My Way

This Week in DVD

Welcome back to This Week In DVD! We take a look at fifteen new releases below, and a whopping eleven of them are good to great and worth your time! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Brake A man (Stephen Dorff) awakens in a plexiglass box that itself rests inside a car’s trunk. Confused at first, he soon learns his captors are after a very specific piece of information they need to complete a terrorist attack. Can he hold out against their threats and actions? This film bears thematic similarities to 2009’s Buried, but it’s a far superior experience (at least until the end anyway). Dorff does a fine job as the highly stressed lead, the story’s twists and turns are a solid mix of the expected, the smart and the unpredictable, and there are several genuinely exciting moments. Just be sure to turn it off about two minutes before the credits roll. [Extras: Commentary, featurette, music video]

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Foreign Objects - Large

The beaches of Normandy were most likely filled with many surprises on D-Day, but one of the most unexpected had to have been US soldiers finding a Korean man surrendering to them while wearing a German uniform. His footnote in history forms the basis of the most expensive Korean film ever made, My Way. Kim Jun-shik is a Korean farmer’s son who even as a young boy is known for his love of running. The late twenties saw Japan invade and retain control of Korea, and when a new Japanese headmaster arrives Jun-shik immediately forms a rivalry with the man’s spoiled son, Tatsuo Hasegawa. The two boys compete through their teen years and carry that battle of wills into WWII when Jun-shik and many other Koreans are conscripted to fight for the Japanese against the Allies. The film follows Jun-shik through a deadly series of explosive adventures and sadistic nightmares that eventually lands him in German fabric firing a machine gun at the encroaching Americans. It’s director Kang Je-kyu’s first film in seven years and sees him return to the genre that gave him his last triumph, Tae Guk Gi: Brotherhood. This time he’s moved from the battlefields of the Korean war to the international landscape of World War II, and the result is even more bombastic, brutal and epic. But what Kang gains in scope and graphic detail he loses in nuance, character and honest emotion. The result is a visual feast that leaves the eyes and ears satiated but […]

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There’s a solid chance that you haven’t heard of most of these movies. Yet they exist – out there somewhere as a thorn in the side of movie fans trying to see as much as possible. Nuggets of potential waiting to be picked up from the movie orphanage by a distributor and given a warm home with cup holders in every seat. The European Film Market is fascinating for that reason and for the way people attend it. Tickets this year were around $600, but that’s a reasonable price for companies sending representatives trying to find the next moneymaker for their company or the hot movie to bring to their festival. That means screenings come complete with people on cell phones and unimpressed buyers walking out after ten minutes to hustle next door to see if the other movie playing has any promise to it. It’s a bizarre way to watch movies, but it makes a kind of sense given the massive size of the movie list compared to the tiny amount of time to see everything. There were upwards of 675 movies in the EFM this year, all of them with their own selling points. Here are the 87 most interesting-sounding with descriptions found in the official catalog. For the most part, I haven’t seen these movies (and didn’t even know about many of them until the Berlin Film Festival), but they all have something going for them that should earn them a spot on your radar.

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On a hillside overlooking the beaches of Normandy, American soldiers surround a Korean and a Japanese man wearing Nazi uniforms. This is the second-most intriguing image of Mai-wei, the WWII epic from writer/director Je-gyu Kang. What’s even more fascinating is that the image is drawn directly from real life. How they got there (and into Hitler’s army no less) is a story told while trudging through the freezing mountains of Russia and the hot open plains of Korea. It’s an enormous movie, told through a decade as two competitive marathon runners – Jun-shik Kim (Dong-gun Jang) and Tatsuo Hasegawa (Jo Odagiri) – begin as alienated enemies and become friends through the brittle evolution of battle. Certainly its most striking achievements are the extended, highly-choreographed war scenes that steal the breath right out of your lungs. The visual style is an angrier version of Saving Private Ryan, but instead of beginning with Normandy, Mai-wei ends with it, and instead of having a few huge battles, Mai-wei has a solid half-dozen. Make no mistake; it’s a movie that slams your head into the wall without giving you a helmet.

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