Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Full Alert – Eureka Video (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1997
Director: Ringo Lam
Writers: Ringo Lam, Wing-Kin Lau, Yuen-Leung Poon
Cast: Ching Wan Lau, Francis Ng, Amanda Lee, Jack Kao, Monica Chan, Siu-Kei Lee, Kar Lok Chin, Raymond Cho, Emily Kwan

Release Date: November 22nd, 2021
Approximate Running Time: 98 Minutes 49 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVCC
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Stereo Cantonese
Subtitles: English
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £24.99

"Perfectionist, workaholic Inspector Pao (Lau Ching-wan, Running Out of Time) finds himself up against Mak Kwan (Francis Ng, The Mission), a seasoned criminal intending to use his explosive skills to pull off a huge heist. Pao must use his own resources to stop Mak and prevent heavy civilian casualties." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 5/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "a High Definition transfer from the original film elements."

Full Alert comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 31.4 GB

Feature: 30.7 GB

Given that this is one of the more recent Hong Kong films released by Eureka Video, it's not surprising that the source used for this transfer looks fantastic. Colors and flesh tones look correct, image clarity and black levels look solid, and the grain remains intact.

Audio: 5/5

This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM stereo mix in Cantonese, and included with this release are removable English subtitles. The audio included with this release is as impressive as the transfer. Everything sounds balanced and range-wise robust when it should, and the dialog always comes through clearly.


Extras for this release include original theatrical trailer (2 minutes 7 seconds, LPCM stereo Cantonese, no subtitles), an audio interview with composer Peter Lam that plays like an audio commentary track (85 minutes 28 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), an audio commentary with Asian film expert Frank Djeng (NY Asian Film Festival), an archival audio commentary with director Ringo Lam, limited-edition O-card slipcase (2000 copies) and a limited-edition booklet [2000 copies] with cast & crew information, an essay written by David West and information about the transfer titled Notes on Viewing.


In the late 1980's, Hong Kong cinema saw a rise in violent action films referred to as "heroic bloodshed" films. And though there were a few directors who excelled at making these types of films, no name is more synonymous with late 1980’s or early 1990’s violent action films than John Woo. That said, Ringo Lam is arguably the second most recognizable director making these types of films. His most notable films include City on Fire (a film whose influence can be felt throughout Reservoir Dogs) and the Prison of Fire series.

Like John Woo, though, Ringo Lam would make some films in Hollywood. Especially notable are his collaborations with Jean-Claude Van Damme. He would also continue to make films in Hong Kong. Full Alert, a high-octane action extravaganza that’s overflowing with testosterone, is a case in point.

Though not as violent as Hong Kong’s most celebrated Heroic Bloodshed films, Full Alert has many of the elements that are synonymous with these types of films. Full Alert’s narrative revolves around a determined police inspector who’s willing to cross the line to catch the suspect and a criminal mastermind who feeds off the rush of being pursued. These two characters follow the archetypal characters that were established in films like The Killer. Though these characters are on the opposite side of the law, they have respect for each other.

From a production standpoint, there’s not an area where Full Alert does not excel. The well-executed narrative does a great job of balancing exposition moments and explosive action set pieces, and a very satisfying finale provides the perfect coda. Also, the action sequences are all fantastic. Standout action set pieces include a scene where an apartment is boobytrapped to explode once the police are inside, a thrilling car chase through the crowded streets of Hong Kong and an elaborate race track heist sequence. Not to be overlooked are the performances, which are all excellent, particularly those of Ching Wan Lau (Black Mask) as the police inspector and Francis Ng (Exiled) as the criminal mastermind. Ultimately, Full Alert is a classic example of how great Hong Kong action cinema was during its peak.

Eureka Video has done a remarkable job of putting the spotlight on Hong Kong cinema. Their Full Alert Blu-ray is another exemplary release that comes with a solid audio/video presentation and a wealth of extra content, highly recommended.

 Written by Michael Den Boer

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