Recently, a friend of mine returned from a trip to Thailand. Along with enjoying the sunny beaches, she also had a chance to see the thriving video piracy business first-hand. She went to a local shop which had many DVD titles whose official releases are actually in the future. It was plainly obvious that these discs were produced with less than legal methods. The discs were cheap, selling for less than $2 US.
The store was even willing to let you watch the discs on a TV before you purchased anything. My friend was able to view portions of Black Hawk Down, Episode II : Attack of the Clones, and The Fellowship of the Ring. According to my friend, the clarity of Black Hawk Down and The Fellowship of the Ring was decent enough, but the bootleg of Clones was of poor quality. Apparently, the video and audio was not even synched properly.
She decided to purchase The Fellowship of the Ring and Black Hawk Down and brought them home. Several days ago, I was able to view the bootleg for Black Hawk Down. I must say I was originally impressed with what I saw. The bootleg came in a typical AMRAY-style DVD case, complete with colour packaging. It was obviously a colour photocopy, but the bootleg artwork was very close to the real artwork. Also, the bootleg was labelled as a Special Edition, but the real Special Edition is months away from being released. Have a look below.
One glaring error was that the bootleg artwork featured a DTS logo on the back of the case. The bootleg and the actual retail release of Black Hawk Down does not feature a DTS option. The actual disc itself had a colour silkscreen on it, you can see it at the top of this page. The image wasn't as sharp as you would see on a legit release. One funny thing is that even on the bootleg disc, there's a copyright notice along the edge.
The people in the bootleg shopped informed my friend that all their discs are authored to be region-free. That is, the bootlegs will play in any DVD players in any part of the world. That makes sense from their business standpoint. Next, I'll examine how the bootleg disc compares to the actual legitimate DVD release of Black Hawk Down in terms of menus, image quality, and sound.