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 January 11th, 2022!
This week’s home video selection includes double features from James Garner and Burt Reynolds, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
The Great Escape [4K UHD, KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A group of Allied POWs plan an elaborate escape.
Why see it? John Sturges gathers an absolutely stellar cast — Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasence, James Coburn, and more familiar faces — for a big tale of bravery, adventure, and escape. It’s a rousing tale at times as Allies from different backgrounds come together for an elaborate plan, and while it mostly avoids the barbarity of the Nazis it still finds some mean and sad beats. Criterion’s Blu-ray from 2020 is a good one aside from the addition of a blue tint, but this new 4K UHD is a few ticks up picture-wise and removes that tint. The extras are plentiful as well.
[Extras: Commentaries, featurettes]
Breaking In [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A professional thief takes a teen under his wing.
Why see it? This late 80s gem from the director of Local Hero and writer of Lone Star gets a low profile but worthwhile Blu-ray release from Kino, and it belongs in your collection. Burt Reynolds plays the professional while a vibrant Casey Siemaszko is the young man excited to learn the ropes. It’s sweet and funny at times while also finding real heart and humanity in these characters. The final dialogue exchange is fantastic stuff. Bill Forsyth and John Sayles offer up some fond memories on the commentary track.
Dune [4K UHD]
What is it? Part of a story, beautifully told.
Why see it? Denis Villeneuve’s partial adaptation of Frank Herbert’s epic sci-fi adventure novel suffers from feeling incomplete — sorry fans, but trilogy installments should still feel at least somewhat complete in their own right — but that said, it’s still a highly memorable experience. From a stellar cast to a stunning sensory presentation, the film is just a gorgeous experience as it introduces us to new worlds and shifting landscapes. Drama, ideologies, and action unfold with a brief appearance by a giant sand worm, and it will leave you looking forward to the announced follow-up.
The Mafu Cage [Scorpion Films]
What is it? Sisterly love goes a bit too far.
Why see it? Lee Grant and Carol Kane play the sisters here, and while the former tries to live her life the latter is a loony just ticking her way towards carnage. It’s a bit frustrating seeing everyone ignore some extremely clear warning signs, but Kane’s unhinged performance makes for a compelling watch. Adding to the plusses is a terrific score and sound design alongside some memorable visuals. It’s almost hypnotic at times, something which pairs well with the themes and atmosphere of the film.
[Extras: New 2K scan, Commentaries, interviews]
The Pink Jungle [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A photographer and his model find adventure in South Adventure.
Why see it? James Garner is just an infectious personality and a terrific actor, and he’s at his best when allowed to blend humor and a bit of action. This late 60s romp sees him mistaken as a CIA agent by local authorities, and that sets in motion a chain of events involving diamond treasure, romance, and a boisterous George Kennedy. It’s a fun time.
[Extras: New 2K master]
The 7th Dawn [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? The end of WWII brings struggles to Malaysia.
Why see it? William Holden headlines this interesting look at post-war realities in the country of Malaysia. A few years after driving out Japanese forces, the country’s soldiers have become rebels hoping to repel the British, and Holden’s American guerilla fighter is caught in the crossfire. A dash of a love story never complicates things as instead the film manages some intriguing observations and action beats. A bit too long for its accomplishments, but still an engaging watch.
[Extras: New 2K master]
The Card Player [Scorpion Releasing]
What is it? A killer plays poker with human lives.
Why see it? It would be hard to argue that Dario Argento’s late career filmography — from the 90s onward — pales beside the absolute bangers he directed through the 70s and 80s, and I won’t be doing that with The Card Player. The gore is minimal, and set-pieces lack the filmmaker’s usual artistic flair, but it’s a well-written giallo offering up red herrings, mean-spirited kills, and more. Scorpion’s Blu-ray lacks a reversible cover (a minor thing, but come on!), but a commentary and four interviews are all new. A solid release for an okay film.
[Extras: Commentary, interviews]
Cobra Kai – Season 3
What is it? Old feuds erupt throughout the San Fernando Valley.
Why see it? For a show that started as a YouTube series, Cobra Kai has found a big and loyal audience following its move to Netflix. It’s a fun show built mostly on nostalgia, and it’s not at all shy about it, but that’s enough for fans of the 80s film franchise. We get some laughs and some mediocre action beats, but the show does good work as a commentary on bullying and personal responsibility.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, bloopers]
Gambit [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A thief plans an elaborate heist with the help of a dancer.
Why see it? Ronald Neame directs this stylish and fun little romp that sees a proper British thief plan and execute the perfect crime — only to then show what really happened. Michael Caine in delightfully exasperated mode is the thief, and his partner in crime is Shirley MacLaine. The dancer isn’t let in on the plan at first, but she soon becomes essential and not just because they’re falling in love. It’s a funny romp.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, commentaries]
Halloween Kills [4K UHD]
What is it? A slasher set-piece is extended to feature length.
Why see it? My thoughts on Halloween Kills are well-documented, and they haven’t changed with a rewatch. We get some solidly gory kills, but the story’s detour into the town’s supposed trauma is weak in both its conception and execution. Sidelining Laurie is a mistake, as is pretending it’s not about her — I’ll eat my words if the final Halloween film has anyone other than her deliver the final blow — leaving this middle entry to just dawdle with new characters we don’t give a shit about. The extended cut adds additional moments, but none of them make a real difference. Anyway, the kills are good stuff.
[Extras: Theatrical and extended versions, gag reel, deleted scenes, featurettes, commentary]
What is it? Guys search for a treasure in gold.
Why see it? Burt Reynolds goes on an adventure in this Philippines set heist film filled with action beats, betrayal, and a terrifically charismatic supporting turn by Miko Mayama. It’s a minor piece in general, but Reynolds is always an enjoyable presence. Genre films from this time and place — Philippines in the 60s and 70s — can sometimes be a bit ballsier and more over the top, but this is a bit tamer than that. It’s exactly what you’re expecting from an underseen Reynolds flick.
[Extras: New 2K master]
Journey to Shiloh [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? Seven young men from Texas hope to join the Civil War.
Why see it? This is something of an odd one — part western, part nostalgia for the Confederacy? — and James Caan in a terrible wig doesn’t help. He leads a group of seven young men on a ride to Virginia to fight for the South, but their trip is cut short by adventure and the war itself. It’s a bit anticlimactic, but the cast makes it a fun curiosity as Caan is joined by Harrison Ford (playing an 18-year-old and giving a weirdly camera-shy performance), Michael Sarrazin, Jan-Michael Vincent, and more familiar faces. Watch it for them and not the mediocre action/drama beats.
[Extras: New 2K master, commentary, interview]
Juice [4K UHD]
What is it? Four friends in Detroit find trouble.
Why see it? Ernest Dickerson makes his feature directorial debut here, and while it shows the promise of what’s to come it’s also more than a little clunky. Happily, there’s still power in the film’s authenticity and approach to inner city youth faced with little to no opportunities. Omar Epps, Tupac Shakur, Khalil Kain, and Jermaine Hopkins bring a freshness balanced by an awareness of their reality, and it lends the film an air of tragedy. The extras here are from previous releases, but the new 4K transfer should make fans happy.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes]
Maria’s Lovers [Code Red]
What is it? A young woman deals with the interests of numerous men.
Why see it? Andrei Konchalovsky’s American career runs the gamut from the likes of Runaway Train and Tango & Cash, and tucked away among them is this much smaller film that can’t muster a similar degree of interest. Nastassja Kinski is the woman, and the men (John Savage, Robert Mitchum, and Keith Carradine) are understandably obsessed, and the film moves forward as a character piece about their various interactions en route to a set conclusion.
What is it? A brief period in the life of Princess Diana.
Why see it? Kristen Stewart’s lead performance is the reason to watch this imagined drama about a few days in the life of the world’s most famous woman. Mother to two boys including a future king, ex-wife to the Prince of England, and someone who simply wanted the world to give her a break. It’s an interesting “what if” made compelling on the strength of Stewart’s performance. There’s an intense restraint here — a weird pairing, obviously, but it works for Stewart and the film.
Also out this week:
Double Walker, Ema, I’m Your Man, The Laughing Heirs, Mass, Multiverse
Related Topics: Home Video