If anyone can at least claim consistency with his performances, it’s Jackie Chan. His films on the other hand, are definitely hit-or-miss. One thing that’s not hard to believe is that the man has 136 acting credits on IMDB and can still kick some butt when he wants to. With only the most subtle signs of slowing down, Chan brings his hilariously elegant kung fu shenanigans to director Ding Sheng’s Railroad Tigers with all of his trademark charisma — and son — in tow. It may not be his best work, but it is one of his best films in quite a few years.
It’s 1941 and Japan has expanded its occupation to Southeast Asia. A railway in East China has become an important transportation route for Japan, but railroad worker Ma Yuan (Chan) has decided that he’s had enough of the Japanese tyranny. Along with a ragtag group of coworkers — including his son and daughter — they embark on a quest to blow up a bridge, stop the Japanese, and become known as the freedom fighters “Railroad Tigers.”
Well Go USA continues to bring their 50GB-disc A game after years of slapping what could have been excellent transfer on single-sided 25GB discs. Railroad Tigers is no exception. Full of razor-sharp detail with scenes featuring some amazing depth, the time period is brought to life in all its dust and glory. Fast moving scenes never suffer from judder, blacks never crush, colors never bleed, contrast is realistic, while skin tones are completely natural. Banding also never rears its ugly head. Even the individual character title cards don’t suffer from aliasing.
The Mandarin DTS:X track (DTS-HD 7.1 for those of us without the additional speaker setup) is exceptional as well. With some fun moments of full surround speaker usage, it puts you right in the middle of the action. Trains blow by with exact directionality, while dialogue is never drowned out. Moments of heavy bass will also give your equipment a good workout. Music and sound is put to full use as well. Additional audio tracks include Mandarin Dolby Digital 2.0, English 5.1 DTS and 2.0 Dolby Digital, and a DTS:X headphone feature. English subtitles are included.
In traditional Well Go USA fashion, the special features can be accessed individually, but are a play all affair once started. Included is a “Director’s Featurette” (2:53), “The Dangers of Shooting” (2:37), a good length “The Making of” (21:21), “VFX Featurette” (3:55), “The Characters” (3:11), along with the “Trailer” (1:17), and “International Trailer” (1:06). Trailers for Kung Fu Yoga (another Chan vehicle), Operation Mekong, and Cold War II follow the special features and are also front-loaded upon disc start up. They really want you to know these are available!
Railroad Tigers may not attempt to be the be-all-end-all Chan film, the man is far removed from his glory days of the ’80s and ’90s. But, it’s a lot of fun for those who still get a kick out of watching Chan work his magic. And it’s always interesting to watch the Jackie Chan Stunt Team come up with new ways for him to stay at the top of his game. Thankfully, Railroad Tigers features excellent video and spectacular audio, even if the film itself is pretty much exactly what you’d expect. With an elongated behind-the-scenes featurette and the aforementioned A/V, Railroad Tigers is a great addition to Chan’s legacy. It may not be a new classic, but it gets the job done. And sometimes, that’s all you can hope for.