Reviews of Region 2 discs from Ultimate DVD #18

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Stir of Echoes

A small fraction of Ultimate DVD's huge Region 2 Reviews section - dozens of new discs every month! - The UK's Biggest Video Store
Search for DVDs & videos, or use links below to buy the discs reviewed
BlackStar give up to 20% discount off all pre-orders!

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon • Top Rated: 15

The Movie

Officially the most lucrative foreign language film ever, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon’s reputation has been further bolstered by a deluge of awards. For once, you can believe the hype: this is cinema in its most exquisite form, transporting the viewer to a beautifully realized Beijing of 300 years ago.

It’s a tale of noble warriors, with legendary fighter Li Mu Bai (Yun Fat) drawn into a bitter conflict with his old enemy Jade Fox (Pei-Pei Cheng), who killed his Master. Hong Kong film veteran Yuen Wo-Ping has choreographed the chaos, with flights over rooftops, somersaults, running up walls and horizontal gliding that makes The Matrix look like a playground squabble. But it’s the sheer elegance of his work that impresses here: this ‘enlightened kung fu’ defies the law of gravity and knocks breath out of the viewer. Magical, mesmerizing and fantastic, the lethal Peter Pan fighters take martial arts to a whole new level.

Yet as much as Crouching Tiger focuses on conflict, so it’s about love. The unconsummated relationship between Mu Bai and Shu Lien (Yeoh) gives the film a tangible emotional pivot, and human feelings are shown to be just as dangerous as any weapon. The repressed regret and anguish generated between Yun-Fat and Yeoh is guaranteed to break the sternest of hearts.

With stunning scenery and design, Crouching Tiger is a film of impeccable vision and exceptional artistry.5 stars - Digital Dynamite Utterly unmissable.

The Extras

The Menus are loaded with prime cuts from the martial arts sequences – stylish, but slightly peeving for anyone coming to the film fresh. The main feature is available to view in Mandarin or English: the former is recommended, although the dubbed version is almost acceptable – if you can cope with some Water Margin-esque moments.

A 20-minute ‘Making of’ takes viewers onto the Beijing set, as Lee brings to life his epic “Sense and Sensibility with Martial Arts” and locals look on in gentle bewilderment. There’s footage of Wo-Ping’s wire work, input from many of the cast and crew, plus a look at the composition of the score and even Coco Lee’s gushy pop song. Made before the film’s release, it’s ironic to find co-writer James Schamus prophetically predicting that they could have a worldwide hit on their hands.

Schamus joins forces with the director for the Audio Commentary, and it’s a highly entertaining discourse. Lee offers the serious stuff (this ‘enlightened kung fu’ means that the martial artist imagines themselves weightless), while the writer adds the gags (“The famous Sarah Ferguson vault coming up!”). Also up for discussion: memories of the first Cannes screening, the film’s unconventional audio design and Lee’s insistence on composing shots to show off the costumes and sets.

In Conversation With Michelle Yeoh is a 14-minute video with the (very glamorous) actress, mixing chat, clips and on-set footage. The Photo Montage is a seven-minute moving gallery of images, Talent Files cover the key players, while Trailers cover this title plus Vertical Limit and Not One Less.

The only criticism: Lee’s commentary mentions that the first cut was 20 minutes longer. So where are 4 stars - Damn Good Discthose Deleted Scenes then?

David Richardson

The year's most talked about movie goes before our critical gaze... So is it Sense and Sensibility with kung fu... or so much more?

Crouching Tiger... - Buy this at Black StarBlackstar

Michelle Yeoh
Chow Yun-Fat
Zhang Ziyi
Chang Chen
Pei-Pei Cheng
Ang Lee
Year • 2000
Duration • 120 mins
Screen Ratio • 2.35:1
Anamorphic • Yes
Audio • Dolby Digital 5.1
Chapters • 28
Language • English (dubbed), Mandarin
Subtitles • English, Polish, Hungarian, Czech, Turkish, Portuguese, Hebrew, Hindi, Bulgarian, Arabic
UK Release •
June 18
Distributor •
Columbia Tristar



Chapter 7
When the Green Destiny sword is stolen, Shu Lien chases the thief across the rooftops of the city. Prepare to be amazed.

Buy this DVD @BlackStar: discount
on pre-orders!

This review from Ultimate DVD #18

Stir of Echoes • Back to top Rated: 15
You'll see this if you have any sense

The Movie

This passed almost unnoticed through cinemas, thanks to Brucie’s The Sixth Sense dominating spooky movie-making at the time. After watching it, you wish Willis had done an invisible man flick, as if there’s any Kevin Bacon film over the last two years which should be buried, it’s Hollow Man. Put simply, Stir of Echoes is magnificent, but you can see where the comparisons come in, and why this has an unfair reputation as a Sixth clone.

Based on a Richard Matheson story, this sees Bacon as blue-collar worker Tom. After some impromptu domestic hypnotism, he finds himself opened up to a variety of horrific visions which he slowly makes sense of, realizing there’s something in the past which only he can put right. Featuring one of Bacon’s best ever performances, an excellent combination of script and direction and some stunning cinematography, it’s a tragedy this wasn’t more widely seen. 5 stars - Digital DynamitePut this right today!

The Extras

While not exactly hundreds of extras (it’s odd there’s no ‘Making of’ feature nor proper Trailers), the attention to detail in both presentation and the items themselves still makes them worthwhile. The three TV Spots are an object lesson in editing, similarly the way a Music Video seamlessly blends band footage and film clips: hugely watchable. A behind-the-scenes feature is one of this reviewer’s most hated DVD elements: five and half minutes of footage of filming. Unexplained, without context, and utterly pointless.

The Commentary from director and screenplay writer David Koepp works well. For a start, he urges you to watch the film once through first, and then goes into a lot of detail on each scene which rewards that first viewing. Although on his own, he keeps the chatter going throughout (even at the end he’s still talking 13 to the dozen: “Over-written last line? You decide.”), and it’s a brilliant journey through a film-maker’s profession. He’s generous too, happy to point out where suggestions from Bacon were used, and hilarious: “This effect which looks like a pin being pushed through a human hand we did by sticking a pin through the human hand. And we only had to give this kid $100. What’s wrong with 3 stars - Worth a Watchthe youth of America?”

Ian Atkins

Stir of Echoes - Buy this at Black StarBlackstar

Kevin Bacon
Kathryn Erbe
Zachary David Cope
Director • David Koepp
Year • 1999
Duration • 95 mins
Screen Ratio • 1.78:1
Anamorphic • Yes
Audio • Dolby Digital 5.1
Chapters • 15
Languages •
Subtitles • English, English for hearing impaired
UK Release • May 7
Distributor • 20th Century Fox

Chapter 13
Thanks to his ‘gift’ Tom now knows far too much about what happened in the past. As the guilty party comes for him, how will he survive? And what’s the significance of “the feathers”?

Buy this DVD @BlackStar

from Ultimate DVD #18

Reviews © Visual Imagination Ltd 2001. Not for reproduction

UltimateDVD footer