Chungking Express is one of my favorite movies, and I thought I would finally upgrade to a DVD copy (I have the old American videotape release). It is a wonderfully stylish, breezy movie with great actors and even better cinematography. Well, if you could actually SEE it, that is.
I don't know what happened with the transfer to DVD, but it is so dark that you can't even see what is happening in some scenes. I can't stress this enough: You CAN'T SEE what is happening in some scenes. I compared some scenes side-by-side with the videotape to see if I was imagining things, and I wasn't.
Two examples: 1.)There's a scene with with Brigitte Lin in a hallway, where she slumps to the floor and lights a cigarette. In the videotape version, the hallway is well-lit, and so is Ms. Lin. You can see her body language, and really feel her jittery weariness as she slinks to the floor. In the DVD version Ms. Lin is a black silhouette merged with the wall on her left, and we can just barely make out accents of light on her face. It completely changes the tone and feel of the whole scene.
In another scene a character is eating canned pineapple in his apartment and tries to feed it to his dog. In the videotape version everything is visible and well-lit, and you can easily see his cute dog and it's reaction. In the DVD version the apartment looks pitch black, and you can barely see the dog.
These are just two examples, but the WHOLE DVD is like this. In the videotape Faye Wong waters plants in a shower, with daylight streaming through the windows, but in the DVD she waters a black silhouette of something frightening looking in a dark, creepy looking shower.
I don't want to sound like a pedantic video buff nit-picking over minor problems; this DVD transfer is absurdly, incomprehensibly DARK. I just wish I could post side-by-side examples. This movie's great and deserves better.
And now I'm worried about the quality of the other two DVDs in the collection, because I've never seen them before, and thus have nothing to compare them to. Will they do this fantastic filmmaker justice?