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Dangerous Liaisons (2012) Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (24Hz)
  • Audio Codec: Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit), Mandarin Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Subtitles: English, Chinese
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Digital Copies: N/A
  • Run Time: 111 Mins.
  • Studio: Well Go USA Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: February 12, 2013
  • List Price: $29.98

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4/5]

Author Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ epistolary novel Les Liaisons dangereuses has been turned to for big screen adaptations in many different forms over the years. There’s 1988’s Dangerous Liaisons from Christopher Hampton’s theatrical play, 1989’s Valmont by director Miloš Forman, and even the turn of teen melodrama with the guilty pleasure Cruel Intentions from 1999. So this Chinese adaptation by South Korean director Hur Jin-ho is hardly new, nor is it really unexpected. It is somewhat unique in how it removes the Laclos story far from its European roots and places it in Asia, the bustling Shanghai of the 1930s to be exact, without missing much of a step. A lavish, sensuous, and meticulously detailed period film, Hur’s Dangerous Liaisons (危險關係) is set at the cusp of war. The two focal points of the story are the stunning but aging beauty, socialite Mo Jieyu (Cecelia Cheung) and her longtime friend and unrequited lover, wealthy Lothario Xie Yifan (Jang Dong-gun). The two use their time to inflict harm on others, using sex as a weapon. Their attentions are now turned toward the virginal Dun Fenyu (Zhang Ziyi), whom Mo and Xie enter into a bet over. Xie must “conquer” her and discard her if he ever wants to have his way with Mo. In setting out on this latest conquest, Xie finds himself experiencing something he never did before, the true sorrows and heartbreak of love, which sends Mo into an unexpected jealous rage and creates a tragic situation for the parties involved.

While Jang Dong-gun is never as despicable a cad in Hur’s film as, say, John Malkovich is in Stephen Frears’ 1988 film as Valmont, Jang does strike an even balance between dislikable Don Juan and pitiable antihero, far better than the almost comic portrayal of the Valmont character by Colin Firth in 1989’s Valmont. The two leading women are superb, especially Cecelia Cheung as Mo, who plays a superlative vixen, gorgeous, manipulative, yet vulnerable. Zhang Ziyi is perfectly cast as the virginal victim of Xie’s charms.

Where Hur’s film fails the story is in leaving out many of the more compelling secondary characters in favor of an almost laser-like focus on the love triangle between Mo, Xie, and Fenyu. The subplot that leads to the dramatic ending involving Xie and Mo’s “god daughter,” the sixteen-year-old ward that becomes another of Xie’s conquests is pushed well into the background. Also, Grandmother Du (Lisa Lu), a character that could offer much needed comic relief from the screenplay often overwrought with melodrama is hardly used.

These things aside, the beauty of the sets, splendor of the costumes, often perfectly naughty bounce of the score from Kim Byung-seo make this Dangerous Liaisons a pleasurable watch.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Dangerous Liaisons was shot on the Super 35 format with Arricam LT and Arricam 435 cameras. It comes to Blu-ray with an AVC/MPEG-4 1080p transfer at exactly 24Fps as opposed to the usual 23.976 for North American markets. The image is mostly crisp with a fine layer of grain and lots of detail. Colors are rich and contrast is strong with nuanced shadows, but grain levels can become a bit rough and coarse in darker areas. Still, this is a strong effort from Well Go.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit) is defined by lush atmospherics in the surround channels, a wide stereo pan and clear dialogue. The orchestral score sounds smooth and airy with a natural sense of dynamics.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2/5]

We get lots of behind-the-scenes footage and trailers with this Well Go release.

The supplements:

  • Making Of (2.35:1; SD; 00:16:22)
  • Behind the Scenes (2.35:1; SD; 00:04:57):
    • Zhang Ziyi
    • Jang Dong-gun
    • Cecilia Cheung
  • Trailers (2.35:1; 1080p/24; 00:06:56)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Sumptuously entertaining, sexy, naughty, and romantic, this re-imagined version of the Choderlos de Laclos’ classic is a satisfying experience through and through. Recommended.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase Dangerous Liaisons on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

[amazon-product]B00AN5LCRC[/amazon-product]

Purchase Dangerous Liaisons on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]


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