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A drama centering on a rather masculine hero who lives only for motorcycle racing but, after a serious crash, is faced with the ultimatum handed to him by his loyal, attractive girlfriend: He must choose bikes or her.
For more about Full Throttle and the Full Throttle Blu-ray release, see Full Throttle Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on March 16, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Full Throttle Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, March 16, 2011
Winner of Best Film Editing Award at the Hong Kong Film Awards, Yee Tung-Shing's "Lie huo zhan che" a.k.a "Full Throttle" (1995) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Hong Kong-based distributors Kam & Ronson Enterprises. The only supplemental feature on the disc is the film's original theatrical trailer. In Cantonese, with optional English and Traditional Chinese subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
I have friends like Joe (Andy Lau, Running on Karma, Infernal Affairs), the main protagonist in Yee Tung-Shing's Full Throttle. One of them was so obsessed with his career that he forgot that he had a life to live. His wife left him. He fell seriously ill and eventually realized that he had wasted the best years of his life. Last summer we accidentally met and I could not believe my eyes - he was healthy but looking twice as old.
I also have a friend who was once a passionate snowboarder. Each year he would go to Mount Rainier in Washington for a few days and snowboard until he could barely stay on his feet. I have plenty of pictures from his trips. A couple of years ago, however, he fell and seriously injured his coccyx. He is fine now, but he sold all of his gear. When I asked him why, he said that he could not overcome the constant fear of falling and injuring himself again.
Joe is in a relationship with Annie (Gigi Leung, A War Named Desire). She loves him. Joe often tells Annie that he also loves her, but she knows that he is actually in love with racing. He dreams of winning the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix and proving to his father that he is the best racer in Hong Kong.
The more time passes, the more Annie begins to realize that Joe is unlikely to change. She wants a soul mate, not a boyfriend. But Joe isn't ready to have the type of relationship Annie dreams about. Right now his bike, his friends, and the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix are a lot more important to him than Annie's love.
When Joe encounters David (David Wu, Restless), another racer dreaming about winning the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix, and the two begin challenging each other, Annie warns him that sooner or later his passion for speed will hurt him. Joe laughs and tells her that she should not worry about him. Shortly after, he crashes his bike and suffers multiple fractures.
While recuperating in the hospital, Joe begins to realize what has become of his life. He then promises Annie that he would stop racing. A couple of months later, however, he is back on the streets. But all of Joe's old friends are now with David, who has proven that he is the fastest racer in Hong Kong.
Reading the synopsis above, you probably gathered that Full Throttle is a casual film about young racers. It is not. Even though there is plenty of racing in it, the film is about that very special moment when one finally realizes what matters in life.
With Joe the realization is more of an awakening of sorts - and it is extremely easy to guess when and how it will occur. And though it may seem a bit overdone, it is not unbelievable. This is exactly why I mentioned earlier that I know people like Joe; they simply live in giant bubbles that one day burst and they suddenly realize what they have been missing.
I liked this film a lot. It looks dated (they stopped making the glasses Leung wears many moons ago) but it is so charming and honest, I could not stop smiling. Lau must have broken a lot of hearts with it – from time to time he looks a bit stiff in front of the camera but always has the right lines.
Frankie Chan and Roel A. García's soundtrack, a collection of trendy 90s pop tunes, is excellent. The main song in the film, "Ching sam dik yat gui" (One Sentence Of Deep Love), is also very good, and it is actually performed by Lau.
Note: In 1996, Full Throttle won Best Film Editing Award (Kwong Chi-Leung /Keung Kwok) at the Hong Kong Film Awards, and Best Director and Film of Merit Awards at the Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards.
Full Throttle Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Yee Tung-Shing's Full Throttle arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Hong Kong-based distributors Kam & Ronson Enterprises.
This high-definition transfer looks a lot like the one Disney used for their Blu-ray release of Iron Monkey - its basics are mostly fine but it is covered by a thick layer of machine noise. On smaller than 55' screens it looks deceivingly sharp and crisp, but on bigger screens it is very easy to see that fine object detail is actually compromised. Clarity and contrast levels, however, are good. The nighttime footage, in particular, looks quite good. Color reproduction is also surprisingly strong. Finally, there are a few tiny flecks popping up here and there but no large damage marks and cuts to report in this review. All in all, I have mixed feelings about Full Throttle - had it not been for the machine noise I mentioned above, this would have been a very pleasing Blu-ray release, dated but perfectly serviceable. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free Blu-ray disc in order to access its content).
Full Throttle Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: Cantonese Dolby TrueHD 7.1 and Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 EX. For the record, Kam & Ronson Enterprises have provided optional English and Traditional Chinese subtitles for the main feature.
The Cantonese Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track is a bit uneven. Its mid-range dynamics, for instance, are quite weak. As a result the music sequences are often slightly stronger than the dialog. Some of the audio effects have also been boosted. Still, there is nothing to be terribly disappointed about. Lastly, the dialog is crisp, clean, stable, and easy to follow. For the record, the English translation has a small number of grammatical errors.
Full Throttle Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Full Throttle Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I enjoyed Yee Tung-Shing's Full Throttle a lot. It is an excellent early 90s film about dreams, ambitions, and true love. I had never owned it on SDVD so this Blu-ray release has a guaranteed spot in my library. However, I would recommend that you rent it first because the transfer Kam & Ronson Enterprises have used for it is rather inconsistent. I have come to accept that for a number of reasons many older Hong Kong films will most likely appear on Blu-ray with less than perfect transfers, and that is fine with me, but I don't expect everyone to agree with me. RENT IT.
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