LEGEND OF THE BLACK SCORPION (aka THE BANQUET)
on the Dragon Dynasty label from Genius Products and The Weinstein Company
Two Disc Ultimate Edition DVD
o Feature Length Commentary By Hong Kong Cinema Expert Bey Logan
o Interview Gallery
Master Of Ceremonies: An Exclusive Interview With Director Feng Xiao-Gang
Warrior Prince: An Exclusive Interview With Leading Man Daniel Wu
o Production Gallery
The Making Of Legend Of The Black Scorpion
A Dynasty Uncovered: Behind The Scenes On Legend Of The Black Scorpion
o Trailer Gallery
10th Century China sets the stage for this extraordinary action-drama inspired by Shakespeare's Hamlet. Legend of the Black Scorpion, internationally known as The Banquet, is not a strict retelling of Hamlet, but it does use the main elements from that story as a springboard for its incredible tale of political treachery and murder most foul.
Directed by Xiaogang Feng with action choreographed by the renowned Yuen Wo-ping, Legend of the Black Scorpion is as beautiful as it is deadly. The handful of action sequences that take place in the film are interwoven into the events of the story in such a way that they artfully enhance the dramatic tension without going too far into fantasy. As for violence, however, things do get just a tad (make that a lot) more bloody than some squeamish viewers (you know who you are) may wish to experience.
On the acting front, the entire cast is wonderful. I strongly recommend viewing this movie in Mandarin with English subtitles, rather than suffering through the English dubbed version. Your viewing enjoyment will be that much the greater for it. Personally, this is one of the best movies I've read all year!
So, for fans of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Hero, and for those interested in an original take on Hamlet, Legend of the Black Scorpion is sure to please!
A.J.'s Movie Rating: 3 1/2 Stars (Good Stuff!)
DVD FEATURES REVIEW:
Release date: February 26, 2008
Format: Widescreen - Enhanced for 16x9 television
Language: Mandarin / English
Region: Region 1 (USA & Canada)
Rating: Not Rated - A.J.'s note: Would most likely receive strong R rating or equivalent for violence/sexuality.
Running time: 126 minutes
Commentary With Hong Kong Cinema Expert Bey Logan: From a guy who really knows what he's talking about! Rapid fire and incredibly informative, this well prepared commentary provides a wealth of insight about Hong Kong cinema and the making of Legend of the Black Scorpion.
Interviews: Includes "Master of Ceremonies - An Exclusive Interview With Director Feng Xiaogang" (apx 20 minutes) and "Warrior Prince - An Exclusive Interview With Leading Man Daniel Wu". (apx 23:30 minutes) Both are informative interviews, intercut with scenes from the film, from the directing and acting perspectives.
The Making of Legend of the Black Scorpion: This is a 15 minute featurette, touching on all aspects of the filmmaking process, from direction to costumes to action sequences. Includes some fun snippet interviews and behind the scenes moments.
A Dynasty Uncovered - Behind the Scenes on Legend of the Black Scorpion: Okay, let's call this one the 'real' making-of documetary. a very nice 43 minutes of more cast and crew interviews and, *surprise* more behind the scenes footage!
Trailer Gallery: Includes the teaser and Cannes promo trailers, as well as two theatrical trailers for Legend of the Black Scorpion.
A.J. Says: Overall, this is a pretty solid DVD presentation - close to 2 hours of special feature content. The highlight for me is the fantastic commentary track!
A.J.'s DVD Rating: 3 Stars (Good Stuff!)