Full Alert (Blu-ray Review)


The Film
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements


A Hong Kong detective, under pressure to keep things in the city under control leading up to the handover, tries to track down a gangster who escaped from prison who he believes is planning a heist of the H.K. Jockey Club in this 1997 neo-noir crime thriller from Ringo Lam.

In Ringo Lam’s nail-biter of a thriller, Full Alert, Police Inspector Pao (Ching Wan Lau) is on the trail of gang member Mak Kwan (Francis Ng), who is first arrested in connection with a drowning, but escapes from prison with the help of some of his criminal associates in one of the film’s most spectacular action sequences that features a car chase and shootout through Hong Kong. With Kwan on the loose, Pao realizes that he is planning a heist on the HK Jockey club – can he stop him in time?

This is a twisting, sometimes convoluted thriller that can lose itself in overcomplexity with multiple characters and unexplored subplots that seem thrown in for no reason, but the almost neo-noir aesthetic and cat and mouse interplay between Pao and Kwan is the draw for this gritty, fast-paced thriller.

Lam doesn’t just drop us into the action, criminal underworld, and hardboiled world of the cops, but he also offers us a look at the domestic life of Pao and Kwan, harkening back to such pre-noir films as The Naked City, giving more depth to these characters and the story. This is a stylized and prototypical Hong Kong crime thriller from the pre-handover era and one that still holds up today.

The Video

Full Alert is an AVC 1080p presentation on Blu-ray from a High Definition transfer from the original film elements framed at 1.85:1. The 1997 vintage film was originally shot on 35mm Fuji film on Arriflex cameras. There is a very gritty, grainy look to this film that grain haters may not like, but it somehow manages to add to the weightiness of this twisting crime thriller. The grain looks authentic, natural, only ever-so-slightly noisy in the very darkest scenes, but not because of the encodement or transfer, more from the film stock, lenses, and low light photography. Apart from the grain, the rest of the picture quality looks solid, with some shots offering very stark contrasts and nice color saturation that gives a good look to the numerous neon signs around the streets.

The Audio

The disc comes with the original Cantonese stereo mix in LPCM 2.0. There’s god stereo imaging and dynamic range in this 2.0 listening track as well as a natural amount of room atmospherics around the dialogue in the appropriate places.

The Supplements

The three audio commentaries included are the meat of the bonus features here. A commentary from the director is always welcome and the full-length interview track with the composer is a surprise, but it is the always magnificently informed and filled with anecdotes Asian-film expert Frank Djeng who gives the most delightfully entertaining commentary.

  • Audio commentary by Frank Djeng
  • Audio commentary by director Ringo Lam
  • A Conversation with Peter Kam – An extensive interview with the film’s composer
  • Original Theatrical Trailer 1080p
  • A Limited Edition Collector’s Booklet featuring new writing by David West (NEO Magazine) [First Print Run of 2000 copies only]
  • Limited Edition O-Card Slipcase featuring new artwork by Grégory Sacré (Gokaiju) [First Print Run of 2000 copies only]

The Final Assessment

Gritty, quick-paced, and visually inventive, this Hong Kong crime thriller gets a solid Blu-ray release from the Eureka Classics imprint that fans of Hong Kong cinema and director Ringo Lam should grab.

  • Rating Certificate: UK:15
  • Studios & Distributors: Brilliant Idea Group (BIG) | Young Filmmakers Ltd. | Eureka Entertainment
  • Director: Ringo Lam
  • Written By: Ringo Lam (screenplay) | Wing-Kin Lau | Yuen-L eung Poon
  • Run Time: 102 Mins.
  • Street Date: 22 November 2021
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: Cantonese LPCM 2.0 Stereo
  • Subtitles: English

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A Hong Kong detective, under pressure to keep things in the city under control leading up to the handover, tries to track down a gangster who escaped from prison who he believes is planning a heist of the H.K. Jockey Club in this 1997 neo-noir crime thriller from Ringo Lam.Full Alert (Blu-ray Review)