Special ID

Warner Bros.

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Her Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) spends his days writing personal letters for customers to give to their lovers, families and friends, but in his own life there’s no one truly special. Still heartbroken and lonely after a recent break-up he pines for a romance he no longer thinks is possible. That negativity changes when he gets a new OS named Samantha (Scarlett Johansson) that personalizes itself to the user. She’s witty, sweet and constantly learning about the world around her, and it’s not long before the two are in love. Spike Jonze’s latest is gorgeous, glorious cinema from top to bottom. It’s beautifully shot and scored, marvelously acted and interested in substantive ideas that most Hollywood films willfully ignore in favor of empty flash. This could easily have gone the Electric Dreams route, but it avoids anything resembling cheesiness through its sincerity, production design and honest lead performances. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Short film, featurettes]



I’ve always been far more partial to action accomplished via choreography than with CGI shenanigans. There’s a place for both, obviously, but I’m more impressed by the agile movement of bodies than I am by the placement of pixels. Unfortunately, fight scenes unassisted by CGI or wire-work are becoming a bit of a rarity these days. That said, there’s still plenty of fun to be had with action scenes, big or small, that are created with the aid of technology or that eschew fisticuffs all together for exciting gunplay or vehicular hijinks. This year’s best action films are a mix of all of the above and include both domestic and international movies. What’s not included? Movies featuring superheroes. It wasn’t an intentional slight, believe me, but when it came time to rank which films offered up the most legitimately exciting and visceral thrills the thirteen below beat out the likes of Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, and others. Remember, this isn’t a ranking of movies but of the action in the movies, meaning while these aren’t all necessarily great films they do represent the best action to have hit screens this year. To that end, keep reading for a look at our choices for the Best Action Movies of 2013.


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SPL aka Kill Zone. Flashpoint. Ip Man. Bodyguards & Assassins. Ip Man 2. Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen. Wu Xia aka Dragon. I’m not shy about my love for Donnie Yen and the blistering brutality he’s capable of dealing out through his lightning-quick beat downs, an especially impressive feat seeing as he’s only four feet tall, but I’ve also been vocal in my wish to see him give the period films a rest. He’s made some great ones, obviously, but there’s something about seeing his MMA-infused martial arts in action in a contemporary setting. The alley brawl from SPL? The final fight from Flashpoint? Happily the six year drought is over as the next several months will see Yen kicking ass in two modern day settings. Iceman hits next year and starts in the Ming Dynasty where Yen’s character is frozen only to be thawed out in modern times for some laughs and fighting hijinx, but first up is Special ID. The film follows a squad of undercover cops whose identities are leaked leading to their assassinations. Cue the machine gun-style fisticuffs! Check out the clip below and start salivating for Special ID‘s eventual release here in the States.

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published: 01.27.2015
published: 01.27.2015
published: 01.27.2015
published: 01.27.2015

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