Tai Chi Master Blu-ray Review
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448kbps), Cantonese Mono 2.0, English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448kbps)
- Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
- Region: A
- Rating: Not Rated
- Discs: 1
- Studio: Vivendi Entertainment/Weinstein Company
- Blu-ray Release Date: August 10, 2010
- List Price: $19.97
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
If you’ve seen Kill Bill, The Matrix, or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, then you are already familiar with the remarkable martial arts choreography of Wo Ping Yuen. In this 1993 Hong Kong film, Tai Chi Master,Yuen had the chance to direct two amazing martial superstars, Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh, and it surely is one of the most adrenalin filled and fully entertaining action films for fans of the genre.
It’s a Shaolin-style martial fest as two young Shaolin monks in training, Junbao (Jet Li) and Chin Bo (Siu-hou Chin) desire to learn the secrets of martial arts, secretly practicing while doing their chores and spying on their elders’ secret sessions. When they finally get their opportunity, they are quick learners and become two of the top students in the temple. But Chin Bo, ever the aggressive one, has problems taming his wilder side, so when the day finally comes for their skills to be tested by the senior monk, he fails to hold back, unleashing a secret move he was not to have known. The two young monks get themselves into an outlandish tussle before they are banished from the monastery and sent out into the world to fend for themselves.
From that point on, the yin and yang of their relationship becomes prominent, with Chin Bo eventually joining the army of a corrupt governor and Jinbao siding with a group of rebels, including the cast off wife (Michelle Yeoh) of an aristocrat. Of course, this all leads to the ultimate martial arts showdown between the longtime childhood friends.
Never mind the visible wires, cheesy one-liners, and plot twists you can see coming from a mile away, Tai Chi Master is a must-see for Jet Li fans.
The AVC/MPEG-4 transfer of Tai Chi Master from Dragon Dynasty will not win over many converts, nor will it serve as any sort of reference for HD displays. The low budget production quality, visible source damage throughout and heavy, inconsistent grain make for a soft, dull presentation. There is still enough resolution here to expose the visible wires for the wirework in many of the scenes, however.
Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 (480kbps) Cantonese Mono Dolby Digital 2.0 and English Dolby Digital 5.1 (480kbps) soundtracks are provided for Tai Chi Master on Blu-ray. The Cantonese 5.1 mix is hardly any better than the original Cantonese Mono mix, with nearly all the of the sound limited to the center channel and only a narrow stereo spread of the musical score. Sound effects are all a bit scratchy sounding and there’s not much punch (no pun intended) to the low end for any of the mixes.
There’s a decent array of audio and video supplements provided offering information on the film’s stars and back-story on the genre. Fans should appreciate much of the trivia offered up and the time spent focusing on these Hong Kong action heroes.
The supplements offered with this release are:
- Audio Commentary by Hong Kong Film Expert Bey Logan
- Nemesis: An Exclusive Interview with Star Chin Siu-ho (1.78:1; 480i/60)
- The Birthplace of Tai-Chi: On Location in Chen Village (1.78:1; 480i/60)
- Meditations on the Master: Film Director Brett Ratner & Film Critic Elvis Mitchell Discuss Director Yuen Wo Ping (1.78:1; 480i/60)
- Twin Warriors: Film Director Brett Ratner & Film Critic Elvis Mitchell Discuss Jet Li & Michelle Yeoh (1.78:1; 480i/60)
The Definitive Word
The video and audio quality may be disappointing on this Blu-ray release, but despite its flaws, it’s still a slight upgrade to the DVD release and a must see for any Jet Li (or Michelle Yeoh) fan.
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