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Like Dragon Dynasty's recent Blu-Ray release of An Empress and the Warriors, their new Blu-Ray for Legend of the Black Scorpion disappointingly has exactly the same extras as its' DVD counterpart.

The movie itself is shown in a well enough light though, with the English and Mandarin Dolby 5.1 and DTS soundtracks from the DVD put to good use, via a slight punching up of things like the bass track. The picture is 2.35:1 1080p and looks outstanding, and the menu design has been done in a more pleasant manner than the DVD.

Overall, even with the lack of new extras, if you don't already have the DVD, this is still clearly the superior version to buy.
Blu-Ray rating:

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Legend of the Black Scorpion

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Overall, the packaging is very nice, complete with a cardboard slip case. The artwork isn't as good as the Hong Kong version (released by Mega Star) but I guess we should at least be grateful that it doesn't have Daniel Wu dressed in a sleeveless black t-shirt punching at the potential buyer.

As per other Dragon Dynasty releases, several trailers play before you can get to the main menu screen. Really, please, Dragon Dynasty, stop this. It's just annoying as hell. Just include them as an extra and geeks eveywhere will be happy.

The actual menus aren't really anything special; in fact, beyond the initial animated ones on each disc, they're pretty bland. But they're easy to navigate and get the job done, which is all one really wants from DVD menus anyway.

The Movie

Given that The Banquet had the largest budget for a Mainland production to date, the HK DVD already had stellar audio/visual quality. But the Dragon Dynasty release does improve on matters, even if it's not to a huge degree. The picture on the DD version definitely has better color saturation and a sharper picture.


Dragon Dynasty


Mega Star

Audio-wise, the DD version does punch things up a bit. There seems to be more attention paid to the surround effects, which really pays off during the action sequences. Do yourself a favor, though, and stay away from the English dub slapped on here. It's not a "Kung Fu Theatre" level of cheesiness, but it definitely detracts from the more dramatic parts of the film.

Like Dragon Dynasty's other releases, the subtitles (available in English and Captioned English) are easy to read, and they do offer a better translation than the Mega Star version. They are put on the lower "black bar", which might annoy some people looking to make the picture fill out their HD set's screen. But for a movie with sumptuous visuals like this, I enjoyed not having subtitles plastered across the action.

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The Extras

Commentary with Bey Logan: The only extra on the first disc, this is one of Logan's better commentaries on a DD DVD, even though (as Logan himself admits) he's not the biggest expert on Mainland films out there. But he still does manage to impart a lot of knowledge without coming across as too academic or rote. In particular, I found Logan's riffing on how the results here compare to the source material of "Hamlet" to be quite fascinating, and his breakdown of how certain scenes were constructed was enlightening. And, as with the case of most of Logan's other commentaries, learning the names of the actors and crew involved with the production (even the minor players) becomes invaluable for gaining geek cred.

Interview with Feng Xiaogang: Interviews with Mainland directors are rarely seen outside of China, and as such, this becomes a very solid extra. It's not hard-hitting at all, but after seeing this, you will gain a bit of insight of how film-making in China differs from that of the styles of Hong Kong and Hollywood.

Interview with Daniel Wu: This is really an outstanding extra, and well worth the price of admission if you're a fan of Daniel Wu and/or Hong Kong movies. I have to admit, I really didn't think much of Wu as a "serious" actor before this, but after watching it, I have a whole hell of a lot of respect for him. This sort of thing is really what Dragon Dynasty needs to include more of on their releases, especially as English-speaking fans of Hong Kong movies rarely get to see one of the participants talk so candidly about the process.

Behind the Scenes: There are two featurettes here that were also on the Mega Star version, but they are subtitled in English this time around. It's pretty much your standard promo fluff stuff most "special editions" pack in to justify a second DVD. It might clue you in to a couple of the snigglets that happened during production, but stuff like "Daniel Wu was cold when they were filming in Mongolia" ain't exactly earth-shattering.

Trailers: Includes four of the Chinese and Dragon Dynasty versions of the main feature's trailer. The trailers that play at the beginning of disc one are puzzingly not included in this section.