The Final Master Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Liao Fan, Jia Song, Wenli Jiang
  • Director: Haofeng Zu
  • Disc Format: Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, THX, Widescreen
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese (Dolby Digital 5.1), Mandarin Chinese (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go USA Inc
  • Release Date: July 25, 2017
  • Run Time: 109 minutes




        There are so many entries into the Chinese martial arts genre that it is rare for a movie to find a unique approach to the material. Writer turned director Haofeng Xu has proved capable of making a traditional martial arts film with his previous films, but he gives audiences something wholly original with The Final Master. Not only does it abandon the traditional focus on honor and loyalty, but he also brings a distinct and realistic fighting style along with the flawed characters. Nobody flies in the air or does other impossible gravity-defying moves in battle, and the camera remains close enough to capture the speed of realistic movements. By allowing the characters and their fighting portrayed as more realistic, Xu makes the narrative more compelling than the average kung-fu film. Not only is this Xu’s best looking film thus far, it is also has the strongest story.

Black Butterfly Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Antonio Banderas, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Piper Perabo
  • Director: Brian Goodman
  • Disc Format: AC-3, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (DTS 5.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: July 25, 2017
  • Run Time: 93 minutes




        The only thing that is worse than a film relying on twists to wrap up its narrative is one that boasts them in the marketing campaign. It isn’t much of a twist if audiences are expecting it, and that is exactly what happens when a movie like Black Butterfly chooses a tagline like “A Killer Story with a Twist.” The solution that director Brian Goodman has is to pile the twists upon each other, each one more ridiculous and insulting than the last. It’s like a Russian nesting doll of bad narrative ideas, all built in a premise that has initial promise. But, I suppose all blame can not be placed on Goodman’s lap, as this isn’t even an original film, adapted from the 2008 French film of the same name. One must also blame the unwillingness of American audiences to watch foreign films, and now many of the same mistakes have been repeated in a different language.

Buster’s Mal Heart Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Rami Malek, DJ Qualls, Lin Shaye
  • Director: Sarah Adina Smith
  • Disc Format: Dolby, NTSC, THX, Widescreen
  • Language: English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: July 18, 2017
  • Run Time: 96 minutes




        Director Sarah Adina Smith describes Buster’s Mal Heart as being a mix of Donnie Darko and Bad Santa, but it mostly feels like a less structured imitation of Donnie Darko that merely features a character wearing a Santa suit. Anyone who has watched Donnie Darko knows of the open-ended ambiguity the film offers, but there are clues to help decipher its meaning with multiple views. Buster’s Mal Heart borrows that among a great deal of other things from Donnie Darko, even if the plots vary. Symbolism, religious metaphors, possible psychological breaks, a period setting, dark humor, and even a science-fiction wormhole amidst theories about the end of the world; all of these elements make Buster’s Mal Heart feel like a film made by someone who loves Donnie Darko enough to borrow heavily from it. But unfortunately, much as it tries, it is not Donnie Darko.

Tommy’s Honour DVD Review

  • Actors: Peter Mullan, Jack Lowden, Ophelia Lovibond, Sam Neill
  • Director: Jason Connery
  • Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1
  • Rated: PG
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • DVD Release Date: July 18, 2017
  • Run Time: 110 minutes




        Golf fans may delight in the idea of seeing a film about the sport in its infancy, when courses were obstacles themselves and caddies carried the clubs in their arms, but Tommy’s Honour is more biopic than sports film. We may see our protagonist play golf, but rarely is the camera interested in the game rather than just the players. The result is very little golf action, instead focusing on character and relationship melodrama. In short, this is much more a film for historians than it is sports fans.

Free Fire Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Cillian Murphy, Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Sharito Copley, Sam Riley
  • Director: Ben Wheatley
  • Format: AC-3, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE 
  • Release Date: July 18, 2017
  • Run Time: 90 minutes




        There is nothing more disappointing than going to an action movie, only to get stuck watching an exorbitant amount of time listening to exposition and character development. Free Fire seems to understand this, showing us what we need to know about the characters rather than telling us. And the plot doesn’t need much explaining, especially since the film is essentially just a 90-minute gun fight. Though this may be too simplistic for some, it is a feat of technical precision that is both entertaining and amazing.

Resident Evil: Vendetta 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Matthew Mercer
  • Director: Takanori Tsujimoto
  • Format: 4K
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Release Date: July 18, 2017








        Just because the live-action films Resident Evil films have completed doesn’t mean that there won’t be a continuation of the animated series, and Resident Evil: Vendetta serves as timely reminder. Unfortunately, the film also leaves no desire for future entries, and for long stretches doesn’t feel like a Resident Evil film at all. Heavy on the sci-fi elements of the narrative, there are huge sections of the film that don’t even include zombies or other monsters. In fact, if it weren’t for the quality of the animation, this film would be impossible to recommend to anyone, fan of the RE franchise or not.

Shooter: Season One DVD Review

  • Actors: Ryan Phillippe, Omar Epps
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: June 13, 2017




        In the past few years, there have been far too many movies adapted into TV shows to count, many of which have failed miserably (“Minority Report,” “Rush Hour,” “Limitless,” etc). Although “Shooter” is based on the 2007 action film of the same name, it may have benefited slightly from being less commonly known as many of the other adaptations. This may also be the reason that the first season basically just adopts the same exact storyline as the film, leaving few surprises in the first few episodes. But those who enjoyed the film should find some pleasure in the material being stretched out, even if much of the suspense dissipates in the process, and at least the second season promises an original storyline, as the film never had a sequel.

Underground: Season Two DVD Review

  • Actors: Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Aldis Hodge, Jessica De Gouw, Alano Miller, Christopher Meloni
  • Producer: Mark McNair
  • Format: AC-3, Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: July 11, 2017
  • Run Time: 470 minutes




        Following the success of several other historical television series, including the American Revolution-based “Turn,” a series about the Underground Railroad seemed a sure-fire hit. And it was, to a certain degree, but that wasn’t enough to keep it from being cancelled. Fans pointed at the cancellation of Netflix’s “The Get Down” around the same time as reason to believe that the black narrative was a deciding reason for the cancellation, but there are many other factors that must be considered. Just as “Turn” was cancelled, “Underground” was popular with fans and had decent reviews, but the high production costs were too much to warrant continuing. When Sinclair Broadcast Group bought WGNA’s parent company earlier this year, they canceled several of the channel’s most successful shows, including their biggest hit, “Outsiders.” “Underground” was another unfortunate casualty, though there have been rumors that it may find a home at another network.

The Lost City of Z Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Charlie Hunnam, Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller
  • Director: James Gray
  • Disc Format: Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English, Spanish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: Broad Green Pictures
  • Release Date: July 11, 2017
  • Run Time: 141 minutes




        David Lean must be turning over in his grave at the sad state of affairs that the film industry has become, that a film of classic and mature storytelling like The Lost City of Z would go largely unnoticed while multiplexes are swamped each weekend with the latest comic book release. The Lost City of Z has all of the makings of a classic, had it only been released 50-years ago. Based on a true story of adventure and exploration, it is a narrative that has no need for superhuman characters. The protagonist is human and flawed, but that also means that he may perish at any time along the adventure in the narrative, raising the stakes far higher than any of this year’s CGI-laden releases. There have been few films as praised this year, and it stars three actors who have been previously attached to massive blockbusters with great success (including the latest Spider-man, Tom Holland), despite displaying only a modicum of the skill they show in this film. And yet, somehow The Lost City of Z only saw a fraction of the ticket sales, proving through release date and limited marketing that Hollywood no longer has faith in the intelligence of audiences.

The Fate of the Furious 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Vin Diesel, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson
  • Director: F. Gary Gray
  • Writer: Chris Morgan
  • Producers: Vin Diesel, Neal H. Moritz, Michael Fottrell
  • Disc Format: NTSC, Subtitled, 4K
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: July 11, 2017
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: May 2, 2018




        There are reportedly two more films planned in the Fast and the Furious franchise, though if The Fate of the Furious is any indication of the direction they will take, it won’t be the driving sequences that makes them a success. This may have been what made the films popular in the first place, but the ensemble cast has gradually replaced the driving as the most important element since the fifth film, which reinvented the racing franchise as heist films. With Paul Walker missing for the first time and the two most memorable action sequences taking place outside of the driver’s seat and without any of the original stars, The Fate of the Furious marks yet another transition for the franchise.

Bitcoin Heist Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Kate Nhung, Thanh Pham, Veronica Ngo
  • Director: Ham Tran
  • Disc Format: Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, THX, Widescreen
  • Language: Vietnamese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: July 4, 2017
  • Run Time: 110 minutes




        In making the Vietnamese caper movie, Bitcoin Heist, filmmaker Ham Tran seems to have pillaged an assortment of Hollywood heist films for inspiration. This foreign film has the sensibility of a Hollywood blockbuster, complete with an ensemble cast of actors, action sequences, comedic relief, and a few twists in the narrative. Often it not only feels like movies like Ocean’s 11 and Now You See Me, but actually borrows from them shamelessly, even including a magician in the narrative to align more with the latter. While this is far from original, it is mostly effective in creating an entertaining film.

Money DVD Review

  • Actors: Jesse Williams, Kellan Lutz
  • Disc Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: June 27, 2017
  • Run Time: 86 minutes




        Despite being a dialogue-driven suspense film primarily set in a single location and shot at a brisk pace, Money feels like what happens when an independent film is approached the same way a studio film is made. There is more preoccupation with casting actors that have pre-existing fame (a.k.a. platform) to help sell their film, even if these particular actors are not the best or most talented for the job. In other words, the production of Money was ironically so preoccupied with making money that the film ultimately suffers because of it. A somewhat clever script is often destroyed by actors who aren’t always up to the task of handling some of the clumsier dialogue and one-dimensional characterizations.

London Heist DVD Review

  • Actors: Craig Fairbrass, James Cosmo, Mem Ferda
  • Director: Mark McQueen
  • Disc Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • DVD Release Date: July 11, 2017
  • Run Time: 95 minutes




        London Heist is a crime film directed by Mark McQueen, who is best known for his work on numerous British reality TV series, and co-written by Craig Fairbrass, who has written himself the leading role in this forgettable vanity project. Previously titled Gunned Down, London Heist has a plot as generic as each of its titles. There are heists, betrayals, shootouts, corrupt cops, and all of the other trappings of the genre, though none of the elements are elevated enough to make this film anything but forgettable. The right actor in the lead role may have had the ability to save the movie from feeling so generic, but Fairbrass was not this actor.

Song to Song Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman, Rooney Mara, Cate Blanchet
  • Director: Terrence Malick
  • Disc Format: Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Broad Green Pictures
  • Release Date: July 4, 2017
  • Run Time: 129 minutes




        In the first half of Terrence Malick’s career, he only made a handful of films, and now he seems to be churning them out every couple of years. For fans of his work, this may be good news, but the quality and thoughtfulness suffers with the speediness of each release. The stylistic concerns that have taken over his latest wave of films often take precedence over any attempt to write a well-constructed screenplay before starting filming, and the filmmaker’s improvisational style now mostly contains sequences of his actors doing nothing in the most self conscious way possible. It often feels as though Malick has placed a camera in front of the cast and told them to do something. This rarely ever feels natural, which seems to be the intention of improvisation in filmmaking, and instead results in a kind of contrived silliness that rarely resembles real human behavior.

T2: Trainspotting Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Ewen Bremner, Robert Carlyle, Jonny Miller, Ewan McGregor, Kelly Macdonald
  • Director: Danny Boyle
  • Producers: Danny Boyle, Bernie Bellew, Christian Colson, Andrew MacDonald
  • Disc Format: AC-3, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Dubbed: French
  • Audio Description: French
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: June 27, 2017
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: December 31, 2019
  • Run Time: 117 minutes




        Danny Boyle has never directed a sequel, but it is fitting that he would start with the film that made him an international success. While Shallow Grave had proven his talents as a director, Trainspotting proved his ability to create a lasting hit. Part drug film, part heist film, and part coming-of-age drama fueled by its energetic soundtrack, surreal cinematography, and postmodern editing, Trainspotting was an instant cult classic. T2: Trainspotting is a sequel 20 years in the making, and it brings back these same elements, with themes that have matured even when its characters have not.

Dirty Dancing DVD Review

  • Actors: Abigail Breslin, Colt Prattes, Sarah Hyland, Nicole Scherzinger, Tony Roberts
  • Director: Wayne Blair
  • Disc Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • DVD Release Date: June 27, 2017
  • Run Time: 135 minutes




        Dirty Dancing is a film which has had lasting success, despite being of questionable quality. It is the type of film that has a dedicated fanbase willing to ignore any critical shortcomings, and we have seen this taken advantage of with countless anniversary releases, a sequel (by name only), a stage version, and now an ABC original TV movie adaptation of the original. Wholly unnecessary, horrendously miscast, and torturously overlong, fans of the original were quick to denounce this remake when it aired on television just over a month ago. Rather than extending the embarrassment any longer than necessary, the film has quickly been released on DVD for suckers mistaking the similar cover art for the original campy cult classic.

Wilson Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Woody Harrelson, Shaun Brown, Brett Gelman, Sandy Oian, James Robert Miller
  • Disc Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • Release Date: June 20, 2017
  • Run Time: 95 minutes




        Wilson, the title character embodied by actor Woody Harrelson in this dark independent comedy, exists above the formulaic aspects of the narrative. Grumpy and prone to angry rants against the state of humanity, Wilson is also lonely and often breaks all social boundaries in order to make connections with any random person he encounters, making him a contradiction of personality quirks. And yet it all somehow works, and Harrelson is able to flesh the man out in a way that feels sincere, even if the film that this character exists in often has even less of an idea what to do with him than the strangers he encounters. In the end, this feels like a comedic character study lacking clear direction, and as a result it often reaches for formulaic resolution to unique set-ups.

Railroad Tigers Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Jackie Chan, Jaycee Chan, Zitao Huang
  • Director: Ding Sheng
  • Disc Format: Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, THX, Widescreen
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: June 20, 2017
  • Run Time: 125 minutes



        Jackie Chan has often named Harold Lloyd as a major influencer in his career of physically demanding action comedy, but it seems like Buster Keaton may have had more of an impact on his latest film, Railroad Tigers. Along with a healthy dose of humor parodying the Japanese that once occupied China, Railroad Tigers has endless scenes of action hijinks aboard a train, bringing to mind Keaton’s iconic masterpiece, The General. Even though these films share a great deal, including a finale with a massive train crash, Railroad Tigers is likely to leave many longing for the cutting edge filmmaking of 1926, mostly because of how much more convincing the effects were back then. Although Railroad Tigers has some practical effects and physical stunt-work to keep it engaging, there are also enough sequences of mediocre CGI to destroy any suspension of disbelief needed for the desired emotional impact.

Altitude Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Dolph Lundgren, Denise Richards, Greer Grammer, Chuck Liddell
  • Director: Alex Merkin
  • Disc Format: AC-3, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: June 20, 2017
  • Run Time: 88 minutes



         Bad low budget action movies starring Dolph Lundgren have become increasingly common, as we rarely see the chemical engineer turned actor on the big screen (outside of The Expendables franchise) anymore. Those prepared to be disappointed by another project obviously done for the paycheck are going to be let down even more by the fact that Lundgren isn’t even the leading actor or the hero. Instead, Lundgren is demoted to the role of generic bad guy, while Denise Richards inexplicably attempts to fill the role of hero. Those who were baffled by Richards’ attempt at playing a nuclear physicist in the James Bond franchise (coincidentally the same franchise that gave Lundgren his start in the film industry) will be just as baffled by her casting as an FBI hostage negotiator, who single-handedly thwarts a plane hijacking in Altitude.

Life Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare
  • Director: Daniel Espinosa
  • Producers: David Ellison, Julie Lynn, Bonnie Curtis, Dana Goldberg
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Portuguese, Malay, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Indonesian, Cantonese, Thai, Spanish, English
  • Dubbed: Portuguese, French, Thai, Spanish
  • Audio Description: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: June 20, 2017
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: December 31, 2019
  • Run Time: 104 minutes




        There isn’t much that is original about Life, including the name (not two years ago the same title was used for a film about a James Dean article written for Life Magazine, and let’s not forget the Eddie Murphy period prison comedy from 1999), but this is still one of the most entertaining films to come out in 2017. It is basically just Alien with cinematography that feels heavily inspired by Gravity, but it provides purer thrills than were found in the actual Alien sequel released this year. It won’t be winning any awards and has no chance of the same cultural impact, but Life does provide a gripping viewing experience for those willing to let go and enjoy the ride.