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Throw Down Criterion Blu-ray Review

“Throw Down” is a strange but heartfelt movie.

Directed by Johnnie To (who is perhaps best known  for “The Mission,” the 2 “Election” films and “Drug War”), “Throw Down” revolves around the interwoven lives of 3 central characters. There’s a former Judo champion turned drunken, gambling, thieving bar owner/musician (Bo), a cocky Judo fighter and saxophone player (Tony) who wants to fight Bo, and a broke wannabe singer (Mona). All 3 of these individuals have pasts that they are essentially running from and they are looking to change their lives. Elsewhere in the story there are subplots involving a Judo fighter named Lee Kong (a one time fighting rival of Bo’s), Boss Savage (a game obsessed crime boss), and an aging Judo Master Cheng and his son Ching who has dementia.

2004’s “Thrown Down” is a multi-genre Hong Kong film that is part character drama, part martial arts movie, part crime drama, and part comedy. If that all sounds like a lot that’s because it is. Tonally the movie feels a bit too jumbled for its own good, but the quirky if sometimes tedious movie does come together in the end. Ultimately what makes “Throw Down” work is Johnnie To. Alongside writers Nai-Hoi Yau, Tin-Shing Yip, and Kin-Yee Au, the filmmaker created this project as both a tribute and an homage to Akira Kurosawa. It’s clearly a personal movie that is full of heart and metaphors, but more than that it’s a positive story about dreams, connections, turning your life around and overcoming the struggles of life. Does it get a bit goofy in parts? Sure, but that uniqueness is also part of its charms.

The cast is aces here with Louis Koo (Bo), Cherrie Ying (Mona) and the charismatic Eddie Cheung Siu-fai (Boss Savage) being the standouts. They really sell the characters and the material they have to work with.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 2.35:1 1080p. How does it look? The 4K digital restoration is largely impressive with some shots looking pristine. Sometimes the image is a little too fuzzy for my liking though. 

Audio Track: Cantonese 5.1 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? Viewers can expect a clean audio track. 
Extras:
* A poster/booklet that contains an essay by film critic Sean Gilman
* “Throw Down” trailer
* 2004 interview with director Johnnie To.
* A new interview with screenwriter Yau Nai-hoi who talks about Johnnie To and his experiences in writing the project.
* A new interview with composer Peter Kam who talks about the score for “Throw Down.”
* Another new interview. This one with film scholar David Bordwell who talks about To’s work and the film’s tone and style.
* A fourth new interview! This one finds film scholar Caroline Guo who discusses the genre blending of “Throw Down” and comparisons to To’s past work.
* An 11 minute 2004 making of with set footage and cast interviews.

September 30, 2021 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , ,

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