc is perfect in its translation of the film's script, HKL at least avoid the dropping of numerous lines of dialogue as seen on the Mega Star disc.
Both feature simplified and mistranslated lines of dialogue, although the Region 0 is far more guilty of this.

My main gripes with the HKL subs are ones which continue to resurface on their releases, namely the insistence of replacing Chinese terms and sayings with Anglicised versions. "Git" and "bugger", words which I somehow doubt where the mainstay of the Chinese vocabulary in the early 1900's, make their way into the subtitles.

The other problem I have is with HKL's translation of Sammo's character, 'Courageous Cheung'. Instead of calling him by this name, they chose 'Bold Cheung'.
Whether HKL decided upon this renaming because they believed their consumers incapable of understanding what "Courageous" meant, or whether it was for some other (equally ridiculous) reason/excuse, I don't know.
What I do know is that in every version of the film I've seen, Cheung's nickname has always been "Courageous", with Bey Logan also backing this up in his Commentary.

MENUS
HKL

Unluckily for Mega Star, HKL showcase one of their best main menus to date. The animated mirror of the opening menu is suspiciously reminiscent of TFI's In The Mood For Love DVD, but is none the less impressive, as is each subsequent screen.
In contrast, Mega Star's dull, static menus are barely worth mentioning.

EXTRAS
HKL

In a straight comparison between the two disc's extras, the Region 2's superior number at first seem to have made this a non-contest.
However, the extras which adorn the disc are desperately average with even Bey Logans' commentary failing to spark a great deal of interest.
Although Bey once again lends his unique insider knowledge of Hong Kong actors to the commentary track, I have to admit to quickly tiring of his "funny" anecdotes which feature some of the most tenuous links to the film imaginable. Lam Ching-Ying is given some much welcomed coverage however, as are many other cast members, but the commentary was rather hard to sit through in one go.

The photo gallery features a few interesting on-the-set stills, but is padded with some horribly distorted screen captures.

Another of HKL's new-style biographies is included, with many clips from Sammo's back catalogue being shown. Confusingly, at times, the scenes bear no relevance to what is being covered by 'voice-over man'.

Finally, and most disappointing, is the interview with Sammo Hung. As I'm sure many fans (including myself) would have hoped, this interview was to cover his experiences on-set, difficulties, stories, and his impression of the actors, but no...instead, we're supplied with a cut and paste job by HKL, using the same interview found on many other HKL discs.
Absolutely no information is proffered regarding Encounters..., and I was left feeling extremely letdown.

Mega Star supply the same original English-language theatrical trailer as found on the HKL disc, along with a text-based Sammo Biography.

HKL Additional Trailers: • Big Boss • Way Of The Dragon • Game Of Death • Fist Of Fury • 2000ADMiraclesOnce Upon A Time In China 2

Mega Star Additional Trailers:
Eastern Condors The Prodigal Son Zu: Warriors From The Magic Mountain Lucky Stars Go Places

CUTS/CHANGES
DRAW

Both discs contain the uncut, Cantonese version of the film.

CONCLUSION
HKL

To be able to finally view, and own, one of Hong Kong cinemas undisputed classics on DVD was a luxury only available through Mega Star's Region 0 disc.
Now, a new company has stepped into the ring, manufacturing a disc which comprehensibly beats it into submission, producing an image quality of quite stunning proportions.
Although I refuse to say that Mega Star's disc is now worthless, it certainly is a long way behind HKL's, and as such means that Santa's presents will be made in the UK, rather than Hong Kong, this Christmas.

COMPANY
Hong Kong Legends
Mega Star
Winner
MOVIE
10/10
10/10
DRAW
PICTURE
10/10
7/10
HKL
SOUND
6/10
7/10
MS
SUBTITLES
8/10
6/10
HKL
EXTRAS
7/10
3/10
HKL
MENUS
10/10
2/10
HKL
PACKAGING
6/10
5/10
HKL
OVERALL
9/10
7/10
HKL