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Rob Hunter loves movies.  He also loves eating tofu and protecting exiled Chinese revolutionaries from assassination. These two joys come together in the form of cash money payments that he receives every week and immediately uses to buy more DVDs. So join us each week as he takes a look at new DVD releases and gives his highly unqualified opinion as to which titles are worth BUYing, which are better off as RENTals, and which should be AVOIDed at all costs.

Click on any of the titles below to magically head over to Amazon.com and pick up the DVD.  And don’t forget to check out Neil Miller’s hilariously titled This Week In Blu-ray column for reviews on the latest high definition Blu-ray releases!

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Bodyguards and Assassins (HK Import)

Pitch: Imagine 16 Blocks, but replace Bruce Willis with ten Chinese bodyguards and David Morse with about a hundred Chinese assassins…

Why Buy? It may be a while before this flick gets a domestic release, so if you have a Blu-ray player or a region-free DVD player I highly recommend you seek out a copy of this new action epic. At just over two hours long the movie takes the time it needs to set up its story and introduce a myriad of characters before setting them loose for an all-out chase through the city. New loves, ex loves, and a strained father/son relationship add depth while kick-ass fight choreography adds wokfuls of action. If nothing else, it’s always fantastic to see Donny Yen onscreen and out for blood.

Blu-ray? Yes (Import only, but its region-A and playable on US machines)

Extra Features? Featurette

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Bronson

Pitch: Britain’s most infamous convict gets stripped down, greased up, and ready for some prison action…

Why Rent? This is probably one of the more free-wheeling biopics you’re likely to see as director Nicolas Winding Refn takes on an unconventional real-life character in some even more unconventional ways. A petty criminal takes on the moniker of the toughest scrapper in the known world (Charles Bronson) and proceeds to beat the piss out of everyone around him. The movie takes occasional detours on stage as Bronson addresses an imaginary audience with details of his life. There are some biographical gaps but there’s no lack of entertaining brawls or dialogue, and Tom Hardy’s performance is easily one of the best of the year.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Featurettes

Couples Retreat

Pitch: Four couples head to a tropical island. Only one will survive…

Why Rent? Sadly, it’s not actually that kind of movie. Instead this harmless little comedy throws various personalities together in a beautiful location for some laughs, some skin, and some predictable plot lines. This flick garnered lots of hate during its highly profitable theatrical run, and having seen it now I really can’t understand why. The yoga scene alone makes it worth a rental, and the outtakes add even more value. (Still rental value only of course.)

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Commentary, deleted scenes, gag reel, featurettes

Emma

Pitch: The BBC rips off Hollywood in this barely concealed clone of Alicia Silverstone’s 1995 hit Clueless

Why Rent? What a hack this Jane Austen is. First she rehashes her own work by adding zombies to an already published novel and calling it new, and now she’s milking her canon yet again with the seventeenth (or so) film version of her novel Emma. Sad really. At least this new miniseries version improves upon the last outing in two ways. One, its longer format allows time for more nuance and detail. And two, they’ve replaced the terribly bland and un-British Gwyneth Paltrow with Romola Garai. (Truth be told it’s also the most satisfying and entertaining version of the book to date.)

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Featurettes

Gary Unmarried: The Complete First Season

Pitch: That Jay Mohr’s a funny guy. Let’s give him his own show…

Why Rent? Having watched the first six episodes of this series I can say with all sincerity that it’s pretty funny at times. Some of the big setup jokes fall flat but Mohr is damn good with delivery so often even the smallest one-liners get the biggest laughs. I’m not sold on the kids yet as their comedic rhythm seems off, but Mohr and costar Paula Marshall make up for it. I’ll be settling in for the rest of the season as it examines life for the recently divorced father of of two, and I recommend you give it a shot as well.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? Featurettes, bloopers

A Serious Man

Pitch: A Jewish man loses his lover in a car crash and has to decide if life is worth living. Or a modern-day Job suffers a crisis of faith and has to decide if life is worth living. Look, I don’t really know…

Why Rent? I haven’t actually had time to watch this whole movie yet, but I have seen the pre-title intro. And Fyvush Finkel is hilarious, awesome, and still alive! I can’t speak to the film beyond that except to say that a Coen Brothers movie is always worth watching at least once.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Featurettes

The Time Traveler’s Wife

Pitch: Get ready for the most uneventful time travel movie ever made…

Why Rent? Sure it’s sappy and romantic, but it’s also well-acted and fairly interesting. It doesn’t answer many of the questions it sets forth, but the concept, the story, and the actors involved all keep your attention fairly well. Truth be told I wanted quite a bit more from the movie, but my lady friend enjoyed it enough that I have to keep it in the Rental category.

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Featurette

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A Dangerous Man

Pitch: At this point I think even Cole Abaius could beat Steven Seagal’s ass. Maybe…

Why Avoid? Seagal’s latest monthly DVD release is one of his lesser works (his much lesser works.) His voice seems dubbed for parts of the movie (a recurring problem over the past few years), the action is bland and far from exciting, and… well it’s just an unmemorable movie.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? None

Heist

Pitch: This score will solve all of our problems. I swear. Honest. Guaranteed. What could go wrong…

Why Avoid? I love heist flicks. A motley group comes together, each with their own area of expertise, and they pull off an elaborate and well-orchestrated heist… until everything starts to crumble around them. But this movie forgets several of the key elements. The crew lacks the slightest personality, the heist is messy instead of precise, and the fallout becomes a matter of frustration over suspense. Rick Jordan plays triple threat here (director, co-writer, actor) but only his acting comes through unscathed. Go watch Sneakers or Heat instead.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? None

JAG (Judge Advocate General): The Complete Series

Pitch: “Firefly” doesn’t even get to finish one season but several of you tasteless fools kept this on the air for ten goddamn years…

Why Avoid? Seriously people. I’ve yet to ever meet a single person who would admit to watching this CBS show. That may be because I don’t consort with the elderly, but I can’t confirm that. An ex-navy pilot turned lawyer and an anal female Marine take on cases involving crimes within the military. And no, I’ve never watched a full episode but I have seen collectively about seven or eight minutes of the series over the past decade which is enough to make a judgment call here.

Blu-ray? No

Extra Features? AARP membership form

The Stepfather

Pitch: Let’s remake a bloody good thriller (that featured a sexy shower scene) but let’s forget the blood, thrills, and shower scene…

Why Avoid? I’m not against remakes automatically, but why the insistence on redoing R-rated thrillers as generic and neutered PG-13 movies? You gain nothing and lose everything that could save a flick from being humdrum. This remake is no different. Dylan Walsh is fine and Amber Heard wears little besides bikinis (in Portland, Oregon?), but everything else is tame, typical, and tepid. And who still uses the old ‘cat jumping into frame’ scare?

Blu-ray? Yes

Extra Features? Commentary, gag reel, featurette

Also out this week, but review material unavailable in advance: Boobs: An American Obsession, Dante’s Inferno, Dare, Endgame, Free Style, I Hate Valentine’s Day, Ice Castles, Second Sight: Complete Collection, Serious Moonlight, Stargate SG-U: 1.0

Read More: This Week in DVD

What are you buying on DVD this week?


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