Rob Hunter loves movies. He also loves blowing up high schools. 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!
Pitch: Asian on Asian violence is becoming an epidemic, and we’re the beneficiaries…
Why Buy? Neither of these titles are necessarily worth buying on their own, but together at this price point ($15) it’s a great deal. Johnny To’s Exiled is filled with some beautiful shootouts… they’re ridiculous of course, but damn they look good. It’s another one of his “hitmen with a code of honor” flicks and it’s one of the better ones. Dynamite Warrior is a Thai action flick filled with tons of barefoot martial arts, but all you need to know is that it opens with a guy riding a rocket like it was a flying surfboard. The rest of the movie is almost as awesome.
Extra Features? None
Pitch: I normally reserve my BUY recommendations for movies with a high replay value, but I’m making an exception here…
Why Buy? Samantha is trying to recover from a half-hearted suicide attempt and now finds herself jobless, childless, and stuck living with her older sister. And yes, the description on the back of the DVD does make the movie sound like every boring indie drama you’ve ever dreaded having to watch, but the warmth, humor, and honesty present in the lead character make it a worthwhile surprise. To be honest, part of the reason I’m going with a Buy here is because of lead actress Jeannine Kaspar. She’s as insanely talented as she is crazy beautiful, and I’m a sucker for attractive girls with issues.
Extra Features? Featurettes
Pitch: You’ve never seen a more innocent movie about teen rebellion…
Why Buy? I’ve avoided this movie for many years because I’d always thought it was similar to Troma’s Class of Nuke’em High, but having finally watched it I realize I’m an idiot. And while the poster art was intentionally meant to ape Animal House, the movie itself is a fairly funny, fairly sweet little comedy about teenage rebellion. The music rocks, the laughs are legit, and the energy is high. And of the many special features packed in here by the folks at Shout Factory, the “Staying After Class” featurette with PJ Soles, Dey Young, and Vince Van Patten is alone worth the price of admission. Soles and Young are full of energy as they share anecdotes about the film, while Van Paten looks uncomfortable as he tries to keep up with them.
Extra Features? Commentaries, featurettes
Pitch: The film is set in the late nineties, won big at Cannes in 2007, and is hitting DVD in 2010. That’s an event three decades in the making…
Why Rent? A train-load of NATO soldiers is stopped in a small Romanian town while on their way to Kosovo, and a hilarious culture clash ensues. Okay, maybe hilarious is way too strong of a word, but it’s definitely amusing. Armand Assante stars as the lead military man trying to overcome the bureaucratic red tape, both real and manufactured, to get his train moving again. The observations and relationships between the locals and the visitors offer up a unique look into how some countries view the United States.
Extra Features? None
Pitch: Surely there’s no more more a romantic language than Russian…
Why Rent? I jest of course. The movie’s in English. And what a movie it is… big, majestic, and spread across both sides of the DVD… it even opens with a four-minute overture. Based on the best-selling novel, the movie is both a romance and a glimpse into history during the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. I don’t rank this among David Lean’s best (The Bridge On the River Kwai), and it isn’t one I’d re-watch anytime soon, but Lean knew how to make epic motion pictures. Worth a watch for the beautiful wide shots (my favorite being the Russian soldiers on horseback galloping towards the marchers at night) and to see Omar Sharif in something just as memorable as his mesmerizing portrayal of Agent Cedric opposite Val Kilmer in Top Secret. If the idea of a historical film on DVD is too old fashioned for you, the movie is also available On Demand and For Download off iTunes.
Extra Features? Commentary, featurettes
Pitch: House M.D. can suck it…
Why Rent? Marcus Welby may never have had to deal with patients stuck in a sex position by tangled genital piercings, or a live bomb inserted into a patient, or a floating kidney, or measles on the brain, or… you get the idea. He also never had sex in the hall closet. But the show was never really about crazy diagnosis or shenanigans at the office. Instead, it’s a show about character and characters. Fans of Robert Young and James Brolin (and Steven Spielberg completists) may want to pick up this set, but fans of classic TV may want to rent it and settle in for some old-fashioned television where character was king and intelligent dialogue was the norm.
Extra Features? Original two-hour pilot
Pitch: Dogs are people too…
Why Rent? We saw this fascinating and thought-provoking doc at SXSW last year, and its appearance on DVD means everyone can finally share in the experience. It examines the multitude of pets that went missing during and after Hurricane Katrina and follows the efforts to reunite found animals with their owners. Against that backdrop, the movie settles in to examine the legal and ethical issues behind these reunions. Lost animals have been passed off to new homes while the original owners struggle to track them down. Who owns the dog in a case like that? Are pets simply property and nothing more? There are no easy answers here, but there are plenty of emotional moments.
Extra Features? Short film
Pitch: Well golly…
Why Rent? Most folks know Andy Griffith from his eponymously named TV show or from his guest appearance on Dawson’s Creek, but the man also made movies. One of his earliest is this comedy about a country bumpkin who gets drafted into the military and manages to fumble his way through training. It’s like Stripes without the sex, gunfire, and recreational vehicle. Griffith’s character gets a bit too slow and ignorant towards the end, but the movie is a still a funny and fast-moving flick worth ninety minutes of your time.
Extra Features? None
Pitch: Cole Abaius grew up on a steady diet of Galtar and the Golden Lance…
Why Rent? Remember those classic 80’s cartoons featuring Ed Grimley, Chuck Norris, The Biskitts, and Kwicky Koala? No? Me neither. But here they are again for your viewing pleasure anyway! Goldie Gold & Action Jack is a fine example of what this set has to offer with its ridiculous plot, absence of anything resembling real-world physics, and idiotic writing. And yet with all that there’s a certain enjoyment to be found not only in the nostalgia factor but also in the self awareness at how goofy it all is. None of these shows lasted more than a season or two, and it’s easy to see why… but they’re a fun reminder of when Saturday mornings used to be all cartoons all the time.
Extra Features? Featurette
Pitch: You’ve never seen a funnier scene featuring a the death of a child. Guaranteed…
Why Rent? This is a borderline Avoid for me for a few simple reasons. None of the punks are redeemable, interesting, or worth caring about. The music is fairly obnoxious. And some dogs were most likely hurt during filming. But what saves this look at the outcast youth in early eighties California from being a total waste is the unintentional comedy found in the deaths of two children. I can’t be the only one who laughs during that opening dog attack right? Throw in some unemployed adult males who feel threatened by the youth, a caring police officer who happens to be the only black person in a thousand mile radius, and acting that redefines “bad” and you have a certifiable cult classic worth watching.
Extra Features? Commentaries
Pitch: One creepy flick and one disgrace to the entire hot Asian nurse genre…
Why Avoid? Pulse is a pretty good little horror flick and worth checking out on its own, but Sick Nurses isn’t worth a second glance. I say second because your first glance can’t help but notice a bare-bones plot concerning some fairly hot Asian nurses. Sadly, it’s all downhill from there. It’s a simple story of ghostly revenge but the film tries to make it way more complicated than it is by way of poor writing and even worse editing. And the biggest sin of all? Aside from the lack of scares, lack of gore, and abundance of stupidity? The hot Asian nurses never get naked!
Extra Features? None
Pitch: Not even Robert Downey Jr could save these Iron Man adventures. Who am I kidding, of course he could…
Why Avoid? Fans of Iron Man and his Marvel friends should ignore my suggestion here and check this DVD out for themselves. But that won’t change the fact that these adventures are poorly drawn jumbles of physics-free clutter. Strangely, they’re just as lazy in the common sense and physics department as the Saturday Morning Cartoons DVD above, but the difference is that those eighties toons still manage to be fun and entertaining.
Extra Features? None
Also out this week, but review material unavailable in advance: 9 to 5: Days In Porn, The Awkward Comedy Show, Bloodmyth, Eye For An Eye, Girl in Captivity: Psycho Torture Chamber, Hellbinders, Leap Year, Meadowoods, Nine, Preacher’s Kid, The Sanctuary, Tetro, Tooth Fairy, Vampegeddon
Read More: This Week in DVD
What are you buying on DVD this week?