Friday, October 16, 2009

Sex, Storms, and the Eastern Star

Universe Laser (Hong Kong)

Eastern Star (USA)

I know, I'm a cheap and forgetful son of a bitch, but it just never dawned on me to spend the $15 or so that it would cost me to buy the Joy Sales remastered DVD of SEX AND ZEN, easily the most epic of of the 1990s Cat III erotica phenomenon. I'm kind of glad I waited; the Eastern Star R1 release includes the same remastered transfer, the newly translated subtitles from the Hong Kong Legends UK release, and for the first time on DVD, the hokey English dub. The extra $5 the US release will cost is worth it, I think, though if you're a DTS whore the Hong Kong release may be an attractive alternative.

I'll also point out that their new STORM RIDERS DVD is pretty sweet. It's interlaced (as you can see), but if that's a problem then you really need to upgrade your hardware anyway. I don't know for sure which subtitle track they're using this time, but Eastern Star/Discotek is always anal about using the best they can find, so I have little doubt that it's a decent one. Their 2 disc set also includes the heavily cut English dubbed version from the turn of the century, so if you'd like to see Sonny Chiba spitting out stilted dubbed English (instead of stilted dubbed Cantonese), this is the one to go for.

Despite all my bitching about cut and/or dub-only DVDs, I still own the Shaolin Soccer R1, just for the US cut. Am I a closet dub masochist? I don't think any other explanation really adds up...

I know there's an "export" subtitled Blu-ray to be had, so I wouldn't blame anyone for picking it up in HD, but let it be known that the Blu-ray is so heavily processed with grain removal that it doesn't look all that different from the DVD. Check out some examples HERE.

Be warned that the Blu-ray also has poor subtitles - a translation of the Mandarin dub rather than the original Cantonese, and that the "original" PCM 2.0 Cantonese track is horribly out of synch to boot! Much like the Criterion DVD release of Salò, the HD master is unimpressive enough that DVD may actually help hide some of its' flaws... still, this is the first time the film hasn't been literally crawling with dirt on every special effects shot, and I honestly doubt it'll ever look much better than it does now.

Let it be said that if you were interested in picking up the Fist of the North Star DVD from Discotek/Eastern Star, there's never been a better time than through their official site, right now. If you bought the first press, sell it and pick it up again, even. I know it sounds crazy, but try to trust me on this one...