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The Taking of Tiger Mountain (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 1, 2015 by  



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I absolutely enjoyed “The Taking of Tiger Mountain”!  The action scenes and everything that showcases a war of the military with short on people, ammunition and food going up against a notorious bandit and hundreds of enemies.  Featuring solid action and a captivating storyline, it’s only miscue is its questionable ending with scenes that really were not needed.  Despite its ending, “The Taking of Tiger Mountain” is still a popcorn action film worth watching!

Images courtesy of © 2015 Well Go USA. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Taking of Tiger Mountain

FILM RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 143 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 16:9, Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment

RATED: NR

Release Date: June 2, 2015


Directed by Tsui Hark

Based on the Novel by Bo Qu

Screnplay by Jianxin Huang, Tsui Hark, Li Yank, Lin Chi-An, Wu Bing

Producer: Jianxin Huang, Dong Yu


Starring:

Zhang Hanyu as  Yang Zirong

Lin Gengxin as Shao Jianbo and Captain 203

Tong Liya as Little Dove

Tony Ka Fai Leung as Hawk

Geng Han as Lei, Jiang

Mo Tse as Mao Baojun

Nan Yu as Qing Lian

Han Geng as Jimmy

Chen Xiao as Gao


Tsui Hark s thrilling adaptation of Qu Bo s beloved adventure novel stars Tony LEUNG Ka-fai as a ruthless bandit, ruling the lands of Northeast China from his fortress on Tiger Mountain. A captain of the Liberation Army (LIN Gengxin) launches a counter-insurgency against the dictator with a skilled investigator (ZHANG Hanyu) sent to destroy the gang from the inside.


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In December 2014, the Chinese-Hong Kong 3D epic action film by filmmaker Tsui Hark (“Once Upon a Time in China”, “Seven Swords”, “Flying Swords of Dragon Gate”) was released in theaters.

The story is loosely based on Zhang Hanyu, who in real life, led a small group of troops to defeat a bandit army of 400 and his reconnaissance would inspire many military commanders to adopt an armed renaissance detachment which led to more bandits and criminals to be captured.  This took place after the Japanese surrendered in World War II and would lead to bandits to run wild throughout China.

The story is based on the conflict between the People’s Liberation Army of China and a bandit gang led by Hawk and have spread fear through the land.  The bandit gang has pillaged and decimated villages and have stolen ammunition and food.

Low on food and ammunition, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) regiment led by Captain 203 (portrayed by Lin Gengxin) are trying to survive during the cold winter without much food and ammunition, but managed to defeat a small group of bandits.

They eventually meetup with Yang Zirong (portrayed by Zhang Hanyu) who specializes in intelligence/reconnaissance and medical nurse Little Dove (portrayed by Tong Liya).  The duo supply the regiment of food and when they search a nearby village, they find out that bandits working for Hawk (portrayed by Tony Leung Ka-fai) have pillaged the area and people are in fear.


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VIDEO:

“The Taking of Tiger Mountain” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  Picture quality is very good as closeups showcase great detail on the skin of characters.  But the cinematography of the mountainous region during the winter is gorgeous too look at in times, set design and costume design are well done.  But picture quality features skin tones that are natural, I saw no problems with banding issues or artifacts.

If anything, “The Taking of Tiger Mountain” looks great on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Taking of Tiger Mountain” is presented in Mandarin 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and stereo with English subtitles.  Because of the amount of action in this film, from gun shots, RPG’s leading to explosions, makeshift cannons, tank blasts, boulders crashing, this is a film that utilizes the surround channels with efficacy.  The film is immersive for its action scenes and there is a good amount of LFE as well.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“The Taking of Tiger Mountain” comes with an interview with the director and a few of the cast members.

EXTRAS:

“The Taking of Tiger Mountain” comes with a slipcover.


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“The Taking of Tiger Mountain” is another fascinating Tsui Hark film that is epic but at the same time, surprising for the fact that Tsui Hark decides to conclude the film with an ending that probably wasn’t necessary.

While the film starts off in a modern setting with no clear introduction but a young man moving to America, once the film transitions to the late 1940’s, that’s when the film becomes interesting.

The film which is about a minimized army, low on ammunition and low on food, sent on a mission in frigid conditions to take on one of the largest bandit organizations in China.

Sent to assist them are not an army but a intelligence officer named Yang and a medical nurse known as Young Dove.

The film does a great job at establishing the power of the leader known as Hawk and his vile generals who have no problem stealing food or decimating villages for self gain.  Of course, it’s the job of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to stop them, but it’s going to take amazing strategy for a regiment of only a few men to defeat an army of hundreds.

While the film doesn’t become a Kurosawa-like “Seven Samurai” in which the PLA teach the villagers to fight back, it’s the PLA who want to protect the people and using their skills to outwit and defeat the bandits that are set on attacking the village.

But the film becomes more interesting when Yang elects himself as the man to penetrate the walls of Hawk’s fort by using his intelligence of being undercover in bandits environments to meld with them and become one of them, while trying to find ways to get the message of plans to the PLA.

And for the most part, the action is wonderful to watch and you can’t help but support the PLA who are the underdogs in the film.

The characters are easy to root for, Yang and the Captain are the primary heroes of the film but there are others in the film who are worth watching for their heroics.

Tony Ka Fai Leung does a wonderful job of transforming himself from his Triad roles to the evil Hawk, while actor Hanyu Zhang does an amazing job as Yang, the mysterious intelligence  recon officer that even the PLA is unsure if they can trust.  But watching everything unfold and seeing the plans of Yang and the PLA come into fruition is exciting.

What doesn’t work is when the film tries to incorporate a modern story of the a young man descended from one of the characters from the past.  The film could have ended in splendid fashion but instead, where most directors would cut a scene, no matter how much they spent on it, because it alters fluidity of the film, Tsui Hark chooses to incorporate an ending which really was not needed and not sure if that was his doing or the producers.

In my opinion, if the film would have removed all modern scenes and the action scene that literally came from nowhere and was thrown at the end for no good reason, “The Taking of Tiger Mountain” would have been a fantastic film.  But with all the unneeded bloatedness of scenes added to the beginning and ending of the film, unfortunately, it mars the efficacy of what could have been a great action film.

As for the Blu-ray itself, the picture quality is fantastic with details upclose showing the skin pigments and the cinematography of the film in the rocky mountains blanketed by snow is also gorgeous to watch.  Special features includes interviews with the director and cast members.

Overall, I absolutely enjoyed “The Taking of Tiger Mountain”!  The action scenes and everything that showcases a war of the military with short on people, ammunition and food going up against a notorious bandit and hundreds of enemies.  Featuring solid action and a captivating storyline, it’s only miscue is its questionable ending with scenes that really were not needed.  Despite its ending, “The Taking of Tiger Mountain” is still a popcorn action film worth watching!

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