Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 28 Old 07-17-2009, 07:42 AM - Thread Starter
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attachment.php?attachmentid=147966&d=1247839801
The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109943&d=1210373647

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

85






Studio and Year: Sony Pictures Classics - 2000
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 120 Minutes
Genre: Martial Arts/Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p/24


Audio Format(s): Chinese/English/French Dolby TrueHD 5.1,
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Thai
Starring: Chow Yun Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Ziyi Zhang, Chang Chen, Lang Sihung
Directed by: Ang Lee
Music by: Tan Dun
Written by: Wang Hui Ling, James Schamus, Tsai Kuo Jung
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: July 14, 2009







"What is a sword without a master"



* It should be noted that this review will only cover Crouching tiger, hidden dragon. House of flying daggers, and Curse of the Golden Flower have both been previously released on Blu-ray. The discs included in this set are the same as their original releases and have been covered extensively. I plan on coverage of them in the future but wanted to get the previously unreleased Crouching tiger, hidden dragon done as soon as possible. My apologies if this causes an inconvenience. *


Film Synopsis:

Two master warriors (Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh) are faced with their greatest challenge when the treasured Green Destiny sword is stolen. A young aristocrat (Zhang Ziyi) prepares for an arranged marriage, but soon reveals her superior fighting talents and her deeply romantic past. As each warrior battles for justice, they come face to face with their worst enemy - and the inescapable, enduring power of love.





My Take:

The story is a multilayered story that is essentially built around three scenarios. Li Mu-Bai (Chow Yun Fat) is a Wudang warrior/swordsmen who has become disenchanted with warrior life and his search for Jade Fox, the female warrior who betrayed and murdered his master. He carries the 400 year old Green Destiny sword and desires that it be turned over to Sir Te in Bejing for safekeeping. He tasks his long time friend and fellow warrior Shu-Lien (Michelle Yeoh) with delivering it to him which she does. While at Sir Te's estate she meets Jen, a young aristocrat who is engaged to be married in an arrangement settled by her parents. She is carefully watched over by her mother and governess. Later that evening a masked thief enters the compound and steals the Green Destiny sword. Shu-Lien attempts to stop the thief but after a brief struggle and some outside help the thief escapes with it. Li Mu-Bai arrives the following day and he and Shu -Lien piece together the puzzle regarding the thief and attempt to locate the missing sword. It turns out that Jen is behind the theft and that her governess is none other than Jade Fox. The two have been together since Jen was eight years old. Jade Fox considers her to be her protégé and the two have used the stolen Wudang book (obtained years earlier from Li Mu-Bai's master) to learn the secrets of the Wudang fighting art. Jen reveals that she has always desired to be a master of the art and has trained herself beyond the abilites of Jade Fox (due to her inability to interpret/understand it) but kept this fact from her. It is also learned that Jen once had a passionate love affair with Lo, an outlaw bandit also referred to as Dark Cloud (after he kidnapped her from her parents caravan in the desert) and that he has vowed to return to her. Li Mu-Bai isn't the only one searching for the illusive Jade Fox who has made many enemies throughout the years. Shu-lien and Li Mu-Bai separately face off against Jen on several occasions and she displays measurable yet raw skill. Li Mu-Bai wants to convert and train her properly in the Wudang arts but she refuses and only desires to keep the sword and prove herself. As the story plays out Li Mu-Bai gets his chance to exact revenge against Jade Fox for the murder of his master. Both he and Shu-Lien come to terms with the fact that they have secretly had feelings for one another for years but never acted upon them. Lo resurfaces and vies for Jen but her desire to be free and wield power interferes. Lastly Jade Fox feels betrayed by Jen for keeping the secret with respect to her knowledge/abilities learned from the stolen Wudang book of training secrets. These elements all come together in a haze of martial arts action that culminates in redemption, loss, understanding, and tragedy. The result is an exciting, thought provoking and stimulating film that is truly entertaining.

I am ashamed to admit that I have never seen Crouching tiger, hidden dragon. It was one of those films that I always heard such good things about but never got around to. I was excited when this set arrived the other day. House of flying daggers and Curse of the Golden Flower has been available on Blu-ray for some time now but this is Crouching tiger's debut on the format. Having never seen it I must admit that the wait was well worth it. What an intriguing story that interweaves love, passion, tragedy, betrayal, vengeance, and loss. This is incorporated in a martial arts based film that brims with swordplay, high flying (literally) special effects, a well crafted story and a wonderfully chosen cast. I have been a fan of Michelle Yeoh's since I first saw her in James Bond's Tomorrow Never Dies. I find her striking good looks and exciting martial arts physicality captivating to watch. I thought she gave an eloquent and believable performance in this role. She had excellent onscreen chemistry with Chow Yun Fat, who is an actor that needs no introduction. I appreciated the fact that romance played an integral part in the story but yet it rarely took center stage and dictated its flow. Character development was strong and I found I liked them all for various reasons. The blend of action, and drama along with a light sprinkling of levity achieved a proportionate balance that kept interest high. The small but meaningful lesson about regret didn't go unnoticed and I liked how things ended. What a great film.




Parental Guide:

The rating is for martial arts violence and some sexuality.






AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 84



  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692



Video: 86


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

Crouching tiger, hidden dragon comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 24 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 1.7 mbps.

This long awaited classic film comes to Blu-ray from Sony featuring an excellent high definition video presentation. It boasts defining resolution, good depth and an estimable film like texture. Images were discernibly detailed which brought out plenty of delineation and texture within clothing, physical features, and objects onscreen. Long range visuals were resolved with above average clarity and lucid acuity which highlighted the film's superb cinematography. The video had a fine, grainy consistency that was apparent but never prominent. Contrast was spot on as the gradational stages in white/gray tones readily apparent. Blacks were stable and stood out nicely when onscreen with mixed content. Dark sequences had appreciable dimension and revealing shadow detail that combined with the video's higher resolution to enhance depth perception. A fine example of this can be seen during the rooftop chase/encounter between the thief and Shu-Lien during chapter 3. With the exception of red colors aren't overtly bright but they are accurate with excellent tonal balance. The various earth and sepia toned hues are beautifully rendered and looked great on my large screen. This doesn't present the dynamically enhanced, razor sharp, or high gloss imagery of some of today's newer films coming to the format however its original elements appear intact and fidelity is rarely questionable. It looks wonderful.

The disc's cases indicates lossless 5.1 PCM and lossy Dolby Digital sound however the disc contains Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel options in Chinese, English and French. The English subtitled Chinese Dolby TrueHD soundtrack was highlighted by opulent dynamic range, punchy bass, and definitive high resolution clarity. Dialogue had excellent room penetration, texture, and definition through the center channel. Information mixed to the front three channels was well balanced as it created a cohesive soundstage that was clearly intelligible with notable separation and depth. The surrounds weren't heavily engaged throughout the presentation however their use was frequent and at times titillating to the senses. The extensive fight sequences contained a variety of sound effects. This is an intricate and fairly complex sound design that didn't disappoint. These sequences sounded great as it created a busy sound field filled with immersive directional activity that emanated from all directions. I was impressed with its smooth upper treble and sibilant free quality. Bass response was quite good as it accentuated impact and provided low frequency authority where appropriate. This isn't an overly aggressive surround sound mix but it maintains an excellent balance between dynamics, detail, and directional spacing that enriches its presentation in the home environment.

** CIH users should note that the subtitles appear in both the picture and letterbox area.**



Bonus Features:


  • Commentary by Ang Lee and James Schamus

  • A conversation with Michelle Yeoh - 13 minute featurette

  • Unleashing the dragon: The making of Crouching tiger, hidden dragon - 20 minute documentary

  • Photo gallery

  • (HD) 7 BD previews

  • BD-Live enabled




Final Thoughts:

Crouching tiger, hidden dragon is considered by many to be a classic and (at the time) groundbreaking genre film. It took me nine years to finally see it but I must say that it was worth the wait as I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is more than a drama, more than martial arts action and is anything but typical. Its long awaited debut on Blu-ray Disc is sure to please from a technical standpoint as it looks and sound great. Its bonus content features a pair of decent featurettes plus an interesting commentary from Director Ang Lee and Screenwriter James Schamus. Unfortunately it is currently only offered as part of a three disc set that includes Curse of the Golden Flower and House of flying daggers which have both been previously released. If you don't already own them this set is easily worth picking up. Whether or not to buy this set just for Crouching tiger will depend on how badly you want it. Regardless, I am happy to report that Sony has done a superb job with its presentation and those desiring it can pick it up with confidence.









attachment.php?attachmentid=109949&d=1210373731






Ralph Potts
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post #2 of 28 Old 07-17-2009, 08:00 AM
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Thanks for the review Ralph. I agree that Michelle Yeoh was wonderful in this movie and I've been a fan since first noticing her in the 1992 Jackie Chan film Police Story 3: Supercop. I would really like to get this Blu-ray but I'm not interested in Curse of the Golden Flower, although I thought that House of Flying Daggers was excellent.

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post #3 of 28 Old 07-17-2009, 08:19 AM
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Sweet. Love this movie.

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post #4 of 28 Old 07-17-2009, 08:26 AM
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Great film. I ordered the UK standalone, region-free version. Baffling why Sony only released this as a 3-pack here. I'm sure it will come out as a standalone later, so one wonders if this is just their marketing ploy to get people to buy the whole boxed set now.

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post #5 of 28 Old 07-17-2009, 09:02 AM
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gee I thought everyone on here thought this transfer/encode had all sorts of problems.
amazing how so many people can watch the same damn bd and have total opposite opinions.
nice review imo.
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post #6 of 28 Old 07-17-2009, 10:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 16x9enhanced View Post

gee I thought everyone on here thought this transfer/encode had all sorts of problems.
amazing how so many people can watch the same damn bd and have total opposite opinions.

It is not "everyone" here who thought so. Like with everything in life, you'll find different people often have different opinions.

I had the chance to watch this disc, and I think Ralph's image quality assessment is dead-on. He must be right since I agree with him.
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post #7 of 28 Old 07-17-2009, 11:52 AM
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I ordered it with confidence a few days ago. Thanks for the review and I'm sure I'll be glued to it while watching it again and again. This ain't no dust collector!
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post #8 of 28 Old 07-17-2009, 02:18 PM
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Well done on the review Ralph. Many thanks.

As a CIH user, I'm a bit disappointed by the subtitle arrangement - was hoping the subtitles would be exclusively placed within the picture area ...
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post #9 of 28 Old 07-17-2009, 06:02 PM
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I have flying Daggers, and I don't want to see or rather own Golden Flower (Never seen it) ,can I just purchase Hidden Dragon and where?

Excellent review

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post #10 of 28 Old 07-17-2009, 06:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Djoel View Post

I have flying Daggers, and I don't want to see or rather own Golden Flower (Never seen it) ,can I just purchase Hidden Dragon and where?

Excellent review

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Yes you can import it from Britian

Blu-ray = 775
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post #11 of 28 Old 07-18-2009, 06:33 AM
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Nice review but I must pass this one for too many versions of dvd before.
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post #12 of 28 Old 07-18-2009, 07:09 PM
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Yes you can import it from Britian



Thanks

Will do..

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post #13 of 28 Old 07-20-2009, 07:35 AM
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Quote:
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Nice review but I must pass this one for too many versions of dvd before.

That didn't stop me! I bet you will cave eventually if you really like this movie. The DVDs are no comparison to this BD, trust me!
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post #14 of 28 Old 07-20-2009, 08:27 AM
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Almost tempted to buy this but already have the other two titles.
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post #15 of 28 Old 07-21-2009, 05:39 PM
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I absolutely loved this movie, haven't watched it in a few years, and this release may finally be the tipping point for purchasing a bd drive...

By the way, can I respectfully submit that there is a glaring omission in this review - an incredible soundtrack composed by Tan Dun, featuring legendary cellist Yo Yo Ma. In fact, I loved it so much in the theatre that I may not only purchase a BD drive for this release, but also upgrade my audio to support Dolby TruHD.

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post #16 of 28 Old 07-27-2009, 10:27 AM
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Putting things into perspective, I doubt anyone will be able to rent it to check it out first so you'll need to have some faith on the quality if the subtitles aren't an issue for you.

As I continue to watch, this amazon UK purchase is something I will never regret. Both the PQ and AQ more than suffice on this BD. The more I watch it, the more I really like it. The scores you see are good and I say take the leap if you like this movie. Parts of this will be played countless times as I've already lost track since I received it!
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post #17 of 28 Old 11-11-2009, 01:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.G View Post

Thanks for the review Ralph. I agree that Michelle Yeoh was wonderful in this movie and I've been a fan since first noticing her in the 1992 Jackie Chan film Police Story 3: Supercop. I would really like to get this Blu-ray but I'm not interested in Curse of the Golden Flower, although I thought that House of Flying Daggers was excellent.

You really need to try to rent Yes Madam from the mid '80's. Young Michelle was quite a looker.
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post #18 of 28 Old 11-13-2009, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by lhslancers3270 View Post

You really need to try to rent Yes Madam from the mid '80's. Young Michelle was quite a looker.

Thanks for the heads-up. More trivia - Michelle's movie debut was a year earlier in something called The Owl and Dumbo [1984]. A classy lady presently involved in a campaign to improve road safety around the world.

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post #19 of 28 Old 11-16-2009, 09:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JaylisJayP View Post

Yes you can import it from Britian

Hmmm . . . perhaps off topic, but a question:

Blu-ray has its own version of regional coding, and a Blu-ray disc from Britain would require a player that is similarly coded.

I read that the regional coding was not nearly as strict with Blu-ray as it was with DVD, and, on the strength of that, ordered the Blu-ray version of Brotherhood of The Wolf. On two different Blu-ray players, I get no image or audio. Interestingly, one of the Blu-ray players is the Sony BDP-CX7000ES 400 disc changer (the other a Panasonic) and, on the lookup feature of that changer, the french title and coverart of the disc are recognized. But I don't get to watch the movie.

Wouldn't ordering this disc from Britain require a region 2 (or region b, or whatever it is) player? I wound up buying the damned three pack, even though I already had both other movies in it, simply because I could not locate (not even on eBay) a single to purchase.

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post #20 of 28 Old 11-17-2009, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Nick Satullo View Post

Wouldn't ordering this disc from Britain require a region 2 (or region b, or whatever it is) player?

Not if the disc is also coded for Region A. Sony's catalog releases have been all-region for the most part, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is no exception.

Check here for the region status of many BD releases.
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post #21 of 28 Old 11-18-2009, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Ralph Potts View Post

Final Thoughts:

Crouching tiger, hidden dragon is considered by many to be a classic and (at the time) groundbreaking genre film.


I remember seeing it in the theater, it was quite impressive back then.
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post #22 of 28 Old 12-15-2009, 04:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MSmith83 View Post

Not if the disc is also coded for Region A. Sony's catalog releases have been all-region for the most part, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is no exception.

Check here for the region status of many BD releases.

Hmmm . . . I purchased the version of Pulp Fiction from Amazon UK, as it was reported by three observers to be region free. Doesn't play on my Sony BDP-CX7000ES changer. Any tips? If there's more to this discussion, Moderator please feel free to move it to an appropriate thread.

Thanks,

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post #23 of 28 Old 01-17-2010, 09:08 AM
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I just ordered Crouching Tiger from Amazon UK as a 60th birthday present to myself on the basis of this thread's saying it's region free (I'm in Cambridge Mass with a standard American Panasonic BD-50 that's not region-free).

I just looked at the tech details part of the Amazon.uk page to confirm that it's region free and noticed that it's marked as being in PAL format, with a classification of 12 (whatever that means).

Isn't PAL an SD format that's irrelevant to Blu-ray disks? Does this mean that any SD extras won't play?

I'm hoping that this is simply part of Amazon's continuing refusal to learn about Blu-ray's technical specs and its insistence on fitting Blu-ray disks' specs into the pigeonholes established for standard definition DVDs - after all, Amazon still describes DolbyTrueHD and DTS Master Audio soundtracks as simply being "Dolby" or "DTS," with nothing to indicate that the lossless versions are different from the DVD versions!

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post #24 of 28 Old 01-18-2010, 02:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philnick View Post

I just ordered Crouching Tiger from Amazon UK as a 60th birthday present to myself on the basis of this thread's saying it's region free (I'm in Cambridge Mass with a standard American Panasonic BD-50 that's not region-free).

I just looked at the tech details part of the Amazon.uk page to confirm that it's region free and noticed that it's marked as being in PAL format, with a classification of 12 (whatever that means).

Isn't PAL an SD format that's irrelevant to Blu-ray disks? Does this mean that any SD extras won't play?

I'm hoping that this is simply part of Amazon's continuing refusal to learn about Blu-ray's technical specs and its insistence on fitting Blu-ray disks' specs into the pigeonholes established for standard definition DVDs - after all, Amazon still describes DolbyTrueHD and DTS Master Audio soundtracks as simply being "Dolby" or "DTS," with nothing to indicate that the lossless versions are different from the DVD versions!

I've got the same UK version disc myself, and there are no problems accessing the special features for US players (like my Sony BDP-S360, which doesn't play anything PAL-encoded.) You'll be fine with that disc.
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post #25 of 28 Old 01-21-2010, 05:01 PM
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Kung Fu movie goes mainstream. Saw it when it came out, no reason to watch it again, I'll pass on the rental.

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post #26 of 28 Old 01-24-2010, 09:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philnick View Post

I just ordered Crouching Tiger from Amazon UK as a 60th birthday present to myself on the basis of this thread's saying it's region free (I'm in Cambridge Mass with a standard American Panasonic BD-50 that's not region-free).

I just looked at the tech details part of the Amazon.uk page to confirm that it's region free and noticed that it's marked as being in PAL format, with a classification of 12 (whatever that means).

Isn't PAL an SD format that's irrelevant to Blu-ray disks? Does this mean that any SD extras won't play?

I'm hoping that this is simply part of Amazon's continuing refusal to learn about Blu-ray's technical specs and its insistence on fitting Blu-ray disks' specs into the pigeonholes established for standard definition DVDs - after all, Amazon still describes DolbyTrueHD and DTS Master Audio soundtracks as simply being "Dolby" or "DTS," with nothing to indicate that the lossless versions are different from the DVD versions!

PAL is irrelevant to Blu-ray and has been discussed elsewhere Amazon's listings (both UK and USA) sometimes carry over descriptions from DVDs which confuses many people. I ordered this BD (which is the steelbook version, if that sort of thing matters to you) from Amazon UK on the 18th and received it in the Midwest on the 23rd which I consider speedy for an import. It is an all-region disc which plays fine on my Sony 350 and Sherwood 5300.

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post #27 of 28 Old 02-03-2010, 10:19 AM
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I got my standalone copy yesterday from Amazon.co.uk and watched it last night.

The image quality is great. Close-ups of faces look absolutely perfect.

The sound quality is great as well.

Because the disk defaults to the English language Dolby TrueHD soundtrack, I was startled to hear the characters speaking English, since I had always watched my DVD "Superbit" copy in Chinese with subtitles, never deigning to listen to the English soundtrack. [Actually, the Superbit version didn't even have an English soundtrack - see my next post.]

Since I was already watching the Blu-ray in English, I gave it a try for a few minutes that way, switched over to Chinese with subtitles - and then went back to the English soundtrack!

1) The English soundtrack uses the original Chinese cast - all of whom are excellent actors in English.

2) Watching it in English, I picked up subtleties in their timing and dramatic pacing - particularly in their eyes - that I had missed while reading subtitles in the past. Obviously, the lip-synch can't be perfect (though it's close) - so watch their eyes, not their mouths! It's the eyes that are "the windows to the soul," after all.

I found it much more emotionally-involving this way. Give it a try.

PS The disk worked fine in my North American Panasonic BD-50, including the SD extras. The mysterious "12" classification turned out to be not a technical spec but to be analogous to the "PG-13" rating here.

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post #28 of 28 Old 02-03-2010, 04:15 PM
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On reflection, I remembered that I had bought the Superbit DVD version of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon instead of the slightly less-expensive mainstream DVD of the film because of the promise of higher video and audio quality - but at the price of sacrificing the English language soundtrack to make room for both Dolby and DTS 5.1 Mandarin soundtracks. As a result, I hadn't had the option to hear it in English.

I put on the Superbit DVD to confirm this and watched the opening scene. It looked as I had remembered it.

I put the Blu-ray back on to watch the same scene and came face-to-face with the huge difference between the subtitled and dubbed versions: the subtitles are abbreviated versions of the dialog, throwing out details that convey subtleties of expression and shades of meaning, in order to fit essential plot points into a few words.

If you've ever chafed at a screen version of Alice in Wonderland for throwing out the wordplay and humor of the original by reducing it to the framework of its plot, that's what subtitles are forced to do to dialog by their very limited screen space.

This has been a revelatory experience.

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