May 24, 2006


The Weinstein Company The Weinstein Company's big announcement at Cannes was that they are launching their video line, Dragon Dynasty. The line will release THE PROTECTOR (aka TOM YUM GOONG), SHA PO LANG, SEVEN SWORDS and DRAGON SQUAD in North America. Some of the titles may receive theatrical releases as well.

Quentin Tarantino will "...actively work with the Weinsteins in all aspects of brand development for Dragon Dynasty."

We've been here before with Miramax's boutique label for QT a while back, Rolling Thunder. They released CHUNKING EXPRESS, SONATINE, SWITCHBLADE SISTERS and MIGHTY PEKING MAN among a few others. The theatrical releases were barely promoted and the DVDs were watchable but not great and the line sputtered out in short order. So Dragon Dynasty may die a quick death by neglect or turn into a straight-to-Blockbuster, bare bones company in short order. With the Weinsteins it's rarely forever.

No release dates were announced, no real details. But the one good thing in the press release is the announcement that former Hong Kong Legends guy, Brian White, is the Director of Asian Brand Management and Post Production. They say that some of the titles will be double-disc special editions including FIST OF LEGEND and TAI CHI MASTER.

The Weinstein Company, "...is developing a number of Special Edition packages for its new
brand, including 2-Disc Platinum Editions of Jet Li's world-acclaimed "Fist of Legend" and "Tai Chi Master." Each Dragon Dynasty DVD will possess a unique and carefully crafted identity, and will
include many groundbreaking, informative and exclusive special bonus features such as
rare behind-the- scenes footage, deleted scenes, out-takes, and specially commissioned documentaries and interviews featuring cast members, filmmakers and celebrity enthusiasts of Asian film."

The line will also include 43 titles licensed from Fortune Star, the 50 Shaw Brothers titles they brought from Disney, and some indie acquisitions including THE KILLER, HARDBOILED, A BULLET IN THE HEAD and A BETTER TOMORROW 1 AND 2.

They name some of their Shaw Brothers titles as well:

"36th Chamber of Shaolin," "Eight Diagram Pole Fighter," and "Heroes of the East," all starring Gordon Liu ("Kill Bill"), "King Boxer," the first Hong Kong movie ever to be a worldwide theatrical hit, "Martial Arts of Shaolin," a classic title from Jet Li, "Come Drink With Me," starring Cheng Pei-pei ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon")."

But for me comment that sounded like the first hollow, thud of dirt landing on a coffin lid was this one:

"The company has ambitious plans to continue building the library, and will be acquiring titles across all genres of Asian film such as contemporary action, martial arts, epic swordplay and hi-octane thriller."

The Asian action boom was huge when the Weinsteins first started picking up their titles and doing Rolling Thunder, about 10 years ago, but it's largely irrelevant now. Asian comedy and romance, manga and anime, are going to sell far larger numbers than dusty old action movies from the 80's and if the Weinsteins are going to try to sell to the Criterion crowd with special edition releases and restorations then they've got an uphill battle to convince home video consumers and collectors that their brand means quality. They've spent years selling their brand as the one that means re-edits, dubs, and cut versions. Changing that perception is going to take more than a year and a couple of titles.

(Thanks to Niraj for sending this in)

May 24, 2006 at 07:44 AM in News | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference OOPS - I DID IT AGAIN:


Actually, didn't they have the mentioned John Woo films back at Disney? I know a Dimension version of THE KILLER, rated R and reportedly in English only, was slated for release before vanishing into the ether.

BULLET IN THE HEAD 2? I missed that one.

Posted by: Rhythm-X | May 24, 2006 11:41:57 AM

and as soon as they start rolling they will begin the usual strong-arm tactics against retailers like Yes Asia selling the legal R3 DVD's of films they have sat on for 5 years.

They are to love of film what Bush is to good government.

They are the worst.

And Tarantino -- I liked Kill Bill 1 -- is an idiot -- the DVD of Chungking Express has his name in bigger letters than WKW's. Like he discovered him?

Posted by: glenn | May 24, 2006 11:45:26 AM

I doubt Tarantino sat in his office Photoshopping up the CHUNGKING EXPRESS poster, figuring out where to put his head. He's often irritating and full of himself, but that's a pure Miramax move. It's just the only way they could think of to sell those films - ALL the Rolling Thunder films had the ZARDOZ-like head of Quentin. See also the JERSEY GIRL DVD artwork, where Miramax felt the need to slap Kevin Smith's grinning mug in almost the exact same place on the cover. It's desperate marketing, and while it IS lame and lazy to those of us in the know, I can't blame Tarantino. And most importantly, it works - just like Terry Gilliam Presents CITY OF LOST CHILDREN worked, or George Lucas and Francis Coppola Present POWWAQATSI worked, at least for me, at a time when I knew much less about things than I do now. I'd like to say that it had nothing to do with me watching the film, but at the time, I was a noob to HK movies, had no idea what the hell a Wong Kar-Wai was, and it was indeed the face of Mr. Brown that got my attention long enough to rent the VHS. If it exposes more people to good movies, I think it's a small price to pay.

Posted by: Rhythm-X | May 24, 2006 12:45:02 PM

Any sign of a subtitled Drunken Master II?

Posted by: Bunta Sugawara | May 24, 2006 1:45:45 PM

Ack! Sorry. I meant to write A BULLET IN THE HEAD and A BETTER TOMORROW 1 AND 2. Apologies.

I just think TWC is going after an audience that doesn't seem to exist anymore (Asian action) and they're going to have a real uphill public relations battle establishing that that Weinstein = Criterion quality video release in the minds of consumers.

Posted by: Grady Hendrix | May 24, 2006 5:09:07 PM

I think you are right on that subject Grady. It is the straight R1 crowd that isn't going to bother buying the DVDs. And the hardcores have been buying international DVDs since the format started to dominate and All-Region DVD players were easy to obtain.

So yes, who exactly is going to plunk down $20 for a R1 copy of A Better Tomorrow when you can get it from YesAsia or comparable retailer for $6?

Posted by: Triflic | May 25, 2006 1:19:55 PM

If the Weinsteins really deliver the goods, I can account for at least one of those $20 A BETTER TOMORROW discs. Replace the bare-bones Anchor Bay disc with holes in the soundtrack with a bona fide remastered special edition? I wouldn't even have to think twice about it.

The larger audience for these films isn't dead or anything like that. They're there. They peek their heads out every once in a while, when something is well-promoted (not just HEAVILY promoted, but well promoted) enough to catch their eye - such as HERO was. If Weinstein Company does right by the marketing this time around, and doesn't cheap out and vomit up the same sort of awful artwork that tainted the Dimension releases, then more people will at least pick these discs up and look at them. If they can get the discs into peoples hands, then at least some of the people will take them home. Weinstein Company needs to make sure these DVDs positively reek, only this time they need to reek of prestige and quality, instead of feces. They need to impress average people who wouldn't have even touched the crappy-looking Dimension releases for fear of cooties. Good enough won't be good enough. To get the audience back that they themselves largely chased away, these things need to be awe-inspiring, to the extent that people will go "Damn, I never heard of this, but it must be something special." Won't be easy, and thanks to their own idiocy, they won't have the Sony Classics luxury of the fan base generating good word of mouth, at least not at first, because we, generally speaking, actively loathe and distrust the Weinsteins, and with good reason. There's no way that they don't know it, as many angry letters, petitions, and whatnot that they got over the years. By the time of SHAOLIN SOCCER, even some mainstream media and critics were calling them out on their treatment of Asian films.

I think that's why FIST OF LEGEND is coming out so quickly - they need to blow our minds as well - they need to bring us into the fold, to generate good word of mouth, and fast - and what better way to do it than with one of the relatively few really major HK movies with no good English-subbed DVD available anywhere - that one will probably even sell well as an export. If they proceed to make with DRUNKEN MASTER II, in Cantonese with subtitles, with Jackie Chan all retarded-like at the end, then I can honestly say "water under the bridge". They give me a souped-up release of THE BLADE, and I will personally give Harvey Weinstein a big hug and a hearty handshake if ever I meet him. Swear to God.

Posted by: Rhythm-X | May 25, 2006 9:20:22 PM

I bought a Tai Chi DVD and was really p#ssed off at the lousy dubbing and musical soundtrack.The VHS version is much better.Fong Sai Yuk 1+2 has also been redubbed.

All three these movies now SUCK BIG TIME!!!!!!!

Posted by: craig davids | Aug 8, 2006 12:37:56 PM

Ofcourse these movies suck when they're dubbed and re-scored. Throughout history, there's hardly ever been cases of movies actually getting BETTER by such treatment (cutting and dubbing). Even the early movies of Kurosawa were butchered by the western companies as they felt their audiences wouldnt 'get' the asian stuff in it(!) Seems like we're now 50-60 years later and many western companies still havent learned from past mistakes.

Anyway, the best way to let these companies know that we dont want these movies to be cut and/or dubbed, is to just not buy them and go for an imported/bootleg version instead.
Fist of Legend and Drunken Master 2 are my 2 favourite martial arts movies EVER, but there's no way in hell that I would ever waste my money on the current DVDs out there. Hell, I tried watching FOL when it was on TV (butchered version) and turned it off after the first couple of lines had been spoken...

I hope that Dragon Dynasty will release these movies in the way they should be released.
Personally, I'm skeptic, but I hope they'll proof me wrong. If they mess it up (again), I wont buy the disks, no matter how good the AV quality is, or how great the extras are. First priority is an uncut, subbed movie. All the other stuff (interviews, outtakes, whatever) are just extras.

Posted by: Yi-Long | Aug 30, 2006 5:50:38 PM

Post a comment