Plot: What’s it about?
When a magazine names their choices as the future’s ten most likely leaders, you might think it to be an honor to be included among those listed. There would be pride in being one of those named and certainly a chance to gain some fame and public recognition. While this seems to be a terrific opportunity to be sure, some people might use this knowledge to hatch a criminal plot and that is what happens in this case. When the ten men named on the list begin to disappear one at a time, this sends the police force into a frenzy and they quickly capture one of the ten, Tak Ken (Andy Lau) and question him. In an effort to protect Ken from potential harm they assign Chui to watch over him and make sure no harm comes to him. Chui soon starts to see the girlfriend of Ken in places, but this is strange since she has been dead for some time. As if things aren’t strange enough for Ken and Chui, they soon find themselves in the middle of a supernatural event that could change the world!
I had heard many good things about this movie over the past few weeks, so I decided to go ahead and give the disc a spin to see for myself. I expected an action movie with a solid storyline and acting and that is exactly what I got from this movie. I liked the action sequences and found the characters and storyline to be very interesting, I can easily see an American remake that would be a huge success. The balance between action and story is quite strong and neither suffers in order to advance the other, which is rare in American action flicks. Since the storyline is more involved the testosterone level is lower than most action films, but I don’t think that harms the movie at all. If you want wall to wall action this isn’t the correct choice, but if you want an action movie with a solid backbone this is a good option. The visuals are very good and use placement and color filters to enhance the impact of the on screen events. I recommend this release as a rental to those who love a good action movie, but the expensive price tag could scare off potential buyers.
This film was directed by Gordon Chan, who has directed a plethora of terrific films that span several genres. This film stays close to the action formulas we see a lot of here in America, but also contains a distinct non American feel also. The visuals are very impressive and the colors used in some scenes to bath the areas work to perfection. Chan is able to deliver some engaging action sequences without flushing the storyline down the tubes and I think this one would stand up well against some of the more successful American action flicks. Chan uses the camera placement very well and moves in close at just the right times to put us right where we need to be. Some of the shot compositions are out of this world and I feel this is one of Chan’s most visually impressive outings. If you want to see more of Chan’s films I recommend Beast Cops, The First Option, Fight Back To School, and Fist Of Legend. The cast in this film is good and is headed up by the terrific Andy Lau (The Conmen In Las Vegas, Running Out Of Time), who turns in his usual excellent performance.
Video: How does it look?
Armageddon is presented in a 1.85:1 widescreen transfer, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. This is a solid visual presentation, but it does have some flaws which prevent me from giving this a higher rating. The source print shows nicks and flecks which shouldn’t be present since this is not an older film. The same is true with the grain evident on the transfer, for a film only a few years old this source print is lacking. Aside from the print issues this is a very good transfer and I noticed few compression errors. The colors seem bright and without smears and flesh tones look normal and warm. The contrast appears to be in order also, with complex shadows and no visible detail loss.
Audio: How does it sound?
This release contains Cantonese and Mandarin language tracks both in Dolby Digital 5.1 and subtitles are offered in English and Chinese. This doesn’t have the amount of surround activity I expected, but I am still pleased with the overall results. The dialogue sounds terrific and I noticed no volume issues or distortion at all, even though I can’t understand the words I know they sound clear and crisp. The effects come across well and make good use of the surrounds when they need to. This isn’t as power an audio track as I would have liked, but it does a more than adequate service.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This release includes talent files, but I can’t read them since they’re only in Chinese. A twenty-two minute behind the scenes featurette is also included which covers some interviews and behind the scenes footage, but again this is in Chinese only so much of it is lost on me. The theatrical trailer rounds the bonus materials.