Colour of the Truth Review
The film starts a decade or so in the past with the young narrator, Cola (Raymond Wong Ho-Yin), bidding farewell to his father, Seven-Up - no, I'm not making this up - a top cop at the crime squad run by the enigmatic Huang (Anthony Wong). Seven-up seems to be dipping in some murky waters and that night a local gangster Blind, Huang and him run into each other in the midst of a police operation. Three shots are fired and only Huang lives to see another day. Rumours rapidly circulate that Huang executed Seven-Up for his alleged collusion with the enemy but the official inquisition finds Seven-Up to have been an outstanding cop killed by Blind. Cola grows up and like his father joins the police force unbeknown to Huang. Revenge has always seemed a distant dream for Cola, until he is accidentally promoted to Huang's squad...
You've got to admit it - the original title "Black and White Forest" is a far better title than the rather run of the mill "Colour of the Truth" and similarly much of the movie could be accused of retreading similar ground to a lot of classic HK films. Wong Jing, though prolific and successful, has never really impressed me as sufficiently edgy to be able to manoeuvre this type of project but here we find him both writing and co-directing. Be that what it may, Colour of The Truth despite it all manages to punch well above its weight.
The cinematography hits you instantly with washed out colours and grey skylines as well as some flashy use of all the tricks of the trade (speed-up, overhead shots, juxtapositions). Instead of overloading the film, it all seems to work pretty seamlessly and enhances the emotions at work. The casting of Anthony Wong as Huang was a guarantee for a well fleshed out character regardless of the script and his powerful performance gives his character a melancholic darkness which does make some of his opposing actors seem like papier-mâché cut-outs. Raymond Wong Ho-Yin seems a little out of his depth when he has to fill the screen by himself, slightly uncertain whether he's here to be a hearthrob or an angry rookie with a point to make. In spite of these cracks in the paintwork, Wong Jing thrusts the pedal to the metal, hoping for the best. guess what? It works... He sometimes over-explains some twists in the plot or is guilty of some cheesy one-liners but the film's dark edge transforms it from being an average film into a very good effort. With Tom Cruise working on a remake for his production company, it seems a little unfair that this version may end up being eclipsed in Western audiences minds but this UK release on DVD should be an opportunity for fans to get to see it before it gets Crusified.
The quality overall is good though not completely outstanding. I felt the image could have been sharper but that could be a side effect of the choice of palette by the co-director Marco Mak. He intentionally used a lot of close-ups and depleted the colour palette to a washed out grey to give the film an ambiguous, claustrophobic look. The anamorphic transfer slightly clips the original 1.85:1 down to 1.77:1 but is barely noticeable. The print used could have been better however with occasional blotches, hairs and even a stripe of paint appearing.
Four possible soundtracks are available: Cantonese (5.1 and 2.0) and English dub (5.1 and 2.0). Dubs are really not my thing and the English one is highly Americanised and seems very different in tone to the original. It also sounds a lot flatter. Both 2.0 mixes are quite lacking in dynamism whereas the 5.1 mix makes great use of the surrounds with great attention to detail.
I noticed a major issue with the lip-synch on all of the tracks with the sound being half a second or so late (or even more so, if you look around 10:30 to 11:10) which was very annoying and should have been picked up. This may vary across DVD players but the two I checked it on showed a similar problem.
There are two removable sets of subs - English and Chinese. The English subs are very rapid and contain occasional spelling mistakes but globally follow all the dialogue. There are some anomalies with the subtitling however - one character quotes the Bible which for some reason appears burnt into the print in both Chinese and English but it is simultaneously subtitled in English making a bit of an unholy mess. The same happens when characters talk in English though that is more logical as it means the subs can double up as a translation and a standard subtitling for deaf people.
We get the trailer (which is not subtitled in English) as well as trailers for future releases. A databank of information on the actors is also included - these are relatively detailed with one page of biography and a complete filmography of the actor. Finally, the most substantial extra is the Making of which in interviews the actors and both co-directors. Most of the discussion revolves around the nature of truth and morality and heavily features excerpts from the film so it may be best avoiding to watch this before the film.
The lip-synch issue is a huge issue I have with the DVD presentation of the film. It varies substantially but when noticed gets quite distracting. I'm not sure whether the review copy we received is indicative of the entire batch but this should be seen to rapidly by Tai Seng and the grade will be reviewed accordingly if this proves to not be the case across all the DVDs.