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Kill Switch (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are in the mood for a popcorn sci-fi action film, then “Kill Switch” may be to your liking.  Just don’t come into the film expecting anything to deep.

Images courtesy of © 2017 Lions Gate Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Kill Switch

FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 92 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:35:1 aspect ratio, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: Spanish, English SDH

COMPANY: Lions Gate

RATED: R

RELEASE DATE: August 22, 2017


Directed by Tim Smit

Screenplay by Charlie Kindinger, Omid Nooshin

Produced by Tim Smit, Sander Verdonk, Denis Wigman, Patrick Chu

Executive Producer: Shanan Becker, Bill Bromiley, Russell Geyser, Al Munteanu, Thibaut Niels, Clay Pecorin, Milan Popelka, Aaron Ryder, Ness Saban

Co-Producer: Michael Jackman

Music by Dries Bijlsma, Rob Peters

Cinematography by Jacco van Ree

Edited by Wouter van Luijn

Casting by Rose Wicksteed

Production Design by Romke Faber

Art Direction by Nora van der Steeg

Set Decoration by Steven Van Der Zalm


Starring:

Dan Stevens as Will Porter

Berenice Marlohe as Abigail Vos

Charity Wakefield as Mia

Tygo Gernandt as Michael

Gijs Scholten van Aschat as Reynard

Kasper van Groesen as Donny

Mike Libanon as Hugo


In the future world, a physicist’s experiment to harness unlimited energy goes wrong. Chased by drones and soldiers, Will Porter must race through an imploding world and retrieve the Redivider box to save his family – and all of humanity!


Tim Smit has made a name for himself as a visual effects supervisor for the crime drama “Tiger House” and “Last Passenger” and this time, Smit makes his directorial debut for the American-Dutch sci-fi action film “Kill Switch”, which Smit is also the visual effects supervisor.

Co-written by Charlie Kindinger and Omid Nooshin, the film stars Dan Stevens (“Downton Abbey”, “The Guest”, “Beauty and the Beast”), Berenice Marlohe (“Skyfall”, “Twin Peaks”, “Song to Song”), Charity Wakefield (“Wolf Hall”, “The Player”, “Sense & Sensibility”) and Tygo Gernandt (“Godforsaken”, “Black Death”, “Dokter Tinus”).

The film is set in the future and physicist and former NASA pilot Will Porter (portrayed by Dan Stevens) is awaiting for the project that he’s working on for Alterplex Energy, a power company to take place.  The project is to harness unlimited energy and with his sister Mia (portrayed by Charity Wakefield) and her son Donnie (portrayed by Kasper van Groesen) and all looked as if the project is working wonderfully.

The next scene begins to show Will being recruited by Alterplex and being interviewed by Abigail Vos (portrayed by Berenice Marlohe) for her boss, Reynard (portrayed by Gijs Scholten van Aschat). And how he is offered a lot of money to work for Alterplex Energy and also providing amazing benefits for Will bu also for his sister and nephew.

The film then jumps forward as Will making the jump to Echo, a mirror universe of Earth and seeing if Echo has received any damage.  And what Will finds is a quiet city with dead people all lying on the ground.  Will learns that Altiplex has pretty much taken control of the world and unleashed their security drones upon the city.

Also, an underground group has formed trying to stop Alterplex since the company turned on a tower, which has led to strange anomalies in the city.  Which includes things being sucked out from the other world and vehicles or things being dropped in Echo.

As Will moves towards the anomaly, he carries a device thinking that it will balance the power between the two universes and stop the anomalies.

Next thing you know, he sees humans fighting against the drones and finds the underground rebels going after him.  As one of the men are about to kill him, Will finds out one of the men is former Alterplex Security Michael (portrayed by Tygo Gernandt).

Michael, who is now with the underground rebels asks Will, how he survived?  As the drones come, they go to see Will and Will tells the drones that he is an employee with Alterplex and shows the Alterplex drone a device that Alterplex has given him.  The drones then say he is under arrest and that Alterplex is coming to arrest him.

But then the tower immediately actives and sucks the drones and many birds in and suddenly drops a train on top of the drones, destroying them.

Will finds out that he was killed (and is shocked that people think he was dead) is then joined by Alterplex’s Abby and she finds out that he is carrying a “Redivider”.

We are then taken back to various flashbacks and to see why Will is carrying a Redivider and what the true purpose of the Redivider is all about.


VIDEO:

“Kill Switch” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1 aspect ratio). While the shots are primarily shot indoors, the film utilizes a lot of visual effects and while the film leans more on a cool side, the visual effects works wonderfully.  And because the film is shot mostly in first person, almost like a video game, you are seeing the film as Will Porter and visual effects are heavily incorporated.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Kill Switch” is presented in English5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio  and features crystal clear dialogue and many action sequences enveloping the surround channels.  As one can expect from a sci-fi action film, from drones firing off on Will and friends to the portal turning on and off and seeing objects or vehicles crashing down, the lossless audio is fantastic.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Kill Switch” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director Tim Smit.
  • The Visual Effect: Inside the Director’s Process – (4:51) Tim Smit talks about directing a film and also being in charge of visual effects.

EXTRAS:

“Kill Switch” comes with the Blu-ray and an UltraViolet HD code.


Once in awhile, you hear about sci-fi action films that are created with the smallest budget but yet looks like a film made with a significant amount of money.

“Kill Switch” is a film that benefits from the experience of talented visual effects director Tim Smit, who makes his directorial debut.

Featuring a small cast and a plethora of visual effects, “Kill Switch” revolves around scientist and former NASA pilot Will Porter, who was recruited by Alterplex Energy, a power company that built a tower that taps into unlimited quantum energy.

Because of his skills, Alteplex sends Will Porter to take a device to a mirror universe of Earth known as Echo.

But something is eerily wrong in Echo as people are found killed, surviving rebels are fighting against Alterplex Security who pretty much rules over the land and people he knew are looking at him weird and telling him how he came back to life, because he died.

All Will knows is that his mission is to take a device to enable a power transfer between both universes in order to set things right because the tower is sending objects flying and dropping major objects from above.  Will believes his mission is to fix this problem with the device, not knowing that the device a redivider a.k.a. “kill switch”, a last resort to destroy a universe.

Showcased in a first-person viewpoint from Will and flashbacks showcasing Will getting his job at Alterplex and how he meets Alterplex’s Abigail Vos and former Alterplex Security, Michael. A big part of the flashbacks focus on Will trying to take care of his sister Mia and her special needs son, Donny.

While the film is fascinating and no doubt showcases Tim Smit’s talent as a visual effects director (in a special feature, you learn how Smit did a lot of the visual effects himself), the film has to credit Smit’s talent for taking a normal world and make it look post-apocalyptic.  Where humans are no longer living normally and Alterplex drones are flying around shooting at people.

If anything, “Kill Switch” is similar to a video game that is more visual eye candy, “Kill Switch” is a sci-fi action film that is also visual candy and a popcorn action film that doesn’t rely too much on its story but on its action/visual effects sequences.

The Blu-ray looks very good and the lossless audio definitely utilizes the surround channels and LFE for the action sequences.  Special features are primarily an audio commentary and short visual effects featurette.

Overall, some people may find the first-person perspective  of “Kill Switch” to be a bit jarring, as it primarily is Will’s focalpoint, going along with his risky mission and helping out Michael and Abigail, but also coming across the drones or human rebels and trying to avoid being killed.  The film does have a video game feel to it and the most ardent cinema fans may not like the film’s visual presentation but in some way, it does work to the film’s advantage, because today’s FPS video game generation may find this type of visual style to be something that they are quite familiar with.  So, you’ll either enjoy or dislike this film.

If you are in the mood for a popcorn sci-fi action film, then “Kill Switch” may be to your liking.  Just don’t come into the film expecting anything to deep.

 

Gurren Lagann Complete Blu-ray Disc Box (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Gurren Lagann” can be described in one word and that is “Fantastic!” and it’s great that fans can enjoy the complete TV series and both animated films with this 10th Anniversary collection.  The set may not have the Aniplex swag or the special features of its previous Blu-ray or DVD sets but for those wanting to upgrade their sets to HD or those curious about “Gurren Lagann”, then the “Gurren Lagann Complete Blu-ray Disc Box” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © GAINAX, KAZUKI NAKASHIMA/GURREN LAGANN-MOVIE COMMITTEE. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Gurren Lagann Complete Blu-ray Disc Box

DURATION: Episodes 1-27 + 2 Movies

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: August 8, 2017


Created by GAINAX

Director: Hiroyuki Imaishi

Assistant Director: Masahiko Ohtsuka

Series Directors: Kazuki Nakashima

Character Designs: Atsushi Nishigori

Mecha Designs: You Yoshinari

Design Works: Shigeto Koyama

Art Director: Yuka Hirama (BIHOU)

Color Design: Harumi Takahoshi

Director of Photography: Toyonori Yamada

Editing: Junichi Uematsu

Sound Director: Tohru Nakano

Music: Taku Iwasaki

Produced by TV Tokyo, DENTSU, Aniplex


Featuring the following voice talent:

Katsuyuki Konishi/Kyle Herbert (as Kamina)

Marina Inoue/Michelle Ruff (as Yoko Littner)

Tetsuya Kakihara/Yuri Lowenthal (as Simon)

Yukari Fukui/Bridget Hoffman, Hynden Walch (as Nia)

Daiki Nakamura/Doug Stone (as Dayakka)

Kana Asumi (as Kiyal)

Kana Ueda/Stephanie Sheh (as Kinon)

Kisho Taniyama (as Kittan)

Masaya Onosaka/Steven Blum (as Leeron)

Mitsuki Saiga/Johnny Yong Bosch (as Rossiu)

Nobuyuki Hiyama/Sam Ergal (as Viral)

Rina Satou/Karen Strassman (as Kiyoh)

Shizuka Itou/Julie Ann Taylor (as Boota and Darry)


Gurren Lagann returns in a complete TV series and 2 movies in Blu-ray box set. One of the most cherished animation titles lives in your memory forever!

This is the story of a man who has yet to realize what destiny holds in store for him….

In the distant future, mankind has lived restlessly underground for hundreds of years, subject to earthquakes and cave-ins. Living in one such village are two young men: one named Simon who is shy and naïve, and the other named Kamina who believes in the existence of a “surface” world above their heads. The destiny of these two starts moving drastically when the ceiling of their village falls in, and a gigantic “Gunmen” and a beautiful girl named Yoko, wielding a superconductive rifle, come from the surface. Together, Kamina, Simon and Yoko ride the mecha “Lagann” that Simon digs out of the ground, and fly up to the surface!


It’s considered one of the best mecha anime series ever created.  And now “Gurren Lagann” is celebrating it’s tenth anniversary and what best to celebrate the anime series than by re-releasing the series but also the two animated films on one complete Blu-ray set available courtesy of Aniplex USA!

So, what is “Gurren Lagann” all about?

GAINAX brings us a mecha anime series and having created so many and with so many created for so many decades, you often wonder if innovative, imaginative storylines can still be developed. Well, with “GURREN LAGANN”, the creators of this anime series manages to create something unique, fun, explosive and just enjoyable.

The popular anime titled “Tengen Toppai Gurren Lagann” aired on TV Tokyo back in April 2007 and completed it’s 27-episodes by Sept. 2007 and centers around two characters Simon and Kamina. Both live underground with a bunch of orphans and due to earthquakes, they developed a system of people using manual drilling holes in order to move around.

But one day, the life of a young driller named Simon discovers a small mini drill underground. Simon is a shy young guy. Not too confident in himself and hates how his parents were killed during an earthquake. So, he works hard in order for everyone to live but also to collect whichever treasure he can find. While continuing his digging, he discovers a small drill and not long after, he discovers a huge robotic face.

As for Kamina, he’s the cool leader of a gang. He once saw the atmosphere with his father a long time ago and dreams of making it up to the surface but no one underground believes him. He comes up with a plan to get to the surface with the help of Simon’s drill. T

he plan backfires and Kamina is put into a jail. Meanwhile, a big monster robot-like figure comes out of the sky and lands in the group’s village underground. A girl sporting a bikini top and tight short shorts with a large rifle starts fighting with the monster robot. Her name is Yoko and all of a sudden both Kamina and Simon try to assist her.

As the monster grows vicious, Simon introduces Kamina and Yoko to what he found underground. It happens to be a small robot that Simon takes control of and eventually the three fight the robotic monster and end up defeating it. Also, end up making it above the surface where they discover sunlight, blue skies, mountains and more…monster robots. It is learned that these things are called “Gunmen” and are piloted by Beastmen who have a hatred towards humans.

The three must survive and outwit and defeat the Gunmen and with Kamina’s leadership and willing to take anything head on with his machismo ego, he calls Simon’s robot Lagann. Kamina eventually comandeers a Gunmen robot and calls it Gurren. As a duo, the group is called Gurren Lagann.

  1. Episode 1 – Bust through the Heavens with your Drill! – The main episodes that introduces us to Simon, Kamina and Yoko. The three join forces to take on the monster gunmen.
  2. Episode 2 – I Said I’m Gonna Pilot That Thing!! – With Simon having his own robot and more Gunmen showing up to fight, Kamina decides to get a gunmen mecha all for himself which he names “Gurren”. But they get some support from the people of Yoko’s village and the village’s top mechanic, Leeron (a savvy and intelligent mechanic but who happens to be gay and not afraid to flirt with Kamina and Simon). But with Kamina and Simon now having their own mecha’s, they name their team “Gurren Lagann”.
  3. Episode 3 – Who Do You Think You Are, Having Two Faces? – With the defeat of the Beastmen and their Gunmen, Simon, Kamina and Yoko go to hunt for some food but while Kamina retrieves some food, he runs into a Beastman named Viral. A savage warrior who becomes the major rival for Kamina.
  4. Episode 4 – Having Lots of Faces Doesn’t Make You Great! – After the battle with Viral, Simon, Kamina, Yoko and Leeron decide to destroy the Beastmen’s base. By eliminating it, the group might have that peace that they wanted. But while looking for food, the group run into another group known as the Black Siblings…friend or foe?
  5. Episode 5 – I Don’t Get It, Not One Bit! – As the group continues on their travels, they end up in another underground village and brought their by a teen named Rosiu. But in this village, they have their own strict religion and strict rules in which they can only keep their population at 50 people or less. Well, things change when a couple has a set of triplets, thus going over the 50-person mark. So, each person must draw a stick and whoever has a colored stick must leave the village and create a new life up in the surface.
  6. Episode 6 – There are Some Things I Just Have to See! – There are two versions of episode 6.  The unedited version and the OA version which is part of the special features.  For the unedited version, the group really smell bad and it seems they met some luck as they are invited to the hot springs with food galore!  The group run into their friends, the three women of the Black Siblings and as the group relaxes in the hot springs, both Kamina and Simon can’t stand hearing the women talk about their breasts.  Being the horny guys that they are, both men do what they can do get a peek of the ladies nude.  But awaiting them is some trouble as well courtesy of the Beastmen.
  7. Episode 7  – You’re Gonna Do It! – With the defeat of the Beastmen, Viral makes his return but this time, one of the four leaders who pilots a giant Gunmen fortress.  While Gurren Lagan tries to fight them, they are joined by some old friends who have followed Kamina’s lead and stolen some gunmen for themselves.
  8. Episode 8 – Later, Buddy – With Simon’s quick thinking in the last episode, the group manages to get the Gunmen fortress to be trapped.  But Kamina wants to take control of the fortress in order to protect everyone and this time have a super combination to create Dai Gurren Lagann.  So, one major battle in order to take the Beastmen leader’s mega fortress.   But while Simon starts to think about Yoko and tell her his feelings for her, he sees both Kamina and Yoko kissing.  So, as they go into battle, Kamina depends on Simon to have Lagann penetrate the fortress but because his emotions all out of whack due to seeing the kiss, it’s going to cost someone’s life.
  9. Episode 9 – What, Exactly, Is a Human? – With the events of the last episode, everyone is in mourning.  Meanwhile, a new character named Nia is introduced.  Who is she and why is she so curious about humans?
  10. Episode 10 – Who Is This Bro? – The group comes head to head against Adiane, the second of the Spiral Kings Four Divine Generals.  But retreats when she sees Nia.  It appears Nia is the daughter of the Spiral King.  Nia appears to be very naive about humans, their emotions, etc.  She doesn’t understand why Simon would be depressed over someone who’s dead.
  11. Episode 11 – Simon, Hands-off – The team meets Guame, the third of Spiral Kings Four Divine Generals.  He uses Beastmen disguised as women to fool the crew and ends up taking over their ship and putting the crew underground in prison.  Only Simon and his drilling can save the day and for Nia, she learns why she was discarded by her father.
  12. Episode 12 – Yoko, Will You Do Me a Favor? – Team Dai-Gurren’s fortress needs to be refitted to travel in the water.  So, the crew goes through a little R&R and becomes too friendly with Nia and favoring her over Kyoko.  Kyoko is not sure he can trust her and sure enough, the crew goes into battle against Adiane.
  13. Episode 13 – Eat Up, Everyone – Nia really wants to fit in, so she found a job for herself, to become a cook.  Meanwhile, Cytomander, the fourth of Spiral King’s Divine Four Generals makes his attack on the crew and with Rossiu sick, Kyoko must fill in and be Simon’s co-pilot for Gurren Lagann.
  14. Episode 14 -Well, Met Everyone – The crew arrives near the Beastman Empire but must take on the last two of Spiral King’s Four Divine Generals – Cytomander and Guame to the death.
  15. Episode 15 – I Will Head Towards Tomorrow – Team Dai-Gurren now has one final battle left and that’s against the Spiral King.  It’s all or nothing!
  16. Episode 16 – Compilation Episode – This episode serves as a bridge for between the first arc and the second arc of the series.  It’s literally a special episode condensing major scenes from the first 15 episodes to one episode.  Mainly focusing on Kamina, Simon, Kyoko and Nia.
  17. Episode 17 – You Don’t Know Anything – With Team Dai-Gurren successful against the Spiral King, the series flash forwards seven years later.  The planet has flourished with cities and vehicles, Simon, Rossiue and everyone else has grown up.  People own homes and have their own jobs.  Simon is in his early 20’s and is the Supreme Commander and is bored doing paper work.  Rossiu is the Chief who does all of the work but unlike Simon, holds an iron fist on how the city should be ran and for some members of Team Dai-Gurren are just head employees who answer phones.   They wonder what Lord Genome meant by his final words before he died of a new emanating threat and sure enough, that threat has materialized on the planet.  Meanwhile, something has happened to Nia.
  18. Episode 18 – Tell Me the Secrets of the World – A new evil has appeared on the planet and says that because Earth has reached 1,000,000 people and has used Spiral technology to further their growth, they will now be exterminated.  Simon goes to battle against one of the enemies and succeeds in defeating it but since the enemy is composed of energy, that energy becomes like bombs and when Simon defeated the enemy and it exploded, in essence many people have died, buildings and structures destroyed and people want blood…Simon’s blood.    Nia’s true purpose is revealed and Rossiu keeps a secret.
  19. Episode 19 – We Will Survive, By Any Means Necessary – The public is very upset against the government because of the destruction and deaths from the Gurren Lagann attack against the Anti-Spiral and Second-in-Command Rossiu knows the only way they will appease the public is with the arrest and the execution of Simon.  But with another attack on the city by an Anti-Spiral, Rossiu has to release Simon temporarily from custody to fight the enemy.
  20. Episode 20 – How Far Will God Test Us? –  Simon is put into the same prison with his cell next to Viral.  Meanwhile Kittan who is incensed that his sister is siding with Rossiu in the execution and imprisonment of Simon.
  21. Episode 21 – You Are Someone Who Ought To Survive – The story shifts to Yoko as a school teacher who is stern but caring for the kids.  When she finds out what is happening with Simon, she decides that she must return back to Kamina City immediately.
  22. Episode 22 – This is My Final Duty  – Rossiu must make the most difficult choice by trying to rescue as many people he can in a secret spaceship and escape the planet but knowing that many will have to perish from the moon crashing down on the planet.  But on planet, Simon and Viral team up with Gurren Lagann and Arc Gurren as both join forces to form Arc-Gurren-Lagann and stop the Human Extermination System that the Anti-Spirals have implemented.
  23. Episode 23 Let’s Go, This is the Final Battle – Team Dai Gurren prepares for the war against the anti-spirals.  Meanwhile, Rossiu who is amazed with how Simon is able to save everyone, decides that his life is not worth living.  Can Simon get to Rossiu in time?
  24. Episode 24 – I Will Never Forget This Minute, This Second – With the help of Lordgenome, while Rossiu takes command on the planet, Simon and Viral lead several members from Team Dai Gurren to transport right into the Anti-Spirals home world.  Simon had made a promise that he would save Nia and is determined to do so.  Meanwhile, the Team suffers a loss of a few team members.
  25. Episode 25 – I Accept Your Last Wish – Team Dai-Gurren is caught in the ocean of despair set by the Anti-Spirals.  Meanwhile, another major team member of Team Dai Gurren sacrifices his life to save his friends.
  26. Episode 26 – Let’s Go Buddy – Simon,Viral and Team Dai Gurren combine into Super Galaxy Gurren-Lagann in order rescue Nia.  Meanwhile, the Anti-Spiral uses their own memories against them.  But a familiar face from the past is there to help Simon, Kyoko and Team Dai Gurren.
  27. Episode 27 – The Lights In the Sky Are Stars – One of the Team Dai Gurren members decides to take a stand against the Anti-Spiral and sacrifices themself in order for Simon to gain the enemies drill.  Simon, Nia, Viral and Team Dai Gurren put everything they have on the line to become the galaxy sized Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann in the final battle against the enemy.

As for the films…

In 2008, GAINAX immediately went to work on two animated films that would capture both storyline arcs in “Gurren Lagann The Movie ~Childhood’s End” and “Gurren Lagann the Movie – The Lights in the Sky are Stars”.

“Gurren Lagann the Movie -Childhood’s End-” is a compilation of series of events that took place in the first 16 episodes of the popular 2007 animated TV series “Gurren Lagann”, while “Gurren Lagann the Movie – The Lights in the Sky Are Stars-” features the final eleven episodes from the TV series.

The series centers around two characters Simon and Kamina. Both live underground with a bunch of orphans and due to earthquakes, they developed a system of people using manual drilling holes in order to move around. But one day, the life of a young driller named Simon discovers a small mini drill underground. Simon is a shy young guy. Not too confident in himself and hates how his parents were killed during an earthquake. So, he works hard in order for everyone to live but also to collect whichever treasure he can find. While continuing his digging, he discovers a small drill and not long after, he discovers a huge robotic face.

As for Kamina, he’s the cool leader of a gang. He once saw the atmosphere with his father a long time ago and dreams of making it up to the surface but no one underground believes him. He comes up with a plan to get to the surface with the help of Simon’s drill. The plan backfires and Kamina is put into a jail. Meanwhile, a big monster robot-like figure comes out of the sky and lands in the group’s village underground. A girl sporting a bikini top and tight short shorts with a large rifle starts fighting with the monster robot. Her name is Yoko and all of a sudden both Kamina and Simon try to assist her.

As the monster grows vicious, Simon introduces Kamina and Yoko to what he found underground. It happens to be a small robot that Simon takes control of and eventually the three fight the robotic monster and end up defeating it. Also, end up making it above the surface where they discover sunlight, blue skies, mountains and more…monster robots. It is learned that these things are called “Gunmen” and are piloted by Beastmen who have a hatred towards humans. The three must survive and outwit and defeat the Gunmen and with Kamina’s leadership and willing to take anything head on with his machismo ego, he calls Simon’s robot Lagann. Kamina eventually commandeers a Gunmen robot and calls it Gurren. As a duo, the group find a way to combine their own two mechs and thus Kamina and Simon form Gurren Lagann, which is also the name of the team that will fight for humanity against the Spiral King and their minions.

Throughout the film, we see how both Kamina, Simon along with Yoko leave the underground city and take on various gunmen and together with savvy, intelligent and flamboyant mechanic Leeron, along with other humans they meet along the way, one by one, Team Gurren Lagann take on the Spiral King’s Four Divine Generals: Viral, Adiane, Guame and Cytomander. And along the way, they meet with a mysterious girl named Nia and leading up to the final battle against the Spiral King.


VIDEO:

“Gurren Lagann” the series finally gets its release on Blu-ray! The character designs by Atsushi Nishigori are fresh and very different. I truly dig the character designs and the whole anime is quite colorful and looks stylish and pretty cool.

With the series remastered in HD, the clarity of the series is much more evident, colors are much more vibrant and overall animation is much more sharper. “Gurren Lagann” looks fantastic in HD!

“Gurren Lagann the Movie -Childhood’s End-” and “Gurren Lagann the Movie -The Lights in the Sky Are Stars-” are presented in 1080p High Definition (1920 x 1080p).

The character designs by Atsushi Nishigori are fresh and very different when comparing it to other anime series/films. I truly dig the character designs and the whole anime is quite colorful and looks stylish and pretty cool. The artist backgrounds to the animation, explosions, character designs, mecha designs and the planning that went in to this series was quite amazing and it looks great in the film. You will noticed even more detailed artistic backgrounds and animation with the additional new footage added to the film.

Vibrant, colorful and awesome looking! Of course, with that being said, it would definitely be a plus if this film was released on Blu-ray, but since it’s on DVD, you will see edge enhancement at times. But for the most part, “Gurren Lagann” was one of the rare anime series that was unique in presentation and Gainax definitely put a lot of time and effort into the creation of this TV series and it’s so awesome to finally watch this series in HD on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “Gurren Lagann” is presented in both English and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo.

I’ve watched both episodes in Japanese and English and as much as I enjoyed the Japanese voice track, when I watch an action-packed mecha, it’s great to finally listen to the audio in lossless Linear PCM Stereo. With that being said, I am very pleased with the English vocal dub. You have quality voice talent with Kyle Herbert as Kamina (does the voice of Son Goku in “Dragon Ball Z”), Michelle Ruff as Yoko (does the voice of Rukia for “Bleach”) and Yuri Lowenthal (does the voice for many video games and anime such as Sasuke Uchiha for “Naruto”) involved. So, whether you listen to the soundtrack in Japanese or English, both are well-done!

As for audio for “Gurren Lagann the Movie -Childhood’s End-” and “Gurren Lagann the Movie -The Lights in the Sky Are Stars- ”, both are presented Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Japanese Linear PCM Stereo.

Audio is well done as we can hear the dialogue and special effects and music quite clearly through the center and front channels but also hear the various sound effects coming from the surround channels as well.  Overall, a pretty awesome mix and audio is crystal clear in lossless HD.

While the English dub is featured in the TV series DVD release by Bandai Entertainment, there is no English dub featured for both films from Aniplex.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Gurren Lagann Complete Blu-ray Disc Box” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless opening and ending – For those who love the cool music of opening theme “Sorairo Days” by Shoko Nakagawa and ending theme “Underground” by High Voltage.
  • OA Version of episode 6 –  With this episode being quite a bit sexual as Kamina and Simon try to get a peek at the women without their clothes on in the hot tubs, this version that aired on the Sci Fi Channel features more of a flashback episode and edited with less focus on the horniness of Kamina and Simon and more about them working together as a team.

EXTRAS:

“Gurren Lagann Complete Blu-ray Disc Box” comes with a slipcase featuring illustration by You Yoshinari (Mechanical Design).


I can’t help but think how awesome this series was to watch! From the stylish presentation, the wacky humor, the adult-like humor and perverseness and the imaginative mecha Gunmen robots and attack modes, the battles and the fun characters and the music, there is just too much to like about “Gurren Lagann”. I absolute found the series to be quite fantastic!

The character of Kamina is just so wild and crazy with how he is just so carefree and just doesn’t plan for battle, he just does what he believes in and what he thinks is right and decides at the spur of the moment. He has a way with his words, no matter how crazy it may sound but it makes his character so cool!

As for Simon, he is simply the underdog. He is a major component to the team because he pilots Lagann but at the same time, his fear and his emotions get the best of him.

Yoko, her character is sexy and cool. Sometimes you wonder if GAINAX or the character designer Atsushi Nishigori created such a sexy character for the purpose of being sexy or for the fact that many cosplayers will try to emulate the character and not wear much clothes. Nevertheless, her character is cool as her body features somehow provide the fan service and also gets Simon distracted.

And of course, you have a group of other characters that are starting to come their own and as we become supportive human characters, you take special notice of their mecha (Gunmen). They have a sort of character themselves because they are an extension of the people that pilot them but the amount of power demonstrated by them and what is unknown about the gunmen they pilot is just amazing.

And of course, this anime series is action-packed. In fact, there is a good balance of humor and action and each episode keeps your eyes glued to your television set and when it’s all done, it leaves you craving for more.

As for the Blu-ray release, the picture quality is vibrant and sharpness of the overall animation is much more evident in this HD version versus compared to the Bandai Visual releases from several years ago. Painted backgrounds feature much more detail and the overall animation looks magnificent in HD! Also, the lossless soundtrack is in Japanese/English Linear PCM Stereo, thus the soundtrack sounding much more crisp and clear.

“Gurren Lagann” can be described in one word and that is “Fantastic!”

As for the films, you’re essentially getting parts of the the series including new animation included on each of the two films to form an abridged storyline.

This is quite common in Japan to see a popular TV series and OVA series created into an animated film and the fans look at it as an extra and additional extension to the TV series, others look at it as a less time consuming way to learn about the story of a popular series in two hours versus watching 8 hours of a series.

When it comes to films like this, I’m not a big fan of them because you are losing out important details of the storyline. This first “Gurren Lagann” film is only 112 minutes and the first 16-episodes is 320 minutes of content while the second film features the final eleven episodes and trying to condense around 230 minutes or so of footage into 126 minutes. Naturally, you are missing out on other plots, especially character development driven storylines but the creators did do a good job in focusing on the essentials for the film. Personally, I recommend watching the entire TV series because this is one series that is too good to just watch the film and not knowing the true storyline of how things developed in the series.

But by no means are the films bad. They are well-done, well-edited and for the most part, a lot of thought went into how to present the complete series into two films. And while this is common in Japan for popular series, at least GAINAX went through the effort of adding new animation to the two films.

What I do like about these films and these two releases are how they are geared to the hardcore fans of the TV series. And one thing that I have wanted to see is a Blu-ray release because this series is so gorgeous, it deserved to be featured in HD on Blu-ray with a lossless soundtrack.

But if there is one major caveat if you compare the 2014 Blu-ray set vs. the Aniplex DVD set released in 2010, all of the special features and extras that came with the DVD set are not included. So, for collector’s purposes, it’s unfortunate that only the older 2010 DVD release came with the postcards and “Parallel Works” special features.

So, I approach this release in two different ways. As a fan of the series, I recommend watching and owning the original series because that is how this series was meant to be seen. I will say that on its own, it’s still a pretty good film but because they skip over many scenes, it’s quite noticeable to the fan of the series. Otherwise, if you have never seen the series, I’m sure this film would definitely be entertaining but at the same time, hopefully it inspires the viewer to go out and watch the complete series.

But the big question many people may want to ask if the set is worth owning.  And for those who own the previous Blu-ray releases, is there anything new with this set?

Well, if you own the previous Aniplex Blu-ray releases, then the answer is no.  This set is mainly for those who want to upgrade their DVD sets to HD or for hardcore fans who want to own everything “Gurrenn Lagann”.

But for those who owned the “Gurren Lagann TV Series Limited Edition” set from 2013, the special features such as the Yoko goes to GAINAX, the GAINAX Interview, Sangizen 3D Test Footage, Shokotan Interview are NOT included on this Blu-ray set.  Nor are the deluxe illustration booklets or the postcards, poster or stickers included with this set as well.

And if you own the older 2009 Limited Edition DVD releases that came with a manga and the TV series CD soundtrack, this Blu-ray set does not come with either.

But to be fair, you get better picture and audio quality, you get both films included on this set.  So, for those who want the better picture and audio quality will surely want to own the Blu-ray releases.  But for hardcore fans, if you own the previously released limited edition DVD sets, I would hold on to them for the special features and extra swag.

Overall, “Gurren Lagann” can be described in one word and that is “Fantastic!” and it’s great that fans can enjoy the complete TV series and both animated films with this 10th Anniversary collection.  The set may not have the Aniplex swag or the special features of its previous Blu-ray or DVD sets but for those wanting to upgrade their sets to HD or those curious about “Gurren Lagann”, then the “Gurren Lagann Complete Blu-ray Disc Box” is recommended!

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Black Sails: The Complete Fourth Season (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Black Sails: The Complete Fourth Season” is truly the best season yet.  The sheer magnitude of the war, the series captivates you with the awesome special effects but also how characters are integrated this season.  Many characters who experience their lowest of lows in this season and you wonder how they will emerge after the war is over.  Simply the best season yet of “Black Sails” and I highly recommend “Black Sails: The Complete Fourth Season”.

© 2017 Starz Entertainment LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Black Sails: The Complete Fourth Season

FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 10 Episodes (9 Hrs., 56 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:78:1 aspect ratio, English, 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, Spanish and French 2.0 Dolby Surround, Subtitles: English and Spanish

COMPANY: Anchor Bay Entertainment

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: August 29, 2017


Created by Robert Levine, Jonathan E. Steinberg

Directed by Steve Boyum, Alik Sakharov, Lukas Ettlin, Uta Brisewitz, Marc Jobst, Roel Reine, Jonathan E. Steinberg

Written by Robert Levine, Jonathan E. Steinberg, Tyler Van Patten, Brad Kane, Dan Shotz, Jennifer Castillo, Michael Gunn, Jillian Molin, Peter Ocko

Produced by Jonathan Brytus, Nina Heyns, Brad Kane

Executive Producer: Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Bradley Fuller, Robert Levine, Jonathan E. Steinberg, Dan Shotz

Co-Executive Producer: David Wicht, Alik Sakharov, Peter Ocko

Associate Producer: Lukas Ettlin, Pal Grinder

Supervising Producer: Nina Jack

Music by Bear McCreary

Cinematography by Gavin Struthers, David Luther, Simon Dennis, Michael Swan

Edited by Paul Trejo, Amanda Zemke

Casting by Suzanne Smith

Production Design by Wolf Kroeger

Art Direction by Christophe Dalberg, Jonathan Hely-Hutchinson, Ross Jenkin, Moray McGregor

Costume Design by Tim Aslam


Starring:

Toby Stephens as Captain Flint

Luke Arnold as John Silver

Toby Schmitz as Rackham

Hannah New as Eleanor Guthrie

Jessica Park Kennedy as Max

Clara Paget as Anne Bonny

Winston Chong as Joji

Tom Hopper as Billy Bones

Andre Jacobs as De Groot

Zach McGowan as Captain Charles Vane

Lise Slabber as Idelle

Laudo Liebenber as Dooley

Craig Jackson as Featherstone

Luke Roberts as Woodes Rogers

Zethu Diomo as Madi

Anna-Louise Plowman as Mrs. hudson

Chris Fisher as Ben Gunn

Andrian Mazive as Kofi,

Wilson Carpenter as Ellers

Alistair Moulton Black as Dr. Howell

Ray Stevenson as Blackbeard

David Wilmot as Irael Hands

Dale Jackson as Lt. Utley

Sibongile Mlambo as Eme

Aidan Whytock as Jacob Garrett

Mark Elderkin as Pastor Lambrick

Adam Neill as Mr. Soames

Rory Acton Burnell as Colin


After three successful seasons, Starz’s pirate drama ”Black Sails” will reach its end with the show’s fourth season next year. Set as a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Treasure Island’, ”Black Sails” portrays the lives of Captain Flint, Long John Silver, and their crew, roughly 20 years prior to where the book starts.


A season of betrayal.  A season of tragedy.  And a season destruction.

“Black Sails: The Complete Fourth Season” features Woodes Rogers wants nothing but the deaths of pirates, especially John Silver.

Meanwhile, Silver must decide whether or not he can trust Captain Flint and Billy Bones.

Who will survive in the bloody waters as the war in the West Indies and on the shores of New Providence Island leads to chaos and destruction.

What is “Black Sails” about?

In 2014, the series “Black Sails”was created by Jonathan E. Steinberg and Robert Levine for Starz.

Set two decades before the events of Treasure Island and during the Golden Age of Piracy, the series began with notorious pirate, Captain Flint  (portrayed by Toby Stephens) taking in a young crew member named John Silver (portrayed by John Silver).

As pirates were seen as threatening to maritime trade in the region, civilized nations declared pirates as enemies of all mankind and were in war against the world.

As the first season focused on the search for the Spanish treasure galleon Urca de Lima, the second season featured the treasure being taken by pirate Calico Jack Rackham (portrayed by Toby Schmitz) and exploring why Captain Flint, a former navy officer turned to piracy.  The third season focuses on the war over the control of New Providence, as the British Empire represented by Captain Woodes Rogers (portrayed by Luke Roberts) is on the attack.

And now with the fourth season, Woodes Rodgers is now married to Eleanor (portrayed by Hannah New), trying to show how she is now a proper wife.  Knowing that the pirates are planning to retake Nassau, he pulls of a strategy that enables the British Empire to sink many pirate ships, with Blackbeard managing to pull away.

But as Blackbeard tries to chase down Rodgers, it proves to be a trap set by Rodgers and he captures Blackbeard, Rackham and Anne Bonny and their fellow pirates.   Rodgers wanting to show how his hatred towards the pirates, has his soldiers put a bag over Blackbeard’s head, hangs him on a rope upside down and keelhauled.  As Blackbeard is dropped under the ship, he is dragged on the razor sharp barnacles.

But each time he is brought back up and Rodgers planning to kill Rackham next, Blackbeard keeps showing his resilience, forcing Rodgers to kill him with a pistol. Meanwhille, Anne is beaten up severely.

As for John Silver, he has a romantic relationship with Madi.  But as he was on one of the ships sunk by Rodgers, he is dragged under the surf and wakes up alive on a beach, where he is discovered and beaten by Israel Hands (portrayed by Dave Wilmot).

As Silver plans what to do against Rodgers, he has a problem as Billy (portrayed by Tom Hopper) is trying to get him to kill Flint.  Meanwhile, Jack is upset with Flint, as Captain Flint has agreed to exchange Nassau Fort for the Urca gold.

Meanwhile, as Rodgers wants revenge and not having the support of the British, he decides to get the Spanish Armada involved.

How will things turn out for each of these individuals?

The main characters of “Black Sails” are:

  • James Flint – One of the most feared Golden Age pirates, he is a pirate captain in the Caribbean and a man who was once an officer of the Royal Navy.
  • John Silver – A former sailor turned pirate and opportunist.  His leg was crushed with an axe is season 3 and now he walks with a cane.  He is in a relationship with Madi.
  • Jack Rackham – A pirate captain wh operated in the Bahamas and was the brains behind Captain Vane.  Rackham is responsible for finding the location of the Urca gold.
  • Max – A prostitute, who has betrayed her fellow pirate friends and allies herself with Governor Rogers and Eleanor She is in love with Anne Bonny.
  • Anne Bonny – A female pirate who operates in the Bahamas and is Rackham’s lover.  Feels indebted to Rackham for slitting her abusive husband’s throat and both joined Charles Vane’s pirate crew.
  • Billy Bones – A pirate who became First Mate for Captain Flint.
  • Eleanor Guthrie – The daughter of Richard Guthrie, the wealthiest black marketeer in the Bahamas and chief fence/supplier for the many pirate crews  of New Providence Island.  She owns and operates a tavern on Nassau’s main street and is married to Gov. Rodgers.
  • Madi – The daughter of Mr. Scott and the Maroon Queen, and is expected to become the leader of the Maroon Island community of former slaves.  She is in a relationship with John Silver.
  • Woodes Rogers – The appointed Royal Governor of the Bahamas.  He hired Eleanor Guthrie to advise him and over time they grew closer and became husband and wife.  He has a deep hatred towards pirates and is the primary antagonist of seasons 3 and 4.  He wants to retake Nassau.

VIDEO:

“Black Sails” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio). For the most part, television shows on Blu-ray can often exhibit noise and artifacts but this latest Blu-ray release for “The Blacklist” looks very good, considering a lot of the episodes are shot outdoors. Close-up details are good, black levels are nice and deep and picture quality is very good.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Black Sails” is presented in English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD and Spanish and French 2.0 Dolby Surround and features crystal clear dialogue and music. While surround channels capture environment ambiance and action sequences from cannons shooting, ships being blasted and sunk.  All this and more.

Subtitles are in English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Black Sails: The Complete Fourth Season” comes with the following special features:

  • Inside the World of Black Sails – (18:10) A combination of small featurettes about the world of “Black Sails” and interviews with co-creator Jonathan E. Steinberg and cast.
  • Creating the World – (2:58) Creating the world and the craftmanship to build the show.
  • Roundtable: Women in Piracy – (1:53) The female cast members discuss the strong female character roles in an era which is set in a man’s world.
  • Roundtable: The Legends of Treasure Island – (2:03) The cast discuss the ties to “Treasure Island” and how their characters ties into the book.
  • Roundtable: Fearless Fans – (1:17) The guys talk about the popularity of the show and fan interaction.

EXTRAS:

“Black Sails: The Complete Fourth Season” comes with the Blu-ray and an UltraViolet HD code.


With season three showing us the rise of Royal Governor of the Bahamas, Woodes Rogers, his hatred of pirates goes full force as the goal of the British Empire to retake Nassau is set.

Many pirate ships are sunk, John Silver barely survives and is found by pirate Israel Hands, who was a gunner for Captain Flint (note: In historical fact, Israel Hands was the second-in-command for Blackbeard).  While Rodgers captures Anne Bonny, Jack Rackham and Blackbeard.

But with the British Empire not willing to support Rodgers in retaking Nassau, Rodgers goes to his country’s enemy, Spain (both the British and Spain are at war during that time).  And the Spanish Armada shows up to show their raw power against the pirates (and also British soldiers) in the city.

Without spoiling the overall story, I can say that we see an uneasy reunion, major character deaths and Silver being cajoled to either dump Captain Flint (who made him a pirate) or Billy Bones.  But what happens when both men have their own agenda?

Meanwhile, John Silver’s girlfriend Madi has been captured by Rodgers, but can Silver get her back?

And that’s all I’m going to write about because there are major character deaths, major situations that really muddle things with certain characters and pits friends against one another.

I will say that this season is the most grand, when it comes to set design and overall chaos.  I was very impressed with the action sequences for this season of “Black Sails”.  They really went all out and it made this season stronger and exciting.  Wonderful visual effects, sound editing and really an awesome season overall.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality was magnificent, lossless audio was just as awesome.  And you get numerous, short special features that are included.

Overall, “Black Sails: The Complete Fourth Season” is truly the best season yet.  The sheer magnitude of the war, the series captivates you with the awesome special effects but also how characters are integrated this season.  Many characters who experience their lowest of lows in this season and you wonder how they will emerge after the war is over.  Simply the best season yet of “Black Sails” and I highly recommend “Black Sails: The Complete Fourth Season”.

 

The Blacklist: The Complete Fourth Season (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

For those who thought that “The Blacklist” was losing steam for season three, I felt the fourth season, writers really needed to bring back fans who were thinking the story was not as exciting anymore. And I feel the fourth season taking the characters to their lowest of lows and having to deal with major life-changing situations. The build-up to the final episode was not what I was expecting and that’s great. Now I can’t wait until the fifth season and I’m hooked on watching the series again. “The Blacklist: The Complete Fourth Season” is recommended!

© 2016, 2017 Sony Pictures Television Inc. and Open 4 Business Productions LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Blacklist: The Complete Fourth Season

FILM RELEASE: 2016-2017

DURATION: 22 Episodes (946 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:78:1 aspect ratio, English, French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English, English SDH and French

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: August 15, 2017


Directed by Michael W. Watkins, Andrew McCarthy, Donald E. Thorin Jr., Bill Roe, Terrence O’Hara

Written by Jon Bokenkamp, Jim Capolongo, Brandon Margolis, Brandon Sonnier, Lukas Reiter, Brian Studler, J.R. Orci, john Eisendrath, Daniel Knauf, Daniel Cerone

Produced by Timothy Silver, Douglas Rowell, Tony Salama, Trever Stewart

Co-Producer: Alex Cuthbertson, Matt Fusfeld, Timothy Silver

Executive Producer: Tristram Shapeero, Jaes Fino, Joe Russo

Co-Executive Producer: Erik Sommers

Associate Producer: Andres Anglade

Consulting Producer: Adam Countee

Music by Ludwig Goransson

Cinematography by Gary Hatfield

Edited by Christian Kinnard, Luke Guidici

Casting by Josh Einsohn

Production Design by Denise Pizzini

Set Decoration by Denise Pizzini

Art Diretion by John B. Vertrees

Costume Design by Sabrina Rosen


Starring:

James Spader as Raymond “Red” Reddington

Megan Boone as Elizabeth Keen

Diego Klattenhoff as Donald Ressler

Ryan Eggold as Tom Keen

Harry Lennix as Harold Cooper

Hisham Tawfiq as Dembe

Amir Arison as Aram Mjtabai

Ryan Eggold as Tom Keen

Rachel Brosnahan as Jolene

Mozhan Marno as Samar Navabi

Susan Blommaert as Mr. Kaplan

Baz as Baz

Adriane Lenox as Reven Wright


Liz works to resolve the mystery of her lost childhood, but every day without the truth holds more danger for her and her family. Meanwhile, the Task Force reels from Liz’s resurrection and friendships are fractured. Betrayed by those closest to him, Reddington’s specific moral code demands justice, all the while battling an army of new and unexpected blacklisters.


Liz, Tom and their children have been captured by Alexander Kirk.  Kirk tries to get Liz to believe that he is her father and wants revenge against Reddington. Reddington and Mr. Kaplan try to rescue Liz and her child.  Meanwhile, Liz’ co-workers are shocked to find out that Liz is alive and the reason why she pretended to be dead was to get away from Red.

Meanwhile, someone is trying to take down Red and the origin of Mr. Kaplan is revealed.

All this and more for season four of “The Blacklist”!

What is “The Blacklist” about?

In 2013, the series “The Blacklist” starring James Spader (“Boston Legal”, “Stargate”, “Lincoln”), Megan Boone (“My Bloody Valentine”, “Step Up Revolution”), Ryan Eggold (“90210”, “Queen”, “Trophy Kids”), Parminder Nagra (“Bend It Like Beckham”, “ER”) and Harry Lennix (“Man of Steel”, “Ray”, “The Matrix Revolutions”) became a breakout hit for NBC.

“The Blacklist” revolves around former government agent and one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives, Raymond “Red” Reddington (portrayed by James Spader) surrendering at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Because of the terrorist threats against America, Reddington offers to help the FBI under one condition, he will only work with one person in the FBI, rookie FBI profiler, Elizabeth Keen (portrayed by Megan Boone).

For Megan, she looks at her new job as a great paying job that she and her husband Tom (portrayed by Ryan Eggold) can finally start having a family.  But in the first case to capture the terrorist, her husband was captured, tortured and nearly was killed.

And as she continues to work with Reddington, it is unclear why he chose her and why he knows so much about her.  But he appears to also know something about Tom and that he may not be the man that she thinks he is…or is this part of Reddington’s way of getting closer to her?

And after the first case of capturing the first terrorist, Reddington reveals that there are more criminals with the intent to do great harm and he can help the FBI neutralize them, as he has created a “blacklist” of criminals/terrorists worldwide.  Especially those that the FBI are not aware of.

Thus forcing FBI Special Agent Elizabeth Keen to work closely with Reddington.  But what is he hiding?

Since that first season, Reddington is now a confidential informant for the FBI, Liz’ husband Tom is revealed to be a covert operative and it was revealed that Reddington may be Liz’s father.

But now a man named Alexander Kirk has come and captured Liz, her husband and her baby, Agnes.  Alexander wants revenge against Red for taking his wife (Liz’ mom) and his child (Liz) away from him.

The main characters of “Blacklist” are:

  • Raymond “Red” Reddington – A former government agent and FBI fugitive who aids the FBI in capturing criminals/terrorists worldwide.  While a master criminal, he is now a confidential informant for the FBI and may be  FBI Special Agent Elizabeth Keen’s father.
  • FBI Special Agent Elizabeth Keen – An FBI special agent who had a tragic childhood.  Married to Tom Keen and recently gave birth to a baby girl named Agnes.
  • FBI Agent Donald Ressler – An FBI special agent and Acting Director of the FBI Counterterrorism Division.
  • Tom Keen – A covert operative married to Elizabeth Keen.
  • Aram Jobtabai – An FBI computer specialist.
  • Agent Samar Navabi – A Mossad agent working with Cooper’s FBI team.
  • Assistant Director of the FBI Counterterrorism Division, Harold Cooper – Always watching over his agents’ backs but trying to figure out why Reddington is so interested in Elizabeth Keen.
  • Dembe Zuma – Reddington’s bodyguard.
  • Mr. Kaplan – A former associate of Red with a mysterious past.

VIDEO:

“The Blacklist” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio). For the most part, television shows on Blu-ray can often exhibit noise and artifacts but this latest Blu-ray release for “The Blacklist” looks very good.  Close-up details are good, black levels are nice and deep and picture quality is very good.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Blacklist” is presented in English and French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and features crystal clear dialogue and music.. While surround channels capture environment ambiance and action sequence.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Blacklist” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring three episode audio commentaries such as “The Thrushes” commentary with Zee Hatley and Emily E. Greene and “Requiem” commentary with Jon Bokenkamp and Daniel Cerone.
  • Deleted Scenes – With most episodes, under episode selection, you can access deleted scene(s) for each episode.
  • A Darker Shade of Red – (7:50) A featurette about Red seeing his empire coming apart.  Interviews with cast and crew.
  • Mr. Kaplan: End of an Era – (10:24) A featurette of why the mysterious Mr. Kaplan is popular among viewers.
  • Gag Reel – (3:42) “The Blacklist” Season 4 gag reel.


EXTRAS:

“The Blacklist: The Complete Fourth Season” comes with the Blu-ray and an UltraViolet HD code.


In the last three seasons, there are a few things that have remained constant.  Liz has been looking for answers of why she was separated from her family when she was younger.  And who is her true father?  While, Red is the cunning criminal turned confidential informant of the FBI still doing things his own way.

Also, Liz’s husband’s past has always been mysterious and Aram, always looking for a woman.

But this fourth season, writers toyed with a storyline with the first half focusing on Liz and her husband Tom, along with their baby Agness being captured by Alexander Kirk who claims to be Liz’ real father and a man bent on revenge against Red, for taking his wife and daughter.

Liz’ co-workers are shocked because they buried her, thinking that she’s dead and now, she has become a fugitive and the FBI are now pursuing her and her family.

Meanwhile, Red receives help from Mr. Kaplan, a person he could care less for, as she screwed him over.

The second arc revolves around Liz and Tom trying to get their baby back, as Alexander Kirk still has the baby.  Meanwhile, her co-workers in the FBI work on various cases and are concerned that someone is leaking information to Kirk from the inside.

And as for Red, to show his appreciation to Mr. Kaplan, he shoots her and leaves her out for dead.  But she is discovered by a mountain man who nurses her back to health but he is overly creepy and chains her to his cabin.

And the third arc revolves around someone inside Red’s empire trying to take the empire down.  Also, going as far to poison him.

But the most significant character in this fourth season happens to be Mr. Kaplan and we learn of her connection to Red and Liz’ mother but also setting things motion for the shocking last episode and also for season five.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good, lossless audio also very good.  You get three audio commentaries, several deleted scenes and featurettes for season four.

Overall, for those who thought that “The Blacklist” was losing steam for season three, I felt the fourth season, writers really needed to bring back fans who were thinking the story was not as exciting anymore.  And I feel the fourth season taking the characters to their lowest of lows and having to deal with major life-changing situations.  The build-up to the final episode was not what I was expecting and that’s great.  Now I can’t wait until the fifth season and I’m hooked on watching the series again.

“The Blacklist: The Complete Fourth Season” is recommended!

 

GATE Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“GATE Complete Collection” is an anime series that is probably one of the better anime series I have seen from Sentai Filmworks in the past few years.  It’s addictive, exciting and so much fun!  I definitely recommend it

Image courtesy of © Takumi Yanai/AlphaPolis/GATE Project. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: GATE Complete Collection

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 1-24 (600 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese and English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV MA VSL

Release Date: July 11, 2017


Original Creator: Takumi Yanai

Original Character Design: Daisuke Izuka

Directed by Takahiko Kyogoku

Series Composition by Tatsuhiko Urahata

Music by Yoshiaki Fujisawa

Character Design by Jun Nakai

Art Director: Maho Takahashi

Chief Animation Director: Jun Nakai

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Hisako Kanemoto/Juliet Simmons as Tuka Luna Marceau

Junichi Suwabe/David Wald as Yōji Itami

Haruka Tomatsu/Jessica Boone as Pina Co Lada

Hiroki Yasumoto/Ty Mahany as Akira Tomita

Ikumi Hayama/Shanae’a Moore as Hamilton Uno Law

Kaito Ishikawa/Tyler Galindo as Takeo Kurata

Maaya Uchida/Stephanie Wittels as Shino Kuribayashi

Nao Tōyama/Brittney Karbowski as Lelei la Lelena

Risa Taneda/Molly Searcy as Rory Mercury

Satomi Akesaka/Allison Sumrall as Mari Kurokawa

Yōko Hikasa/Rachel Landon as Yao Ha Ducy

Yumi Uchiyama/Patricia Duran as Bozes Co Palestea


When a mysterious gate suddenly appears in Tokyo’s Ginza district and begins spewing armed warriors and flying monsters, the world is thrown into turmoil. Although the deadly attack is thrown back by Japan’s Self Defense Force, there’s now a new and entirely unknown land on the other side of the portal, and Japan is effectively at war with a nation on the other side.

Determined to secure peace, the JSDF must send an armed force into the Gate, but ogres, dragons and a ruthless Empire populated by elves, humans, and half-animal warriors aren’t the only dangers they’ll face. With the resources of two worlds at stake, the balance of power on both sides of the Gate is destabilizing, and betrayal can come at any time, from any quarter. There, trapped right in the middle of the ensuing firestorm, stands officer Yoji Itami and the JSDF’s Third Reconnaissance Team as they plunge into the GATE.


In 2006, author Takumi Yanai and illustrator Daisuke Izuka and Kurojishi created a fantasy novel series titled “Gate: Jietai Kano Chi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri” (“Gate: Thus the Japanese Self-Defense Force Fought There!”).

The novel would receive a manga adaptation in 2011 and spin-off mangas in 2015.  And an anime adaptation of the series was created by A-1 Pictures and released in July to September 2015 and its second half airing in January through March 2016.

The anime series is directed by Takahiko Kyogoku (“Love Live! School Idol Project”), a screenplay by Tatsuhiko Urahata (“Beyblade”, “Black Bullet”, “DNA2”, “Nana”), music by Yoshiaki Fujisawa (“Dimension W”, “Love Live! School Idol Project”), character design by Jun Nakai (“Generation Gawl”, “Mardock Scramble”) and art direction by Maho Takahashi (“Amagami SS”, “Cross Game”, “Himawari!”, “KanColle”).

And with the announcement of a new novel series titled “Gate: Weigh Anchor”, the anime adaptation titled “GATE” and the complete collection was released on Blu-ray and DVD in the United States on July 2017 courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

The series revolves around Yoji Itami, a 33-year-old otaku who loves doujinshi.  While he may seem like a clumsy otaku, in truth, Yoji is actually a soldier of the Japan Self Defense Force that works in Special Forces and a certified Ranger.

One day, a portal from another world appears in Ginza and soldiers from that other world including monsters attack Tokyo but the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) has advanced weaponry and manages to kill and repel the enemy.  But thanks to Itami, he helped escort hundreds of people to safety during the attack on Ginza and is promoted to first lieutenant.

And because of his heroism, the Prime Minister tasks Itami to go with a JSDF task forced backed by the United States to go through the gate and explore the new world but most importantly to capture and demand reparations from those responsible for the attack.

As the Empire of the other world sends a large army to fight against the JSDF, the JSDF displays their power with modern weaponry and obliterates them.  Itami is then assigned to lead the 3rd Recon Unit and through his travels, meets the following people who are from the other world but join him on his adventures:

  • Tuka Luna Marceau – A 165-year-old High Elf.  She lost her family and fellow villagers when a flame dragon attacked her village.  She is having a hard time coping with her father’s death.
  • Lelei La Lelena – A 15-year-old sorcerer of the Rurudo nomad tribe and a student of an elderly sorcerer.  Very intelligent, she quickly learns Japanese and becomes a translator.  Her tribe was also devastated due to the Fire Dragon.
  • Rory Mercury – A 961-year-old demi-goddess and an apostle of Emroy (God of death).  She cannot die and recovers from all wounds.  When she becomes 1,000-years-old, she will become a full goddess.  She has excellent fighting skills and carries a large scythe and wears gothic lolita clothing.
  • Yao Haa Dushi – A 300-years-old Dark Elf, who seeks the aid of the JSDF to help her village which is being ravaged by the Fire Dragon.
  • Pina Co Lada – The princess from the Empire.  She is dedicated to the Empire’s welfare and wants peace between Japan and the Empire after seeing their awesome power.  But also seeing how the Japanese are not after their land and how they treat their people, including prisoners.  Seeing how they truly are, she wants to let her father, the king of the Empire know.

VIDEO:

“GATE Complete Collection” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Animation is very good, detailed and vibrant. From many location scenes and varying backgrounds, the background art is great.  Character designs and animation from A-1 Pictures is great and if anything, with A-1 Pictures behind the production, they really go all out and have not been disappointed with any of their anime series releases.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“GATE Complete Collection” is presented in Japanese and English 1.0. Dialogue and musical score is crystal clear through the front channels and the voice acting on both soundtracks are well-done.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“GATE Complete Collection” comes with the following special features:

  • Japanese Promo Videos
  • Animated Comic
  • Clean Opening and Ending Songs

EXTRAS:

“GATE Complete Collection” comes with the Blu-ray and DVD versions of the anime series.


There are times when I watch an anime with no expectations and if anything, I wish for something original, refreshing and overly entertaining.  Having reviewed anime since the early ’90s, I have been fortunate to watch anime series that really captivates me and just makes me want to watch it over again.

“GATE” is one of those anime series.  Each and every episode, I absolutely enjoyed them.

While one can say it’s an anime version of “Stargate”, not really.  When the otherworld invades Ginza, Japan, they are reminiscent of knights of past fighting a war with ogres and monsters in the present.

The twist is when Japan sends their Japan Self Defense Force (JSDF) to the otherworld, with modern technology, the first army battalion sent by the Empire are literally obliterated.  Shields are not going to guard machine gun bullets.  Armies are not going to survive mortar attacks.  Battalions on horseback are not going to beat tanks.  And archers are not going to defeat military helicopters or jet bombers.

But while the JSDF seem like they may be the bad guys to those in the empire, in truth, they don’t want to kidnap, take over the land or do anything nefarious.  They want to send a warning to the empire, to put it bluntly, don’t come into our territory, kill our people and expect to rule our land.

And as much as it may seem like a serious anime, it really isn’t thanks to the person heading the operation for the JSDF to protect the people (not just in Japan but anywhere they arrive) and that’s Officer Itami.  A man who is a decorated Ranger but in truth, he just wanted a job that would allow him to be an otaku fanboy, so he can read doujinshi.

And with each tribe he meets and visits, he and the JSDF saves them and wants nothing in return.   He eventually is joined by High Elf Tuka Luna Marceau, a 15-year-old sorceress named Lelei La Lelena, a demi-goddess named Rory Mercury and a dark elf named Yao Haa Dushi.

People grateful for what Itami has done for them and now they want to help get his message across to the Empire and other people in the land.

And when Itami and the others meet Pina Co Lada, princess from the empire, at first she thinks that the “men in green” want to take over the empire but the more she stays with Itami, in hopes to spread peace and hopes for the JSDF to not destroy them, she is willing to negotiate a peace agreement with the Japanese.

And the path to protecting people is not easy, thanks to a corrupt empire with a corrupt son wanting to usurp his father, the king.  Then you have a giant flame dragon killing people all over the land.  And on Earth, you have countries who want to go after the other world friends of Itami and causing problems for the JDSF.  So, it’s not an easy path.

But no matter the difficult, Yoji Itami keeps his cool, keeps positive and is willing to go to great lengths to protect people not just in Japan but also people living in the other world led by the empire.

Also, another plus is the many supporting characters featured and the series really becomes a wonderful anime series with action, adventure and fantasy elements combined.

As for the animation on Blu-ray, A-1 Pictures always does a phenomenal job and they did a magnificent job with animating this series along with providing a plethora of background art, to compliment the large area of land and areas that these individuals visit.  The lossless soundtrack is 2.0 but both English and Japanese dialogue are crystal clear.  And there are a few special features included as well.

Overall, “GATE Complete Collection” is an anime series that is probably one of the better anime series I have seen from Sentai Filmworks in the past few years.  It’s addictive, exciting and so much fun!  I definitely recommend it

 

KanColle Kantai Collection (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“KanColle Kantai Collection” is an action anime series inspired by the popular browser-based and PS Vita video game. It’s a series that caught Japan by storm in 2015 and now the anime series is available on Blu-ray and DVD in the U.S.  A great compliment to the video games, if you are intrigued about war at sea and cute anime characters, “KanColle Kantai Collection” is a series I recommend!

Image courtesy of © 2014 KanColle Headquarters. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: KanColle Kantai Collection

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episode 1-12 (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese Linear PCM Stereo, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: June 27, 2017


Originally concept by Kensuke Tanaka

Original Story by Kensuke Tanaka

Directed by Kanzou Kusakawa

Series Composition by Jukki Hanada

Music by Natsumi Kameoka

Character Design by Mayuko Matsumoto, Naomi Ide

Art Director: Maho Takahashi

Chief Animation Director: Mayuko Matsumoto, Naomi Ide

Anime Production: diomedea


Featuring the following voice talent:

Felecia Angelle/Sumire Uesaka as Fubuki

Jeannie Tirado/Yuka Iguchi as Kaga

Tia Ballard/Saki Fujita as Akagi

Alexis Tipton/Nao Toyama as Kongou

Amber Lee Connors/Yuka Otsubo as Ooi

Apphia Yu/Aya Suzuki as Hibiki

Brittney Karbowski/Ayane Sakura as Sendai

Camille Liedtka/Aya Suzuki as Inazuma

Cherami Leigh/Rina Hidaka as Mutsuki

Dawn M. Bennett/Nao Toyama as Hiei

Elizabeth Maxwell as Nagato

Jad Saxton/Ayane Sakura as Naka

Kristi Kang/Nao Toyama as Atago

Lara Woodhull/Aya Suzuki as Ikazuchi

Leah Clark/Yumi Tanabe as Yudachi

Megan Shipman/Ayane Sakura as Shimakaze

Monica Rial/Aya Suzuki as Akatsuki

Morgan Berry as Kitakami

Morgan Garrett/Ayane Sakura as Mutsu

Natalie Hoover/Ayane Sakura as Jintsu

Sarah Wiedenheft/Iori Nomizu as Zuikaku


Fubuki is a Special Type Destroyer who has just been assigned to the Naval District. With a grand total of zero battles under her belt, she’s sure to sink fast under the pressure of expectation. Luckily, she’s grouped with Torpedo Squadron Three, and they’re ready to support their new comrade. Together, they’ll prove they have what it takes to defend the ocean and win it all for humanity.


In Japan, “Kantai Collection” a.k.a. “KanColle” has captivated fans thanks to the concept, the characters and the video game.

Created as a Japanese free-to-play web browser games from Kadokawa Games, in 2015, the game had around 3 million registered players.

The series has been released as a manga series, light novels, tabletop RPG and a PlayStation Vita game.  And to coincide with the game’s release, an anime series was released in Japan in January 2015 courtesy of Diomedea.

And now the 12-episode anime series is available on Blu-ray and DVD in the USA courtesy of Funimation.

For those not familiar with “KanColle”, the series is set when humanity has lost the seas to a monstrous fleet.  To counter this monstrous fleet, humanity has donned human girls known as “fleet girls” who wear weaponized outfits and take on various roles in the spirit of historical naval vessels depending on one’s skill.

The anime series revolves around Fubuki, who arrives at the naval base and was recommended to fight in the Third Torpedo Squadron by the admiral.  But no one is sure why, becuase fubuki is always scared, often clumsy and has never fought in battle in her life.

But when she goes out on her first mission and is rescued by Akagi, Fubuki is inspired and wants to do her best in order to train and fight alongside Akagi one day.

The primary characters of “KanColle Kantai Collection” are:

  • Fubuki – The main protagonist.  Clumsy, not a fighting girl but with a heart of a fighter who is inspired by Akagi and trains hard in hopes to one day fight alongside with her.  Fubuki is assigned to the Third Torpedo Squadron and is a Destroyer.
  • Mutsuki – The first fleet girl that befriends Fubuki and is often cheerful.  She is a member of the Third Torpedo Squadron.
  • Yudachi – A destroyer of the Third Torpedo Squadron who is laid back and often says “poi” all the time.
  • Kisaragi – A destroyer who is assigned to the Fourth Torpedo Squadron and is mature, more than her oldest sister Mutsuki.
  • Yayoi/Mochizuki – Two destroyers.  Yayoi lacks emotion, while Mochizuki is often sleepy.
  • Akagi – An aircraft carrier belong to the First carrier Division. She fires arrows with her bow which turns into aircrafts piloted by fairies.
  • Kaga – An Aircraft carrier of the First Carrier Division who frequently accompanies Akagi.  She does not like Shokaku and Zuikaku of the Fifth Carrier Division and refuses to follow Zuikaku’s orders.
  • Shimakaze – A Destroyer who claims to be the fastest in the Southwest Area Fleet.  Hyperactive personality.
  • Yamato – The most powerful naval vessel and her existence is kept as secret.

VIDEO:

“KanColle Kantai Collection” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Animation is very good, detailed and vibrant.  A lot went into the mechanical design and does a great job of enhancing one’s appreciation of the game, because of how the characters and battles are portrayed.  A slightly soft anime series that one can expect from a TV series but a colorful anime series that compliments the video games. Diomedea did a wonderful job with animation and artistic backgrounds.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“KanColle Kantai Collection” is presented in Japanese and English 5.1. Dialogue and musical score is crystal clear and the voice acting is well-done. Great use of the surround channels for action sequences, may it be explosions or blasts, the lossless soundtrack for this anime series is very good.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“KanColle Kantai Collection” comes with the following special features:

  • Promo Videos
  • Commercial Collection
  • Japanese Warnings
  • Textless Opening and Closing Songs

EXTRAS:

“KanColle Kantai Collection” comes with the Blu-ray and DVD versions of the anime series.


Back in 2015, I was in Japan to cover Tokyo’s largest anime event, Anime Japan.  And my first introduction to “KanColle” was at Animate in Akihabara.  And sure enough, returning back to the US, I would often see “KanColle” cosplayers.

While English information was a bit sparse at the time, I would eventually discover “KanColle” when I was back in Japan in 2016 and purchased the PlayStation Vita video game and was captivated by the fact that unlike Japanese video games which often featured girls in tanks battling it out, this time around, you have female characters as part of the Navy.

They are essentially the naval ships – Destroyers, Carriers, Heavy and Light Cruisers, you name it and you travel the seas taking on enemies and building your team and characters.

So, when I found out there was an anime series, I was hoping it would come out in the US and now it’s available on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Funimation.

While the video game focuses on the aspect of war and going into battle, the storyline of these characters are focused on in the “KanColle Kantai Collection” anime series.

Revolving around the popular character/Destroyer named Fubuki, we see how this girl who doesn’t look like she can fight, often clumsy and is always scared, would eventually train hard to become a better fighter, a better teammate but also inspired to one day fight alongside the person who inspired her, aircraft carrier Akagi.

There are a ton of characters in the game and there are a ton of characters in the series, but fortunately, the series focuses on Fubuki and her friends from the Third Torpedo Squadron.  We see how these girls train to fight and become better, but we also see how unsafe the waters are and how powerful the enemy is and you’ll see characters perishing during battle.

Needless to say, the anime series compliments the games very well.  Animation is vibrant, well-shaded and detailed, especially the background artwork.  The Japanese and English soundtrack are well done, but it’s interesting because for the Japanese soundtrack, unlike the English dub which casts a different person per role, in the Japanese version, a voice actress may have to do the dubwork for multiple people.  But both soundtracks are well-acted.

As for special features, you get a few of Japanese promotional videos, commercials and warnings.  But there are no major special features like audio commentary or significant featurettes.

Overall, “KanColle Kantai Collection” is an action anime series inspired by the popular browser-based and PS Vita video game. It’s a series that caught Japan by storm in 2015 and now the anime series is available on Blu-ray and DVD in the U.S.  A great compliment to the video games, if you are intrigued about war at sea and cute anime characters, “KanColle Kantai Collection” is a series I recommend!

 

The Exception (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 6, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“The Exception” may not be historically factual, there are elements in the film that help keep you captivated.  With a wonderful performance by Christopher Plummer and a fascinating blend of espionage and romance, Vaid Leveaux’s “The Exception” is a film worth watching.

Images courtesy of © 2017 Lions Gate Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Exception

FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 107 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:39:1 aspect ratio, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: Spanish, English SDH

COMPANY: Lions Gate

RATED: R

RELEASE DATE: August 8, 2017


Based on the Novel “The Kaiser’s Last Kiss” by Alan Judd

Directed by David Leveaux

Screenplay by Simon Burke

Produced by Eugenio Derbez, Ben Odell

Executive Producer: Mike Upton

Associate Producer: Erica Oyama

Cinematography by John Bailey

Edited by John Daigle

Casting by Deborah Aquila, Tricia Wood, Lisa Zagoria

Production Design by Marcia Hinds

Art Direction by Alex Gaines, Thomas P. Wilkins

Set Decoration by Cindy Coburn

Costume Design by Molly Grundman


Starring:

Jai Courtney as Capt. Stefan Brandt

Lily James as Mieke de Jong

Christopher Plummer as Kaiser Wilhelm II

Anton Lesser as General Falkenberg

Janet McTeer as Princess Hermine

Ben Daniels as Col. Sigurd von Ilsemann

Martin Swabey as Mueller

Mark Dexter as Dietrich

Eddie Marsan as Heinrich Himmler


Starring Oscar®-winner Christopher Plummer, THE EXCEPTION is a suspenseful World War II thriller filled with espionage and romance in equal measure.


In 2003, Alan Judd wrote the novel “The Kaiser’s Last Kiss”, a fictional account of the last few days in the life of exiled Kaiser Wilhelm II (the last German Emperor and King of Prussia who ruled the German Empire and the Kingdom of Pruss from 1888-1918).

The film adaptation of the book was released in 2016  and is directed by David Leveaux and a screenplay by Simon Burke (“Persuasion”, “NY-LON”, “The Guilty”).

The film stars Jai Courtney (“Divergent”, “Insurgent”, “Terminator Genisys”), Lily James (“Cinderella”, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”, “Wrath of the Titans”), Christopher Plummer (“A Beautiful Mind”, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “The Sound of Music”), Anton Lesser (“Pirates of the Caribbean”, “The Girl in the Cafe”, “Game of Thrones”), Janet McTeer (“Tideland”, “Me Before You”, “Tumbleweeds”) and Eddie Marsan (“Sherlock Holmes”, “V For Vendetta”, “The Illusionist”).

The film is set during World War II and German soldier Stefan Brandt (portrayed by Jai Courtney) is sent to the Netherlands to become the head personal bodyguard of exiled German Emperor Wilhelm II (portrayed by Christopher Plummer).

The Kaiser lives in a castle and following the German invasion of Netherlands, German authorities are concerned that there are Dutch spies who are watching over the Kaiser.

As Brandt infiltrates the life of the Kaiser in order to find out if the claims of Dutch spies are true, he finds himself allured to the Kaiser’s maid, Mieke (portrayed by Lily James), who is secretly Jewish.  Mieke is also an information who reports to the pastor in town and gives details of what is happening inside the Kaiser’s home.  But Brandt and Mieke carry on a passionate rendezvous secretly.

Meanwhile Heinrich Himmler (portrayed by Eddie Marsand), who is head of the SS, pays a visit with many soldiers and Brandt must decide which is his priority, his allegiance to the Nazi party or his love for Mieke.  Will he protect her?


VIDEO:

“The Exception” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1 aspect ratio). While the shots are primarily shot indoors, picture quality is good, scenes are well-lit and close-up details are very good.  There are no signs of artifact or banding issues.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Exception” is presented in English and Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and features crystal clear dialogue. While surround channels capture environment ambiance, this film’s soundtrack is primarily dialogue and music-driven.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Exception” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director David Leveaux.
  • “Behind the Scenes of The Exception” – (19:20)  A look at the making of “The Exception” featuring interviews with cast and crew.


EXTRAS:

“The Exception” comes with the Blu-ray and an UltraViolet HD code.


One of the problems when watching films based on historical figures is whether or not the information is factual.

Many people are not familiar with German Monarch Kaiser Wilhelm II and there are some that may come to watch “The Exception” and think this is factual history, but in truth, this is a film adaptation based on a fictional novel by Alan Judd.

But while timelines are different from fact and there are changes to certain figures, “The Exception” is still an entertaining film blending espionage and romance and a look at division of German allegiance.

For the most part, the film revolves around a German soldier sent to be head personal guard for German Monarch Kaiser Wilhelm II.  And with his time there, he falls for the servant named Mieke.  Mieke is secretly a Jew and also an informant providing information to the local priest of what is going on inside the Kaiser’s home but also a woman wanting revenge against the Nazi’s due to the Gestapo killing her husband and father.

So, we have a tale of romance but seeing Mieke trying to do her job but also providing information, she wants to assassinate Nazi leadership if given the chance.

And while the story primarily focuses on German Officer Stefan Brandt and the servant Mieke, the film also focuses a lot on the character of German Monarch Kaiser Wilhelm II.

With Germany under the rule of the German Empire led by German Monarch Kaiser Wilhelm II for many years and many of the people who grew up reading about their former leader’s accomplishment, especially with the Navy, it would be no surprise if there were people still loyal to him.  Despite being called by King George V, “the greatest criminal in history”.

But with mutiny within German ranks and chaos that would lead him to cross the border by train into Netherlands and going into Exile, Wilhelm hoped that the success of the Nazi Party would stimulate interest in the restoration of the monarchy.  But in truth, Adolf Hitler and other leading Nazis never looked at German Monarch Kaiser Wilhelm II in a positive light, especially since he was responsible for Germany’s greatest defeat, so no matter how many times his second wife, Hermine, tried to petition the Nazi government on her husband’s behalf, he grew to distrust Hitler.

In “The Exception”, the film tries to show us a Kaiser that is excited that his return back home to Germany may lead him to be monarch once again.  While he hosted Hermann Goriing (a leading member of the Nazi Party) at Doorn, the film showed Wilhelm hosting Heinrich Himmler (the leading member of the Nazi Party directly responsible for the Holocaust), more for the purpose to show how Himmler was a man of no remorse and to show how evil the man was, when he casually discusses the murders of Jews.

But as the Kaiser and his wife think they are returning home, Himmler informs Brandt that it’s all a ruse and a trap for the Kaiser in order to eliminate any up-rise of other German leadership.

Brandt must face up to his own convictions and his allegiance as a German soldier.  Which is more important…his personal convictions and how he feels about people (especially knowing the woman he has fallen for is a Jew) or his duty as a soldier for the Nazi Party?

And how long can this servant to continue without people picking up that she is an agent?

Overall, “The Exception” may not be historically factual, there are elements in the film that help keep you captivated.  With a wonderful performance by Christopher Plummer and a fascinating blend of espionage and romance, Vaid Leveaux’s “The Exception” is a film worth watching.

 

How to Be a Latin Lover (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 6, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

For those who are looking for a laugh-out-loud comedy with a wonderful cast, definitely give “How to Be a Latin Lover” a try!  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Pantelion, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: How to Be a Latin Lover

FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 115 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:40:1 aspect ratio, English and Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: Spanish, English SDH

COMPANY: Lions Gate

RATED: PG-13

RELEASE DATE: August 15, 2017


Directed by Ken Marino

Written by Chris Spain, Jon Zack

Produced by Eugenio Derbez, Ben Odell

Executive Producer: Mike Upton

Associate Producer: Erica Oyama

Cinematography by John Bailey

Edited by John Daigle

Casting by Deborah Aquila, Tricia Wood, Lisa Zagoria

Production Design by Marcia Hinds

Art Direction by Alex Gaines, Thomas P. Wilkins

Set Decoration by Cindy Coburn

Costume Design by Molly Grundman


Starring:

Eugenio Derbez as Maximo

Salma Hayek as Sara

Raphael Alejandro as Hugo

Rob Lowe as Rick

Kristen Bell as Cindy

Mckenna Grace as Arden

Raquel Welch as Celeste

Linda Lavin as Millicent

Renee Taylor as Peggy

Rob Corddry as Quincy

Rob Riggle as Scott

Rob Huebel as Nick

Michael Cera as Remy

Mather Zickel as James


Eugenio Derbez (INSTRUCTIONS NOT INCLUDED) and Salma Hayek head an all-star cast in this hilarious comedy about an aging ladies’ man who learns that love and trust must be earned.


Actor Ken Marino is known for his acting roles and for his writing work for films such as “Wanderlust” and TV shows such as “Childrens Hospital”, “Wainy Days” and “The State”.  And now, Marino directs the comedy film “How to Be a Latin Lover” which is co-written by Chris Spain and Jon Zack.

The film stars Eugenio Derbez (“La familia P. Luche, “La jugada”), Salma Hayek (“Frida”, “Desperado”, “Once Upon a time in Mexico”), Raphael Alejandro (“Once Upon a Time”, “Almost Human”), Rob Lowe (“The West Wing”, “Wayne’s World”, “Parks and Recreation”), Kristen Bell (“Frozen”, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”, “Veronica Mars”), Raquel Welch (“The Three Musketeers”, “Fantastic Voyage”, “Legally Blonde”), Linda Lavin (“The Intern”, “Wanderlust”, “The Back-Up”), Renee Taylor (“Alfie”, “The Nanny”, “The Producers”), Rob Corddry (“Hot Tub Time Machine”, “What Happens in Vegas”, “Warm Bodies”), Rob Riggle (“Hangover”, “21 Jump Street”, “The Daily Show”), Rob Huebel (“The Descendants”, “I Love  You Man”) and Michael Cera (“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”, “Juno”, “Superbad”).

The film which was created for $10 million would go on to make over $60 million in the box office.

The film revolves around a man named Maximo (portrayed by Eugenio Derbez) who seduced an older woman when he was a younger in hopes he could live the good life.

He ended up marrying Peggy (portrayed by Renee Taylor) for 25-years, using her to get the things he wants and having her spoil him.  And his fellow gigolo friend, Ric (portrayed by Rob Lowe) does the same with his wife, Millicent (portrayed by Linda Lavin).

But Betty is now much older, more than twice his age and now she’s 80-years-old, can hardly move and now they are celebrating their anniversary.

Forgetting about their anniversary, Maximo pretends that he was going to buy her a new sports car (with her money) and they meet a smooth talking car salesman Remy (portrayed by Michael Cera).

After going out for a game of golf, he comes home early and finds out that Peggy is having an affair with Remy and she ends their marriage.  And because they married with a prenup, he is left with nothing.

Jobless and having no home, Maximo moves in to his estranged sister’s (portrayed by Salma Hayek) home, along with her 10-year-old son Hugo (portrayed by Raphael Alejandro).

When he takes Hugo to school, he finds out that he as a crush on a girl named Arden (portrayed by Mckenna Grace) and Mckenna has a wealthy single grandmother named Celeste (portrayed by Raquel Welch) and when his buddy Ric tells him how wealthy she is, immediately Maximo tries to find a way to get close to Celeste, which is not easy considering he has an overprotective chauffeur, Quincy (portrayed by Rob Corddry).

Meanwhile, Maximo wants to transform his sister’s young son from a nerdy science fan to a Latin Lover.  And also try to work odd jobs in order to pay off debt.


VIDEO:

“How to Be a Latin Lover” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). Outdoor scenes are vibrant, picture quality showcase wonderful detail.  I didn’t notice any major banding or artifact issues during my viewing of the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“How to Be a Latin Lover” is presented in English and Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and features crystal clear dialogue. While surround channels capture environment ambiance, this film’s soundtrack is primarily dialogue and music-driven.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“How to Be a Latin Lover” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director Ken Marino, producer Ben Odell and editor John Daigle.
  • Show Me Your Sexy! Learning How to Be a Latin Lover – (17:35) How “How to Be a Latin Lover” went from a TV comedy and became a film built around actor Eugenio Derbez and more.
  • A Little Help from My Friends – (11:08) How Ken Marino got his celebrity friends involved in the film and interviews with the cast.
  • Extended/Deleted Scenes – (33:39) Extended and deleted scenes form “How to Be a Latin Lover”.

EXTRAS:

“How to Be a Latin Lover” comes with the Blu-ray and an UltraViolet HD code.


Far often we see films about older women going after younger men and often in media, we see younger women going after older, wealthy men.

But what if the roles were reversed and you have a film that showcase a gigolo who goes after an older woman in order to have a lifestyle of luxury?

The answer is Ken Marino’s comedy “How to Be a Latin Lover” starring popular Latino actor Eugenio Derbez as the film’s protagonist, Maximo.

A comedy featuring an all-star cast which includes Salma Hayek, Rob Lowe, Kristen Bell, Michael Cera, Linda Lavin, Raquel Welch, Rob Cordry, Rob Riggle to name a few, “How to Be a Latin Lover” is a laugh loud comedy about a gigolo who got the life he wanted by marrying a wealthy, single, older woman for her money.

Fastforward 25-years later and Maximo is older, gained a few pounds, but still enjoying life, being pampered and spending money that is not his.

And as his 80-year-old wife wants to celebrate their wedding anniversary, having forgotten the anniversary, he takes her to a sportscar shop and pretending to buy it for her (when he wants it for himself), Maximo is unaware that the car salesman (also a gigolo) would end up having an affair with Maximo’s wife.

And now she wants to end the marriage and because they had a prenuptial agreement, he gets nothing.  No money, he’s flat broke and all he has is his luggage and fancy clothing.

Where to go but his estranged younger sister Sara’s apartment, where she lives with her 10-year-old son Hugo.  And because Maximo wasn’t there for her, especially after her husband’s death or even their mother’s death, she is very upset at him.  But knowing that he is family, she allows him to live with him until he can fully support himself.

But for Maximo, not having the life of luxury proves to be difficult and now wants to find a suger momma and what best than to go after the wealthy Celeste (portrayed by Raquel Welch), who happens to be the grandmother of the girl that young Hugo likes.

So, Maximo feels if he can change Hugo from being a science nerd and being a gigolo like him and captivate the attention of the girl he likes, it will lead him straight to Celeste.  Or will it?

The film also stars Rob Lowe, a fellow gigolo and Maximo’s friend who is courting a character portrayed by Linda Lavin; Kristen Bell as a cat-loving person who manages an ice cream shop; Rob Riggle and Rob Huebel as bullies who want Maximo to pay him the $1,000’s owned and more.

As for the film on Blu-ray, colors are vibrant (considering the film was shot outdoors a lot) and lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and music.  And there are numerous special features including two featurettes, audio commentary and extended and deleted scenes.

Overall, for those who are looking for a laugh-out-loud comedy with a wonderful cast, definitely give “How to Be a Latin Lover” a try!  Recommended!

 

One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage One (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

August 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage One” is another fun, action-packed volume as Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates reunite two years later and demonstrate their new skills that they have learned.  But what happens when the crew travels to their destination…Fishman Island?  Another entertaining volume of “One Piece”! Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 1999 Toei Animation Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage One

DURATION: Episodes 517-528 (Duration: 300 Minutes, 2 DVD’s)

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English and Japanese stereo

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: June 20, 2017


Originally created by Eiichiro Oda

Directed by Hiroaki Miyamoto, Konosuke Uda, Munehisa Sakai

Series Composition by Hirohiko Uesaka

Script by Hirohiko Uesaka, Hiroshi Hashimoto, Junki Takegami, Michiru Shimada, Naoki Koga, Ryota Yamaguchi, Suminori Takegami, Yoshiyuki Suga

Music by Kouhei Tanaka, Shiroh Hamaguchi

Character Design by Kazuya Hisada, Noboru Koizumi

Animation Production by Toei Animation


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Monkey D. Luffy

Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian as Nami

Hiroaki Hirata/Eric Vale as Sanji

Kazuya Nakai/Christopher Sabat as Roronoa Zoro

Ikue Ohtani/Brina Palencia as Tony Tony Chopper

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sonny Strait as Usopp

Yuriko Yamaguchi/Stephanie Young as Nico Robin

Kazuki Yao/Patrick Seitz as Franky

Ian Sinclair as Brook

Travis Willingham as Portgas D. Ace

Edward Newgate as Whitebeard


The human-hating Hordy Jones and his army of 100,000 troops has Fishman Island’s royal family by the gills. Luckily, the Straw Hats make it in time to show off a boatload of powerful new moves! But just when Luffy kicks into gear, an ancient ship nearly twice the size of the island heads straight for Shirahoshi. Only the cowardly mermaid can guide the vessel away before it crushes them all.


It has been two years since Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates has been together and now, the promised day of reuniting has arrived and the group head back to the seas.  But when they find out a group has been impersonating them, the group has chance to show how much they have improved in the past two years.

Also, what happens when the Straw Hat Pirates head to their latest destination….Fishman Island?

What is “One Piece”?

“ONE PIECE” is a popular anime series based on the popular manga series serialized in Shonen Jump by Eiichiro Oda. Suffice to say, “ONE PIECE” is the highest selling manga for Weekly Shonen Jump and its popularity has extended to various anime (via the TV series, OVA and films) and video games in America and also worldwide.

The series is so popular, the episode count currently in Japan is in its 19th season and a total of 799 episodes have been aired in Japan.

“ONE PIECE” is an adventure anime about a 17-year-old boy named Monkey D. Luffy who gained enormous strength (and stretching abilities) after eating a magical demon fruit. He eventually teams up with a group of pirates and have the name “The Straw Hats”. Luffy’s driven to one day obtain the most sought out treasure known as “One Piece” and eventually become the King of the Pirates.


The Straw Hat Pirates consists of:

Monkey D. Luffy – A 17-year-old guy who is the captain of the Straw Hat Pirates and dreams to be a pirate king by getting his hands on the “ONE PIECE” artifact. When he was young, he accidentally ate a devil fruit which made his body rubbery and can stretch and blow up. An airhead of sorts, loves to eat but always believes and fights for his friends.

Roronoa Zoro – A 19-year-old skilled swordsman. A skilled and very strong fighter. Wants to be the greatest swordsman in the world.

Nami – The navigator of the group. The main female crew member and really good at weapons.

Usopp – A 17-year-old marksman. A talented inventor and artistic. Known by his long nose, his marksmanship with slingshots and weapons are great. He quit the Straw Hat Pirates and took on a new identity.

Sanji – The chef of the crew. A skilled fighter that uses only kicks in battle and is passionate towards Nami.

Tony Tony Chopper – A reindeer with a blue nose. Ate a devil fruit known as human-human fruit which makes him human in someways but keeping his reindeer look. Able to speak to humans, walk upright and also able to have transformations to become a huge beast. But his talent is his medical skills as he was trained by the Doctrine to become a doctor. Has very low self-confidence because he had been treated badly not only by his kind but also by humans and has not really had a friend but the Doctor and Doctrine.

Nico Robin – The former Vice President of Baroque Works who has become the newest member of the Straw Hat Pirates despite some of the crew not trusting her since she was a former enemy. Has the ability to use her body parts and project them elsewhere and other mysterious abilities not yet known.

Franky – A cyborg who can rebuild his body using pieces of metal and his dream is to build a ship and become its shipwright and sail to the end of the world.

Brook – A pirate from before the time of Roger, he was killed but because of the Paramecia-type-Revive-Revive Fruit, he rose again as a skeleton. An excellent musician, he becomes a member of the Straw Hat Pirates.


VIDEO :

For most television series, because they are created nearly before they are aired on television, unlike film and OVA’s, there typically is not much detail involved in a Japanese animated television series. “ONE PIECE” is probably one of those rare exceptions in that it has really cool character designs and very detailed artistic backgrounds. Of course, since it is on DVD, you will see some artifacting, combing and edge enhancement but it’s not so noticeable unless you are really looking for it.

The anime series is presented in standard 4:3 definition but for a television series, “ONE PIECE” sports cool and unique character designs and beautifully painted artistic backgrounds. Definitely one of the better looking anime series that has remained consistent and has not downgraded since it first aired on television. Character designer Kazuya Hisada (who worked on the “Dragon Ball” and “Dragon Ball GT” series) and Noboru Koizumi (who worked on “Giant Robo”, “Dragon Ball GT” and “Tenchi Universe”) have been very good of capturing “One Piece” creator Eiichiro Oda’s unique style.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the audio, “One Piece” is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, English Stereo and Japanese Stereo. Of course, the English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound is the better audio choice to listen to, although one who has a receiver that can set their audio to all channels can definitely enjoy the Japanese stereo track as well. But both audio tracks are done very well and I have to admit that “ONE PIECE” has one of the most solid English dub tracks for an anime TV series. Very well done on both audio tracks but again, have been very impressed by the voice talent for the series thus far.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage One” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 519 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by ADR Director/Voice Actor Mike McFarland, Christopher Sabat (voice of Zoro), Brina Palencia (voice of Chopper) and Eric Vale (voice of Sanji).

DISC 2:

  • One Piece Cast Goes to Matsuricon 2016: Live Dub – (18:59) The One Piece cast attend Matsuricon in Columbus, Ohio as the even is celebratine a pirate theme and the cast take part in a live dub in front of their fans.
  • EPISODE 526 Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by ADR Director/Voice Actor Mike McFarland, Sonny Strait (voice of Usopp) and Ian Sinclair (voice of Brook).
  • Textless Opening Song “We Go!” Ver. 1 and 2

With the release of “One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage One”, the episodes feature the reunion of the Straw Hat Pirates (featuring episodes 517-528). Note: In Japan, this arc of episodes is season 15.

Two years have passed since the War at Marineford and as the Straw Hat Pirates promised, they will reunite after they train for two years.  But the group finds out that someone has been impersonating them.  What happens when the Straw Hat Pirates come across the Fake Straw Hat Pirates?

The next storyline features the group together and go on aboard the Thousand Sunny to their destination, Fishman Island.  But they are being pursued by a pirate named Caribou and his crew.  But waiting for them in the sea is a large Kraken known for crushing ships, but what happens when the Straw Hat Pirates and the Kraken confront each other?

As for the DVD, picture quality is very good on DVD, audio is also crystal clear with both voice acting soundtracks are well done, as “One Piece” is one of the best cast anime series, everyone is right for their role and considering that Toei was strict on the casting for the English dub, FUNimation did a fine job in their cast selection and I was pleased with both Japanese and English dub soundtracks. As for special features, you get two audio commentaries but possibly the coolest inclusion is the Matsuricon 2016: Live Dub.  One can hope that Funimation continues this for upcoming releases of “One Piece” or other titles!

Overall, “One Piece: Season Nine, Voyage One” is another fun, action-packed volume as Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates reunite two years later and demonstrate their new skills that they have learned.  But what happens when the crew travels to their destination…Fishman Island?  Another entertaining volume of “One Piece”! Recommended!

 

Kung Fu Yoga (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 4, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Filmmaker Stanley Tong’s long-awaited reunion with Jackie Chan happens to be a co-production between China and India. Featuring a talented cast, cool action scenes, a lot of humor plus Bollywood dance choreography, “Kung Fu Yoga” is entertaining and so much fun!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Sparkle Roll Media Corporation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Kung Fu Yoga

FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 107 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:35:1 aspect ratio), 16:9 widescreen, Mandarin and English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English and Chinese

COMPANY: Well Go USA

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: August 8, 2017


Directed by Stanley Tong

Written by Stanley Tong

Executive Producers: Jackie Chan, Sailesh Pathak, Joe Tam

Producer: RJonathan Shen, Barbie Tung, Wei Wang

Co-Producers: D Wu, Huixia Zhang, Sunny Sun, Lin Hong, Jili Chen, Cici Chen

Associate Producer: Jia Fu, Mingyu Peng, Hong Qin, Jingwei Wang, Jianhong Yu

Music by Nathan Wang

Cinematography by Wing-Hang Wong

Edited by Chi-Leung Kwong

Casting by Adam Alzoubi

Production Design by Ying-Wah Cheung 

Art Direction by Ying-Wah Cheung, Ranjit Singh

Costume Design by Phoebe Wong


Starring:

Jackie Chan as Jack

Disha Patani as Ashmita

Amyra Dastur as Kura

Aarif Rahman as Jones

Miya Muqi as Nuomin

Sonu Sood as Randall

Paul Philip Clark as Max

Yixing Zhang as Xiaoguang

Yuxian Shang as Circe

Jiang Wen as Jiang Wen

Eric Tsang as Jianghua

Guoli Zhang as Jonathan


Jack (Jackie Chan), a world-renowned archaeology professor, and his team are on a grand quest to locate a lost ancient Indian treasure when they are ambushed by a team of mercenaries and left for dead. Using his vast knowledge of history and kung fu, Jack leads his team on a race around the world to beat the mercenaries to the treasure and save an ancient culture in this breakneck action-comedy that reunites Chan with acclaimed director Stanley Tong (Rumble in the Bronx, Supercop).


In 2017, a collaboration film with Taihe Entertainment and Shinework Pictures featuring a collaboration between China and India.

The film reunites with legendary action star Jackie Chan with director Stanley Tong (“Police Story 4: First Strike”, “Rumble in the Bronx”, “Supercop”) and would star Disha Patani, Amyra Dastur, Aarif Rahman (“Cold War”, “Young Bruce Lee”, “Cold War II”), Miya Muqi (“Tomb Robber”, “The Monkey King 2”, “The Kapil Sharma Show”), Sonu Sood (“Dookudu”, “Happy New Year”, “Dabangg”), EXO-M popstar Yexing Zhang (“Ex-Files 2”, “Go Fighting: Royal Treasure”, “Oh My God”) and Eric Tsang (“Infernal Affairs” films, “The Accidental Spy”).

The film begins with a CG historic tale of how the Magadha treasure was lost in Tibet.

The film then introduces us to Jack (portrayed by Jackie Chan), a well-known professor of archaeology at the Terracotta Warriors Museum in Xi’an.

He is visited by a young Indian professor Ashmita (portrayed by Disha Patani) who wanted to share with Jack a map that has lived on through her family.  Needing Jack’s help to use the map in hopes to find the treasure, he agrees to help her.

Jack is joined by his assistants Nuomin (portrayed by Miya Muqi) and Xiaoguang (portrayed by Yixing Zhang) and Ashmita with her assistant Kyra (portrayed by Amyra Dastur).  Jack also gets his friend’s son, Jones Lee (portrayed by Aarif Rahman) to join.

But as they start to look for the treasure, so is another man, Randall (portrayed by Sonu Sood).

Can Jack, Ashimita and team prevent the real treasure from getting into the wrong hands?


VIDEO:

“Kung Fu Yoga” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Featuring close-ups with very good detail, the film looks very good and some scenes that were quite vibrant with the color pallette. I didn’t notice any major artifacts, banding or issues with picture quality during my viewing of the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Kung Fu Yoga” is presented in Mandarin and English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Dialogue and music is crystal clear and surround channels utilize ambiance and action sequences through the surround channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Kung Fu Yoga” comes with the following special features:

  • Best of Both Worlds – (3:40) A featurette about the China/India film co-production.
  • The Dynamic Duo – (2:38) A featurette of the reunion of filmmaker Stanley Tong and actor Jackie Chan.
  • The Making of – (21:40) A featurette of the making of “Kung Fu Yoga”.  Interviews with cast and crew.
  • Jackie Chan Featurette – (2:34) A featurette showcasing Jackie Chan performing his own stunts and dancing for the film and more.
  • Bloopers – (3:23) The fun that took place in “Kung Fu Yoga” including outtakes.
  • Bollywood Dance Featurette – (3:12) The making of the Bollywood dance scene.
  • Trailer

EXTRAS:

“Kung Fu Yoga” comes with the Blu-ray and DVD version of the film.


Jackie Chan has almost done it all.  Action roles, comedy roles, dramatic roles, pop singer, enka singer, you name it, he’s done it or not afraid of giving it a try.

For Stanley Tong’s latest action film “Kung Fu Yoga, we have a co-production between China and India and I think it’s safe to ask, will Jackie Chan do some “Bollywood dancing”?  And with a collaboration of talent from both countries, that is a definite “yes”!

Jackie Chan takes on a Indiana Jones type of character.  Chan as a professor named Jack and his team decides to work together with young Indian professor Ashmita and her assistant to find the lost Magadha treasure in Tibet.

The team manages to find a diamond artifact but a man named Randall (portrayed by popular Indian actor Sonu Sood) is also after the treasure.

And so it’s a race against time but also Jack, Ashmita and team try to get to the treasure and prevent Randall from getting it.  But Ashmita (portrayed by actress Disha Patani) also carries a secret of why she collaborated with Jack.

I have to say that having watched a plethora of Jackie Chan films from his earliest to present, among his present films within the last few years, I ahve to say that “Kung Fu Yoga” is one of the most entertaining and fun films that I have watched.

Sure, a lot of people often wonder if Jackie Chan should be doing martial arts films at 63-years-old but watching “Kung Fu Yoga”, sure you’re not going to see the same Jackie Chan from the ’70s, ’80s or ’90s but he’s still agile, shows that he still has that fighting screen presence and action-star persona today.

In fact, Jackie Chan takes on new action with this latest film which includes him and actress Disha Patani actually having to swim in frigid waters and also having to do numerous Bollywood dance routines.

Is “Kung Fu Yoga” destined to be a classic Jackie Chan film?  Probably not, but considering how Jackie Chan continues to show that at his age, he still can take on action roles but also take on something new and different is quite fantastic.

Especially when the film features a reunion between him and renown martial arts director Stanley Tong and what best than the two to collaborate on this Chinese/Indian co-production shot in several countries.

Dubai royalty was so thrilled with Jackie Chan filming in the country that the royalty allowed for major action sequences (especially a chase scene) to be filmed, so seeing a closure of major roads and the limitless use of expensive cars to be used in the film.

But it’s a film that worked well because of its cast.

The casting of this film does not disappoint!  Up-and-coming Indian film actress Disha Patani plays the main female lead, popular young actress Amyra Dastur, while famous and award-winning Indian film actor Sonu Sood, best known for playing villain roles, plays the primary antagonist.

The film also stars pop star Lay (Yixing Zhang) of EXO-M, actress and famous Yoga instructor Miya Muqi, musician and popular actor Aarif Rahman, who is quickly becoming an action star to probably look out for in the near future.  And of course, what action film would it be without Eric Tsang, who also stars in the film.

And to make sure that the Bollywood dance was authentic, the choreography for the film is courtesy from one of the best film choreographers from India, Farah Khan.

So, this film has a lot of talent, a lot of action scenes, a lot of humor and yes, the Bollywood dancing!  And also, breathtaking scenes from Dubai, Iceland and India.

It’s something you don’t usually see and it’s something new that one will watch to see how Jackie Chan does with the collaboration.  And because this is a Stanley Tong film, one can watch the special features and see these talents really get into their action roles, but also some getting a bit hurt (nothing too bad, that we have been used to seeing at the end credits of a Jackie Chan film).

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is fantastic and outdoor scenes are vibrant.  Lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and music and also surround channels utilize ambiance and action scenes very well.  There are also numerous special features included.

Overall, filmmaker Stanley Tong’s long-awaited reunion with Jackie Chan happens to be a co-production between China and India.  Featuring a talented cast, cool action scenes, a lot of humor plus Bollywood dance choreography, “Kung Fu Yoga” is entertaining and so much fun!

 

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