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Girl$ Blu-ray Review

girl$-blu-ray-coverU.S. Release

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: Cantonese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Discs: 2 (1  x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
  • Digital Copies: N/A
  • Run Time: 90 Mins.
  • Studio: FUNimation Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: April 16, 2013
  • List Price: $29.98

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(The below 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:3.5/5]

Girl$-BD_01

The Hong Kong film Girl$ (囡囡; nānān) from director Kenneth Bi (The Drummer) is at once stylish, erotic, and touching. Following four attractive young women in Hong Kong who are lured into a life of online prostitution or “paid dates” by the temptation of material goods in most cases, and an honest longing for companionship in others, the story is both a cautionary tale for the young and a character study of four disparate women who become friends despite their differences.

Gucci (Wong Si-Man) is a 16-year-old who defines herself by purchasing limited edition Gucci handbags. When she bids for one in an online auction and cannot afford to pay, she decides to try her hand at becoming a “paid date” and sell her virginity to the highest bidder. Online she meets Ronnie (Bonnie Xian), a rich girl who is friends with Icy (Michelle Wai), an older teenage girl who finds girls just like Gucci to work as paid dates on commission. Icy is down to one girl at the moment, the somewhat wild Lin (Una Lin), so when Gucci comes along, it is seen as good opportunity. Icy finally convinces Ronnie to become a paid date too and all is well – she needs some extra cash to buy a new computer for her boyfriend. Despite all their differences, the four girls become a rather tight-knit group of friends, almost like sisters. But soon as a serial killer attacking prostitutes is on the loose and a “john” with AIDS reveals himself on the internet, the girls begin to confront the harsh realities of the lifestyle they have chosen.

Kenneth Bi and the screenwriters have done a fantastic job making us care about each of the girls in Girl$ and their small sisterhood, so to speak. Each of the actresses is to be commended on playing their part so well and believably, especially Una Lin who has some powerful scenes. Bi and co. have also created a visually and aurally stunning version of the underground Hong Kong lifestyle, which makes the film all the more enticing to watch.

Where Girl$ does begin to fall apart just a bit is in its fourth act, where it starts to lose some of its edge and, seemingly in an effort to tie up all the loose ends into a neat little bow and leave us with a morality lesson, it begins to wreak of a public service announcement. I can just about feel a cautionary finger wagging in my face from the screen “now children, this is what happens when…yada..yada…yada.”

Despite this somewhat mucked up ending, the film is still a powerful one to watch – it’s grittier than much of the work coming from the mainland, certainly more frank, and it has a lot of style.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

Girl$-BD_02

Girl$ was shot in high definition with the Red One camera and it definitely has a good amount of detail and textural information in this AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement from FUNimation. That being said, one can spot digital anomalies in the picture like some color banding and video noise. The darker colors also suffer a bit from crush. It’s difficult at times to make out strands of hair in the dark-haired characters, or detailed stitching on darker clothing.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Girl$-BD_03

The audio, provided in a solid Cantonese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) track, provides a strong dynamic range, natural high frequencies, and a strong underpinning of low frequencies for its numerous dance and hip-hop inspired songs. The dialogue is full and clear, and the surrounds carry a good balance of atmospheric sounds.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:1/5]

Girl$-BD_04

Only the Making of Girl$ (1.33:1; SD) and some trailers for further live-action releases from FUNimation Entertainment are provided.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

Girl$-BD_05

A really powerful, stylish, erotic, and touching film for 2/3 of the way, Girl$ is a more than worthy piece for viewing as a rental or purchase. The Blu-ray is solid even if barebones, with an acceptable HD transfer and lossless soundtrack.

 Additional Screen Captures

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Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1/5]

 

 

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