May 10, 2004 – The Passion of the Bootleg

When you live in Japan, it is very cheap and convenient to travel to other countries in Asia. Several residents of Hello House have been going to other countries, and usually they end up bringing back bootleg DVDs. For those unfamiliar, bootleg DVDs are cheap copies of movies (typically about $1 each). No money goes to the original movie creator, and the quality can range from fantastic to virtually unwatchable. It is also possible to find bootlegs in Japan, but usually they are sold by a shady looking gaijin on a street corner. They are much easier to find in other countries.

Today I borrowed and watched a bootleg of “The Passion of the Christ”. The box artwork looked fantastic, except for the critic quotes on the back. One of them proclaimed that The Passion was “hilarious”, which is not an adjective usually used to describe this movie. When I put the DVD in, I got professional quality menus. However, the movie itself was obviously recorded on a hand held video camera in a busy movie theatre. Watching Jesus get beat up for two hours is not terribly pleasant, but it becomes a bit surreal when you can hear people coughing in the movie theatre and the person next to the bootlegger keeps getting up for snacks and a bathroom break.

(2014 Update) I have found a few stores in Canada that sell bootleg DVDs and Blu-Rays, usually in Asian markets in major cities. First of all – don’t buy bootlegs. But if you do, buy from a place that lets you watch a few minutes of the DVD to check the quality first.

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