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The Stool Pigeon(2010)
Policeman Don Lee often works with informants but numerous too-close calls and failed missions cause him to see the world as one betrayal after another - then he meets Guy, and is given a new chance to change his views.
For more about The Stool Pigeon and the The Stool Pigeon Blu-ray release, see the The Stool Pigeon Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on November 28, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Nick Cheung, Nicholas Tse, Lunmei Kwai (Gwei Lun-Mei)
Director: Dante Lam
» See full cast & crew
The Stool Pigeon Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, November 28, 2010
Selected to represent Hong Kong at the 54th Asia Pacific Film Festival next month in Taiwan, Dante Lam's "Sin yan" a.k.a "The Stool Pigeon" (2010) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Hong Kong-based distributors Vicol Entertainment. The supplemental features on the disc include deleted scenes; making of featurette; behind the scenes featurette; the film's original theatrical trailer; teaser; and cast and crew galleries. In Cantonese, with optional English, Traditional Chinese, and Simplified Chinese subtitles for the main feature. Region-Free.
Dante Lam's latest film, The Stool Pigeon, has the intensity and uncompromising style of Johnnie To's Election and Election II, and the depth of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Amores Perros. It is a terrific gangster film, arguably the best one to be produced in Hong Kong this year.
There are various characters in The Stool Pigeon, each struggling with personal demons. Don (Nick Cheung, The Beast Stalker) is a respected police detective who has ruined his life. Because of a terrible mistake, one he could have easily prevented, he has lost his wife and many of his best friends - which is why most of the time he works himself to death to prevent his mind from constantly reminding him about his past.
Ghost (Nicholas Tse, Bodyguards and Assassins) is a wheelman who has spent the bigger part of his life in jail. In a couple of days, however, he is getting out. Ghost does not have any particular plans about the future but is determined to make enough to pay off an old debt that has turned his sister (Sherman Chung, 72 Tenants of Prosperity) into a prostitute.
Barbarian (Yu Li, Aftershock) is a skillful thief planning a job that will allow him to retire. He is in a relationship with Dee (Kwai Lun-Mei, Ocean Heaven), who may or may not be carrying his child. Don has tried to put Barbarian behind bars many times but has never succeeded. When Ghost is released from jail, Barbarian invites him to join his crew.
Jabber (Liu Kai-Chi, Fire of Conscience), an ex-'stool pigeon' (police slang for informer) who once worked for Don, has gone crazy. He has also become a beggar and is now living under a bridge somewhere in Hong Kong.
Ghost is arrested by Don while stealing a car to participate in a street race. However, instead of putting him in jail again, Don makes Ghost an offer he can't refuse - if Ghost agrees to become a 'stool pigeon' and helps Don put Barbarian and his men behind bars, the police will pay him enough to take care of his sister; if Ghost refuses, because of his long record he is looking at spending the rest of his life in jail. Ghost accepts Don's offer and all hell breaks loose.
Lam's The Stool Pigeon does not play by the rules - at least not by the rules the overwhelming amount of contemporary Hong Kong gangster films follow. Its narrative is remarkably nuanced, characters believable, and the various relationships between them wonderfully developed.
Lam's Fire of Conscience has a similar profile, but The Stool Pigeon blends style with substance slightly better. The manner in which the main characters, for instance, are brought together is outstanding. The memory flashbacks, the sudden tempo changes, and the numerous dramatic twists also work great, giving The Stool Pigeon a very unique raw look and feel most similarly-themed films rarely manage to produce.
The acting is outstanding. Cheung is terrific as the disillusioned and on the verge of collapsing cop whose past is slowly but surely catching up with him. Tse is great as the young wheelman who must follow the orders of men he does not trust. Yu truly looks like a madman on a mission. And the beautiful Lun-Mei delivers a performance that has now inspired me to see every other film she has appeared in.
The Stool Pigeon Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Dante Lam's The Stool Pigeon arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Hong Kong-based distributors Vicol Entertainment.
This is a good, though slightly inconsistent, high-definition transfer. Generally speaking, fine object detail is very good and clarity pleasing. The color-scheme is also satisfying; the variety of yellows, light blues, greens, browns, grays, and blacks are rich and well saturated. This being said, some of the daylight scenes convey traces of mild to moderate edge-enhancement (early into the film, during the first jewelry store visit, there is some sharpening that is quite easy to spot). Marcoblocking, however, is not an issue of concern. I also did not see any annoying compression artifacts. There are no serious stability issues either. Lastly, I did not see any purely transfer-specific anomalies to report in this review. To sum it all up, despite the few minor issues noted above, The Stool Pigeon looks good on Blu-ray, and I have absolutely no problem recommending it to 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).
The Stool Pigeon Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are three audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, Cantonese Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Mandarin Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (with some portions of Mandarin). For the record, Vicol Entertainment have provided optional English, Traditional Chinese, and Simplified Chinese subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they appear inside the image frame.
The Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track is very impressive. The bass is potent and punchy, the rear channels very active and very intelligently used, and the high-frequencies not overdone. Many of the shootouts are remarkably intense, and there are two scenes during the second half of the film that could easily be used to demonstrate what 'reference quality' is. I don't want to describe them so that I do not spoil the film for you, but have your remote control close to you; you will need it. The dialog is crisp, stable, clean, and exceptionally easy to follow. Lastly, I did not detect any disturbing pops, cracks, hissings, or audio dropouts to report in this review.
I only tested a couple of scenes with Cantonese Dolby TrueHD 7.1, but could not hear much of a difference in terms of dynamic progression and fluidity are concerned. The dialog is equally crisp, stable, and easy to follow.
The Stool Pigeon Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Note: All of the supplemental features on this Blu-ray disc are perfectly playable on North American PS3s and SAs.
The Stool Pigeon Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Stool Pigeon is my kind of action film - very dark, very intense, very well acted. I truly enjoyed every single minute of it. There is no doubt in my mind now that Dante Lam has become Hong Kong's premier action director. The Blu-ray disc herein reviewed, courtesy of Vicol Entertainment, looks good and sounds terrific. It is also Region-Free. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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The Stool Pigeon Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Stool Pigeon Blu-ray - June 16, 2011
Independent distributors Well Go USA have revealed that they will release on Blu-ray Dante Lam's action thriller The Stool Pigeon (2010), starring Nick Cheung (Breaking News), Nicholas Tse (The Beast Stalker), and Kwai Lun-Mei (All About Women). Street date is ...
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