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 November 24th, 2020!
This week’s home video selection includes the complete Buck Rogers, the sequel to a beloved zombie tale from South Korea, Mad Max in 4K, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
Mad Max [KL Studio Classics, 4K UltraHD]
What is it? George Miller’s classic franchise starter.
Why see it? It’s rare for a film franchise to retain the same director over decades and multiple films, but George Miller is that rarity. From the recent action masterpiece Mad Max: Fury Road, all the way back to 1979’s Mad Max, Miller has been running the show across four films — and three of them are brilliant slices of apocalyptic action! (Sorry Beyond Thunderdome fans…) This first entry is the lowest budgeted and therefore smallest, but it remains a thrilling piece of exploitation fare with eccentric characters, big stunts, and plenty of carnage. Kino’s new 4K release captures the mayhem in all of its detail and glory, and while the film’s soft focus cinematography remains there’s a new clarity and sheen to it all. The original mono Australian audio track is included as well as a 5.1 surround mix and the “American” dubbed version. Add in the smart choice of cover art, and this becomes a must own for action fans.
[Extras: Commentary, interviews, featurettes]
Buck Rogers – The Complete Collection [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? The 25th century has never been more fun.
Why see it? This late 70s/early 80s series only ran for two seasons, but it managed to deliver plenty of memorable thrills and some fun entertainment. This collection includes both seasons as well as the theatrical feature, and while the show never got the love of some other sci-fi/adventure series, it remains a fun one for those of us who dug its action ethos set amongst the stars, science fiction, and some cool alien encounters. For my money, it also features one of the spookier episodes of a television show — season one’s “Space Vampire” episode remains creepy as hell!
[Extras: Commentaries, interviews]
I Start Counting [Fun City Editions]
What is it? A teenage girl crosses paths with a killer.
Why see it? Jenny Agutter is luminous as a young woman on the cusp of her own sexuality, but rather than find a lascivious angle there the film wisely explores her coming of age through dialogue and relationships. It’s a smartly told tale that sees people come to suspect others even as viewers know who the real killer is, and the suspense remains. This new Blu-ray sees Fun City Editions rescue the film from acclaimed obscurity with a beautiful restoration and some engaging extras.
[Extras: New 2K restoration, interview, video essay, commentary]
The Lost Weekend [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? An alcoholic realizes he’s an alcoholic.
Why see it? Billy Wilder’s a filmmaker who dabbled wonderfully in multiple genres, and while he went on to direct some classic romps his earlier work was often far more serious and grounded. This tale of an alcoholic man (Ray Milland, in his finest performance) telling his own story on his way to a possible end is a sad, captivating story with few glimmers of hope along the way. It’s far from glamorous, but it’s powerfully affecting. This US Blu lacks the epic interview with Wilder available on the UK’s release from Eureka, but it’s still a fantastic release in its own right with a stellar remaster.
[Extras: New 4K master, commentary, radio adaptation]
What is it? A group of friends reunite for a stupid Olympics.
Why see it? There’s a pretty fun cast here — Olivia Munn, Dax Shepard, James Roday, Josh Duhamel, okay look I said fun not crazy great — but the writing is so especially sophomoric that none of it actually manages to be funny. To be sure, part of its point is to mock grown men behaving like children, but the film also wants to embrace it making for a muddled theme to go with the broad comedy. Watch it if the cast appeals, but don’t expect a new Hangover.
What is it? The classic tale gets an almost unrecognizable makeover.
Why see it? While this film takes on some aspects of Alexandre Dumas’ familiar character, it’s actually a sequel to 2014’s Forbidden Kingdom and sees the return of Jason Flemyng. That may or may not be a good thing depending on your taste for excessive CG, dubbing, and “big” performances, but at least this time we get supporting help from Jackie Chan and Arnold Schwarzenegger — the latter of whom makes sure to remind characters to exercise. It’s silly.
The Jewish Soul: Ten Classics of Yiddish Cinema
What is it? A 5-disc set of ten feature films important to Yiddish culture.
Why see it? The films range from 1937 to 1950 in their releases, and they’re even more varied in content with comedy, drama, the supernatural, and more all finding representation here. It’s an important release on the historical front, and Kino’s (and Lobster’s) restorations improve on old, damaged source materials. The films vary in more than just physical presentation meaning some will likely be more rewatchable than others, with The Dybbuk being my choice of the bunch, so your mileage may vary.
[Extras: Booklet, commentaries, alternate versions]
Peninsula [4K UltraHD]
What is it? Years after the zombie outbreak, heists are the new jam.
Why see it? This follow up to Train to Busan lacks the original’s tension, terror, and suspense, but it rarely tries to compete on those fronts. Instead, the film is more of a CG-heavy heist film that feels familiar to post-apocalyptic movie fans while finding some new thrills of its own. It’s a sharp-looking romp, even more so in 4K, and the energy remains high throughout. It’s more about the cheese than the terror this time around, but it’s an entertaining ride.
[Extras: Featurette, interviews]
Also out this week:
Ava, Babylon Berlin – Season 3, Cemetery of Terror [Vinegar Syndrome], Deadly Games [Vinegar Syndrome], Essential Fellini [Criterion Collection], He Came From the Swamp [Arrow Video], The Irishman [Criterion Collection], The Killing Floor, Rest in Pieces [Vinegar Syndrome], Riders of Death Valley, Whodunit? [Vinegar Syndrome]