HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:60
Boxing is one of America’s biggest sports. It’s been around in one form or another since before football was introduced as a major sport. Even before baseball. Men (and women) have had the innate desire to compete against each other in physical combat for about as long as man has been in existence. The desire to fight (even if it’s only in play) burns within mankind and the amount of sports that have capitalized on that is enormous. Even though boxing isn’t AS big as it once was in during the 20th century, it still garners incredible support from fans and is one of the biggest money makers in the sporting industry (ironically mostly for the managers and promoters). “Champs” takes an interesting angle on the sport of boxing, focusing on three of the most visible and well known boxers of the last quarter century. Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, and Bernard Hopkins.
My first impression from the trailer was that “Champs” was going to be a rundown on the sport of boxing and its history. Instead director Bert Marcus looks at it from the viewpoint of the three heavyweight champions that are mentioned above and gives a harsh look at the pitfalls and troubles of boxing in a modern age. The first act is devoted mainly to the backstory and rough upbringing of the boxers. None of them had it easy, and they all came from the “ghetto” hoping to make a better life for themselves. As they said. Rich kids don’t fight. Fighting is for poor kids who want to get out of the life they’re in. Interspersed with the interview footage from the fighters are commentaries from actors Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and even film director/writer Ron Howard (all boxing fans). Marcus spends time discussing the American Dream and the dark places many of these fighters come from in hopes of that dream being actualized.
“Cross” is a movie I really wanted to LOVE. I adore Simon Yam, as he is one of Hong Kong cinema’s most prolific actors. He’s been around ever since I was kid in everything from romantic comedies, dramas, to Jet Li action movies. His character as a serial killer who truly believes that he is carrying out God’s will is chilling. You almost feel for him, yet are repulsed by his actions. He’s literally a bit crazy due to his grief, but his intentions, as warped as they are, are noble in theory. He doesn’t believe he’s the bad guy at all, but rather wants to alleviate suffering and the risk of eternal damnation. Unfortunately for him, killing people may not exactly be the best way to win the trust of people. The sickening turn of events that causes him to realize that his whole mission was a lie is exceptionally poignant and the suffering and disbelief in his eyes is heartfelt.
The rest of the characters in the movie were really side characters. Well, except for the killers, but that person we can’t exactly reveal in this review. The detectives were decent enough, but there wasn’t enough screen time to really get their end of the story, as much more time was spent delving into Simon Yam’s character and the true mastermind. The lawyer is mildly fleshed out, but he’s there to really only act as a focal point for Leonard to talk to him about the murders, much like the detectives. The movie wanders a bit from time to time, and feels like it was setting itself up for something much bigger, but the reveal at the end of the is rushed and feels kind of awkward, which is mostly likely from being edited together by people besides the original director. It’s entertaining and certainly more than a bit creepy, but fails to rise to what it could have been had Danny Chan been given more control and not left.
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=47794[/img]“Cross” comes to us via Well Go USA with a rather problematic transfer. First thing I noticed was how soft the image was, even for a DVD, and then I noticed how the colors tended to look a bit flat and desaturated. I can’t be sure if that was a theatrical stylistic choice or not, but both issues combined drained a lot of the color from the image. The colors that are there tend to be dominated by a grey/blue grading that shifts to a golden yellow grading on certain indoor scenes. The detail is a bit robbed due to these effects and the overall image quality, blacks included, are just mediocre. The real kick in the pants, though, is the heavy duty haloing going on. There’s not a single character that doesn’t suffer from the haloing the entire movie. It became so obvious that it was almost like they had force fields around them. There was a few moments of color banding, but nothing wild, I think I noticed it maybe once or twice. Close ups show some very good clarity, but long shots are a bit soft. I can’t be deadly certain whose fault this was since I have no access to a theatrical print or have not seen in it theaters to confirm whether Well Go USA received the master with all this baked in, or whether it is an encoding issue. Either way, it really saddens me because Well Go USA usually do a very decent job at encoding for a small company, and I have been impressed many times. This time is unfortunately not one of them.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=47802[/img]The disc gives us 4 audio tracks to choose from. An English 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital tracks as well as a Cantonese set of the same makeup. The audio is ever so slightly compressed more than I’d like with 384 kbps bitrates, but the audio is very solid for a DVD. Dialog is crisp and clear, with only a few minutes of runtime where I felt it sounded a bit boxy. The surrounds are used effectively with creepy ambient noises leaking in through the cracks as well as the ominous score filling it out. The LFE was exceptionally nice, especially for an Asian drama, as it pounded hard on quite a few key points in the film. The audio clarity sometimes got a bit muffled, and the dynamic range was a bit pinched, but overall it was a solid release for a film shot on the cheap.
• Theatrical Trailer
“Cross” is a bit of an interesting beast. The cut you see before you is not the same cut that Director Daniel Chan really wanted, but after his absence it was the best they could assemble together. It has some pacing flaws, and has a VERY cool premise, but it lacks a little bit the cohesion department which robs it of some of the impact it could have had. What I saw, I really enjoyed, up until the end where it started to fall apart a little. Audio and video are decent for a DVD, and the lack of extras is a tad disappointing, but it’s still worth a rental, especially if you love Asian cinema as I do.
Starring: Simon Yam, Jason Chang, Kenny Wong
Director: Daniel Chan
Written By: Daniel Chan, Steve Woo
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 MPEG2
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 5.1, English DD 2.0, Cantonese DD 5.1, Cantonese DD 2.0
Studio: Well Go USA
Runtime: 87 Minutes
DVD Release Date: June 23rd, 2015
Buy Cross DVD on Amazon
Recommendation: Good Rental
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