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Kozo’s Shopping Cart of Crap: This time, I actually talk about DVDs

After I flubbed my last blog entry and decided to omit the entire point of it - that is, what DVDs I actually bought while in San Francisco - I figured I should get to this one pretty damn soon. So, there won’t be the usual 7-12 day gap between blog posts. Don’t get used to it.

Also, Anthony Wong will be around to make sure I don’t write too much:

Blog Cop Anthony Wong
“Keep it short, kid!”

It’s actually been a pretty big buying time for me, since I just returned to HK and dropped a bunch of cash on a whole slew of stuff at YesAsia.com, including The Detective, The Sun Also Rises, and Exodus. I also picked up Blood Brothers, which I pretty much panned back in October. Even though it’s a bad film, it features Chang Chen shooting people, so how could I not pick up a copy?

At the same time, I got a bunch of old school stuff including the Joy Sales DVD of When Taekwondo Strikes. A Joy Sales catalog DVD release is like a Bigfoot sighting; the event is so rare that you have to do a double take to make sure that it happened. I like to celebrate these rare opportunities by actually buying the DVD. I also dropped some cash on the Ekin Cheng-Jordan Chan Huo Yuan Jia drama, complete with English subtitles and a bald Ekin Cheng. Both of those events are also rare, so it has to be purchased.

Sadly, this cover of Ekin Cheng doing his Donnie Yen impression is not on the version I’m buying:

Ekin Cheng as Donnie Yen in Huo Yuan Jia
Hawt!

Rounding out my YesAsia.com purchase are a couple of Shaw Brothers films, The 14 Amazons and The Legendary Weapons of China. I’m buying both because Shaw Brothers films are now issued in famously dinky print runs, meaning they could go out of press at any given minute. The other day I wanted to buy Masked Avengers, but I waited an hour and then it went out of stock.

Hold on.

Okay, a minute has passed. Another three titles just became unavailable. In another minute, that number will grow to six. Hurry! You’re missing out!

That DVD is mine!
These bears are fighting over the last copy of Sex for Sale.

Out of press Shaw Brothers is a big issue for me here in HK, because even though this is supposed to be some sort of DVD mecca, many key - and not so key - titles are now impossible to find. For a good two months I had a copy of The Sentimental Swordsman on order, but eventually, the proprietor of the Mongkok store had to return my 50 HK dollars and shrug his shoulders. Nowadays, if I’m interested in a  Shaw Brothers title even on the future off-chance that I’ll want to see it someday, I should probably pick it up. Time waits for no man, and in the case of Shaw Brothers DVDs, it’s got the pedal to the metal and drifting around corners to get away from us as quickly as possible.

The solution to this problem: visit San Francisco!

Yep, it’s Chinatown
This is exactly how it looked when I was there.

Despite inflated prices and an abundance of dust, San Francisco shops seem to be the place to find out of press titles. Case in point: The Sentimental Swordsman, which I found buried in a stack somewhere. Two months on back order in a Mongkok shop and the title turns up all dusty in San Francisco. A couple of other Shaw Brothers titles that turned up were the original Gong Tau, titled Black Magic in English, and The Chinatown Kid, which is a cut, incomplete version of the film but is out of press nonetheless.

NOTE: both those titles will probably be released stateside one day via either Image Entertainment or Dragon Dynasty, but I’m not sure which company has either. At the very least I now have backup copies in case either company has cold feet and gets out of the R1 DVD biz.

The above isn’t really crap though. Luckily, I found stuff in Chinatown that surely qualifies as crap, namely the Andy Lau-Rosamund Kwan stinker Thanks For Your Love, which was directed by the guy who also brought us All About Love. I’m not even sure why I bought it, except for the fact that I know I can’t find it anymore in Hong Kong. That, and I vaguely recall that it has the same plot as the Steve Martin-Goldie Hawn movie Housesitter.

The gem of the trip may have been the totally Out of Press (OOP) Blade of Fury, which is so far out of circulation that the company who made it (Thakral) doesn’t seem to be involved in HK DVD distribution anymore. Oddly, the YesAsia.com product page claims it has no English subtitles, which is totally untrue.

I also picked up the completely OOP film Black Rose II, from director Jeff Lau and starring Sandra Ng and Eric Kot, and the similarly hard to find Ghost Lantern, an amusing modern variation on A Chinese Ghost Story starring Chingmy Yau and the other Tony Leung.

Ghost Lantern is also notable for yet another bad guy performance from Roy Cheung, who probably deserves his own blog entry one day talking about actors who become legends through egregious typecasting. It’s also a film that will likely never get reprinted in any form because it’s just run-of-the-mill junk that has zero cinema importance. One of the saddest things right now about being a Hong Kong Cinema fan is knowing that there are some films that will never, ever be available again, and may only be seen one day via late night Hong Kong cable. It’s almost enough to make a person buy a DVD recorder and scan TV listings around the clock. I would do that, but I have enough on my plate.

In lieu of that, a crappy non-anamorphic DVD of Ghost Lantern will have to do just fine. Future generations, however, may be deprived of movies like Ghost Lantern, Blade of Fury, or other good movies that will never be considered important enough for remasters or rereleases.

Sadly, this child may never be able to see Thanks For Your Love.

Baby Matthew lives
“Andy Lau scares me.”

By the way, I think the Verbosity Police are knocking on my door.

5 Responses to “Kozo’s Shopping Cart of Crap: This time, I actually talk about DVDs”

  1. aircompass Says:

    Darn it, I was looking for The Sentimental Swordsman too.
    You can find “The Return of the Sentimental Swordsman” though. Pffft. That’s a bummer.

    Five Shaolin Masters and The Avenging Eagle are also difficult to find around here. Pfffft. And I’ve gone from the little Mongkok stores and HMV.

    Actually there are a lot of hard titles to find. Old Peter Chan and Derek Yee stuff can be hard to come by… I was looking for “The Odd One Dies” and I couldn’t find it anywhere either. Pffft.

  2. glenn Says:

    Bravo on 14 Amazons; that movie rocks in an old school Errol Flynn-only-it’s-women-kinda way. Just as good as any Hollywood action picture — probably better — from that era. I enjoyed every second of it.

    I am so mad that I didn’t get Lady Professional with Lily Ho when it was first released that I will now pay probably $100 just to have the legit IVL/Celestial DVD release.

    I can’t understand how so many things are already out-of-print and yet Come Drink With Me — one of the first ones I bought in 2003 — is still in print over there.

    Maybe I should get a spare copy?

    And YesAsia had Millionaire Chase offered as one of the free DVDs recently so that one — also from 2003 — obviously is not out-of-print.

    Thank God I got Hong Kong Nocturne already as I think that is very much out-of-print and has been for quite some time.

    I was disappointed with the Chinatown Kid too; the edits seem obvious enough that with a little research on the web you can see how much was edited.

    My only other complaint was the new soundtrack/sound fx in Angel with the Iron Fists; seemed very obvious.

    But now I’m being verbose!

  3. V Says:

    The Sentimental Swordsman is available as special order on HKFlix.com. They currently show 1-2 weeks lead time, but I don’t know if that is accurate because I haven’t actually ordered it from there. It’s on my list though.

  4. Willow Says:

    I’m not familiar with these titles although I’ve seen many Shaw Brothers films in S.F. when I was very, very young. Titles were the farthest thing on my mind back then. I loved running up and down the theater aisles. ;D

    I was in HK in at the beginning of Dec ‘07 and I bought the following titles: Exodus, Blood Brothers, She’s on Duty, Dororo and Hana. I’ve got a friend visiting HK who’s returning soon to S.F. and I asked her to try to bring back these: Lost in Beijing, Tuya’s Wedding, Getting Home and Blind Mountain.

    Have a nice day!

  5. Anita Says:

    Kozo, you’re the MAN!!!! Happy New Year! Can’t wait to read the next chapter! Hee Hee Hee!

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