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 Post subject: Magnificent Bodyguards (3D) 飛渡捲雲山 (1978) [98SX-1]
PostPosted: 10 Sep 2021, 16:51 
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Magnificent Bodyguards (3D) (Fei du juan yun shan) (1978) [98SX-1]

First off, apologies Julien I modified the thread title to make it fit by replacing the romanised title with the traditional title. I hope this is okay!

Magnificent Bodyguards, aka, Fei du juan yun shan (飛渡捲雲山) is a very interesting film. If you are a fan of 3D, or martial arts films or basically anything to do with obscure 1970's cinema then I would imagine that Magnificent Bodyguards may well have appeared on your radar. It is interesting on two main points. Firstly it is one of the earlier (read earlier not earliest) appearances of Jackie Chan (credited here as Jacky Chan) in a leading role. More importantly, and for the second reason, Magnificent Bodyguards was the first film made in Hong Kong to be shot natively in 3D. It's interesting quirks as a film aside, the 3D piece and it's historical significance in Hong Kong cinema are the main drivers behind my hunting this film down.

What is even more interesting is that the Laserdisc edition of Magnificent Bodyguards is the only home video release to this day that is presented in it's original 3D form. You cannot get the film in 3D any other way, aside from acquiring the original theatrical cannisters. Given how carefree the industry was back then, and especially so in the Far East, I imagine that would be an almighty mission to get hold of said reels. To confirm this about the 3D being a Laserdisc exclusive I went looking for more recent releases of the film. There's a couple of DVD's available (in 2D) although (afaik) no longer in print and tough to find. There is also a Blu Ray edition available in Japan. I purchased the Blu Ray from Jeff in Japan a few months back and can confirm that while Fortune Star did a reasonable job with the release, it is only available in 2D and with 2 Cantonese 7.1 and 5.1 audio tracks and a solitary Japanese 2.0 stereo track (the same, and the only audio track available on the Laserdisc release).

So that's it. If you want the full-fat, full beans, full 3D experience of Magnificent Bodyguards then the Japanese Laserdisc, indeed the only Laserdisc edition available, is what you are going to need to get.

Or is it?

Well, the problem is that aside from being offered with just a sole Japanese dub track, the Laserdisc released in Japan is also missing about 10 minutes of footage. I'm not really sure why this is either. Perhaps a move from a film censor in Japan or in Hong Kong prior to it's export overseas? So the goalposts move again! If you want the full-fat 3D edition, you will need the Laserdisc. If you want the full uncut print, get the Fortune Star Blu Ray. Just remember that the Blu Ray is 2D so you won't get all that lovely 3D, which does look a bit shonky when you take away the analglyphic effect that is on the 3D print.

What both the Laserdisc and Blu Ray suffer from (aside from zero English subtitles, I made my own with English subtitles from a DVD release and synced them up using ALASS) is a very poor, soft image. The Blu Ray, while soft in it's overall appearance, is at least more than serviceable and features some nice grain that hasn't been butchered thanks to any application of DNR and so on. The Laserdisc does not fare so well. The image is naturally even softer than the Blu Ray, and due to the way in which the anaglyph effect is applied to the film, it blurs the image to the point where there is very little in the overall red/blue separation. Thus meaning that when you pop your (supplied with the Laserdisc) 3D specs on, and note the 3D effect is for the entire duration of the film, the image presented is somewhat confused. Meaning that the overall 3D effect isn't quick as clean and pronounced as it really should be. Some scenes don't work at all, which is a bit of a shame. However when it does work the effect is seriously impressive. Lots of Bo staffs, ninja stars and flying kicks all burst out of the screen with alarming frequency. You can also tell that the film was set up to be shot in native 3D by the way the stages and scenery are set up. Gates and sliding doors, foliage and weaponry, actor placement and so on have all been carefully thought out. And when the film slows down and allows the viewer to drink it all in then the effect is seriously good, however crude you may think it looks on the surface of it.

The audio on both the Laserdisc and the Blu Ray are not exactly what you would call astounding. Very tinny in places, especially the opening theme music and not entirely loaded with wow factor in order to make use of panning and surround. This is especially the case with regards the Blu Ray. Quite why the need was felt to employ a 7.1 DTS-HD-MA track is somewhat puzzling to say the least. One point to note is that the 2D Blu Ray uses a print of the film where the blatant rip-off use of Star Wars music cues have been removed. The Laserdisc (as far as I recall, I will need to re-check this) does have the original Star Wars music cues present. You will also see these on the official trailer for the film.

Regarding the actual film, it's alright. I wouldn't put it down as one of Chan's best works however you can clearly see his influence as Stunt Coordinator and Action Director here, and some early signs of what would come as he would soon become a global superstar. It's a fairly simple story of a man hired to accompany someone to a doctor. The journey to the doctor is long and dangerous, passing through an area of the ancient hills which is controlled by a criminal gang. There is a nice plot twist though which I won't spoil so the film isn't as entirely procedural as you may be led to think.

Magnificent Bodyguards is certainly a title to hunt down on Laserdisc if you are a collector of the obscure, or if you just want to see the film in it's original (albeit cut) 3D form. Others may fare better by simply picking up the Blu Ray and being done with it, note though you may need to dump the disc and sync up some subtitles of your own. It's a fun little film in it's own right, and the 3D edition makes for a great curio (or an essential must-have depending on your views/needs). It's not a common title to come across by any means, so I would perhaps suggest going for the Blu Ray and keeping an eye out for the Laserdisc on the off chance it pops up for sale. On a personal level I am delighted to own a copy despite all the little bugbears around it. Then again, I just like odd stuff.

A worthy purchase, however be warned that your mileage with it may vary.
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 Post subject: Re: Magnificent Bodyguards (3D) 飛渡捲雲山 (1978) [98SX-1]
PostPosted: 10 Sep 2021, 19:03 
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Anyway you can do screen post, even if a bad picture??

Always wanted to get this disc, had a few chances and last one I remember I bought the disc for 25 on ebay in the USA and the seller wanted to
charge me 25 on shipping.
Just couldn't pay that extra 25 for domestic shipping.
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 Post subject: Re: Magnificent Bodyguards (3D) 飛渡捲雲山 (1978) [98SX-1]
PostPosted: 11 Sep 2021, 17:55 
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I'll dig out the disc and take a photo of the TV screen soon no problem. Here's a screengrab from the Japanese Blu Ray. As you can see, the print is fairly soft (and not 3D), but considering the wonderfully proactive stance the industry took back then to preserve negatives, I think it's a wonder it has made it to Blu Ray at all.

Note the screengrab is from a 1:1 dump of the Japanese Fortune Star Blu Ray. When I dump my discs to my NAS I never re-encode them, they're just untouched 1:1 dumps.

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Also, I found this over at TMDB, an alternative poster for the film. I don't know of it's origins, yet if it is for an international release then it's reasonable to assume that the 3D print reached further than just cinemas in Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea.

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 Post subject: Re: Magnificent Bodyguards (3D) 飛渡捲雲山 (1978) [98SX-1]
PostPosted: 11 Sep 2021, 18:11 
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I've seen images of that poster before, seems likely that it did reach other 3D markets.
I think it was mentioned in other posts about Comin at ya, that the bluray was not 3D but the DVD was.
Wonder if this was a different print used for the bluray or if they somehow remove the blue and red and it made it blurry like your pic,
or if it was just really poorly shot on poor stock to make a rush film??

The LD is listed as 1.85 do you think that's correct.
Need to find this one for the collection at a reasonable price now :lol:
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 Post subject: Re: Magnificent Bodyguards (3D) 飛渡捲雲山 (1978) [98SX-1]
PostPosted: 12 Sep 2021, 03:40 
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This reminds me, wasn't there some Taiwanese 3D fantasy wire-fu movie or something that was recently released on blu-ray, but it was dub only because apparently the original version no longer exists?
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