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November 17, 2005
PSP UMD Movie Reviews Lot #2

KUNG FU HUSTLE
Release Date Distributor Director OFLC Rating Run Time
7/12/2005Sony PicturesStephen Chow M95 mins
The MovieVideo QualityAudio QualityExtrasOverall
BBBFB

The Story: Amid the chaos of pre-revolutionary China, small time thief, Sing, aspires to be one of the sophisticated and ruthless Axe Gang whose underworld activities overshadow the city. Stumbling across a crowded apartment complex aptly known as “Pig Sty Alley”, Sing attempts to extort money from one of the locals, but the neighbors are not what they appear. Sing’s comical attempts at intimidation inadvertently attract the Axe Gang into the fray, setting off a chain of events that brings the two disparate worlds face-to-face.
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It's one weird (but great) movie.
Movie Impressions: Kung Fu Hustle is a movie which I was keen to see at the cinemas but for one reason or another never managed to see it. After hearing conflicting reports from friends - some love this movie, some hate it - it was time to check it out for myself, and on PSP UMD no less. What I discovered was one of the most entertaining, crazy, stylish, funniest and at times violent movies ever to come out of Asia. As with most Chinese movies the cinematography is at times sensational and the amount of special effects work and stunts in this movie also impressed. Sure there is plenty of over the top craziness, but that's most of the fun. End result I loved this movie, it's so different from most other Chinese movies that make it outside that territory.
The Transfer: Video and audio in most Asian movies often leave a bit to be desired but in recent years we've seen major advances, with special effects also being improved dramatically. Kung Fu Hustle is another prime example of such advances and looks quite superb on the PSP. Sure some effects could have been better, and at times the picture is a little on the dull side, but that's more of an artistic decision then a flaw. In terms of audio the movie include the original Cantonese track as well as English, French and German. We have to say the dub isn't the greatest ever, but isn't too bad either. Subtitles include English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Arabic, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, and Turkish. Quite a few, so most people should be covered...
The Extras: This disc includes three trailers. Hellboy, Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Spider-man 2.
Overall: This isn't a movie for everyone, but if you like slapstick and whacked out comedies then you'll likely discover one of the funniest and most entertaining movies in recent years. The transfer is a little below the big Hollywood productions, but with a Chinese movie that is to be expected. Well above expectations.

FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN
Release Date Distributor Director OFLC Rating Run Time
7/12/2005Sony PicturesHironobu SakaguchiM106 mins
The MovieVideo QualityAudio QualityExtrasOverall
CAAFB

The Story: In the year 2065, the next great assault against an invading race of phantom-like aliens is about to be launched. Dr. Aki Ross, a brilliant young scientist, races to find the invaders' secrets, not only to save the planet, but herself as well after her body is infected by alien particles. She teams up with the prestigious Deep Eyes military squadron, led by her old friend Grey Edwards. But as Aki, her mentor Dr. Sid, and Grey work toward a peaceful end, the scheming General Hein devises a plot to eradicate the aliens in one swift, destructive blow... even if it destroys the Earth right along with them.
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This is not the PSP cover.
Movie Impressions: After seeing this movie in cinemas, and then on DVD I was already well aware of what I was seeing, and to be honest it still disappoints me as movie every time I see it. Having played most of the Final Fantasy games I know just how deep and emotional they can be, but this movie in comparison seems like a sterile tech demo that rarely reaches such heights. Still there are moments of enjoyment to be had in this movie and on the PSP it really is a technical showcase.
The Transfer: What can we say about this transfer. Coming from a digital source the video is pristine and the audio also impresses. Both are crystal clear and much like the DVD version this could be classed as reference quality. No doubt the shortish length of the movie has meant that Sony Pictures have been able to give this a slightly higher bitrate then other movies, and the CG looks simply gorgeous. In terms of audio we have English, French, German, Italian, Spanish available while the subtitles include English, French, German, Dutch, Arabic, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, and Turkish.
The Extras: None, not even a trailer for the upcoming Final Fantasy: Advent Children UMD which is puzzling.
Overall: I guess your opinion of this disc will really depend on your opinion of the movie. If you love the movie, as I know many people do, then this is a wonderful addition to your PSP library. Despite a lack of extras this is quite possibly the best transfer we've seen on the PSP to date. Quite stunning.

THE MASK OF ZORRO
Release Date Distributor Director OFLC Rating Run Time
12/10/2005Sony PicturesMartin CampbellM136 mins
The MovieVideo QualityAudio QualityExtrasOverall
CAAFB

The Story: The original Zorro, Don Diego de la Vega, is captured and imprisoned just as Spain concedes California to Santa Anna. 20 years go by and his mortal enemy, Don Rafael Montero, returns to California with a plan to become wealthy at the expense of the peasants.
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Zorro is entertaining.
Movie Impressions: It could be argued that The Mask of Zorro kicked off the recent resurgence of comic book adaptations. With a budget of $US65-$US95 million (depend where you look), and worldwide taking of $US250 million its clear that this movie is a big license, and unsurprisingly a new movie is being released this year in fact. I hadn't seen this movie for several years - for some reason I held a negative view of it - but re-watching the movie I actually realised it's quite a good action adventure title. If you haven't seen it I suggest you check it out it may surprise you.
The Transfer: Given that this movie has a runtime of 136 minutes I was impressed by the transfer provided on this disc. In fact it's virtually a reference quality title with a wide range of visual styles, from gorgeous sunsets, to large crowds, to gorgeous interiors and some magnificent costumes. The movie also made great use of the stereo speakers, at least it sounded great through my dedicated PC speakers. In terms of audio the only option available is English. There are, however, plenty of subtitles including English, Dutch, Arabic, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Swedish, and Turkish.
The Extras: Nothing. Not even a trailer but given the length of the movie it's understandable.
Overall: The length of this movie has obviously seen cutbacks in the number of audio tracks and exclusion of all extras. In our opinion that's a good thing. The transfer of the main feature should always get priority over all else. For fans of this movie you'll be pleased to hear this is a great transfer worthy of addition to your PSP library.

Review(s) By: Dave Warner

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