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Question About Tai Seng Video Marketing

Posted: Sat Jun 06, 2020 5:44 am
by Kame-Sen'nin
Tai Seng Video Marketing (later known as Tai Seng Entertainment) seems to have been a well-known proprietor of Martial Arts films on VHS in the United States. However, for as well known as they might be, I'm having a little trouble understanding if their releases in the US were legitimate.

They seem to still exist, and it appears as though they do have legitimate licenses and releases these days. However, I'm more interested in their older releases...particularly the late eighties/early nineties. I have an opportunity to acquire what might be a rare early release of a film in the US from Tai Seng Video Marketing, but I'm outside of my area of expertise with this one. Should their VHS releases be considered legitimate? Were some licensed and some bootlegs? Did they start off dealing in unlicensed tapes and then change later?

I'm hoping someone here has some insight; any help at all is appreciated.


Re: Question About Tai Seng Video Marketing

Posted: Sat Jun 06, 2020 6:19 am
by davemerrill
wow, that's a name I haven't heard in a long time! Most of what we managed to find to watch in the early 1990s was from Tai Seng - Heroic Trio, Bride With White Hair, Legend Of Green Snake, Bullet In The Head, Full Contact, etc. I always assumed they were legitimate, myself.

Re: Question About Tai Seng Video Marketing

Posted: Sat Jun 06, 2020 1:00 pm
by labsenpai
I still have a couple DVDs of Tai Seng releases, and am fairly confident their license for US distribution was legit.
Of course, to get more than a handful of titles you needed a region free player and more dubious discs from companies like Media Asia, Universe Laser, and Mei-Ah Multimedia.

Q Tarantino's company got involved in HK releases here and there; an annoying face to see pop up on the screen.

Re: Question About Tai Seng Video Marketing

Posted: Mon Jun 08, 2020 12:23 pm
by Kame-Sen'nin
Thanks Dave and labsenpai! I think I'm leaning towards it being an official release...despite some pretty bad spelling errors on the cover.

Now to figure out how much I can afford to spend to acquire this tape...

Re: Question About Tai Seng Video Marketing

Posted: Mon Jun 08, 2020 4:42 pm
by Char Aznable
To the best of my knowledge, Tai Seng was a legit distributor. It's often a murky road with many '80s/'90s HK releases, as there were so many fly by night distributor in the early-to-late '90s (especially when it came to VCDs).

I sorely miss Tai Seng's releases. I still have a large VHS and DVDs collection of their titles--and while their subtitles weren't always 100% accurate--they were one of the better companies releasing hard-to-find HK movies. It was also great when 20th Century Fox/Fortune Star were releasing titles like Mr. Vampire, Duel to the Death, Spooky Encounters, Naked Killer, Eastern Condors back around 2004-2006. Those were were some great prints, and most had subbed/dubbed options.

Re: Question About Tai Seng Video Marketing

Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 2:16 pm
by Kame-Sen'nin
I decided to risk it and buy the tape. Once it arrives, I'll inspect it and digitize the tape. For better or worse, the money is spent, so it's time to dig into this release. :lol:

Re: Question About Tai Seng Video Marketing

Posted: Fri Jul 17, 2020 2:12 pm
by Kame-Sen'nin
I've digitized and inspected the tape! I'm still not 100% convinced that it isn't a bootleg, but overall the signs seem to point to it being legitimate. Now for the big reveal: shocking absolutely no one, it's Dragon Ball-related! :lol:

It's a 1993 Tai Seng release of Dragon Ball: The Magic Begins (or, if you go by the spelling on the box, "Dargon" Ball). Assuming it is legitimate, I believe this is the first official home video release of Dragon Ball in the US. While there are rumors that The Harmony Gold dub received a limited home release, no evidence of that has been found. I made a few notes about the tape for anyone who might be interested:
  • Not in English, and no subtitles.
  • Involvement from NYUE Enterprises, Inc. Seems like they were a shop that sold HK Cinema tapes in New York based on a reference I found on the Wired site.
  • Quality isn't great (no surprise there). Seems that tape quality is the main culprit.
  • Looks like this was filmed--not transferred from film. With that in mind, the quality is actually kind of great for that situation. Clearly they had some sort of setup to do this...maybe a cheaper alternative to a proper transfer? Doesn't suffer from any of the standard "filmed in a theater" bootleg tropes, seems like a decision made on purpose.
All in all, a REALLY weird curiosity that didn't have much impact. It did answer one question I've been confused about though...this bit of info was passed around as fact for a LONG time:
This movie is called "Dragon's Pearl." It was renamed & rereleased after the anime became popular in America.
I could never find ANYTHING to corroborate this. And the end credits clearly state the name as Dragon Ball: The Magic Begins. So if you see this reference, I am pretty comfortable saying that this was entirely made up. I'm not sure if it was a mistranslation, someone misremembering, or someone just plain lying, but this is the earliest release I've found (and well before the Dragon Ball boom in the US) and it simply does not go by the title "Dragon's Pearl".