Crazy Rich Asians (Blu-ray) (2018)

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Released 12-Dec-2018

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romantic Comedy Audio Commentary-with Director Jon M. Chu and Novelist Kevin Kwan
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Crazy Rich Fun
Deleted Scenes
Outtakes
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2018
Running Time 120:39
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Jon M. Chu
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Constance Wu
Henry Golding
Michelle Yeoh
Gemma Chan
Lisa Lu
Awkwafina
Harry Shum Jr.
Ken Jeong
Sonoya Mizuno
Chris Pang
Jimmy O. Yang
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $29.95 Music Brian Tyler


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
Polish Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Cantonese
Mandarin
Mandarin
Korean
Arabic
Hebrew
Hungarian
Icelandic
Polish
Portuguese
Romanian
Thai
Turkish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Mid credits scene

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Plot Synopsis

    An adaptation of Kevin Kwan's best-selling novel of the same name, 2018's Crazy Rich Asians is more notable for its cultural significance than its story or screenplay. After all, this is a major Hollywood production featuring an ensemble cast almost entirely comprised of Asians, aiming to add an Eastern flavour and perspective to a conventional fish-out-of-water romantic comedy. Directed by Jon M. Chu, Crazy Rich Asians explodes with colour and visual opulence, with the flick looking technically accomplished in every frame, and with an appealing cast that includes a few familiar faces. It is unfortunate, then, that the film provides so little in terms of narrative invention - the only cliché subversion the material can offer is a gender swap on the usual Meet the Parents-style formula. Furthermore, Crazy Rich Asians is the definition of pandering, Westernised entertainment - the Asian characters primarily speak (perfect) English, stereotypes run rampant, authenticity is questionable, and it's pitched as a standard Hollywood rom-com to guarantee mainstream approval. There is a reason that the picture bombed at the Chinese box office.

    A successful economics professor at New York University, Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) loves her job and maintains a relationship with the seemingly normal Nick Young (Henry Golding). But unbeknownst to Rachel, Nick's family in Singapore is insanely rich and highly esteemed, while Nick is one of the most sought-after bachelors in Asia. With his best friend Colin (Chris Pang) getting married in Singapore, Nick invites Rachel to accompany him to the wedding and meet his family. However, Nick's mother Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh) instantly disapproves of the coupling, while Rachel is scrutinised and judged by Nick's high-society family and friends. With the wedding drawing closer, Rachel receives guidance and friendship from former college roommate Peik Lin (Awkwafina) as she fights an uphill battle of perceived worth and charm, while Nick plans to pop the question before they return to America.

    With a screenplay credited to Adele Lim and Peter Chiarelli, the narrative of Crazy Rich Asians is beset with recognisable ingredients, taking its cues from Meet the Parents and other rom-coms that follow the same formula, but at least such beats are executed in a unique, culturally specific way to justify the movie's existence. More problematic is the predictable angle exploring "what really matters" - you see, Nick marrying Rachel would mean turning his back on the family business, and he essentially needs to choose between Rachel and his family. The third act eventually devolves into a conventional break-up-to-make-up scenario to further remind us that Crazy Rich Asians is a cuddly Hollywood rom-com afraid to deviate too far from the ordinary. However, while the characterisations are mostly broad and Eleanor's disdain for Rachel is standard-order, the movie does manage some dramatic heft in its third act. Eleanor is given some surprising dimension, while Rachel's family backstory is a bit more thoughtful than anticipated.

    Crazy Rich Asians runs too long at close to two hours, occasionally feeling like an assembly cut awaiting trimming. One superfluous distraction involves a supporting character cheating on his wife, but the subplot fails to gain much traction despite the screen-time the two are allotted. The script ostensibly strives to create a gallery of side characters who submitted to more traditional Eastern lifestyles but were unable to find happiness, which weighs on Rachel's mind. While the intentions are clear, Chu is unable to keep everything interesting or compelling. However, the actors all hit their marks effectively, with Constance Wu and Henry Golding (in his film debut) sharing strong chemistry which renders their romance believable. Both actors are charismatic and likeable, while the iconic Yeoh elevates her role with genuine gravitas. Comedic relief is provided through the supporting cast, with the likes of Awkwafina (Bad Neighbours 2) and Ken Jeong (The Hangover) scoring a few laughs each, but the movie is otherwise noticeably short on humour.

    Chu, who previously demonstrated pleasing visual panache in movies like G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Now You See Me 2 (just to name a couple), guides the material with a sure directorial hand, maintaining a steady pace throughout, while cinematographer Vanja Cernjul (Marco Polo, The Deuce) creates a colourful, irresistibly slick look that does justice to both the beautiful locations and meticulous sets. The visuals are accompanied by a selection of eclectic tunes (including foreign language covers of recognisable songs), in addition to Brian Tyler's perfectly pleasant original score. Crazy Rich Asians is easy to appreciate from a purely aesthetic perspective (this is quite a tourism commercial for Singapore, to boot). Furthermore, at times Chu achieves a level of wit and sophistication that unfortunately does not pervade the movie. In an early scene, for instance, Nick and Rachel sit at a café together and images of the pair rapidly spread around the world. The subsequent montage is visually appealing and witty, particularly with people online identifying Rachel and locating her social media in mere minutes, before the pair have even left the café.

    From time to time, Crazy Rich Asians truly does come alive, thanks in no small part to the cast and Chu's glossy visual stylings, while the screenplay itself contains some genuinely sweet and cute moments. However, the film is uneven and long in the tooth, even if it is visually inviting, while the story's adherence to the mainstream rom-com formula forbids something that feels truly culturally incisive and emotionally complex.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The unexpected box office smash that is Crazy Rich Asians arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Roadshow Entertainment, with an AVC-encoded 1080p high definition presentation framed at the picture's original aspect ratio of 2.40:1. According to IMDb, the movie was shot digitally and completed natively at 4K (though this is unconfirmed). Although a local 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray set was originally rumoured and even listed for pre-order, Roadshow have only released the movie on DVD and Blu-ray, eschewing a 4K release - which is precisely what has happened with another Roadshow title, The Nun. We can only speculate at this point, but the overseas 4K releases for The Nun and Crazy Rich Asians reportedly arrived in limited quantities due to manufacturing issues (which apparently caused the utterly bizarre release pattern for the 4K release of 2001: A Space Odyssey around the world), and since Roadshow source their 4K discs from overseas, it is likely there were stock limitations, or perhaps even prohibitive cost concerns. Whatever the case, Crazy Rich Asians looks extremely good in regular old 1080p, primarily because this is thankfully not yet another title to be crippled by Roadshow's overzealous compression practises - the movie is placed across a dual-layered BD-50 and carries a superb average video bitrate of 31.95 Mbps, ensuring perhaps the best visual experience possible on the format.

    With such a high video bitrate, the transfer is razor-sharp and textures are frequently superb throughout, revealing the most intricate fine detail on skin, clothing and environments. In wide shots and helicopter shots showing the city of Singapore, object delineation is flawless. Close-ups of faces and hands look stunning of course, but the transfer also reveals plenty of finely-resolved textures in medium and full shots, which serves as a reminder of how great 1080p can still look. Highlights are not always perfect, with the opening scene in particular needing a slight boost, but this is minor - for the most part, the image looks exceptional. Additionally, Crazy Rich Asians appears overly pristine and "clean" as one would expect from a digital shoot, with frequently remarkable clarity no matter the lighting conditions. Hell, shadow detail is nicely retained during a minor dialogue beat between Nick and Rachel on the plane at night, under low lighting. I detected the slightest of slight source noise at various times, and it's more obvious in certain scenes than others, but it's certainly never distracting and it only serves to ensure the image looks as textured as possible. Sensitive "grain haters" can crank up their TV's noise reduction settings if it bothers them; meanwhile, I prefer the truest, most faithful disc presentation possible, without any unnecessary digital "enhancements."

    With 4K Ultra HD offering High Dynamic Range and Wide Colour Gamut, I'm very rarely impressed with colours and contrast on standard 1080p Blu-rays, but Crazy Rich Asians is consistently sumptuous and eye-popping throughout, with the encode making the most of the source. The palette is gorgeous saturated, with consistently vivid colours and pleasingly accurate skin tones, while the sense of depth is surprisingly solid, with well-judged contrast. Digital movies tend to look flat without the aid of HDR, but that is not always the case with Crazy Rich Asians - some scenes don't fare as well (more on that later), but for the most part the transfer capably holds its own, which is a testament to what can be done with higher bitrates (it helps that the movie itself is so slick and eye-catching).

    Due to the format's inherent limitations, the presentation falls just short of perfection. Specular highlights are blown out from time to time, such as on a MacBook's glowing Apple logo, or on any harsh light source. The palette could also stand to be a little truer and deeper with a lick of High Dynamic Range. A bit more bothersome are a few compression errors; there is brief but pervasive macroblocking at 40:56, for instance. Additionally, for whatever reason, scenes set outside Peik Lin's mansion - see 27:20 or 109:00 - suffer severe macroblocking in almost every shot, in addition to looking smooth, smeary and soft, lacking in fine detail and refinement. See the shot at 109:09, which is plagued with mosquito noise and looks worse than a DVD. I have not seen the 4K presentation, nor did I see the movie at the cinema, and I therefore cannot determine if the issues relate to the source or the encode. The bitrate doesn't drop considerably during these sections, making it all the more baffling. (Perhaps all of this footage was taken on the same shoot day, and there were technical issues?) Additionally, shots taken with drones (such as the final shot of the movie) look noticeably less refined than the primary film footage, which I guess is inevitable. Other than that, I found no other encoding anomalies - such as banding or aliasing - on my 65" display. Aside from the minor shortcomings, the presentation isn't lacking in any significant way and I never found myself yearning for a 4K presentation, which is more than what can be said for any number of recent Roadshow releases. This is how motion pictures should be presented in 1080p - in maximum possible quality, not with restricted video bitrates that make the transfer look like an internet stream.

    English subtitles (for the hearing impaired) are available, in addition to several other language options. I had no issues with the English track.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    According to IMDb, Crazy Rich Asians was mixed in Dolby Surround 7.1 and DTS:X, and therefore audiophiles are going to be very disappointed to find that it only arrives on disc with a lossless, 24-bit DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. Nevertheless, the 5.1 track is perfectly sufficient and immersive, capably handling the dialogue and music throughout. The lossless encode ensures that the audio is crystal clear and pristine, with no hissing, and it never sounds held back or "tinny" in any way. Right from the beginning, the audio is a winner; sounds of the rainstorm in London during the opening scene fill the surround channels, while the thunder itself is impactful thanks to smart (but not overdone) subwoofer activity. When Peik Lin drives her sports car along the bridge at 33:00, the roar of the engine is impressive and panning effects are used as the car passes the camera. Comparable panning is evident when helicopters take the boys to Colin's bachelor party in international waters at 54:00, while the rotor blades are deafening. Each song and piece of music comes through all available channels with flawless clarity, while there are no problems with prioritisation. Environmental atmospherics - from the rumbling of plane engines, to party commotion, and street ambience - clearly and subtly inhabit the rear channels without drowning out dialogue. The dialogue is mostly front-centric, and is always easy to hear above the music and sound effects. Perhaps the dialogue is mixed a tad too low compared to the at times loud music, but I can't say it bothered me too much. Without any sync issues or drop-outs, Crazy Rich Asians sounds sublime on Blu-ray.

    The disc also contains English Descriptive Audio and Russian Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, for those interested.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Despite the movie's monstrous box office earnings, it arrives on disc with a scant assortment of bonus material. Be advised that the back cover's extras listing is incomplete, and the disc carries the following special features.

Commentary

    Director Chu and novelist Kevin Kwan sit down for an informative audio commentary track discussing the book as well as the making of the movie. The track is primary kept scene-specific, with Chu taking the lead - he talks about the actors, creative decisions in adapting the book, where scenes were shot, the significance of several moments, filming with real food, and so on. Deleted scenes and moments are covered as well, with Chu revealing that the first cut ran for three hours. Chu prompts Kwan with various questions to get him talking, though the author sometimes seems unsure of what to say. Other topics include visual effects enhancements, green screen shots, sourcing expensive cars and securing difficult locations, while the two also talk about the characters and their thought process in certain scenes. The commentary was recorded an unspecified time after the movie's release, and the two can therefore discuss the reception that the movie received, and reactions they personally heard from audiences. This is a fine, packed track, though it's not the most engaging commentary I've ever heard and it's not an essential listen. Fans should certainly enjoy it, however.

Crazy Rich Fun (HD; 7:18)

    In this extremely brief behind-the-scenes EPK-style featurette, several cast and crew members discuss the novel, the casting, the locations and the movie's cultural significance, while a few specific scenes are briskly covered. Alas, the extra is overly self-congratulatory, which denies the chance for any real substance. Considering the movie's significance (which we are constantly reminded of) and box office success, it's genuinely deflating that this behind-the-scenes featurette is so short.

Deleted Scenes (HD; 12:10)

    Seven deleted scenes are presented here, which are introduced via title cards and separated by chapter stops, but there is no individual scene selection. Some of the material here was mentioned by Chu in the audio commentary track. While these twelve cut minutes are watchable, it's understandable why some of these scenes were excised, as they feel superfluous and even repetitive - and the movie is long enough as it is.

Gag Reel (HD; 1:47)

    A standard selection of mistakes and flubs, in addition to footage of the actors goofing around, dancing, making faces and improvising.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Aside from differing audio options, the disc is identical to the U.S. release from Warner Bros., with an identical video bitrate and the same assortment of special features. A 4K release (with double the video bitrate) is available in the U.S. and U.K., so fans of the movie who are 4K-compatible are advised to import. For everybody else, the local release is fine.

Summary

    While I don't doubt that Crazy Rich Asians is notable for its almost entirely Asian cast, it's a shame they weren't placed within a stronger movie. Despite gorgeous visuals, it's too long and familiar-feeling, but it's not entirely without merit. Two sequels are officially on the way, so let's see if things improve.

    Roadshow's Blu-ray features an almost flawless technical presentation, with superbly-encoded video and a robust lossless audio track. The disc is unfortunately light on extras, though what's included is worthwhile. For fans of the movie, this is an easy buy. For everybody else, try before you buy.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Saturday, January 12, 2019
Review Equipment
DVDSony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLED65E6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationSamsung Series 7 HT-J7750W
SpeakersSamsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up

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