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Five Deadly Venoms - Dragon Dynasty

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Never heard a David Bordwell commentary. What DVDs has he done?

...

Alexander Nevsky (Criterion)

An Autumn Afternoon (Criterion)

He's much more known for his writings, essays etc... But his knowledge of cinema is well known. He absolutely loves Hong Kong action cinema along with your typical list of film professor movie list.

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Well, I don't think I've ever heard anyone - never mind Bey - do a commentary for an Ann Hui film. It's mostly Kung Fu and Action we talk about here. I'm not saying Bey knows more than anyone else... just that he's the best and most knowledgable commentator I've heard on these movies. If you've heard someone better please tell me.

Sounds awfully technical and heavy. Frankly I'd rather have his anecdotes and opinions. Maybe we just want different styles of commentary.

I know it is mostly Action and Kung Fu (good point though), but you original wrote Hong Kong Cinema which includes much, much more than just Kung Fu and action. Now on Kung Fu I haven't heard anyone better, but with HK action just compare the Criterion commentary with Bey Logan's for example. Both Dave Kehr and David Bordwell would do quite well.

He has stated himself that he dislikes critical analysis (Come Drink With Me commentary 2nd Version). I would actually like more opinion and analysis. Logan tends to eschew any mise-en-scene which for films from Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam, John Woo, Johnnie To would do better with a technical scholar.

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Bey is decent but he does too much character pointing out (and everything you state), anecdotal stories etc... He does not talk much about use of camera, cinematic aesthetics, psychological character development etc...

Not true. Bey did a spot on commentary for Bang Rajan: Legend of the Village Warriors. And he comments often on the aesthetics of film with respect to the movie. Noting several times what it was recognized for and why.

So yeah, Bey is good for that as well.

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I'm contemplating doing an audio commentary for one of my custom DVDs... but I'm terrified about doing a commentary for a movie over two hours long! I'd just want to make sure I wouldn't ramble or repeat myself! By now, it seems to be a walk in the park for Logan.

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Surely that's an exaggeration. Everyone makes the occasional error.

No, an exaggeration would be claiming, "Nobody knows as much about HK cinema as Bey AND can impart well-researched material to the listener."

Listen to his commentary on Tower of Death. Nearly every major piece of info Logan dishes out Roy Horan says it isn't so.

He also went on about Bullet in the Head incorrectly claiming that the boardroom ending was John Woo's ending and repeats that throughout the entire 2 hours including how much HE likes it. Even going as far as suggesting theories for the "other" ending's existence. All of this was totally false as confirmed on the interview with the co-screenwriter on the 2nd DVD that in fact the boardroom ending was NOT John Woo's ending.

So what in your opinion should he be saying on a commentary?

More facts, less ego trip. Logan tends to turn his commentary into some kind of verbal "Bey's corner" where he talks about what's on his mind and what he thinks is good or bad or what he thinks are plot holes, nonsense gossip, etc... that includes him continually talking about how great Harvey Weinstein is and how much improvements his versions are to the original Asian versions.

Again, Bey is good but he is far from this god of commentary tracks. I don't care to listen to two hours of a guy telling me what he likes especially when I don't agree with him a lot of the time. If it were someone involved in the film in question then yeah. Otherwise, if I wanted to hear someone's opinions, I'd talk to someone I know.

How is listening to him say over and over again that he doesn't like the music in a movie enriching my experience for the movie? I would like to know how listening to Logan complain about how he didn't like how someone treated him one time so he decided not to be his friend anymore making my appreciation for a film any richer? Or him thinking a certain scene is a plot hole somehow? If anything, the latter can taint the image of the movie for people out there, especially those that think poorly of HK films, and it's even more annoying when it wasn't a plot hole whatsoever and that Logan just wasn't paying attention.

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Guest Markgway
Alexander Nevsky (Criterion)

An Autumn Afternoon (Criterion)

Anything there's a hope in hell of me actually watching...?

He absolutely loves Hong Kong action cinema along with your typical list of film professor movie list.

Then when he does one I'll be sure to give it a listen, until then you can hardly say he's preferable to Bey Logan.

I know it is mostly Action and Kung Fu (good point though), but you original wrote Hong Kong Cinema which includes much, much more than just Kung Fu and action.

OK, but you'll agree the vast majority of films which receive commentaries are of the action/martial arts genres, which Bey is well-versed in. He lives in HK, he knows the people, the industry. He's been writing about these films for twenty years. His style may not be scholarly, but I like it that way.

Now on Kung Fu I haven't heard anyone better, but with HK action just compare the Criterion commentary with Bey Logan's for example.

Criterion don't do HK action, except for Hard-Boiled, which I've heard, and didn't think was any better than Bey's efforts.

He has stated himself that he dislikes critical analysis (Come Drink With Me commentary 2nd Version). I would actually like more opinion and analysis. Logan tends to eschew any mise-en-scene which for films from Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam, John Woo, Johnnie To would do better with a technical scholar.

I don't think that would be better.... just different. It all depends on what you want to hear.

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Guest Markgway
No, an exaggeration would be claiming, "Nobody knows as much about HK cinema as Bey AND can impart well-researched material to the listener."

Maybe because so few other commentators are out there... but for me this currently holds true. Maybe if this David Bordwell fella starts doing comms for Tsui Hark movies this will change.

Listen to his commentary on Tower of Death. Nearly every major piece of info Logan dishes out Roy Horan says it isn't so.

I never said he was perfect. :tongue:

He also went on about Bullet in the Head incorrectly claiming that the boardroom ending was John Woo's ending and repeats that throughout the entire 2 hours including how much HE likes it. Even going as far as suggesting theories for the "other" ending's existence. All of this was totally false as confirmed on the interview with the co-screenwriter on the 2nd DVD that in fact the boardroom ending was NOT John Woo's ending.

Actually, I confess that bugged me quite a bit at the time. So I am aware of his flaws.

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Logan tends to turn his commentary into some kind of verbal "Bey's corner" where he talks about what's on his mind and what he thinks is good or bad or what he thinks are plot holes, nonsense gossip, etc... that includes him continually talking about how great Harvey Weinstein is and how much improvements his versions are to the original Asian versions.

to be fair. Bey Logan has done over 60 audio commentaries. he has done joint commentaries with actors, directors and other scholars. it isn't easy to talk for 2 hours and not sound redundant or make an error once in awhile. the thing to note here is the consumer who bought the product CAN think for themselves. its just an option to here an experts point of view.

commentaries are just that. an audio version of someone's thoughts on a topic. hence the disclaimer you read before the movie starts. they are just thoughts, opinions expressed.

do we have to agree? do we have to like them? i don't think so. but maybe there is a nugget of info you would not have gotten otherwise.

until someone else steps up with the 20 years of research of writing and 60 commentaries under his belt, it would be hard to criticize his efforts as terrible and a waste, wouldn't you say?

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Even going as far as suggesting theories for the "other" ending's existence. All of this was totally false as confirmed on the interview with the co-screenwriter on the 2nd DVD that in fact the boardroom ending was NOT John Woo's ending.

you have to take these things in context. "John Woo's ending", I took it to be the studio and the people he worked with.

but if we were on the set and worked closely we would know that for ourself.

the idea was the discussion around the ending and how it came to be. if we look at alternate endings and studio cuts we would find that it's never just one person's decision: legal, censorship, marketing, producers, even actors play a part.

concepts, ideas are brought to the table with commentaries. there is always an option to produce your own fan made commentary. :smile:

i just think he - and the studios that hire him to work on these projects - are just doing the best with what they have available to them.

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As I said earlier, I think Bey Logan does a good job, better than others (ie Meyers), and I would not argue that, overall, his commentaries are well-researched, but I think there is an inherent flaw in HK action commentaries, which is naming and giving a brief biography of every actor in a film.

This is a double edged sword, since, well, I want to know all about this kind of thing, but by the time one gets through a history of all the cast and crew, the movie is over. Also, I've noticed that most HK commentaries seem to be aimed at an audience entirely unfamiliar with the films, so one seems to get a history lesson about the entire cinema history of HK. This can be entertaining and informative, but, coming from the perspective of a film student/enthusiast, I prefer to here people speculate or theorize about themes, directing styles, etc.

As for the original batch of DD commentaries, I actually LIKED that QT and RZA sat in to basically talk about how much they enjoy the films. They certainly were not a commentary to be listened to if one wants an informative treatise on Five Fingers of Death, but as far as a bunch of guys just jabbering about how much FUN watching kung fu films can be, and relaying the experience of watching old school flix in a 42nd theater/drive in, well, I think the tracks are kind of perfect.

At the end of the day, it's all a matter of taste. And we've come a long way from the "SB Video" brand bootlegs that used to plague my VHS collection. Thank goodness!

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Bey's commentaries are good enough for me. Considering how much he is fighting for good releases and being a huge fan himself. He is a nice guy who responds to fans when they ask questions or give complaints. The bottom line is even if some people don't like ALL of his commentaries, he is trying to give the fans something extra on each release and we should be happy that they even bother to give us a commentary at all. At this point, if Bey wasn't willing to do it, Im sure we would'nt have commentaries from Dragon Dynasty releases period. Im all for more people doing the commentaries and giving us additional insight, but if Bey is all we have, he is a alot better than most people.

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Mark, it's funny you should pick Ann Hui, since "Love in a Fallen City" is one of the few non-action HK films that have an english commentary. Not that it's a good commentary.

As for David Bordwell vs. Bey Logan, I think it's personal taste. I went to Bordwell's presentation at the SB movie program at the University of Illinois, and I found him to be a bit stuffy and far too into drawing conclusions of the "he's using 5 chairs in this shot to represent the 5 elements, to reflect the seasons and passage of time" type. If you can put up with that stuff though, he does know plenty of interesting things. Personally I prefer Bey with someone who worked on the film. He's a good conversationalist, and is good at drawing interesting stories and such out of people. I prefer behind the scenes stories, anecdotes, and film history over film study analysis. But that's personal preference. overall I think most commentaries are horrible, so I never go in expecting much.

Bordwell has a website where he posts a lot of essays on films, including some HK related info.

http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog/?p=691

http://www.davidbordwell.net/

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Guest Markgway
Mark, it's funny you should pick Ann Hui, since "Love in a Fallen City" is one of the few non-action HK films that have an english commentary. Not that it's a good commentary.

I didn't know that... lol

As for David Bordwell vs. Bey Logan, I think it's personal taste. I went to Bordwell's presentation at the SB movie program at the University of Illinois, and I found him to be a bit stuffy and far too into drawing conclusions of the "he's using 5 chairs in this shot to represent the 5 elements, to reflect the seasons and passage of time" type. If you can put up with that stuff though, he does know plenty of interesting things.

Yeah, see that kind of thing I find less interesting... but some here may prefer it.

Personally I prefer Bey with someone who worked on the film. He's a good conversationalist, and is good at drawing interesting stories and such out of people. I prefer behind the scenes stories, anecdotes, and film history over film study analysis. But that's personal preference.

Exactly how I feel. I like listening to someone who's chatty. It feels like I'm listening to a mate rather than a stuffy scholar who wants to 'educate' me. On the other extreme you have a commentary like King Boxer's where I learnt nothing and appear to know more about the film than those discussing it.

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Exactly how I feel. I like listening to someone who's chatty. It feels like I'm listening to a mate rather than a stuffy scholar who wants to 'educate' me. On the other extreme you have a commentary like King Boxer's where I learnt nothing and appear to know more about the film than those discussing it.

Couldn't have said it better!

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Anything there's a hope in hell of me actually watching...?

Then when he does one I'll be sure to give it a listen, until then you can hardly say he's preferable to Bey Logan.

Actually more of my point is that I would like to hear other commentators besides Bey.

...

OK, but you'll agree the vast majority of films which receive commentaries are of the action/martial arts genres, which Bey is well-versed in. He lives in HK, he knows the people, the industry. He's been writing about these films for twenty years. His style may not be scholarly, but I like it that way.

Of course because the vast majority of films that are consumed outside of HK are action oriented. He knows a particular genre (martial arts action) in the industry very well. He doesn't know all genres well for HK. This is why I'm a stickler for when someone states him as a Hong Kong Cinema expert which he is not. Add in the extra "Action' and then I have no problem (though I'm not sure on how strong his triad/cop knowledge is).

Criterion don't do HK action, except for Hard-Boiled, which I've heard, and didn't think was any better than Bey's efforts.

Criterion doesn't do Chinese films well at all especially Hong Kong (I've mentioned this several times on other sites). They have had four HK releases and two of those action (both OOP) in The Killer, Hard Boiled. The rest are Chungking Express (Tony Rayns does the commentary here), In The Mood For Love. They only have 1 Taiwanese film (Yi Yi) though one should be coming soon.

I don't think that would be better.... just different. It all depends on what you want to hear.

Of course ultimately it is opinion.

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I must be the only person on the board that could care less about commentarys, except for Linn's of course.

4 freaking days, it's killing me.

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Guest Markgway

Happened to listen to Bey's commentary for Come Drink with Me last night.... and you guys have a point. He does make a few too many mistakes for an expert. Stuff even I knew. Like he confused Chao Hsiung with Chen Hung-Lieh whom he'd already identified in a previous scene! Bey's insistance on constantly mentioning Bruce and Jackie got on my tits a little too, as did his translating every name and title into Cantonese. Come Drink with Me is a Mandarin film and so were all the other Shaw titles he rattled off. Everytime he mentioned an actor or film Cheng Pei-Pei would immediately correct him. So Bey would say Hon Ying-Kit and Pei-Pei would interject Han Ying-Chieh! And he kept doing it the whole way through. I still say he's the best we have... but I'm not blind to his flaws.

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I must be the only person on the board that could care less about commentarys, except for Linn's of course.

4 freaking days, it's killing me.

Yeah, I heard Linn's Heroes Two commentary... and was depressed that we'd never hear any other commentaries as good as that :sad: He obviously gave it his all, and seemed to get that mix of trivia and film analysis people are looking for.

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Happened to listen to Bey's commentary for Come Drink with Me last night.... and you guys have a point. He does make a few too many mistakes for an expert. Stuff even I knew. Like he confused Chao Hsiung with Chen Hung-Lieh whom he'd already identified in a previous scene! Bey's insistance on constantly mentioning Bruce and Jackie got on my tits a little too, as did his translating every name and title into Cantonese. Come Drink with Me is a Mandarin film and so were all the other Shaw titles he rattled off. Everytime he mentioned an actor or film Cheng Pei-Pei would immediately correct him. So Bey would say Hon Ying-Kit and Pei-Pei would interject Han Ying-Chieh! And he kept doing it the whole way through. I still say he's the best we have... but I'm not blind to his flaws.

Which one, mark.... the Celestial or the DD??

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