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Scream 6

The People Under the Stairs

Needful Things


The War of the Worlds

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Happy Together

original title: Chun gwong cha sit


  • 4K Remastered Criterion Collection
  • Kino International Blu-ray
Release: May 29, 2021 - Author: Muck47 - Translator: Mike Lowrey - external link: IMDB

Comparison between the US Blu-ray by Criterion Collection and the US Blu-ray by Kino International.

- 8 different scenes
- No time difference

The versions of Wong Kar-wai's HAPPY TOGETHER

Wong Kar-wai's 1997 Happy Together features a couple, prominently portrayed by Leslie Cheung and Tony Leung, who are trying to find their footing in Buenos Aires, but are also simultaneously longing for home in Hong Kong and struggling with relationship problems. Leung's character guides through the plot as an off-camera commentary and often gives insight into his emotional world and personal background.

Since 2009, various international DVDs as well as the first Blu-ray from the US have a few minor cosmetic corrections, especially regarding color filters. On top of that, a different cut exists in Japan. In Germany, the film is so far (2021) only available on DVD.

A new 4K restoration was first released by Criterion Collection in the US on March 23, 2021. Here, however, there were apparently a few material problems, because Wong Kar-wai himself issued the following info about it:

During a fire accident in 2019, we lost some of the original negative of Happy Together. In the ensuing months, we tried to restore the negative as much as we could, but a portion of it had been permanently damaged. We lost not only some of the picture, but also the sound in those reels.

As a result, I had to shorten some of Tony’s monologues, but with the amazing work of L’Immagine Ritrovata, we managed to restore most of the scenes to better quality.

Removed monologues in the 4K restoration

The strange thing right away: With the exception of the redesigned credits and once again partially deviating coloration, there are actually no cuts in the footage to complain about. What may have been lost here from the original negative has apparently been completely rescued from another scan and reinserted in such a way that at least no noticeable differences in quality are apparent. So far, so good.

All differences are indeed in Tony's monologues, but even that is an irritating adjustment because of the 1:1 identical footage present. All of these passages were, after all, heard in relatively good quality on the previous Blu-ray, as well as all of the earlier releases. Although of course the sound in general also got a fresh renovation, one can hardly comprehend as an argument that they would not have been usable as alternative sound sources at least for the short missing parts. Thus, in the end, it is probably simply a conscious decision by the director to remove these parts from the film in terms of content.

But what exactly do we have to do without? Most striking is certainly a hint to Tony's father at the very end. Possibly they wanted to leave such a characterization to the viewer's imagination and not say it so clearly. Beyond that, there are mainly small threads of thought, but they rarely really go into depth. Sometimes only more or less obvious things are stated. Overall, the impression is that Wong wanted to let the melancholic images speak more for themselves here and felt that the commentaries took away some of the magic.

In terms of picture quality, the new 4K restoration is clearly preferable. Sound-wise, the best solution would probably be to have both versions on board, so that you yourself have the choice between old familiar monologues and streamlined form according to the director's wishes. This is not the case with the Criterion Collection, so some fans expressed their displeasure accordingly.

Runtimes are ordered as follows: Criterion Blu-ray / Kino International Blu-ray

Additional company references at the beginning of the Criterion.
Not included in cut duration/quantity.

25 sec

66:41 / 66:16

Some off-commentary missing here at the beginning of a sentence, subtitled "Not sure why, but (this summer's going by so fast.)"

No time difference.

Criterion Blu-rayKino International Blu-ray

71:06 / 70:41

Missing from the hug are a few off-camera comments from Tony, who continues to ponder his emotional state, "Was it because we had become close? When I held him, all I could hear was my own heart beating."

No time difference

Criterion Blu-rayKino International Blu-ray

76:26 / 76:01

The commentary during the writing of the letter is shifted a little on the audio track, but in principle it is included identically.
Only at this point is a trivial sentence fragment missing to transition to his written text: "In the end I say (I hope he treats me as a friend)"

No time difference

Criterion Blu-rayKino International Blu-ray

78:17 / 77:52

Here, Criterion's mention of Po-Wing has been pulled out a bit, thus misappropriating the opening comment "What goes around comes around."

No time difference.

Criterion Blu-rayKino International Blu-ray

80:41 / 80:16

Criterion lacks mention of long hours at work at the beginning of the sentence, "With my long hours at work, (I soon save enough to go home.)"

No time difference.

Criterion Blu-rayKino International Blu-ray

90:58 / 90:33

After Tony mentions the date (February 1997), another sentence follows about his state of mind: "I feel like I'm waking up from a long sleep."

No time difference

Criterion Blu-rayKino International Blu-ray

92:28 / 92:03

Tony gives another interpretation as to why Chang must have always seemed so content. In doing so, he also makes an allusion to the strained relationship with his own father.
"I finally understood how he could be happy running around so free. It's because he has a place he can always return to. I wonder what will happen when I see my father."

No time difference

Criterion Blu-rayKino International Blu-ray

94:01 / 93:36

There are new credits on the Criterion. Also, a little note board at the end.
Not included in cut duration/amount.

Criterion 2 sec longer.

Criterion Blu-rayKino International Blu-ray

Note: At 90:13 / 89:48, there was the only part where two lines of off-commentary were already deleted for Kino International's master of the old Blu-ray. This is missing on the Criterion, as well.

In the original or the older versions, after he says "I want to say goodbye to Fai, but nobody knows where he is." he also says: "I thought I'd hear his voice here. Maybe the music's too loud, I can't hear anything."

Criterion Blu-rayKino International Blu-ray

Finally, a small picture comparison of more glaringly different color scenes. Apart from the already in the previous screenshots visible, again somewhat modified coloring, here are a couple of places documented with further filter gimmicks. Above all, it shows here even at compressed size, that the old HD master was badly overblown and with Criterion now clearly more details are visible.

Criterion Blu-rayKino International Blu-ray

Also, here are a few notes of the German DVD, which should be largely identical to other releases worldwide before 2008.

Right off the bat, the introductory credits are one of the major differences, which have been different since the 2008 remastering. Originally, they were on red background, now on black. The same with the credits.

No time difference.

German DVDCriterion Blu-ray / Kino International Blu-ray

The street soccer game in minute 51/53 (and again later in minutes 60/62 and 63/65) deserves special mention. Here, a strikingly different sepia effect has been superimposed over the scene in all the newer versions.

German DVDCriterion Blu-ray / Kino International Blu-ray

At 84:34 / 88:37-88:42 , a shot fades out a bit early on the German DVD. Immediately before that, there's a reel change mark, hence probably the small miss.

4.8 sec

Otherwise, here too: Paler colors, a lot of over-illuminated or too dark shots, and disastrous contrast on the old DVD master. In itself, however, the color scheme is closer between old German DVD and the 4K remastered than on the old Blu-ray, which often tended more towards the yellowish/greenish.

Note: The very first comparison shot is said to have been in black and white by mistake on some older remastered DVDs. However, as you can see, this was not the case with the German DVD.

German DVDCriterion Blu-ray