Two Thumbs Up (冲锋车) Movie Review

Two Thumbs Up

I could have sworn that this was a Johnnie To movie...
But it's by Lau Ho-Leung.
And it's a HKG show, with the Canto that you expect from a 90s show, albeit with some CGI, but not one of the recent big production value shows that had little soul.
Here, Francis Ng, Simon Yam, Mark Cheng and many others play against type, as a bunch of down and out robbers who pretend to be cops to rob a van, and are intercepted by yet another bunch of robbers also dressed as cops. The difference is that the latter group are armed to the teeth and have no qualms in using their weapons.
So do they rob, and run, or do the right thing? The catch phrase is that it doesn't matter what you wear, when you want to do the right thing.
Witty lines, subplots and a decent plot, which only slows a little in the third quarter, make this an enjoyable outing. A welcome change from the recent spate of big money, big stage shows.

Recommended if you are a fan of old HKG shows, and worth a rental at least.
There is good surround use, but it's a dialogue driven show, so there is not much bass, and sometimes the dialogue can be a little less than crisp, but the DTS-MA 7.1 is still pretty decent.

 I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

Buying Blu Ray discs in Hong Kong

Posted Today, 07:36 AM
Places to get Blu Ray discs in HKG:

Rock Gallery

(open 7 days a week from 11:30 AM (12:30 PM on Sundays) until 9:30 PM)

Address:  Tai Yau Plaza, Shop Number 202, Second Floor, 181 Johnston Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong (at the corner of Fleming Road and just a two minute walk from the A3 exit of the Wanchai MTR station}
Phone: +852-2572-9630  Fax: +852-2575-0216

Laser Collection
LG 15, 6E Nelson Street Tak Fat Shopping Arcade Mong Kok
(this shop sells alot of Blu-rays and prices are quite competitive. You can find pretty much any title both asian and imports here)

The Rock Gallery has more music stuff and less movies.
It's about 5-10hkg$ more costly for movies.

Bear in mind that non-HKG discs are probably cheaper off Amazon.

The SACD collection is fantastic! Spent way too much at Rock.

CSL offers free wifi all over HKG. Just sms then.
Very impressive.

Oh if you wish to use the city check in, you need to use the airport express. I didn't realise that.
Very efficient city albeit a very crowded one.

Sony STR-DN 1060 review

Whilst waiting for the new 2015 Atmos models, I got hold of this amp to get what it brings.

This model is based on an awarding winning predecessor, the 1050, and I am keen to know how it sounds.
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First some tech specs:

  • 7.2 Ch. of power.
  • Built for superb sound.
  • Easily connect to your devices with 8 High Definition inputs.
  • Access your music library.
  • Stream from your favorite apps with Google™ Cast.
  • Multi-room capability.
  • Stream music from receiver to wireless headphones.
  • High-Resolution Audio playback.
  • Intuitive, easy-to-use interface.
  • Turn your smartphone into a remote control.
  • Enhanced wireless listening.
  • Restored high frequency sound lost in audio compression.
  • Preserved sound clarity.
  • Great sound in more than just the living room.
  • Smartphone connectivity via MHL.
  • Standby Audio/Video signal pass-through.
  • Great sound quality at any volume.
  • Smartphone savvy5.
  • HD Digital Cinema Sound™ with front-high speakers.
  • Sony® Sound field technology.
  • BRAVIA® Sync Capable (HDMI® CEC).
  • Seamless IP Integration.
  • Upscale everything you watch to 4K quality.
  • Seamless IP Integration

How can you improve on a model that was popular, and well regarded by Home Theatre enthusiasts around the world? Will this be a better model or has Sony dropped the ball?

First the setup:

When you first switch it on, after plugging in the cables, you are greeting with an Easy Setup option, and it takes you through the basics of the setup, leading to the auto-EQ part. 

Sony uses it's own flavor of Auto-Eq, and it's a very rudimentary one, using one single point, and a single measurement. You hear a melodious test tone going round, and it finally stops at the subs. There it spends a bit more time, but make no mistake, even though there are two sub outs, it calibrates them as one unit.

The microphone is a puck like structure, and when you insert it, the Sony does not recognise it.  You need to go through a series of clicks, but the remote is simple to use.

Don't lose the remote, as there aren't any setup buttons and selection buttons on the amp itself. You will need the remote. It's a simple affair, with only a few buttons and it's not backlit.

There isn't a big manual when you open the box, but the user interface is not too hard to follow.

A little more on the setup :

The Sony comes with one of the skimpiest manuals of all modern amps.
It's quite simple to get the initial setup but you have to do some exploration to get into the finer settings

Sony should take a page from Denon and Marantz.

But once you do get the bits sorted, it does sound very impressive.
There is a lot of detail and lots of surround flow. You just need to poke around and play with the various settings and features a bit. That may be daunting for a novice, but it will certainly pay dividends.

From a newbie's perspective it has a lot to offer and you just add the source and speakers and the Sony will paint a solid landscape. 

Even with a big list of features to explore, the setup is quite intuitive.
So after using it for a while, I begin to put it through it's paces.
Although it will mostly likely not be partnered with speakers like the B&W 800 series, it didn't embarrass itself actually.
After playing some well recorded CDs and SACDs, I was beginning to understand why it's predecessor, the 1050 was so well regarded in UK and Europe, and even in USA.

It plays HT well, but it does do much better than what it's price tag may suggest. It has a few tricks up it's sleeve, and whatever components they placed in it, they showed.

Now you may consider this a 'plain vanilla' model in the world of HT with no Atmos or the like, but it does lossless formats like DTS-MA and Tru-HD very well, with solid steering, precise locations. However, it really shines during the soundtrack, when the music comes on and it shows why Hi Fi magazines and fans around the world love this pocket rocket.

It's got decent soundstage, and with a good speaker setup, it will playback music with detail, and a decent soundscape. Sure, it is nowhere near my Marantz PM 11, which is my reference amp for critical listening under 8k, but it will certainly give much pleasure to buyers in it's range.

It's nice to have an amp that can carry a tune when the movie is turned off. Pop in a CD, albeit in a nice Blu Ray player like the Oppo 105, and it will certainly help you forget that it's not a top of the line model in the Sony lineup.

With a sub or two, the amp has enough oophm to drive my B&W 804 speakers and the HTM4 centre, plus the other 4 surrounds without showing stress.

So it's been about a month or so with this amp and by all counts, it's been a good time.

The simplicity will help the novice moving into HT, but it's the sound quality in stereo that makes this amp interesting, and will help the owner decide that this amp is worth keeping when he upgrades the rest of his system.

The rudimentaty auto-EQ system means that Audyssey still fairs better, especially when the room is more challenging. However if you spend some effort tweaking the levels, and settings, it does excel in HT.

Then when you switch to music, using my Oppo 105 purely as a transport, that's when it proves to be above the usual budget AV amp offerings. The soundstage is solid, three dimensional, and there is good imaging. The sonic tone is quite neutral, and with good speakers, it will reveal even more of the recording.

I wouldn't do critical listening using Blutooth, but in Airplay mode, it's rather impressive.

It's currently being offered by some dealers with lifestyle speakers, and it's quite listenable especially for movies, but if you partner this amp with a 2-3k surround system that has good front speakers, it will sing quite nicely.

It didn't seem out of it's class when I used my B&W Diamond speakers with it, and it had no issue in stereo driving them either. Sony has done well and it will be a good successor in the 10x0 series.

Some might ask, why this model?

Well, it has a well regarded predecessor, and for the HT enthusiast, who does not see himself venturing into Atmos, or going beyond 7 channels and is not likely to add power amps etc, then this makes sense. And so this actually appeals to many home owners out there, who are likely to get an amp, add speakers and a sub, buy their entire setup from one shop, and would like to have a simple setup to enjoy their collection of Blu Rays, DVD, hook up that set top box, cable and media box.

So who are it's competitors and what can you partner this amp with?

Well depending on where you are, it will compete with the mid-tier to mid-low models. These typically do without Atmos or other 3D sound formats, but may offer Audyssey, MACC or other auto-EQ methods.

Each will also have their own sonic signature, and one will need some audition to see which suits. I found the Sony to be quite neutral, so it won't make a treble happy speaker design too bright, and neither will it flatter a flat or more warm sound.

Speakers that cost around $500-$800 for the front pair will be a good pairing. So you should be able to get a 5.1 speaker set for about $2000 to pair with this.

Of course you can use a 7.2 system, and if you do feel like spending more, use it on upgrading the subwoofer, or use two of them.

Surprisingly decent sound, especially for music.
Easy to do basic setup.
Fast Auto-Eq
Strong feature list

Going beyond the basic setup is not as easy. No physical owner's manual.
Two sub-outs, but they are equalised as one
No pre-outs
Rudimentary remote, and you can't do without it
Some lag when switching inputs


I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

Taking of Tiger Mountain Movie Review


Anyone here familar with those Chinese movies of the 70s? Where everyone has flawless complexion, cherubic faces, and the entire movie is like a big propagana campaign for the PRC government?

 Well, the Chinese title of the movie is actually the same as that of an opera, one of eight allowed by the Communist government during the Cultural Revolution, and Tsui Hark has decided to re-enact it, with the same bravado, total sacrificial comradeship, and in light of the more 'contemporary' productions now popular in Mainland China, this comes as a breath of fresh air.

Sure, the total devotion of a band of poorly equipped, ill fed, yet highly motivation and skilled ragtag bunch of soldiers is unreal, yet, it plays out in contrast to the current crop of movies which showcase the harsh reality of life in the current 'pseudo' social China. Nowadays movies reveal the scant regard for Marxist values and the everyman for himself kind of society, where money, and power are the real power, and yet, the divide between the haves and the have nots is never as great.

Here, we harken to a different past genre of movie, where the good are selfless, handsome, and totally committed to the team. There is no sex, violence is rather clean, even the blood spurts from gunshot wounds are clean. All the stars look superb, every shot fired by the heroes counts, and they face impossible odds with the same anticipation as the modern Chinese faces a major Apple Store sale.

The plot is simple, and is based on an old folk lore, about a band of PLA or People's Liberation Army troops in the post WWII period, who fight bandits and help the poor villagers.

They find Lord Hawk holed up on Tiger Mountain, and he threatens to become a major power in Northeastern China, and despite the odds, they faces adversity with courage, fortitude and determination.

Chick factor: you get two sweet faces, but there's no real action on this front, but you won't miss it.

The surround channels are busy enough, and most modern Chinese / HKG shows have solid sound engineering, so this show is one for the home theatre afficiandoes.

If you dig the kind of lingo, and long for these 'classic' shows, you will enjoy the stirring brass tunes, the comradeship and the whole "Band of Brothers" feel. I am sure the Chinese government had no objections to this show, and perhaps help with the authenticity by providing the time period accurate costumes and weapons.

I know my dad would have loved this thrilling war epic, and it would have made him all nostalgic and bring him back to a time in the past when life was a little simpler. Well at least on celluloid.

Recommended for at least rental, and a keeper if you can understand the dialogue and the period.

 I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

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