This 2-DVD set comes packaged in a nice "metallic" slip case and is some of the better-looking artwork Dragon Dynasty has used. The menus are also very nice; the main ones for both discs are animated (even with flying bullet shells) and it's easy enough to get through them. But, please, enough with the auto-playing trailers. I admit it's probably more of a pet peeve of mine, but I find it annoying, especially when it's the same trailers that seem to keep getting re-used on these discs.
There has been a bit of controversy with this release because the picture is cropped. I'm sad to say that the reports are true, so this is not the "ultimate" edition the pacakaging promises. But, to be honest, the cropped part is so small that I didn't notice it until I did a comparison with the Criterion version, and Dragon Dynasty did such an outstanding job with restoring the picture in other ways (most notably color) that I'm willing to forgive the cropping.
Unless you're a total audiophile, though, you're probably not going to find any fault with the sound transfer. There's the same English dub (in mono) that's been floating around for years included, but you'll want to either slap on the Dolby 5.1 or DTS Cantonese mix and crank the volume up. The gunfights sound absolutely spectacular on this version, and it adds that much more punch to the sequences.
Like Dragon Dynasty's other releases, the subtitles (available in English, Captioned English, and Spanish) are easy to read. Unfortunately, they're "dubtitles" -- they follow the English dub of the movie.
Commentary with Bey Logan: The only extra on the first disc, Logan's commentary here is about what we've come to expect from him. It gets a bit dry at times, but he liven things up with some personal stories, since he knows and/or has worked with several people involved with this film.
Interview with John Woo: At nearly forty minutes, this is one of Dragon Dynasty's more amibitious extras, and one of its' most rewarding. This offered up more information than Woo's commentary on the Criterion version. Perhaps it is a matter of him becoming more fluent in English or just not having to compete with blabbermouths like Roger Avary. At any rate, this is a very interesting look behind the scenes of the movie, and Hong Kong film-making as a whole.
Interviews with Terence Chang, Philip Kwok, and Philip Chan: Dragon Dynasty usually does a good job with the interviews they include, and this disc is no exception. If there is a complaint, I would have to say I would have liked more time spent on Philip Kwok.
Location Guide: Hosted by actress Kea Wong, this featurette takes us around Hong Kong to show the locations used in the film, as well as give some trivia about the movie. I'm a big travel show buff, and so I dug this, but your mileage may vary. It's still a nice bit to include.
Stranglehold sneak preview: Not really so much of an extra than a long commercial for the upcoming video game (which is the sequel to this movie). Still, it was pretty cool seeing the game's footage (which does look damn good) on a big screen, rather than a small monitor.
Trailers: Includes the original 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.
Dragon Dynasty's first few forays into the realm of high-definition have not been well recieved by some die-hard fans, and their new (as of December 2010) Blu-ray release of Hard Boiled unfortunately isn't likely to change their minds.
Unlike some other previous Dragon Dynasty Blu-rays, the picture here is 1080p. The quality doesn't match up to newer films, but for a foreign movie that's almost 20 years old, it looks fine for the most part. The one big caveat here is that the 1.85:1 picture retains the same slightly cropped frame as DD's DVD release.
Dragon Dynasty also did not change the English dubtitles from the DVD. If you can get past that, the sound mix (which can be listened to in English 5.1, Cantonese DTS, or Cantonese mono) is solid, being one of the better treatments Hard Boiled has gotten in this department.
Extras-wise, the Blu-ray offers the same content (minus the Terence Chang interview and Stranglehold footage) as the DVD version. It's still one of the better special features packages Dragon Dynasty has put out and is well worth checking out if you want to learn more about the movie.
Overall, this is a decent Blu-ray and worth picking up if you don't already have the Dragon Dynasty DVD and/or are a huge fan of the movie, but it's definitely not the "ultimate edition" the packaging labels itself as.