Spooky Encounters
MEGA STAR
 
Starring:
Directed By:
Sammo Hung
Year:
1980
Run Time:
89mins
Producer: Mega Star
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Languages:
CANTONESE 5.1, Mandarin 5.1
Subtitles:
Removable Chinese (S+T), English, Japanese
W/S Subtitles:
No
Ratio:
2.35:1 Non Anamorphic
Region:
NTSC 0
Genre:
Traditional Kung-Fu / Horror - IIB
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MOVIE
10/10

Yet another Sammo Hung classic makes its way to DVD, courtesy of Media Asia, and, being the massive Sammo fan that I am, I couldn't resist picking it up for a test-drive.

Working as a servant for Master Tam, Courageous Cheung (Sammo Hung) has a habit of getting himself into situations he shouldn't - Cheung, unfortunately, can't resist a challenge to his self-proclaimed fearlessness, and soon regrets his posturing as "the bravest man in town". Unbeknownst to him, Master Tam is having an affair with Cheung's other half, and after a few failed attempts to scare him to death, using black magic, Tam frames Cheung with his wife's murder.

Along with 'Mr.Vampire' this is one of the best examples of the Kung-Fu Horror genre ever made, containing a perfect blend of beautifully choreographed action, supernatural horror, finely played comedy, and an engrossing plot.

READ THE DVD COMPARISON HERE

PICTURE
8/10

Bearing in mind that this was made in 1980, the transfer is of a very high standard. The clarity and colour reproduction put the VHS version to shame, and although there are frequent scratches on the print, they never become too distracting.
Mild artifacts are fairly noticable in the night-time scenes, and blacks appear as dark greys on occasions.
However, taking all of these elements into account, I was very happy with the presentation of one of my all time favourite films.

SOUND
8/10

Allegedly, Media Asia have re-mixed the original mono tracks to Dolby 5.1, but, to be honest, you'd be hard pushed to identify many split-surround, or rear-speaker, effects. Having said that, the sound is clear and solid and does the job perfectly well.

SUBTITLES
8/10

Although these contain the odd grammar and syntax error, they appear clear and very readable throughout. However, I did notice in a few instances that the subs were slightly "dumbed-down", simplifying some of the dialogue. This occurred only on a few occasions, and whilst you probably wouldn't notice unless you spoke Cantonese, I did cite it as a (very) minor negative point.

EXTRAS
4/10

Not exactly stunning, the extras consist of a very worn theatrical trailer and bonus trailers for Eastern Condors, The Prodigal Son, 'Zu: Warriors From The Magic Mountain' and 'Lucky Stars Go Places', plus the generic Media Asia DVD booklet.
The most disappointing aspect of the extras, and the biggest letdown of the DVD, are the Biographies/Filmographies. For a film containing so many recognizable Hong Kong actors, such as Sammo Hung, Lam Ching-Ying, Chong Fat etc., Media Asia should have offered more than their paltry biography of Sammo Hung.
In my opinion, biographies are one of the best ways to expand your knowledge of Hong Kong cinema, allowing you to familiarize yourself with new names, faces and films. You may feel that this is nit picking, but I find it frustrating when legends such as Lam Ching-Ying, who died of cancer not long ago, aren't given the respect they so richly deserve.

CONCLUSION
8/10

Having now seen this movie in many different guises, I can honestly say that this is the best it's ever looked, and although Media Asia's restoration process (or lack of it) leaves a lot to be desired, they should be congratulated on a first-class transfer free from artfiacts, and most of the other pitfalls of the format.
Whether you already own another incarnation of this wonderful film, are reading about it for the first time, or are new to HK Cinema in general, I would recommend you to snap this up straight away - in life, there are some Spooky Encounters you just shouldn't miss...

MOVIE 10/10
PICTURE
8/10
SOUND
8/10
SUBTITLES
8/10
EXTRAS
4/10
MENUS
7/10
PACKAGING
5/10
OVERALL
8/10