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A rookie cop takes on a veteran escape driver in a death defying final showdown on the motorway.
For more about Motorway and the Motorway Blu-ray release, see Motorway Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on November 4, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Shawn Yue, Barbie Hsu, Josie Ho, Michelle Ye, Ka Tung Lam
Director: Pou-Soi Cheang
» See full cast & crew
Motorway Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, November 4, 2012
Cheang Pou-Soi's "Che sau" a.k.a "Motorway" (2012) arrive son Blu-ray courtesy of Hong Kong-based distributors MegaStar. The supplemental features on the disc include the film's original theatrical trailer, behind the scenes footage, and standard making of featurette. In Cantonese and Mandarin, with optional English, Traditional Mandarin and Simplified Mandarin subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
Ambitious rookie cop Chan Cheung (Shawn Yue, Reign Of Assassins, I Come With The Rain) and his older partner Lo Fung (Anthony Wong, Exiled, Vengeance) spend most of their time chasing criminals on the streets of Hong Kong. Chan does all of the driving, while Lo does most of the paperwork the two are required to submit at the end of their shifts.
One day, Chan spots reckless driver Jiang Xin (Guo Xiaodong, True Legend) and goes after him. He quickly corners Jiang on the motorway and arrests him. Then he escorts him to Kowloon East Police Station where he is immediately jailed. But Jiang and another prisoner (Li Haitao) kill their guards and manage to escape. Chan goes after the two men but gets tricked into a narrow alley and misses them.
Jiang and his partner, both seasoned Mainland criminals, meet the leader of a powerful local gang who has requested important information from them about a large diamond on its way to Hong Kong. But instead of getting paid, Jiang and his friend nearly get killed. Alone in Hong Kong and without money, the two decide that it would be best if they tried to steal the diamond and then go back to the Mainland.
Meanwhile, seriously frustrated that he has been tricked by another driver, Chan vows to find the Mainlanders. He does not have to wait long to meet them again as shortly after they steal the diamond from a local bank his colleagues track them down. When they enter the back roads up in the hills just outside of the city, Chan is tricked again. Lo, who has been trying to avoid all the drama, makes the crucial decision to enter the chase and help his younger partner.
Cheang Pou-Soi's Motorway comes three years after his excellent thriller Accident. This film is also produced by Johnnie To's Milkyway Image.
Though the terrific dark overtones from Accident are missing, the moody atmosphere has been retained. There are occasional splashes of humor, but the focus of attention is clearly on the car chases and the majority of the film is indeed very intense. It is also worth mentioning that these car chases are very impressively filmed with a number of strategically positioned cameras that allow one to view them from a variety of different angles.
The final third of the film reminds about the finale in Walter Hill's cult classic The Driver. One could almost feel the electricity in the air after Chan goes after Jiang. The chase sequences here are very intense and it never feels like Pou-Soi is trying to impress. Needless to say, folks enjoying these types of action films will be enormously pleased.
The film's only weakness is the underdeveloped relationship between Chan and a beautiful doctor (Barbie Hsu, Connected), whom he meets in a bar. The two flirt and later on meet again, but there is nothing substantial that happens between them affects the main story.
Motorway is based on an original story by Joey O'Bryan, who collaborated with Wai Ka-Fai on the script for To's Fulltime Killer. The film was lensed by cinematographers Fung Yuen Man (Accident, Shamo) and Kenny Tse (The Stool Pigeon, The Viral Factor).
Note: Earlier this year, Motorway was nominated for Golden Horse Award for Best Action Choreography (Chin Kar Lok) at the Golden Horse Film Festival in Taiwan.
Motorway Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Cheang Pou-Soi's Motorway arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Hong Kong-based distributors MegaStar.
The majority of the film takes place at night or in areas where light is often restricted, but clarity is excellent. Detail and depth are also very good. Additionally, the camera is often positioned in unusual ways that allow the viewer to monitor closely the speeding cars as well as the faces of the drivers. There are quick zooms and cuts. However, again, clarity and detail are not compromised. Color reproduction is also solid - there are excellent warm blues, greens, light browns, and grays; blacks are also solid. Traces of edge-enhancement are nowhere to be seen. There are no problematic compression issues to address in this review either. Lastly, from start to finish the film remains stable - there is no edge flicker or other purely transfer specific anomalies. To sum it all up, this is indeed a very solid presentation of Motorway that should please its fans. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Motorway Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are three standard audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: Cantonese Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (96 kHz, 24-bit), Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, and Mandarin Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (96 kHz, 24-bit). For the record, MegaStar have provided optional English, Traditional Mandarin and Simplified Mandarin subtitles for the main feature.
The Cantonese Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track is likely to test quite a few audio systems. It is very aggressive, surround activity is impressive, and low-end depth is a excellent. Unsurprisingly, the chase sequences in the film sound fantastic. The cat-and-mouse game also has some terrific moments. The dialog is very crisp, stable, and easy to follow. Alex Gopher and Xavier Jamaux's atmospheric soundtrack also gets a solid boost. The English translation is very good.
Motorway Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Motorway Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I have seen a number of films produced by Johnnie To's Milkyway Image and I liked them all. These films tend to have great casts and more often than not have very unique atmosphere. Cheang Pou-Soi's Motorway is not an exception. It is a very entertaining action thriller that does just about everything right. Together with Ann Hui's A Simple Life and Johnnie To's Life Without Principle, it is one of the best films to come out of Hong Kong during the last couple of years. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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