Criterion Collection is quickly becoming my favorite Blu-Ray manufacturer (although it already was). Revealed as part of its Fall 2021 lineup today, the esteemed film restoration company has announced that it will be compiling all six of the Once Upon a Time in China films into one glorious package. Considering I spoke about the first film not too long ago in my monthly Kung Fu column, I’m obviously stoked.
Conceived by Hong Kong New Wave leader Tsui Hark, this epic cycle is not only a dazzling showcase for some of the most astonishing action set pieces ever committed to film but also a rousing celebration of Chinese identity, history, and culture. pic.twitter.com/Bpp9vEcxhe
— Criterion Collection (@Criterion) August 16, 2021
Similar to its compilation of Bruce Lee’s films, this package will feature 4K restorations for a majority of the movies while a few others will be limited to 2K. Criterion recently announced its intentions to produce UHD Blu-Ray discs, but Once Upon a Time in China will be limited to standard HD. That’s something of a bummer, but understandable. A lot of Chinese films were not properly maintained over the years and can look very rough when digitally restored.
The extras are what looks the most interesting here. The first three films in the series will have two different Cantonese audio tracks, one featuring the original mono audio and a separate stereo mix. There are also some documentaries about the life of folk hero Wong Fei-Hung, who was the main character in each of these movies.
All in all, it sounds absolutely incredible. The box set is listed for a release on November 16, 2021, for $125. Not too bad of a price, but you could always wait for the annual Barnes & Noble sale to get it half-off.