Tsui Hark's 1995 The Blade is another in the list of Hong Kong classics to never receive a quality English friendly home video release. The Blade has been released in its native Hong Kong only on VCD and laserdisc, for some reason a dvd has never been made available. I cannot find any record of a legitimate US release either (although bootlegs have been around). So if you want to see this awesome film what options are open to us?
A Japanese dvd was released some years ago, which I have not been able to view, I am certain though that this release is not English friendly. A Thai release is available and that is English subbed but not anamorphic, and as such I have not bothered to track that disc down. The other releases available are the UK Hong Kong classics dvd, which is subbed but not anamorphic and the French HK Video dvd, available as a single disc edition and also as a two disc box set which are anamorphic but not English friendly.
|French dvd single disc|
|French dvd two disc box set|
English subtitles are available to download to make your own version of the dvd and for the time being at least, this seems to be the only quality way to see the film.
Below are screen captures from the two dvds, while every effort has been made to capture as close to the same frame as possible, using the equipment I have it is not possible to guarantee it is exactly the same frame. The screen grabs are presented exactly as captured and have not been processed in any way, click on the capture to see it full size. The Hong Kong classics UK dvd is first, followed by the HK Video French dvd.
(The third capture was particularly difficult to get right, as it is a flash that lights Chiu Man-Cheuk's face and it makes it look like the French capture is too bright, but its just a difference in the frames.)
Having done dvd comparisons for The Mission and The Blade, it is lamentable that the two movies don't have releases in the US and that Hong Kong and UK editions are either very poor or also nonexistent.
Its no surprise that the French dvds are way out in front of the competition in the quality stakes, in all cases I have seen, French dvds of Hong Kong films are at least the equal of and usually better than any other versions other than in English language options, this applies particularly to image quality but also often to extras as well. Why do the French have so much more respect for their customers and the film makers than the their US and UK counterparts?
The next dvd comparison I tackle will be Patrick Yau/Johnnie To's The Longest nite. ( and surprise, the French dvd wins again!)