City Under Siege
by Jef Burnham
Available December 27, 2011 on Blu-ray and DVD from FUNimation Entertainment.
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Action director Benny Chan (Jackie Chan’s Who Am I?, Gen-X Cops) wrote, edited, produced, and directed City Under Siege, a kung fu monster flick about a group of circus performers who are mutated by a super soldier gas developed during WWII. The majority of the performers exposed to the gas take on monstrous forms and turn to crime, with the exception of Sunny (Aaron Kwok, Convergence), our hero, who is tasked by the Hong Kong Police Force with stopping the other mutants. And Sunny makes an incredibly interesting protagonist. A hapless circus clown who dreams of following his father as a Flying Dagger master, Sunny does not possess any particular talents prior to his mutation, nor is he even socially competent. Sunny is more the sort of comic doofus you’d get in in a relief role than a lead. This makes his journey all the more exciting to us at the outset of the film, as we know that he will, at some point, have to man-up, stop being an idiot, and face his nemesis Chu (Collin Chou, Flash Point).
In short, the film tanks hard after an incredibly successful first half that, I should add, seamlessly alternates between action and comedy. As such, this is really a film for fans of Chan or the stars only. That being said, FUNimation provides the highest quality transfer possible with pristine HD picture and one of the most dynamic audio mixes I’ve ever heard. Both the original Cantonese track and the English dub are presented in explosive Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mixes. Special features on the Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack include a making-of featurette and the original trailer, and the release also features reversible cover art, which is a practice of FUNimation’s of which I am particularly fond as a collector. So I give FUNimation an A+ on this one, even if Benny Chan failed me.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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