Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 14th, 2013
BluRay released: April 9th, 2013
Approximate running time: 119 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Mandarin, Dolby Digital Stereo Mandarin
BluRay Release: Well Go USA
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.98
The Four was co-directed by Gordon Chan (Fist of Legend, Painted Skin) and Janet Chun (All’s Well Ends Well 2011), who is more known for her work as an assistant director on such films like The Twins Effect 2, The Myth and the aforementioned Painted Skin. Key collaborators on The Four include cinematographer Yiu-Fai Lai (Infernal Affairs, Tai Chi Zero) and composer Henry Lai (14 Blades, White Vengeance).
Content wise, there is a myriad of elements in The Four that have appeared in countless other films and in the majority of said films, it was done much more effectively. And though Chinese cinema, specifically that from Hong Kong is no stranger, when it comes to taking successful elements from films from around the world. At least more often than not these acquiring of elements from other films where done in such a way that definitive enough of a spin was put on them. Giving them their own identity. That is not that case here with The Four.
At the center of this action extravaganza is story about two rival law enforcement agencies. One agency, the Department Six Constabulary represents the status quo, while the other agency, the Divine Constabulary is more like a group of misfits with extraordinary powers (think of something like Marvel’s the X Men). Instead of working together, they decide that a pissing match is a more appropriate way to catch the crime syndicate they are both pursuing. Unfortunately this lack of cooperation only makes the bad guys job all the easier and one has to wonder how either of the two rival law enforcement agencies ever bring anyone to justice.
Though the majority of the action set pieces are actually really well executed and at times inventive. It should be noted that the opening action sequence with its headache inducing fast cut editing is not representative of what follows it. Of course the film’s visuals are first rate, and the performances from the entire cast are very enjoyable. With Yifei Liu (The Assassins) in the role of a wheelchair bound character named Shong Yayu, who is able to move objects with the shear for of her emotions. Overall for a film that gets very little right, The Four at least manages to be fun throughout.
The Four comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. Contrast and black levels look very good, there are no problems with compression and the image looks crisp throughout.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in Mandarin and a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in Mandarin.
Also included with this release are removable English subtitles. Range wise both audio mixes sound great as action sequences have the appropriate amount of kick and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented. Dialog comes through with crystal clear clarity and everything sounds balanced.
Extras for this release include a trailer for the film (1 minute 41 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Mandarin with English subtitles), deleted scenes (4 minutes 10 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Mandarin with English subtitles) and a ‘Making of’ featurette (24 minutes 22 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Mandarin with English subtitles), which is mostly made up of on-set footage. Rounding out the extras are trailers for other titles also available from Well Go USA. Overall The Four gets a solid audio / video presentation from Well Go USA.
Note: This film is also being released by Well Go USA on DVD.