There have been regional limitations placed on all dvd players and blu-ray players sold in America. All hardware have been encoded with a so-called "regional encoding" to control the market and all players sold in the U.S. are encoded region-1; Japan is region 2, Korea and Hong Kong region 3 NTSC, while most of Europe is region-4. Thailand and China has a very differerent format than the U.S., they are in PAL format. NTSC is the U.S. standard.
I bought two multi-region players because I got tired of waiting 2-3 years for a foreign film to be released in the U.S. and I don't like being at the mercy of U.S. studios deciding what should be released in U.S. shores and what should be skipped. I also got tired of buying low quality unofficial all-region dvds because most of the time, they skip, freeze and shut down. These copies have high compression: compressing a 7 GB film into a dvd with a 4.7 GB size isn't advisable. It is easy to detect an unofficial copy, all of them don't use dual layer discs and they full of macroblocking issues.
There are however, certain studios that focus on foreign films--the problem is they edit the films most of the time and we lose what we call its artistry. I want my movies in its purest form--so sad that most Hollywood studios see the American audience prefers linear storytelling. Dragon Dynasty, Tai Seng and Tokyo Shock are one of the few who release them in its purest form, and I am glad to hear CJ Entertainment is operating in the U.S. now.
Anyway, in case you wonder as to how I can review Asian films that only has NOT been released in the U.S. , well, now you know the answer. I also own the Korean release of "The Dark Knight" which had a far superior transfer to the U.S. made one. Most dvds in America are made in Mexico so Japan and Korea would have the edge since they manufacture them in their native land. I think U.S. dvds' quality's have been taking a dive to make dvd look bad so the marketing guys can push Blu-ray. Truth be told, all you need is a disc mastered in high-def, and a great up-converting player to make the movies look better. True, some Blu-ray discs still look immensely gorgeous but the difference is still small.
anyway, if you want to see if your exisiting dvd player is capable of being converted into multi-region or region 0, check out videohelp.com. if Not, check out the Toshiba, Philips, Pioneer players with a low price but if you really want the best in up-conversion I recommend the Oppo. (I am still waiting on their Blu-Ray player)
Thanks. If you want more info also check out "hardwares" in hkflix.com (oh, they sell a lot of cult films)