Streaming might be the future, but physical media is still the present. It’s also awesome, depending on the title, the label, and the release, so each week we take a look at the new Blu-rays and DVDs making their way into the world. Welcome to this week in Home Video for May 16th, 2023! This week’s home video selection includes the year’s best home video release (so far), the 4-film In the Line of Duty collection, The Longest Yard in 4K, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
In the Line of Duty I-IV [88 Films]
What is it? The best release of the year for action fans.
Why see it? Hong Kong’s In the Line of Duty franchise — a loosely related seven-film series with female cops in focus — is one of the action genre’s best, hands down. Michelle Yeoh headlines the first two, and Cynthia Khan takes charge of the remaining entries, and while the last three are mostly forgettable, these first four movies are all classic action bangers. 88 Films’ new box set is a glorious release offering each film, newly remastered and looking better than ever before. The extras provide all manner of production insight and detail, and the packaging is as slick as they come, but the real stars here are ultimately and obviously the films themselves. Yeoh teams up with Cynthia Rothrock for the first film, Yes Madam, and sees the two teaming up to take down some real baddies, while Yeoh goes solo for Royal Warriors as she takes on a pair of homicidal Japanese thieves — and yes, the order of the two films is flipped in some territories. Khan takes over for films three and four and showcases fight skills and stunt talents that mark her as one of the period’s best “girls with guns” leads. All four movies are winners, but for my money, they get better as they progress with part IV being the ultimate showstopper thanks in part to the addition of Donnie Yen as a badass cop of his own. The fights and action set pieces are stellar across all four films, and every action fan should want this set on their shelf.
[Extras: New 2K restorations, booklet, commentaries, interviews]
The Longest Yard [4K UHD, KL Studio Classics]
What is it? Prisoners versus guards on the gridiron.
Why see it? Robert Aldrich directs this mean but humorous tale of corrupt prison officials trying to take advantage of their incarcerated population. The prisoners are expected to throw the “championship” football game against the sadistic guards, but instead they see this as an opportunity to restore their honor. Burt Reynolds headlines the rough and tumble fun while a scheming Eddie Albert brings a cruel wink to the warden, and the result is the kind of rudely entertaining romp only the 70s coan provide. Kino’s new 4K UHD pops in all the right places.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes]
Miami Vice [steelbook]
What is it? A dark and serious big screen adventure for the 80s’ most pastel happy boys.
Why see it? Michael Mann’s filmography has a couple lesser films (Public Enemy, Blackhat), but most are compulsively watchable thanks to the filmmaker’s eye and mindset. This film is occasionally ugly — sorry, but the digital photography at night is garbage — but frequently beautiful with its tale of cops, drug lords, and illicit affairs. Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx are both fantastic as Crockett and Tubbs, and Gong Li shines as a woman caught up in it all. Mann blows up the conceits of his hit 80s television show with bigger action, visuals, and themes, and then smothers it all in atmosphere. No real complaints with this reissue here.
[Extras: Director’s cut and theatrical, featurettes, commentary]
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
What is it? The latest in a series of diminishing returns.
Why see it? I’m a fan of the first Ant-Man film as it delivers a fun little heist movie despite its threads connecting it to the MCU as a whole. Paul Rudd is effortlessly entertaining, the supporting characters are solid, and heist movies rock. The sequels, though, have shifted more and more into the mold of the MCU’s other films — big, loud, CG-centric — and this third entry is the worst of the bunch. It’s just never grounded and instead feels artificial from its visuals and locales to its character beats. The villain doesn’t work, the banter is weak, and Rudd is too frequently drowned out by the noise.
[Extras: Featurettes, commentary, gag reel, deleted scenes]
Hustle [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? An LA cop investigates a seedy situation.
Why see it? Tone is sometimes underestimated in its importance, and Hustle offers up a good example of why. The storyline here involving a dead teen, sexual impropriety, and illicit antics is as dark and grim as they come, but director Robert Aldrich and friends occasionally play it a bit too loose and light resulting in some jarring beats. It doesn’t always work as a result, but that said, Burt Reynolds, Catherine Deneuve, Paul Winfield, Ernest Borgnine, Eddie Albert, and Eileen Brennan are all endlessly watchable talents who raise the material with their presence. It’s a mixed bag of a film, but the personalities keep it alive leading up to a terrifically effective ending.
[Extras: New 4K scan, commentary, featurette]
What is it? Two old friends plan a murder to honor their dead friend.
Why see it? While it’s hard to go wrong with Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, it’s not always easy to go right with them either. This comedy posits a murder plan, but its real focus is on rebuilding the pair’s friendship and seeing them triumph over their individual issues. Both Tomlin and Fonda are still highly watchable, but the material never gives them the spark they need to make this all that special.
Young Ip Man
What is it? Another in the unnecessary line of Donnie Yen-free Ip Man films.
Why see it? It’s true, I’m partial to Donnie Yen’s Ip Man film series — a fifth has recently been announced for some reason! — and their high quality does no favors to the multiple also-rans that have been released over the past couple decades. This entry focuses on an earlier time in the man’s life and obviously pits him against some baddies who take issue with him and/or his friends. This one does earn points for finding a bit more meat in the story than the usual “you killed my master so now we fight” narrative, but the fight action is merely okay leaving the movie feeling a bit meh by the time the credits roll.
Also out this week:
Honey, The Magic Flute, Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre, Yakuza Graveyard
Related Topics: Home Video