VCD/SVCD are an alternative to DVD releases of most movies that are very popular in Asia
due to them being very cheap to make and distribute. Most releases end up having a VCD
and DVD release. They are also popular as rentals as they are cheaper to replace than a DVD. A SVCD is similar to a VCD, but is higher quality and can have menus like a DVD.
Although I would personally prefer seeing movies on DVD, VCD copies of movies are popular
with people who want to see a lot of movies. TV series are released in VCD box sets especially
as they can have up to 20 discs in one box.
VCDs are available for sale all over the web, in Chinatown retailers and video rental stores.
They are also a popular format for friends to trade movies.
You should be able to play VCDs on most modern DVD players that support multi-format discs
or play them on your computer's CD drive.
I have seen VCDs selling for $12AUD for new releases (Sunstar International, Melbourne) but they
can be sold for as little as $7AUD online.
Help! I'm hearing two soundtracks at once!
This is a common problem with VCD releases. You can either mute one sound channel, or do what I do
and just take out the left or right audio cable from the TV (you're on your own with 5.1 sound)
Microsoft has also helpfully provided information on how to play a VCD on your computer:
How to play VCDs on your computer under Windows
What? This movie has no subtitles!
As VCDs are produced for the local market, a lot of the time they don't have English audio or subtitles available.
It is best to check with the store where you buy them or do some research online beforehand.
For action or martial arts movies you can pretty much follow the story anyway, so it isn't as much of a concern (especially if it is the only way to see the movie.)
My eyes! Ze googles, zey do nothing!
Examples of titles available
Depending on the compression used, the quality of the video can be reduced at times. If you want higher quality stick with DVD.
Drunken Master II - The last great Jackie Chan movie, no English subtitles
Wind And Cloud 2 (Part 1) (Vol.1-21) - Storm Riders TV series, no English subtitles
Wind And Cloud 2 (Part 2) (Vol.22-42) (End) - Storm Riders TV series, no English subtitles
Journey To The West (End) - Very popular version of this story, No English subtitles
The Shaolin Virgin Boy Exercise (Collectible Edition) (China Version) - Umm, yes...