Monday, 25 June 2012

Craptacular Cover Chronicles #1: A Better Tomorrow (2010)

You'll have to bare with me if this new column seems a little unfocused as I'm essentially testing the waters with this and thought it would make an interesting new feature. As a long time fan of Asian Cinema I often find that when certain titles are released internationally they tend to suffer from god awful cover art. Whether it was Jackie Chan's head stuck on Sly Stallone's body for New Fist of Fury or guns being photoshopped in the hands of actors in order to sell the false notion that what the unwitting consumer is purchasing is an action film, we have had to look at these monstrosities shaming our beloved DVD/Blu-Ray shelves.

As fans we have to look at these horrible examples of "art" when really all they needed to do in some cases is simply translate the text and use the original. I know DVD covers are probably a good way for a person who worked hard for that graphic design degree to earn some scratch but really, sometimes it just works to leave well enough alone and trust the people who are buying the product. So with that little brief out of the way, the first cover in which I will cast a critical eye is the recent UK release for the Korean produced remake of John Woo's brilliant A Better Tomorrow.

Now, at first glance it doesn't look too bad. They've essentially used the same cast photos used on the original Korean DVD/Blu-Ray release but when you take a closer look you begin to see just how naughty it really is. First thing's first. They mention it's from the director of Red Cliff, Mission Impossible 2 and Face Off. Arguably Woo's most successful Hollywood films bar Red Cliff of course. It's not so much they mention these films but the way in which it's used falsely implies Woo was the director of this film. Had they put PRODUCED BY instead then they wouldn't have had to make such a ballsy move, which is there to entice people ready to part with their money. Don't get me wrong, I'm not stupid, I know how marketing works but it's when stuff like this happens that it really annoys me as a fan of Asian Cinema.

The next part which to me makes no sense whatsoever is the addition of 2012. Now, correct me if I'm wrong but this title was released way back in 2010. Over TWO YEARS AGO! I know titles sometimes take a while to find their way onto store shelves internationally (Which is why the majority of fans choose to import) but why the hell did they need to add 2012?! Was it because the film is a remake? If it is then that's just moronic because there have been countless remake released over past few years that felt comfortable enough just to stick with the original title. You didn't see The Italian Job released as The Italian Job 2003 because The Italian Job is all you NEED. People recognise the title, see it's a new version and go see it. They don't care what year it was released. Utterly pointless but it could be worse, in other territories they were given the even more rage inducing title of A Better Tomorrow 2K12. The letter K is often used to shorten down the four digit number but 2012 only contains one zero thus replacing it with the K is COMPLETELY POINTLESS!!!! and is just a pathetic attempt to make it look cool!

At least whoever designed this was smart enough to be honest about Woo's involvement with the film. Now moving from the front to the back.

You'll have to forgive the quality of the image. I could not locate an image of it online and lack the means to do a proper scan, so resorting to my phone camera was my only resort but where to start. First of all, the images are nice. Stills and a cast photo of the bloke playing K-Mark so it's not too bad but read the blurb. Go on. I'll wait.


Did you spot anything? Are you sure. Well, let me address it anyway. Whoever wrote this HAS NEVER SEEN THE ORIGINAL. Oh, you heard me correctly. Or at least not paid enough attention to the original story. Now when you read it, everything seems fine. They mention the fight between brothers. One of the central themes of A Better Tomorrow but then we see "Again they are separated as children" Wait...what?! separated as children? again?! as in it happened in the original?! No. No it did not. In the original Sung and Kit were never separated as children, they grew up together. Hell they loved each other in their own brotherly way until Sung ended up in jail and his life as a criminal was revealed to Kit, it's what caused the rift between them that sets the events of the film in motion for pity's sake!. They never were separated as children. You would think that kind of blundering error should have been removed. I haven't had this much of a headache reading a synopsis since reading Ric Meyer's DVD linear notes. It's clear whoever wrote this was told to just say it's like the original.

There's also all that other stuff you see on these types of covers "Asian action cinema at it's best" and "Greatest Asian shootout ever" and other such stomach churning garbage we have to put up with. And they STILL don't point that Woo isn't the director due to a complete lack of film credits. Something that's pretty much standard on home video releases since the days of Betamax! I've never bought a DVD from the label that released this, Los Banditos but you can rest assured if I find them involved with the release of any other title in the future I will not be buying it. 

So there we have it, the first of what will most definitely be many critical analyses of DVD/Blu-Ray cover art. Ah, I feel so much better now!

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