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A major stock exchange in the world, Hong Kong attracts not only money but anyone who tries to manipulate the market. At the Hong Kong Police Force Commercial Crime Bureau, an operation is underway to infiltrate a trading company where a man nicknamed Boss is the chief suspect. The team, led by Inspector Leung together with Yeung and Lam installs bugs to monitor the communications. When crucial information on a surging share is intercepted, a moment of greed now puts them in a crossfire between the Bureau and the boss.
For more about Overheard and the Overheard Blu-ray release, see Overheard Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on December 3, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Ching Wan Lau, Louis Koo, Daniel Wu
Directors: Felix Chong, Alan Mak
» See full cast & crew
Overheard Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, December 3, 2009
Screened at the Hawaii International Film Festival and the Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival earlier this year, Felix Chong and Alan Mak's "Overheard" (2009) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Hong Kong-based distributors Panorama. The only supplemental features offered with this release are a making of, photo gallery and theatrical trailer; all of which are placed on a separate Region-Free SDVD. The Blu-ray disc is Region-Free and English-friendly.
The latest film from the creative duo Felix Chong and Alan Mak, Overheard, would not surprise those of you who have followed their work closely - once again, it is about cops breaking the law. This time around, there are three of them - Johnny (Lau Ching Wan, Mad Detective), Max (Daniel Wu, Shinjuku Incident), and Gene (Louis Koo, Election I & II) - and they find themselves in the middle of a serious mess rather early into the film.
The three cops are part of a surveillance unit monitoring the office of a prominent businessman, who the local authorities suspect of insider trading. While taping an important conversation, they learn about a sensitive stock that is set to take off. Gene and Max decide to take advantage of the information; later on, Johnny joins them.
Things get complicated when the three cops accidentally leak the information to a group of brokers who also jump on it - thus causing a giant ripple effect - which leads to a temporary trading suspension. Convinced that they have lost everything they invested, the cops panic. When trading resumes, however, the stock takes off, and they score big.
The owner of the company (Michael Wong, Beast Cops) whose stock was traded, a man with a murky past and plenty of affluent friends, is probed by the local authorities. Angered by the bad publicity, he decides to teach the cops a lesson they would never forget. Meanwhile, the cops' superiors launch an internal investigation to determine whether members of their surveillance unit might have contributed to the recent market turmoil.
Overheard isn't exactly a subversive film, but it isn't a straightforward thriller either. Fairly early, Chong and Mak make it clear that the main protagonists would have to pay for their actions; there are obvious signs throughout the film suggesting a dramatic finale. But there are also a number of interesting questions they ask - such as whether the cops' actions are right or wrong - that give the film a very unique vibe.
While Lau Ching Wan's performance in Overheard does not match his contribution to Johnnie To's Mad Detective, he is once again the catalyst behind most everything that makes this film enjoyable. When he struggles to decide whether to join his friends or turn them over to his superiors, as well as when he proposes to his lover, who happens to be his boss' wife, are amongst the best scenes in the film.
If there is anything that affects negatively the film's otherwise convincing tone, it is the "corporate lesson" Chong and Mak have added at the very end. While it obviously allows the duo to give the audience a good reason to like the main protagonists, it also makes Overheard look unreasonably artificial.
Cinematographer Anthony Pun (Connected) has given the film a nicely balanced look. The action sequences, for example, are neither too glitzy nor too organic looking. Until the finale, the editing is also very effective. Chan Kwong Wing's (The Warlords) music score does not have a key role in the film, but it nevertheless adds a nice flavor to it.
Overheard Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Felix Chong and Alan Mak's Overheard arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Hong Kong-based distributors Panorama.
This is a fine but not overly impressive transfer. Clarity and detail are somewhat inconsistent. The close-ups look fine, but are never as detailed as one would expect them to be. On the other hand, some of the large panoramic shots are plagued by mild edge-enhancement. The color-scheme is also a bit underwhelming; blues, dark yellows, browns, and blacks occasionally look soft and faded. On a positive side, there are absolutely no stability issues to report in this review. When blown through a digital projector, Overheard remains tight around the edges. Aside from a few minor flecks, there are no disturbing scratches, debris, dirt, or cuts that I noticed either. All in all, while there are no serious flaws with this transfer, there are a variety of smaller issues that may annoy the more sensitive amongst you. (Note: This is a Region-Free Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location).
Overheard Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are three audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1, and Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1. I opted for the Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track and later on did a few random comparisons with the Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 track for the purpose of this review.
The Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track is rather impressive; it conveys a wide range of dynamics and effective surround channel activity. The bass is also excellent, though, admittedly, not overly active. The dialog is clean and easy to follow. Even when the main protagonists are testing the data they have recorded, the audio quality remains pleasingly crisp. Additionally, I did not detect any disturbing pops, cracks, or hissings to report in this review. There are no balance issues with Chan Kwong Wing's music score either.
As expected, the Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 track lacks the dynamic intensity of the Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track. To my ears, even the dialog sounds a lot crisper on the Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track. During the few scenes that I tested on both tracks, I did not detect any disturbing pops, cracks, or hissings to report in this review.
For the record, Panorama have provided optional English and traditional Chinese subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they appear inside the image frame.
Overheard Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Note: All of the supplemental features are placed on a separate Region-Free SDVD. Unfortunately, optional English subtitles are not offered for them.
Making of - a standard featurette containing plenty of raw footage from the production process, as well as interviews with the cast and crew. With optional Traditional Chinese subtitles. (480/60i, 18 min).
Photo gallery - a collage of stills from the film.
Trailer - not subtitled. (2 min, 480/60i).
Overheard Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
As cliche as it may sound, Felix Chong and Alan Mak's Overheard is more than the sum of its parts. I think that those of you that end up giving it a chance would be pleasantly surprised to see how far it reaches. The Blu-ray disc herein reviewed, courtesy of Hong Kong-based distributors Panorama, is Region-Free and English-friendly.
Overheard Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Overheard 2 Blu-ray - October 24, 2011
Hong Kong-based distributors Panorama will release on Blu-ray directors Alan Mak and Felix Chong's (Infernal Affairs Trilogy) Overheard 2 (2011), starring Louis Koo, Daniel Wu, Lau Ching Wan, and Michelle Ye. The film is produced by Derek Yee (Protege, Shinjuku ...
Overheard Blu-ray Screenshots
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