Once Upon A Time In China Trilogy

Once Upon A Time In China Trilogy (1991)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Jet Li, Rosamund Kwan, Biao Yuen, Donny Yen

Assembled together on two discs in one package, Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment is re-releasing Tsui Hark’s ’Once Upon A Time In China’ for another time, after selling the films individually and subsequently as a three-pack. The good news is that it’s a cheaper buy this way, but the bad news is that the studio still violates one of the best series of films ever to come out of Hong Kong. ’Once Upon A Time In China’ is easily comparable to ’The Godfather trilogy’ in its stature, reputation and quality and it is despicable to see how dreadfully these films have been treated – repeatedly now – by Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment.

The video transfer on these DVDs is an abomination. The transfer has been upconverted to 16×9 creating a slew of artifacts that are too many to point out individually. Let’s just put it this way. The transfer has virtually no definition, as every detail is blurred out by the upconversion, or doubled-in-size, or doubled with interleaves. Edge-enhancement is so prevalent that in many cases the unwanted halos created by the enhancement surrounding objects are larger than the object itself. This is an absolutely ridiculous presentation that has absolutely no place in today’s market.

The sound side fares a bit better as the DVDs contain the original Chinese language tracks with English subtitles. Audio is generally clear and free of defects. Dialogues are well integrated and clear at all times.

No extras of any sort are included on the release.

I am appalled at Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment’s attempt to sell these transfers to its customers once again – as if the previous incarnations weren’t insult enough. It annoys me to no end that the studio keeps snatching up the rights to some of the best Hong Kong movies and then spits them out as if they were not even worth their precious time or money. ’Once Upon A Time In China’ is an incredible series of films but given its abominable treatment I cannot justify to recommend this DVD in any way.

Shame on Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, big time! If you want release these films, do it right, or don’t do it at all!