Languages: CANTONESE 5.1, Mandarin 5.1
Subtitles: Removable Chinese (S+T), English
W/S Subtitles: Yes
Genre: Heroic Bloodshed
Easily one of the most entertaining films of the past couple of years, A Hero Never Dies tells the tale of two rival Triad "bodyguards", played exceptionally well by Lau Ching-Wan and Leon Lai Ming, whose initial disliking of one another turns to friendship after they are betrayed by their respective bosses.
From the uniformly excellent cast to the magnificent cinematography, editing and direction, A Hero Never Dies creates a wonderful atmosphere that sweeps you along with the plot.
A special mention must also go to the soundtrack, which features a very moving, and fitting, accompaniment to the images on screen.
The only disappointing element to an otherwise top-class DVD is the video quality...
Suffering throughout from very noticable "trails", and being slightly soft in terms of detail, this Universe transfer, whilst by no means awful, is nowhere near as good as it should be.
To make matters worse, due to a problem with the print, the right half of the screen is noticeably brighter than the left, and is also considerably softer.
Apart from the above problems, colours are strong and well defined, and as such, show off the cinematography very well.
Having been shot in synch-sound Dolby Digital 5.1, the audio is by far the best I've heard on a HK DVD - lots of directional effects, clear dialogue and that wonderful soundtrack, add up to a truly cinematic experience.
Although the odd grammatical error slips in now and again, on the whole the subtitles are clear, well translated and never fall behind the dialogue. In a few scenes they appear, and disappear, very quickly, but this is due to the pace of the dialogue, rather than a technical fault.
A beautiful animated menu screen greets you upon loading the disc, along with the main theme playing in the background. From here, the following menus are static, but very well designed, and give you the impression that Universe put a lot of effort into the presentation of the movie.
The extras available include a Q & A session with Yo Yo Mong, which, whilst not exactly mind-blowing, does give you some interesting info about the production, and, for a pleasant change, has optional English subs.
Also included are the Theatrical trailer, Biographies (for Leon Lai Ming, Lau Ching-Wan, Yo Yo Mong, Johnnie To and Wai Ka Fai), 8 animated chapter stops, silent N.G. footage and trailers for Enter the Eagles, Extreme Crisis and City Of Glass -which round off a quite impressive range of extras.
Combining an absorbing plot, great action and characters you actually care about, this is probably the best HK movie I've seen in the past three or four years.
Unfortunately, due to the poor picture quality, this Universe disc is a long way off being perfect. A remaster is unlikely, but in all honesty I'd be inclined to wait for one, as a film this good deserves a transfer to match.