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Blu-ray Review: ‘The Rooftop’

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If you think the musical and kung fu genres would make a good pairing, well you’d be wrong. While I’ve always considered them to be genre brethren, I think Jay Chou may have been the wrong person to develop the first of its kind. Just check out the opening scene of Stephen Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle to see who probably should have been responsible for this kind of film. In the end, Jay Chou only proves that he does have the requisite expertise behind the camera, but he sure lets the shenanigans of The Rooftop get too out of control by the end of its runtime. However, anyone looking for the next Baz Luhrman-wannabe make sure you grab your copy of The Rooftop on Blu-ray December 10.

RooftopCoverIn the mystical world of Galilee City, Wax (Chou) literally lives on a rooftop. Along with the rest of the community, they spend their time singing and dancing with no worries to trouble them. Wax has friends in the form of mother-figure Jasmine (Xu Fan), A-Lang (A-Lang), Egg (Devon Song), and Tempura (Alan Ko). Tempura is the only one who holds a real job working for Rango (Wang Xueqi) who leads the City Housing Authority triad, collecting rent from the town’s merchants. Wax literally runs into the love of his life, Starling (Li Xin’ai), after he tries to save her from William (Darren Chiu), during the filming of a movie scene. Soon enough, Wax is swept into the movie life as a stunt double, while trying to woo Starling, who is under the watchful eye of her father Lao Li (Kenny Bee) and is using his daughter to make money to pay back some debt. Everything comes to a head as storylines collide in a weirdly violent finale.

Well Go USA is getting pretty consistent in their video department. The Rooftop tries to dazzle with its visual flair, but a cranked up contrast level washes out a lot of fine detail. Colors pop for the most part, but the contrast inconsistency makes most of them bloom and bleed. The 2.35:1 aspect ratio could have looked a lot better had they toned this issue down and involved at least one scene with a true level of black. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track on the other hand is exactly what you’d expect from a musical action film. Surrounds are fully active with dialogue crisp and clean. Musical numbers are typically full of deep LFE, and the city scape comes to life whenever they venture out from their rooftop home. At least the film sounds better than it looks. I’ve read a report of people having issues with their Blu-ray playback and wanted to report that I had absolutely none. The only special feature is the film’s trailer, even though this is the kind of film that they would have been completely welcomed to see some of the behind-the-scenes involved with shooting the dance numbers.

You’d expect a certain level of violence — even if mostly playful — in a film as wildly over-the-top as The Rooftop tries to be. Unfortunately, Chou takes a turn for the worst in the final act as he involves some heavy gunplay and a scene of attempted rape. Of course Wax swoops in to save the day, but the film is bookended with an unnecessary plot device where he tries way too hard to make his audience cry. As soon as a vital plot point unveils itself you can see where it’s headed a mile away. Chou does have a pretty good visual eye and stages some elaborate musical sequences, but the story is far too childish to make up for the last quarter of the runtime. And at 122 minutes, The Rooftop is way too long and a huge chore to sit through.

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About Cinenerd

A Utah based writer, born and raised in Salt Lake City, UT for better and worse. Cinenerd has had an obsession with film his entire life, finally able to write about them since 2009, and the only thing he loves more are his wife and their two wiener dogs (Beatrix Kiddo and Pixar Animation). He is accredited with the Sundance Film Festival and a member of the Utah Film Critics Association.