Police Story 2 (1988)
By Matt Stevens
Excellent release. Yes, it's flawed. Of course it's flawed! HKL had to deal with Golden Harvest's/Media Asia's poorly kept 35mm elements, which do show signs of aging (color shifting, softness, fading). But despite all that, this is the very best POLICE STORY 2 has ever looked and anyone that can play PAL DVD's needs to add it to their collection.

EDIT: That being said, there is a MAJOR flaw that I have found, thanks to the keen eyes of some other Net reviewers. I had mentioned that this transfer looked cropped. Say around 2.2 available width, as opposed to 2.35:1. Well, it’s more than that. For some reason, the right side has been extremely cropped and the resulting width is about 2.0. We are talking about a 25% crop here. MAJOR. Screen shots can be seen over at this web page…http://www.cinedie.com/dvd/policecropping.htm

I have emailed HKL about this. They have responded to a few emails, but so far, I think this is an issue of their knowing about it and hoping (or thinking) no one would notice or care, OR, more likely, they had no idea and didn’t do their homework. No matter what happened, they clearly need to be a lot more careful.

That all being said, this POLICE STORY 2 transfer looks very film like and pleasing to the eye. I'd compare this transfer to the new HIGHLANDER DVD from Anchor Bay. Due to limitations in the film stocks, the way it was shot and vaulted, both films will never look like Superbit releases. But they do look very good and should please fans and newbies alike. Those of you who were bothered by the “flashing” on HKL’s Police Story release need not worry. There is little to none of that here.

The bit rate is better than the average HKL title, with the picture hitting 6 to 7 mbps when needed. The average is around 4.5 mbps, but sometimes it does drop to the sub 3.5 level. Artifacts are rarely a problem, but I think HKL needs to figure out why they cannot create MPEG masters with a video bit rate that matches the best releases from Warner, Dreamworks or Columbia. Even with an hour of extras, they should have no problem giving a 1 hour and 50 minute film a constant picture bit rate of 6 mbps+.

Sound wise, this film fairs better than the original, which had horribly degraded dialogue tracks. However, you should not expect this release to sound like 2000 A.D. or IRON MONKEY. Dialogue is sometimes harsh or shrill and sometimes muffled. Sound effects are frequently from the Media Asia “remix” track, though now in synch, and thankfully, no longer distorted. The music has been expanded to the surrounds. The Police Story theme has always been a favorite of mine. I just wish it was originally recorded in a high quality format and stored properly. HKL has done an admirable job of presenting the film’s remixed soundtrack. It is miles ahead of Media Asia’s shameful DVD release, but inferior to the original mono tracks, which are now in horrendous shape (at least, the version they sent to HKL was. I am still convinced those mother F’ers are holding back).

The menus are very hard to navigate, since the text is all white. Next time, make the text turn a different color when it's highlighted.

The out-takes footage is presented here without credits and this sequence is from a different source and has NO CROPPING at all! This alone proves HKL should have known something was wrong with their print.

Anyone else here want to punch American Voiceover Man in the face? I am so sick of his narrations.

Anyway, the trailers are cool, as usual.

One more thing about the menus: The language & subtitle options should be on the same page. Right now it's a major hassle to have to go through so many menus to pick Cantonese & English subs, etc.

If you want to send HKL an email, do it with this address: hkl@medusacom.co.uk

Matt Stevens