The Rooftop (Blu-ray Review)

The Rooftop - www.whysoblu.comTaiwanese pop sensation Jay Chou is Wax, a cocky drifter who lives a happy but oppressed life among the rooftops of Galilee. But a chance meeting with his dream girl, Starling (Li Xinai), takes him on a thrilling journey to change his fate. Chou’s second feature film, THE ROOFTOP is a story of friendship, romance, rivalry and destiny, filled with song and dance numbers that will delight audiences for years to come.  

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The Rooftop is Jay Chou’s (The Green Hornet) second directorial (he wrote the film, the lyrics, stars, and directs) feature to date. In the film he stars as Wax, a drifter who lives in the town of Galilee above the cityscape in a fellowship community filled with artists, musicians, chefs, etc. In other words, he lives with the poor and working class in the rooftops above. By day, Wax and his crew of lug nuts spend their time doing odd jobs to make money but with bigger ambitions behind their motives. One of those motives is the giant billboard that is prominently on display over the rooftops of popular actress Starling (Li Xin’ai). That poster serves as inspiration for Wax to get out of his slump and to move on to better things…preferably with Starling by his side.

Getting respect and out of the generalized area of the rooftops won’t be an easy task. Wax and his crew do have to get their hands dirty quite a bit and that involves shady dealing with the City Housing Authority (clever triad pseudonym). Their leader is Rango (Wang Xueqi) and he’s taken a like to Wax and his pals and makes them the head collectors for one of the more popular districts in the city. This is where Wax and company has to get their hands dirty. They have to crack skulls and collect cash for Rango. Again, from Wax’s perspective, it’s all a means to an end.

The Rooftop was really a breath of fresh air and one of the bigger surprises of 2013 that should have been on my Top-10 list before it published a few days ago. It’s West Side Story meets Moulin Rouge by of LSD. From the surreal atmosphere in the opening credits to the catchy tunes, comedy, great fights, and dark subject matter (towards the third act) the film never lets up. It’s too high energy of a film to even feel corny and I could tell that it also had a very high budget. Some of these sets were huge! The production design and costume budgets probably cost a lot, as well.

Jay Chou is a very competent director who cut his teeth on over 60 of his own music videos and directorial debut a few years ago called The Secret. To say that The Rooftop is anything short of mind bending would be a disservice. Strip away the layers of hallucinogenic aesthetics and the story is a basic one. Poor boy wants rich girl, rich suitor hates poor boy, rich girl falls in love with poor boy, and rich suitor AND gangsters want to kill poor boy. Wax definitely has his work cut out for him. I also can’t hate a film that features a character named “Tempura.” That’s just disgustingly cute and made me chuckle quite a bit while I was watching The Rooftop. 

Okay, so now you know that I really enjoyed The Rooftop, so keep on reading to find out if the Blu-ray specs are up to snuff. If you’re at all curious about an Asian genre-bending musical laced with hardcore surrealism then I very highly recommend The Rooftop.



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The Rooftop is presented in 1080p, 2.40:1 widescreen. Let’s get it out of he way first…the colors are FANTASTIC! I did not detect banding or noise as some of the palette does sear the eyes a bit. I do not think I’ve seen a colorful film such as this one all year. The color palette excels in every scene. Here’s the bummer that unfortunately pulls the video score down a bit: black levels. Black levels don’t look that great and aren’t black or deep in any scene in the film, which is unfortunate, because many scenes take place at night. It’s like they have been dulled up a bit. It doesn’t look good and at times can be very distracting. Everything else aside from the black levels is fine, though. Oh, the colors, the colors, indeed, look amazing!

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The Rooftop is presented in Mandarin DTS-HD MA 5.1. An optional English 5.1. dubbed version is also included. Where the video dropped the ball, the audio picked right back up. It’s a stellar presentation. Vocals, music, dialogue, and action all sound incredible in this 5.1 lossless presentation! There are no signs of clipping, crackle or any other anomaly that would normally threaten something of this scope and scale. The LFE channel gets a hefty workout and the rear channels have stuff flying all over the place back there. It’s a very DEMO-worthy audio presentation.

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The Rooftop is a musical epic that deserved the special treatment when it came time for special features and unfortunately all we get is one theatrical trailer. Looks like The Rooftop is also getting a big fat goose egg for that.

  • Trailer

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 I enjoyed The Rooftop very much and think Jay Chou is more than competent behind the camera as he is in front of it. It’s obvious that this is a very personal project as he did write much of the lyrics, starred in, wrote and directed the film. It’s a pretty fun flick as it is, with some darkness thrown into it towards the end. The audio specs are phenomenal, the video above average, but lack of special features drag the overall score down. If you like musicals, fantasy, and having a good time, then The Rooftop should be your next destination. 


Order The Rooftop on Blu-ray!

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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