Blood Brothers is set in 1930s Shanghai, a flourishing modern-day Babylon, replete with warlords, politicians, wealthy industrialists, courtesans and gangsters. Three innocent young brothers, Kang (Liu Ye, Curse of the Gol... more »den Flower ), Fung (Daniel Wu, Around the World in 80 Days ) and Xiao Hu (Tony Yang), arrive in this seeming paradise in search of a better life. Enticed by the rich and powerful world of organized crime, the three brothers start down a path of no return: they are hired to do the bidding for one of the city s largest mob syndicate. When Fung begins an affair with the mob boss girlfriend, beauty Lulu (Shu Qi, Transporter), and life takes a difficult turn for all three brothers when the forbidden love affair is exposed. Friends turn against friends, brother against brother. The days of innocence have passed; the three brothers must stand up as men and make their choices.« less
"I don't usually write to many negative reviews for products but I thought I'd say something about this disc which I picked up today when I spied it in a local store. Now right off let me say I'm not going to bash the film. I grew up watching John Woo films so his name lead me to this but I'm not going to critique him or the film. Rather a word of warning on the disc itself. I bought it rather hastily because of Mr. Woo's name attachment and I've been mulling over a decision to pick up an all region copy for some time. However seeing that it would recieve an American release I waited and was somewhat suprised to find it in a store today. I bought it as fast as I could. So fast indeed that I didn't notice printing on the packaging stating that the film only contained English audio. Thankfully though thats a small misprint as the film does have the original Mandarin audio. But upon watching the movie two more flaws perk up. One are the subtitles annoyingly more captions as every line gets a little connotation like captions would say if character Mark is speaking highlighting him by (Mark) before the dialogue. I've also seen several previews for the film on Youtube and could feel something off with the framing of the image. Now I know I should take something from the IMDB with heavy skepticism but when trailers show an image to be 2:35.1 the same as listed in the technical specs on the IMDB but the image presented on DVD is somewhere in the 1:85.1 range greatly limiting the image composition I do tend to think something was mucked up in the DVD. In short First Look Studios dropped the ball with this release. I don't expect extra features to rival the original release but couple bad subtitles with a cropped image and I can't recommend the release, especially when its going for a full retail price. Hopefully First Look will rectify this error."
Three stars for the movie, one for the DVD!
Libretio | 07/19/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)
BLOOD BROTHERS [Tian Tang Kou]
(Hong Kong - 2007)
DVD aspect ratio: 1.78:1 Theatrical aspect ratio: 2.39:1 (Super 35) Theatrical soundtrack: Dolby Digital
John Woo's name features heavily on the packaging for this inauspicious DVD release from First Look Pictures, though the film was actually helmed by debutant director Alexi Tan who struggles to contrive an authentic Hong Kong blockbuster. The plot is loosely based on Woo's magnificent BULLET IN THE HEAD (1990), in which three childhood friends (led by the ubiquitous Daniel Wu) travel to wartime Shanghai in search of fame and fortune, only to suffer a variety of emotional traumas whilst in the employ of a ruthless gangster. Tan's film lacks the scope of Woo's masterpiece, but the period decor and heartfelt melodrama provide note-perfect counterpoint to explosions of high-kicking violence.
Unfortunately, First Look's DVD is a travesty of colossal proportions and should to be avoided at all costs. Filmed in Super 35 for a 2.35:1 release print (and transferred at that ratio for its Asian home video debut), First Look's US disc has been cropped to 1.78:1. Worse still, the image hasn't been 'opened up' from the original Super 35 frame, it's been cropped from a 2.35:1 element, with severe image-loss at either side of the picture at all times. To add insult to injury, the closing titles of the main feature *and* the accompanying trailer are both framed correctly, which rubs your nose in the fact that the rest of the film is so obviously compromised.
To make matters worse, the only English subtitle option for this Mandarin-language film is for the deaf and hard of hearing. Which is fair enough if you *are* deaf or hard of hearing, but the majority who *aren't* are therefore required to suffer on-screen descriptions of various sound effects, many of which last an extremely long time indeed.
In short, the disc should be recalled and remastered, and anyone who has already bought a copy of this initial version should be reimbursed or supplied with a 'corrected' replacement.
Has John Woo come to this?
Bob | 07/17/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)
"[me typing] All three reviewers are correct. This is a remake [me sipping coffee] of Woo's classic Bullet in the Head. The characters were very one dimensional and was hard to care care about them, unlike the ones [my front door opening] from BIH. Save your money [wife looking at me funny] and don't even rent this garbage. As for my [...]. You will understand when you watch the movie in [cue classical music] subtitles. I don't think I've ever been more annoyed with subtitles than this movie and I've watched a lot of HK cinema. John Woo should be ashamed to have his name associated with this movie."
Not as labeled for DVD...very contrived...
Steve Kuehl | Ben Lomond, CA | 07/10/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Blood Brothers AKA Gong Wu...
As has been reviewed prior - nothing is as it has been labeled or advertised. This is a Mandarin film with no "English Language 5.1". The 16x9 is weak at best with subs appearing as paragraphed text in the picture. Ironically, the "John Woo Presents" is similar to the "Quentin Tarantino Presents" when they have nothing to do with it. QT does appear in the trailer for Sukiyaki Western Django - which looks awesome - but everyting else as produced is a sham.
The story of 1930s Shanghai can be seen so much better in The White Countess - in every way. In this version we see three brothers try for the better life but instead receive the wicked edge of existence as they make "decisions" that affect their lives forever.
Technically, the sound was mixed horribly, and the music appeared to be made from the equivalent of a Chinese Lifetime movie. The picture tried so hard to look good and had Woo behind it for the high-end feel, but you can't help but watch and feel frustrated as each storyline develops.
Go in with low expectations, do not pay the sales price (which should be no more than $15 USD), and enjoy a well-looking Chinese production that felt like WC minus everything."
Tears of the Gunmen
Lee Armstrong | Winterville, NC United States | 09/02/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Perhaps it is because I watched "Blood Brothers" after watching the horrendous August that "Blood Brothers" seemed a bit slow, but fairly interesting. Shu Qi who glowed in The Transporter does a good job as the lovely showgirl Lulu who dreams of being a film star. Her costumes alone made me like the picture. Chang Chen who was in Happy Together plays the assassin Mark who develops an attraction to Lulu. The three "blood brothers" who come to Shanghai do good work in the film. Most impressive is the sensitive Daniel Wu's Fung who has second thoughts about killing people before the final bloody frames fly fast. Wu won a Best Supporting Actor award from the Golden Horse Film Festival for New Police Story. His friend Kang is a bit more hard core. Lui Ye from Curse of the Golden Flower & Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress eventually becomes ruthless before his deathbed confessional. Hu is played by Tony Yang as a not-too-bright along-for-the-ride brother who can't hold his liquor. At the top of the Shanghai crime ladder is Boss Hong played by Song Hong Lei from Zhou Yu's Train. He is ruthless and bloodthirsty. Lulu Li plays the hometown girl Su Zhen with great simplicity and sincerity. The strength of this film is the many excellent performances of the actors and the stunning cinematography such as the snow shot that bookends the film. However, new director Alexi Tan and the script often teeter into melodrama as blood spatters punctuated by tears of the gunmen before their barrels again explode. As another reviewer pointed out, the subtitles are for the hearing impaired, letting the hearing audience know when classical music or choral music is playing. While the film did drag, it still was a whole lot better than Josh Hartnet's film "August" which one must watch to experience the meaning of the word tedious. Enjoy!"