Blu-ray Review: THE VIRAL FACTOR (Hong Kong Version)
The last five years have seen the meteoric rise of Dante Lam, from hack director-for-hire to the forefront of the Hong Kong action scene. A string of films that began with The Sniper, followed by The Beast Stalker, Fire of Conscience and The Stool Pigeon has now culminated in the huge international action thriller The Viral Factor and confirmed Lam's position as the local industry's leading action auteur. Taiwanese pop icon Jay Chou and Lam regular Nicolas Tse play estranged brothers on opposite sides of an international terrorist threat involving a stolen virus, kidnapped scientists and a lot of shit that blows up real good.
You can read my full review of the film right here, suffice to say that every cent of Lam's enormous $25 million budget is up there on the screen, as he crams the film's 122-minute runtime full of gunfights, car chases, punch ups and histrionic unresolved family drama spread all the way from Jordan to Beijing to Malaysia. It's big, loud and, okay, actually pretty stupid, but intelligence has never been a prerequisite for making a good action movie - and Lam has delivered one of the most audacious spectacles to come out of this city in quite some time.
Emperor Motion Pictures' Bluray does a great job of bringing the film's strengths to your home, with a great looking transfer and thumping Dolby TrueHD 7.1 and DTS-HD MA7.1 audio tracks. The colours are bold, there is a nice fine layer of grain and I didn't see any aliasing, noise reduction or other bothersome artefacts in the picture.
The disc also comes with a fine array of special features, most notably The Making of The Viral Factor - a surprisingly entertaining 15-minute featurette, packed full of location footage as well as a number of interviews with the cast: Jay Chou, Nic Tse, Andy On, Bai Bing and Liu Kai Chi, as well as Dante Lam, from which a number of tidbits about the production can be gleaned. The featurette has English subtitles throughout.
There are two deleted scenes, including a brief fight sequence between Jay Chou and Andy On and a 25-minute unsubtitled B-roll of behind the scenes footage from the location shoots both in Jordan and Kuala Lumpur. There's also a slideshow gallery and two theatrical trailers.
All in all this is a pretty good package with a top notch presentation of an audiaciously excessive and consistently entertaining action movie. The disc is Region A encoded and is available for order today from your preferred online retailer.