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Black Coal, Thin Ice (BluRay) 
Written by: on September 28th, 2015

Theatrical Release Date: China, 2014
Director: Yi’nan Diao
Writer: Yi’nan Diao
Cast: Fan Liao, Lun Mei Gwei, Xuebing Wang

BluRay released: September 29th, 2015
Approximate running time: 110 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: NR
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Mandarin, Dolby Digital Stereo Mandarin
Subtitles: English
BluRay Release: Well Go USA
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.98

Synopsis: Years after leaving the law enforcement due to an incident that involved two colleges’ deaths a former detective decides to look back into the case that ended his career. When a former college brings to his attention a new case that eerily resembles the case that lead to him leaving law enforcement.

When it comes to the thriller genre, there is no ingredient more important than the element of surprise. And in this regard Black Coal, Thin Ice does a pitch perfect job keeping this mysteries ultimate secret under wraps. With the opening act establishing who everyone is and what their motivations are? Another element that sets this film part from your by the numbers police procedural is how the lead detective narrowly escapes death at the end of the first act and is relieved of his duties. Fortunately like any great mystery his is drawn back into its web of deceit. As mentioned before the middle act follows the original detective who no longer works in law enforcement as he inches closer to unmasking the killers’ identity. Without giving away too much more the final act provides the very satisfying resolution to the events which have just unfolded.

From a production stand point the film’s visuals are rock solid. Also there is a clear Film Noir influence in the look of this film. And pacing is never an issue as this are always moving forward with no lulls along the way. When it comes to bloodshed the most violent moment is a scene is a police shootout which leaves two suspects and two detectives dead. Besides these deaths, the only other deaths shown onscreen include also involve the death of another detective.

The performances in this film are all very good, especially Fan Liao (Assembly, Chinese Zodiac), in the role of Zhang Zili, the detective who is forced into retire after narrowly escaping death during a shootout. He is utterly convincing is his portrayal of detective whose is determined to uncover the truth. Another performance of note is Lun Mei Gwei (Ocean Heaven, The Stool Pigeon) in the role of Wu Zhizhen, it is hers husband’s death at the beginning of the film which sets everything in motion. Also her character serves the role of the Femme Fatale.

The BluRay:

Black Coal, Thin Ice comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen.It should be noted that The director for this film is known for shooting with in low lit environments and in this regard this transfer does a good job retaining the intended look of the film. With that being said, when it comes to darker moments there are moments where the image lacks the same clarity which it evident in all scenes that are shot with a stronger light source. Also there are no major issues with compression and DNR in varying degrees has been applied to this transfer.

Though both audio mixes sound, clean, clear and balanced throughout. It is the DTS-HD 5.1 mix in Mandarin that offers the most satisfying of the two audio mixes as its does a pitch perfect job rendering the most ambient aspects of the soundtrack. And in regards to range it is once again the DTS-HD 5.1 mix in Mandarin which provides the more robust mix of the two audio mixes. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles that are easy to read and follow.

Extras for this release are limited to a trailer for the film and trailers for other titles also available from Well Go USA. Overall Black Coal, Thin Ice gets a strong audio / video presentation from Well Go USA.

Note: This film is also being released by Well Go USA on DVD.

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