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 September 21st, 2021!
This week’s home video selection includes a pair of stellar Criterion releases, a 90s action classic finally new to Blu-ray, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
Throw Down [Criterion Collection]
What is it? Three strangers find something in each other.
Why see it? Johnnie To’s filmography is filled with action bangers and dramatic thrillers (Election, PTU, Sparrow, Vengeance, Drug War, Breaking News, The Mission, Fulltime Killer, Running Out of Time, Running on Karma, I could go on), but he’s also just as comfortable delivering a beautiful tale of an unlikely friendship. Louis Koo, Aaron Kwok, and Cherrie Ying make for an endlessly compelling trio as they bond over judo, lounge acts, gambling, and positivity. It’s an odd film that ignores multiple norms, but it finds its own rhythm and simply lulls viewers into its world — and they’ll be happy it happened. Criterion’s new Blu sees To’s cinematography pop with color, sharpness, and power.
[Extras: 4K restoration, interviews, documentary]
Breakdown [Paramount Presents]
What is it? A couple on a road trip cross paths with killers.
Why see it? It’s ridiculous that this absolute banger of a 90s action/thriller has taken this long to hit Blu-ray in the United States. Director Jonathan Mostow delivers a thrilling tale of a man searching for his kidnapped wife in an unforgiving rural American landscape. The action is achieved practically with some impressive stunts and chase sequences, and we also get top notch performances by Kurt Russell and the late J.T. Walsh. The movie alone is worthwhile in HD, but this new Blu also adds some extras including a new commentary with Russell and Mostow adding extra value and a must-listen track.
[Extras: Featurette, commentary, interviews]
A Clockwork Orange [4K UltraHD]
What is it? Young punks face a future punishment.
Why see it? Stanley Kubrick’s controversial adaptation remains both shocking and prescient in its look at attempts to curb youthful behaviors that ultimately fail. It’s a blend of genres — science fiction, drama, more than a little comedy — and Kubrick maintains a steady hand over its tone throughout. Malcolm McDowell is a livewire performer in general, and that’s never more the case than it is here as he tears his way through every scene. The film has always been an attractive one too thanks to sharp cinematography and production design, and its new 4K remaster only heightens that beauty. The audio, however, isn’t quite up to snuff as the new 5.1 track sounds almost muffled? Effects and music come through far better than dialogue, and while it sounds fine via the mono audio option 4K owners won’t be thrilled. Still, it’s a buy in my view for the picture upgrade.
[Extras: Commentary by Malcolm McDowell, interview, featurettes]
Love & Basketball [Criterion Collection]
What is it? From kids to adulthood, a boy and a girl come together on and off the court.
Why see it? Gina Prince-Bythewood is a smart, extremely talented filmmaker exploring relationships in ways others aren’t, and while Beyond the Lights remains my favorite of her films this romantic drama is also terrific. Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan star as the adults whose interactions since childhood have seen them fall in love while facing pressures in their own choices regarding professional basketball. It has a lot to say on women’s sports, the power dynamic at home, and beyond. It’s also beautifully acted and leaves viewers feeling good about life.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, commentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes]
Batman – The Complete Second Season
What is it? A new Batwoman is on the scene!
Why see it? Ruby Rose’s departure from the CW’s Batwoman series could have been a death knell, but the showrunners have taken that loss and turned it into lemonade. Javicia Leslie picks up the cowl with an atypical character and makes for a more compelling take on the hero. Of course, it’s still a CW DC comics show at the end of the day meaning all the good and bad that comes with that. There are some solid episodes here, but these shows always feel like they’d benefit from a tighter/shorter season.
[Extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes, gag reel]
“Crocodile” Dundee Trilogy
What is it? A reminder that there were three of these movies.
Why see it? Seriously, though, did you know there was a third film in the Crocodile Dundee franchise? The first remains a funny fish-out-of-water tale, and the second is a lesser version of the same thing, but the third? It sends the crocodile man to Los Angeles for a laugh-free adventure that few people saw and even fewer remember. Fans of the character and first two films might enjoy this collection, though, despite its severe lack of extras.
What is it? A prequel to 101 Dalmatians.
Why see it? This Emma Stone-led IP feature is of two minds — it delivers some fun antics thanks in part to Paul Walter Hauser, but it also bungles its forced connections to the earlier film. The comedy elements work well enough, and there’s energy to a heist set-piece, but the retcon on the character of Cruella is pretty dumb and just fails to jive. She’s a villain, but here her later behaviors are excused (if not flat our ignored) by way of revelations or conflicting antics.
[Extras: Featurettes, bloopers, deleted scenes]
Dementia 13 [Vestron Video]
What is it? A young woman tries to claim an inheritance, but murder gets in the way.
Why see it? Francis Ford Coppola’s debut feature has had a along life of near public domain obscurity, but Vestron has now brought it to Blu-ray with a clear respect. It’s an HD transfer of Coppola’s director’s cut, available for the first time, and the difference is notable as additions made by Roger Corman are absent here allowing the director’s vision to play as intended. It’s still a simple little thriller, but the man’s creative talents are already on display.
[Extras: introduction, commentary]
F9: The Fast Saga
What is it? The ninth entry in the increasingly improbable franchise juggernaut.
Why see it? On the one hand, this continues to impress for a film series that began with a simple action flick about street racing and stolen goods. On the other, it’s just so much nonsense. Fast Five was the franchise pinnacle, and now we’re stuck with overlong wankfests pairing unimpressive action with empty dialogue about family, and the eternally dull Vin Diesel sits at the head of it all. I know I’m in the minority on these later entries, and that’s fine.
[Extras: Theatrical and director’s cuts, gag reel, featurettes, commentary]
What is it? A down on his luck dude finds purpose on the field.
Why see it? Keanu Reeves is no stranger to sports films, and while my tastes run more The Replacements, this unassuming tale delivers the goods. Reeves plays a no-good guy who takes a coaching job for the money only to discover there’s more to life than financial gain. It’s straightforward, but Reeves does good work as a normal character. Add in Diane Lane and John Hawkes, and you have a solid little charmer.
[Extras: Commentary, featurette, deleted scenes, music video]
Lady of the Manor
What is it? An irresponsible woman finds a friend in the past.
Why see it? This is an odd one. Melanie Lynskey, Judy Greer, and Justin Long are all comedy greats, but their combined efforts here result in a film that’s trying to be funny while rarely succeeding. It’s strange to watch! The issue mostly stems from the script which takes stabs at easy jokes and still misses. Ryan Phillippe (of all people) manages to earn some smiles, and the main threesome is always welcome on the screen, but you’ll be wondering why they’re having such trouble hitting your funny bone.
[Extras: Commentary, featurette, outtakes, deleted scenes]
Also out this week:
The Boys from County Hell, The Equalizer – Season One, God of War II, Last Call, The Naked Spur [Warner Archive], Straight Time [Warner Archive], Unbreakable [4K UltraHD]
Related Topics: Home Video