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Ip Man: The Awakening Blu-ray Review

 

  • Director ‏ : ‎ Li Xijie Adam, Zhang Zhulin
  • Actors ‏ : ‎ Xie Miao, Hou Tongjiang, Hua Qilong, Chen Guanying, Zhao Yuxuan
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ Well Go Usa
  • Media Format ‏ : ‎ Widescreen
  • Run time ‏ : ‎ 1 hour and 17 minutes
  • MPAA rating ‏ : ‎ NR (Not Rated)
  • Release date ‏ : ‎ June 21, 2022

         Following Donnie Yen’s successful portrayal of Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man, there have been seemingly endless imitations and additional portrayals of the martial arts master best known for teaching Bruce Lee. Many of these have been unrelated to the series starring Yen, but still attempt to capitalize on its success. Ip Man: The Awakening is a perfect example, having no connection to the previous film series and made by mainland China while the Yen films were Hong Kong productions. Although the title suggests it is a prequel of sorts and there are stylistic similarities, Ip Man: The Awakening is something of a cheap knock-off.

 

The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue Blu-ray Review

 


  • Director ‏ : ‎ Jorge Grau
  • Actors ‏ : ‎ Ray Lovelock, Christine Galbo, Arthur Kennedy
  • Media Format ‏ : ‎ Anamorphic, NTSC, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Run time ‏ : ‎ 1 hour and 33 minutes
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ Synapse Films
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ USA
  • Number of discs ‏ : ‎ 1
  • Release date ‏ : ‎ June 7, 2022


 

         When George A. Romero brought the zombies into the modern era with a revision of the monster’s characteristics, the horror sub-genre was popularized in countless other countries. Long before Shaun of the Dead, The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue was set in England, a Spanish/Italian horror movie with clear influence from popular American zombie narratives. While it doesn’t stand up in comparison to some of the great zombie films, The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue has a place in the sub-genre’s history.

 

Hostile Territory Blu-ray Review

 

  • MPAA rating ‏ : ‎ R (Restricted)
  • Package Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.74 x 5.35 x 0.44 inches; 2.4 Ounces
  • Director ‏ : ‎ Brian Presley
  • Media Format ‏ : ‎ Widescreen
  • Run time ‏ : ‎ 1 hour and 35 minutes
  • Release date ‏ : ‎ June 14, 2022
  • Actors ‏ : ‎ Brian Presley, Craig Tate, Natalie Whittle, Matt McCoy, Brad Leland
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ Well Go Usa
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09X7DHTTT
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ USA
  • Number of discs ‏ : ‎ 1


         Hostile Territory is a strange film, combining the type of saccharine sensibility often seen in faith-based films with violence expected from the western genre. If the filmmaking weren’t so clumsy, it may have worked. Instead, this is a film of good intentions and awful execution.

 

Last Passenger Blu-ray Review

 


  • Director ‏ : ‎ Omid Nooshin
  • Actors ‏ : ‎ Dougray Scott, Kara Tointon
  • Media Format ‏ : ‎ Anamorphic
  • Run time ‏ : ‎ 1 hour and 36 minutes
  • Subtitles: ‏ : ‎ English
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ Cohen Media Group
  • MPAA rating ‏ : ‎ R (Restricted)
  • Number of discs ‏ : ‎ 1
  • Release date ‏ : ‎ June 14, 2022



  •  

             Sometimes action movies and thrillers can over-complicate the plot to the point that the elements audiences expect from the genre take back seat. Last Passenger goes the opposite way, providing plenty of thrills in a simplistic story. Perhaps it is a bit too simple because the end comes without any real answers to the villain’s motivations. Although I appreciate the direct approach and the effectiveness of the suspense, the entire endeavor feels a little pointless without any twist or revelation past the second act.

     

Row 19 Blu-ray Review

 

  • Director ‏ : ‎ Alexander Babaev
  • Actors ‏ : ‎ Svetlana Ivanova, Marta Kessler Timofeeva, Wolfgang Cerny, Ekaterina Vilkova, Anatoly Kot
  • Media Format ‏ : ‎ Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Run time ‏ : ‎ 1 hour and 18 minutes
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ Well Go Usa
  • MPAA rating ‏ : ‎ NR (Not Rated)
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ USA
  • Number of discs ‏ : ‎ 1
  • Release date ‏ : ‎ May 31, 2022

         Given the global pushback with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, I imagine there will be a break in the importing of entertainment from the country. And if Row 19 is any indicator of the type of releases to come from Russia in the near future, we won’t be missing much. As with many of the Russian exports, Row 19 is a genre film with a generic storyline and sub-par CGI effects. At best, the supernatural horror movie feels like a “Twilight Zone” episode bloated to feature length.

 

Wild Things 4K UHD Review

 

  • Director ‏ : ‎ John McNaughton
  • Actors ‏ : ‎ Neve Campbell, Denise Richards, Matt Dillon, Kevin Bacon, Theresa Russell
  • Media Format ‏ : ‎ 4K
  • Run time ‏ : ‎ 1 hour and 55 minutes
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ Arrow Video
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ USA
  • Number of discs ‏ : ‎ 1
  • Release date ‏ : ‎ May 24, 2022



 

         Wild Things was edgy and controversial when it was released in the late 1990s, though it is fairly tame by today’s standards. Although the reasons Wild Things was successful on initial release don’t pack the same punch, it does hold up as a campy take on the film noir genre. There are more twists than the plot seems capable of containing, until it almost becomes predictable. Kevin Bacon called the screenplay "the trashiest thing he had ever read" before becoming an executive producer and agreeing to co-star, highlighting the way exploitative elements were celebrated from the beginning.

 

Umma Blu-ray Review

 

  • Director ‏ : ‎ Iris Shim
  • Actors ‏ : ‎ Sandra Oh, Fivel Stewart, Dermot Mulroney, Odeya Rush, MeeWha Lee
  • Dubbed: ‏ : ‎ Thai, Portuguese, French, Spanish
  • Subtitles: ‏ : ‎ Thai, Korean, English, Portuguese, French, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Indonesian
  • Producers ‏ : ‎ Sam Raimi, Zainab Azizi
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • MPAA rating ‏ : ‎ PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ USA
  • Media Format ‏ : ‎ Blu-ray, Digital_copy, Subtitled
  • Run time ‏ : ‎ 1 hour and 23 minutes
  • Release date ‏ : ‎ May 24, 2022


         Korean culture has had an increased presence in Hollywood since the monumental Academy Award win of Parasite. Along with the importing of South Korean films, American movies have had increased representation, including award-winner Minari and the Apple TV+ series “Pachinko.” Umma brings Korean representation to the horror genre, though it is light on both a revealing depiction of Asian culture and effectively frightening sequences. With themes similar to The Babadook and imagery resembling countless other ghost stories, Umma fails to add anything new to the conversation beyond its representation.

 

Girls Nite Out Blu-ray Review

 



  • Director ‏ : ‎ Robert Deubel
  • Actors ‏ : ‎ Julia Montgomery, Hal Holbrook, James Carroll, Rutanya Alda
  • Media Format ‏ : ‎ NTSC, Widescreen
  • Run time ‏ : ‎ 1 hour and 36 minutes
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ Arrow Video
  • MPAA rating ‏ : ‎ R (Restricted)
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ USA
  • Number of discs ‏ : ‎ 1
  • Release date ‏ : ‎ May 17, 2022



 

         After multiple title changes, even following an initial release as The Scaremaker in 1982, the college-set slasher Girls Nite Out was released in 1983 with questionable grammar. The intention to mislead audiences into believing the horror film was full of sexually explicit content was clear, though Girls Nite Out is actually quite tame for the genre. Although the film’s resistance to exploiting the bodies of its young female stars can be commended, the mildness of the slasher violence is likely to disappoint.

 

Robocop 4K UHD Blu-ray Review

 



  • Director ‏ : ‎ Paul Verhoeven
  • Actors ‏ : ‎ Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Daniel O'Herlihy, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith
  • Media Format ‏ : ‎ Anamorphic, NTSC, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ Arrow Video
  • MPAA rating ‏ : ‎ R (Restricted)
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ USA
  • Number of discs ‏ : ‎ 1
  • Run time ‏ : ‎ 1 hour and 43 minutes
  • Release date ‏ : ‎ April 12, 2022



         Robocop is the kind of movie that makes me nostalgic for the 1980s, with bold filmmaking less concerned with reaching the broadest possible audience than blockbusters of the modern era. Director Paul Verhoeven pushed the boundaries of what would even be considered acceptable for an R-rated film, while the 2014 remake of Robocop was safely contained in a PG-13 rating. Beyond the edginess of this 1987 sci-fi action film, Robocop is a marvelous display of technical prowess in filmmaking. The practical effects remain impressive 35 years later, and the satirical elements of the story still have relevance today.

 

Gagarine Blu-ray Review

 



  • Director ‏ : ‎ Fanny Liatard, Jérémy Trouilh
  • Actors ‏ : ‎ Alseni Bathily, Lyna Khoudri, Jamil McCraven, Finnegan Oldfield, Farida Rahouadj
  • Media Format ‏ : ‎ Anamorphic
  • Run time ‏ : ‎ 1 hour and 38 minutes
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ Cohen Media Group
  • MPAA rating ‏ : ‎ NR (Not Rated)
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ France
  • Release date ‏ : ‎ May 3, 2022


 

        Gagarine manages to combine the style of a fantasy film within a narrative focused on social realism. The feature debut for filmmakers Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh is full of style, though the screenplay feels somewhat underdeveloped. The result is something of a calling card for the filmmakers, who will hopefully be given a better script to work with next time.

 

Dementia Blu-ray Review

 



  • Director ‏ : ‎ John Parker
  • Actors ‏ : ‎ Ben Roseman, Bruno Ve Sota, Richard Barron, Adrienne Barrett, Ed Hinkle
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ Cohen Media Group
  • Run time ‏ : ‎ 56 minutes
  • MPAA rating ‏ : ‎ NR (Not Rated)
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ USA
  • Release date ‏ : ‎ April 26, 2022



 

         In 1955, filmmaker John Parker wrote, produced, and directed this hour-long experimental film, which was originally intended to be a short film. With no dialogue and an ambiguous story told with the style of a film noir, Dementia is a surreal experience. Although by today’s standards it isn’t that impressive, for the 1950s it was bold approach to storytelling. The Cohen Film Collection’s release of Dementia contains a new 2K restoration of the film from the 35MM negative, along with the alternate cut released as Daughter of Horror.

 

The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter Blu-ray Review

 

  • Director ‏ : ‎ Lau Kar-Leung, Chia-Liang Liu
  • Actors ‏ : ‎ Chan-Peng Chang, Lily Li, Ching-Ching Yeung, Lung-Wei Wang, Alexander Fu Sheng
  • Media Format ‏ : ‎ Anamorphic, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Run time ‏ : ‎ 1 hour and 38 minutes
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ Hong Kong
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ Arrow Video
  • Release date ‏ : ‎ April 5, 2022




  •  

             Even when everything goes according to plan, it is often a small miracle films get completed. Given the troubled production that plagued The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter, it’s amazing the film was even finished, which is what makes the quality of the film that much more impressive. Despite needing to change the film’s protagonist halfway through the shoot due to the passing of star Alexander Fu Sheng, The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter is one of the better martial arts films made by Shaw Brothers Studio.

     

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein 4K Ultra HD Review

 



  • Director ‏ : ‎ Kenneth Branagh
  • Actors ‏ : ‎ Kenneth Branagh, Robert De Niro, Helena Bonham Carter, Tom Hulce, Aidian Quinn
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ Arrow Video
  • Media Format ‏ : ‎ Anamorphic, NTSC, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Run time ‏ : ‎ 2 hours and 3 minutes
  • MPAA rating ‏ : ‎ R (Restricted)
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ USA
  • Release date ‏ : ‎ April 12, 2022



 

Kenneth Branagh does well with adaptations of William Shakespeare’s work, mostly because he seems to embrace the melodrama of the stories with complete seriousness. This style was ideal for Hamlet and Henry V, but when Branagh attempted to tackle his own recreation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the results were slightly over-the-top. There are a great many moments within the film, but they all seem to come from the simpler and subtle performance by Robert De Niro as Frankenstein’s famous monster. The film surrounding this performance edges on campy, but without any of the self-awareness which may have made it more fun.

 

Two Men in Town Blu-ray Review

 


  • Director ‏ : ‎ Rachid Bouchareb
  • Actors ‏ : ‎ Forest Whitaker, Harvey Keitel, Brenda Blethyn, Luis Guzman, Ellen Burstyn
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ Cohen Media Group
  • MPAA rating ‏ : ‎ R (Restricted)
  • Media Format ‏ : ‎ Anamorphic
  • Run time ‏ : ‎ 1 hour and 58 minutes
  • Release date ‏ : ‎ May 17, 2022
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ USA


 

French filmmaker Rachid Bouchareb established himself as an international success with his films about historical violence, including 2006’s WWII drama, Days of Glory, and Outside the Law, a drama from 2010 based on the Algerian struggle for independence following that war. He also made a film in London in 2009 about the aftermath of a series of terrorist attacks in 2005. The blending of fiction with real-life events served Bouchareb well, but he has discarded this successful method of filmmaking in his American films, to their overall detriment. Though Two Men in Town is much better than his American film debut, Just Like a Woman (2012), there is simply not enough relevance within the story of these characters and their suffering. It lacks the same ability to integrate relevance with personal drama that Bouchareb had with his European films, despite strong performances by the cast in the underdeveloped roles and their narrative.

 

Outside the Law Blu-ray Review

 



  • Director ‏ : ‎ Rachid Bouchareb
  • Actors ‏ : ‎ Jamel Debbouze, Roschdy Zem, Sami Bouajila, Chafia Boudraa, Bernard Blancan
  • Media Format ‏ : ‎ Anamorphic
  • Run time ‏ : ‎ 2 hours and 19 minutes
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ Cohen Media Group
  • MPAA rating ‏ : ‎ R (Restricted)
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ France/Algeria
  • Release date ‏ : ‎ May 17, 2022



 

          From the writer/director behind the potent war film Days of Glory comes another historically accurate action film. With Days of Glory, we were given the realistic depiction of Algerians who joined in the battle against German invasion. Unfortunately, what the Algerian soldiers soon discover in their effort to free France, is that there is a clear discrimination in the treatment of soldiers. Even though they are able to fight alongside the French, the North African soldiers are often demeaned, insulted, and aren’t even given the same meals. Willing to die for France and unable to eat the same food as the French, this struggle is as prominent as the struggle against Nazi oppression in Days of Glory.

 

12 Monkeys 4K Ultra HD Review

 


  • Director ‏ : ‎ Terry Gilliam
  • Actors ‏ : ‎ Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, David Morse, Christopher Plummer
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ Universal Studios/ Arrow Video
  • MPAA rating ‏ : ‎ R (Restricted)
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ USA
  • Media Format ‏ : ‎ Anamorphic, NTSC, Widescreen, Surround Sound
  • Run time ‏ : ‎ 2 hours and 9 minutes
  • Release date ‏ : ‎ April 26, 2022


 

        Terry Gilliam is a director who has had as many film failures as he has successful ones. Even when praised for his unique voice and style, Gilliam’s releases have often been met with box-office trouble. Unfortunately for his career, the biggest failures have been the films that also had the largest budget. When 12 Monkeys was tested prior to release, audiences were unsatisfied with the film, and it looked to be another failure. Shockingly, Gilliam was able to release the film as he had imagined, and it was a surprise success.

 

Blacklight Blu-ray Review

 


  • Director ‏ : ‎ Mark Williams
  • Writers ‏ : ‎ Nick May, Mark Williams
  • Actors ‏ : ‎ Liam Neeson, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Taylor John Smith, Aidan Quinn
  • Producers ‏ : ‎ Mark Williams, Paul Currie, Myles Nestel, Aleve Loh, Coco Xiaolu Ma
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Media Format ‏ : ‎ NTSC, Digital_copy
  • Run time ‏ : ‎ 1 hour and 45 minutes
  • Release date ‏ : ‎ May 3, 2022
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ USA
  • MPAA rating ‏ : ‎ PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)


  •          I suppose it should be impressive that at nearly 70 years of age Liam Neeson still managed to release two action-based films in the first half of 2022, but the fact that he plays a character with diminishing mental capacity in each may be more than a little telling. Blacklight and Memory are both below average thrillers likely better suited for direct-to-video, and a sign that Neeson would be better off transitioning to supporting roles in the future. It isn’t even so much about Neeson’s inability to convincingly play the roles, though he is beginning to look a bit slower in the fight choreography. The bigger problem is the diminishing quality of the scripts offered to the aging action star.