(note: since the label can be quite NSFW at times, I’ll try my best to make sure everything I say/post here follows the forum rules).
I’ve long said that Vinegar Syndrome is the “Criterion of Cheesy Movies”. There’s a ton of care put into the release and restoration of films that wouldn’t usually ever get such treatment. The supplemental features usually go over and above the call of duty, and many of their releases went on to feature notably in other media (most notably New York Ninja, which is an accomplishment in its own right).
Lately, VinSyn’s released some notable martial arts films and studio releases (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Death Wish 2, Cloak & Dagger and Road House) alongside their usual genre madness. It’s clear that the label, alongside its partner labels, have done a lot to promote forgotten or obscure films with some awesome releases. And with filmmaker input/commentary tracks on nearly every release, it’s clear their crew are passionate about what they do.
Quite a few MST3K films have been released on VinSyn and their partner labels, including THREE in the last year alone (Ilya Muromets/Sword and the Dragon, Sampo/Day The Earth Froze and The Incredible Melting Man…in 4K!)
Full disclosure: I’ve been a subscriber for a year and a half, and have a pretty substantial collection of their partners’ movies as well. That being said, I am not a fan of everything they produce and will gladly provide criticism if I disagree (“extreme horror”, Category III Hong Kong films and the Peekarama series aren’t anything I’ll be watching).
Overall, though, I’ve been really happy subscribing. Like the MST3K/Rifftrax Kickstarters and the Found Footage Fest Patreon, it feels like I’m helping a well-meaning bunch of folks who genuinely appreciate the cheesiness they purvey.
Right, on to the thread. Watched Ringo Lam’s Undeclared War last night for the first time…it’s a pretty fun action movie that oddly predates Rush Hour in some of its stunts and plot. Its narrative generated some really awesome set pieces up until the end, there’s some legit suspense at times. It can also be a genuinely funny movie as well.
Vernon Wells is the antagonist, and his performance ranges from understated to campy. The protagonists are much more authentic than the usual 80s action hero types. There’s a particular “Rambo” joke that lands pretty well. It isn’t a martial arts film, though its characters will sometimes use strikes and throws. The movie isn’t as silly or manic as the recently Rifftraxed Yes, Madam but it’s still quite active. And it isn’t as fast-paced as many Hong Kong films. Exposition is pretty notable here, but it doesn’t mask the fact this is an HK action flick from one of its most iconic directors.
Technically, the picture quality looks excellent. The audio is offered in both the original Cantonese and an optional Mandarin, though half of the film is in English as it is.
Extras, like with most of the heavy-boxed “VSA” line, are pretty sparse. There are two interviews (one with Wells and another with the film’s composer) and a commentary track. The “VSA” titles makes up for their lack of extras with some great artwork and a poster (much like Santo vs. Doctor Death, which I hope to review soon).
Undeclared War is not a perfect movie but it’s a lot of fun. I’m definitely rewatching this with the commentary track.
Feel free to talk about the wild, weird world of Vinegar Syndrome here!