Is BD the worst thing that has happened to cinema recently?

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Is BD the worst thing that has happened to cinema recently?

Unread postby HungFist » 11 Aug 2015, 07:32

Today I found out Arrow is releasing a 13 disc Battles Without Honour and Humanity box set. Am I excited? Not really. Why? Because I've seen those films a dozen times and I own them already (on DVD).

A good quality HK BD for the 36th Chamber of Shaolin came out a while ago. Did I buy it? No, not yet. Why? Because I've seen that film a dozen times and I own it already (on DVD).

And what about Synapse's upcoming Suspiria BD? Nice, but you know, I've seen that film a dozen times and I own it already (on DVD).

Of course it's nice to have good films available in HD, but it seems all we're getting these days is re-releases of the same bloody films we've seen and bough a trillion time already. At the same time people are forgetting there are countless fantastic films that never came out on DVD and most of us probably never saw. I mean, many of Sonny Chiba's best action films have never been released on DVD or Video. And it doesn't seem like BD is going to change that. Rather, it seems like people who want to purchase their 17th edition of Terminator 2 are in for a treat.

So sad, so boring.

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Re: Is BD the worst thing that has happened to cinema recent

Unread postby Ivan Drago » 11 Aug 2015, 10:10

To be fair, I missed the DVDs of a lot of these.

Arrow is releasing a set of films by Yoshishige Yoshida, and these are all new to English-language home video. Dragon Inn is making its US/UK home video debut.

The BFI Flipside range is dedicated to really forgotten films.

It depends what you're looking for. There are the usual "here-we-go-again" titles, but there also lots of surprises.
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Re: Is BD the worst thing that has happened to cinema recent

Unread postby saltysam » 11 Aug 2015, 17:54

It's amazing that the same stuff can be constantly repackaged and still sell...but it must do so i'd hardly criticise the studios for it. if i was boss of a releasing label it'd be a no-brainer to release Star Wars in fancy new packaging and sell 20000 units rather than an old catalogue title that would be lucky to reach four figures in sales.
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Re: Is BD the worst thing that has happened to cinema recent

Unread postby Shingster » 11 Aug 2015, 23:41

Sorry but this topic is more than a bit silly Hung, you think this is much different to when DVD took over from LaserDisc? You think us older fans hadn't already seen & collected the likes of Suspiria, 36th Chamber of Shaolin, etc on VHS or VCD or LD by the time their DVDs rolled around? Take Blu-ray out the equation and the progression would have been DVD to streaming, and do you think niche cinema would be treated any better for that? You think Netflix & Amazon would be willing to spend thousands of pounds on new 2k/4k scans and restorations on the likes of Zatoichi & Battles Without Honour series so their streaming customers can get the best quality releases, or woud they stick to standard definition where the file sizes are smaller & the service less strained? Without Blu-ray we probably never would have seen the entire Zatoichi series in any decent-quality digital form here in the west.

My tastes are mostly in allignment with yours so obviously I feel your pain when it comes to the lack of Sonny Chiba on DVD or BD, but do you honestly think the fans would be chomping at the bit for more Chiba awesomeness had Blu-ray never come around? If the interest was there the companies would go to bat and break through the usual rights issues and remastering/manufacturing costs to get them out there and make money, but there's no real interest in them anymore, the bottom has completely fallen out of the asian film market and Chiba cinema was pretty niche even back in the noughties when Asian cinema was at its most popular. It's no coincidence that pretty much all the Chiba titles we have on DVD here in the west were first released back then, the rest are mostly rebadges of old releases. :(

Also to say that only the same old films are being released on Blu-ray is just completely blinkered. There's a whole boatload of really eclectic titles coming out on BD across the various labels each year. The problem is that most of these releases don't fit into your relatively narrow band of interest so they probably don't register. Take a look at Arrow alone: yes their Asian film output isn't great, but their cult Euro stuff has been a pretty steady stream: Day of Anger, Cemetery without Crosses, Requiescant, Salvatore Giuliano, Tenderness of the Wolves, The Jacques Rivette Collection, The Firemen’s Ball, etc and that's all in a 6 month period (mostly)! Japan-wise we've got the Kiju Yoshida coming soon (as mentioned by Ivan Drago, which I have on pre-order), Stray Cat Rock Collection, Massacre Gun, Retaliation, and the Battles Without Honour & Humanity really needs a good quality release in HD.

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Re: Is BD the worst thing that has happened to cinema recent

Unread postby Markgway » 12 Aug 2015, 02:17

My tastes are probably as narrow as anyone here, but I'm happy enough with what's come out (and coming out) on BD.
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Re: Is BD the worst thing that has happened to cinema recent

Unread postby HungFist » 12 Aug 2015, 06:02

Shingster wrote:Sorry but this topic is more than a bit silly Hung, you think this is much different to when DVD took over from LaserDisc? You think us older fans hadn't already seen & collected the likes of Suspiria, 36th Chamber of Shaolin, etc on VHS or VCD or LD by the time their DVDs rolled around? Take Blu-ray out the equation and the progression would have been DVD to streaming, and do you think niche cinema would be treated any better for that? You think Netflix & Amazon would be willing to spend thousands of pounds on new 2k/4k scans and restorations on the likes of Zatoichi & Battles Without Honour series so their streaming customers can get the best quality releases, or woud they stick to standard definition where the file sizes are smaller & the service less strained? Without Blu-ray we probably never would have seen the entire Zatoichi series in any decent-quality digital form here in the west.

My tastes are mostly in allignment with yours so obviously I feel your pain when it comes to the lack of Sonny Chiba on DVD or BD, but do you honestly think the fans would be chomping at the bit for more Chiba awesomeness had Blu-ray never come around? If the interest was there the companies would go to bat and break through the usual rights issues and remastering/manufacturing costs to get them out there and make money, but there's no real interest in them anymore, the bottom has completely fallen out of the asian film market and Chiba cinema was pretty niche even back in the noughties when Asian cinema was at its most popular. It's no coincidence that pretty much all the Chiba titles we have on DVD here in the west were first released back then, the rest are mostly rebadges of old releases. :(

Also to say that only the same old films are being released on Blu-ray is just completely blinkered. There's a whole boatload of really eclectic titles coming out on BD across the various labels each year. The problem is that most of these releases don't fit into your relatively narrow band of interest so they probably don't register. Take a look at Arrow alone: yes their Asian film output isn't great, but their cult Euro stuff has been a pretty steady stream: Day of Anger, Cemetery without Crosses, Requiescant, Salvatore Giuliano, Tenderness of the Wolves, The Jacques Rivette Collection, The Firemen’s Ball, etc and that's all in a 6 month period (mostly)! Japan-wise we've got the Kiju Yoshida coming soon (as mentioned by Ivan Drago, which I have on pre-order), Stray Cat Rock Collection, Massacre Gun, Retaliation, and the Battles Without Honour & Humanity really needs a good quality release in HD.


I was wondering if someone would take my words more seriously than intended :D

My argument was not that BD is evil and should never (have) come out. Of course development is inevitable, and that's a good thing. I'd rather watch all movies on BD than DVD (or VHS). And of course the DVD industry was in pretty poor health already when BD was launched, but I do think that maybe companies as well as audiences would've had a bit more motivation to look for unreleased gems had BD not been launched so early since you can't re-release the same films a trillion times in the same format. Now the cycle started from the beginning too early IMO.

I might be wrong of course. Perhaps all companies would just have stopped releasing films or gone bankrupt.

It's true that streaming services probably wouldn't have invested in new scans for stuff like Zatoichi and we wouldn't have gotten HD versions of Battles without Honor and Humanity without BD. But that is completely beside my point. I don't think there was any urgent need for any of those HD upgrades. The urgent need is on all the great films that never even came out on DVD or VHS. I don't have any idea how many such treasures exist, but I do know that every time I visit Tokyo I see at least one brilliant film (in theatre) that has never been released in any home video format. And I don't mean just "obscure" genre stuff, I also mean mainstream movies that get compared to Akira Kurosawa films by the few who have seen them (e.g. Car 33 Doesn't Answer; Tokyo Bay).

Of course some interesting stuff comes out on BD, too. I think Retaliation and Massacre Gun were never available on DVD. The Stray Cat Rock BD set, on the other hand, doesn't interest me so much because I already bought them all on DVD in 2008. The Kiju Yoshida films have Japanese and French DVDs available as well I think, with fansubs on the internet if I'm not mistaken. It's nice to have official English friendly versions available of course, but I personally can't get all that excited about them.

Of course I'm only addressing the fields of my personal interest because I wouldn't know about the stuff that I don't know about. I don't think I'm alone with my opinions, though.

Andrew Monroe wrote:I too have become weary of the way that certain films get released over and over and over...(seems to be particularly frequent with eurocult titles). It's frustrating because there are literally hundreds of gialli and spaghetti westerns that have yet to have any sort of a home video release while the same handful of titles get half a dozen formats.


You mention films like Day of Anger and Cemetery without Crosses but haven't those already got a DVD release? I remember I almost bought Cemetery without Crosses about 7 years ago after I saw it on TV.

It's just sad that some great films get overlooked time after time, on VHS, DVD, and BD, and every time we get a new expensive format we probably get a smaller number of old films. I feel a lot of great films have already been forgotten, and more are being forgotten all the time because they've never been released in any home video format and most people never saw them.

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Re: Is BD the worst thing that has happened to cinema recent

Unread postby Ivan Drago » 12 Aug 2015, 11:11

Kung fu movies (my fave cult genre after horror) have had a pretty poor show on BD, thanks to Fortune Star dumping upscales and remixes off on labels who can't be bothered to check. It's a real shame Arrow didn't get a go at the Bruce Lee movies. I never bothered upgrading 36th Chamber to blu because I don't trust HK companies to upgrade the subtitles to proper English. Heck, the fairly decent US BD of Five Venoms is let down by clumsy subtitles.
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Re: Is BD the worst thing that has happened to cinema recent

Unread postby Markgway » 12 Aug 2015, 15:14

Arrow's interest in Hong Kong Cinema is limited due to expensive rights and difficulty in obtaining quality materials. They simply won't put out the crap other, lesser companies will. Also, very few companies have had success in the UK with these titles.
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Re: Is BD the worst thing that has happened to cinema recent

Unread postby Ivan Drago » 12 Aug 2015, 21:08

Yes, it's a shame the days of HKL are long gone, where the discs got a lot of exposure in stores. Funnily enough, HMV the other week had a big Cine Asia display.

In the US, it's been more a case that the companies involved (Dragon Dynasty, Media Blasters, etc) collapsed overall, rather than the HK stuff specifically. Criterion has only touched 2 or 3 HK movies, but thanks to its Janus back catalogue has released lots of great Japanese movies.
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Re: Is BD the worst thing that has happened to cinema recent

Unread postby Masterofoneinchpunch » 12 Aug 2015, 21:21

Ivan Drago wrote:...
In the US, it's been more a case that the companies involved (Dragon Dynasty, Media Blasters, etc) collapsed overall, rather than the HK stuff specifically. Criterion has only touched 2 or 3 HK movies, but thanks to its Janus back catalogue has released lots of great Japanese movies.


Since I ran/run a Criterion site this has been one of my pet peeves. I have complained to Criterion lots of times writing about their lack of Chinese cinema

Here is what they released of the following countries on DVD and/or BD (I own all of these except Secret Sunshine). Note they did release a few more on LD.

HK: Hard Boiled OOP, The Killer OOP, Chungking Express OOP, In the Mood for Love. (so three out of the four is OOP)
Taiwan: Yi Yi
South Korea: The Housemaid, Secret Sunshine
No Thailand or Vietnam or Mainland China (note They consider The Last Emperor to be from China).

That's it. That's pathetic.

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Re: Is BD the worst thing that has happened to cinema recent

Unread postby Ivan Drago » 12 Aug 2015, 21:33

One thing an Arrow/BFI/MOC contact told me was that HK distributors such as Celestial also wanted labels to buy LOTS of titles. So you'd have to get Crazy Shaolin Disciples to get 36th Chamber etc

Aside from two Dragon Dynasty titles, the UK has now seen no Shaw releases for TEN years - and that was only 6 out of a proposed 24.
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Re: Is BD the worst thing that has happened to cinema recent

Unread postby grim_tales » 12 Aug 2015, 22:34

At least Eureka/MoC will release Dragon Inn/A Touch of Zen, but I'd love if they released Hard Boiled, The Killer or some Jackie/Sammo classics. Won't happen though.

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Re: Is BD the worst thing that has happened to cinema recent

Unread postby Masterofoneinchpunch » 12 Aug 2015, 22:36

grim_tales wrote:At least Eureka/MoC will release Dragon Inn/A Touch of Zen, but I'd love if they released Hard Boiled, The Killer or some Jackie/Sammo classics. Won't happen though.


One of the few MOC films I have (being from the States) is Johnnie To's Mad Detective. Weirdly enough it is R0/NTSC. I love my copy though. Criterion should really put out a To film like The Mission. It's cool that once upon a time they released both Hard Boiled and The Killer, but both are OOP.

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Re: Is BD the worst thing that has happened to cinema recent

Unread postby grim_tales » 12 Aug 2015, 22:37

Ivan Drago wrote:Kung fu movies (my fave cult genre after horror) have had a pretty poor show on BD, thanks to Fortune Star dumping upscales and remixes off on labels who can't be bothered to check. It's a real shame Arrow didn't get a go at the Bruce Lee movies. I never bothered upgrading 36th Chamber to blu because I don't trust HK companies to upgrade the subtitles to proper English. Heck, the fairly decent US BD of Five Venoms is let down by clumsy subtitles.


So is the US DVD of Come Drink With Me (BTW have you seen the HK BD of the 36th Chamber trilogy? Apparently its very good) :)
@Master, ah cool - I forgot about Mad Detective, might give it a go.

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Re: Is BD the worst thing that has happened to cinema recent

Unread postby Markgway » 12 Aug 2015, 23:32

Ivan Drago wrote:One thing an Arrow/BFI/MOC contact told me was that HK distributors such as Celestial also wanted labels to buy LOTS of titles. So you'd have to get Crazy Shaolin Disciples to get 36th Chamber etc.


A package deal might be workable if the distributor were savvy enough to cherry pick the right titles (and know what to avoid). Of course, no UK distributor is going to pay for a bunch of soap operas, sex comedies and Huangmei operas when what they want is action. If Celestial are really insisting on offloading those genres then they've no chance. But there are plenty of good lesser-known martial arts (and horror) titles that could do decent business in the UK alongside the premium releases (i.e. The 36th Chamber Trilogy).

If any company needs advice they know where to find me... ;)
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Re: Is BD the worst thing that has happened to cinema recent

Unread postby Shingster » 12 Aug 2015, 23:46

HungFist wrote:I was wondering if someone would take my words more seriously than intended :D
And I knew you'd take my post more seriously than it was intended. ;) :D

My argument was not that BD is evil and should never (have) come out. Of course development is inevitable, and that's a good thing. I'd rather watch all movies on BD than DVD (or VHS). And of course the DVD industry was in pretty poor health already when BD was launched, but I do think that maybe companies as well as audiences would've had a bit more motivation to look for unreleased gems had BD not been launched so early since you can't re-release the same films a trillion times in the same format.
Remember the Anchor Bay & The Evil Dead franchise back in the day? They certainly took a stab at re-releasing the same films a trillion times! :D

I might be wrong of course. Perhaps all companies would just have stopped releasing films or gone bankrupt.
There's absolutely no doubt at all that companies would go bust if they focused solely on unreleased or lesser-known titles if there are no "big name" titles in the unreleased pile to draw in consumers. The market's hard enough for boutique labels as it is, even for new films. Sticking to the Arrow example they started out by concentrating on the typical cult classics with the more obscure stuff peppered in and it's only in recent years that their release slate has become more obscure in scope (and funnily enough their US label recently came into a little criticism on the Blu-ray.com forums for focusing on obscure films). I think Ivan mentioned BFI flipside before & they're the only label I can think of that strictly adheres to a policy of only releasing lesser known previously-unreleased titles, but that's the BFI and I suspect the flipside label is there purely for cultural purposes and doesn't make money.

Mind you, the examples you give that you say have mainstream appeal are Japanese classics that obviously won't have the same appeal outside of their native land, so that really pertains to Japan's treatment of its own classics rather than a problem with Blu-ray itself.

It's true that streaming services probably wouldn't have invested in new scans for stuff like Zatoichi and we wouldn't have gotten HD versions of Battles without Honor and Humanity without BD. But that is completely beside my point. I don't think there was any urgent need for any of those HD upgrades.
The important point here is you don't think there's any urgent need for HD Zatoichi/Battles, but I'd wager that there was much more interest from consumers for those titles in HD than any of the unreleased films you want to see hit DVD/BD, so the question becomes more about the definition of urgent need. That desire for something new is a big part of being a cineaste, but so is appreciation of the classics and wanting to see them in the best possible form, which has never really happened on a mass scale before Blu-ray & HD-DVD. Any HK action fan worth their salt would love to see Pedicab Driver released on DVD/BD, but if they also love chanbara then chances are they equally wanted to see the entire Zatoichi film series in HD in one boxset (finally).

You mention films like Day of Anger and Cemetery without Crosses but haven't those already got a DVD release? I remember I almost bought Cemetery without Crosses about 7 years ago after I saw it on TV.
Not in the UK (I think).

It's just sad that some great films get overlooked time after time, on VHS, DVD, and BD, and every time we get a new expensive format we probably get a smaller number of old films. I feel a lot of great films have already been forgotten, and more are being forgotten all the time because they've never been released in any home video format and most people never saw them.
As a fan it's sad that we won't get a chance to watch many of them, but cinema by its very nature was a transitory artform before the dawn of home video, the vast majority of films were never made with the intention of them being viewed on a national/global scale 50yrs down the line. No film has ever been forgotten because of a single home video format: Beta/VHS/VCD/DVD/BD/Streaming, they've all made rediscovery possible, not impossible, but you can't release every single film ever made when you're relying on income to make it happen, it's just completely impractical.

On the plus side (from your viewpoint Hung) Blu-ray and the upcoming Ultra-HD Blu-ray format are probably destined to be the last physical medium for home cinema, and when we do eventually segue into an exclusively streamed industry we might see a lot of studios pumping out old, cheapo scans of their archives just to get new content out there (regardless of quality), but I can only see something like that happening if niche cinema takes off online and we get dedicated boutique or "classic" studio-based streaming services.

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Re: Is BD the worst thing that has happened to cinema recent

Unread postby HungFist » 13 Aug 2015, 05:46

Shingster wrote:
HungFist wrote:I was wondering if someone would take my words more seriously than intended :D
And I knew you'd take my post more seriously than it was intended. ;) :D


I sort of had that feeling two hours after I had posted the reply :lol:

Shingster wrote:Remember the Anchor Bay & The Evil Dead franchise back in the day? They certainly took a stab at re-releasing the same films a trillion times! :D


Right. I've got two of them for the first film :lol:

Shingster wrote:Mind you, the examples you give that you say have mainstream appeal are Japanese classics that obviously won't have the same appeal outside of their native land, so that really pertains to Japan's treatment of its own classics rather than a problem with Blu-ray itself.


That's true, but I was referring to both Japanese and Western companies. Especially painful for me was when Toei stopped releasing new dvds two years ago and started releasing their bestsellers on BD instead (Battles w/o, Truck Yaro, Abashiri...).

Toei actually has tons of HD masters, including films they've never released on DVD, and certainly won't get around to releasing on BD anytime soon, if ever (I'd love to be wrong), such as Yakuza Deka 3&4 and The Bodyguard 2. They sometimes screen them on Toei channel (which I don't have). It's really strange though, that they produce HD masters and then they don't do almost anything with them...

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Re: Is BD the worst thing that has happened to cinema recent

Unread postby Shingster » 13 Aug 2015, 17:00

I assume they're doing it for conservation purposes? Are there no boutique labels in Japan at all or is it mostly studio distributors?

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Re: Is BD the worst thing that has happened to cinema recent

Unread postby Masterofoneinchpunch » 13 Aug 2015, 17:33

Shingster wrote:... Any HK action fan worth their salt would love to see Pedicab Driver released on DVD/BD, but if they also love chanbara then chances are they equally wanted to see the entire Zatoichi film series in HD in one boxset (finally).
...


You do know that Criterion has the whole Zatoichi set (well minus the last film and the TV series) on BD?

I think it was mentioned here(I know it was mentioned on KFC) that Warner has been streaming a HD copy of Pedicab Driver. There is speculation that they might release it on BD/DVD. Found one link to this: http://www.shaolinchamber36.com/buddhis ... e-instant/

Interesting enough that MOD has allowed a whole bunch of titles that would not have been released otherwise. The annoyance being the less stable DVD-R as well as no frills (with occasional trailer) and over expensive. I do own a decent amount of MOD though.

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Re: Is BD the worst thing that has happened to cinema recent

Unread postby HungFist » 13 Aug 2015, 17:53

Shingster wrote:I assume they're doing it for conservation purposes? Are there no boutique labels in Japan at all or is it mostly studio distributors?


Basically none for Japanese films. I guess it's because big studios usually release their own films - or choose not to release them. Some studios like King Records occasionally release something interesting, but those releases tend to be few and far between. I guess for foreign films there may be a few, but I don't really know so much about that.

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Re: Is BD the worst thing that has happened to cinema recent

Unread postby Shingster » 13 Aug 2015, 20:15

Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:You do know that Criterion has the whole Zatoichi set (well minus the last film and the TV series) on BD?
Yup, I own it! That's why I used past tense (ie they wanted to see it, as in before it came out), I know it wasn't very clear though the way I stated it! :D

I think it was mentioned here(I know it was mentioned on KFC) that Warner has been streaming a HD copy of Pedicab Driver. There is speculation that they might release it on BD/DVD. Found one link to this: http://www.shaolinchamber36.com/buddhis ... e-instant/
That sounds awesome! Doubt I'd be able to sign up for it being in the UK though. Still, the chances that it might see a BD release have definitely shot up from zero now!

HungFist wrote:Basically none for Japanese films. I guess it's because big studios usually release their own films - or choose not to release them. Some studios like King Records occasionally release something interesting, but those releases tend to be few and far between. I guess for foreign films there may be a few, but I don't really know so much about that.
Well that sucks!

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Re: Is BD the worst thing that has happened to cinema recent

Unread postby Masterofoneinchpunch » 13 Aug 2015, 22:03

Shingster wrote: ... Yup, I own it! That's why I used past tense (ie they wanted to see it, as in before it came out), I know it wasn't very clear though the way I stated it! :D
...That sounds awesome! Doubt I'd be able to sign up for it being in the UK though. Still, the chances that it might see a BD release have definitely shot up from zero now!
...


I got confused on the tense usage :D. I own the Criterion set as well.

Apparently it was not mentioned here when I did a search on the subject. I'm pretty happy about it. I would like to own a legitimate release of it as well as The Blade and Enter the Fat Dragon. I've been tired of WB just sitting on these films. Of course it is still speculation on whether they print something, but the odds of at least a MOD have gone up.

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Re: Is BD the worst thing that has happened to cinema recent

Unread postby Yi-Long » 14 Aug 2015, 00:58

I'm perfectly fine with BluRay, considering it fits the 1080p screens we all have nowadays, so we don't have to settle for blurry DVD-transfers.

I'm much MUCH more upset about the new 4K marketing, which basically means we're expected to buy into that hype, while 1080p is basically as sharp as we would ever need... so we'll end up with expensive 4K TV's which will make our 1080p BR's look blurry...(!) Sigh.

Anyway, the whole 4K shit, along with the ongoing annoyance of anti-piracy messages on legally bought BR's, has made me pretty much ignore buying new BR's. I just download stuff, and when I see the movies and TV shows I like on BluRay for a nice price, I buy them.
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Re: Is BD the worst thing that has happened to cinema recent

Unread postby Shingster » 14 Aug 2015, 02:41

The biggest appreciable improvement in quality that will come with 4K imo is the improved color space (rec 2020), it should hopefully eliminate all the banding issues that plagues standard Blu-ray. It'll particulary make a big difference to animation on home video.

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Re: Is BD the worst thing that has happened to cinema recent

Unread postby Yi-Long » 14 Aug 2015, 15:29

Shingster wrote:The biggest appreciable improvement in quality that will come with 4K imo is the improved color space (rec 2020), it should hopefully eliminate all the banding issues that plagues standard Blu-ray. It'll particulary make a big difference to animation on home video.


It's not really been an issue I've noticed, perhaps because I'm blind, or perhaps because most animation is either CGI or 'paint-by-numbers', I don't know.

It's not really an issue that will make me invest in a €2000+ 4K TV, and even more expensive BR-Discs, especially not considering my 1080P Plasma TV still blows all those more expensive LCD-LED's out of the water, while OLED is still even MORE expensive. Plus there's the whole curved bullshit nowadays.
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I was there, the big BNB blackout of november, 2008. We lost many that day...


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