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Hugo: 4K UHD [2-Disc Limited Edition]
(Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Christopher Lee, et al / 3-Disc Blu-ray / PG / (2011) 2023 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: Hugo Cabret is an orphan, living secretly in the walls of a Paris train station, tending to the many clocks, stealing what he needs to survive and hiding from the ruthless station inspector.

But his clandestine life and precious secrets are threatened when he is caught thieving by the bitter old man who runs a toy booth at the station, and Hugo’s world becomes enmeshed with that of the shop owner and his bookish granddaughter.

A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo’s dead father are all connected to a place where dreams are made. A heartfelt love letter to the magic of moving pictures, Hugo is a triumph of imaginative movie making and a gift for film-lovers everywhere. This epic Arrow Video edition marks the film’s debut on stunning 4K UHD and comes packed with a bounty of new extras.

Blu-ray Verdict: In mu humble opinion, Hugo has Martin Scorsese master the children’s adventure movie genre. Scorsese’s 2010 hit was Shutter Island where he mastered the suspense thriller by paying attention to every detail in the film. Here, the camera is in the walls of a 1930s train station in Paris where we see the inner workings of clocks, an automaton, and an orphan boy looking for a key. It’s also in 3D, where applicable, and is cunningly also about the history of filmmaking.

Visually, this is a masterpiece. Easily the best of the 3D movies released in recent memory, if not of all time. There is seamless merging between computer-generated graphics and real sets. Conceptually, this is very impressive. As Hugo is on one of his adventures, he starts finding connections to old films. These are not just fictional films that help the story along for Scorsese is actually telling us the history of filmmaking, and thus uses the real footage of important films. He even rendered these real films in 3D!

Story wise, Hugo suffered though, it has to be said. It meandered a lot, never quite deciding which little adventure to start, or solve, or finish. A trick that I have learned in screen writing is to use a timeframe to set the story in, a ticking clock as some might say. Ironically, for a film that had more actual ticking clocks than any other, they didn’t give their own story one.

Indeed, one has to question if this was really meant to be a children’s movie. The over two-hour run time sent the younger kids crying into the arms of their mothers as exhaustion set in. And as the story moved away from an orphan boy on an adventure to the history of filmmaking, it became quite dry for the older kids.

Personally, I found Hugo, our hero, to be a snotty kid who didn’t even want to tell us what he was up to in the beginning, but at least the kids liked him. And I, at least, had the history of filmmaking to amuse me immensely.

That all said, I don’t think Hugo was just supposed to be about the history of filmmaking, but the magic of it. For those of us who love films, it certainly was magical. Hugo, the young boy, was removed from discovering the magic because his little adventure was mostly solved by the time we got into it.

Unfortunately, I think this removes the kids in the audience from discovering the magic of it. But the kids can have fun watching a robot while the adults are educated — perhaps that is what makes Hugo so special, the fact that the film caters to different viewing audiences on different levels, all at the same time.

In short, this is a simply lovely film and although there was definitely some uproar and befuddlement over the director of such films as Taxi Driver and Goodfellas making a children’s movie, Hugo still shows that a so-called children’s movie doesn’t have to be inane or infantile; for this one is an intelligent and wondrous work – never sappy or banal.

And, as aforementioned, in part a tribute to the magic of cinema, it reminded me why I love motion pictures so much. With its richness and nuance, Hugo must assuredly appeal to children and adults alike. I realize that saying sounds a little clichéd, but in this case I have faith in the truth of it.

4K Ultra HD (2160p) debut of the 2D version of the film
Includes High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation of the film in 2D and 3D
Double-sided fold-out poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tommy Pocket
Illustrated collector’s booklet with writing by film critic Farran Smith Nehme
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tommy Pocket

4K Ultra HD (2160p) presentation of the 2D version of the film in Dolby Vision (HDR10 compatible)
High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation of the film in 2D and 3D
DTS-HD MA 7.1 and 2.0 audio options
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Audio commentary by filmmaker and writer Jon Spira, publisher of The Lost Autobiography of Georges Méliès
Theatrical trailer

Inventing Hugo Cabret, a new interview with Brian Selznick author and illustrator of the original novel on which the film is based
Capturing Dreams, a new interview with director of photography Robert Richardson
The Music of Dreams, a new interview with composer Howard Shore
Ian Christie on Hugo, a new interview with the acclaimed film historian and editor of Scorsese on Scorsese
Secret Machines: Hugo and Film Preservation, a new visual essay by filmmaker and critic Scout Tafoya
Creating New Worlds, a new featurette in which French film historian and author Julien Dupuy examines the life and the legacy of Georges Méliès and his impact on cinema and special effects
Papa Georges Made Movies, a new featurette in which film critic and historian Pamela Hutchinson explores the days of early cinema
Méliès at the time of Hugo, a new a visual essay by filmmaker and writer Jon Spira
Five archival featurettes on the making of the film - Shoot the Moon: The Making of Hugo, The Cinemagician: Georges Méliès, The Mechanical Man at the Heart of Hugo, Big Effects, Small Scale and Sacha Baron Cohen: Role of a Lifetime

Unman Wittering and Zigo (Limited Edition)
(David Hemmings, Douglas Wilmer, Carolyn Seymour, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1971) 2023 / Arrow Films)

Overview: “Boys will be boys in this scathing psychological thriller set within the hidebound but testosterone-charged confines of a remote coastal British private school, produced by and starring David Hemmings (Blow Up, Deep Red).

John Ebony is the idealistic young schoolmaster who arrives at Chantrey School for Boys on his first assignment, employed to fill the shoes of his predecessor Pelham who has recently been found dead at the bottom of a nearby cliff.

Taking up residence in a cottage in the school’s grounds with his restless young wife Sylvia (Carolyn Seymour), Ebony is eager to make a good impression, but immediately gets off on the wrong foot with his assigned pupils, discovering the boys of class Lower 5B, minus the perpetually absent Zigo, to be unruly and defiant.

However, they might possibly know more about Pelham’s demise than the school’s headmaster and his fellow staff are letting on.

Blu-ray Verdict: Masterfully shot by cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth (2001: A Space Odyssey) and directed by John Mackenzie (The Long Good Friday), this film adaptation of Giles Cooper’s classic play is presented on home video for the first time ever. Unman, Wittering and Zigo presents a scathing exposé of the kind of environment from which brutish empires are born.

Simply put, albeit a far from simple exposition of a movie, when a school teacher dies in an accident, his replacement quickly begins to suspect his students of murder.

Using its theatrical origins to claustrophobic effect, Unman, Wittering and Zigo very cleverly builds up layer upon layer of tension and menace, as Hemming’s naive and idealistic Mr. Ebony is quickly and easily outclassed by his pupils, seemingly at every turn. Dismissed by his headmaster, and humored by both his wife and a fellow teacher, Ebony is slowly ground into submission by the boys as they repeatedly claim to have killed his predecessor.

However, when the boys attempt an assault on his wife as a way of further controlling Ebony, the web they have spun begins to unravel until eventually another tragedy forces out the truth.

Chilly and chilling, Mackenzie is well-served by his actors, both adult and juvenile. Hemmings captures just the right note of bewilderment and impotence, whilst Seymour turns the potentially thankless role of Mrs. Ebony into a striking portrait of independence, determination and naturalism - her performance during the attempted assault by the boys is quite brilliant.

Standout amongst the boys are Hoye, Owen and Cashman, all conveying stonewall confidence collectively, whilst allowing just the faint trace of fear and uncertainty when separated from their classmates. Unsettling allusions to Ebony’s ambivalence and a vaguely sexual response to his ordeal add to the mix, and only a slightly dissatisfying and unbelievable conclusion mar what is otherwise a deeply disturbing, grown up story.

Highly recommended, even after all these years, especially as a study in movie making, and whereas for the longest time it was very hard to track down a decent copy, now Arrow Films / MVD Visual have lovingly restored it and brought it out on crystalline blu-ray for all our enjoyment.

Limited Edition Special Features:
– High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
– Original lossless English mono audio
– Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
– Brand new audio commentary by Sean Hogan and Kim Newman
– Brand new appreciation by critic, broadcaster and cultural historian Matthew Sweet
– Unman, Terhew, Lipstrob and Mrs Ebony, featurette with cast members Michael Howe, Michael Cashman, James Wardroper and Carolyn Seymour looking back at the production
– The original 1958 recording of Giles Cooper’s radio play
– Original trailer
– Image gallery
– Double sided fold-out poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Eric Adrian Lee
– Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Eric Adrian Lee
– Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Kevin Lyons and Oliver Wake”

Fighting Back: Limited Edition [BR]
(Tom Skerritt, Patti LuPone, Yaphet Kotto, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1982) 2023 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: The streets of Philadelphia are unsafe, but John D’Angelo has a solution. Thieves, pimps, and pushers beware: he’s declaring a personal war on crime. From the director of Alligator and the producer of Death Wish comes Fighting Back!

Tom Skerritt (M*A*S*H, Alien) stars as John D’Angelo, a proud husband and father fed up with the crime and fear his family endures everyday. When his wife, Lisa (Patti LuPone) and elderly mother are both victims of violent attacks, he organizes a team of locals to operate as a neighborhood patrol group. But when the patrol resorts to vigilante tactics, the lines between protection and personal vendetta become blurred, resulting in violence and corruption.

Directed by Lewis Teague from a script by Thomas Hedley Jr. (Flashdance) and David Z. Goodman (Straw Dogs), featuring a supporting cast that includes Michael Sarrazin (Frankenstein: The True Story) and Yaphet Kotto (Live and Let Die) and with a score by celebrated Italian composer Piero Piccioni (Christ Stopped at Eboli), Fighting Back (released overseas as Death Vengeance) finally makes its blistering Blu-ray debut!

Blu-ray Verdict: After his mother is brutally mugged in his own neighborhood and the Philadelphia police are unable to resolve the increasing rate of crime there, a delicatessen owner by the name of John D’Angelo (Tom Skerritt) decides to do something about it!

So, to that effect, he manages to convince a number of his neighbors to help him form a neighborhood watch group to alert the local police whenever they see something suspicious or illegal taking place.

What he doesn’t count on, however, is the resistance to their group by, not only the criminals, but the local politicians as well. Now, rather than reveal any more, I will just say that I saw this movie when it first came out back in 1982 and I was as impressed by it then, as I still am with it today, here on crystal clear Blu-ray.

And, although the main character was a bit too hot-headed at times, I still thought Tom Skerritt added just the right amount of anger and passion to make this movie seem pretty realistic and thus I can highly recommend it (as I always have done, in truth).

In conclusion, there’s nothing all that much to Fighting Back other than to say it’s not hateful, like Death Wish II. It still celebrates vigilantism and makes excuses for it and it also follows most of the major points established by the Death Wish franchise, but just doesn’t go into as much gory detail with it here.

High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
Original lossless mono audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Enough is Enough!, a new interview with director Lewis Teague
Danny-Cam, a new interview with camera operator Daniele Nannuzzi
TV Spot
Image gallery
Double-sided fold-out poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Luke Insect
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Luke Insect
Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critics Rob Skvarla and Walter Chaw, and a career-spanning interview with director Lewis Teague

Blood Money: Four Western Classics V2 [4-Disc]
(Gianni Garko, Loredana Nusciak, Claudio Camaso, Claudie Lange, Jeffrey Hunter, et al / 4-Disc Blu-ray / NR / 2023 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: In the mid-1960s, the success of Sergio Leone’s “Dollars” trilogy gave rise to an explosion of similar productions. Filmmakers sought to capitalize on this uniquely Italian take on the western, characterized by their cynical outlook, morally grey antiheroes and savage violence. This specially curated selection gathers four outstanding examples of the genre, all centered around the theme of blood money.

In Romolo Guerrieri’s $10,000 Blood Money, Gianni Garko plays western antihero Django, on the trail of bandit Manuel Vasquez. What started as a job for hire turns personal, with Django swearing vengeance against the outlaw. In Giovanni Fago’s Vengeance is Mine, Garko and Claudio Camaso star as estranged half-brothers – one a Confederate soldier now riding with renegade outlaws, the other a bounty hunter tasked with bringing him in alive.

In Giuliano Carnimeo’s Find a Place to Die, a band of scoundrels agree to help a woman rescue her prospector husband, who is trapped at their gold mine cave-in – though in reality, they have designs on the gold strike themselves. In Cesare Canevari’s psychedelic Matalo! (Kill Him), a group of outlaws, having holed up in a ghost town, set about terrorizing travelers Ray and Bridget– only for Ray to fight back, armed with a bag full of boomerangs.

Featuring a wealth of key Euro-cult talent both behind and in front of the camera, Arrow Films proudly present these classic westerns in High Definition restorations alongside a plethora of bonus material.

Blu-ray Verdict: We begin with $10,000 Blood Money (1967), where unprincipled bounty hunter Gianni Garko keeps tabs on an outlaw, hoping to cash in when his bounty finally reaches ten-thousand dollars. Unfortunately, he tips his hand and is almost killed, leading to an odd alliance between the two men and the inevitable massacre.

Another pseudo-Django sequel, $10,000 Blood Money (aka For A Massacre) is derivative, but bloody entertaining nonetheless, as long as you don’t stop and think about it too long.

Character motivations and decision making are often times quite strange. For instance, why does the bandit put so much trust in Garko and get angry at the attempt made on his life, especially after the bounty hunter tells him, in no uncertain terms, of his intention to cash in on the outlaw’s bounty?

Still, it’s fast-paced and violent enough, with a good finale. The villain looks a lot like Gian Maria Volante in A Fistful Of Dollars and For A Few Dollars More and along with Garko, wears a lot of eyeliner too!

Next we get Vengeance is Mine (1967), an acceptable twilight Spaghetti Western with interesting dialogue by the Ernesto Gastaldi, together with some splendid cinematography by Federico Zanni and memorable musical score by Nora Orlandi.

Sure, it’s a typical Spaghetti Western, in that it blends the common scenarios, such as tough, and seemingly invincible antiheroes, difficult and fast showdowns with numerous felons, impulsive and quick camera zooms, all brought together with a lot of rock ’em sock ’em action sequences, but the story line - being on the run from Jurago, a former pal he has betrayed, Clint accepts Johnny’s help, and agrees to surrender, but his lover (Claudie Lange) is kidnapped and Forest seeks vengeance - at least keeps the whole plot train on the tracks (for the most part).

Then we get Find a Place to Die (1968), where the plot is obviously borrowed (or, more accurately, ripped off) from 1954’s Garden of Evil and combines it with a pensive Spaghetti Western flavor; thus lacking the goofiness and moral hollowness of, say, 1966’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The melancholy is heightened by a moving song Juanita sings at the cantina in the first act; the tune is reminiscent of Jerry Goldsmith’s excellent acoustic piece for 1970’s Rio Lobo. Too bad Giordano (as Juanita) didn’t have a bigger role, but it’s big enough, I guess.

There are several other things that propel Find a Place to Die above most Italo oaters: The group Lisa (Petit) compiles consists of a few interesting people, including an ex-con turned minister who seems to be sincere but is dubious at the same time. Secondly, their ordeal becomes almost a survival situation and I favor survival flicks.

Thirdly, the story arc of the disgraced ex-Confederate (Hunter) is almost inspiring. Lisa says she’s naturally drawn to him because she knows he’s not like the other worthless cutthroats. The warmth of love slowly wakens the laconic loner out of his brooding stupor and draws the best in him out.

Love is power and, when you find it, you need to plug into it if you want to live. Only a fool rejects it or, worse, abuses it. Also, being shot in Italy at some kind of ancient ruins, particularly the notable building of the cantina, the movie has a unique look for a Pasta Western, which of course were typically shot in Spain.

Lastly comes Matalo! (Kill Him) (1970), which fans of bizarre semi-psychedelic Westerns like Keoma should check out! The cinematography and editing are wonderfully out of control, lots of slo-mo sadistic violence and the movie is drenched in loud fuzzy acid rock!

The simple plot deals with four ruthless thugs (including one ultra sexy, but deadly femme fatale Claudia Gravy), gold, lust, murder and betrayal. It’s artsy and aesthetically minded in the same way Jess Franco was artsy, that is to say the intention is there and sometimes the translation makes sense, but the execution is PURE ’70s European exploitation.

I mean, the curtains are colored fiery red and yet the lighting of the over furnished interiors is dark and expressive, like it came from a horror movie or a spooky western by Antonio Margheriti!

Also, for me, the use of the aforementioned slo-mo is not rousing and lyrical like in Keoma, the baroque sensibilities are not as pronounced as those of Django Kill, the kitchen-sink craziness lacks El Topo’s singularity of vision. That all said, it is most definitely hard wired in a way to elicit a Far out, man! reaction from the psychotronic crowd; for which, I can only genuinely assume, was its target audience anyway?!

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations
Brand new 2K restorations of all films from the original 35mm camera negatives by Arrow Films
Original Italian and English front and end titles
Restored lossless original Italian and English soundtracks
English subtitles for the Italian soundtracks and English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtracks
New introductions to each film by critic Fabio Melelli
Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by author Howard Hughes
Fold-out double-sided poster featuring newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx
Reversible sleeves featuring original artwork and a slipcover featuring newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx

DISC 1: $10,000 BLOOD MONEY:
New commentary by film historian Lee Broughton
Tears of Django, new featurette with archival interviews with director RomoloGuerrieri and actor Gianni Garko
The Producer Who Didn’t Like Western Movies,new interview with producer Mino Loy
How the West Was Won,new interview with screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi

New commentary by critics Adrian J. Smith and David Flint
Cain and Abel, new featurette with archival interviews with actor Gianni Garko and screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi
In Conversation with Nora Orlandi, archival interview with the film’s composer
Movie After Movie, new interview with producer Mino Loy

New commentary by author and critic Howard Hughes
Sons of Leone, archival interview with director Giuliano Carnimeo
Traditional Figure, new appreciation of composer Gianni Ferrio by musician and disc collector Lovely Jon

New commentary by critics Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson
A Milanese Story, new interview with filmmaker Davide Pulici, discussing the career of director Cesare Canevari
Untold Icon, new appreciation of composer Mario Migliardi by musician and disc collector Lovely Jon

Shin Ultraman [Blu-ray]
(Akari Hayami, Ryo Iwamatsu, Takumi Saitoh, Tetsushi Tanaka, Masami Nagasawa, et al / Blu-ray / NR / 2023 / Cleopatra Entertainment - MVD Visual)

Overview: There’s never a dull day on Japan’s newly established SSSP Kaiju defense taskforce, led by Kimio Tamura, played by DRIVE MY CAR’s Hidetoshi Nishijima.

After a particularly challenging encounter, a silver giant descends from the sky to rescue the planet. Dubbed Ultraman, this giant’s identity and purpose are a mystery.

SHIN ULTRAMAN is a delightful reimagining of one of Japan’s classic superheroes, full of cosmic twists, charismatic villains, and giant Kaiju.

Blu-ray Verdict: Spring boarding off of their success with Shin Godzilla (2016), director/writers Shinji Higuchi and Hideaki Anno return for this film, Shin Ultraman (2022). I personally have not seen any of their other work, other than these two films, but from what I have seen, they do pretty good work.

In an attempt to capture the MCU’s magic seen in America by making their own shared-universe across some of Japan’s biggest intellectual properties, the Shin Universe has met the same obstacles that were seen in America. The typical legal woes about copyrights, trademarks and who gets the profits, has made the idea of a shared-universe pretty much in name only for now.

But keep in mind that this may lead someday to Ultraman finally meeting the real Godzilla, but for now, the Shin title, is all they really share. Oh, and for FYI purposes, there also is a Shin Kamen Rider coming to Japanese theaters next!

Being a huge fan of Ultraman, that made this such a memorable film for me for it honestly did really capture the magic that the original had, together with that 21st century perfection. They hit upon all the major points made famous in the original series and have now expertly strung them all together with new ideas about Ultraman’s first appearance, his relationship with the SSSP (the Earth’s defense force in this incarnation) and what the world would be like if this happened in the real world, so to speak.

Indeed, it was actually the same approach they went with in Shin Godzilla (2016), but which I thought deviated away too much from the Toho Studios’ Godzilla of old, and that I was used to seeing.

In conclusion, the film here is beautifully polished, compared to some of the older attempts, and is nicely put together and totally keeps the spirit of the classic series veined throughout.

McBain: Special Edition [Blu-ray]
(Christopher Walken, Maria Conchita Alonso, Michael Ironside, Steve James, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1992) 2023 / Synapse Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: Taking on the drug lords is impossible. Taking on a country is insane! When prisoner of war Robert McBain (Academy Award winner Christopher Walken, The Deer Hunter) is rescued in the jungles of North Vietnam by a group of Rangers, he expresses his thanks and gratitude.

The leader of the Rangers, Santos (Chick Vennera), takes out a $100 bill, tears it in two, gives half to McBain and says, If the other half of this bill ever finds you, you can pay me back.

Eighteen years later, Santos is killed in Colombia while leading a fight against drug lords and corrupt politicians. His sister, Christina (Maria Conchita Alonso, Predator 2, The Running Man) goes to New York with the other half of the bill and seeks out McBain to enlist his help in overthrowing the Colombian regime.

With the surviving ex-Rangers from his Vietnam rescue, including Michael Ironside (Total Recall, Top Gun) and Steve James (The Exterminator, The Soldier), McBain’s team travels to Colombia to break the power of the drug lords and avenge Santos’ death.

Directed by genre favorite James Glickenhaus (The Exterminator, Shakedown, Slaughter of the Innocents), McBain delivers a macho action fantasy... spectacular mayhem that action audiences expect." (Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times).

Blu-ray Verdict: Simply put, this movie was just bloody awesome! If you liked Commando, this is right up your alley. No, Walken is no Arnie and doesn’t have the screen presence or the one-liners, but the ridiculous, over-the-top action is all there!

In fact, some of it is legitimately quite impressive, not to mention brutal!A rebel woman runs at a tank and drops a grenade down the muzzle. It explodes and they show her hanging off the end of the tank turret, cooking like a piece of chicken that fell through the grill and caught on fire!

This is action you can feel in your gut. It’s well shot and the effects are all practical, unlike the weightless, too-perfect computer-generated stuff of today.

Lots of bad guys get mowed down, but this one pulls no punches in sacrificing plenty of good guys too. Some of the battles are HUGE with hundreds of extras, along with tanks, jets, helicopters, plastic explosives and possibly every gun ever made!

In closing, this was such a fun ride, but I can easily imagine some who will over analyze all the joy out of it! Don’t be one of them! Get your popcorn ready, get comfy in your easy chair and just enjoy it!

Blu-ray Special Features:
Audio Commentary from director James Glickenhaus and film historian Chris Poggiali
All-new remixed 5.1 surround sound created specifically for this release (original 2.0 theatrical stereo mix also included)
Original theatrical trailer

Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant (Combo Pack)
(Jake Gyllenhaal, Dar Salim, Antony Starr, Alexander Ludwig, Bobby Schofield, Emily Beecham and Jonny Lee Miller, et al / Blu-ray+DVD+Digital / R / 2023 / Studio Distribution Services)

Overview: Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant follows US Army Sergeant John Kinley (Gyllenhaal) and Afghan interpreter Ahmed (Salim). After an ambush, Ahmed goes to Herculean lengths to save Kinley’s life.

When Kinley learns that Ahmed and his family were not given safe passage to America as promised, he must repay his debt by returning to the war zone to retrieve them before the Taliban hunts them down.

DVD Verdict: In truth, Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant is simply amazing, from start to finish. Every aspect of this film fires on all cylinders - the precise writing, the authentic acting, the enveloping cinematography, the smooth direction, the perfectly-paced editing, and the rousing score. It delivers more than just a last-minute Thursday night-out to the movies would usually deliver, or a lame-ass last-minute Saturday night Netflix monetary choice. Unexpected greatness.

Richie has made his mark the past several years in an extensive body of work when it comes to diverse storytelling. The Gentleman and Wrath of Man stand out as some of the most entertaining trips to the movies I’ve had in a while - the latter almost making the list with its hauntingly memorable score alone.

Yet, it’s with his second film released this year that he knocks down all previous notions of weariness or criticism. He has clearly gained experience and has worked to perfect his craft; it’s in this film that his skills shine brightest in brutality and heart.

This movie is a great story, and a true story, which already lifts it above two-thirds of everything else put to celluloid. The perfectly executed telling of the narrative is what sets it apart as one of the greatest. The care that was put into the entire film making process is visible on screen.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Dar Salim stand out for their stoic, riveting, and emotionally subtle performances that instantly hook us into their fight for survival. Then they elevate the film with a thrilling score that kept us at the edge of our seats, with every scene told in medium close up shots that engulf us into their harrowing journey to freedom.

Unexpectedly and pleasantly surprised is how we felt after watching this incredible movie and, indeed, how I still feel remembering and reliving the experience that The Covenant produced. We were hooked, not unlike John, to the determination and the commitment that these two men had for saving each other.

The filmmakers clearly pledged to tell this story with all their heart mental and might and thus what was finally created was a brutally realistic account of an unanticipated and unbreakable bond.

Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant from Metro-Goldwyn Mayer will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on June 20th, 2023.

Directed by prolific filmmaker Guy Ritchie (Wrath of Man, Aladdin) from a screenplay by Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies, the film is produced by Guy Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson, John Friedberg and Josh Berger.

Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant stars Jake Gyllenhaal (Ambulance, Spider-Man: Far from Home), Dar Salim (Game of Thrones), Antony Starr (The Boys), Alexander Ludwig (Bad Boys for Life, Vikings), Bobby Schofield (Cherry), Emily Beecham (Cruella) and Jonny Lee Miller (T2 Trainspotting).

Evil Dead Rise [4K Ultra HD]
(Alyssa Sutherland, Lily Sullivan, Morgan Davies, et al / 4K UHD+Blu-ray+Digital / R / 2023 / Studio Distribution Services)

Overview: In “Evil Dead Rise,” the action moves out of the woods and into the city, and tells a twisted tale of two estranged sisters, played by Sullivan and Sutherland, whose reunion is cut short by the rise of flesh-possessing demons, thrusting them into a primal battle for survival as they face the most nightmarish version of family imaginable.

4K UHD Blu-ray Verdict: Warner Bros. Entertainment is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of the highly-anticipated Evil Dead Rise in the expansive 4K Ultra HD video format this June 27th, 2023.

For my money, this Evil Dead Rise [4K UHD+BR+Digital] combo pack sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.

So, what we have is Evil Dead Rise presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: MPEG-4 AVC, Resolution: 1080p, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 and Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1.

Featuring Dolby Vision and HDR10 for brighter, deeper, and way more lifelike colors, as with most all 4K UHDs, everything that we watch features these qualities - but somehow, this film gloriously shines within them all.

Noticeably crisp with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what is more is that it is enjoyably noticeable. For as well as some new nuances to the somewhat drab palette courtesy of Dolby Vision, we also get to witness sudden bright pops of color, which makes the eyes draw in, for sure.

One of those moments now being, well, I think we all know what it is, but let me preface this by saying y’all probably shouldn’t crawl into a crypt-like hole in the ground and bring a book with teeth back into your apartment in the first damn place!

Also, the kids in Evil Dead Rise might have been able to save their mother from her horrible fate if they had listened to her requests, but hey-ho, this wouldn’t be as great a horrific movie as it is had they listened, I guess.

Thanks to her children, Ellie is in the elevator at precisely the wrong time. She’s knocked back by a demonic force that breaks her limbs and contorts her onto the ceiling. While the bone-crunching sound of Ellie’s spine being played with like an accordion is brutal enough, the realization that her children are to blame for her death is the true horror here. The children’s last words to their mother are filled with annoyance.

The scene is an amaze balls of flashing lights, sparks, pain and oh-so much more and is one of the definitive sticks-in-the-memory scenes of the entire flick, in my humble opinion.

Now highlighted even more in this most wondrous 4K UHD upgrade, another blood red-captured scene is the infamous cheese grater moment! No, I don’t think it’s the grossest moment — not by a long shot - however, it’s one of the film’s most unique set pieces.

The camera doesn’t linger long on the shot, sacrificing a chance to show Beth’s (Lily Sullivan) calf being mangled. Beth even cares for the wound off-screen. Without knowing the extent of the injury, it raises questions for me about how badly she’s hurt and whether or not her movements afterward are realistic, but hey-ho, that’s a chat for another day.

As for the audio, well we get the choice of: English: Dolby Atmos English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps), French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps).

Overall, this is a very strong 4K HDR Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.

As for the story to hand, having discovered some old vinyl records in the basement of their, soon to be condemned, Los Angeles apartment building, Danny (Morgan Davis) awakens a dormant evil that kills and possesses his mother, Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland). Ellie’s sister Beth (Lily Sullivan) tries to defend Danny and his two sisters, Bridget (Gabrielle Echols) and Kassie (Nell Fisher) from an assault by the violent and murderous deadite in their mother’s body. Just to stick on that one slight negative first, I didn’t think that Evil Dead Rise was particularly scary. Though it has it’s psychological moments, and there’s a whole subtextual (and occasionally textual) discussion about parenting - it’s neither massively unsettling nor overly fond of a jump scare. So, if you’re going for that, and your not a fan of the series already, you might feel a little short changed by it.

What it is, is gory. Wonderfully, chainsawingly, cheese gratingly gory and, for the relatively limited budget, the visual effects (often practical) are really well done. There are some brilliant moments that have transcended the actual film and taken on a life of their own. The films performances are really good, particularly from the central family, with Alyssa Sutherland instantly transforming herself into an all-time horror icon.

The story of the film is really good too, as it somehow manages to both be its own film (you don’t actually have to have seen any of the rest of the IP to get it) and one that weaves a narrative clever enough to pull all the various strands of this 40-year-old mythology together. I know that if I hope for more, eventually this series will let me down, but it hasn’t yet and if they can keep it in the hands of inventive writers and directors then I feel positive about the future.

Experience a riveting, gore-filled thriller when “Evil Dead Rise” arrives for purchase Digitally at home on May 9. The film is directed by Lee Cronin, starring Lily Sullivan (“I Met a Girl,” TV’s “Barkskins”) and Alyssa Sutherland (TV’s “New Gold Mountain,” TV’s “Vikings). The film will also be available to purchase on 4K UHD Combo Pack, Blu-ray and DVD beginning on June 27th, 2023.

From New Line Cinema and Renaissance Pictures, the film also stars Morgan Davies (TV’s “The End,” “Storm Boy”), Gabrielle Echols (“Reminiscence”) and introducing Nell Fisher (“Northspur”). The film was produced by longtime franchise producer Rob Tapert and executive produced by series creator and horror icon Sam Raimi and cult legend and “Ash” himself, Bruce Campbell, along with John Keville, Macdara Kelleher, Richard Brener, Dave Neustadter, Romel Adam and Victoria Palmeri.

1. On May 9th, 2023, “Evil Dead Rise” will be available for early Premium Digital Ownership at home for $24.99 and for 48-hour rental via PVOD for $19.99 SRP on participating digital platforms where you purchase movies, including Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV, Google Play, Vudu.

2. On June 27th, 2023, “Evil Dead Rise” will be available on 4K UHD Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD. “Evil Dead Rise” will also continue to be available to own in high definition and standard definition from participating digital retailers.

Evil Dead Rise | Warner Bros. Entertainment [Trailer]

Official Evil Dead Website

Evil Dead Rise @ Facebook

National Lampoon’s Vacation [4K Blu-ray]
(Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Imogene Coca, Randy Quaid, Anthony Michael Hall, et al / 4K UHD+Blu-ray+Digital / R / 2023 / Studio Distribution Services)

Overview: Everything is planned, packed – and about to go hilariously wrong. The Griswolds are going on vacation. In the driver’s seat is Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase), an Everyman eager to share the open road and the wonders of family togetherness.

Myriad mishaps, crude kin (Randy Quaid), encounters with a temptress (Christie Brinkley), financial woes, Aunt Edna (Imogene Coca) on the roof, one security guard (John Candy) and 2,460 miles later, it’s a wonder the Griswolds are together.

There’s never been a family vacation like it. Except maybe yours. And that helps explain why National Lampoon’s Vacation remains so popular … and so very funny!

4K UHD Blu-ray Verdict: Warner Bros. Entertainment is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of the 40th Anniversary release of the much beloved National Lampoon’s Vacation in the expansive 4K Ultra HD video format this June 27th, 2023.

For my money, this National Lampoon’s Vacation [4K UHD+BR+Digital] combo pack sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.

So, what we have is National Lampoon’s Vacation presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: Native 4K (2160p), HDR: HDR10, Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 and Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1.

Featuring Dolby Vision and HDR10 for brighter, deeper, and way more lifelike colors, as with most all 4K UHDs, everything that we watch features these qualities - but somehow, this film gloriously shines within them all.

Noticeably crisp with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what is more is that it is enjoyably noticeable. For as well as some new nuances to the somewhat drab palette courtesy of Dolby Vision, we also get to witness sudden bright pops of color, which makes the eyes draw in, for sure.

One of those moments is the hilarious It’s a bit nipply out scene! I mean, sure, it’s no highway encounter with Christie Brinkley, but this awkward interaction that Clark Griswold has with a lingerie associate named Mary (no s***?) is a classic. It’s scenes like this that show how charming a younger Chevy Chase could be, even when he was casually being adulterous and hitting on store clerks much young than himself!

Another that is now helped to glow fully in the afterglow of this 4K rendition, is the simply magnificent fifty stands of lights, 100 individual bulbs per strand, for a grand total of 25,000 imported Italian twinkle lights lighting scene!

Drum roll, please, for this entire scene, from Clark’s dismembering of Santa’s sleigh and his reindeer to the glorious moment when the lights work is classic holiday fare, but my personal favorite moment comes when Clark goes down the line of family members and gets to Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid), If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be any more surprised than I am now. Bloody classic!

As for the audio, well we get the choice of: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono, French: Dolby Digital 2.0 and Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0.

Overall, this is a very strong 4K HDR Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.

As for the story to hand, Clark Griswald (Chevy Chase) always wanted to have an great vacation with his wife (Beverly D’Angelo) and their two kids (Anthony Michael Hall and Dana Barron). Since Clark thinks that he doesn’t have any time with his family, he decides to take them in a vacation from Chicago to California.

So now Clark and his family are going to Wally World, a Disney-like theme park, but once they start on a road trip cross-country from their home, everything quickly turns into a complete disaster! Every state they cross it goes from bad to worse, especially when Clark is forced to drive his mean-spirited aunt Edna (Imogene Coca) to Phoenix, after visiting their odd-ball Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) and their family!

The only thing that lifts Clark’s spirits is a mysterious young woman (Christie Brinkley) that Clark occasionally sees on the road, all whilst she drives a gorgeous red Ferrari.

Directed by Harold Ramis (Bedazzled, Caddyshack, Groundhog Day, et al.), he most certainly made an enjoyable, silly comedy with a dark tint to it. Chase appears in one of his best roles as a naive family man, who does his best with his family to have a fun time in the film, but seems to always be fouling everything up.

I think we all know now that this was one of the most popular comedies of the 1980’s and it went on to have three sequels, of which, in my humble opinion, Christmas Vacation is still the best of the bunch.

That said, this Vacation still has some great comedic lines, especially the scene where Chase has an nervous breakdown in the car after the death of a key character in the movie! Oh, and the movie even gets the best out of Lindsey Buckingham’s Holiday Road in some scenes, and being that is one of my all-time favorite holiday songs, I am always so very happy to hear it on screen.

The leads are as good as you know them to be and Quaid is a hoot in a small, yet highly memorable role, as is Brinkley as the girl of Griswold’s dreams. Many familiar faces also appear in cameos, such as the late John Candy, the late Eddie Bracken, Brian Doyle-Murray, Miriam Flynn, James Keach, Eugene Levy, Jane Krakowski and more. Trust me, this is a most terrible vacation NOT to be missed!

National Lampoon’s Vacation Ultra HD Blu-ray contains the following previously released special features:
1. Commentary with Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid, Matty Simmons, Harold Ramis, Anthony Michael Hall, and Dana Barron (98 Minutes)

National Lampoon’s Vacation, directed by Harold Ramis and starring Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo as Clark and Ellen Griswold, will be released on Ultra HD Blu-ray and Digital on June 27. As Warner Bros celebrates its 100th anniversary, this film is highlighted as a studio gem on its 40th anniversary.

The 1983 classic comedy film from Warner Bros. Pictures was written by John Hughes and was based on his short story “Vacation ’58 which appeared in the publication “National Lampoon.” The film was produced by Matty Simmons and also stars Imogene Coca, Randy Quaid, John Candy, Anthony Michael Hall, Dana Barron, and Christie Brinkley in her acting debut. National Lampoon’s Vacation also features special appearances by Eddie Bracken, Brian-Doyle Murray, James Keach, and Eugene Levy.

Ultra HD* showcases 4K resolution with High Dynamic Range (HDR) and a wider color spectrum, offering consumers brighter, deeper, more lifelike colors for a home entertainment viewing experience like never before.

National Lampoon’s Vacation will be available on Ultra HD Blu-ray for $33.99 SRP and includes an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the feature film in 4K with HDR and a Digital download of the film. Fans can also own National Lampoon’s Vacation in 4K Ultra HD via purchase from select digital retailers beginning on June 27th, 2023.

National Lampoon’s Vacation | Warner Bros. Entertainment [Official 4K UHD Trailer]

The Three Stooges: Stooge-O-Rama [3-Disc]
(Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard, et al / 3-Disc Blu-ray / NR / 2023 / MVD Visual)

Overview: The Three Stooges have been entertaining fans with their riotous brand of eye-gouging, face slapping, and head bopping insanity for nearly 100 years!

Now, CINEMUSEUM LLC and KIT PARKER FILMS offer fans of the Amalgamated Morons a chance to revisit the Golden Age of Stoogery with this new 3-Disc collection of archival rarities.

Whether you’re a lifelong Stoogephile, or just a casual knucklehead, you are sure to find something to love about this comprehensive tribute to America’s most beloved madcaps: Moe, Larry, Curly, Shemp, Joe, and Curly Joe - The Three Stooges!

Over 8 hours of material, including unreleased outtakes, color home movies, rare television appearances and commercials, theatrical trailers, unseen archival interview footage, forgotten audio recordings from live stooge appearances, family photo galleries, and much more new-to-home-video fun!

Blu-ray Verdict: The Three Stooges were an American comedy team noted for violent anarchic slapstick and comedy routines rooted in the burlesque tradition. Six men were members of the team throughout the years: Shemp Howard (original name Samuel Horwitz), Moe Howard (original name Moses Horwitz), Larry Fine (original name Louis Feinberg), Curly Howard (original name Jerome Horwitz), Joe Besser and Joe DeRita (original name Joseph Wardell).

Moe Howard was the first of the Three Stooges to enter show business. He attempted to launch a stage career during the 1910s, acting in everything from burlesque revues to Shakespearean plays, but found little success until 1922, when he formed a comedy act with his older brother, Shemp, and longtime friend Ted Healy.

Larry Fine, a comedian-violinist who had performed in a vaudeville act with his wife, joined Healy and the Howards in 1925. They performed in vaudeville for the next few years and achieved success on Broadway in the late 1920s as stars of Earl Carroll’s Vanities. The act at this point was fronted by Healy, whose attempts at singing or joke telling were frequently interrupted by the absurd antics of the Stooges.

The team appeared in one film, Soup to Nuts (1930); shortly thereafter, Shemp, who disliked the frequently intoxicated Healy, quit the act. He was replaced by another Howard brother, Jerry, who shaved his head to conform to the Stooges’ trademark of bizarre hairstyles (a “bowl” cut for Moe; wild, frizzy curls for Larry), and he was thereafter known to all as “Curly.”

Ted Healy and His Stooges (as they were then billed) appeared in several features and short films during the early 1930s, the most notable among them being Meet the Baron (1933), Dancing Lady (1933), and Hollywood Party (1934). The Stooges became increasingly estranged from Healy — whose mood swings ranged from warm and kindly to violently abusive, depending on his state of sobriety — and in 1934 Moe, Larry, and Curly signed a long-term contract with Columbia Pictures and rechristened themselves the Three Stooges.

During the next 24 years the team appeared in nearly 200 short subjects and a handful of feature films for Columbia. They never received a raise in that time from their original annual salary of $60,000 (split three ways), although their contract allowed them to make personal appearances for 13 weeks each year, which proved much more lucrative.

Containing 11+ hours of film, television, radio, and personal appearances, with over 8 hours of that unseen rarities, along with some brand new programming also, Stooge-O-Rama: The Men Behind The Mayhem And Even More Mayhem! showcases just perfectly The Stooges’ comic style - brash and brazen, characterized by such cartoonishly violent acts as slapping, punching, eye-poking, and hair-pulling, all punctuated by exaggerated sound effects; oh, and they often attacked one another with hammers, saws, and a variety of sharp and blunt objects!

Derided by critics for many years for their lowbrow anarchy, their sheer longevity forced many critics to concede that the team exhibited expert comic timing and a mastery of burlesque-style humor. And in such beautiful finds here as the Lost theatrical featurette SURPRISE, SURPRISE (1937) - starring Moe, Larry, and Curly, and the long unseen short subject EVERYBODY LIKES MUSIC (1934) starring Shemp Howard, you can not only see all that on view from the off, but also bare witness to some of the softer tones exhibited by the wacky gang.

Blu-ray Special Features:
Brand new presentation of the award-winning documentary program STOOGES: THE MEN BEHIND THE MAYHEM, with new introduction by Curly Howard’s real-life grandson, Bradley Server
Lost theatrical featurette SURPRISE, SURPRISE (1937) starring Moe, Larry, and Curly
Long unseen short subject EVERYBODY LIKES MUSIC (1934) starring Shemp Howard
11+ hours of film, television, radio, and personal appearance rarities, many never been released on home video!

Restored and remastered for HD from the best surviving materials.

Big George Foreman [Blu-ray]
(Khris Davis, Jasmine Mathews, Sullivan Jones, et al / Blu-ray + Digital / PG-13 / 2023 / Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Overview: This is the miraculous story of the once and future heavyweight champion of the world is based on the remarkable true story of one of the greatest comebacks of all time and the transformational power of second chances.

Fueled by an impoverished childhood, Foreman channels his anger into becoming an Olympic Gold medalist and World Heavyweight Champion, followed by a near-death experience that takes him from the boxing ring to the pulpit.

But when he sees his community struggling spiritually and financially, Foreman returns to the ring and makes history by reclaiming his title, becoming the oldest and most improbable World Heavyweight Boxing Champion ever.

Blu-ray Verdict: During the ’90s, heavyweight boxing reached its pinnacle, with iconic figures like Mike Tyson and George Foreman capturing the world’s attention. As someone who experienced that era firsthand, I was in Las Vegas when Tyson was released from prison, eagerly anticipating his next fight at the MGM.

On the other hand, little did I know about George. I was in awe of the man I discovered through the film. From the beginning to the end, I was completely immersed, sharing in his triumphs and drawing inspiration from his extraordinary life.

The film artfully explores various aspects of George’s journey, unraveling different layers of his character and leaving me in awe of his unwavering courage and relentless determination. Starting from his humble beginnings, the story swiftly progresses through his boxing career, featuring legendary encounters with fighters like Joe Frazier.

However, it is the iconic Rumble in The Jungle match against Muhammad Ali that shines brightest. The film’s acting, directing, sound effects, and music are nothing short of exceptional. Indeed, and in my honest opinion, it surpasses even the highly-anticipated Creed III and serves as a powerful tribute to the true-life story of a boxer who, until then, had been unknown to me.

In short, George Foreman has earned my utmost respect and thus I urge you all to experience this remarkable work of art that transcends boundaries.

• Big George Foreman: A Look at the Making of the Film
• Toe to Toe: Foreman & Ali
• Gag Reel
• Deleted Scenes

Big George Foreman @ Facebook

Sony Pictures @ Youtube

(Martín Miller, Teo Inama Chiabrando, et al / DVD / NR / 2023 / Cinephobia Releasing)

Overview: Filmed in Argentina, Sublime marks the feature length debut of writer/director Mariano Biasin and lead actor Martín Miller, in a touching portrayal of first love alongside co-lead Teo Inama Chiabrando.

Cinephobia Releasing is excited to announce their inaugural release. After an acclaimed run on the global queer film festival circuit, Sublime will be available across North America starting June 20th, 2023 on DVD, Cable and Digital VOD, including Prime Video, Apple TV, Google Play and Vudu.

DVD Verdict: Shy 16-year-old Manuel (Martín Miller) comes alive when he, his best friend Felipe (Teo Inama Chiabrando) and other buddies form a garage rock band. The two boys, friends since childhood, have a close, easy relationship made even more intense with the band and their music making.

Strains develop for Manuel when his best mate starts dating a girl. Manuel also begins to date a female classmate, yet all the while suppressing his nascent sexual feelings for Felipe. Confused, and fearful that his feelings are not mutual, he retreats into himself, eventually lashing out which forces him to confront his feelings head on.

In this LGBTQ+ coming-of-age film, the dutifully told, beautifully acted, and magnificently emboldened story is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best from the new crop that are now making their collective way out and onto the small screen.

Complete with lead actors that actually look their young age, which has been an issue with me down the years, from the plot to the delivery, to the scenery and the hushed moments of pensive, confused silence, Sublime quietly, but astutely fires on all cylinders.

With all the lead actors having their individual moments of seductive empowerment, and with powerful, yet delicately-woven lines to deliver, everyone is extremely believable and wholly relatable. Indeed, our lead actor, Martín Miller (Manuel), seemed to be zoned into his role from start to finish, at no time dropping the facade of simply playing a celluloid character for us.

The basic core of Sublime is that a young male teenager falls in love with his best friend Felipe (Teo Inama Chiabrando), prompting not only questions of his sexuality, but thus initiating a stressful catalyst as to whether his feelings could ever be reciprocated by his best mate / band mate.

With a directional value that is never faltered from, and a coming-of-age tale that may well be as old as time, and yet here in the hands of director Mariano Biaisin serves to reinvigorate us, the viewer, into following the story line in what we dearly hope (for our lead character) is indeed the right direction, the emotional charge that flows throughout - and again, solely driven by the tenderly realistic acting given out by our leads - makes Sublime a most beautiful film of acceptance and love.

Special Features:
• Interview with Mariano Biaisin
• Audio Commentary with Mariano Biaisin & Martín Miller
• Stills & Behind-the-Scenes Photo Reel
• 3 Music Videos
• The Making of Sublime Featurette
• Cinephobia Releasing Trailers: Amor Bandido, Fireworks, The Latent Image, Lie with Me

Sublime made its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival, kicking off a worldwide screening tour, includes BFI Flare, Outfest, Rainbow Reel Tokyo and AFI Latin American Film Festival. The film took home the Sebastiane Latino Award at the San Sebastian International Film Festival and the Grand Jury Prize in the Ibero-American Competition at the Seattle International Film Festival.

Official Trailer

Magic Cop [Blu-ray]
(Kiu-Wai Miu, Ching-Ying Lam, Wilson Lam, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1990) 2023 / 88 Films)

Overview: After seeing off hopping corpses in Mr. Vampire, the great Lam Ching-ying (Enter the Dragon, Eastern Condors) faces a new supernatural challenge: someone is using the living dead to smuggle drugs into modern day Hong Kong and only Lam’s Officer Feng - policeman and Taoist master - can stop them, proving the power of traditional Chinese magic in the process!

Mixing comedy, action and esoteric lore, Magic Cop sees the incomparable Lam at his brilliant best. 88 Films are proud to present this gorgeously restored treat from the golden age of Hong Kong cinema.

Blu-ray Verdict: OK, sure, the movie has a basic plot line, one of good guy v. bad guy, but the brilliant twist here is that the good guy is a cop who happens to be a sorcerer and the bad guy (or should I say girl) is a sorceress!

So what we have is a sorcerer of very European heritage and magic, albeit shown through the prism of a Taoist spirituality, which makes this film even more interesting to watch. And even though the effects are, at times, on the substandard side of things (as it wasn’t filmed in Hollywood), they are still very much what everyone expects from the great 88 Films company.

A zombie, or as the film terms it, a walking cadaver, rampages through a restaurant carrying a case of drugs. The police are a little confused that this person is able to withstand multiple gunshots and being smashed apart by cars, and thus this attracts the attention of a retired sergeant.

In the opening sequence we are shown that he has extensive knowledge on dealing with the spirit world and he even saves an unfortunate mother and daughter from the anger of their ancestors. And so he comes onto the scene, but nothing is easy for him, as he is initially rejected by his peers as being unorthodox and trapped in a world that does not exist.

This changes when they discover that he is able to garner information above and beyond any normal person ever could, and goes even further in being able to tell the local police that at the helm of this drug ring is a powerful sorceress that is using her dark arts in a skeptical world to advance her power.

Magic Cop is a great movie, because it successfully ties together a swords and sorcery feel to the modern world. It is also a movie where magic is tossed freely and evil witches try to take control of our heroes at even given turn.

In closing, the action scenes in this film are just a pure, unadulterated joy to watch. Ching-Ying Lam’s character performs complex, incense-heavy banishment rituals in cartoonish flurries of ultra-precise acrobatics, drawing glyph’s with melted wax and controlling wafts of smoke with elegant absurdity. It truly has to be seen to be believed!

Special Features:
High Definition (1080p) Presentation in 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
2.0 DTS-HD MA Cantonese Soundtrack with newly translated English Subtitles
Audio commentary by Frank Djeng

Book Club: The Next Chapter [Blu-ray+DVD]
(Jane Fonda, Mary Steenburgen, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen, et al / Blu-ray+DVD+Digital / PG-13 / 2023 / Studio Distribution Services)

Overview: The highly anticipated sequel follows our four best friends as they take their book club to Italy for the fun girls trip they never had.

When things go off the rails and secrets are revealed, their relaxing vacation turns into a once-in-a-lifetime cross-country adventure.

Blu-ray Verdict: This sequel to the 2018 romantic comedy reunites the four lifelong friends Viv (Jane Fonda), Diane (Diane Keaton), Sharon (Candice Bergen) and Carol (Mary Steenburgen) who revamped their reading habits and autumn years by tackling Fifty Shades of Grey in their monthly book group.

Five years and a pandemic later, the ladies reconvene to learn that Viv has finally agreed to get married. Accompanied by a Wall’s Viennetta of a score composed of synthetic, Italian-flavored easy listening, the chums soak up the culture of Rome, Venice and Tuscany by the bottle.

But without knocking it as a whole, the writing in this chocolate-box travelogue of a sequel is even lazier than that of the first film, with much cackling innuendo and sparkly narcissism, a couple of clumsily engineered long-distance domestic crises and interminable heartfelt speeches that made me cringe so hard I nearly dislocated my spine.

But, as aforementioned, with that said, Book Club: The Next Chapter is a heartfelt and moving movie that follows the characters on a trip to Italy as they enter the next stage in their lives and reaffirm their friendship. Directed by Bill Holderman from a screenplay he co-wrote with Erin Simms, it is fluff, but if you’re willing to go along for the ride, it will occasionally pull on the heartstrings and serve as a beautiful travel commercial for Italy.

It has no major conflict and lingers for longer than needed which means Book Club: The Next Chapter is a 107 minute long film and rated PG-13 for some strong language and suggestive material. It features an extremely appealing cast and a fabulous location, with story beats that keep it going. The writing is breezy and touching, with the cast imbuing the film with their charm and lovely chemistry.

Indeed, the film will make you feel like you’re reuniting with old friends for some wine and life lessons. Book Club: The Next Chapter is a lighthearted film with good company, lovely interactions, and breathtaking views of Rome and Venice. It could have used more comedy, but Bergen’s comedic timing is enough to carry it through.

However, there are certain points in the film that are ridiculous, and it would have been better if there was more humor beyond Bergen’s singular line delivery to keep it afloat at those times. But, one can clearly see that the whole cast is having a blast, and thus it makes us want to join them on their journey.

Bonus Features:
Book Club: Back in Session
Still Stylish
The Women in Italy

Junk Head [Blu-ray]
(Various / Blu-ray / NR / (2017) 2022 / Synergetic Distribution - MVD Visual)

Overview: Mankind can no longer reproduce because of gene manipulation aimed at making life longer. The clones ruling the bottomless underworld may have become fertile.

Parton is selected to go on a mission through a subterranean labyrinth crawling with monsters to secure humanity’s future.

Blu-ray Verdict: The setup is that mankind has been immortal for a long time, but at the expense of our capability to reprocreate. When a pandemic starts to kill people en masse, there is a sudden need to replenish the population, so our hero is sent underground, among the marigan to find the one creature they could identify as having genitalia.

The marigan have been living apart from humans for a very long time and have built their society, although many of them are wild. They don’t follow the usual patterns of species, but will instead evolve in wildly different ways.

This is the world into which our hero is plunged. He loses his body immediately and his head is placed into a robotic body, which brings its own set of difficulties.

OK, sure, the plot may not always stay on course, and there are definitely times where you wonder just what the director was thinking by adding it to the roll out, but that aside, I did enjoy it.

The weirdness of the world does carry the film pretty far with the monster design reminding me of something, but I’m not sure of what. Maybe some demonic beings from Hellblazer or something?

The world is claustrophobic and unfamiliar. Dangers seem to lurk everywhere, but at the same time some people have been living there for hundreds of years, so you can apparently get accustomed to it. And yet whilst the world certainly is artificial, it also seems to grow like some sort of a living being.

No one seems to have any idea about how big it actually is or how things actually work. Certain people just have found themselves working on jobs, even though they might not really know why those jobs are even there. It’s all quite wondrous and at the same time confusing, and yet none the less intriguing.

So, all in all, if you are one of those people who want a cohesive story, this may not be for you, but if you love eye-opening visuals combined with the art of stop-motion animation, well my friend, come on in, as this seven-years-in-the-making viewing extravaganza is mighty fine! [H7]

Official Trailer

Broken Mirrors [Blu-ray]
(Lineke Rijxman, Henriette Tol, Edda Barends, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1984) 2022 / Cult Epics)

Overview: Situated in an Amsterdam brothel, two prostitutes rebel against their lot in life. Meanwhile one of their customers, a serial killer, kidnaps a housewife.

This portrait of sexual power is the second film by the controversial director of A Question of Silence (Marleen Gorris), presented in a new 4K Transfer and mastered in 2K 1080p for Blu-ray with new bonus features.

Blu-ray Verdict: In all truth, I first saw this powerful film about ten years or more ago on SBS television in Australia, and while I couldn’t recall all the specific plot details going back into watching this brand new blu-ray release from Cult Epics, that served me well, and thus brought back to me a feeling that, at times, I was watching something that I had not actually watched before.

That said, I can distinctly remember the deep impact it had on me back then. Its loose narrative describes the day to day life of prostitutes working in a brothel, while every so often exploring the movements of a male serial killer who seems to delight in watching women waste away.

During the film, he takes photos of a woman tied to a bed over a long period of time, sticking them on a wall, forming a document of her disintegration. Sure, it sounds like another film that treats the torture of women as entertainment, but it’s far from it, trust me on that.

Director Marleen Gorris is clearly an intelligent film maker who is not afraid to tackle problematic ideas and concepts, and both this film and her earlier work, the stunning A Question of Silence are essential viewing as examples of feminist cinema - as well as being provocative and intriguing works, regardless of labels. [CD]

Special Features:
4K Transfer (from the original 35mm negative) and restoration and mastered in 2K 1080p for Blu-ray
Original LPCM 2.0 Mono track
New DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono track
Audio Commentary by Film Scholar Peter Verstraten
Interview with US escort / working girl Margo St. James (Adriaan van Dis/Cinema 3, 1991)
Promotional Gallery
Double-sided Sleeve
Dual-layered Disc

Weird Science: 4K Ultra HD
(Anthony Michael Hall, Ilan Mitchell-Smith, Kelly LeBrock, Bill Paxton, Robert Downey Jr, et al / 4K UHD + Blu-ray / PG-13 / (1984) 2023 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: If you can’t get a date… make one! After proving himself the king of heartfelt teen flicks with Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club, writer-director John Hughes infused the genre with a hefty dose of wacked-out sci-fi comedy in Weird Science, a film where every teenage boy’s wildest fantasies come to life.

Perennially picked-on high school nerds Gary (Anthony Michael Hall, Sixteen Candles) and Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) are sick of their status at the bottom of the social food chain. Using Wyatt’s computer, the two hatch a plan to create their dream woman – and following a massive power surge, that woman unexpectedly appears in the form of Lisa (Kelly LeBrock).

Gorgeous, intelligent, and blessed with limitless magic powers, Lisa makes the boys’ dreams come true… but what about Wyatt’s gun-toting psycho older brother Chet (Bill Paxton), and the two bullies (Robert Downey Jr and Vamp’s Robert Rusler) determined to put them back in their place?

Inspired by EC Comics and boosted by a killer soundtrack (including the classic title theme by Oingo Boingo), Weird Science has never looked better than in this new 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray edition, including an extended version of the film and hours of bonus content.

Blu-ray Verdict: For me, if not everyone of a certain age, Weird Science is definitely one of the most memorable movies from the 1980’s and also has, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most recognizable titular singles that every graced the airwaves back in 1984! Furthermore, the movie is just a beautiful classic in its own right, and it is one that you can lovingly watch over and over again.

The story is about Gary (played by Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt (played by Ilan Mitchell-Smith), two high school students without any luck with the women and often at the end of the bullies shenanigans. After seeing a Frankenstein movie on late night TV, they decide to create their own ideal woman (played by Kelly LeBrock) on the computer. But when their creation takes physical form and becomes a real woman, the two teenagers find that their luck has changed and popularity is just around the corner.

When you watch Weird Science these days you are just amused with the graphics that were used in the movie back in the day. Sure, it was grand and impressive back then, and seeing that is a nostalgic trip back to the glorious eighties all by itself, but the on screen computer graphics do tend, these days, to make us smile and grimace at the same time!

As for the movie itself, it is a delicious combination of the story line, the characters and the cast ensemble that makes the movie stand out so nicely and work so well.

The cast list infamously includes Kelly LeBrock, who alone was very much the epitome of the 1980’s for many of us red-blooded males growing up, but it also has some other impressive appearances. For example, Bill Paxton in the hilarious role of Chet, but also Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Rusler as the two high school bullies. Furthermore, there is also some nice appearances by Vernon Wells and Michael Berryman as two bad guys.

If you were watching movies during the 1980’s, then chances are slim to none that you allowed this beauty to slip by your viewing attendance, but as most all of us (again, of a certain age) are already lovingly familiar with it, just do yourselves a favor and buy this incredible 4K UHD copy, pop it into your BR player, sit back and relive a celluloid time devoid of any issues and instead just features good old-fashioned, and vibrantly colorful 1980’s fun.

New restoration by Arrow Films from a 4K scan of the original negative
4K (2160p) UHD Blu-ray presentation in Dolby Vision (HDR10 compatible) of the original Theatrical Version of the film (94 mins), plus seamlessly-branched Extended Version (97 mins), featuring two additional scenes
Original lossless stereo audio, plus 5.1 DTS-HD MA surround option (theatrical version only)
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Edited-for-TV version of the film (SD only, 94 mins), plus comparison featurette highlighting the alternate dubs and edits
Casting ‘Weird Science’, an interview with casting director Jackie Burch
Dino The Greek, an interview with supporting actor John Kapelos
Chet Happens, an interview with special makeup creator Craig Reardon
Fantasy and Microchips, an interview with editor Chris Lebenzon
Ira Newborn Makes The Score, an interview with the composer
It’s Alive! Resurrecting Weird Science, an archive documentary featuring interviews with cast, crew and admirers, including star Anthony Michael Hall
Theatrical trailers, TV spots and radio spots
Image galleries
Illustrated collectors’ booklet featuring writing on the film by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Amanda Reyes
Double-sided fold-out poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tracie Ching
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tracie Ching

New Fist Of Fury [Limited Edition] (Blu-ray)
(Jackie Chan, Nora Miao, Sing Chen, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1976) 2023 / 88 Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: Almost five years after breaking all Hong Kong box office records with the instant classic Fist of Fury, his last collaboration with the late Bruce Lee, director Lo Wei got to work on a sequel.

It would be the first major leading role for Lo’s latest discovery, a young actor who had been a stuntman on the original film but would soon be as massive a star as Lee. His name: Jackie Chan.

Considered to be one of the few “official” sequels to a Bruce Lee film, and now freshly restored in two different versions, New Fist of Fury is the first spark that would eventually lead Jackie Chan to becoming the worldwide star he is today!

Blu-ray Verdict: Shanghai, 1910. With the Jing Wu martial arts school in shambles and pressure from the Japanese armies to suppress a Chinese uprising after Chen Zhen’s martyrdom, Chen’s fiancée Li Er (Nora Miao, reprising her role from Fist of Fury) escapes to Japanese-occupied Taiwan to hide at her grandfather’s school.

Despite her attempts to lay low, she runs afoul of karate master Okimura (Chan Sing, The Iron-Fisted Monk), who plans to take over all of the Chinese-run schools in Taiwan. Amidst all of this, a young aimless thief, known only as Ah Long (Jackie Chan), befriends Li Er after unknowingly stealing the nunchaku once yielded by the late Chen.

Will he give into his fears, or will he learn the martial arts of Jing Wu and fight alongside Li Er against the Japanese?

In this old-school Kung Fu flick, Jackie Chan takes over where Bruce Lee left off. He’s a tough street punk who gets into lots of brawls, but doesn’t have any technique to defend himself. I know, it’s hard to believe, but nevertheless oh-so true.

One day, he gets into a fight with an entire gang of bad guys, and unfortunately he doesn’t have the Chan-tastic moves we all know he has. He’s brutally beaten, only nursed back to health by a brother and sister who find him buried in an open grave. They run a martial arts school, and eventually, Jackie agrees to learn what they’re teaching.

You’re going to have to love old 1970’s Chinese movies to enjoy this one, of that I can attest to, for it is highly stylized, actually more noticeably so than the lacking production values (but then again, who cares about scenery when Chan and company are high-kicking themselves around the screen?!).

And dubious, at times, silly sound effects aside, if you want to see an extremely young Jackie Chan, one not adept to his craft yet, one not anywhere close to the Hollywood stage, and one vigorously intent on showcasing just exactly what he can do from the off, you’ll find him here; in all his masterful glory.

And although he is not the lead, by any stretch of the imagination, the main focus of the film being the brother-sister duo who want to follow in their grandfather’s footsteps, Chan does still manage to stick out and become noticed very quickly.

• New 2K restoration from the original negatives by Fortune Star
• High Definition (1080p) Bluray transfers of the 120-min Original Theatrical Cut and the 82-min 1980 Re-release Cut
• Original Mandarin and English lossless mono audio for the Theatrical Cut, plus newly uncovered alternate Mandarin and Cantonese mono audio
• Original Cantonese and English lossless mono audio for the Re-Release Cut
• Newly translated optional English subtitles
• New feature commentary on the Theatrical Cut by martial arts cinema experts Frank Djeng & Michael Worth, co-producers of Enter the Clones of Bruce Lee
• New feature commentary on the Re-Release Cut by action cinema expert Brandon Bentley
• New Fist, Part Two Fist, a new video essay by Bentley comparing New Fist of Fury to the rival sequel made simultaneously, Fist of Fury Part II
• Trailer gallery, including a Chen Zhen trailer reel of sequels and reboots
• Image gallery
• Double-sided fold-out poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tony Stella
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tony Stella
• Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Jonathan Clements and an archival retrospective article by Brian Bankston

A Moment Of Romance (Blu-ray)
(Kwong Leung Wong, Aaron Kwok, Ng Man-Tat, Jacklyn Wu, Andy Lau, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1990) 2023 / Radiance Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: Small-time hood Wah Dee (Andy Lau, Infernal Affairs) is enlisted by Triad boss Trumpet (Tommy Wong, The Killer) as a getaway driver for a daring heist that goes wrong. Thinking fast Dee takes Jo Jo (Jacklyn Chien-Lien Wu, The Barefooted Kid) hostage to save his skin, but the bosses order her to be killed. They escape and begin a forbidden relationship while being chased by both sides of the law.

Produced by Johnnie To (Throwdown) and Ringo Lam (City on Fire) the film is sensationally directed by Benny Chan in his feature debut. With a breakneck pace and violence reminiscent of To and Takashi Miike and the beautiful and emotive sensibility of Wong Kar-wai, the film features stunning performances from Lau, and Wu in her debut work.

Simply put, A Moment of Romance is a classic of Hong Kong cinema that has been much imitated but rarely bettered.

Blu-ray Verdict: Produced by by a trilogy of greats - Johnnie To, Ringo Lam and Wong Jing, director Benny Chan’s A Moment Of Romance was one of the finest, teen-angst drama, gangster movies of its time. Starring the never ageing and handsome Andy Lau in one of his best roles and performances, the film spawned a couple of sequels and inspired a host of wanna-be’s!

Beautiful lighting compliments the great cinematography capturing many night scenes and a raw grittiness of Hong Kong, backed by a great cast, top stunt work and violent action scenes courtesy of Yuen Bun and Bruce Law, with Bun also getting a cameo role.

Although the blend of teen drama, gangsters and romance may have been rife in Hong Kong, Andy Lau was the king of such genre and A Moment Of Romance polishes all the rough edges, delivering a blinding film that is hard to beat. The wonderful Ng Man Tat is as great as always, playing Wah Dee’s street uncle who gets picked on by the local hoodlums and likes to annoy the traffic wardens by popping quarters in the parking meters as they are about to run out.

Although many people like to criticize Andy Lau’s acting, it’s hard to deny the man his dues after 30 years of entertaining us with over 170 films (not to mention his TV and music accolades). In the same year as A Moment Of Romance, Lau had made 10 features in all, most of which are considered some of his best and some that I myself personally love. The man is a machine, and even with that pressure on him in just 12 months, can still provide such an amazing performance like this one.

At times beautiful, at others brutally violent, highly energetic, contemplative, and heart-breaking, all in equal measures, the violence is visceral and unflinching, and yet the film is strongly rooted in reality.

Tense, emotional, and playing like a modern day Romeo & Juliet, trust me when I say that A Moment Of Romance is one of Benny Chan’s finest and one of Hong Kong cinema’s best and it’s darkly violent, intense finale comes with some lump-in-the-throat moments on the stunningly lit streets of Hong Kong.

In closing, the film is superbly made and brilliantly acted and is still regarded today - overseas and over here - to be one of Hong Kong cinema’s finest glowing examples of a non-martial arts film from the golden years.

4K restoration of the film from the original camera negative
Original uncompressed mono PCM audio
Newly translated English subtitles by Dylan Cheung
Audio commentary by Asian cinema expert Frank Djeng
In Love and Danger: HK Cinema Through A Moment of Romance - A new visual essay by critic and Asian cinema expert David Desser on the genre tropes in A Moment of Romance and their use in Hong Kong cinema (2023, 26 mins)
Archival audio interview with Benny Chan who discusses his start in the industry, A Moment of Romance, and his collaborators on the film (2016, 21 mins)
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Time Tomorrow
Limited edition booklet featuring new writing on the iconic cast and crew by critic Sean Gilman; and a profile of Benny Chan by Tony Williams, co-editor of Hong Kong Neo Noir

Fear the Invisible Man [DVD]
(Mike Beckingham, David Hayman, Mark Arnold, Mhairi Calvey, et al / DVD / NR / 2023 / Amcomri Group)

Overview: A young British widow shelters an old medical school colleague, a man who has somehow turned himself invisible. As his isolation grows and his sanity frays, he schemes to create a reign of wanton murder and terror across the city - and she’s the only one who knows that he even exists.

DVD Verdict: In what is a script tenuously based on the famous H.G. Wells classic, me personally, well, I love me a great Holmes-style mystery and this one - from the over, to the trailer, to the actual film - never let me down at all (although, that said, maybe it could have been more enticing to me, and others, if it had been solely filmed in black and white).

Anyhoo, throughout, the performances from all the leads are spot on, very solid, with Mhairi Calvey (Adeline) herself delivering an intelligent and graceful leading lady for us to fall in love with. Supported by a strong cast of characters, including Wayne Gordon’s Inspector Adye, Grahame Fox’s Marvel (which is itself free flowing with a lot of humor), and David Hayman as Wicksteed, the film just lovingly invites you in, thus enveloping you into the story line from the off.

The costumes are also spot on, perhaps a wee bit too clean for the day, but that’s by the by, and there are some absolutely beautiful locations on show here that also feel particularly authentic to the time period.

Building tension from the off, the film’s tension and suspense carry onward dutifully, and even bring forth an ending that is not wholly guessable, and at all times grounded, and worthy of being the celluloid bookend to what began.

In closing, and this might be a ++ SPOILER ++ so I left it till last, but for the formative moments on screen, our lead cad Cade Griffin (Mike Beckingham) is invisible, before becoming visible, but then when he injects the formula, he is permanently invisible; if all that makes sense.

Regardless, Beckingham plays his roll of invisibility to perfection which means that Fear the Invisible Man is one of the most entertaining and genuinely enjoyable watches I have had on my small screen (well, 55 inch screen) for a long, long time.

Official Trailer

Love Again [DVD]
(Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Sam Heughan, Celine Dion, et al / DVD / PG-13 / 2023 / Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Overview: What if a random text message led to the love of your life? In this romantic comedy, dealing with the loss of her fiancé, Mira Ray sends a series of romantic texts to his old cell phone number…not realizing the number was reassigned to Rob Burns’ new work phone.

A journalist, Rob is captivated by the honesty in the beautifully confessional texts. When he’s assigned to write a profile of megastar Celine Dion (playing herself in her first film role), he enlists her help in figuring out how to meet Mira in person…and win her heart.

Blu-ray Verdict: For me, Love Again is a film that is sure to tug at your heartstrings, as it most certainly did mine. The film is full of heart, humor, and it handles grief in a mature and beautiful way. Centered around the story of two people, played brilliantly by Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Sam Heughan, they are a couple who find love again after experiencing significant loss.

Furthermore, one of the most incredible standout features of this movie is the angel in human form herself, Ms. Céline Dion, for her music is simply perfection and serves as the true beating heart of the film. Indeed, from start to finish, the film’s soundtrack immerses you in the story and leaves you feeling uplifted and inspired.

Without a shadow of a doubt, as I’ve seen it twice now, with and without company, Love Again is a movie that will make you laugh, cry, and enjoy every bit of it. The film’s humor and heartwarming moments will leave you smiling for almost the entirety of the movie.

Super reminiscent of the rom-com’s from the ’90s and early 2000’s, fans of the genre are sure to fall in love with this film as it is a genuinely beautiful and heartfelt movie that is not to be missed.

In closing, it handles grief and loss with a sensitivity that is rare in mainstream cinema, and the performances from the cast are exceptional. So if you are looking for a movie that will lift your spirits and leave you feeling inspired, Love Again is the perfect choice.

Special Features:
o Finding Love Again
o 6 Deleted Scenes

East of Eden [4K UHD + Digital]
(Julie Harris, James Dean, Raymond Massey, Burl Ives, et al / 4K UHD+Digital / NR / (1955) 2023 / Studio Distribution Services)

Overview: As part of the year-long centennial celebration for the 100th anniversary of Warner Bros. Studio, two iconic classics from the Warner Bros. library – East of Eden and Rio Bravo - will be available for purchase on 4K Ultra HD Disc and Digital August 1st, 2023.

East of Eden, directed by Academy Award winner Elia Kazan and starring James Dean, and Rio Bravo, directed by Honorary Academy Award winner Howard Hawks and starring John Wayne, will be available to purchase on Ultra HD Blu-ray™Disc from online and in-store at major retailers and available for purchase Digitally from Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV, Google Play, Vudu and more.

In the Salinas Valley in and around World War I, Cal Trask feels he must compete against overwhelming odds with his brother Aron for the love of their father Adam. Carl is frustrated at every turn, from his reaction to the war, to how to get ahead in business and in life, to how to relate to his estranged mother.

The 1955 period drama is directed by Elia Kazan from a screenplay by Paul Osborn and based on the 1952 John Steinbeck novel of the same name. The film stars James Dean, Julie Harris, Raymond Massey, Burl Ives, Richard Davalos, and Jo Van Fleet.

4K UHD Blu-ray Verdict: Clearly, Dean was one of the defining actors of the youthful 1950’s. Rebel without a Cause (1955) may have registered more strongly with the cool cats of the time, nonetheless, in my humble opinion, this is the film that represents the actor’s enduring triumph.

Here Cal’s (Dean) yawning emotional needs are on raw display, inclusive of all the tics, grimaces, and facial writhing. All are excruciatingly expressive. At times it’s over the top, sure, but few can doubt the sincerity. In fact, it appears to be the real Dean on screen, and not an actor for the most part.

Then too, Dean was lucky. He got one of the best young actresses of that day or any day to play opposite in Julie Harris. Her lack of glamor is a real plus. That way her rather plain looks don’t get in the way of a growing emotional bond with a needy Cal (Dean).

I count the bean field and ferris wheel scenes as two of the best boy-girl scenes on record. Catch how naturally they’re drawn to each other, only to shrink away at the last moment. It’s like they’re fearful of some kind of forbidden attraction.

Still, before emotions can straighten out, the confused Cal must straighten himself out. That means getting straight with his imperious father (Massey). Then too, Abra (Harris) needs to trust her emotions rather than lifeless convention with Aaron (Davalos). Now if Dad could just stop seeing his detested ex-wife in Cal, he might bend a little.

After all, having principles is not enough. They should first be the right principles, and excluding a son because of one of them is not right. Thus, it’s really Dad who needs to straighten out for then Cal would have a chance.

And who better to play the emotionally constricted patriarch than the commanding Ray Massey. His scenes with Dean represent not only a clash of personalities but also a clash of acting styles. I gather the two actors didn’t much like each other, which is not surprising.

Anyway, the supporting parts are also well done. I especially like the often overlooked Lois Smith as the fearful, fluttery servant girl. She’s really Cal’s emotional counterpart, even though in a small role. I’ve long sympathized with Dick Davalos in the thankless role of the prissy Aaron. That, plus being overshadowed by the most compelling young actor of the day, was surely a misfortune. As a side note, filming in the Salinas Valley was a real plus, lending a large canvas to the intense drama.

Despite the sometimes sprawling screenplay, the movie remains an emotional powerhouse, thanks to Dean, Harris, and director Kazan. In fact, casting the untried Dean in the role of Cal remains one of moviedom’s most ambitious, and therein memorable moments. While in terms of a meteoric body of work, perhaps the young actor checked out at about the right time, but man, what could he have gone on to do.

East of Eden Ultra HD Blu-ray contains the following previously released special feature:
• Commentary by Richard Schickel

Working in partnership with The Film Foundation, both films were restored and remastered by Warner Bros. Post Production Creative Services: Motion Picture Imaging and Post Production Sound. Since its launch by Martin Scorsese in 1990, The Film Foundation has restored more than 900 movies.

The Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc will include each feature film in 4K with HDR and a Digital version of the feature film.

Ultra HD Blu-ray showcases 4K resolution with High Dynamic Range (HDR) and a wider color spectrum, offering consumers brighter, deeper, more lifelike colors for a home entertainment viewing experience like never before.

For the complete 4K Ultra HD experience with HDR, a 4K Ultra HD TV with HDR, an Ultra HD Blu-ray player and a high-speed HDMI (category 2) cable are required.

Rio Bravo [4K UHD + Digital]
(John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Angie Dickinson, et al / 4K UHD+Digital / NR / (1959) 2023 / Studio Distribution Services)

Overview: As part of the year-long centennial celebration for the 100th anniversary of Warner Bros. Studio, two iconic classics from the Warner Bros. library – East of Eden and Rio Bravo - will be available for purchase on 4K Ultra HD Disc and Digital August 1st, 2023.

East of Eden, directed by Academy Award winner Elia Kazan and starring James Dean, and Rio Bravo, directed by Honorary Academy Award winner Howard Hawks and starring John Wayne, will be available to purchase on Ultra HD Blu-ray™Disc from online and in-store at major retailers and available for purchase Digitally from Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV, Google Play, Vudu and more.

A small-town sheriff in the American West enlists the help of a disabled man, a drunk, and a young gunfighter in his efforts to hold in jail the brother of the local bad guy.

The 1959 American Western film is directed by Howard Hawks. The screenplay is by Jules Furthman and Leigh Brackett and is based on the short story “Rio Bravo” by B.H. McCampbell. The film stars John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Angie Dickinson, Walter Brennan, and Ward Bond.

In 2014, Rio Bravo was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.

4K UHD Blu-ray Verdict: Eleven years after Red River (1948), John Wayne and Howard Hawks would team up again to do Rio Bravo (1959). Rio Bravo is an action packed and entertaining film that never ceases to be boring. It tells the tale of a lawman and his deputies who are trapped in their town by outlaw friends of a murderer. Indeed, the opening scene gives a wonderful introduction to the characters of Dean Martin and John Wayne.

The film has a good story line with its share of good guys and bad guys, but it’s the industrious dialogue that carries this movie along. The best scene of the movie, in my humble opinion, is when Dean Martin walks into a bar saloon full of hired hands and outlaws to interrogate them on the whereabouts of the man who killed the sheriff’s friend. The gunfight during the climax is both exciting and humorous!

The romantic angle between Angie Dickinson’s Feathers and John T. Chance has a lovely humorous edge to it, with their relationship being a repeat of the one in To Have & Have Not (1944). Feathers says about the same things that Bacall said in that flick. John T. Chance and Feathers seems to enjoy getting on each other’s nerve.

Rio Bravo would provide the main source of inspiration for John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) for it was loved by the famous filmmaker, along with Quentin Tarantino. It is one of the most influential westerns of all time and furthermore, the Saloon sequence foreshadows the great bar room interrogations of The French Connection (1971) and 48 Hours (1982).

John Wayne does a terrific job in doing a parody of his film persona. Dean Martin provides some pathos in his best role ever. Walter Brennan gives some comic relief as the eccentric deputy, Stumpy. Ricky Nelson comes close to being the weak link of the cast and his performance is nowhere near as good as James Caan - who did a much better job in a similar role for El Dorado (1968) - but then again, it is great Caan after all!

The music of the picture is played serious with spurts of humorous tones spread throughout, and the song sung by Dean Martin sounds similar to the theme music of Red River (1948). In fact, it’s when the music of the Alamo starts playing that Dude becomes fully sober! Musically, Ricky Nelson also does a good job in the film when it comes to playing the guitar and singing.

Overall, the main theme of Rio Bravo is male comradery. No matter what obstacles lie in their path, the four lawmen manage to stick together. There is a strong bond between the main four that is as unbreakable as that of the outlaws in The Wild Bunch (1969). Male bonding is another famous trademark of director Howard Hawks.

The direction is done with professionalism and just may be Howard Hawks’ most accessible film in his career. Others being The Big Sleep (1946), Scarface (1931), His Girl Friday (1940), Red River (1948), and to my mind, the brilliant Sergeant York (1941). For, in truth, the action scenes here are some of the best sequences done by Hawks.

The art design of the film wonderfully captures the feel of the Old West and the story line is well written by Leigh Brackett. Funnily enough, Rio Bravo was made as a result of Howard Hawks and John Wayne’s dislike of High Noon (1952). This was because the Marshal played by Gary Cooper was asking for help from people who refused to give him any and this was considered by John Wayne as unmanly.

In closing, Rio Bravo is a simply terrific Western with a good sense of humor and although it would be redone twice by Howard Hawks - El Dorado (1968), and his final film Rio Lobo (1971) - this is the leader of the bunch by a long shot.

Rio Bravo Ultra HD Blu-ray contains the following previously released special features:
• Commentary by John Carpenter and Richard Schickel

Working in partnership with The Film Foundation, both films were restored and remastered by Warner Bros. Post Production Creative Services: Motion Picture Imaging and Post Production Sound. Since its launch by Martin Scorsese in 1990, The Film Foundation has restored more than 900 movies.

The Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc will include each feature film in 4K with HDR and a Digital version of the feature film.

Ultra HD Blu-ray showcases 4K resolution with High Dynamic Range (HDR) and a wider color spectrum, offering consumers brighter, deeper, more lifelike colors for a home entertainment viewing experience like never before.

For the complete 4K Ultra HD experience with HDR, a 4K Ultra HD TV with HDR, an Ultra HD Blu-ray player and a high-speed HDMI (category 2) cable are required.

Invaluable: The True Story Of An Epic Artist
(Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi, Ellen Sandweiss, Josh Becker, Betsy Baker, et al / 4K UHD + Blu-ray / NR / (1984) 2023 / Synapse Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: Sam Raimi’s 1981 film THE EVIL DEAD is a horror masterpiece that has terrified audiences for over 40 years and spawned sequels, a remake, video games, toys and even a television series. The original film’s iconic special effects and make-up were created by Tom Sullivan, a Michigan artist and sculptor who became friends with Sam Raimi, star Bruce Campbell and producer Rob Tapert when they were in college.

Ryan Meade’s INVALUABLE: THE TRUE STORY OF AN EPIC ARTIST is a feature length documentary about the life and art of Tom Sullivan and his involvement with the EVIL DEAD film series. Assembled with amazing archival Super 8mm film footage, Hi8, VHS, and vintage audio tapes and photographs, it’s a unique and sentimental portrait of a man who helped make one of the greatest horror franchises of all time.

It also contains amazing behind-the-scenes footage, original location visits, all-new interviews with Bruce Campbell, Ted Raimi, Josh Becker, Danny Hicks, Hal Delrich, Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker, Theresa Tilly and more!

Blu-ray Verdict: As noted, this is a documentary about Tom Sullivan, the special effects man and artist behind the classic Evil Dead and a lot of work for its sequel. Without him, and I think we can all agree on this, that much beloved film would never have been made, and certainly not have been what it is. Thus, here we get a look at his life, career, journey with Evil Dead and beyond and a look at some cool old props.

In truth, and in my humble opinion, this is not the most professionally produced documentary, for it is kind of like the old guerrilla-styled, smash and grab film-making that has worked so well in the past for on-the-fly documentaries.

For here we get some quickly grabbed convention interviews along with behind-the-scenes candid shots from some of his work on screen, but do not let that deter you from this still most wondrous documentary, for it does give you a rare insight into who Tom Sullivan is - and actually quite a long look at major events in his life.

Personally, I wish they had had a bigger budget, better equipment and more time, but overall it is highly addictive viewing (especially for us Evil Dead fans - with enough decent interviews threaded throughout, along with some lovely looks at old props and footage from the films.

I think the people that will really eat this up are the hardcore special effects fans. I found it a bit long overall (it is a solid 109 minutes), but certainly nothing I had to pause or leave the room for, or even skip through. And for any hardcore Evil Dead or practical monster effects fans, well, and without a shadow of a doubt, it is most definitely worth your time, of that you have my word.

In closing, something I noticed is that all of the interviews make sure not to offend Sam Raimi, but at the same time it is abundantly clear the Lovecraftian gimmick of his film was contributed by Sullivan, who sadly seemed pushed out creatively on the far inferior sequels.

Special Features:
Other Men’s Careers – A bonus documentary about the life of filmmaker Josh Becker
Vintage Tom Sullivan “In the Spotlight” interview (1989)
Unedited interview with Tim Philo, cinematographer of THE EVIL DEAD
Extended interview segments with Josh Becker
Promotional Trailers
Ryan Meade short films: ‘Bong Fly’ & ‘Cosmos Locos’
‘Bong Fly’ Behind-the-Scenes featurette
Photo Gallery

Kandahar (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital)
(Gerard Butler, Ali Fazal, Navid Negahban, et al / Blu-ray + Digital / R / 2023 / Studio Distribution Services)

Overview: In Kandahar, Tom Harris (Gerard Butler), an undercover CIA operative, is stuck deep in hostile territory in Afghanistan. After his mission is exposed, he must fight his way out, alongside his Afghan translator, to an extraction point in Kandahar, all whilst avoiding elite enemy forces and foreign spies tasked with hunting them down.

Blu-ray Verdict: In an especially diverse war tale, Kandahar, Scottish actor Gerard Butler as Tom Harris is as grizzled as ever but now evades other grizzlies from practically the entire roster of mid-Eastern bad boys: the Taliban; Iran’s Revolutionary Guard; ISIS; and my fav of all, a matinee idol-like operative from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency. Not to forget American black ops forces either.

It’s best not to try to memorize the players but rather enjoy a tale from the mid-East that makes a bit of sense. Tom, stoic and smart, uncovers a CIA black ops initiative, forbidden by the rules, and consequently spends the rest of the adventure evading being caught, and, oh, yes, of course, getting back to his daughter and wife, who is soon to divorce him.

Not surprising that most of our cinematic heroes’ struggles are with wives who don’t like waiting for husbands to return draped in a flag. New to the usual heroic mix is another middle-aged kick-ass fighter, Mohammed (David Negahban), who enjoys a limited-edition bromance with Butler. Both fight the good fight with family as their prime motive.

Fortunately for us, director Ric Roman Waugh and writer Mitchell La Fortune restrain themselves from multiple flashbacks about formerly-happy family life. Tom has the distinction of joining ranks with other heroes missing their children’s graduations because they extended their tours.

Unfortunately, most of Kandahar is Humvee chases across arid desert with some pretty-phenomenal escapes. It is Butler, after all, and like Liam Neeson, he must survive to serve another lone-gun operation. However, not to be missed is the night-vision gun fight between operatives and helicopter. Pure action ballet!

That said, Kandahar is most definitely a fast-paced ride through, for the most part, Afghanistan (in the story, but obviously filmed elsewhere). It is the type of movie that has become Gerard Butler stock-in-trade in recent years and he doesn’t disappoint. He has a good presence onscreen.

The other principals also do an excellent job, particularly David Negahban and Ali Fazal. The supporting cast also round out the acting nicely.

In closing, if you have seen other Butler actioner’s, such as the recent Plane or the Mike Banning Has-Fallen rescues, you’ll know the hero is sincere and caring, a low-key screen staple who more than satisfies a summer urge to veg out on quality action. That’s the Butler way.

Official Trailer

Take The Ice
(DVD / NR / 2024 / Freestyle Digital Media)

Overview: Ten-year-old Dani Rylan was obsessed with hockey and dreamed of growing up to play in the NHL. As one of the best players on the Florida state junior team, Dani saw no reason not to have the same ambitions as everyone else. But, as the only girl on the team, at some point, reality sets in.

Seventeen years later, Dani decided to change the history of the sport by founding the first professional women’s hockey league. Take the Ice goes behind the scenes as Dani creates the National Women’s Hockey League and 88 elite female athletes compete to win it’s first championship.

As Dani struggles to keep the league afloat, the players must come together in the wake of an on-ice accident that leaves their teammate paralyzed.

Take the Ice is a moving, intimate story of a group of world-class athletes making strides for recognition and equality, and in the process, making history.

DVD Verdict: Directed by Rachel Koteen, and produced by Rachel Koteen, Batya Feldman, and Judah-Lev Dickstein, and inclusive of female ice hockey players such as Dani Rylan Kearney, Denna Laing, Molly Engstrom and Anya Packer, amongst others, Take The Ice is a sports documentary that perfectly showcases to what lengths Dani herself went to, to change the history of the sport by founding the first professional National Women’s Hockey League.

This was in 2015 and was done so as an investor-funded, four-team league, and as much as what we are viewing is primarily all about one person’s determination to make real a dream she missed out on growing up, so that others like her didn’t have to, the origins of the league admittedly scuffled at times and was later rebranded as the PHF. Indeed, the subsequent PWHPA was formed in 2019 in the fallout of the CWHL demise.

But those facts are neither here nor there, as Take The Ice hones in on a ten-year-old Dani Rylan, a young girl obsessed with hockey and who dreamed of growing up to play in the NHL. But as we know, that just didn’t happen, but instead of backfooting it into the shadows, Dani choose to keep her head held high, to keep wondering, to keep dreaming, and never, ever to back down from what her heart desired. For as she herself acknowledges, “One of the first things you learn in hockey is to fall and get back up.”

Even for a non-sports fan such as myself, the documentary was both wholly impassioned and impressively detailed, in such a way that even I have to admit that I was glued to every word, every obstacle, every challenge, every misdirection, every hope, and every dream realized along the way of this simply incredible new celluloid vision.

As for the dire moments when the league’s founder struggles to keep the business afloat, along with a most heartbreaking accident when one of the players is involved in an on-ice accident that leaves her paralyzed, I won’t go into those, as they are for your eyes, ears and minds to view alone.

In closing, I have now watched this documentary twice in three days and have to say that yes, there are still times I’m not totally sure who someone is and/or how they relate to the story or a team, in general, but to watch along and be a fly on the wall, thus viewing how the very first season of professional women’s hockey began to take shape, well, that was one very immersive experience.

Freestyle Digital Media, the digital film distribution division of Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group, has acquired Global VOD rights to the sports documentary TAKE THE ICE.

TAKE THE ICE will be available to rent/own on all digital HD internet, cable, and satellite platforms worldwide, as well as on DVD, starting on July 25th, 2023, through Freestyle Digital Media.

“We’re so excited to have Freestyle Digital Media as our distribution partner for TAKE THE ICE,” said filmmaker Rachel Koteen. “Sharing the stories of these trail-blazing female athletes with a wide audience was our goal in making the movie. The competitive spirit and athletic prowess on display will be entertaining to sports fans and non-sports fans alike. And anyone who has ever worked hard to achieve a dream will be moved by this tale of teamwork and determination in the face of adversity.”

Official Trailer

Enter the Dragon (4K Ultra HD + Digital) [4K UHD]
(Bruce Lee, John Saxon, Jim Kelly, et al / 4K UHD+Blu-ray+Digital / R / (1973) 2023 / Studio Distribution Services)

Overview: Bruce Lee explodes onto the screen in the film that rocketed him to international superstardom, Enter the Dragon. Lee plays a martial arts expert determined to take down the ruthless gang leader, Han, who was responsible for the death of his sister. Recruited by an intelligence agency, he poses a student and attends a tournament at a remote island fortress.

His goal is to gather evidence that will prove Han’s involvement with drug trafficking and prostitution. With one man focused on crime and the other bent on revenge, the two engage in the now-classic fight-to-the-death finish.

They both enter a mirrored maze and deadly battle. Only one will exit.

Enter the Dragon will be available on Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc for $24.99 ERP and includes an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the theatrical version of the feature film in 4K with HDR, the Special Edition version of the film in 4K with HDR, and a Digital download of both versions of the film. Fans can also own Enter the Dragon in 4K Ultra HD via purchase from select digital retailers beginning on 8/8/23.

4K UHD Blu-ray Verdict: Warner Bros. Entertainment is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of the highly-anticipated Enter the Dragon in the expansive 4K Ultra HD video format this August 8th, 2023.

For my money, this Enter the Dragon [4K UHD+BR+Digital] combo pack sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.

A favorite mixture of camp, high adventure, culture clash and martial arts excellence, ETD survives today as the quintessential Bruce Lee film and breaks down into a straightforward structure, which works to minimize narrative subtlety, while simultaneously showcasing Lee’s inimitable fighting talents.

The backgrounds of the two main supporting characters, Roper (John Saxon) and Williams (Jim Kelly), is given in two flashback sequences, then hardly referred to again. No one would pretend that the dialogue, even when loaded with Lee’s own private significance, is anywhere more than adequate. Much conversation, whether the fighter’s own oriental lisping, or through the emphasis on arch phrases (apparently characteristic of men of action), provides unintentional pleasure.

The most interesting part of the film’s spoken elements is at the start, where in Lee’s so-called Monk Scene (missing from some original release prints), then also a little later, he reveals something of his personal philosophy. Lee, we are told, has taken his fighting technique beyond the mere physical level - to the point of spiritual insight.

For the fighter of this caliber opponents and all immediate combat concerns vanish, to be replaced by a notion of committed distancing, or emotional content (not anger). Interestingly, Lee remarks that each fight should be like a small play - but one played seriously. One can see that it is from a series of such martial dramas, gradually increasing in scale, that the tension and drive of the film emanates, rather than any traditional development of character.

Lee is at the center of the film. Throughout he provides moral, physical and sexual standards against which others are measured - most conspicuously, westerners. There is a revealing juxtaposition between the ultra-fit fighter and the middle aged, bespectacled Braithwaite, who briefs him at the beginning of the film.

While Lee has a personal interest in Han’s destruction, one immediately understandable and honorable, the Englishman’s professionalism is guarded and generalized. He represents only gatherers of information upon which governments can act. Braithwaite offers Lee a drink, (which, of course, the ascetic fighter declines), and confirms Lee’s unspoken judgement on the unattractiveness of firearms (Any bloody fool can pull a trigger).

Naturally it is Braithwaite, who is tucked up in bed, while Lee battles against superior odds out in the field. On the outward-bound junk, Lee proves his moral superiority to an arrogant competitor, leaving him adrift in a boat. Finally, by the end of the film, after winning every contest, the topless and blood-tasting Lee provides a far more convincing image of physical potency than ever do the sexually active Roper and Williams.

In real life Lee had an ongoing concern for the Oriental poor, seeing martial arts as one way to restore their dignity. His first film, The Big Boss/Tang Shan da Xiong (1971) set in and around an ice plant in its way is involved with commercial exploitation and corruption. For Enter The Dragon, it was partly through his insistence that director Clouse filmed the memorable scenes in Hong Kong harbor, setting the arriving contestants amidst a floating shanty town.

When, during the cavern fight, Lee finds himself in combat alongside the pens holding Han’s mute prisoners (his bar room dregs), his endeavors are explicitly and economically connected with the rights of those dispossessed. We realize then that he is fighting as much for their freedom as for Braithwaite’s secret masters, his sister’s memory or the honor of his temple. Fittingly, it is these discarded men who will eventually overrun Han’s island, restoring their rights.

In fact, Han’s private island is a dictatorship; one in which he lives like a king, and in which Nazi salutes of raised, punching fists greet the newly landed competitors, and where the ubiquitous fighting outfits are also a uniform of repression. The tournament becomes a showcase for Han’s philosophy, as well as a convenient recruitment means.

And first thing ashore, Clouse wisely lets his camera pan over a vista of striking fists with the martial shouts they engender. Like a Refensthal images of a Hitler rally, and aided by Schifrin’s insistent, garish score, such discipline en masse makes for a thrilling, ominous, spectacle.

Such an island also provides an excellent proving ground for Lee’s talents. But apart the relatively short opening taster bout, he hardly lifts an arm until reaching Han’s enclave - and even then spends long minutes as a calm observer of the opening bouts. In between he exercises more guile and restraint, sly humor and cat-like athleticism than the expected muscle.

By then, of course, we have seen just how his sister has been killed, and know he itches to tackle Han’s bullying bodyguard O’Hara. Lee is coiled and not yet sprung. The audience is eager to see him fight, just as we know hero Lee is himself aching to exact revenge. The resulting tension, a martial anxiousness, goes a long way to papering over any weaknesses in dialogue and leads to the highest expectations.

Fortunately for the viewer such expectations are fully justified. Lee’s legendary martial artistry is awe-inspiring, enough to catapult the film into the front rank of action movies. Frequently shown in slow motion so that the camera could catch his rapid-fire actions, he fights O’Hara, numerous cavern guards, different individuals en route and, finally, Han himself in a mirrored room - all with an authority and skill, with bare hands and nunchuka, which demands repeated viewing.

During his fights Lee frequently demonstrates the previously described emotional content of his martial philosophy: a mental posture which manifests itself as a calm self-collection, concentrated into cold fury for victory. On the point of dispatching O’Hara, for instance, Lee ruminates on his immediate aggression with an intense self absorption, killing his sister’s murderer through a contemplation of inner pain almost impossible to describe.

Later, as the ensuing melee swirls around Lee, the camera zooms again on its hero: typically, he is calm, perfectly focused. It is during moments like this, full of vengeful rectitude, that the actor provides overwhelming confirmation of star status.

Enter the Dragon Ultra HD Blu-ray disc and Digital the following previously released special features:
• Introduction by Linda Lee Cadwell (run time: 2:17 minutes)
• Commentary by Paul Heller and Michael Allin (run time: 110 minutes)

So, what we have is Enter the Dragon presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: Native 4K (2160p), HDR: HDR10, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 and Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1.

Featuring Dolby Vision and HDR10 for brighter, deeper, and way more lifelike colors, as with most all 4K UHDs, everything that we watch features these qualities - but somehow, this film gloriously shines within them all.

As for the audio, well we get the choice of: English: Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English: Dolby Digital 5.1, French: Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1.

As part of the year-long centennial celebration for the 100th anniversary of Warner Bros. Studio, the iconic martial arts film Enter the Dragon will be available for purchase on 4K Ultra HD Disc and Digital this August.

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of its 1973 release, on August 8th 2023, Enter the Dragon will be available to purchase on Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc from online and in-store at major retailers and available for purchase Digitally from Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV, Google Play, Vudu and more.

Enter the Dragon is considered one of the most influential action films of all time and is credited with bringing interest in the Asian martial arts genre to mainstream Western cinema.

The Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc includes both the theatrical version of the film and the Special Edition of the film which features three additional minutes of footage.

In 2004, the United States Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry for being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant. In 1999, Bruce Lee was listed in Time magazine’s “100 most influential people of the century.”

Fast X (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital)
(Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Momoa, Jason Statham, et al / Blu-ray + Digital / PG-13 / 2023 / Studio Distribution Services)

Overview: Ever since their saga started on the streets of L.A.’s underground racing scene, Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his family have overcome impossible odds to outsmart, out-nerve and outdrive every foe. Yet when the team took down a nefarious kingpin back in Brazil, they had no idea his son Dante (Jason Momoa) was watching from the shadows.

More lethal than any other enemy they’ve faced, Dante now rises as a terrifying new nemesis who’s fueled by revenge and determined to shatter their family and destroy everything and everyone that Dom loves. From London and Brazil to Antarctica and Rome, new alliances are forged and old enemies resurface. But everything changes after Dom discovers his eight-year-old son is Dante’s ultimate target.

Blu-ray Verdict: The crazily wild motorized antics of Fast X blast forward without a thought of pressing the brakes. Not many movie franchises last longer than twenty years.

This high-octane spectacle seeks, and occasionally succeeds, in obliterating any opposition with its seemingly endless supply of madly comic action and its disarming, absurd, and self-aware doses of usually hilarious camp. It’s an occasionally jaw-dropping journey that travels the world in its never-ending hunt for new settings and techniques to up the cinematic ante; in the process, it manages to fall apart and triumph over its core absurdity.

Although the fundamentals haven’t changed, the scope of everything is unmatched for what started out as a tiny hot rod racing drama 22 years ago. This fast movie features a number of returning cast members as well as some fresh faces. The most noteworthy of the latter is the powerful Jason Momoa, whose irrational attitude as the wicked Dante Reyes makes this by far the funniest installment in the series thus far. This entry gains a much-appreciated new dimension because of the plethora of loud laughter.

Most people in the fast-paced world appear to be prospering at first. The few early domestic moments have a family down-homeness to them that helps the audience feel more connected to the people. In this film, it seems that practically everyone who has been in a Fast film and is still alive does so, even if only briefly in certain situations.

However, the early jollity is quickly replaced by a natural disaster, a genuine carnival of destruction that Dante launches and destroys everything in its path. It should be observed right away that the effects are mind-blowing; undoubtedly, no one has ever witnessed such immense earthly catastrophe imagined in such realistically portrayed pictures.

Ancient sites, contemporary marvels, and global capitals are all destroyed like they were just Cub Scout tents. To use a word that is overused, the attacks are truly magnificent. At least initially, nobody knows how to respond to such aggressiveness, so Dante can get away with it. The culprit believes that nirvana has finally been attained; he positively rejoices in his triumphs and grows more and more destructive, as well as entertaining to watch, as he destroys any old or modern landmarks that happen to catch his eye.

The effects are truly - to use an overused term - astonishing from a technical standpoint. The images alone could leave one in awe, but add a rich vein of impudent humor as the destiny of the world’s wonders is so blatantly played with, and you have something.

• THIS IS FAMILY - Family bonds are always the strongest. Reunite with your favorite FAST family members as we introduce new characters, travel across continents, reveal intimate views of epic stunts, and get personal about the beginning of the end of the FAST franchise.
• FAST BREAKS: SCENE BREAKDOWNS WITH LOUIS LETERRIER* - Director Louis Leterrier gives insight into some of the magic that went into making FAST X, breaking down how he filmed these unforgettable action scenes in legendary locations around the world.
• XTREME RIDES OF FAST X - In FAST, we cast cars like we cast characters. Take a closer look at how classic FAST cars were rebuilt for FAST X, and which new vehicles are customized and introduced to enhance the lifeblood of the franchise.
• BELLES OF THE BRAWL - The women of FAST X are not to be messed with. Watch as they add their special talents to huge fight scenes, from rehearsal to the real thing.
• TUNED INTO RIO - Revisit FAST’s past as our story takes us back to Rio de Janeiro, where we’ll experience a non-stop party, exotic cars, and a classic FAST quarter mile street race.
• JASON MOMOA: CONQUERING ROME* - Jason Momoa joins the FAST franchise to portray a villain that pushes the team to the brink of disaster. Watch as Momoa discusses his approach to the character, biking down the narrow streets of Rome, and performing his own stunts.
• LITTLE B TAKES THE WHEEL - Get to know the youngest member of the Toretto family as we dive into Little B’s journey in FAST X and introduce Leo Abelo Perry.
• A FRIEND IN THE END - The FAST franchise has a history of shocking end-credit tags, and FAST X is no different. We take a special look at this scene and why, if you’re watching a FAST movie, you never want to get up before the end credits are finished!
* Included on all formats including DVD

Official Fast X Blu-ray + Digital Announcement Trailer

Wrong Reasons [Blu-ray]
(James Parks, Liv Roush, Kevin Smith, Ralph Garman, Teresa Ruiz, et al / Blu-ray / NR / 2023 / MVD Visual)

Overview: When an ambiguously intentioned masked man (James Parks, The Hateful Eight) kidnaps a drug addicted punk singer (Liv Roush, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot), it triggers a police investigation headed by Detective Charles Dobson (Ralph Garman, Ted) as well as a media circus.

Blu-ray Verdict: Having just watched this film last night, and knowing beforehand that it was shot by a five person team (primarily) in September 2020 (during the height of Covid), I have to say that just added to my overall happiness in reporting that Wrong Reasons is a doozy of a film!

A slow burn, and yet one that when it catches, trust me it catches, complete with a dutiful, and rather thematic lineage, the film is actually split into two distinctly different story lines. And although they are separate from one another, they are still linked, and go a long way to show up the relationships founded and thusly cultivated on both sides.

The plot itself is a one trick pony, sure, but what writer/director Josh Roush dies is balance it out with not only a solid chunk of acting (from both the known and the unknown actors on parade), but brings forth what can only be described as a stunning enjoyable, throwback indie-punk flick.

The story revolves around Kat Oden (Liv Roush), a punk rocker whose life, and subsequently her career, has slid downward due to bad relationships and, most importantly, daily heroin injections. Having just injected herself, and still upright on her couch, a masked man (James Parks) shuffles up behind her, puts a bag over her head, and abducts her.

On the other side of the building cinematic dialogue, we are introduced to Detective Dobson (Ralph Garman), a slow burner unto himself also, he is put onto her case - one that is now making news around the world.

Now, I obviously won’t go into too much detail about the murky waters that are provided thereafter for both sides, but I will say that our known kidnapper might well be only committing such a heinous crime due to, well, an ulterior motive, albeit one that the our hero Detective is oblivious to and, most likely, might not even give a damn about!

From Executive Producer Kevin Smith (Clerks III), WRONG REASONS marks the narrative feature debut from director Josh Roush (Long Lonesome Highway: The Story of Michael Parks) and features an all-star supporting cast that includes Teresa Ruiz (The Marksman), David Koechner (Anchorman) Daniel Roebuck (The Fugitive), Keith Coogan (Adventures in Babysitting) and introducing Liv Roush (in her first starring role) along with a killer punk rock soundtrack that includes Tim Armstrong, L7, Black Flag, The Wipers, Channel 3, William Elliott Whitmore, The Unseen, Bi-Product and more!

Special Features:
Introduction by Kevin Smith
Commentary with Director Josh Roush, Co-Producer Matt Rowbottom, Composer Cam Mosavian and Star Liv Roush
Commentary with Director Josh Roush and Executive Producer Kevin Smith
Q & A with Writer / Director Josh Roush, Producer / Star Live Roush moderated by Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman
Deleted Scenes & Outtakes
Original Theatrical Trailer
Short Film from Director Josh Roush: “Idiot Cops”
Optional English Subtitles
Reversible Artwork

Kevin Smith Presents: Wrong Reasons (Trailer) Starring Ralph Garman, David Koechner, and Teresa Ruiz

Taxi Hunter (Special Edition) [Blu-ray]
(Anthony Chau-Sang Wong, Rongguang Yu, Man-Tat Ng, Hoi-Shan Lai, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1993) 2023 / 88 Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: One of the most infamous movies branded with Hong Kong’s adults only Category III rating, Taxi Hunter bravely tackles the under-explored scourge of - er - unprofessional taxi drivers.

After his pregnant wife is perishes through the actions of a careless (and callous) cabby, mild-mannered Ah Kin (Anthony King of the Cat III’s Wong) declares war on the entire profession - and you don’t need The Knowledge to know he won’t be leaving a tip!

Blu-ray Verdict: In truth, and as I am sure most all of you have figured out by now, TAXI HUNTER is the Hong Kong version of Joel Schumacher’s Michael Douglas-led FALLING DOWN, with Herman Yau favorite Antony Wong adopting the titular role of a mild-mannered insurance broker whose life goes off the rails when his pregnant wife is involved an accident.

Directed by Herman Yau, this version of Taxi Hunter still wasn’t what I was expecting for it is an exploitative vigilante thriller with plenty of violence, sure, but it is nowhere near as mean-spirited or as graphic as the duo’s more infamous Cat IIIs, The Untold Story and Ebola Syndrome. Those checking the film out hoping for extreme content will no doubt be disappointed somewhat by the lack of intense gore and nihilism, but that all said, it still pushes the US original up a notch.

The film kicks off with a scene that is more akin to a heroic bloodshed movie or a Jackie Chan action flick, as gung ho cop Yu Kai-Chung and his partner tackle a gang of armed criminals. There’s a shoot out and a car chase, with some crazy vehicular stunt work and plenty of squibs.

Chung is best friends with Kin, and their relationship forms the crux of the movie, as the cop goes undercover to try and catch the taxi driver killer, unaware that it is his pal who has been committing the crimes.

Kin’s vigilante activities are definitely the film’s most satisfying moments, his victims being despicable lowlifes fully deserving of some payback, especially the driver who attempts to rape his pretty passenger. One cannot completely condone Kin’s actions, but it’s easy to sympathize with him - albeit just a bit - when his targets are such scumbags.

The inevitable ending sees Chung discovering Kin’s secret and trying to catch him before he can commit any more murders. Which then leads us nicely into the final action scene - which is unto itself, a LOT of fun - with a high-speed car chase thought the streets of HK.

In short, Taxi Hunter has a low key and gritty approach that nonetheless shoehorns some vehicular mayhem into the plot template. It’s a passionate and psychological look at a specific problem in society ie: road rage, and how it is handled within the confines of a typically Chinese styling.

Special Features:
High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray™ presentation in 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Lossless 2.0 Cantonese Mono
Newly Translated English Subtitles
Audio Commentary by Hong Kong Film Expert Frank Djeng
Hunting For Words - An Interview with Scriptwriter and Producer Tony Leung Hung-Wah
How to Murder Your Taxi Driver? - An Interview with Action Director James Ha
Falling Down in Hong Kong - An Interview with star Anthony Wong
Theatrical Trailer
Stills Gallery
Reversible cover with new artwork by Sean Longmore and original HK Poster Art

The Only Way (4K Restoration Blu-ray)
(Bendt Rothe, Ebbe Rode, Jane Seymour, Benny Hansen, Martin Potter, Ove Sprogøe, et al / 4K Blu-ray / NR / (1970) 2023 / VCI Entertainment)

Overview: In April 1940, the armies of Nazi Germany invaded Denmark. The Danish government promised peaceful cooperation on the condition that Denmark’s Jews remain free. The Nazi’s agreed. In October, 1943, the agreement was broken.

This is the true and magnificent saga of Denmark’s valorous actions to save Danish Jews from Nazi extermination at peril of death! For the Danes, this was THE ONLY WAY.

Blu-ray Verdict: This portrayal of Danish rescuers of Jews in World War II is the fictional story of how one family’s world was turned upside down when the Nazi occupiers in Denmark (since 1940) moved against the Jews of Denmark in violation of their own agreement with Danish leaders that the Jews in Denmark would be left alone.

In the fall of 1943, the Germans plotted to gather the Jews of Denmark for deportation on a Jewish holiday evening when the vast majority of Jews would be at home. Jews were so well integrated in Danish society, that no public government records identified the religious affiliations of the population.

Thus, the Nazis had to steal the records from Jewish organizations in order to know where to find them. The story illustrates the surprise and refusal of many to believe a round up of Jews would actually take place. The pace of the movie is neither plodding nor frenetic. The tension builds and is enhanced by the bewilderment and on-the-spot decision-making by a specific family and their would-be rescuers.

Having read the 1955 book, October 1943, by actual rescuer Aage Bertelsen, I resonated with virtually every incident faced by those at risk. Although this is not a polished film by modern film-making standards, the content and context of the events is accurately presented. A major strength of the movie is the extensive on-location filming in Copenhagen, and the use of Danish actors.

In closing, this is a small film, so we only see a microcosm of the work of the Dutch, focusing on one Jewish family, the Steins. The Stein daughter is 19-year-old Jane Seymour in what is I believe her debut, and she is just lovely.

Jack Armstrong (4K Restoration Blu-ray)
(Wheeler Oakman, Jack Ingram, Eddie Parker, Pierre Watkin, Joe Brown Jr., et al / 4K Blu-ray / NR / (1947) 2023 / VCI Entertainment)

Overview: A brilliant scientist working on atom-powered motors is kidnapped and taken to a mysterious island where the master villain, in usual cliffhanger form, hopes to conquer the world and gives our hero a hell of a time!

Jack Armstrong, of course, thwarts these evil plans in the nick of time. Good, clean fun filled with exciting chases, fights and thrills thru 15 chapters. For those old enough to remember, you can almost hear the announcer on the old radio show saying in a hushed voice, Well, boys and girls. You’ll remember that yesterday when we left Jack, Uncle Jim, Billy and Betty they were just ready to ...!

Blu-ray Verdict: When Columbia’s schlockmeister producer Sam Katzman brought the radio character of Jack Armstrong to the screen in 1947. the radio serial had been on the air for 14 years. In the late Forties, it had to share airtime with Sky King in a complete half hour version three times a week. Gone were the cliffhanging episodes which kept the kiddies on the end of their seats until the next day’s resolution.

Katzman’s serials were based on radio and comic book characters whose name appeal would hopefully bring in the Saturday afternoon juvenile audience. Commercial tie-ins through publicity both in newspapers and in comic books told the kids that their favorite comic book/radio heroes were now on the screen. While Charles Flynn played a teenage Jack Armstrong on radio, the listening audience did not realize that he was a young man who just finished military service.

John Hart however played a mature leading man who hadn’t seen the inside of Hudson High School (Jack Armstrong’s alma mater) for years. Rosemary LaPlanche’s fame as Miss America of 1941 got her the job of the role of Betty Fairfield, played as a young girl on radio, but on the screen could have been the love interest for John Hart.

In my opinion, Ms. LaPlanche resembled Republic western actress Helen Talbot facially and in her acting style. She would later appear in Republic’s Federal Agents vs. the Underworld Inc. Joe Brown Jr. played her brother Billy, whose radio character was famous for starting his sentences with such phrases Gee Willikers.

Charles Middleton, known as Ming the Merciless, turns in a credible performance as the evil Dr Grood. Jack Armstrong was the first of three Columbia serials produced in 1947 with the other two being the Vigilante, taken from the comic books, and the Sea Hound featuring Buster Crabbe as Captain Silver, another radio adventure serial. Booked in second run theaters, they enjoyed a brief run before being deposited back in Columbia’s vaults.

The Cisco Kid (13-film Western Collection) [DVD]
(Norman Willis, Gwen Kenyon, Lee White, Joe Armida, Walter Baldwin, et al / 5-Disc DVD / NR / 2023 / VCI Entertainment)

Overview: Of all the heroes of the Old West, few are as well-loved or as easily recognized as the Cisco Kid, based on O’Henry’s famous character. Together with his bumbling, but lovable amigo, Pancho, Cisco has entertained millions of children and adults for many years.

This rough-in-tumble 5-disc collection, containing 13 movies, combines the talents of both Gilbert Roland and Duncan Renaldo starring in the role of Cisco Kid.

Bonus features include: Archival video interview with Duncan Renaldo and Colonel Tim McCoy, Multiple Photo & Poster Galleries, Archival video interview with Duncan Renaldo, 2-Bonus Cisco Kid Episodes in Color from the popular 1950’s TV Series.

DVD Verdict: I won’t go over everything in this phenomenal collection, as you have either seen them before, know heartily of them, or are such a fan you could tell me what I stated was, perhaps, wrong, but a few films I will.

Firstly, The Gay Amigo (1949), in which The Cisco Kid and Pancho are mistakenly identified as leaders of an outlaw band and wile the cavalry runs them down, they must hunt down the real bad guys. One thing the Cisco Kid will not stand for is a defamation of his people. So when some Americano’s dress up as Mexicans and start bandit activity in southern Arizona he springs into action.

At the same time that Duncan Renaldo and Leo Carrillo were starting their weekly television series which I remember so well as a little kid, they also did some feature films of which The Gay Amigo is the first. The title does not refer to Cisco’s sexual orientation, which was straight.

The Cisco Kid in Old New Mexico (1945) is the story of when The Cisco Kid and Pancho hold up a stagecoach and kidnap Ellen Roth. They take the girl, who is wanted on a murder charge, to the mission where Padre Angelo will look after her. She tells Cisco of a mysterious Doctor Willis who called on an aged woman she had been nursing and gave her an overdose of sleeping pills.

This Cisco Kid story has Duncan Renaldo and Martin Galarraga helping Gwen Kenyon who is the accused murderess. She was the principal heir to the woman’s fortune, but when about to be arrested she flees to New Mexico territory where Cisco takes a hand. A rather elaborate trap is set by Renaldo to make the real murderer confess. And in church as well.

King of the Bandits (1947) tells the tale of when traveling north into Arizona, Cisco finds that someone committing robberies has been impersonating him and he is a wanted man. After retrieving some of the stolen loot, he is caught with it in his possession and put in the guard house. A friend whose life he recently saved beaks him out and Cisco heads out to find the impersonator and clear himself.

Giblert Roland and Chris-Pin Martin pay the Cisco Kid and Pancho here and the plot finds them in Arizona for the first time and no sooner do they get there when they find someone is using Cisco’s name to perpetrate all kinds crimes. The latest being a stagecoach holdup where Roland has to rescue mother and daughter Laura Treadwell and Angela Greene. In a most charming manner does Roland get his name cleared.

FYI: When Monogram Pictures Corporation sold their Cisco Kid series of films to television in 1949, United Artists had acquired and now held the rights to the O’Henry characters, and the company was forced to dub-over and pronounce another name in every reference to Cisco, Cisco Kid and Pancho.

Beauty and the Bandit (1946), a young Frenchman transporting a chest full of silver travels by stagecoach to San Marino, to complete a complex business deal. The stagecoach is ambushed by a band of men whose leader, a mysterious bandido known as Cisco (Gilbert Roland), claims the silver is money that was extorted over a period of years from the poor people of California. The bandits take the money and escape, but Cisco stays behind with the Frenchman -- who, it turns out, is actually a lovely mademoiselle, Jeanne DuBois (Ramsay Ames).

Gilbert Roland spends this episode of the Monogram Cisco Kid series frustrating evil-doing William Gould by chain-smoking and making love to a succession of lovelies, including Frenchwoman Ramsey Ames -- she spends the first quarter hour of the movie pretending to be a man. Being Gilbert Roland, he is remarkably successful in all these endeavors.

We’re now in Old California, which may explain why Zorro’s TV father, George J. Lewis is in this movie. He’s a police captain who keeps trying to find and arrest Cisco.

Although the movie doesn’t settle down to brass tacks until the last ten minutes, it’s a fun, lighthearted romp for most of its length, and those last ten minutes are pretty scary. Gould is quite obviously a bad ’un, but he doesn’t work too hard, spending much of his time sitting in a chair in a hotel, and a lot of the rest being a chuckling voice in the dark. Overall, it’s a remarkably entertaining movie, nonetheless.

Lastly, and leaving my own personal favorite to last, The Daring Caballero (1949), where Cisco learns from the Padre that Pappy Del Rio, the town’s leading citizen, is to be hung the next day for murder and robbery. The Padre thinks he is innocent so Cisco breaks him out and hides him. Cisco then runs into the Mayor, an outlaw he knows who is now using a different name. Cisco figures he is the murderer and sets out to prove it.

The boys are up against an unholy trio of villains in this one, including Mayor Brady (Steven Chase), bank president Hodges (Charles Halton) and Sheriff Scott (Edmund Cobb). There is also a lovely senorita (Kippee Valdez) to help the boys out.

Cisco breaks Del Rio out of jail and hides him out at the mission. It seems that Del Rio was framed for robbery and murder by the unholy three. Well, Cisco and Pancho uncover their plot and bring them all to justice, as we knew they would. As was usual in the series, Leo Carillo fractures the English language is his humorous way.

The movies in the collection include: The Gay Amigo (1949), The Cisco Kid in Old New Mexico (1945), The Cisco Kid Returns (1945), Satan’s Cradle (1949), South of the Rio Grande (1945), King of the Bandits (1947), Robin Hood of Monterey (1947), Riding the California Trail (1947), South of Monterey (1946), Beauty and the Bandit (1946), The Girl from San Lorenzo (1950), The Daring Caballero (1949), and The Gay Cavalier (1946).

City Of The Living Dead [4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray]
(Christopher George, Michele Soavi, Catriona MacColl, Carlo De Mejo, Janet Agren, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray / R / (1980) 2023 / Cauldron Films)

Overview: When a priest hangs himself in a cemetery, he opens the gates of hell in the mysterious New England town of Dunwich. At the same moment, Psychic Mary Woodhouse (Catriona MacColl- House By the Cemetery, The Beyond) enters a trance and witnesses the cosmic events unfold, causing her to seemingly die of fright.

After being buried alive, she is rescued by skeptical reporter Peter Bell (Christopher George - Pieces, Enter the Ninja, Rat Patrol) who joins her on the journey toward Dunwich to help close the gates of hell before evil is unleashed upon the world!

Will they be able to close the gates in time or will the souls of Dunwich be forever stuck in the twilight void?

Blu-ray Verdict: Lucio Fulci’s gut-spewing, brain smashing, head drilling, Lovecraftian zombie nightmare features an amazing list of Italian talent behind the scenes with a screenplay co-written by Dardano Sacchetti (Rat Man, Demons), special FX by Gino De Rossi (Zombie, Cannibal Ferox) cinematography by Sergio Salvati (Contraband, The Beyond), and soundtrack by Fabio Frizzi (Contraband, The Psychic).

With supporting performances by Giovanni Lombardo Radice (Phantom of Death, House on the Edge of the Park), Carlo De Mejo (Contamination, House by the Cemetery) and Janet Agren (Rat Man, The Iron Commissioner), City of the Living Dead is among the greatest Italian Horror films of all time!

Cauldron Films is honored to spew forth the worldwide UHD debut of Lucio Fulci’s Italian Horror classic from an updated 4K restoration, with a brand new Dolby Vision™ color grade, exclusively commissioned by Cauldron Films, along with hours of new and archival extras! 3 Discs Include 4K UHD Feature, Blu-ray Feature and Blu-ray Extras Disc Double sided Blu-ray wrap with artwork by Matthew Therrien.

Lucio Fulci is a horror icon. He may not be as well known to many film goers in North America as his iconic status was cemented some twenty years ago, but if you like films by Wes Craven and M. Night Shyamalan and even David Fincher, then you can look at Fulci and say that his work has inspired some of theirs. This is the first film that I saw of Fulci’s and it was when I was a teenager and didn’t appreciate a film like this.

All I saw in it was a blood and gore soaked film with some really violent deaths. How can one forget the drill to the head? To this day, I still think that actor was actually killed on the set? They really did put the drill bit through his brain and captured it on film for artistic integrity.

I am obviously kidding of course, but is the effect the film will have on you. Films like this are brutal and disgusting and if you like horror films that are high on gore, then Fulci and his counterpart, Argento, are the best in the business. I have always found Italian splatter films to be awe inspiring. They are so much more creative than your typical American horror films. That has changed into the new millennium, but there is still nothing like this on the market.

Fulci’s films, like Craven’s 70’s films, would be edited and chopped to bits before anything like this would ever be released. And that is a travesty as the vision and the creativity involved in making a film like this not only takes gusto, it takes talent. Fulci is about as good as they come for this genre.

City of the living Dead (aka Gates of Hell is simply a great gorefest with atmosphere to burn. The Fabio Frizzi score is catchy, as always, and frilled with dread and a certain awe. The film, which is set in the town of Dunwich, has a strong Lovecraftian flavor, and is beautifully shot and lit by Sergio Salvati.

A scene in which a young woman vomits up her own intestines is pure Fulci, as is the scene where Bob (Giovanni Lombardo Radice) has his head drilled until his brains spew out. The violence is ultra-graphic and entirely convincing in its fantasy context. The director’s fetish for rotting flesh, creepy crawlies and open wounds rancid with disease is gloriously showcased in this fine poem to death, decay and the restless dead.

In short, Fulci had a single-minded attitude towards on-screen mayhem that lifted his films into the realm of high crimson art. This is a great starting point for the Fulci-curious and a must-have for the serious fan of explicit, atmospheric horror.

New audio commentary with film historian Samm Deighan
Archival audio commentary with film historians Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson
Archival audio commentary with actress Catriona MacColl moderated by Jay Slater
Archival audio commentary with actor Giovanni Lombardo Radice moderated by Calum Waddell
Zombie Kings: Interview with Massimo Antonello Geleng
Requiem for Bob: Interview with Giovanni Lombardo Radice
On Stage: Q&A with Venantino Venantini & Ruggero Deodato
Catriona MacColl Q&A
Fabio Frizzi Q&A
The Meat Munching Movies of Gino De Rossi
Carlo of the Living Dead, an archival interview with actor Carlo De Mejo
A Trip Through Bonaventure Cemetery
Catriona Maccoll video intro from 2001
Image Gallery
Plus more archival extras and other surprises!
Double sided Blu-ray wrap with artwork by Matthew Therrien
Optional English SDH subtitles
Seamless branching - watch in English Language w/ English credit sequences and watch Italian language w/ Italian credit sequences
UHD (feature film) 4K (2160p) presentation with Dolby Vision™ HDR (HDR 10 compatible)
Blu-ray (feature film) 1080p presentation

Metalocalypse: Army of the Doomstar [Blu-ray]
(Jon Hamm, Mark Hamill, Malcolm McDowell, Brendon Small, et al / Blu-ray + Digital / NR / 2023 / Studio Distribution Services)

Overview: Picking up after the heroic rescue of Toki Wartooth, METALOCALYPSE: ARMY OF THE DOOMSTAR finds DETHKLOK frontman Nathan Explosion traumatized in a BRUTAL professional and romantic flat-spin all while he is tasked with fulfilling the prophecy and confronting the ultimate songwriting challenge: write the SONG OF SALVATION and save the planet. Can Nathan Explosion look beyond his brutally damaged ego to save his band, stop the Metalocalypse, and finally face the ultimate evil: Salacia?

It doesn’t get more metal than this! The long-awaited return of Adult Swim’s favorite heavy metal adventure Metalocalypse arrives with an all-new, full-length animated movie. Written and directed by series co-creator Brendon Small, Metalocalypse: Army of the Doomstar brings the heaviest metal band ever created back together again for an action-packed journey.

The movie will be available to purchase Digitally and on Blu-ray Disc August 22nd, 2023.

Blu-ray Verdict: For those not in the know, Metalocalypse is what one would call a multi-dimensional series, one that seamlessly blends the genres of sci-fi, fantasy, adventure and even veined dark humor, all to bring forth some great quality viewing. [Oh, and, at times, along with the brilliant original music throughout, there are scenes that are just bat shit crazy!]

Having watched the TV series, I can honestly say that I am a devoted fan of the madness and, having now watched this film three times in the past five days, I can confirm that, even if it is my own humble opinion, that it is the most perfect finale for the series. Therefore, I stand up and earnestly applause Brendon Small, Tommy Blacha, Gene Hoglan, and the entire Metalocalypse crew for making this come alive for us all.

A multi-dimensional series, Metalocalypse was a rush from start to finish, and something that rewarded us all with its scorched earth, but Doomstar Requiem made a sharp left turn from the core of the show, and decided it wanted to darkly blossom into a bellowing rock opera.

In contrast, Army of the Doomstar relies heavily on a multi-layered plot, some in-depth character personalities, and yet still enables creator Brendon Small to close everything out nicely re: the whole Dethklok saga.

So, and not to give anything away, at all, as I’m sure all you fans already have good knowledge of the series and how we got here, the story centers on DETHKLOK frontman Nathan Explosion’s crisis of confidence. Some might say that it does so a little too much, but for this last run in the saga, I actually think it was percentagely correct.

We also get a nice cameo from fan favorite Dr. Rockzo and for those wanting to see more of Murderface, well he has some form of a personal redemption here, especially given that when he plays on the last few tracks, they are as pronounced and as stridently magnificent as one could have only hoped to hear.

We also get a deeper backstory on Nathan, but for the most part, Skwisgaar is AWOL - other than when a plot point is created that includes the guitar tuner - and Pickles acts a little sheepish, perhaps even childish at times, but I’m sure there was a deeper reasoning for this by the creators.

In conclusion, and with a run time of just 83 minutes, personally, I would loved to have seen a full season (even a 6-episode season) to enable the story to be fully realized, this masterful blend of humor, story, and music giving itself to so much more; but it is what it is.

Special Feature: Behind The Metal Curtain + Exclusive Poster!

Behind the Metal Curtain (Featurette) – Dive deep into the making of Metalocalypse: Army of the Doomstar with interviews with show co-creator Brendon Small and his team of writers, animators, and musicians as they share the inspirations behind turning the hit Adult Swim series into its first feature film.

Metalocalypse: Army of the Doomstar | Official Trailer | Warner Bros. Entertainment

Enter to Win a Brutal Metalocalypse Prize Package at Loudwire Metalocalypse: Army of the Doomstar!

Prize Package + Entry Details
Grand Prize (One Winner):
• one "GhostHorse" Epiphone Explorer signed by Brendon Small
• one Blu-Ray of Metalocalypse: Army of the Doomstar
• two tickets to one show on upcoming BABYKLOK tour, featuring co-headliners DETHKLOK and BABYMETAL

Runner-Up Prizes (Two Winners):
• one Blu-Ray of Metalocalypse: Army of the Doomstar
• two tickets to one show on upcoming BABYKLOK tour, featuring co-headliners DETHKLOK and BABYMETAL

Contest will end at 11:59PM ET on Aug. 22nd, 2023.

Dr. Rockzo’s Party in the Sky | Metalocalypse: Army of the Doomstar | adult swim

Hotel Transylvania - 4 Movie Collection
(Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Adam Sandberg, Fran Drescher, Kevin James, et al / 4-DVD / PG / 2023 / Studio Distribution Services)

Overview: Welcome to Hotel Transylvania, Dracula’s lavish five-stake resort, where monsters and their families can live it up and no humans are allowed. The Drac-Pack is back in this hilarious comedy starring Drac, Mavis, Johnny and your favorite monsters in an all-new adventure! Join Drac, Mavis and all of your favorite monsters for fun and adventure on the high seas as they embark on a monster cruise vacation! Reunite with your favorite monsters for an adventure that presents Drac with a terrifying task.

Includes: Hotel Transylvania, Hotel Transylvania 2, Hotel Transylvania 3 and Hotel Transylvania: Transformation.

DVD Verdict: We open on Hotel Transylvania (2012), and with Dracula, who operates a high-end resort away from the human world, and who goes into overprotective mode when a boy discovers the resort and falls for the count’s teenage daughter.

From the outside, Hotel Transylvania may look like a clichéd and typical aim-at-the-kids-mooch-off-the-adults animated film with pop music, celebrities, cute characters, and plenty of childish humor. It may look like a film that doesn’t strive for the heights of Pixar and instead aims for the likes of Dreamworks’ lesser efforts. And from a film buff’s perspective, it may look like an animated movie with known production hell that was tossed at us to just collect some cash and lessen the losses.

But, Hotel Transylvania actually delivers. Surprisingly, and in many departments. It did not just succeed in pleasing the kids, but it actually entertains the adults with quick zany Tex Avery humor with very minimal downtime. Similar to the original Madagascar flick that remains DreamWorks’ most consistently entertaining franchise, this movie rapidly fires jokes high, low, and direct to catch the kids, teenagers, and adults off-guard. They took the classic father/growing daughter concept and gave it a clever monster twist that allows for plenty of creativity.

Next up is Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015), where Dracula and his friends try to bring out the monster in his half human, half vampire grandson in order to keep Mavis from leaving the hotel.

Mavis and Jonathan (again voiced by Selena Gomez and Andy Samberg) marry and a year later they have a child that Drac himself (voiced, as always, by Adam Sandler) names Dennis. Nearly five years pass and Dennis still hasn’t become a vampire, so Drac tries with his friends Frank, Wayne, Griffin (voiced by Kevin James, Steve Buscemi and David Spade), Murray and Blobby to make a vampire out of Dennis but all their attempts fail.

So Drac sends Dennis to the summer camp where he refined his vampire abilities but after a video that accidentally ends on the Internet Mavis is enraged with her dad because he can’t accept a human nephew and after Drac’s father Vlad (voice by Mel Brooks) comes by surprise, Drac will do his best to save his friends and make humans co-exist pacifically with the monsters.

Then we get Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (2018) where Count Dracula and company participate in a cruise for sea-loving monsters, unaware that their boat is being commandeered by the monster-hating Van Helsing family.

For me, Summer Vacation is a fun and entertaining addition to the Hotel Transylvania franchise. The animation is vibrant and colorful, the characters are lovable and well-developed, and the story is filled with humor and heart. The film follows Dracula, Mavis and their family as they go on a luxury monster cruise ship, where they meet new monsters and Mavis makes a plan to give Dracula a chance to find true love.

As always, the voice acting is spot-on, with Sandler, Gomez, and Samberg delivering great performances throughout. The movie also has a good balance of action, comedy and emotion, which is what we have come to expect, but taking them outside of their safe haven hotel could have been risky; but, luckily, it, for the most part, worked.

Lastly we get Hotel Transylvania 4: Transformania (2022) where after one experiment, Johnny turns into a monster and everyone else becomes human. Now it has to be seen whether they will be able to reverse this experiment!

The story here is that Count Dracula plans to retire from running the Hotel Transylvania and have his daughter and her husband run it. But the young man’s excitement gives Dracula second thoughts which then causes a mix-up and the story takes them to the jungle of central South America to find a special crystal that is needed to repair the magical ray gun.

Or something pretty close to that! The animated action is always manic, most of it is funny and entertaining and all the voice acting is top notch. But there is no big message here, just fun entertainment for those of us who like this sort of thing.


The Flash (4K Ultra HD + Digital)
(Ezra Miller, Michael Keaton, Ben Affleck, Sasha Calle, et al / 4K UHD+Blu-ray+Digital / PG-13 / 2023 / Studio Distribution Services)

Overview: Worlds collide in The Flash when Barry Allen uses his superpowers to travel back in time to change the events of the past. But when his attempt to save his family inadvertently alters the future, Barry becomes trapped in a reality in which General Zod has returned, threatening annihilation, and there are no Super Heroes to turn to.

That is, unless Barry can coax a very different Batman out of retirement and rescue an imprisoned Kryptonian…albeit not the one he’s looking for. Ultimately, to save the world that he is in and return to the future that he knows, Barry’s only hope is to race for his life. But will making the ultimate sacrifice be enough to reset the universe?

4K UHD Blu-ray Verdict: Warner Bros. Entertainment is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of the highly-anticipated The Flash in the expansive 4K Ultra HD video format this August 29th, 2023.

For my money, this The Flash [4K UHD+BR+Digital] combo pack sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.

So, what we have is The Flash presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: Native 4K (2160p), HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10, Aspect ratio: 1.90:1 and Original aspect ratio: 1.90:1.

Featuring Dolby Vision and HDR10 for brighter, deeper, and way more lifelike colors, as with most all 4K UHDs, everything that we watch features these qualities - but somehow, this film gloriously shines within them all.

Noticeably crisp with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what is more is that it is enjoyably noticeable. For as well as some new nuances to the somewhat drab palette courtesy of Dolby Vision, we also get to witness sudden bright pops of color, which makes the eyes draw in, for sure.

Some of those moments now being, well, let’s call them the Batman, Wonder Woman, babies, and a intro dog scenes! All the best superhero films have the wildest introductions. The Flash stands supreme among them with one of the best glances at “a day in the life” of Barry Allen. While waiting for an obnoxious worker to craft his favored sandwich at the local deli, he gets a call from Batman to save a Gotham City hospital. Where’s the Dark Knight in all of this you might ask? Well, he’s saving the entire city from a group of bad guys who could possibly kill much of the city’s population with some stolen, unsavory goods.

As the Gotham hospital collapses from its foundation, Barry must save several falling infants, a dog, and a nurse who are plummeting to their potential deaths amid the crumbling infrastructure of the building. While saving babies and a silly dog with his tongue flapping in the air in danger might seem stressful, the whole slow-mo affair is rather hysterical as intended.

During Barry’s speedy heroic moment, he has to cram food down his gullet from a tumbling vending machine to fuel his ultra-fast metabolism and his rescue attempt. After saving the babies, the dog, and the nurse, he races to aid Batman. But Wonder Woman gets there first. As she entangles the two in her Lasso of Truth to save the day, both Batman and Barry admit to some hilariously insightful details about their personal lives. There are plenty of chuckles to go around in this raucous intro.

Now highlighted even more in this most wondrous 4K UHD upgrade, is when a young Barry discovering his newfound powers. When Barry alters one minor detail in a bid to save his mother from certain death, he returns to the future and is elated to learn his mother is still alive. However, he is horrified to see his younger teenage self enter the picture living a seemingly slacker life as a college kid. As Barry attempts to figure out the rules of time travel on the fly, he realizes his younger teenage self had better obtain the Flash powers, or else he’ll lose his and won’t be able to return to his actual present day (which is still further in the future).

After he takes young Barry into the CPD and positions him in the same spot where the lightning struck him in his own timeline, everything goes awry. Barry loses his powers in the lightning strike while teenage Barry gains the powers. After bringing teenage Barry back to his apartment, the excitable kid tests out his powers before Barry can even get a word in. He races across town and then has a freak-out moment when his clothes catch fire due to air friction. He then causes a series of damages while emerging from the moment stark naked in the street.

As for the audio, well we get the choice of: English: Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps), French: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps) and Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps).

Overall, this is a very strong 4K HDR Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.

As for the story to hand, things have been very murky around DC’s universe plan in the last few years. Almost like they go one step forward and two steps backwards. We are hoping to see some creative approach to storytelling with James Gunn leading the charge in days to come. The Flash, however, was the last of the previous management product and has been years in the making. This movie is definitely one of a kind and surprises you out of nowhere (in a good way).

The Flash has a lot going on, even taking the time to explore the flashpoint concept which gets briefly introduced at the end of justice league. There isn’t much of a surprise around it as they have revealed quite a bit about the timeline and characters which The Flash is traveling to. Indeed, this movie is a journey between timelines where The Flash battles internal and external conflicts.

What sets the movie apart is the creative visual representation of time travel, the humor and the final flurry of surprises with Easter eggs in the end. There are indeed some outrageous action sequences, especially the introduction scene of flash saving the babies from the hospital. However these add a different charm to the movie almost equivalent to the cheekiness of Deadpool.

The time travel concept isn’t new, nor the whole multiverse concept, yet we’re shown it as if it hadn’t been explored in recent movies. I mention this as the movie does remind you of Dr Strange’s Multiverse of Madness and even Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. However, this doesn’t negatively impact the movie. The movie kind of tends to go haywire at time, but somehow manages to bring itself back on track. The climax definitely has one of the best emotional moments in a superhero film and is thus portrayed in the most beautiful way possible.

Keeping public and personal controversies aside, Ezra Miller has played one of the best dual roles which I have seen in a film. The two different versions of Barry Allen present such variety not only in terms of looks but also in terms of demeanor. One can almost feel as if there are two different actors playing in the movie. Ben Affleck, Michael Keaton play the apt supporting Batman characters. I cannot speak much about the performance and impact of other actors because that could lead to potential spoilers, but they are all written and excellently portrayed in a deceivingly brilliant way!

In conclusion, The Flash is fun, engaging, visually compelling, and at times outrageous and even deeply emotional. If only DC had standalone introduction movies for these superhero movies before Justice League and then continued the universe, maybe this movie would have had a much bigger impact. The movie does end with some exciting potential ahead but nobody knows whether DC is going to pursue the same ( we shall all wait and see together).

“The Flash” Premium Digital Ownership contain the following special features:
• “The Flash: Escape the Midnight Circus” podcast – Six-part original scripted audio series featuring Max Greenfield as The Flash
• The Flash: Escape the Midnight Circus Behind the Scenes
• Deleted Scenes
• Saving Supergirl - featurette
• The Bat Chase - featurette
• Battling Zod - featurette
• Fighting Dark Flash - featurette
• The Flash: The Saga of the Scarlett Speedster – featurette (Amazon digital exclusive)
• Making the Flash: Worlds Collide - featurette
• Let’s Get Nuts: Batman Returns, Again - featurette
• Supergirl: Last Daughter of Krypton - featurette
• Flashpoint: Introducing the Multiverse - featurette

Prepare for the time-bending adventure of a lifetime when “The Flash” arrives for purchase Digitally at home on July 18. The film is directed by Andy Muschietti with Ezra Miller reprising their role as The Flash/Barry Allen in the DC Super Hero’s first-ever standalone feature film. The film will also be available to purchase on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD on August 29.

• On July 18, “The Flash” will be available for early Premium Digital Ownership at home for $24.99 and for 48-hour rental via PVOD for $19.99 SRP on participating digital platforms where you purchase movies, including Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV, Google Play, Vudu, and more.

• On August 29, “The Flash” will be available to own on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD. “The Flash” will also continue to be available to own in high definition and standard definition from participating digital retailers.

“The Flash” ensemble also includes rising star Sasha Calle, Michael Shannon, Ron Livingston, Maribel Verdú, Kiersey Clemons, Antje Traue and Michael Keaton. “The Flash” is produced by Barbara Muschietti and Michael Disco. The screenplay is by Christina Hodson, with a screen story by John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein and Joby Harold, based on characters from DC. The executive producers are Toby Emmerich, Walter Hamada, Galen Vaisman and Marianne Jenkins.

The Flash | Warner Bros. Entertainment [Extended Trailer]

The Dead Mother (Limited Edition) [Blu-ray + CD]
(Karra Elejalde, Ana Alvarez, Lio, Silvia Marsó, et al / Blu-ray + CD / NR / (1993) 2023 / Radiance)

Overview: Ismael (Karra Elejalde, Timecrimes) breaks into the house of a fine art restorer and shoots the homeowner dead, leaving her daughter orphaned and traumatized for life. Years later Ismael is working in a bar where he sees the daughter again. Paranoid that she has recognized him and will report him, he kidnaps her and holds her hostage, demanding that her hospital pay a ransom for her release.

As he spends more time with her a strange bond develops that causes him to delay the ransom request or fulfill his threats of throwing her in front of a train. But he can’t delay forever.

A gothic thriller with pitch-black humor that recalls the Coen brothers, Juanma Bajo Ulloa’s sophomore feature won a host of prestigious international awards and was a precursor to the Spanish genre explosion.

Blu-ray Verdict: Cold-blooded, rotten-to-the-core thief Ismael kills a woman during a burglary, and all whilst her young daughter is watching. Years later he finds her as a beautiful, but semi-catatonic teenager at the funny farm. He kidnaps her, intending to off her, but gets fascinated and obsessed with her, which doesn’t go over well with Ismael’s equally rotten and greedy (aka jealous) girlfriend Maite!

Director Juanma Bajo Ulloa (who was in his mid-20s when he made this, his second feature) has created one of the most disturbing psychosexual Euro-thrillers in recent years, in my humble opinion. The Dead Mother (aka Madre Muerta) is a dark, yet visually stunning journey into sheer madness guided with some mighty fine wicked comedic touches.

Weird; bizarre and macabre, accompanied by the incredible symphonic material by Bingen Mendizábal, The Dead Mother is, at the very least, a beautiful suite in and unto itself; even without the film as the visual entity (said musical score suite is now added here on a disc of its own). Add to that the extraordinary photography by Javier Aguirresarrobe, cinematic at its most finest, and you can be sure of something a little out of the commonplace.

In closing, more emotional involving than Funny Games, more adult in nature than Iglesia, The Dead Mother is a truly compelling, at times cerebral and ghoulishly unpredictable masterpiece not to be missed.

4K restoration of the film supervised and approved by director Juanma Bajo Ulloa
Uncompressed stereo 2.0 audio
Audio commentary by Bajo Ulloa
The Story of La Madre Muerta - a documentary on the making of the film featuring behind-the-scenes images and interviews with the cast and crew
Victor’s Kingdom [El reino de Victor] (1989, 38 mins)
Goya Award-winning short film by Ulloa, restored in 4K
Gallery of behind-the-scenes and promotional imagery
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Time Tomorrow
Limited Edition booklet featuring new writing on the film by Xavier Aldana Reyes, author of Spanish Gothic: National Identity, Collaboration and Cultural Adaptation, and newly translated archival writing by Juanma Bajo Ulloa, co-writer Eduardo Bajo Ulloa and an appreciation by Nacho Vigalond
Limited Edition Soundtrack CD featuring Bingen Mendizábal’s sumptuous score
Limited Edition (only 3000 copies), presented in full-height Scanavo packaging with removable OBI strip leaving packaging free of markings

Borsalino (Limited Edition) [Blu-ray]
(Catherine Rouvel, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Alain Delon, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1970) 2023 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: Two years before The Godfather and three years before The Sting, there was Borsalino, a wildly entertaining period-set gangster movie that brought together two icons of French cinema, Jean-Paul Belmondo (Breathless) and Alain Delon (Le Samourai).

Marseilles, 1930: small-time gangster Roch Siffredi (Delon) is released from prison and finds his former girlfriend Lola (Catherine Rouvel, Picnic on the Grass) has moved on and is now with Francois Capella (Belmondo), another petty crook. Initially at odds, the two men form a partnership that will see them rise through the ranks of organized crime in Marseilles. But how far will they go in their pursuit of power and what price will they be forced to pay?

Directed by Jacques Deray (La Piscine), written by Jean-Claude Carriere (Belle Du Jour), with a score by French Jazz pianist Claude Bolling, and costumes by Jacques Fonteray (Barbarella), Borsalino is a Gallic gangster classic!

Blu-ray Verdict: This may not be the best of Jacques Deray’s nine collaborations with Alain Delon, but it is certainly the most commercially successful. Delon maintained that Deray was the director with whom he had the greatest affinity which is praise indeed considering his sterling work for such luminaries as Visconti, Melville, Verneuil and Clément!

Based upon Scammano’s novel Bandits at Marseilles - about real life gangsters Carbone and Spirito, whose names have naturally been changed - this is essentially a vehicle for Delon and Jean-Paul Belmondo; who were both at the height of their popularity and in their physical prime at the time. The pairing proved to be a masterstroke as both actors possess charisma in spades whilst Delon’s measured coolness is balanced by Belmondo’s easy-going amiability.

Set in 1930’s Marseilles, this has excellent period detail, a catchy if somewhat repetitious theme by Claude Bolling, female interest in the shape of elegant Francoise Christophe, mysterious Corinne Marchand and delectable Catherine Rouvel and as a bonus we have the always good value Michel Bouquet as a shady lawyer.

There is plenty of mucho-macho posturing on display, of course, and corpses galore with a shootout set in an abattoir that will have assorted veggies and vegans foaming at the mouth! The imaginative ways in which various low-lives are bumped off pre-date The Godfather, although Deray’s film lacks the psychological depth of Coppola’s masterpiece.

It has also been made known that Deray was said to be influenced by Melville, but overall, Borsalino lacks that director’s existentialist feel. However, and what is certain, is that Deray made his mark in the thriller genre, which he considered to be spectacle of the higher order, and that this French-Italian gangster movie Borsalino is a mighty fine example of such action movies made in the 60s and 70s.

Special Features:
High definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
Original lossless mono French and English audio options
Optional English subtitles
New audio commentary by film scholar Josh Nelson
The Music of Borsalino, a new interview with composer and film historian Neil Brand on Claude Bolling’s score
Dressing Down, a new interview with film scholar Elizabeth Castaldo Lundén on Jacques Fonteray’s costume designs for Borsalino
Le Magnifique Belmondo, an archive extra celebrating the unique talent and career of the beloved French actor
Theatrical trailer
Image gallery
Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Ginette Vincendeau and an archival piece by Elisa Fulco
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tony Stella
Double-sided poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tony Stella
Six postcard-sized reproduction artcards

The Prodigal Son (Limited Edition) [Blu-ray]
(Yuen Biao, Sammo Hung, Lam Ching-Ying, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1981) 2023 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: In 1978, actor/director Sammo Hung gave Hong Kong audiences the Wing Chun crash course of Warriors Two, while his next directorial effort, 1979’s Knockabout, gave Yuen Biao the chance to shine as its lead star.

But it would be in 1981 that he would combine Biao’s newfound screen presence and the legacy of Warriors Two’s Leung Tsan into what is still considered one of his best directorial efforts: The Prodigal Son.

Leung Tsan (Biao) is a wealthy young man living the dream, thinking he’s the Kung-Fu King of the town of Foshan. However, his dream is about to become a nightmare when he is easily beaten in a fight by the star of a traveling opera troupe, Leung Yee-Tai (Lam Ching-Ying).

It is at this low point that the truth is revealed to Tsan - all of his “victories” have been nothing but paid-for set-ups by his family out of a misguided act of protection. With this revelation, Tsan pleads with Yee-Tai to train him in the form of combat that led to his defeat: Wing Chun.

Yee-Tai, with the help of fellow Wing Chun master Wong Wah-Bo (Hung), will train Tsan to not only be as skilled as he once thought he was, but even better. Though a mysterious challenger (Frankie Chan) and his ruthless Manchu bodyguards may end the journey before it can even begin.

Blu-ray Verdict: This Sammo Hung-directed flick is a must-see for any fan of fast-paced, realistic kung-fu. Yuen Biao turns in another great performance as the rich kid who finds out (almost) too late that all of his fights have been fixed.

Lam Ching Ying is also first-rate as Biao’s cross-dressing sensei. Indeed, this may be the only portrayal of a gay kung-fu hero in existence! However, Sammo himself all but steals the show once he shows up as Lam’s thick-set older brother.

Also, Sammo’s calligraphy lesson to his daughter contains one of his greatest acrobatic displays! Which means, for me, The Prodigal Son is a highly enjoyable kung-fu comedy, utilizing the directorial talents of Sammo Hung and the acting skills of Yuen Biao; who pair up to deliver a period-set outing in kung-fu tomfoolery with the emphasis on slapstick, and generalized open comedy - with a few dramatic moments thrown in for good measure!

In fact, there is one hair-raising set-piece involving a huge fire lit by a gang of black-clad assassins which is hugely effective, and followed by more serious blood and violence which was enough to earn this film an 18 certificate in the UK upon release!

Despite not being the masterpiece, the movie is wholly engaging, skillfully made and features some great character performances. So if you are a fan of Jackie Chan’s tongue-in-cheek, real-action romps, The Prodigal Son is sure to be right up your alley.

Special Features:
2K restorations from the original elements by Fortune Star of both the original HK “Theatrical Release Presentation” and the “Home Release Presentation”
High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
Original lossless Cantonese, Mandarin, and English mono options
Optional English subtitles
Commentary by martial arts cinema expert Frank Djeng & actor Bobby Samuels
Commentary by action cinema experts Mike Leeder & Arne Venema
Wing Chun 101, an interview with Wing Chun sifu Alex Richter
Life Imitating Art, archival featurette featuring interviews with Wing Chun instructor and producer Guy Lai talking about the art, illustrated via demonstrations by Sifu Austin Goh and Jude Poyer
The Heroic Trio, archival featurette featuring interviews with director Sammo Hung and stars Yuen Biao and Frankie Chan looking back on the making of the film
Original theatrical trailers
Double-sided fold-out poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Joe Kim
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Joe Kim
Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Peter Glagowski

Carlito’s Way (4K Ultra HD )
(Al Pacino, Sean Penn, Penelope Ann Miller, Luis Guzman, John Leguizamo, et al / 4K Blu-ray + Blu-ray / R / (1993) 2023 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: Academy Award winner Al Pacino reunites with his Scarface director Brian De Palma for this tough-minded thriller about a gangster looking for salvation down the mean streets of 1970s New York City.

Gangster Carlito Brigante (Pacino) gets released early from prison thanks to the work of his lawyer, Kleinfeld (Sean Penn, Milk). Vowing to go straight, Carlito nonetheless finds dangers waiting for him in the outside world. As Carlito works toward redemption, Kleinfeld sinks into cocaine-fueled corruption.

When Kleinfeld crosses the mob, Carlito gets caught in the crossfire and has to face a hard choice: remain loyal to the friend who freed him or protect a new life with the woman he loves (Penelope Ann Miller, The Relic). With enemies closing in from all sides, Carlito must find his way before it’s too late.

4K Blu-ray Verdict: As a cinematic walk on the wild side of crime and drugs, Carlito’s Way is both entertaining and challenging. The presence of Pacino make comparisons to Scarface inevitable, and Carlito’s Way could actually be a kind of sequel, assuming Pacino got nabbed at the end of Scarface, got out after five years thanks to a technicality and decided to go straight!

His hood friends and sleaze bag lawyer, however, make sure he gets sucked back into a life of not just crime but criminal intrigue, complete with double-crossing and murder. Scarface had a certain macho appeal to everything, but I always liked this one better. It’s a more hard-boiled crime thriller, and less superficially pretty in its production design and cinematography.

Also, for my money, the criminal scheming has a greater complexity to it, and the mobster characters seem more desperate and closer to the edge. Scarface was played out in the big money high stakes world of the cocaine trade, but here the possibility of death by double cross seems to hang on the heels of everybody much more.

Sean Penn’s lawyer character, like any good movie villain, seems capable of anything, and drives the action by weaving schemes around one character and then another and having them double cross each other. This makes for an interestingly plotted movie as we follow one scheme after another, each trickier and more desperate than the last, some succeeding, others falling apart.

The question is not whether it will all come down at the end, but rather who will manage to dodge the fallout. The 145 minute running time passes in a breeze and there are lots of interesting story developments to keep you hooked throughout. Much like several other classic Pacino performances, Carlito’s Way is an excellent showcase of his talent, and a time when crime films were a whole lot better than they are now (for the most part, in my humble opinion).

Limited edition packaging with reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Obviously Creative
Double-sided fold-out poster featuring newly-commissioned artwork by Tom Ralston and Obviously Creative
Seven double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproductions
Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Barry Forshaw and original production notes

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray (2160p) presentation in High Dynamic Range
Original stereo, 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and DTS-X audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Brand new audio commentary by Matt Zoller Seitz, author of The Wes Anderson Collection and The Soprano Sessions
Brand new audio commentary by Dr. Douglas Keesey, author of Brian De Palma’s Split-Screen: A Life in Film

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original stereo and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Brand new audio commentary by Matt Zoller Seitz
Brand new audio commentary by Dr Douglas Keesey
Carlito and the Judge, a brand new interview with Judge Edwin Torres, author of the novels Carlito’s Way and After Hours on which the screenplay for Carlito’s Way is based
Cutting Carlito’s Way, a brand new interview with editors Bill Pankow and Kristina Boden
De Palma’s Way, a brand new appreciation by film critic David Edelstein
All the Stitches in the World: The Locations of Carlito’s Way, a brand new look at the New York locations of Carlito’s Way and how they look today
De Palma on Carlito’s Way, an archival interview with director Brian De Palma
The Making of Carlito’s Way, an archival documentary on the making of the film, produced for the original DVD release
Deleted scenes
Original promotional featurette
Theatrical teaser and trailer
Image gallery

The Last House On The Left [4K UHD]
(Aaron Paul, Sara Paxton, Monica Potter, Tony Goldwyn, Garret Dillahunt, et al / 4K Blu-ray + Blu-ray / R / (2009) 2023 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: When athletic teen Mari Collingwood (Sara Paxton) opts to hang out with her friend Paige in town rather than spend an evening in with her parents vacationing at the family’s remote lake house, it marks the beginning of a night no one is going to forget.

The two girls wind up in the company of escaped convict Krug (Garret Dillahunt) and his makeshift family of vile career criminals, who kidnap and brutally assault them before leaving them for dead.

Fleeing from the scene of their violent crime during a storm, the thugs inadvertently seek refuge with Mari’s parents, anxious as to why their daughter hasn’t come home yet and primed to unleash the full forces of hell on anyone who would dare to touch so much as a hair on her head.

4K Blu-ray Verdict: As we all know, the horror remake has become a genre in its own way. With each remake, we constantly complain that Hollywood is running out of ideas and is turning to the cheap thrills of half-assed remakes to get their buck as quickly as they can. Virtually every major horror film of the 1970’s and 1980’s has already been remade, or is on its way (hello, Hellraiser and A Nightmare On Elm Street!).

While there have been some terrible abominations to their originals, the 2009 version of Wes Craven’s The Last House On the Left is not even close to those, surpassing the others to become the best horror remake to date. While some may say, that’s like being the best video game movie, I assure you, this is a thriller that thrills, scares, and knows how to get the audience involved with the film.

As is a movie that isn’t all that deep itself, and has a basic premise with no major plot twist, I’ll keep this review short. I’m not going to be an idiot and say that this is a movie that has deep, thought provoking characters with oodles of development - it’s not that kind of film. Dennis Iliadis knows what he has to work with and uses it to his advantage, shooting a riveting thriller that, while showcasing enough blood to drown a small village, is never overdone.

The Last House On the Left doesn’t delve into the easy escape route of the torture porn/unnecessary sex romp that other remakes have (I’m looking at you, Friday the 13th). It’s gruesome and bloody when it needs to be, and this is why the audience can enjoy it.

Another detail I really liked about this one was the extreme attention paid to the suspense. At around 2 hours, this one runs pretty long for a horror film, and most of it is the build up to the climactic showdown in the house of which the title speaks. However, there’s enough thrills and suspense in this to keep us interested, even though the actual house doesn’t play a role until the second half of the movie.

I also liked the script from Carl Ellsworth, who again manages to create an entertaining atmosphere, much like he did in Red Eye and Disturbia. Is the guy going to win any Oscars? No, as most of the dialog in his movies is pretty below average, but the guy knows how to write entertaining movies.

I guess the acting here is acceptable, especially for a horror film (oh how I long for a great actor to be in a horror film again - where did the Sigourney Weaver’s of the world go? - but it’s nothing to write home about. Monica Potter and Tony Goldwyn are acceptable as parents acting instinctively to protect their daughter, while Sara Paxton is impressive in a role that will not remind anyone that this is the same girl that did Aquamarine.

As for the villains, again, they are passable, but I really think Josh Brolin would’ve owned Garrett Dillahunt’s role, while Aaron Paul’s part would’ve been perfect for a guy like Ben Foster. What’s that? Yes I’m aware that those two would probably never sign on to a movie like this, I’m just having a bit of wishful thinking. Dillahunt’s character was well written enough to the point where he didn’t need to add anything to make him menacing, but there was a lot of potential there.

All in all, this is one of the better horror films of recent memory (better than pretty much any mainstream 2008 horror film, that’s for sure), and in my opinion the best remake of them all. It’s not cheap, it’s well made, and it’s got what looks like a lot of effort in it. I really enjoyed it for what it was, and now that it is on the most glorious 4K UHD, well, I think you will also finish watching it having been pleasantly surprised.

Two version of the film: the original Theatrical Version (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray) and the Unrated Version (Blu-ray)
Original uncompressed stereo audio and DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround audio for both films
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing on both films
Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Zoë Rose Smith
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Eric Adrian Lee

4K (2160p) Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation in Dolby Vision (HDR10 compatible) of the original Theatrical Version of the film
Exclusive new filmed introduction by director Dennis Iliadis
Brand new audio commentary by David Flint and Adrian Smith
A River of Blood, a new 31-minute interview with Sara Paxton
The Notorious Krug, a new 27-minute interview with actor Garret Dillahunt
Suspending Disbelief, a new 18-minute interview with screenwriter Carl Ellsworth
Reviving the Legend, a new 33-minute interview with producer Jonathan Craven
Look Inside Featurette, from the films original 2009 release
Deleted scenes
Theatrical trailer
Image gallery

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the Unrated Version

The Postman Fights Back (Special Edition)
(Chow Yun-Fat, Ka-Yan Leung, Cherie Chung, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1982) 2023 / 88 Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: When courier Ma (Ka-Yan Leung, Mr. Nice Guy) alongside three other mismatched allies, is sent on a mission to deliver a secret cargo to a rebel leader, he soon finds himself on a patriotic quest to save the country and himself.

Also starring Chow Yun-Fat (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), this historic Chinese action movie by Ronny Yu (Bride of Chucky, Freddy vs. Jason) from legendary Hong Kong studio Golden Harvest, is sure to pack a powerful punch.

Blu-ray Verdict: For those not in the know, The Postman Fights Back is an early film for director Ronny Yu, who would later direct the wuxia masterpiece The Bride With White Hair. This is mostly a starring vehicle for Ka Yan Leung best known as Beardy and, trust me, if you seen a few old school kung fu flicks, you definitely will recognize him.

This puts a postman, a thief, an explosive expert and a con man together to deliver a package that has people trying to kill them on the way. Chow Yun Fat and Cherie Chung give early appearances here and it is cool to see Chow Yun Fat mixing it up with some old school chop-sockey action.

Ergo, The Postman Fights Back is crazy, unpolished action that is a bridge between the old school Kung Fu flicks and the new wave of HK action cinema that was about to revolutionize the action movie market with the films of John Woo, Jackie Chan and others.

Eddie Ko plays a similar ninja character that he played in Duel To The Death and has similar insane ninja action. The Postman Fights Back is not without it’s flaws, but is definitely a worthy Hong Kong action flick that is good enough to please fans of the genre and is interesting enough to give it a shot.

The cinematography is excellent and the use of the camera was ingenious in many scenes of a very cold Korean landscape (of course, if you notice this then maybe the adventure was stagnant). Ronny Yu’s (Fearless, The Bride With White Hair, Freddy vs. Jason) direction is quite good and consistently chooses interesting shooting techniques with hand-held cameras in many exterior shots.

Eddy Ko Hung’s is excellent as the villain. Ideas were impressive from the ice-skating bandits to Fu Jun’s wrist bow to exploding rats! The fight scenes are interesting if a bit short with Chow fighting two bandits at once - with one standing on a platform attached to the back of his partner, and an excellent finale with the unmasked ninja fighting the protagonist Ma.

High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray™ presentation in 2.39:1 Aspect Ratio From a 2K Scan of the Original 35mm Negative
Contains BOTH the Hong Kong AND Export Cuts
Original Cantonese Mono with English Subtitles
English 5.1 DTS-HD MA
English Mono with Alternate Score
Audio Commentary with Frank Djeng and Ronny Yu
Archive Audio Commentary with Stephan Hammond
Interview with Chow Yun-Fat
Interview with Leung Kar-Yan
Second Interview with Leung Kar-Yan
Interview with Ronny Yu
Original Hong Kong Trailer

Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse [Blu-ray]
(Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Brian Tyree Henry, et al / Blu-ray + DVD + Digital / PG / 2023 / Studio Distribution Services)

Overview: Miles Morales returns for the next chapter of the Oscar-winning Spider-Verse saga, (2018, Best Animated Feature Film), Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. After reuniting with Gwen Stacy, Brooklyn’s full-time, friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is catapulted across the Multiverse, where he encounters a team of Spider-People charged with protecting its very existence.

But when the heroes clash on how to handle a new threat, Miles finds himself pitted against the other Spiders and must redefine what it means to be a hero so he can save the people he loves most.

Blu-ray Verdict: Not even the most optimistic of pundits could’ve ever predicted the glowing reception and success that came the way of 2018’s Into the Spider-Verse, slinging to almost $400 million at the worldwide box office, critical praise and a spot entrenched in the upper echelons of the IMDB’s Top 250 Movies of All Time list! Too say that the first iteration of the Spider-Verse animated universe was a roaring and unexpected success would be a huge understatement.

Fast forward these close to 5 years on and expectations for teenager Miles Morales/Spider-Man next adventure are sky high, but proving that lightning can strike twice, the creative team behind this colorful Spider-Man series (overseen by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller) have once again delivered a frenetic, energetic and most importantly entertaining animated epic that will likely cause much debate - especially as to whether or not this is a case of a rare sequel that may in fact be better than its forefather.

Still featuring the oddball humor and near endless parade of in-jokes, homages and side gags that made the first Morales venture such a delight outside of its visual spectacle, Across the Spider-Verse also feels like a much more mature outing this time around, with Morales himself more world weary and battered (which coincides nicely with the film, as a whole, dealing with some heavy issues and subject matters that at times brings on an unexpectedly sombre tone.

With credit going to the creative team here for not being afraid to make their film skew further from the young audience that may not quite understand the nuances on display here, all the while allowing older audience members to feast on a film that is far from all style and no substance, the movie is a visual masterpiece from beginning to end.

Clocking in at close to two and a half hours, Across the Spider-Verse is one of the longest animated films ever widely released into cinemas and there are segments throughout the film where it feels as though we are covering similar narrative ground on more than one occasion from the first, but when Morales’ adventures into the Multiverse swings into the sky it takes us on yet another unforgettable journey.

Whether it be New York - via way of Mumbai - or a Spider-filled version of Earth, Across the Spider-Verse has enough imagination and spark to fill countless other animated rides that would be desperate for even a portion of the creative magic on display here.

As also was the case the first time around in 2018, this 2023 Spider-Verse features another array of on-song voice performances from its talented cast that works in tandem with the incredible artistry on display throughout. Led once again by Shameik Moore and Hailee Steinfeld, new additions to the voice cast here include a scene-stealing Oscar Isaac as Miguel O’Hara, Jason Schwartzman as The Spot and Daniel Kaluuya as Hobart Brown, and trust me when I say they all bring their A-game to this big budgeted affair - making this an all-round package that has not only lived up to the legacy of the first installment, but arguably surpassed it.

Even if there’s a feeling of being teased by possibilities once the credits begin to roll here, the hype is going to be overflowing for the next few years for these animated Spider-Verse movies, which has already proven that lightning can indeed strike more than twice!

In conclusion, people may bemoan the amount of Spider-Man themed films we’ve had slung our way over the past 20 years or so, but if the quality of these outings remain as strong as what we get here with Across the Spider-Verse, they’re going to be complaining for a long time yet to come!

• Blu-ray™, 4K UHD and Digital Exclusives:
o Obscure Spiders and Easter Eggs
o Deleted Scene: Miguel Calling
o “I’mma Do My Own Thing” Interdimensional Destiny
o Across the Worlds: Designing New Dimensions
o Designing Spiders and Spots
o Scratches, Score and The Music of the Multiverse
o Escape from Spider-Society
o Across the Comics-Verse
o Lyric Videos
o Filmmaker Commentary
• Also Includes:
o Creating the Ultimate Spider-Man Movie
o Raising a Hero
o Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Cast
• Creating the Ultimate Spider-Man Movie
• Raising a Hero
• Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Cast

Official Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse Facebook Page

Official Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse Website

Suburra [Blu-ray]
(Elio Germano, Claudio Amendola, Pierfrancesco Favino, Alessandro Borghi, Greta Scarano, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (2015) 2023 / Unearthed Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: In 2011, Ostia is the subject of a giant real estate project intended to make the harbor of Ancient Rome the Las Vegas of today. But the place soon becomes a battlefield where criminals and politicians either join forces cynically or fight each other ruthlessly. The infernal showdown will last seven days, claiming many lives.

Blu-ray Verdict: In truth, Gomorrah is one of my all time favorite movies (and book) and I was really excited when I came to know that the same team was behind Suburra. And they didn’t disappoint. In fact, the movie almost inspired me to learn Italian to appreciate the nuances of the dialog, but even with subtitles, I was spellbound.

I watched this movie late last night and then just had to watch it again this lunchtime! It is a compelling work of visual art and to see it a second time revealed a few more subtle plot points that I had actually missed the first time.

As you might well have expected me to now say, I have seen Gomorrah many, many times and will often find myself watching only a specific scene from it (due to my love of this kind of celluloid experience). I can see the same happening here, particularly the scenes that feature Manfredi. Manfredi is a true bad ass and his viciousness is very effectively played by Dionisi. What a performance!

What’s also rather interesting is that the REAL power brokers are never shown even once. Samurai represents them, but you never see them. So it’s a movie that features the mafia without ever seeing the face of the mafia, which I’m sure they are also very happy about (as a mythical organization, of course).

In closing, Suburra is a very tight story about many characters, all be they connected one way or another. If you judge this morally you may have some issues. It’ll be hard to find a likable character in this, if you are looking for a so-called hero of the script, but that is not what this movie is about.

Special Features:
The Making of Suburra - A 2-Hour Feature-Length Documentary
Production Gallery
Theatrical Trailer

Official Netflix Trailer

Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken [Collector’s Edition]
(Jane Fonda, Toni Collette, Lana Condor, Will Forte, et al / Blu-ray + DVD + Digital / PG / 2023 / Studio Distribution Services)

Overview: Dive into the turbulent waters of high school with this heartwarming action comedy about a shy teenager who discovers that she’s part of a legendary royal lineage of mythical sea krakens and that her destiny, in the depths of the oceans, is bigger than she ever dreamed.

Learning to be an all-powerful sea creature while hiding among humans is hard enough for Ruby, but to make matters worse, her super popular new bestie, Chelsea, is secretly a mermaid! Mermaids have been battling the krakens for eons to rule the ocean, but Chelsea has come to land to finally put an end to that conflict.

However, when Chelsea double-crosses her, Ruby will ultimately need to embrace who she is and GO BIG to protect those she loves most.

Blu-ray Verdict: Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken is a cinematic masterpiece that left me awe-struck and emotionally moved from start to finish. This film is a true work of art, skillfully weaving together an enthralling storyline, exceptional performances, and breathtaking visuals to create an unforgettable cinematic experience.

From the opening scene, the movie grabs your attention with its captivating storytelling. The narrative unfolds with a perfect balance of suspense, drama, and heartfelt moments, drawing the audience into the lives of the characters and their intricate relationships. The script is both profound and relatable, touching on themes of love, loss, and the human experience in a way that tugs at your heartstrings.

The performances by the cast were nothing short of phenomenal. Each actor portrayed their character with such depth and authenticity that it felt as though I was experiencing their emotions firsthand. The lead roles delivered performances that were exceptionally talented, displaying a range of emotions that left me mesmerized. The supporting cast also contributed to the film’s brilliance, adding layers of complexity to the overall narrative.

Visually, Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken is a feast for the eyes. The cinematography and art direction are striking, creating a visually stunning backdrop for the story to unfold. The use of colors, lighting, and camera angles enhanced the emotional impact of key scenes, leaving me in awe of the film’s artistic brilliance.

The musical score deserves special mention as it perfectly complements the movie’s emotional depth. The music enhances each scene, evoking a range of emotions that had me on the edge of my seat. The soundtrack was so mesmerizing that I found myself humming the tunes long after leaving the theater.

Kirk DeMicco masterfully brings all these elements together, orchestrating a symphony of emotions that resonates with the audience long after the credits roll. The pacing of the film was perfect, allowing the story to unfold naturally while keeping the audience engaged throughout.

One aspect that stood out for me was the film’s ability to evoke such a wide range of emotions. I laughed, cried, and felt a profound sense of empathy for the characters as their stories unfolded. It is rare to find a movie that can elicit such a visceral response, and Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken accomplished this with remarkable finesse.

In conclusion, Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken is a cinematic gem that stands out as one of the best films of its time. It is a rare blend of storytelling, performances, visuals, and music that come together to create an unforgettable movie-watching experience. I wholeheartedly recommend this film to anyone who appreciates the power of cinema to stir the soul and leave a lasting impact. Prepare yourself to be taken on an emotional journey like no other. You won’t regret it. Trust me.

Plunge into the action with the all-new coming-of-age aquatic adventure in DreamWorks Animation’s, RUBY GILLMAN, TEENAGE KRAKEN Collector’s Edition, available on Digital August 29th, 2023, and on Blu-rayTM and DVD September 26th, 2023, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

• DELETED SCENES WITH INTROS – Introductions by Co-Director Faryn Pearl
• OCEANSIDE DRAWING GUIDE – Head of story, Glenn Harmon, will teach everyone how to draw Ruby Gillman in her teenager and kraken forms, Grandmamah, Chelsea, and mermaid Chelsea.
• MAKE YOUR OWN AQUARIUM – With a few simple products and a little imagination, you can bring the undersea world into your own home.
• THE KRAKEN: MYTH OR MONSTER – In this animated piece narrated by Lana Condor and Annie Murphy, we dive deep into the mysteries of krakens and discover how stories of these mythical beasts have evolved over hundreds and hundreds of years.
• MEET THE GILLMAN CAST - Meet the cast behind your favorite RUBY GILLMAN, TEENAGE KRAKEN characters and discover what they loved about lending their voices to this aquatic adventure!
• PROM STORIES – Ruby’s greatest wish was to attend prom with her friends and crush Connor! Here, the cast of the movie share their own prom stories and explain how they would design a promposal.
• SUPER SEA GIRL BESTIES – If you can see it, you can be it! In this piece we meet the talented women involved in the making of RUBY GILLMAN, TEENAGE KRAKEN.
• FEATURE COMMENTARY - with Director Kirk DeMicco, Co-Director Faryn Pearl, Producer Kelly Cooney Cilella, Head of Character Animation Carlos Fernandez Puertolas and Head of Cinematography, Layout Jon Gutman.

Official Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken Trailer

Official Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken Website

A Sunday Horse [DVD]
(Nikki Reed, Linda Hamilton, Ving Rhames and William Shatner, et al / DVD / NR / 2023 / 4Digital Media)

Overview: Inspired by the true story of the talented, driven horse rider Debi Walden. Debi defies the odds against her -– first, by becoming a top competitor in a field reserved for the wealthy, and then by surviving a near-fatal riding accident.

In virtual isolation, supported only by the loyalty of her sponsor, she forces herself through painful rehab. Fuelled by sheer force of will and fierce courage, Debi wins the US national jumping championship on a horse once slated for slaughter.

DVD Verdict: In truth, I had already given up hope that I would find a modern horse film that you can actually watch. After being so disappointed with Hannah’s Races, I decided to give A Sunday Horse a determined try, as I am a big sucker for these kinds of movies.

Knowing that this one had some big star names along for the ride - William Shatner, Ving Rhames, Linda Hamilton, et al. - I have to say I was happily surprised at just how darn tooting great the movie turned out to be!

The film itself is built upon a decently cultivated, and genuinely meaningful plot, one that is itself culled from a true story, and it even has a vein of suspense. Some of the dialogue is pretty funny too, but overall the fact that the entire celluloid experience is garnished by the fact that Debbie Warden actually exists, just makes it even more compelling.

A film that even made this old fool cry at the end, trust me when I say that A Sunday Horse is a pure delight of a watch. One for the whole family, I can do no more than warmly recommend it to everyone.

Official Trailer

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm [4K Ultra HD]
(Kevin Conroy, Dana Delany, Hart Bochner, Mark Hamill, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr, et al / 4K UHD+Blu-ray+Digital / PG-13 / 2023 / Studio Distribution Services)

Overview: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm opens with the city’s most feared gangsters being systematically eliminated, and assumed blame falling on the Caped Crusader. But prowling the Gotham night is a shadowy new villain, the Phantasm, a sinister figure with some link to Batman’s past.

Can the Dark Knight elude the police, capture the Phantasm and clear his own name? Unmasking the Phantasm is just one of the twists in this dazzling animated feature, which provides new revelations about Batman’s past, his arch-rival the Joker, and Batman’s most grueling battle ever - the choice between his love for a beautiful woman and his vow to be the defender of right.

4K UHD Blu-ray Verdict: Rooted in DC’s acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series and released theatrically on Christmas Day 1993, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm has not only been ranked by Time magazine as one of the 10 best Super Hero movies ever, but is also arguably the core fans’ all-time favorite Batman film.

The movie has been rated at the top of the Dark Knight film franchise by such popular entertainment media as Empire, Screenrant and Paste. And in the ultimate mainstream salute for its time, Gene Siskel & Robert Ebert didn’t initially review the film during its theatrical release, but later dedicated a portion of their At The Movies weekly TV series to pay compliment to the film – and voice their regret for not giving it the attention it deserved during its original run – when Batman: Mask of the Phantasm was distributed for home entertainment.

All the high quality we came to expect from the Batman: The Animated Series absolutely holds true here along with all the staples of storytelling. As one may anticipate, this film does take a slightly different approach, enriching its narrative with elements that were unused or at least uncommon on network television, but it’s all good.

Phantasm introduces a strong romantic aspect to its tale, and makes substantially more proliferate use of flashbacks to build the saga. Arguably more than before, the picture plays with themes of duty, promises, and being haunted by the past - and one might also say that the story contains heavier violence, or at least a darker tone, than was broadly true of the series (with notable exceptions). So, sure enough, we get something here that’s very familiar, yet also grows something new and rather delicious from those roots.

Of course, one could endlessly go over the details of the production, reflecting on this, that, and the other thing. Just as if not more importantly - the story is wonderfully sharp and absorbing; compelling, and even thrilling. All the hard work, energy, and care that went into the series, making it fresh and exciting at every turn, is unquestionably employed here just as well.

Given those ways that the storytelling is somewhat expanded here, it’s not wrong to say that the characters even feel a little more fleshed out and more real in Phantasm, subsequently making the plot all the richer. Even the music gets an extra boost, becoming more dramatic, and for as quickly as the movie was developed and released, the animation almost seems even more grand. In every way, this is just terrific.

In less than 80 minutes a story is told that is cohesive and complete, and fabulously satisfying, yet astoundingly concise. We’re given details to round out the story, yet only exactly as much as is necessary to do so, and nothing ever takes priority over the action fun of the plot. It’s safe to say that bloated, self-indulgent modern superhero blockbusters could stand to learn a lot by revisiting Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, and frankly a lot of other features too.

It’s no wonder why this is held in such high esteem; even now it’s tighter and more engaging than much of what has followed in all the years since, even as technology and film-making sensibilities have changed. One could suppose that this might even appeal to those viewers who otherwise don’t care for the towering complexity that is the MCU, or the dour dullness of DC’s bedraggled concurrent foray into cinema.

Personally, I’d actually stop short of saying Mask of the Phantasm is a total must-see for one and all - yet among comic book flicks, it indisputably is - but still managing to stand tall all this time later, well, that is a feat unto itself and this makes this film well worth sitting back down with (especially now that it is on 4K UHD!)

The 4K HDR/SDR remaster of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm was sourced from the 1993 Original Cut Camera Negative and was scanned at 4K resolution. Digital restoration was applied to the 4K scans to remove dirt, scratches and additional anomalies, but special care was given to not touch the film grain or the animation cell dirt that was part of the original artwork.

This is the first time since its theatrical release that it is presented in its 1.85 aspect ratio. The original 2.0 mix and the 5.1 tracks were remastered to remove or improve defects such as pops, ticks, dropouts and distortion.

And so, as we now know, Warner Bros. Entertainment is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of the highly-anticipated Batman: Mask of the Phantasm in the expansive 4K Ultra HD video format this March 28th, 2023.

For my money, this Batman: Mask of the Phantasm [4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital] combo pack sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.

So, what we have is Batman: Mask of the Phantasm presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: Native 4K (2160p), HDR: HDR10, Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 and Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Featuring Dolby Vision and HDR10 for brighter, deeper, and way more lifelike colors, as with most all 4K UHDs, everything that we watch features these qualities - but somehow, this film gloriously shines within them all.

Noticeably crisp with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what is more is that it is enjoyably noticeable. For as well as some new nuances to the somewhat drab palette courtesy of Dolby Vision, we also get to witness sudden bright pops of color, which makes the eyes draw in, for sure.

As for the audio, well we get the choice of: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz, 24-bit), French: Dolby Digital 2.0 (224 kbps) and Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0 (320kbps).

Overall, this is a very strong 4K HDR Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.

4K UHD Special Features:
Kevin Conroy: I Am The Knight (New Featurette) – For 30 years, Kevin Conroy defined Batman for multiple generations using only his voice, best exemplified in the landmark film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. Conroy passed away in November 2022, but his legacy lives on in 15 films, nearly 400 episodes of animated television series, a dozen video games, and as a live-action Bruce Wayne in the Arrowverse’s 2019-2020 “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover event. Several of Conroy’s contemporaries – including animation legend Bruce Timm, Batman producer Michael Uslan and revered voice actress Tara Strong – pay tribute to the star who remains the Dark Knight for millions of Batfans.

Bonus episode of Justice League: Unlimited featuring a cameo from Phantasm.

Celebrate the 30th anniversary of the most universally acclaimed film in the Dark Knight’s legendary cinematic history when the newly-remastered animated movie Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, comes to 4K Ultra HD for the very first time. From Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment, the film will be available to purchase on 4K Ultra HD on September 12th, 2023.

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm | Warner Bros. Entertainment [Official Trailer]

The Exorcist: 4K Ultra HD
(Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, Max Von Sydow, et al / 4K UHD+Blu-ray+Digital / R / 2023 / Studio Distribution Services)

Overview: The Exorcist tells the now-famous story of a girl’s demonic possession, and a gripping fight between good and evil. Linda Blair, in a breakout role, plays Regan, a young girl who starts to exhibit strange, arcane behavior. Her mother (Burstyn) calls upon a priest, Father Karras (Miller), to investigate.

But Karras, who has a spiritual crisis of his own, is suddenly confronted with the unimaginable evil of Regan’s possession. Father Lankester Merrin (Von Sydow), an archeologist-priest, is called to help, and a horrific battle for her soul begins.

4K UHD Blu-ray Verdict: As part of the year-long centennial celebration for the 100th anniversary of Warner Bros. Studio, the iconic supernatural film The Exorcist from Academy Award-winning director William Friedkin (The French Connection) will be available for purchase on 4K Ultra HD Disc and Digital for the first time this September.

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of its 1973 release, on September 19 The Exorcist will be available to purchase on Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc from online and in-store at major retailers and available for purchase Digitally from Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV, Google Play, Vudu and more.

The Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs include both the 1973 theatrical version of the film and the 2000 Extended Director’s Cut of the film which features eleven additional minutes of footage not seen in theaters.

Warner Bros. Entertainment is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of the highly-anticipated The Exorcist in the expansive 4K Ultra HD video format this September 19th, 2023.

For my money, this The Exorcist [4K UHD+BR+Digital] combo pack sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.

So, what we have is The Exorcist presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: Native 4K (2160p), HDR: HDR10, Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 and Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1.

Featuring Dolby Vision and HDR10 for brighter, deeper, and way more lifelike colors, as with most all 4K UHDs, everything that we watch features these qualities - but somehow, this film gloriously shines within them all.

Noticeably crisp with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what is more is that it is enjoyably noticeable. For as well as some new nuances to the somewhat drab palette courtesy of Dolby Vision, we also get to witness sudden bright pops of color, which makes the eyes draw in, for sure.

Some of those moments now being, well, let’s call the first one Regan’s Bed Shaking Scene! An early scene in The Exorcist demonstrates just how bad things have gotten for Regan. While it’s not as creepy as some other scenes, it sets the tone for the film, hinting worse tragedies will soon happen. Before the demon Pazuzu fully takes over Regan, leaving her with a grotesque face, Chris tries to leave the house but hears loud banging and screams coming from Regan’s room. When she opens the door, Regan’s bed is violently shaking with her on it.

Another we shall call Regan’s Spider Walk Down The Stairs! The iconic spider walk scene actually wasn’t in the original film, and most The Exorcist fans remember it from the DVD release that featured it. In the scene, Chris has just found out that Burke is dead, but before she has time to process the information, Regan comes running down the stairs in a spider position with blood dripping out of her mouth. While the scene seems better left out because it distracts from Burke’s death, including it makes The Exorcist even more startling!

As for the audio, well we get the choice of: English: Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono, French: Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1.

Overall, this is a very strong 4K HDR Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.

As for the story to hand, well, released in 1973, to both box office and critical acclaim, The Exorcist, directed by William Friedkin, based on the novel by William Peter Blatty, remains the quintessential horror film of good versus evil. From the opening scenes of an excavation in Northern Iraq, we are introduced to Father Merrin, and his showdown with a demon-god, which will foreshadow events in the latter part of the film.

Jump to the scenery of Georgetown, USA, where we are introduced to Chris MacNeil, an actress, caring for her daughter Regan. Over a period of time, Ms. MacNeil is convinced her daughter is possessed by some unknown entity, and enlists the help of science to help her. When the scientists fail to help her child, Ms. MacNeil is forced to seek the aid of Father Damien Karras, a local priest, who upon hearing of her daughter’s plight, explains to her that before an exorcism can be performed on an individual, it must first be approved by the Vatican.

Upon arrival at the MacNeil residence, and the greeting with the demon-child, Father Karras is convinced that Regan is possessed. The Vatican approves the rite, and both Father Karras, along with the aforementioned Father Merrin, are both assigned with the task of exorcist.

The performances in the film are top notch. Ellen Burstyn (who should have won an Academy Award), Linda Blair (aided by the voice acting of veteran actress Mercedes McCambridge), Jason Miller, Lee J. Cobb and Max Von Sydow are all great in their roles. The special effects make-up, courtesy of Dick Smith, is both groundbreaking and shocking.

The most memorable music in the the film is the opening sequence of Mike Oldfield’s overdub opus Tubular Bells, which was not specifically produced for the film, but supplies a creepy, ominous air. All this and more puts this movie, without a shadow of a doubt, in my top ten horror films of all time.

The film spawned several inferior Italian knock-offs including Beyond The Door, Antichrist, Return Of The Exorcist, as well as the shot-by-shot Turkish remake, Seytan. There was even a blaxploitation take on The Exorcist called Abby, starring William Marshall of Blacula fame. Oh, and as for the 1977 John Boorman sequel The Heretic, well, just don’t bother. It’s tediously lame, laughable at times, and does not even come close to the original.

The Exorcist will be available on Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc for $33.99 SRP and includes an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the theatrical version of the feature film in 4K with HDR, an Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc with the Extended Director’s Cut of the film in 4K with HDR, and a Digital download of both versions of the film. Fans can also own The Exorcist in 4K Ultra HD via purchase from select digital retailers beginning on September 19th, 2023.

The Exorcist Ultra HD Blu-ray disc (theatrical version) contains the following previously released special features:
1. Introduction by William Friedkin
2. Commentary by William Friedkin
3. Commentary by William Peter Blatty with Special Sound Effects

The Exorcist Digital release (theatrical version) the following previously released special features:
1. Commentary by William Friedkin
2. Commentary by William Peter Blatty with Special Sound Effects Tests
3. Introduction by William Friedkin
4. The Fear of God: 25 Years of the Exorcist
5. Original Ending
6. William Peter Blatty Interviews
1. The Original Cut
2. Stairway to Heaven
3. The Final Reckoning
7. Sketches & Storyboards
8. TV Spots
1. Beyond Comprehension
2. You Too Can See the Exorcist
3. Between Science & Superstition
4. The Movie You’ve Been Waiting For
5. Nobody Expected It
6. Life Had Been Good
9. Trailers
1. Nobody Expected It
2. Beyond Comprehension
3. Flash Image

The Exorcist Extended Director’s Cut Ultra HD Blu-ray disc contains the following previously released special features:
4. Commentary by William Friedkin

The Exorcist Extended Director’s Cut Digital release contains the following previously released special features:
1. Commentary by William Friedkin
2. Beyond Comprehension: William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist
3. Talk of the Devil
4. Raising Hell: Filming The Exorcist
5. The Exorcist Locations: Georgetown Then and Now
6. Faces of Evil: The Different Versions of The Exorcist
7. Radio Spots
1. The Devil Himself
2. Our Deepest Fears
8. TV Spots
1. Most Electrifying
2. Scariest Ever
3. Returns
4. Never Seen
9. Trailers
1. The Version You’ve Never Seen
2. Our Deepest Fears

The Exorcist | 4K Ultra HD Official Trailer | Warner Bros. Entertainment

Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon: 4K UHD
(Taimak, Julius J. Carry III, Chris Murney, Leo O’Brien, Faith Prince, Glen Eaton and Vanity, et al / 4K UHD+Digital / PG-13 / (1985) 2023 / Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Overview: Martial arts student Leroy Green (Taimak) is on a quest to obtain the elusive all-powerful force known as “The Glow.” Along the way, he must battle the evil, self-proclaimed “Shogun of Harlem” – a kung fu warrior also known as Sho’nuff (Julius J. Carry III) – and rescue a beautiful singer (Prince protégée Vanity) from an obsessed record promoter.

Combining pulsating music, cutting-edge dancing and the best in non-stop action, BERRY GORDY’S THE LAST DRAGON is kickin’ good fun featuring an amazing Motown soundtrack, including music by Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Vanity and DeBarge performing their smash hit “Rhythm of the Night.”

4K UHD Blu-ray Verdict: A couple of years before he decided to sell Motown and take the money and run, Berry Gordy produced this simplistic flick; a transparent attempt to promote some of his latest acts, if ever there was.

I mean, why else would it involve a music video show? The only self-serving thing he didn’t do was set it in the Motor City. Instead, it’s set in New York, although it never feels like more than a soundstage despite things like a reference to Kew Gardens (an obscure neighborhood in Queens). That said, and accepting it as it was intended to be seen, and targeted at the teen and younger set, it really wasn’t as bad as it was painted back then and could have been a lot worse. I mean, have you seen all chop-socky films produced in Hong Kong in the ’70s and ’80s!

Watching it again now, here on this glorious 4K UHD edition, it isn’t hard to see why Taimak took a worse drubbing from film critics than Sho’nuff. OK, sure, it isn’t entirely fair, for while he wasn’t Oscar material, he was really no worse an actor than Steven Seagal or Jean-Claude Van Damme (it’s just the way he delivers some of his lines, it looks like he is reading them off cue cards just off camera).

Indeed, his lack of success on the silver screen is more likely due to the unfortunate fact that the American public wasn’t ready for a black action star at the time and thus this rather kiddie-oriented film made for an inauspicious debut. That said, Taimak was still more convincing than Vanity, who was seemingly cast purely for her looks and debatable musical talents!

It’s also easy to knock Faith Prince, who played ditzy, squeaky-voiced Angela, but lest we forget that she was playing a thinly written role. Likewise, Julius J. Carry III doesn’t have much to work with as Sho’nuff, save a vicious glower and passable fighting skills. He was much better as the lower-key Abe in the occasionally hilarious Matt Frewer show, Doctor, Doctor, in my humble opinion.

Generally overlooked is Glen Eaton as a martial artist wannabe Johnny Yu, who simply steals all the scenes he appears in. A welcome bout of comic relief, he counterbalances the embarrassing Ernie Reyes, Jr., your basic overrated so-called cute kid.

In closing, and despite some forgettable music moments, there are some stand out ones, such as DeBarge’s bouncy hit Rhythm of the Night, which I have personally loved since day one.

• Feature scanned from the original camera negative and presented in 4K resolution with Dolby Vision, approved by director Michael Schultz
• All-new Dolby Atmos audio + 5.1 + 2-channel surround
• Special Feature: [NEW] Fan Commentary with Comedian Amber Ruffin and Author Lacey Lamar

• Feature presented in high definition
• 5.1 audio
• Special Features:
o Commentary with Director Michael Schultz
o Return of the Dragon Featurette
o Theatrical Trailer

Insidious: The Red Door [Blu-ray+Digital]
(Ty Simpkins, Patrick Wilson, Hiam Abbass, Sinclair Daniel, et al / Blu-ray + Digital / R / 2023 / Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Overview: The original cast from the horror franchise is back for the final chapter of the Lambert family’s terrifying saga, with Patrick Wilson (also making his directorial debut), Ty Simpkins, Rose Byrne and Andrew Astor.

To put their demons to rest once and for all, Josh and a college-aged Dalton must go deeper into The Further than ever before, facing their family’s dark past and a host of new and more horrifying terrors that lurk behind the door.

Blu-ray Verdict: Insidious: The Red Door is the fifth and final installment in the Insidious franchise, directed by Patrick Wilson, who also stars as Josh Lambert, a father who can astral project into a dark realm called The Further. The movie is a direct sequel to Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013), and follows Josh and his son Dalton (Ty Simpkins), who also has the same ability, as they face the demons of their past and their family legacy. However, in all honesty, the movie fails to deliver a satisfying conclusion or a compelling narrative, relying on cheap jump scares, clichéd tropes, and convoluted plot twists.

That said, Insidious: The Red Door is still quite good, albeit with predictable jump scares and decent special effects, but also a set of characters we care about, of course.

Dalton (a competent effort from Ty Simpkins) and his dad Josh (Patrick Wilson) have a strained relationship as they come to terms with recent family upheaval and that pressure is beginning to unravel the hypnotism that is protecting them from even more ghastly memories from nine years ago.

At college, he quickly befriends the quirky and outgoing girl Chris (an overpowering Sinclair Daniel), who is wrongly assigned to be his room-mate. Before long the pair are mired in a series of mysteries that seem to emanate from his imagination - a comatose state sets in and another dimension - and it’s perils - arrives to terrorize the family via an ominous looking painting that he has instinctively created and hung on the wall. Can they unite, put their differences behind them and rally to defeat their nemesis and close the portal for ever?

Well, that’s the big question and together with the creepy visuals - all be they noticeably toned down slightly - it is a better than average culmination to the series. The ending itself is also done so it doesn’t really leave the door open for more sequels, which honestly is for the best, even if spin-offs might be in the works.

Oh, and one last thing I want to mention is that it also has a deep message about how sometimes it’s better to remember the bad times and grow from them rather than forget. Yep, you heard me.

Special Features:
o Past, Present, Further
o A Possessed Director

Official Insidious: The Red Door Trailer