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A lawyer who is killed in a car accident finds himself resurrected as a character in his daughter's novel.
For more about Written By and the Written By Blu-ray release, see Written By Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on September 27, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Written By Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, September 27, 2009
Screened earlier this summer at the New York Asian Film Festival, award-winning writer-producer-director Wai Ka-Fai's "Written By" (2009) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Hong Kong-based distributors Mei Ah. The only supplemental features on this disc are making-of, trailer and photo gallery. English-friendly. Region-Free.
It took me a good half an hour to figure out exactly how Wai Ka-Fai's Written By is structured. Portions of it are very misleading, and until you actually see the pattern according to which they are aligned, things could look very chaotic. So, beware.
Written By is written and directed by Wai Ka-Fai, who two years ago collaborated with Johnnie To on the highly decorated Mad Detective. In 2009, the duo produced Vengeance, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, but as of yet does not have a U.S. distribution deal. Written By is very much a solo project for Wai Ka-Fai who had its script finished for quite some time.
The story of Written By revolves around a young girl, Melody (Mia Yam, It's a Wonderful Life), who has lost her father, Tony (Lau Ching-wan, Mad Detective) in a car accident approximately ten years ago. Ever since, the girl's mother, Mandy (Kelly Lin, Sparrow), has been seriously depressed and unable to get over her husband's death. The last member of the family, Oscar (Chung Ying-kit), who was five at the time of the accident, is concerned about his mother's health but is unsure if there is anything he could do to help.
Melody decides to write a book with her mother about the tragic accident – as a therapy, to help her get better. In the book, she would have Tony survive the car accident and her, Mandy and Oscar pass away.
In the story Melody is writing, Tony, who has lost his sight, also grieves about his family. Just like Melody, he decides to write a book so that he could cope with the loss of his loved ones. All of a sudden, Melody and Tony's worlds merge, and strange things begin to happen.
Written By is not a film everyone would enjoy. Its story is fractured into multiple pieces that overlap and complete each other – but they do so leaving plenty of room for speculation, which could potentially frustrate viewers accustomed to the transparency Hollywood typically favors. On the other hand, the film isn't without flaws; a few of the subplots, for example, go a bit too far, and, after awhile, the main protagonists begin to look somewhat artificial.
For what the script demands from them, however, the actors do a terrific job. As expected, Lau Ching-wan is fascinating to behold, though it seems like his character is to some extent incomplete. Strangely enough, he is most effective when he does not interact with the rest of the protagonists in Written By.
Mia Yam is undoubtedly the star of the film. She links its scattered pieces and makes everyone around her look a lot better. To a certain extent, however, this seems to be one of the film's greatest weaknesses – she is the only one the script takes full advantage of.
Technically, Written By looks solid. Cinematographer Wong Wing-Hung's (Hard Boiled) lensing is very strong, and the editing – which will probably be questioned by those who conclude that the script for the film is a tad too ambitious – is effective. Xavier Jamaux's music score is lovely, but it is not as prominent as the one he composed for Johnnie To's Sparrow.
Written By Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Wai Ka-Fai's Written By arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Hong Kong-based distributors Mei Ah.
This is a solid transfer from Mei Ah – contrast is lovely, clarity very good and detail pleasing. The color-scheme is wild but very impressive in 1080p. During the second half of the film, when Melody and Tony's worlds begin to merge, there are some incredible looking scenes. This being said, I did notice a bit of mild edge-enhancement popping up here and there, but I don't think that it is something that would annoy you. Macroblocking is not an issue of concern. Digital noise, however, is noticeable on a couple of scenes, and I am fairly certain that those of you with larger screens will spot its presence. The actual transfer is very healthy – there are no scratches, debris, or dirt that I noticed. There are no stability issues to report either. All in all, aside from the digital noise mentioned above, Written By looks very good. (Note: This is a Region-Free disc. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location).
Written By Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are three audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: Cantonese Dolby TrueHD 7.1, Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 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 TrueHD 7.1 track for the purpose of this review.
The Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track should test the muscles of your audio system. During the second half of Written By, there are a couple of scenes where things really heat up, and you are likely going to have to reach for your remote to make sure that your neighbors remain asleep. Indeed, the bass is powerful, the rear channels used quite a bit, and the high frequencies not overdone. The dialog is crisp and easy to follow. There are no disturbing pops, cracks, or hissings to report in this review.
The Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track and the Cantonese Dolby TrueHD 7.1 tracks are identical. In terms of dynamics and fluidity, I did not detect any gaps between the two. The dialog is just as crisp and clear on the Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track as it is on the Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track.
For the record, Mei Ah have provided optional Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese and English subtitles. When turned on, they split the image frame and the black bar below it.
Written By Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Trailer - Not subtitled in English. (1 min, 1080p).
Making Of - Not subtitled in English. (17 min, 480/60i).
Photo gallery -
Written By Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Demanding utmost concentration, Wai Ka-Fai's Written By had me perplexed for well over half an hour - it is a very interesting film, but I am unsure whether or not I liked it. To be honest, though, I am very much looking forward to his and Johnnie To's Vengeance, which is set to arrive on Blu-ray in France later this year, so more than likely I would see Written By one more time before I make up my mind. Recommended.
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