Who’s ready to import some DVDs? Hopefully the answer is “you” because there are two fantastic releases hitting the UK this week available for quick and easy import from AmazonUK. But even if overseas purchases aren’t your bag this is a pretty solid DVD release week on the domestic front as well. Of course some of them are still in a foreign language…
As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it.
Cold Fish (UK)
A mild-mannered pet shop owner leads an uneventful life with his detached 2nd wife and rebellious teen daughter, but when they’re forcibly befriended by a successful competitor they find themselves drawn into a world of corruption, murder, and perversion. Murder, sex, and salt-water aquariums… we’ve all been there haven’t we? This is the latest film from Sion Sono (Suicide Club) and while it shares many themes with his other films it has the distinction of being the first of his to be based on a true story. The film is a slowburn, unless you compare it to the director’s other films, but builds to a gloriously over the top and bloody finale. Check out Cole Abaius’s full review here. *NOTE – This is a UK region 2 release so you’ll need to play it in a region-free player or your computer.*
Detective Dee: The Mystery Of the Phantom Flame (UK)
Pitch: It’s the closest we’ll ever get to a Shanghai Holmes…
Why Buy? Detective Dee (Andy Lau) is released from prison and tasked by the person who put him there with solving an odd high-profile murder. The adventure and mystery that follows is exciting and fun with dashes of serious history for good measure. The film features some stellar action, even if some of it involves CGI and wire-fu, and the fight choreography by Sammo Hung is fantastic.
The film is a thrilling adventure that feels like an Asian version of Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, but before you let that turn you off just know that I mean it mixes action, mystery, and character to entertaining effect. Oh, and co-star Bingbing Li is a pleasure to behold. Check out my full review here. *NOTE – This is a UK region 2 release so you’ll need to play it in a region-free player or your computer.*
Max Manus: Man Of War
Pitch: It’s a common misconception that Norway used giant Trolls to fight against the Nazis, but that’s actually not true…
Why Buy? This is a fact-based look at one of Norway’s greatest war heroes, Max Manus. His energy and patriotic verve were immense, and his skill/luck at escaping Nazi capture made him a wanted man and a legend.
The movie is fantastic and blends strong character work with intense gun battles and scenes of sabotage. Every aspect of the film is done quite well from the acting to the script, but it’s the sudden, matter of fact brutality of many of the gunfights that will rattle the nerves.
Beneath Hill 60
Pitch: The true story of the biggest man-made explosion ever made. Well, at least until Michael Bay started making movies…
Why Rent? This Australian film recounts the true story of a group of miners turned soldiers in WWII who work to turn the tide in favor of the Allies by planning an explosive assault on an enemy-held hill. There are a few action scenes throughout, but this is more a historical drama than anything else.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it means the film slows down frequently for flashbacks and character work. Still, it’s a stirring real-life tale about sacrifice, honor, and courage, and it’s well worth a watch for fans of war films or Australian cinema.
Deliver Us From Evil
Pitch: Racists ruin everything…
Why Rent? A man moves his wife and children back to his small hometown for some peace and quiet, but he inadvertently puts them all in danger when he chooses the right thing over the smart thing.
When an immigrant is accused of running down a kindly old woman the locals erupt in a racist rage, and soon the drunken xenophobes are descending on the family’s farmhouse with vengeance on their minds. Check out my full review here.
Pitch: He can run, but he can’t hide. Well, he can hide, but not for long. Well okay, maybe for a month or so but that’s it…
Why Rent? A man named David, David Bond, sets out to see just how difficult it is to disappear in the modern world. He hires two detectives who have nothing but his name and his picture and sets out with the intent of staying off the grid for four weeks. The doc follows his efforts as well as those of the detectives chasing him, and it’s interesting to see how Bond expects the PI’s to use high tech tracking gear and technology while the truth is that their best leads come from perusing trash bags and impersonation phone calls.
Rammbock: Berlin Undead
Pitch: Like most German zombies, these ones are just following orders…
Why Rent? Michael heads to Berlin under the auspices of returning a key but with the secret hope of winning back his girlfriend. Unfortunately, he’s picked a terrible day for romance as the city, and possibly the world, is being overrun by zombies.
He holes up in an apartment complex with some other survivors but never gives up hope for his girlfriend. This German zombie flick isn’t nearly as gory as a zombie movie should be, but it features better drama and character work than you’d expect. Check out my full review here.
Pitch: The most beautifully rendered turd you’ve ever seen…
Why Rent? A teenage girl is forced into an asylum where she meets four other troubled teens who survive by pretending they’re in a brothel… and then pretending they’re engaged in combat missions. Doesn’t make much sense and the whole thing smells a bit too rapey for my tastes, but what writer/director Zack Snyder lacks in narrative skill he more than makes up for with his eye for visuals.
The action scenes here are spectacular, and a movie set entirely in those worlds would be very cool. It’s the rest of the story here that sucks. Check out Robert Fure’s full review here.
Pitch: Almost worth watching for the Olympe’s Jail scene. Almost…
Why Avoid? A young woman experiences a high life filled with luxury, style, and sex, but risks losing it all when she allows love to enter her heart. Director Randy Metzger is/was the master of the softcore arthouse, but while there’s no doubt the movie is attractive to the eyes it just doesn’t gel on most other levels.
It’s too long, and while the sex scenes make a compelling argument to continue watching the stretches in between are tiresome and filled with unappealing melodrama. Skip it and watch The Lickerish Quartet instead.
Season Of the Witch
Pitch: A medieval witch re-animates Nicolas Cage’s hairpiece and it begins to kill…
Why Avoid? Oscar winner Nicolas Cage is tasked with transporting a woman accused of being a witch, but is she actually an innocent victim of a fear-mongering church? Probably not.
Now Cage and his trusty sidekick Ron Perlman must use all their wits and battle skills to defeat the witchy woman. Dull, cheap, and too silly to be entertaining. Skip it and watch Black Death instead. Check out Robert Levin’s full review here.
Tetsuo the Bullet Man
Why Avoid? A man watches as his son is murdered and soon finds his metallic inner demon breaking free for revenge. This is director Shinya Tsukamoto’s third Tetsuo film, and while I haven’t seen the first two I can say with certainty that I’ll be in no hurry to look for them. It’s a low budget affair, which isn’t a problem on its own, but the director tries to hide it with tight and fast editing that really shows us nothing.
Add to that an annoying, pulsating score, some confusing plot developments, and the absence of anything resembling identifiable characters, and you have a movie worth avoiding. Skip it and watch Robocop instead. Check out Adam Charles’s full review here.
The Warrior’s Way
Pitch: East meets West by way of cheap CGI and obvious sound stages…
Why Avoid? The world’s most dangerous fighter gives up his crown and heads to America to start a new life, but trouble seems to follow him wherever he goes.
Not even a brunette, poorly accented Kate Bosworth can save him… or the movie. The film is highly stylized to the point of seeing every scene filmed on either a soundstage or against a green screen. It looks bad. It is bad. Skip it and watch Shanghai Noon instead.
Pitch: For folks who like to watch Carrie Fisher bumping uglies with white trash…
Why Avoid? Jesco White is a toe-tapping, extremely violent delinquent scarred by years of huffing fumes as well as by the violent murder of his father. He narrates his story from his years spent in and out of juvie to his adulthood where he tries to settle down but just can’t shake the crazy.
And when I say “narrates” I mean barely thirty seconds are allowed to go by without said narration. He talks through the entire goddamn movie. Skip it and watch The People vs Larry Flynt instead.
Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show, review material was unavailable, and I have no blind opinion:
Black Moon (Criterion)
The Italian Connection
People Sunday (Criterion)
Zazie dans le Metro (Criterion)
Read More: This Week in DVD
What are you buying on DVD this week?