Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 10th, 2013
BluRay released: March 19th, 2012
Approximate running time: 129 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Mandarin, Dolby Digital Stereo Mandarin, DTS-HD 5.1 English, Dolby Digital Stereo English
BluRay Release: Well Go USA
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.98
The Great Magician was co-written and directed by Tung-Shing Yee (Derek Yee), who’s other notable film’s include The Lunatics, Shinjuku Incident and Triple Tap. Key collaborators on The Great Magician include cinematographer Nobuyasu Kita (Crows Zero II, 13 Assassins) and screenwriters Tin Nam Chun (Crime Story, Seven Swords) and Ho Leung Lau (Painted Skin, 14 Blades).
Though the plot firmly places the events which unfold in this film in the past. It does not take on the more serious tone that some many recent Chinese film’s have that have been rooted to events from the past. Also to be far in this regard, it should be noted that any claim to this film actually being based on actually events, should be taken with a grain of salt.
The tone of the film is almost always lighthearted and the humor is often tongue and cheek. Which ultimately makes the events which unfold on screen all the more engaging and easy to digest. Also it is clear from the get go that what you are about to see is meant as nothing more than just entertainment for the sake of entertaining the audience. And is this regard, this film succeeds and then some.
From a production stand point there is not a single area in which this film excels. The visuals are first rate, the action and magic themed set pieces are all inventive and well executed. At just over two hours there is not a single moment wasted or dragged out beyond its shelf life. Needless to say things move along at a brisk from one moment to the next.
Performance wise their entire cast are superb ion their respective roles, especially Tony Leung Chiu Wai (Hard Boiled, In the Mood for Love), in the role of this film’s protagonist a magician named Chang Hsien. Yet again he gives a charismatic performance that makes his character all the more tangible. Two other standout performances include Ching Wan Lau (Black Mask) in the role of a cruel warlord / general named Bully Lei and Xun Zhou (The Banquet) in the role of Liu Yin, the seventh wife of Bully Lei.
The Great Magician comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. This is another strong transfer from Well Go USA that has nicely saturated colors, accurate looking flesh tones, solid black and contrast levels and details look crisp throughout.
This release comes with four audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in Mandarin, a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in Mandarin, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English and a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in English. All four audio mixes are in very good shape as dialog is always clear, everything sound balanced and robust when it needs too. With the two DTS-HD 5.1 mixes offering up an audio experience that is always satisfying and dynamic range wise. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles that are easy to read and follow.
Extras for this release include a trailer for the film (52 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and a ‘Making of’ featurette (37 minutes 55 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Chinese with English subtitles), which includes behind the scenes footage that is interspersed in-between comments from the cast and crew. Also included with this release are trailers for other titles also available from Well Go USA. Overall The Great Magician gets a solid release from Well Go USA.
Note: This film is also being released by Well Go USA on DVD.