Paradox Blu-ray Review

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Punching Thailand

The cinematography of Paradox makes Thailand look gorgeous. Pumped up color, beautiful forests, deep sunsets, and cozy beaches gives Paradox the feel of a travelogue. Cinematography adores the chance to show the landscapes and sights.

Then the camera drops to street level. Thailand’s elected officials deal in the illegal organ trade. Sex workers feel the wrath of their clients. Cops blast their suspects with knees to the groin and elbows to the head immediately after arrest. Maybe Paradox is not so supportive of the country – at least outside of its brochure appeal.

Maybe there’s a reason for the visuals. Paradox isn’t dealing with much. Taken: Thailand seems an apt title. A Hong Kong cop’s daughter is kidnapped, leading him to Thailand. There he bumps into varying personalities, but rarely with depth. Star Louis Koo as Lee stares forward, his blankness drawing empathy, until the time comes for the inventive action scenes.

Nihilistic moralizing bares its dramatic value, if all too late

Getting to the brawls means chugging through scenes of political corruption, obvious villains, and multi-threaded, broken story structure. Flashbacks fill story gaps well into Paradox’s second hour, a plodding method of character development that still matters little. Conversation fills in these same details. Redundancies run uncontrolled.

In the background is a debate over the value of life. Who matters and why get brought into the script, a paradox suggested in the title. An influential politician lay dying from heart troubles. He needs a heart transplant; organ traders use anyone they can to find a fix, finding little worth in people beyond their pieces. Nihilistic moralizing bares its dramatic value, if all too late. A final turn is all together cruel, leaving Paradox emotionally empty and raw.

A routine and repetitive missing persons drama, Paradox is saved by its aptitude in fight choreography along with some Thailand sightseeing. Two brawls up the entertainment value, strong enough in composition as to override some grievances. Tony Jaa makes full use of his small role in a rooftop scuffle, pulling in a bit of Jackie Chan with an umbrella stunt. A climatic bit of chaos involves butcher knives, a wildly fast back-and-forth scramble. The tension is plausible, despite some cut-heavy edits.

The rest deals in a missing person hunt, Lee wandering Thailand’s markets with a picture asking if anyone spotted his daughter. It’s constant and repetitive. Paradox never finds thematic footing, leaving Lee appearing exhausted unless he’s tossing elbows.

Video

Digital work transfers well to Blu-ray. Color shines with bright primaries needed to beautify Thailand. City skylines push a variety of light blues and yellows. Elsewhere, greenery pops up, highly saturated with grand intensity. Flesh tones find an appealing range.

Clarity stays high, revealing a torrent of fine detail. Facial detail is spectacular. Exteriors likewise pop, resolving everything down various streets including signs or other small touches. Most of Paradox is noise free too.

As is common for Well Go releases – or maybe an Asian post-production process – slight sharpening appears over the image. Marginal halos intrude, leaving some digital residue. A complex shot of a forested area is the worst of the lot, rough and coarse rather than naturally sharp. There’s a definite loss of fidelity in that instance. Otherwise, the impact is minor.

High contrast invites clipping, creating a heated look to the imagery. Drops in detail are marginal. Black levels work as needed, sometimes veering toward a dusty blue, but otherwise maintaining needed depth.

Audio

Cantonese and English dub tracks both come as DTS-HD tracks. It’s a vibrant mix either way. Gunfire spreads wide and with frequency. Listen for the round to fire and its impact, always in separate channels. The effect is quite convincing and it doesn’t miss. Fist fights likewise make the same sonic movements, utilizing the breadth of the front soundstage and spreading to the surrounds.

Range is pinched a bit, leaving LFE stranded and highs a touch restrained. The subwoofer barely plays along. At least Paradox finds consistency, as lively during the action as it is during downtime. Thailand’s streets stretch into each channel, with panning cars and pedestrian chatter passing between the speakers.

Extras

A making of splits into four parts, but it’s not worth going through. Each piece barely makes it two minutes individually, and that’s including a number of studio logos and intro that lead in.

The 15 unaltered images below represent the Blu-ray. For an additional 17 Paradox screenshots, early access to all screens (plus the 12,000+ already in our library), exclusive 4K UHD reviews, and more, support us on Patreon.