Floating City is a Chinese film by Director Ho Yim about a man named Bo Wah-Chun who has become the first Chinese “taipan” (Chinese for big shot) of the Imperial East India Company in Hong Kong when it was under British rule. He is referred to as a “half breed” because he’s an asian man with blue eyes, adopted by a very poor mother, and
throughout his life, he has never really been accepted by anyone. The film takes a look back at his life to see how he came from nothing and the struggle he had to overcome to end up where he is in his present.
When the movie started, I wasn’t sure what the overall tone of the film was going to be. It began with fast moving, flashy images that made it hard to follow in English subtitles but it hit a point that drew you in. The lead actor, Aaron Kwok, played a very believable
character as a man trying to find his way in a world where he stood out. There was even a scene of the movie that completely tugged at my heart strings. I won’t go in to too much detail but their family was torn apart by finances and back then, it wasn’t unusual for children to be sold or openly left in an orphanage when parents couldn’t care for them.
The movie is in a practically flawless transfer coded in 1080p AVC. The movie was shot digitally so it makes sense that there probably wasn’t much compression at all so there isn’t any loss of picture clarity. The cinematography reminds me of older movies where the coloring is never really brilliant but the tones that are created in the contrasting are beautiful. It uses lighting that create a lot of deep blacks and nice contrast. Also, the details in the picture are so sharp that the make up begins to stand out as the actors are aged in the story. However, a minor issue in some of the very low lit scenes, the contrasting creates a noise in the images that then create some crushing in the surrounding blacks but it’s nothing to discourage the enjoyment of the film.
The audio track is in a lossless Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 that is elegant and appropriate in all the right places. It immerses you in the story easily with excellent use of the home theater. The score completely captures the feelings conveyed in the film, almost like the piano music helps to show the solace this man has never been
able to shake. There is also a lot of clear ambient sounds, mostly in the outdoor scenes which were mixed very well. The highs and lows in the audio are exceptional, especially when the bass is tested. The mix in general is rich with sound that really is amazing.
The only extra on the release is a trailer in HD. Nothing else extra is on the disc.
Single Disc blu-ray
1080p MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Cantonese Dolby Digital 2.0
Despite some of the reviews out there, I really enjoyed this film. Like I said, it had a beauty that translated perfectly into the story and it wasn’t just some eye candy US studio film. I really liked the visual style it uses to tell the story and I’ll admit, at first it seemed like it was trying very hard to be an art film. The finished product ended being both charming and impressive. The blu-ray had some trivial issues with the picture but the positive outweigh the negatives here. I highly recommend this movie for fans of Asian cinema or if you want to see an example of the accomplishments in the blu-ray format.