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7 New Movies to Watch at Home This Week

By  · Published on July 21st, 2015

Welcome back to This Week In Discs!

If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon.

Kung Fu Killer

A man is found dead in a violent, mysterious fashion, and when a befuddled police force receives a call from an incarcerated martial artist offering to help the investigation they’re left with little option but to say yes. Hahao Mo (Donnie Yen) is serving time for accidentally killing a man in a fight three years prior, but when he sees a news report on the unsolved murder he realizes he might be the key to catching the killer. The victim was a martial arts master familiar to him and when a second body turns up the pattern becomes clear. Someone is killing masters of various techniques ‐ grappling, weapons, etc ‐ and Mo not only knows who’s next to die but also who’s doing the killing. So yes, this is basically a kung fu version of Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?

Director Teddy Chan returns from a five year hiatus with a fast-paced, contemporary action picture that thrills with some spectacular fight sequences. Yen fans won’t be disappointed, but he’s not the main action draw here. That honor belongs to Wang Bauqiang as the villain who takes part in multiple battles, each with a different focus, on his way to an end brawl with Yen. He impresses throughout with a fiercely aggressive style that punishes his opponents while delighting our eyeballs. Unsurprisingly, the script is more than a little ridiculous at times as silly plot points become commonplace, and some weak (and excessive) CG work towards the end distracts from an otherwise strong fight sequence. Neither issue is as prevalent as they were in the last few Yen films, and they’re balanced out by the film’s subtle and not-so subtle nods to Hong Kong cinema and those who made/make it what it is.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of]

My Beautiful Laundrette (Criterion)

Omar (Gordon Warnecke) is a young British Pakistani Londoner aspiring to be an entrepreneur in the new “free enterprise” culture of Thatcher’s England. Against the wishes of his ailing, alcoholic and former leftist journalist father (Roshan Seth), Omar arranges with his uncle (Saeed Jaffrey) to engage in business both legitimate and not. When he takes charge of a flailing laundrette, Omar hires his childhood friend and former skinhead Johnny (Daniel Day-Lewis) for day labor, and the two strike up a clandestine romance that challenges the norms of their respective cultures.

The specific milieu of working class and immigrant London portrayed in My Beautiful Laundrette proves a rich scenario for trenchantly exploring numerous topics that determined British identity in the ’80s including sexuality, race, and class. And Stephen Frears’s landmark film (adapted from a script by Hanif Kureishi) deftly balances its politics within an honest, nuanced portrayal of its characters’ everyday lives, always preferring the revelations of subtle human drama over the potentials of didacticism. ‐ Landon Palmer

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New interviews with Frears, Kureishi, and the film’s producers and cinematographer; trailer; illustrated booklet with an essay by critic Graham Fuller]

What We Do In the Shadows

Every year a secret society in New Zealand hosts a masquerade ball, and this year a handful of their members have allowed a documentary crew to follow them around in the months leading up to the event. The society’s membership consists of vampires, werewolves, zombies and other denizens of the night, and the doc offers an unprecedented look into the world of four bloodsucking flatmates whose biggest issue on any given day seems to be assigning chores.

Co-writers/co-directors/co-stars Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi have crafted what may just be the best comedy-horror film in decades, and its structure as a faux-doc works perfectly to capture the horrific and the mundane through a familiar lens. As funny as the film is ‐ and it’s the funniest comedy of the year ‐ it also manages moments of terror and real heart in between the laughs. And not for nothing but you’ve never heard a funnier joke about sandwiches than the one Clement’s character makes here.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, behind the scenes, deleted scenes, featurettes, interviews]

Cemetery Without Crosses

Two families feud across a desolate Western wasteland, but when Maria witnesses her husband murdered she devises a horrifically cruel act of revenge. Enlisting the aid of a former gunfighter (and former lover), she has the opposing family’s only daughter abducted, raped and ransomed back to them. So that should tell you a little something about just how dark this late ’60s Euro-western gets. Worse, because it’s real, we’re also witness to a rabbit’s murder ‐ but that bit of barbarity aside this is a solidly atmospheric and satisfyingly dark western. There are no good guys here, just differing shades of black, and the result is a gritty and twisted picture. The score is quite good and fits the film’s Sergio Leone-like sensibilities too.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, interview]

I, Madman

Virginia (Jenny Wright) loves getting lost in the fictional worlds of her favorite authors, but she finds something dangerously unexpected when she goes looking for and finds a mysterious horror novel called I, Madman. A disfigured psychopath has escaped the pages of the book and is now slicing and dicing his way through others to get to her heart. This is a fun little late-’80s horror film that plays almost like a reverse of Robert Englund’s Phantom of the Opera reboot ‐ instead of a young woman being sucked into the obsessive killer’s world he is pulled into hers. The effects are a mix of dated stop-motion and bloody practical work, but while it’s never scary it creates its own atmosphere.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, making of, behind the scenes]

The Jokesters

Members of a popular online prank show decide to turn the tables on their founder after he announces his retirement, but their attempt at scaring him turns all too real when an actual killer arrives on the scene. This found footage film suffers from the usual suspects ‐ lots of filler, unlikable/uninteresting characters, lack of scares, camera questions ‐ and it lacks the smarts or originality to make those annoyances forgivable. Part of the problem is that we’re meant to see some of these guys’ antics as funny, but absolutely none of it is.

[DVD extras: Behind the scenes, making of, hijinks]

Robot Chicken: Season 7

Adult Swim’s ode to effed up stop-motion antics returns with more of the same, and that’s not a bad thing. They’re still targeting pop culture of the past and present to skewer with jokes both simple and elaborate ‐ but mostly simple ‐ and even if one misses the mark you only need wait a few seconds for their next stab at off-color animation.

[DVD extras: Commentaries, bonus episode, featurettes, cut sketches]

Jauja, Love Unto Death & Life Is a Bed of Roses, Seeds of Yesterday, Set Fire to the Stars, Sweet Trash / The Hangup, Tangerines, Throwback, Wild Horse, The Wrecking Crew

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.