Heart of Dragon appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with a surprisingly strong image.
Sharpness usually worked fine, as delineation seemed appealing. A little softness crept into some shots, but most of the film brought positive delineation.
No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and edge haloes remained absent. Grain seemed natural, and I noticed no intrusive print flaws.
Colors felt reasonably natural, albeit with a moderate shift toward blues. Overall impact seemed positive, as the hues came across as intended.
Blacks appeared deep and dense, while shadows brought nice clarity. This turned into a highly pleasing presentation.
I felt the DTS-HD MA monaural audio of Dragon seemed lackluster at best. Dialogue tended to seem edgy and rough.
Music could sound somewhat shrill much of the time, and the score and songs lacked range. The same went for effects.
These usually seemed distorted and lacked much range. I also noticed an odd thumping at times. Though I expect the soundtrack reproduced the source, this still felt like an awfully problematic mix for a movie from the mid-80s.
As we hit extras, we start with an audio commentary that comes only alongside the Extended Cut. Here film historian Frank Djeng and filmmaker FJ DeSanto offer a running, screen-specific look at the differences between the Hong Kong and Japanese versions, cast and crew, genre domains, production notes and their thoughts about the film.
That last topic crops up an awful lot here, as a good chunk of the commentary simply indulges in an appreciation of the movie. Some of this goes a long way, and that means the chat too often just feels like fanboy praise.
We do get a decent number of movie-related insights, mainly from Djeng, and these add value. However, the commentary lacks the depth it needs to be anything memorable.
Under Behind the Scenes, we get two featurettes: “The Making of The First Mission” (48:43) and “The First Mission: Pre-Release Event” (15:23). First Mission offers the title Dragon used in some territories.
“Making” mostly consists of footage from the shoot, but we also get a handful of on-the-set comments from actor/director Sammo Hung, action director Yuen Biao, and actor Jackie Chan.
Don’t expect anything hard-hitting, as the program establishes a light, fluffy tone. However, we get enough material from the production to make “Making” worthwhile.
“Event” opens with Chan’s “message to his fans” – including outtakes of his goofs – and then offers a mix of movie scenes and footage from the shoot. This one also acts as a total promo piece, though shots from the set give it value.
Five segments show up under Archive Interviews. We get segments with actor Jackie Chan (9:27), actor/director Sammo Hung (two clips that total 18:53), stunt man Rocky Lai (10:05) and cinematographer Arthur Wong (15:12). Note that the two Hung clips come from different eras decades apart.
Chan discusses his goals for the movie as well as aspects of the shoot and working with Hung. Hung talks about what brought him to the project and script development, the film’s tone and drama, thoughts about the Hong Kong movie industry, action scenes, the “Final Mission” version, cast and crew, music and general thoughts.
Lai covers how he came to the profession and his experiences during the shoot, while Wong looks at his work on the film. All four men offer useful insights.
Alternate English Credits span two minutes, 32 seconds and offer what they imply: the opening/closing text in English. I guess diehards like this stuff but it leaves me cold.
Five ads appear in the Trailer Gallery, and an Image Gallery consists of 27 stills that mix movie shots and ads. It seems like a forgettable compilation.
Via Heart of Dragon, we get a side of Jackie Chan different from his standard MO. While I respect the ways the film attempts to go down unusual paths, it cannot quite get where it needs to go, so the end result feels a bit half-hearted. The Blu-ray comes with very good picture, rough audio and a mix of bonus materials. Though aspects of Dragon show promise, the end result doesn’t come together especially well.