Another week, another Tuesday filled with DVD goodness. We’ve got four titles worth owning, and they come in two distinct pairs. First up is a one-two punch of nostalgia from the fine folks at Shout! Factory as they release Hey Arnold! and M.A.S.K. unto the world. And then on the more adult front we have two awesomely violent (in completely different ways) movies from Asia including the action romp Clash and the gory but thoughtful thriller Dream Home. Other releases this week include Paul, Camp Hell, Super, Your Highness, and more.
As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it.
M.A.S.K.: The Complete Series
With a name like Matt Trakker you can’t help become the leader of an international team of good guys fighting terror and evil wherever you can find it. M.A.S.K., or Mobile Armored Strike Kommand, is Trakker’s team of do-gooders who lead normal everyday lives as chefs, rockers, and billionaires, but when their Casio watches beep they head out to save the world. Sure Miles Mayhem and his nefarious VENOM organization can get a bit silly, but it follows a similar structure to GI Joe in its acronyms, code names, and constant use of explosions that continually toss everyone to safety. Still, it’s a fun hybrid of Joe and vehicular shifting shows like Transformers. All sixty five episodes are spread across twelve discs (in two cases, both held within a sleeve) alongside a handful of featurettes on the show.
Pitch: “Ass-Kicking Asian Hotties” should be a sub-genre on Netflix just like it is on my own DVD shelves…
Why Buy? A briefcase worth millions. A female thief who’s all out of bubblegum. And an undercover cop. That’s really all the advance plot info you’ll need as the story itself isn’t all that complicated, and the real thrill here is the action. This Vietnamese flick is filled with some pretty exciting gunfights, but it’s the martial arts and general fisticuffs that will grab your attention. Well, that and the beautiful Veronica Ngo who looks fantastic standing still but even better flying through the air to take down an enemy. Johnny Nguyen isn’t nearly as attractive, but he can also kick butt with the best of them. Check out my full review here.
Pitch: Fannie Mae better watch their asses…
Why Buy? Cheng has a simple dream. She wants to one day buy a condo overlooking a beautiful harbor so she can house her family in the comfort they deserve, but with Hong Kong real estate prices being what they are that dream is continually out of reach. So she devises a way to drive prices down fast… by eliminating the tenants with any means necessary. Josie Ho gives an emotional but frightening performance here as an extremely determined woman with an ever so slight disconnect from reality. The resulting carnage is filled with blood, gore, sex, and social commentary. Check out my full review here.
Hey Arnold! Season 1
Pitch: My goal here was to feature a trilogy of a*s filled Buy pitches, butt this is a kid’s show…
Why Buy? Arnold is the original football-headed kid, and this show follows his daily adventures as a grade schooler in the big bad city alongside friends, family, and his pig, Abner. The comedy here is far less self-referential than it is in something like Rocko’s Modern Life, but the jokes are equally successful and fast moving. And like that other show there are brief bits that seem aimed more squarely at the adults in the audience than the kiddies. Each episode features two shorts (except for the special Christmas and Valentine’s Day eps), and you’ll quickly find yourself caught up in Arnold’s childhood world and remembering the days when you lived there too. All of season one’s twenty episodes are here spread across four DVDs.
Pitch: He’ll pitch a devilish tent in your pants…
Why Rent? A young man spends his summer at an ultra-conservative youth camp, but something inside of him resists the supposedly Christian message. Is it the devil or just good old common sense? Only one way to find out and it just may involve reaching second base with one of the female campers… This indie flick is being marketed as a horror film, but while that’s a bit disingenuous I suppose it’s worth it to get people to watch. In reality the film is a fairly solid drama about escaping the mental confines of an oppressive upbringing that punishes free thought. A bit melodramatic, but worth a watch. Jesse Eisenberg and Dana Delaney get top billing here, but their minutes of screentime can be counted on two hands.
The Lost Bladesman (UK)
Pitch: I realize Donnie Yen is a little guy, but how you lose someone with a seven foot bladed spear is anyone’s guess…
Why Rent? This Chinese action epic tackles the story of real life general Guan Yu of the Han dynasty, and if he was anything like he’s portrayed here the man was an unstoppable warhorse. Sure Donnie Yen in the role makes it easier to believe he could fend off dozens of guys at a time, but he’s impressive regardless. There’s a bit too much dry talking here for my tastes, but you don’t watch Yen for the dialogue. You watch for the action, and what’s here is a pretty solid mix of battlefield scenes and pole fighting including an exciting battle in a thin, curved alleyway. **NOTE – This is a region2 DVD which requires either a region-free player or the willingness to watch on your PC. **
Pitch: Imagine if ET was voiced by Seth Rogen…
Why Rent? A couple of British sci-fi nerds (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) hit America in a Winnebago for a road trip through alien hotspots on their way to San Diego’s Comic-Con. Their adventure kicks into high gear when they come across a real, live alien who needs their help getting home before a dogged agent (Jason Bateman) catches up to them. This really should have been far funnier than it is, but it still has enough entertaining bits to make it worth a watch. Hint, they’re not the repetitive bits with Kristin Wiig. Check out Cole Abaius’ very forgiving full review here.
Pitch: Uwe! Michael! Uwe! Michael! Uwe! Michael!…
Why Rent? Haven’t seen this one yet, but Uwe Boll is a fascinating guy. A mediocre talent at best to be sure, but he’s an interesting man when it comes to his opinions on himself, his movies, and his long running feud with Michal Bay (that Bay has no knowledge of). The doc has gotten mixed reviews, but watching Boll constantly rant before beating down a handful of critics should be worth a watch. Even if it is on fast forward.
Pitch: “It’s all gooshy…”
Why Rent? A man (Rainn Wilson) who’s lost everything decides it’s time to stand for something to win back his girlfriend. He transforms himself into a superhero who fights crime with witticisms and a wrench, and he picks up an oddly sexy little sidekick (Ellen Page) along the way. The “real world superhero” mini genre is a crowded one, and director James Gunn’s entry promised to be the most entertaining, but a large portion of it is a tonal mess. Still, there are some funny and violent bits that make it worth watching on the way to an absolutely stellar ending. Check out my full review here and Robert Levin’s ridiculously positive one here.
Why Avoid? A serial killer with a stupid sounding voice forces people to choose between terrible fates and outcomes. God this is a chore to watch. A terribly miscast Kevin Pollack plays a detective hot on the trail of the killer who repeatedly ignores the fact that his very own daughter is basically in contact with the guy. The movie wants to be a mix between Seven and Saw, but it can’t even measure up to the currently unmade Saw VII. Skip it and go watch Ang Lee’s BMW short, The Chosen, instead.
The Last Godfather
Pitch: I’m holding out for The Last Godfather II to see how it all began…
Why Avoid? A mobster (Harvey Keitel) decides it’s time to retire and wants to pass off his family business to his son. Unfortunately for the rest of his mobster friends his son is an illegitimate Korean idiot (Hyung Rae Shim). I’m a huge fan of Korean cinema, but even I know their comedies don’t translate very well (or at all) to American sensibilities (or people with a sense of humor). Shim, who also wrote and directed this comedically brain dead turd, has attempted to make a crossover comedy and it just falls flat in every way. The “laughs” consist mostly of pratfalls and shtick that not even Jackie Chan would give a second thought to performing. An almost unrecognizable Jason Mewes co-stars as well and adds nothing to the mix. Skip it and go watch Jackie Chan’s Mr. Canton and Lady Rose instead.
Pitch: Fucking wizards…
Why Avoid? A pair of wildly disparate brothers (James Franco and Danny McBride) and a sexy archer (Natalie Portman) in medieval times head out on a quest to rescue a fair maiden (Zooey Deschanel) from an evil wizard (Justin Theroux). If there was any doubt that pot references and the word ‘fuck’ aren’t enough to make a film funny consider the question answered. David Gordon Green’s film manages a few laughs here and there, but most of the film relies too heavily on shocking gags that are the equivalent of the sound cues in Drag Me To Hell in their attempt to force a reaction. Check out my full review here. Skip it and go watch Ice Pirates instead.
Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show, review material was unavailable, and I have no blind opinion:
Cameraman: The Life and Work Of Jack Cardiff
Executioner From Shaolin
Five Shaolin Masters
Jumping the Broom
Mad Monkey Kung Fu
Mars Needs Moms
Martial Arts Of Shaolin
Read More: This Week in DVD
What are you buying on DVD this week?