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 December 13th, 2022! This week’s home video selection includes The Roundup, Highlander in 4K, Cooley High from Criterion, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
What is it? A beast of a Korean cop heads to Vietnam in pursuit of a suspect.
Why see it? This follow-up to The Outlaws unleashes Ma Dong-seok in glorious fashion with the result being nothing short of one of the most purely entertaining action films in years. The dude is endlessly charismatic, and the film finds a terrific sense of humor throughout that feels natural and unobtrusive. It’s no laugh out loud comedy and instead finds humor in the characters and situations while still taking its action seriously. These aren’t stylized martial arts bouts here — it’s brutal beatdowns and grappling, and Ma is a fierce threat to anyone who crosses him. Of course, the film tosses someone even deadlier into the mix making for a fantastic thrill ride.
Cooley High [Criterion Collection]
What is it? Friends approach the end of the school year in 1964 Chicago.
Why see it? Teenage coming of age movies are pretty ubiquitous, but ones focused on Black characters were anything but back in the 70s. This little gem is one of the rarities, and it succeeds in talking about both the teen experience and the Black teen one — two things that aren’t always the same. Glynn Turman and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs are the two best friends while familiar faces pop up elsewhere including Garrett Morris and Steven Williams. It’s fun, endearing, and emotional at different points, and it always feels honest in its antics. Kudos to Criterion for bringing this one home in this new edition.
[Extras: D New 4K restoration, interview, discussion]
Creature from Black Lake [Synapse Films]
What is it? College students head to Louisiana in search of Bigfoot.
Why see it? Most Bigfoot movies are steaming garbage — I know, I once ranked nearly fifty of them — but when they connect they can be a lot of fun. Some are just that, super entertaining as action or horror, while others aim for more serious thrills. This mid 70s chiller takes the middle tact with a somewhat serious approach that’s not against displaying a personality. It’s a solid little film, but the big revelation here is Synapse’s new transfer. Holy cow. The film has never looked this good, and this rewatch revealed numerous glimpses of the creature that were completely unclear in previous editions. It’s wild stuff and succeeds at giving the film new life.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, commentary, featurette]
Highlander [4K UHD, Best Buy steelbook]
What is it? There can be only on—six apparently?
Why see it? But this is the first, the one that kicked off the Highlander franchise with some of the music video stylings of director Russell Mulcahy. Christopher Lambert stars alongside Clancy Brown and Sean Connery in a story that jumps between the present and the past in its tale of an immortal swordsman. The film was a minor success on release but went on to find more fans over the years, and if you count yourself among them the new 4K release is quite a treat. The grain of Mulcahy’s film remains, but the colorful scenes pop with more clarity and effect. Add in the numerous extras and this is a solid pick up for fans.
[Extras: New 4K remaster, commentaries, featurettes, interviews]
The Woman King
What is it? Conflict in an African nation sees a fierce group of female warriors take center stage.
Why see it? You really can’t go wrong with Gina Prince-Bythewood, and film after film she’s shown herself to be a filmmaker with both talent and an eye for delivering memorable experiences. Beyond the Lights remains my personal favorite, but her latest is a great piece of historical action. Its premise is straight out of history, and while some liberties are taken to up the action the end result is an engaging tale with strong performances and thrilling set pieces.
[Extras: Featurettes, commentary]
What is it? A daring rescue mission is undertaken to rescue stranded soldiers.
Why see it? Based to some degree on a true story, this Pierre Morel film is a solid action picture. Three UAE soldiers are trapped by rebels and on the verge of defeat when their fellow soldiers arrive for a daring rescue. Chaos and carnage follow. It’s the kind of film we’ve seen before with a story that’s reached the screen numerous times, but it’s still a satisfying watch thanks to the action choreography and execution with gunfire, military hardware, and rebel tactics.
What is it? An FBI agent pursues an elusive criminal.
Why see it? From the generic title to the fairly basic execution here, it’s easy to see this as a forgettable effort. And it kind of is? It’s not a bad film — writer/director Matthew Gentile delivers a competent thriller, reportedly based on a true story — but its individual pieces are never able to raise it beyond merely okay. Ryan Phillippe’s FBI agent is a bit bland, a mode the actor retreats to when the material isn’t grabbing him, and while a poppin’ Jacki Weaver balances the scales the film itself is just a serviceable watch.
[Extras: Commentary, short, featurettes]
What is it? A woman’s medical need leads her to support the needs of all women.
Why see it? It’s wild that abortion remains such a hot button, earth-shaking topic in this country, but too many people are idiots and aholes. This period drama explores the situation from an atypical angle, that of a woman pulled into the discussion after a medical situation leaves her in need of an abortion to save her own life. She finds her way to the Janes, a group of women fighting for bodily autonomy. Elizabeth Banks is good in the lead role, and the rest are equally strong as it becomes an ensemble tale about an important topic.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, featurette, commentary]
What is it? A second sequel to an indie hit!
Why see it? Kevin Smith has never been afraid to jump back into his own films while creating new ones — some might argue that most of his movies are essentially the same anyway — but this new sequel takes the idea in a new and affecting direction. His titular clerks find new drama when one has a life-threatening heart attack, something inspired by Smith’s own health scare. It turns the film in a warmly introspective direction while still finding some laughs and meta shenanigans. Solid stuff.
[Extras: Commentaries, documentaries, deleted scenes]
Girl on a Motorcycle [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? Two young people find love and metal between their legs.
Why see it? Jack Cardiff’s late 60s film is something of a love letter itself to European youth of the time in its recognition of their big swings and openness towards life. Casting Alain Delon and Marianne Faithfull is what secured its spot in people’s brains, though, as both would continue to turn heads for decades to come. The film looks great and captures the sexy, swinging decade well — at least until it comes time for the moral majority to rear their head. The issue, aside from that ending, is that we never really ever get a handle on either character to the point that we give a damn.
[Extras: New 4K restoration, commentaries]
The Hallelujah Trail [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A wagon filled with whisky falls under siege.
Why see it? As far as comedy westerns go, this is one that came out in 1965. Director John Sturges is obviously no slouch, and the film looks and feels like a big production (that it is) including the roadshow addition of an overture and intermission. It takes good advantage of natural landscapes and is filled with characters and extras. It’s also not very funny? Martin Landau as a Native American named Chief Walks-Stooped-Over is about as humorous as you’d expect, and the script doesn’t find much else approaching humor. And it’s 165 minutes?! Still, Burt Lancaster, Jim Hutton, Donald Pleasence, Brian Keith, and more familiar faces make it at least mildly entertaining.
[Extras: New HD master, commentary, roadshow additions]
Reacher – Season One
What is it? So you thought Jack Reacher would be bigger, eh?
Why see it? Fans of Lee Child’s Reacher novels were well-served by Christopher McQuarrie’s feature adaptation starring Tom Cruise. The sequel? Not so much. But those thinking the series would stumble are in for a treat as it instead captures the feel of Child’s novels even better. Alan Ritchson may not have Cruise’s star power, but the dude nails Reacher in look, attitude, and persona. This first season adapts the first book and does a great job with its story and side characters. Here’s hoping the show keeps going through every damn one of them. The reason it’s under “the rest” is because TV shows are a hard sell in my opinion when it comes to actually buying the disc as rewatchability is nearly always pretty low outside of sitcoms. But your mileage may vary!
What is it? An evil entity leaves a trail of trauma.
Why see it? One of 2022’s biggest box-office surprises was Parker Finn’s Smile which thrilled horror fans to a highly profitable degree. The film riffs on the likes of It Follows and The Ring with its story about a curse passed from one person to the next through violent acts of suicide. Finn crafts some memorable imagery, but his script is a bit wobbly and relies too much on hallucinations. Still, I’m clearly in the minority here, so fans will want to pick up this disc which also features some solid behind the scenes extras.
[Extras: Short film, commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes]
Ticket to Paradise
What is it? A divorced couple join forces to stop their daughter’s wedding.
Why see it? Nearly everything about this romantic comedy feels generically competent, from its concept to its characters to its jokes. What raises the bar, though, is the presence of rom-com royalty in the lead with Julia Roberts and George Clooney. And they really do make all the difference. The material is basic, but the pair are charismatic and gleefully watchable making the proceedings feel a bit more entertaining than they actually are. It’s fine.
Walk Proud [Scorpion Releasing]
What is it? A young gang member tries to find a better life.
Why see it? Robbie Benson stars as that young Chicano teenager, and that’s already enough to pump the brakes on this one. Benson is good in the right material, but not only is he woefully cast as a Latino, but absolutely nothing about his scrawny frame suggests he’s a tough street kid. The drama that comes from the setup is familiar enough with its blend of romance and tragedy, but without anything extra to counter Benson’s miscasting it feels a bit underwhelming. But hey, it was the 70s and Benson has a hit song in there!
[Extras: New 2K master, interviews]
Also out this week:
Carrie [4K UHD], Coraline [4K UHD], A Fish in the Bathtub, Hinterland, Lyle Lyle Crocodile, My Best Friend’s Wedding [4K UHD], On the Yard/A Walk on the Moon, Paranorman [4K UHD], Resurrection, Slash/Back
Related Topics: Home Video