Blu-ray Round-up: "Yi Yi" and "Au revoir les enfants" debut in Blu
Plus the Hong Kong period adventure "Battle of the Warriors"
"Yi Yi" (Criterion)
It can’t be coincidence that Edward Yang’s sublime, serene, deeply personal 2000 drama of one Tapei family frustrated by the alienating effects of modern Taiwan society struck a chord throughout the world. Leisurely paced at three hours, it winds us through the complications of family relations, the stresses of Taiwan’s rickety economy, and the larger mysteries of life—love, death, faith, knowledge—in a way that is unique to contemporary Taiwan and universal to the human condition. This is not a drama of Big Events, but small details and delicate emotions, and Yang lets them seep through the fabric of the film with such sincerity and feeling that I couldn’t help but feel, in my own small way, redeemed by this vision.
The newly-remastered and restored edition, with the original English subtitle translation by director Edward Yang and critic Tony Rayns, features the supplements of the previous DVD release: commentary by writer-director Edward Yang and Asian-cinema critic Tony Rayns, video interview with Rayns about the "New Taiwanese Cinema" movement and the U.S. theatrical trailer, plus a booklet with an essay by Kent Jones and notes by writer-director Edward Yang.
"Au revoir les enfants" (Criterion) – Louis Malle drew upon events from his own childhood during the German occupation for this touching 1987 drama about the friendship between two boys (Gaspard Manesse and Raphael Fejtö) at a Catholic board-school in Nazi-occupied France and the tragedy when one boy's secret—he is a Jew being hid by sympathetic priests—is revealed. Malle's tender way with the emotional confusion and the complicated mix of innocence and guilt of adolescence gives the already powerful story a haunting poignancy. The restored digital transfer was supervised by director of photography Renato Berta. The disc video interviews with biographer Pierre Billard and actress Candice Bergen (director Louis Malle’s widow), the featurette "Joseph: A Character Study" (a profile of the provocative character from "Au revoir les enfants"), the complete Charlie Chaplin’s 1917 short "The Immigrant" (featured in the film) and a booklet featuring essays by film critic Philip Kemp and historian Francis J. Murphy.
"Battle of the Warriors" (Vivendi) – Andy Lau stars as a lone warrior in 370 B.C. who rides into a besieged village and masterminds the defense against an advancing army twice its size in this historical spectacle based on a best-selling manga. The big-budget Hong Kong film, produced and directed by Jacob Cheung, has a multinational scope, with a cast of performers from Hong Kong (Lau), China (Fan Bingbing), Taiwan (Nicky Wu) and Korea (Ahn Sung-ki), plus a Japanese cinematographer and action choreography from Stephen Tung (of "Hero" fame). In Mandarin with English subtitles, with optional English dub soundtrack, commentary by Hong Kong cinema expert Bey Logan and a making-of featurette.