Diskino's World Cinema Library Series

Milestone, Flicker Alley, Oscilloscope, Cinema Guild...they're all here.
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andyli
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 4:46 pm

Diskino's World Cinema Library Series

#1 Post by andyli » Mon May 07, 2018 7:25 am

Chinese boutique label Diskino is releasing Zhang Yimou's Red Sorghum on blu-ray, featuring a 2K restoration by Xi'an Film Studio. There will also be a Tony Rayns on Red Sorghum video clocking in at 55 min on this release. Past experience with this label suggests they usually include English subtitle and tend not to mess with the supplied transfer.

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Caligula
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Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#2 Post by Caligula » Mon May 07, 2018 8:49 am

Thanks for posting, I would definitely want to pick it up. By the way, I have the Korean Ju Dou BD, and, whilst not stellar, I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised by the transfer (great film, by the way)

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L.A.
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Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#3 Post by L.A. » Thu Jun 14, 2018 9:01 am

July 28th given as the release date for Diskino’s upcoming Red Sorghum Blu, limited to 500 copies apparently. Where can you order the label’s discs?

yoshimori
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Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#4 Post by yoshimori » Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:44 am

Following a suggestion somewhere on this board, I reserved a copy at mediapsychos. It's a group buy thing, which I've never used before, so ...

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L.A.
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Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#5 Post by L.A. » Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:15 pm

It seems the site is only open to registered members. I’m going to have to be honest and admit that I have never heard of the term ”group buy” :shock:. I mean like this.

yoshimori
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Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#6 Post by yoshimori » Thu Jun 14, 2018 7:12 pm

Me neither. I registered and reserved though. We'll see what happens.

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andyli
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Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#7 Post by andyli » Tue Dec 11, 2018 7:59 am

Hmm... seems that Diskino will keep churning out restorations by Xi'an Film Studio. Their next release is Tian Zhuangzhuang's The Horse Thief with the original Tibetan track. The blu-ray.com post specifically mentioned that the release would not use that controversial 4K 48fps 'restoration' done by China Film Archive. I am intrigued how the transfer would turn out.

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Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#8 Post by Glowingwabbit » Tue Dec 11, 2018 8:05 am

andyli wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 7:59 am
Hmm... seems that Diskino will keep churning out restorations by Xi'an Film Studio. Their next release is Tian Zhuangzhuang's The Horse Thief with the original Tibetan track. The blu-ray.com post specifically mentioned that the release would not use that controversial 4K 48fps 'restoration' done by China Film Archive. I am intrigued how the transfer would turn out.
This is very exciting. One of my all-time favorite films that I've been begging for a good release. I hope the transfer is good.

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Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#9 Post by Glowingwabbit » Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:39 am

I'm giving the group buy on mediapsychos a try for The Horse Thief. I'll see how it goes .

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The Fanciful Norwegian
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Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#10 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Tue Dec 11, 2018 1:32 pm

I did the groupbuy for the Red Sorghum release and it came out fine, though the process is pretty drawn out.

I'm very excited for The Horse Thief and especially the chance to finally watch it with its intended audio—all mainland films at the time were required to have a Standard Mandarin track, but Tian's plan was to replace it with the Tibetan dialogue for the actual release, so the Mandarin version was thrown together in the space of a weekend purely to meet the regulatory requirement. But then the distributor ignored Tian's intentions and only made Mandarin-language prints, with the exception of a single Tibetan print that was exported to France. The first U.S. release in the late '80s (via the semi-legendary International Film Circuit) was issued with the Tibetan track, but when it got a wider release a few years later from Kino, the Mandarin version was used instead. I have three versions of this film on video—the Kino laserdisc, the atrocious mainland Chinese DVD, and the somewhat better Spanish DVD—and all of them are Mandarin-only. The Tibetan audio must be a recent rediscovery, since Tian said it was missing when the China Film Archive's restoration premiered in April.

As an aside, Diskino has apparently announced (at least informally) three future Xi'an Film Studio restorations: The Black Cannon Incident, King of the Children, and Swordsman in Double Flag Town.

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Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#11 Post by Glowingwabbit » Tue Dec 11, 2018 1:47 pm

The Fanciful Norwegian wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 1:32 pm
I did the groupbuy for the Red Sorghum release and it came out fine, though the process is pretty drawn out.

I'm very excited for The Horse Thief and especially the chance to finally watch it with its intended audio—all mainland films at the time were required to have a Mandarin dub, but Tian's plan was to replace it with the Tibetan track for the actual release, so the Mandarin track was thrown together in the space of a weekend purely to meet the regulatory requirement. But then the distributor ignored Tian's intentions and only made Mandarin-language prints, with the exception of a single Tibetan print that was exported to France. The first U.S. release in the late '80s (via the semi-legendary International Film Circuit) was issued with the Tibetan track, but when it got a wider release a few years later from Kino, the Mandarin version was used instead. I have three versions of this film on video (the Kino laserdisc, the atrocious mainland Chinese DVD, and the somewhat better Spanish DVD) and all of them are Mandarin-only. The Tibetan audio must be a recent rediscovery, since Tian said it was missing when the China Film Archive's restoration premiered in April.

As an aside, Diskino has apparently announced (at least informally) three future Xi'an Film Studio restorations: The Black Cannon Incident, King of the Children, and Swordsman in Double Flag Town.
Any recommendations? I'm really not familiar with any of the studio's films outside of The Horse Thief (although I'm quite familiar with Tian's other films). I have the spanish dvd which is much better than the Kino, but still only has the Mandarin so I'm excited as well to see it as intended.

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Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#12 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:39 pm

TBH classic Chinese cinema on Blu-ray is so rare that I would buy them all on principle alone, but these Diskino releases come in such limited numbers that they seem to have no problem selling out. (That said, selling out quicker might compel Diskino to step up their pace of release, or at least increase future production runs.) But I also think they're all genuinely good movies, and for me King of the Children is the peak achievement not only of Chen Kaige but maybe the entire Fifth Generation. The Black Cannon Incident is scabrous enough as a satire that it would have almost no chance of being made today, and does some almost avant-garde things with sound production design (though in this respect I prefer its sci-fi sequel Dislocation, which has fallen by the wayside in the intervening decades). Swordsmen in Double Flag Town is an interesting outlier: I feel much of the similarities between American Westerns and the Chinese variety (i.e films set in Shaanxi or other western regions of China, something the Xi'an studio made a specialty of) are a matter of parallel development rather than direct influence, but Swordsmen deliberately and transparently draws on Hollywood (and Italian) Westerns—as well as Japanese —while sufficiently assimilating them with wuxia and folk elements so that they don't come off as simple pastiche.

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Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#13 Post by Glowingwabbit » Tue Dec 11, 2018 3:29 pm

Alright you sold me on King of the Children as a potential blind buy. I love Chen Kaige's Yellow Earth (that needs a blu too but I don't think it's with that studio) but have yet to see anything else by him. I'll look into the others too. Thanks.

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domino harvey
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Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#14 Post by domino harvey » Tue Dec 11, 2018 4:25 pm

I think Yellow Earth just got restored, didn't it? Would be great to see one of the usual suspects put it out on Blu in the states or the UK

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The Fanciful Norwegian
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Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#15 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Tue Dec 11, 2018 5:07 pm

It did, but it was done by the China Film Archive and their track record with these things is not great—besides the motion-interpolated, DNRed-to-hell version of The Horse Thief mentioned on the previous page, they also did the Spring in a Small Town restoration with the infamously terrible audio—so I'm not optimistic about the outcome.

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Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#16 Post by whaleallright » Tue Dec 11, 2018 7:41 pm

For the life of me I just don't understand how anyone can listen to the soundtrack of that version of Spring in a Small Town and think, "Hey, this is good to go." It's like nails on a chalkboard.

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andyli
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Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#17 Post by andyli » Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:26 pm

I do hope China Film Archive could be persuaded to license their 4K restoration of The Yellow Earth to a label like BFI, who did secure the rights for Spring in a Small Town after all. I saw it in cinema and it generally qualifies as a good job, except for some minor audio sync problem which should be easily fixable.

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Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#18 Post by yoshimori » Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:37 pm

The Fanciful Norwegian wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:39 pm
... for me King of the Children is the peak achievement not only of Chen Kaige but maybe the entire Fifth Generation.
Agreed. One of my favorite films. Each shot is intensely beautiful. Can't wait for the disc. [Even though the Japanese DVD is quite good.] Please do let us know when it's available.

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whaleallright
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Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#19 Post by whaleallright » Mon Dec 31, 2018 1:34 pm

Is there a simple tutorial somewhere on how to participate in those "group buys" for Diskino releases? I tried to make heads or tails of it on the Media Psychos website and frankly my brain hurts. Why aren't these discs available on the open market (eBay, etc.) like so many other Chinese videos?

And any word on a release schedule for any of the future Diskino releases of Chinese films? I'm particularly excited for the early Chen Kaige films, as it seems are many here.

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Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#20 Post by McCrutchy » Mon Dec 31, 2018 10:08 pm

It is a little complicated, but the mods are pretty cheerful and helpful, so it worked out well for me. Bear in mind, I've only done one of these group buys before (the one for Red Sorghum) and am in the middle of the one for The Horse Thief, which is still open as of this writing.

Basically, you need to sign up for the Media Psychos forum, then click on the large green "Open" button in the Group Buy thread. There are publicly available release threads for Diskino titles in this section, but the group buy threads are only visible to members. The one for The Horse Thief is here and the rules thread linked in it is here.

In my case, once I requested my first group buy, one of the mods there reached out to me via PM to ask for my personal information, which I assume would also happen with any other new members joining a group buy for the first time.

After you request a copy, because it's one of your first three group buys, you will need to put down a deposit of $10 here (visible to members only) via PayPal for the Blu-ray. Higher value items (US $80 or more) would require a $30 deposit, but that doesn't apply here.

After that, you wait. For Red Sorghum, I paid my $10 deposit when I joined the group buy on on May 9th, and received a product invoice via PayPal for $54 on August 9th. Then I received a PayPal invoice for the shipping to me on September 7th, which for me was $15. I assume that the prices will all be similar for The Horse Thief, since it's the same kind of edition as Red Sorghum. Apparently in some situations a third invoice may be required for international members not using US Dollars, but obviously, that doesn't apply to me.

At every stage, I received PMs from one of the people handling the group buy, as well.

I received a USPS tracking number, and I got my copy of Red Sorghum on September 11th. So the whole process took four months from my request and down payment to getting the item.

So, while it's certainly not a process that I would go through to acquire a disc that was readily available anywhere else, it's certainly doable. And while it isn't cheap, it seems to be the surest and overall least expensive way to get a copy of one of these Diskino releases. For example, the print run for Red Sorghum was apparently increased during the group buy, but only to 800 copies, and it apparently sold out well before it was actually available (the group buy closed on August 2nd, and apparently it sold out before August 10th). I expect something similar will happen with The Horse Thief.

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whaleallright
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Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#21 Post by whaleallright » Tue Jan 01, 2019 1:31 pm

Thank you, McCrutchy, for that detailed explanation! That helps a lot. I will see if I can join in on the group buy for The Horse Thief.

And happy new year!

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Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#22 Post by McCrutchy » Tue Jan 01, 2019 3:33 pm

No problem, Happy New Year to you, as well!

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andyli
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Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#23 Post by andyli » Tue Jan 01, 2019 10:22 pm

whaleallright wrote:
Mon Dec 31, 2018 1:34 pm
And any word on a release schedule for any of the future Diskino releases of Chinese films? I'm particularly excited for the early Chen Kaige films, as it seems are many here.
It's nowhere near complete but I heard they were preparing Huang Jianxin's black comedy The Black Cannon Incident, Chen Kaige's early masterpiece King of the Children, and He Ping's martial art classic The Swordsman in Double Flag Town among other titles in 2019.

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Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#24 Post by jsteffe » Wed Jan 02, 2019 12:36 am

To add to what McCrutchy said, I also participated in the group buy for RED SORGHUM. The process had some minor hiccups - at least for me - but I received a copy in the way the McCrutchy described. I agree that the mods are uniformly friendly and helpful. I already signed up for THE HORSE THIEF and will participate in future group buys for the other Diskino releases.

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The Fanciful Norwegian
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Re: Chinese Cinema on DVD/BD

#25 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:46 am

The Horse Thief BD is in people's hands now... but not mine, since the groupbuy didn't get anywhere near the same number of copies as it did for Red Sorghum and I didn't get in on it early enough. Real shame since this is my second-favorite of all the films WCL will likely release (just behind King of the Children). Nice that they're selling out faster, I guess. The groupbuy for the next release (The Black Cannon Incident) just opened, so hopefully I'll have better luck there.

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