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Chow Yun-Fat is certainly one of the most charismatic actors on the screen today, which is I am delighted to see him make the transition from Hong Kong cinema to mainstream American movies. His first American film, THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS proved he had what it takes to be a movie star, because his powerful screen presence makes that film more than the sum of its parts. With his second American film, THE CORRUPTOR ($25), Chow Yun-Fat has been given an outing worthy of his talents that allow him to stretch his dramatic muscles.

In THE CORRUPTOR, Chow Yun-Fat portrays New York City police detective Nick Chen. Because of his ethnic background, Chen works in Chinatown and is the head of the special Asian gang unit. The much decorated Chen is even something of a minor celebrity, because of his success in curtailing gang activities. However, after a raging Chinese gang war gets out of hand, Chen finds a new detective is assigned to his squad- one that changes the face of Asian gang unit radically. Mark Wahlberg portrays detective Danny Wallace; the first non-Asian member of Chen's special Chinatown unit. At first, Chen wants to get rid of the Caucasian detective because he feels that the Chinese population will never accept him. Nevertheless, Chen takes a liking to Wallace and decides to take the gung-ho detective under his wing to keep him out of trouble. Although Chen tries to protect Wallace, we quickly learn that even a cop with the best of intentions can be corrupted on Chinatown's seductive road to hell.

On the surface, THE CORRUPTOR appears to be an action film or another in an endless series of cop buddy movies, because the elements of those genres float to the top. However, if one looks deeper, THE CORRUPTOR proves to be a far more complex and entertaining film. Chow Yun-Fat gives a rich, multi-layered performance that makes his character a truly interesting human being, instead of a standard stock character cranked out off of the Hollywood assembly line. Mark Wahlberg proves that his turn in BOOGIE NIGHTS wasn't a fluke and that his talent in front of the camera is genuine. THE CORRUPTOR also features a superb supporting performance from Ric Young as Henry Lee- Chinatown's smiling devil. The cast of THE CORRUPTOR also includes Paul Ben-Victor, Jon Kit Lee, Andrew Pang, Brian Cox, Elizabeth Lindsey, Byron Mann, Kim Chan, Bill MacDonald, Susie Trinh and Tovah Feldshuh. Director James Foley wisely keeps the film focused on its characters and relationship, instead of the more action oriented aspects of the story, which serves both the film and its star.

New Line Home Video has brought THE CORRUPTOR to DVD as part of their prestigious Platinum Series. THE CORRUPTOR is presented on DVD in a superb looking Letterboxed transfer that restores the film's 2.35:1 framing, and has been enhanced for 16:9 displays. Visually, every New Line Platinum Series release has been reference quality- THE CORRUPTOR maintains that level of excellence. The sharp, richly detailed image is virtually perfect, again pushing the limits of the NTSC system. Color reproduction is flawless, offering realistic flesh tones and well saturated hues. Even the most intense hues that are found within some of the more difficult lighting situations are faithfully rendered without chroma noise or bleeding. Contrast is rock solid and the black level is absolute. Shadow detail is excellent and film grain is held in check throughout the darker sequences of the film. First rate DVD authoring conceals all traces of digital compression artifacts.

THE CORRUPTOR has a powerful Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack that takes full advantage of the possibilities of the discrete format. There are excellent channel separations in both the forward soundstage and the highly active split surround channels. While the viewer is sonically assaulted from all sides, the mix is fully integrated to create a cohesive sound field. Dialogue reproduction is clean and precise, without being drowned out by the barrage of sound effects found in the mix. Bass is authoritative, which gives the track an explosive bottom end. English subtitles and an English Dolby Surround soundtrack also have been encoded onto the DVD. The interactive menus have an excellent interface, containing animation, full motion video music and sound effects. Since this is a Platinum Series DVD, all of the supplemental materials, as well as the standard scene selection and setup features are available through the interactive menus.

Topping the list of supplements is an interesting and highly informative audio commentary provided by director James Foley. The chapter selection feature has been applied to the audio commentary, which can be accessed on a topic by topic basis. Carter Burwell's isolated musical score is also presented in the same manner, with an index allowing one to access individual musical cues. Another excellent supplement is From The (Under)Ground Up: The Making of The Corruptor. This behind-the-scenes look at the film contains extensive interviews with the cast and members of the production team. Actually, this short feature is better than most production featurettes, since it is far more detailed and contains more information than one is likely to find in standard promotional films. The featurette also has its own chapter index, plus it offers a look at the unedited version of the film's first rate car chase scene, which had to be cut to appease the MPAA. Also included amongst the DVD's extras are a theatrical trailer and music video for UGK's Take It Off. Cast and crew biographies/filmographies are also provided on the disc, in addition to DVD-ROM features.

THE CORRUPTOR is a terrific movie that is certain to please Chow Yun-Fat's numerous fans. Additionally, with THE CORRUPTOR New Line Home Video has created another fantastic DVD worthy of their Platinum Series pedigree. Absolutely recommended.



DVD reviews are Copyright 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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