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Day for Night – The Criterion Collection #769 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 22, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Day for Night” is a Truffaut masterpiece.  For its time and a story that still is relevant today, a filmmaker presenting to the audience of the making of a film, the problems that can occur in production and how one’s goal to create a magnificent film, is not always the end product. Featuring magnificent performances from a stellar cast, Francois Truffaut’s “Day for Night” is a film that is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 1973 by Les Films du Carrosse S.A. 2015 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Day for Night – The Criterion Collection #769

YEAR OF FILM: 1973

DURATION: 116 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Color, 1:66:1, French Monaural, Subtitles: English SDH

COMPANY: Warner Brothers/THE CRITERION COLLECTION

RELEASE DATE: August 18, 2015


Directed by Francois Truffaut

Screenplay by Francois Truffaut, Jean-Louis Richard, Suzanne Schiffman

Produced by Marcel Berbert

Music by Georges Delerue

Cinematography by Pierre-William Glenn

Edited by Martine Barraque, Yann Dedet

Production Design by Damien Lanfranchi

Art Direction by Damien Lanfranchi

Costume Design by Monique Dury


Starring:

Jacqueline Bisset as Julie Baker

Valentina Cortese as Severine

Jean-Pierre Aumont as Alexandre

Dani as Liliane, la stagiaire scripte

Jean Champion as Bertrand, le producteur

Alexandrea Stewart as Stacey

Jean-Pierre Leaud as Alphonse

Nathalie Baye as Joelle, la scripte

Francoise Truffaut as Ferrand, le realisateur


This loving farce from François Truffaut (Jules and Jim) about the joys and turbulence of moviemaking is one of his most beloved films. Truffaut himself appears as the harried director of a frivolous melodrama, the shooting of which is plagued by the whims of a neurotic actor (The 400 Blows’ Jean-Pierre Léaud); an aging but still forceful Italian diva (Juliet of the Spirits’ Valentina Cortese); and a British ingenue haunted by personal scandal (Bullitt’s Jacqueline Bisset). An irreverant paean to the prosaic craft of cinema as well as a delightful human comedy about the pitfalls of love and sex, Day for Night is buoyed by robust performances and a sparkling score by the legendary Georges Delerue (Contempt). 


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In 1973, Francois Truffaut’s latest French film “La Nuite americaine” (a.k.a. “Day for Night”) was released in theaters.

The title of the film is named after the filmmaking process where sequences filmed outdoors during the daylight are shot using film stock balancd for tungsten light and underexposed to appear as if the scene was taken place during the night.

The film would feature an ensemble cast which includes Truffaut, Jacqueline Bisset (“Bullitt”, “Murder on the Orient Express”, “The Deep”), Valentina Cortese (“The Adventures of Baron Munchausen”, “Juliet of the Spirits”, “Barefoot Contessa”), Jean-Pierre Leaud (“The 400 Blows”, “Masculin Feminin”, “Stolen Kisses”), Jean-Pierre Aumont (“Turn the Other cheek”, “Lili”, “Hotdel du Nord”), Dani  (“Love on the Run”, “Avenue Montaigne”, “Story of Women”), Jean Champion (“The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”, “Le Cercle Rouge”, “Coup de Torchon”), Alexandra Stewart (“Under the Sand”, “Black Moon”, “The Bride Wore Black”), Nathalie Baye (“An Affair of Love”, “Tell No One”, “Catch Me If You Can”) and many more.

The film won a 1974 BAFTA Award for “Best Film” and the Academy Award for “Best Foreign Language Film”, also earning nominations for “Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress” for Valentina Cortese and “Academy Award for Directing” for Francois Truffaut.

Often considered as one of Truffau’s masterpieces next to “The 400 Blows”, the film would also receive a lot of hype as the film that destroyed the friendship between Francois Truffaut and filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard (who was disgusted by the film and called it a “Lie”), which would then prompt Truffaut to write a personal letter which literally featured many emotions that Truffaut had held onto many years towards his former friend.

One of the films that Truffaut fans have been waiting for a Criterion Collection release, “Day for Night” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of the Criterion Collection in August 2015.

“Day for Night” is set during the film production of “Je Vous Present Pamela” (I Want You to Meet Pamela) starring aging screen icon Alexandre (portrayed by Jean-Pierre Aumont), former film diva Severine (portrayed by Valentina Cortese), popular young actor Alphonse (portrayed by Jean-Pierre Leaud) and British actress, Julie Baker (portrayed by Jacqueline Bisset).

The film would be about Alexandre’s character falling for his son’s wife.

But “Day for Night” would show the dilemmas facing the actors and crew.

Julie Baker had a nervous breakdown and is married to the elder, Dr. Nelson.  She has to play the main character Pamela but is often having to wait for her co-star Alphonse make it to the set.

Alphonse is spoiled and needy and is dating one of the crew members.  He is infatuated with her, while she feels that he smothers her and often tries to find solace with other men.  Because of his emotional instability, he is often late to the set or in a bad mood.

Severine is an aging artist who comes to the set drunk and is seen as a person with a drinking problem, but because of her status as an icon, no one dares interrupt her.

Director Ferrand (Truffaut) and producer Bertrand Jean Champion are trying to create a film but with holdups during the making of the film and money lost, they will need to improvise by removing scenes altogether.

Meanwhile, crew are affected by the emotional instability of the actors, must deal with the situations on set and find ways to pass the time.

And with all the problems, will “Je Vous Present Pamela” ever be completed?


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VIDEO:

“Day for Night – The Criterion Collection #769” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:66:1 aspect ratio). The film features a good amount of grain looks good for its age.  Colors are well saturated, skin tones look natural.

For the most part, watching the film in HD as skin tones are natural, black levels are nice and deep and no signs of DNR or any problematic issues such as scratches, jitter, etc.

According to the Criterion Collection, the film was “supervised by director of photography Pierre-William Glenn, this new digital transfer was created in 2K resolution on a Lasergraphics Director film scanner from a 35 mm interpositive at MPI in Los Angeles. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches and splices were manually removed using MTI’s DRS, while Digital Vision’s Phoenix was used for small dirt, grain, noise management, flicker and jitter.”

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “Day for Night – The Criterion Collection #769”. The French monaural soundtrack is crystal clear with no sign of hiss or popping.

According to the Criterion Collection, “the original monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the 35 mm magnetic track. Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum, and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD, AudioCube’s integrated workstation and iZotope RX 4”.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Day for Night – The Criterion Collection #769” comes with the following special features:

  • Dreams of Cinema – (11:27) A new video essay by filmmaker ::kogonada exploring the many layers of director Francois Truffaut’s masterpiece “Day for Night”.
  • Dudley Andrew – (20:36) Dudley Andrew talks about the Jean Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut’s argument.
  • “Day for Night”: An Appreciation – (17:09) A 2003 documentary by film scholar Annette Insdorf analyzing “Day for Night”.
  • Truffaut: A View from the Inside – (6:27) A 1973 behind-the-scenes documentary featuring footage of director Francois Truffaut working on the set for “Day for Night”.
  • Interviews – Featuring interviews with Francois Truffaut, Pierre-William Glenn, Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Nathalie Baye, Bernard Menez, Dani, Yann Dedet, Martine Barraque
  • Archival Footage – Excerpt from three television broadcasts: October 4, 1972 (newsreel footage, 2:49), June 8, 1973 (“Pour le cinema”, 11:09), January 3, 1974 (“JT nuit”, 2:01).
  • Trailer – Theatrical trailer for “Day for Night”.

EXTRAS:

“Day for Night – The Criterion Collection #769” comes with a six-page fold-out insert with the essay “Are Movies Magic by” by David Cairn.


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Francois Truffaut was a distinguished filmmaker who gave everything to cinema.  He never sought notoriety, he never attacked his colleagues nor did he try to put himself in a negative and dire situation for the sake of earning money for a film.  Although, he spared no expense of making use of people’s lives for the sake of creating art.

He was a filmmaker that did what he wanted, but respected the craft of cinema and through his film and also written oeuvre, his passion, his critique and his dedication to cinema has been widely recorded and presented to the public.

“Day for Night” is a unique film because it’s about the making of a film, its challenges and while not 100% self-reflective, one can see the film as Truffaut’s single film paying tribute to cinema but also inspirations and experiences he had from other films.

The film is also fascinating of how Truffaut is able to create all these sequences and manage them to create the film, the lives of cast and crew members during the production of a film.  It’s a tricky storyline to create and make cohesive but by this time, Truffaut has directed and learned from cinema greats, has become a cinema great himself but yet, as we can see during the production of “Je Vous Present Pamela”, it’s not the film that he hoped to make.

The vision of the director can always be derailed by cast, crew, budget and many other situations and as we can see from the production of “Je Vous Present Pamela”, the director must go through many hurdles, especially in order to finish a film that is becoming different than what was written and envisioned.

It was a sign of the changes in cinema and for the director who continually had nightmares, one can understand the stress a filmmaker must endure of trying to manage the set, the cast and crew and to continually adapt for all negative situations and make compromises to one’s film.

And quite possibly show that creating a film and showing to the audience that the grass is not always greener on the other side.

The film features a wonderful cast and the performances by Jacqueline Bisset, Valentina Cortese, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Jean-Pierre Leaud and others are fantastic.  Even Francois Truffaut did a very good job in his first credited role (his next credited role would be in the sci-fi film, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” as Claude Lacombe and in “The Green Room” as Julien Davenne).

As for the Blu-ray release, the film looks wonderful in HD.  The film doesn’t look aged and there are no problematic issues with noise or artifacts.  The losless audio is crystal clear ala French Monaural with no hissing or crackle.  Special features include interviews but also documentaries that explore Francois Truffaut’s oeuvre but also the heated argument that led to the dissolution of the friendship between Truffaut and Godard.

Overall, “Day for Night” is a Truffaut masterpiece.  For its time and a story that still is relevant today, a filmmaker presenting to the audience of the making of a film, the problems that can occur in production and how one’s goal to create a magnificent film, is not always the end product. Featuring magnificent performances from a stellar cast, Francois Truffaut’s “Day for Night” is a film that is highly recommended!

Z Storm (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 20, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Z Storm” is an exciting action thriller as Hong Kong’s anti-corruption force, the ICAC, must stop the biggest financial scam in Hong Kong, but to also stop the corruption of one of the heads in the police force.   If you are looking for a flashy popcorn action film, “Z Storm” is worth watching!

Images courtesy of © 2014 Pegasus Motion Pictures (Hong Kong). All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Z Storm

FILM RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 92 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 16:9, Cantonese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment

RATED: NR

Release Date: August 18, 2015


Directed by David Lam

Written by David Lam, Ho Wa Wong

Executive Producer: Edmond Wong

Producer: John Chong

Co-Producer: Hong Tat Cheung

Associate Producer: Stephen Lam

Music by Anthony Chue

Cinematography by Tony Cheung

Edited by Chi-LEung Kwong, Hung Poon

Art Direction by Raymond Chan

Costume Design by Stephanie Wong


Starring:

Louis Koo as William Luk Che Lim

Ka Tung Lam as Wong Man Bin

Dada Chan as Angel Leung On Ying

Michael Wong as MAlcom Wu

Janelle Sing as Tammy Tam

Hoi-Pang Lo as Law Tak Wing

Stephen Au as On Tat

Kwok Cheung Tsang as Joe Ma

Siu-Fai Cheung as Yu Hung Sing

Ying Kwan Lok as Tsui Wai King

Kai Chi Liu as Cheung Keong


An elite police investigation unit uncovers the biggest financial scam in Hong Kongs history, ensnaring them all in a web of deception, greed, sex, power, and fear.


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It has been 15-years since filmmaker/actor David Lam had directed a film.  His last “Shao nu dang” was released back in 1999, despite having a busy career during the late’80s to mid-’90s.

But Lam makes his return with a crime thriller which he wrote (screenplay was completed by Ho Wa Nong), and would star Louis Koo (“Triad Election”, “Election”, “Flash Point”), Ka Tung Lam (“Ip Man”, “Infernal Affairs”, “Election”), Dada Chan (Vulgaria”, Besieged City”) and Michael Wong (“Beast Cops”, “Thunder Bolt”, “Transformers: Age of Extinction”).

And now the 2014 film will be released on BLu-ray and DVD in North America courtesy of Well Go USA.

“Z Storm” is a film that revolves around William Luk (portrayed by Louis Koo) of Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and they are tipped off that Officer Wong Man Ban (portrayed by Gordon Lam) is a corrupted officer, who heads one of the police divisions.

Wong Man Ban is secretly working for businessman Malcolm Wu (portrayed by Michael Wong), a man who is working for a mysterious unknown individual, trying to get well-known investors to back a Z Fund, which in reality is a Ponzi scheme.

Because of previous altercations between the ICAC and the police, Wong Man Ban does whatever he can to thward the ICAC from discovering that he is a corrupted cop.

Meanwhile, William and his team work around the clock to ensure that they find proof that Wong Man Ban and Malcolm Wu are involved in illegal activity.  But they only have several days to do so.

Can the ICAC uncover the proof that they desperately need?

 


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VIDEO:

“Z Storm” is presented in 1080p High Definition and presented in 2:38:1 aspect ratio. Picture quality is fantastic as detail on the the skin, and for the most part, everything looks very clear with this digitally shot film. I didn’t notice any banding or artifacts during my viewing of the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Z Storm” is presented in Cantonese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Dialogue is crystal clear through the front channels but also the action sequences during a chase scene, a firefight and more, sounding very cool coming from the surround channels.  Also, use of LFE  as well.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Z Storm” comes with the following special features:

  • Making Of – (5:12) Featuring a making of with interviews with director David Lam and cast members.
  • Interviews – Featuring interviews with Louis Koo (5:38), Gordon Lam (11:45) and Michael Wong (7:27).
  • Trailer – Theatrical trailer for “Z Storm”.

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As I was watching “Z Storm”, several things came to mind.

For one, I don’t think I have watched a Hong Kong film that focused on the activities on the ICAC.  While there have been a good number of films about corrupted police, it was interesting to see the back-and-forth between the ICAC and corrupted police officers and seeing how they back up their own, but also seeing the rivalry among police divisions.

The other thing that came to mind was seeing the main protagonist, the ICAC’s William Luk (portrayed by Louis Koo).  Decades later and similar to Aaron Kwok and Andy Lau, Koo is able to maintain his position as one of the leading men in Hong Kong cinema, but also men who still look as if they haven’t aged many years later.

Suffice to say, “Z Storm” is a fascinating action-thriller, that is more popcorn action film that a film that has a deep storyline.

While the film is entertaining, there was too much that director and writer David Lam tries to fit into the story.  While the film is focused on trying to find evidence or uncover facts of corruption, the film unsuccessfully tries to enter a dramatic phase of William’s deceased wife which was unnecessary.

The film also tries to utilize too many characters and the primary antagonist earlier on, Wong Man Ban (portrayed by Gordon Lam) is somehow taken out of the picture towards the end of the film and tries to shift the storyline and put it on the shoulders of Malcolm Wu (portrayed by Michael Wong).

Instead of using Wong Man Ban’s corruption in the force and setting up a collision course between Wong and William Luk, Wong nearly disappears towards the end of the film and felt it was a misstep, since they were building on the character of Wong Man Ban as the rival to William.

But despite several missteps, I couldn’t help but be entertained by this story about the battle of wits and seeing how the ICAC would prevail.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is great, and the lossless soundtrack had its moments of immersive action through the surround channels.  Special features are included, and they are basic but considering that many Asian films released on Blu-ray rarely contain special features, the fact that you get a half hour worth of special features is better than no special features at all.

Overall, “Z Storm” is an exciting action thriller as Hong Kong’s anti-corruption force, the ICAC, must stop the biggest financial scam in Hong Kong, but to also stop the corruption of one of the heads in the police force.   If you are looking for a flashy popcorn action film, “Z Storm” is worth watching!

 

Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 16, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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If you are a big fan of Disney’s animated shorts, then you’ll no doubt love this collection of 12 shorts together for the first time. Granted, hardcore Disney fans may have these on other Disney Blu-ray releases but there are a few that have never been released on Blu-ray or DVD until now. Entertaining, captivating and a lot of fun, I definitely recommend “Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection”!

Image courtesy of © 2015 Disney. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection

DURATION: 79 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English 5.1 DTS-HD MA & 2.0 Descriptive Audio (on Selected Shorts), Spanish 5.1 & 2.0 and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Tracks, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles

COMPANY: Disney

RELEASE DATE: August 18, 2015


From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes an extraordinary new collection of award-winning and beloved short films featuring Disney’s “Frozen Fever,” starring Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Sven and Kristoff, and the Oscar(R)-nominated “Lorenzo” (Best Animated Short, 2004). The SHORT FILMS COLLECTION includes contemporary shorts starring classic cartoon characters, such as the groundbreaking 2013 Mickey Mouse Cartoon “Get A Horse!” as well as celebrated Oscar winners “Paperman” (2012) and “Feast” (2014). Enjoy them together for the first time in this must-own collection, with all-new extras, including introductions and interviews with the Disney Animation filmmakers themselves. “This clever collection of modern era Disney animated shorts is a must-have for any serious film fan.” (Jim Hill, Huffington Post)


For Disney fans, quite often we are treated with a Disney animated short.  May it be, before the Disney Animated feature film or on a Blu-ray or DVD release, we are entertained by these shorts.

To be released on August 2015 is “Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection” which will include award-winning and beloved short films.

Included in this collection are:

  1. John Henry – (10:19) An animated short from 2000 about John Henry, the steel-driver. (Originally featured in Disney’s “American Legends” DVD release)
  2. Lorenzo – (4:51) An animated short from 2004 about a gluttonous cat named Lorenzo.
  3. The Little Matchgirl – (6:39) A small musical animation short from 2006 of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Match Girl”. (Originally included in “The Little Mermaid: Diamond Edition)
  4. How to Hook Up Your Home Theater – (6:20) An animated short (non-CG) from 2007 featuring Goofy getting a home theater system. (Originally shown before the film “National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets”)
  5. Tick Tock Tale – An animated short from 2010 about a mantle clock comes to the aid of a London clock shop’s expensive clocks when a thief breaks into the store.
  6. Prep & Landing Operation: Secret Santa – (6:53) An animated short from 2010 featuring Mrs. Claus hires Wayne and Lanny to find a mystery box in Santa’s office. (Originally included in “Prep & Landing/Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice – Totally Tinsel Collection”)
  7. The Ballad of Nessie – (5:33) An animated short from 2011 about Nessie home being turned into a golf course and how she found her home at Loch Ness. (Originally included in the 2011 “Winnie the Pooh” release)
  8. Tangled Ever After – (6:30) An animated short from 2012 featuring Rapunzel and Flynn’s marriage and the missing wedding ring. (Originally included in “Cinderella: Diamond Edition).
  9. Paperman – (6:34) “Paperman” is an animated short from 2012 and is a love story about a man who sees the woman he fell in love at first sight and tries to get her attention at a building across from his, by throwing paper airplanes.  (Originally included in “Wreck-It-Ralph: Ultimate Collector’s Edition”)
  10. Get A Horse! – (6:02) An animated short from 2013 featuring Mickey Mouse (classic B&W version) who is kicked out of the screen and his CG version tries to find a way to get back and save Minnie.  A combination of hand-drawn graphics and CG.  (Originally included in “Frozen: Collector’s Edition”)
  11. Feast – (6:14) Featuring a short animation from 2014 about a dog who loves to eat and his master.  (Originally included in “Big Hero 6” Blu-ray)
  12. Frozen Fever – (7:58) An animated short from 2015 featuring Elsa & Kristoff, who are trying to create a surprise birthday celebration for Anna, but Elsa’s cold may get in the way.

It’s important to note that with each short, you have the option to watch the short with the creative staff introduction.  You also can select each short individually or play all.


VIDEO:

Each of the shorts presented in “Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection” look absolutely fantastic in HD.  Presented in 1080p High Definition, if you have never watched these shorts in HD, will appreciate the work and detail of the shorts.  Of course, there are different types of animated shorts, from the hand drawn style and the CG style, but all look magnificent in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection” features lossless audio in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spansih 5.1 & 2.0 and French 5.1 Dolby Digital language tracks.  Lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and music, with more recent shorts utilizing the surround channels.

Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection” comes with the following special features:

  • Short Introductions – Featuring a quick introduction by a director or animation crew for each of the shorts featured.

EXTRAS:

“Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection” comes with a Disney Movie Rewards code.  Also, you will get access to the not-included animated short “Runaway Brain”.


For many of us who have went to the theater to watch a Disney animated film and to be treated with an animated short, there are no doubt shorts that standout.

While many Disney fans have them included on a Blu-ray or DVD release, unless one is hardcore enough to buy all Disney titles or purchase them digitally online, there are a few that have never been released on any media until now.

With the Disney release of “Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection”, Disney fans will be treated to never-released shorts such as “Lorenzo” and “Tick Tock Tale”.  Including one animated short that “Frozen” fans have been waiting for, “Frozen Fever” featuring Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and Olaff together again.

The collection also features a few of my favorite animated shorts that I absolutely love.

“Paperman” which I watched at the theater before “Wreck-it-Ralph” is a wonderful and enchanting animated short. I was captivated by the story of discovered love.

“Feast” which I watched before “Big Hero 6” is another tale about a dog and its owner through the help of his hungry dog… finding love, losing love and rediscovering love once again.

Another favorite is the groundbreaking “Get A Horse!” short combining hand drawn animation with CG animation and showcasing Mickey Mouse.

For the most part, you are getting a solid collection of nearly 80-minutes of shorts and each looks and sounds wonderful on Blu-ray.  While there are no special features per se, there are quick introductions by a few of the creative staff behind each animated short.

Also, unlike the streaming version of the “Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection”, introductions can be turned on or off and you can view each short individually or everything via play all.

It’s important to note that if you enter the Digital Movie Rewards code, you will get access to an animated short not included titled “Runaway Brain”.

In this short, Dr. Frankenollie, a mad scientist, swaps Mickey’s brain into a monster’s body, and vice versa, the monsterized Mickey becomes obsessed with pursuing Minnie. But when the Mickeyized monster tries to save her, his intentions are misunderstood.

It was probably not included on the Blu-ray and DVD release because it may be too dark or scary for young children, but it was interesting to see a video-game addicted Mickey Mouse who becomes monsterized.

Overall, if you are a big fan of Disney’s animated shorts, then you’ll no doubt love this collection of 12 shorts together for the first time.  Granted, hardcore Disney fans may have these on other Disney Blu-ray releases but there are a few that have never been released on Blu-ray or DVD until now.

Entertaining, captivating and a lot of fun, I definitely recommend “Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection”!

Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 16, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon” is a cult classic that will forever be appreciated by those who grew up with the film and grew up in the mid-’80s.  Yes, it’s campy but it sure is entertaining, fun and action-packed.  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 1985 TriStar Pictures, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon

FILM RELEASE: 1985

DURATION: 108 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French, Portuguese, Spanish Mono, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Chinese Traditional, french, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai

COMPANY: TRI STAR/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13

Release Date: August 25, 2015


Directed by Michael Schultz

Written by Louis Venosta

Producer: Rupert Hitzig

Executive Producer: Berry Gordy 

Associate Producer: Joseph M. Caracciolo

Music by Misha Segal

Cinematography by James A. Contner

Edited by Christopher Holmes

Casting by Howard Feuer, Jeremy Ritzer

Production Design by Peter S. Larkin

Art Direction by William Barclay

Set Decoration by Thomas C. Tonery

Costume Design by Robert De Mora


Starring:

Taimak as Leroy Green

Vanity as Laura Charles

Christopher Murney as Eddie Arkadian

Julius Carry as Sho’nuff/The Shogun of Harlem

Faith Prince as Angela Viracco

Leo O’Brien as Richie Green

Mike Starr as Rock

Jim Moody as Daddy Green

Glen Eaton as Johnny Yu

Ernie Reyes Jr. as Tai

Esther Marrow as Mama Green

Keshia Knight Pulliam as Sophia


Celebrate thirty years of BERRY GORDY’S THE LAST DRAGON, now fully remastered in high definition on Blu-ray™. Martial arts student Leroy Green (Taimak) is on a quest to obtain the elusive all-powerful force known as “The Glow.” Along the way, he must battle the evil, self-proclaimed “Shogun of Harlem” – a kung fu warrior also known as Sho’nuff (Julius J. Carry III) – and rescue a beautiful singer (Prince protégée Vanity) from an obsessed record promoter. Combining pulsating music, cutting-edge dancing and the best in non-stop action, BERRY GORDY’S THE LAST DRAGON is kickin’ good fun featuring an amazing Motown soundtrack, including music by Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Vanity and DeBarge performing their smash hit “Rhythm of the Night .”


In 1985, from executive producer Berry Gordy (famous American record producer and songwriter and the founder of the Motown record label) and Director Michael Schultz (“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band”, “Car Wash”) would release the martial arts film “The Last Dragon”.

The film would star Taimak, pop star Vanity, Christopher Murney (“One Life to Live”, “The Secret of My Success”), Julius Carry (“Doctor Doctor”, “The New Guy”), Faith Prince (“Picture Perfect”, “Dave”, “Drop Dead Diva”, “Melissa & Joey”), Glen Eaton, Ernie Reyes Jr. (“Rush Hour 2”, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skill”, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze”), Keshia Knight Pulliam (“The Cosby Show”, “Beauty Shop”, “Madea Goes to Jail”) and would feature an early role for actor William H. Macy (“Fargo”, “Jurassic Park III”, “Shameless”).

While the film was not well-loved by critics, the film would become a cult favorite.  Because of Berry Gordy’s involvement, music played a big part of the film with DeBarge’s hit song “Rhythm of the Night”.

Many years after the film’s release, the song continues to be a cult favorite and is often referenced in media, especially music videos.

With the 30th Anniversary of “The Last Dragon”, the film will now be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Video.

“Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon” begins with Leroy Green (a.k.a. Bruce Leroy, played by Taimak) reaching the final level of his martial arts training.

With his dreams of becoming a great martial artist like Bruce Lee, he has always been inspired by “The Last Dragon” in which Bruce Lee would have “the glow”.  His master (portrayed by Thomas Ikeda) tells him that only a true martial arts master would be able to bring out “the glow” over his entire body and in order to do that, he must embark on a journey to find Master Sum Dum Goy, in hopes to unlock the power of “the glow”.

Meanwhile, a martial artist known as Sho’nuff (portrayed by Julius J. Carry III) and his gang return to terrorize the town to find the best martial artist who is not afraid to challenge him.

After defeating people in the local theater and wanting a challenge, a young boy tells Sho’nuff that he can never beat Bruce Leroy.

And now, Sho’nuff will do whatever he can to provoke and get Leroy to fight him.  But because of his patience and training, Leroy refuses.

Leroy’s younger brother Richie (portrayed by Leo O’Brien) is a big fan of music TV host Laura Charles, who he often watches live and on television.  And behind-the-scenes, a cold and evil businessman named Eddie Arkadian (portrayed by Chris Murney) will do anything to have his girlfriend Angela (portrayed by Faith Prince) featured on her TV show.

But when Arkadian sends his crew to kidnap Laura Charles for refusing to feature Angela, the kidnap is stopped by the intervention of Leroy.

But now Leroy must deal with two adversaries, Sho’nuff and his gang and Eddie Arkadian and his crew.  Can he do it?


VIDEO:

“Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon” is presented in 1080p High Definition and presented in 1:85:1 aspect ratio. While many early to mid-80’s film on Blu-ray have had issues with overuse of DNR, this 30th Anniversary Blu-ray release of “Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon” looks very good as detail is strong and there is also a good amount of grain.  While I did notice certain moments of white specks and a bit of saturation, but having owned and watch this film in various formats, this is the best I have seen of “Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon” yet!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA.  Also, in French, Portuguese and Spanish monaural.  Dialogue and music are crystal clear and action scenes, while action scenes and environments can be heard through the surround channels quite well.  It’s not an immersive soundtrack but overall lossless audio quality is good.

Subtitles are provided in English, English SDH, Chinese traditional, French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon” comes with the following special features:

  • Commentary by Director Michael Schultz – Featuring audio commentary by director Michael Schultz.
  • Return of the Dragon – (24:08) Featuring 2015 interviews with executive producer Berry Gordon, director Michael Schultz, screenwriter Louis Venosta and the cast of “Berry Gordy’s Last Dragon”.
  • Trailer – Theatrical trailer for “Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon”.

EXTRAS:

“Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon” features an UltraViolet code.


While critics gave low reviews of “Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon” and called it campy, for me and my friends growing up in the mid-80’s and watching this film over and over again when it was often repeated on cable, it was a big part of our lives.

I don’t know how many times we have said lines from the film and yes, we even went as far as memorizing the lines for the film, talked about how gorgeous Vanity looked and wanting to be Bruce Leroy.  Suffice to say, “The Last Dragon” was a big part of our lives growing up.

Watching it decades later, I can easily say how this film was a product of the times.  Back in 1985, anything related to music artist Prince was gold, the Motown record label and the artists were a big part of our lives and DeBarge’s “Rhythm of the Night” were songs we would play over and over on our VHS that we recorded from cable or on cassette via the radio.

New York was a different New York from today and the dialogue featured in the film would probably never fly today due to everyone wanting to be politically correct.  In fact, this film would never be made in today’s world as people would cry foul of an African American man dressed up in Chinese clothing.  Despite in 2002, the Journal of Asian American Studies “applauded the strong character development of the black hero, who reverses the stereotype of the typical Asian in an action film”.

As an Asian America, I never watched this film and thought, this is an urban film about an African American man, I saw this film as a man who was inspired by Bruce Lee, wanting to better himself through martial arts and Berry Gordy and director Michael Schultz crafting a martial arts film but also incorporating pop culture of its time.

Many times I have watched ’80s films that I have grown up with and feeling less passionate about them afterward, but “Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon” is one of those rare exceptions of films I loved as a kid, that I still enjoy as an adult.  While I don’t know if my own child would feel the same way that I did, this film is sentimental for me, and yes I agree with the campiness but I find the film so entertaining and fun.

As for the Blu-ray release, the 30th Anniversary edition looks great on Blu-ray and it’s the best I have seen of this film ever.  The lossless soundtrack is also crystal clear and you also get special features including a look back at the making and legacy of “Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon” and also audio commentary by Director Michael Schultz.

Overall, “Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon” is a cult classic that will forever be appreciated by those who grew up with the film and grew up in the mid-’80s.  Yes, it’s campy but it sure is entertaining, fun and action-packed.  Recommended!

Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 2, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal” is a gorgeous, visual fantasy film with an enchanting story. The film has its problematic CG moments but it’s a unique tale which is made even more appealing due to its integration with Chinese elements. Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2015 Desen International.  Media (Beijing) Co, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal

FILM RELEASE: 2015

DURATION: 118 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 16:9, Mandarin 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment

RATED: NR

Release Date: August 4, 2015


Directed by Peter Pau, Tianyu Zhao

Written by Junli Guo, Raymond Lei Jin, Huanhuan Zhang

Executive Producer: Xiaofen An

Producer: Peter Pau

Associate Producer: Patrick Ho, Derek Huang

Music by Javier Navarrete

Cinematography by Peter Pau

Edited by David Wu

Production Design by Kenneth Mak

Costume Design by Shirley Chan


Starring:

Bei-Er Bao

Winston Chao as Deity Zhang Daoxian

Kun Chen as Zhong Kui

Summer Jike

Bingbing Li as Xueqing (Little Snow)

Zishan Yang


Directed by Academy Award Winner, Peter Pau, Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal is a big budget (30M US) romantic fantasy adventure about the legendary hero Zhong Kui, a fabled warrior with mysterious powers who is forced to conquer the realms of Heaven and Hell to save his people and the woman he loves.


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While Hollywood action films often cost many millions of dollars to make, in 2015, China would kick off the year with their own big budget 3D fantasy adventure titled “Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal”.

With a budget of $30 million, the film would be directed by well-known cinematographer Peter Pau (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, “The forbidden Kingdom”, “The Killer”) and writer/director Tianyu Zhao (“The Law of Attraction”, “Shuang shi ji”).

The film would star Winston Chau (“The Wedding Banquet”, “Eat Drink Man Woman”, “1911”), Kun Chen (“Flying Swords of Dragon Gate”, “Painted Skin” films), Bingbing Li (“Transformers: Age of Extinction”, “Resident Evil: Retribution”, “Detective Dee: Mystery of the Phantom Plane”) and many more.

And now “Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment.

The film introduces us to three realms, deities of heaven, demons of hell and the human world (City of Hu).  Once every millennium, demons will make their way on Earth and Deity Zhang Daoxian (portrayed by Winston Chao) asks the others who will be brave to protect the humans?

The demons begin their murderous rampage, killing humans in the City of Hu.

Meanwhile, in hell, to stop the demons, the deity sends a brave demon hunter named Zhong Kui to steal the Dark Crystal (a crystal that holds the spirits of those from the City of Hu), which would give life to the demons.  Zhong Kui succeeds and brings the Dark Crystal to Zhang Daoxian, and the hopes are to prevent the demons in retrieving the crystal in order to bring eternal peace from demons in the City of Hu.

While the demons of hell are wondering how anyone could infiltrate their lair.  Wanting to retrieve the Dark Crystal, the Demon King sends out Snow Girl (portrayed by Li Bingbing).

Knowing that the demons will come after the Dark Crystal, they must protect it for seven days, as it may be the only way to protect the City of Hu.

So, in order to protect the city, the Deity gives Zhong Kui the power of the huge demon using a mystical fan and orders that he must fight the demons within, in order to control himself after transformation.

Meanwhile, in the City of Hu, Snow Girl and other demons (sporting a human disguise as dancers) prepare their plan to suck the soul of the City of Hu but also retrieve the Dark Crystal and bring it back to hell.

For Zhong Kui, he is shocked to see Snow Girl many years later (it is revealed through flashbacks that both Zhong Kui and Snow Girl were in love.  But he is unaware that she is a demon, and as he is a demon killer, she left him and disappeared.  Leaving him in anguish over her disappearance.) but she behaves as she does not know him.

Will Zhong Kui be able to protect the Dark Crystal for seven days from Snow Crystal and the demons?


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VIDEO:

“Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal” is presented in 1080p High Definition and presented in 2:39:1 aspect ratio. Picture quality is fantastic as closeups show amazing detail when it comes to skin, Zhong Kui’s beard to the vibrancy of the visual effects and also the beauty of the matte background artwork.

While the production design is gorgeous in trying to showcase the three different realms and for the most part, the visual effects do work amazingly well for scenery, but the film does suffer from CG elements that don’t seem to work at times. Zhong Kui in demon form seems to video game-like at times and movements are not as fluid.

But still, to achieve a big-budget film, in terms of costume design and production design, the film looks amazing.  But if you have been spoiled with CG with modern video games or films, some may feel the CG elements when it comes to Zhong Kui in demon form or Snow Girl in ice demon form feels older or not as developed.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal” is presented in Mandarin 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and dialogue and music are crystal clear.  As one can expect from a sci-fi epic with plenty of action, the lossless soundtrack is well-done as the action sequences are well-utilized through the surround channels and good use of LFE during those action-intense scenes.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal” comes with the following special features:

  • The Music Journey – (5:28) The making of the music for “Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal” showcasing Spanish composer Javier Navarrete and the musicians creating the music for the film.
  • Visual Effects – (9:54) Director Peter Pau discusses the importance of visual effects for the film and bringing a high level of artistic and technical creativity to the film.  And going with MACROGRAPH in Korea and Pixomondo to create the film.
  • Trailer – Theatrical trailer for “Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal”.

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“Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal” is a fantastic endeavor to see a 3D and CG-driven film from China.

For those of us who grew up with fantasy/adventure Chinese films, the films were typically driven by costume and production design, and while “Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal” continues that theme with impressive costume and production design and achieving the look and feel of the three realms.  While expensive at $30 million, compared to other films that were shot with more money and had more time, there was no doubt that the crew had to face artistic and technical challenges in the creation of the film.

The visuals are impressive but the storyline of a demon hunter who must protect a Dark Crystal in order to protect humans but must use demon power to defeat demons, comes head-on with a major difficulty when he finds out that the person responsible of trying to retrieve the Dark Crystal is his former, long-lost love, Snow Girl.  But even worst, to find out that she is not human, but a demon.

So, the conundrum is setup for demon hunter Zhong who is conflicted with his emotions and his duty.

What is impressive for me is to see this visual style, unlike American or European fantasy/adventure films, the Chinese elements are what makes this film so visually appealing and different from other films in the same genre.

You are won over by the beauty of production sets, visual effects and costume design along with martial-arts choreography, but along with the good, there is also bad.

Bad in the fact that if you have been spoiled by today’s modern video games or big budget action films, the visual effects of Zhong as a demon or Snow Girl in demon form (all in ice), looks appropriate for something developed in the 2000’s, rather than something created recently.  The movements are not smooth, and the over-focus on the demon forms, especially late in the film, feels like you are watching a CG demo reel that was not fully completed.  I’m sure more money and more time probably could have fixed this, but money and time was not a luxury for the directors of the film.

Also, there are some scenes that feel as if they were inspired by Iron Man or The Hulk (in rampage mode).  While I see some may feel the homage (whether intentional or unintentional) is cool to see, it does seem out of place for the film.

As for the Blu-ray, the picture quality is simply amazing. The scenery looks amazing and the visual effects to create more of the mesmerizing power of the character is done rather well.  Closeups show great attention to detail and the lossless audio presented in Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio showcases crystal clear dialogue, music and sound effects which are immersive.  As for special features, they showcase the more foreign aspect of the film, which is utilizing a Spanish composer and musicians.  And for its visual effects team, showcasing the Korean staff and also visual effects professionals who worked on Hollywood’s big budget films.

While I am surprised that this expensive film was given to Peter Pau, best known for his cinematography work, in some ways it does make sense in the fact that the visual aspects of the film are dominant.  In many ways, Pau succeeded in the creation of this CG epic but at the same time, I felt visual effects technology helped but also hindered the film.

Overall, “Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal” is a gorgeous, visual fantasy film with an enchanting story.  The film has its problematic CG moments but it’s a unique tale which is made even more appealing due to its integration with Chinese elements.

Recommended!

Police Story: Lockdown (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 2, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Police Story: Lockdown” is the darkest “Police Story” film made so far!  A riveting popcorn action film, after many decades, Jackie Chan still retains his martial arts persona and keeps you captivated.  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2013 Jackie and JJ Productions Limited. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Police Story: Lockdown

FILM RELEASE: 2013

DURATION: 107 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 16:9, Mandarin 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English Dub, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment

RATED: NR

Release Date: August 11, 2015


Directed by Sheng Ding

Written by Sheng Ding

Producer: Yang Du

Co-Producer: Yong Er, Zhang Wang

Music by Zai Lo

Cinematography by Yu ding

Edited by Ismael Gomez III

Art Direction by Feng Ligang


Starring:

Jackie Chan as Zhong Wen

Ye Liu as Wu Jiang

Tian Jing as Miao Miao

Tao Yin as Lan Lan

Yiwei Liu as General Manager Niu

Wei Na as Na Na

Xiaoou Zhou as Wei Xiao Fu

Rongguang Yu as Captain Wu

Peiqi Liu as Chief Zhang

Hailong Liu as Pi Song

Zha Ka as Bin Ge


Police Captain Zhong Wen (Jackie Chan) knows all about sacrifice. He s always been too busy chasing bad guys to be a father to his daughter Miao (Jing Tian). Tonight, he s seeing her for the first time in years and meeting her fiance, club owner Wu Jiang (Liu Ye). But Wu knows Zhong. And his plans for the evening include taking Miao, Zhong, and the entire club hostage. Zhong knows about sacrifice. What will he give up to save his daughter?


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Since 1985, the “Police Story” films have entertained Jackie Fans all around the world.

While the first four films featured on action and comedy and the fifth film being a reboot of the film series, with the sixth film “Police Story: Lockdown” (also, known as “Police Story 2013”), the film is yet another reboot and also features Jackie Chan playing a different character.

Directed by Sheng Ding, who directed Jackie Chan’s 2010 film “Little Big Soldier”, the sixth film is known for its darker storyline and it is the first “Police Story” film to be shot in Beijing and feature Jackie Chan in his first role as a mainland policeman.

The film will now be released on Blu-ray and DVD in August 2015 courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment.

“Police Story: Lockdown” begins with Detective Zhong Wen (portrayed by Jackie Chan) visiting the Wu Bar to look for his estranged daughter (the two have not had a relationship since Zhong’s wife has died and her daughter feels that her dad is more concerned about his work than his family).

He is not happy that his daughter Miao Miao (portrayed by Tian Jing, “Special ID”, “The Warring States”) is dating the nightclub owner, Wu Jiang (portrayed by Ye Liu, “Curse of the Golden Flower”, “City of Life and Death”) and father and daughter get into an argument.  But after a ruckus in the bar, a group of people locks many people inside the bar and Detective Zhong Wen is knocked out cold.  His last image before he knocked out is of his daughter ripping the mask off the assailant, who ends up being the nightclub owner, Wu Jiang.

When Zhong Wen wakes up, he is tied to a chair and is questioned by Zhong.  Knowing that working in the police, you make enemies, Detective Zhong Wen tries to piece together from information that he has and figure out why Zhong Wen has captured him.

As Wu Jiang discusses with police that he wants a prisoner named Wei Xiaofu released from prison, Zhong escapes and sees that the bar patrons including his daughter have been locked up in a cage.

He finds out that Wu Jiang is a former kickboxer and that there are photos of him and a girl in the photos, but also blue prints that show that bombs have been put throughout the entire bar and that Wu Jiang will detonate unless his demands are met.

Will Detective Zhong Wen be able to save his daughter and the other bar patrons?


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VIDEO:

“Police Story: Lockdown” is presented in 1080p High Definition and presented in 2:39:1 aspect ratio.  Picture quality is fantastic as detail on the the skin, especially the cuts and bloodied detective is very clear.    While I did notice maybe a single scene with banding, the majority of the film looks magnificent.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Police Story: Lockdown” is presented in Mandarin 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and with an English dub. Dialogue and musical soundtrack is crystal clear and while an action film, you can hear the surround channels come into play with efficacy near the end of the film. But overall, lossless audio is very good.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Police Story: Lockdown” comes with the following special features:

  • Interviews – Featuring interviews with director Ding Sheng, Jackie Chan, Liu Ye and Jing Tian.
  • Behind the Scenes – (5:16) Behind the scenes of “Police Story: Lockdown”.
  • Trailer – Theatrical trailer for “Police Story: Lockdown”.

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For those who grew up watching the “Police Story” Jackie Chan films, one should probably not come into watching “Police Story: Lockdown” and expect a similar type of film.

While Jackie Chan shows us that he is still an action star at 60-years-old and he still can deliver, the action still remains forefront in the sixth “Police Story” film but gone is the comedy which has been traded in for a darker, action film.

Which is not at all a bad thing because I have to admit, it’s been awhile since I really enjoyed a Jackie Chan action film this much and while a bit over-the-top and it seems to borrow elements from other films, “Police Story: Lockdown” is enjoyable in its own kind of way.

Sure, the storyline is over-the-top in a manner of how a bar is transformed into a full-lock-down, high security compound with underground tunnels (or slide) and you wonder how if a bar owner or former underground kickboxer could make that much money to develop such a building…it’s best to throw logic out the window and just enjoy the film for what it is.  A popcorn action film that puts Jackie Chan in a character plot that has him taking a beating.

That is possibly why I enjoyed this film so much, because we see Jackie Chan’s character, Detective Zhong Wen so vulnerable.  His daughter has been captured and the captors know that they have the upper deck because he will do anything for his daughter.  And Detective Zhong Wen must endure a tremendous a lot of pain throughout the film, but it’s the payoff that we get from Jackie Chan films, that keeps us glued to the screen.

We know that Jackie Chan continues to do a lot of his stunts and you can’t help but be amazed that after all these decades of being one of the most popular martial arts talent in the world, he’s still able to deliver and you can’t help but root for him.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is magnificent.  Close-ups feature a lot of detail, there is a scene in which Detective Zhong Wen is beaten pretty badly and you can see the blood in the whites of his eyes.  Lossless audio is very good as action scenes feature its fair share of sound effects, especially explosions and more.  You also get a few special features included as well.

Overall, “Police Story: Lockdown” is the darkest “Police Story” film made so far!  A riveting popcorn action film, after many decades, Jackie Chan still retains his martial arts persona and keeps you captivated.  Recommended!

 

Adventure Time – The Complete Fifth Season (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 26, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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If you are a fan of “Adventure Time”, I can easily say that you’re getting your money’s worth with both Blu-ray releases of “Adventure Time”. But if you purchased the four seasons on Blu-ray or DVD, owning the fifth season is a no-brainer! It’s a must own for “Adventure Time” fans!

Images courtesy of © 2012 Cartoon Network. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Adventure Time – The Complete Fifth Season

TV SERIES AIR DATE: 2012-2014

DURATION: 52 EPISODES (572 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 16:9 Widescreen, Dolby Digital 2.0, Subtitles: English SDH

COMPANY: Warner Bros./Cartoon Network

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: July 14, 2015


Created by Pendleton Ward

Directed by Larry Leichliter

Written by Pendleton Ward, Patrick McHale, Kent Osborne, Mark Banker, Adam Muto, Merriwether Williams, Rebecca Sugar, Cole Sanchez, Timothy McKeon, Ako Castuera, Bert Youn, Tom Herpich, Thurop Van Orman, Somvilay Xayaphone, Steve Little, Jesse Moynihan, Sean Jiminez, Elizabeth Ito, Luther McLaurin, Armen Mirzaian, Niki Yang, Benton Connor, Dick Gruner

Executive Producer: Fred Seibert, Curtis Lelash, Brian A. Miller, Jennifer Pelphrey, Rob Sorcher, Rob Swartz, Derek Drymon

Producer: Kelley Crews

Co-Producer/Executive Producer: Pendleton Ward

Supervising Producer: Thurop Van Orman

Music by Timothy Kiefer, Casey James Basichis

Production Design by David O’Reilly

Art Direction by Nick Jennings


Starring:

Jeremy Shada as Finn

John DiMaggio as Jake

Tom Kenny as Ice King

Hynden Walch as Princess Bubblegum

Pendleton Ward As Lumpy Space Princess

Maria Bamford as Wildberry Princess

Niki Yang as Beemo

Olivia Olson as Marceline

Dee Bradley Baker as Cinnamon Bun

Steve Little as Peppermint Butler

Kent Osborne as Joshua

Jessica Di Cicco as Flame Princess


Are you a Jake fan? Great! Because Season 5 has a ridiculous amount of momentous Jake moments!! Like when he became Jake the Dad. That time he tracked down Jake Jr.’s kidnapper (sort of). Who can forget the masterpiece that is his Most Delicious Sandwich?! And he shares these moments with his best bro Finn and friends in a total of 52 episodes, all for you!


The adventures of Finn the Human and Jake the dog continue in the Land of Ooo as Finn and Jake chase after the Lich through a dimensional portal and come in contact with Prismo, a wish granter.  Also, what happens when Fin and Jake’s frisbee gets stuck inside a large tree?  Also, what happens when they find a bag of miniature versions of their friends?  And can Jake become a good father to his five puppies?   Also, Ice King, N.E.P.T.R., Tree Trunks, Shelby and Lemongrab get trapped in a dungeon and they must find a way to escape.

All this and more in the hilarious and crazy fifth season of Cartoon Network’s hit animated series, “Adventure Time: The Complete Fifth Season” now available on Blu-ray and DVD.

What is “Adventure Time”?

Pendleton Ward is known for writing for animated series such as “Random! Cartoons” and “The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack” and most recently “Bravest Warriors”, but in 2010, Ward would create a series that would become a popular animated series on the Cartoon Network titled “Adventure Time”.

Originally produced by Frederator’s Nicktoons Network animation incubator series “Random! Cartoons”, the short for “Adventure Time” would first become a viral hit on the Internet before being picked up by the Cartoon Network and featured on television in 2010.

Heavily inspired by “Dungeons and Dragons” and video games, “Adventure Time” is hand-drawn animation and is recorded as a group, than with voice talent recorded individually.

With a seventh season of “Adventure Time” to air in the fall of 2015, “Adventure Time – The Complete Fifth Season” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in July 2015.

The fifth season features the most episodes in a single season (with a total of 52-episodes) and its season premiere garnered 3.4 million viewers, an increase of almost a million viewers compared to the previous seasons of “Adventure Time” and while the season would last from 2012-2014, the show averaged 2-3 million viewers per episode.

The episode “Be More” was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Short-format animation at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards in 2014 and art director, Nick Jennings would win an Emmy for “Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation” for his work on the episode “Wizard Only, Fools”.

“Adventure Time” is a series that revolves around Finn the Human, a 14-year-old boy and his best friend, a talking yellow dog named Jake, who has magical powers to change shape, stretch and shrink.

The two live in a post-apocalyptic Land of Ooo where they interact with friends such as Princess Bubblegum, the Ice King, Marceline the Vampire Queen, Lady Rainicorn (wife of Jake the Dog) and more!

Season 5 features a total of 52 episodes which are 12 minutes long (all episodes are on two Blu-ray discs).


VIDEO:

“Adventure Time – The Complete Fifth Season” is presented in 1080p High Definition (presented in 16×9). The animation is absolutely fantastic in HD! Colors are vibrant and sharp, color palette is colorful and while the character designs may lack incredible detail and shading of other animated series (note: background art is shaded), what makes “Adventure Time” work is its abundance of characters, creative backgrounds, locations and more.

During my viewing of the series, I did not see any artifacts, banding, even during scenes with a lot of red or orange. Line detail is very strong and for the most part, fans of the series should be happy with the overall presentation.

AUDIO:

“Adventure Time – The Complete Fifth Season” is presented in English Dolby Digital 2.0. While I would have loved a 5.1 immersive soundtrack, the fact is that a lot of TVanimated series are presented in stereo. Dialogue and music is crystal clear and heard no problems with overall audio.

Subtitles are in English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Adventure Time – The Complete Fifth Season” comes with the following special features:

  • Adventure Time Forever – (15:34) The crew discusses their work on the series and how it evolved from the pilot to the series it is now.
  • Animated Clips – The animated clips (sketches) for all episodes.

EXTRAS:

“Adventure Time – The Complete Fifth Season” comes with a slipcover. Also, included is an Ultraviolet code which allows you to watch and share on computers, iPhones, iPads, Android devices, game consoles and connected TV’s.


Finn and Jake’s adventures continue with season 5 of “Adventure Time”.

Featuring even more wilder, crazier and fun episodes, this latest season features special guests Andy Milonakis, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Marina Sirtis, Roddy Piper, Rainn Wilson, Lou Ferrigno and more.

From hilarious episodes such as the Flame King escaping from prison, Lumpy Space Princess reconnecting with an old classmate, Lemonhope getting upset of being reminded by Princess Bubblegum over and over again, Finn discovering Billy’s bucket list or Root Beer Guy telling everyone that Finn and Jake abducted Princess Bubblegum and more!

And with twice the number of episodes in season five, with 52 episodes, there are plenty of awesome episodes in “Adventure Time – The Complete Fifth Season”. It’s important to note that anyone can jump in with season five without having previous knowledge of the series (as each episode are standalone).

The series is pretty much an episode of adventures featuring Finn, Jake or other characters and what happens when the come across a variety of characters or are in some kind of trouble.  Most of the episodes are crazy, goofy, dark and more!  So, thus you get the TV PG rating.

Part of the enjoyment I had while watching this series is the fact that it’s not banal. You can’t predict what will happen with each episode as it is not formulaic, crazy things happen and just to see how each character deals with a certain situation, you can’t help but laugh and be entertained.

As for the Blu-ray release of “Adventure Time – The Complete Fifth Season”, the series looks incredible on Blu-ray. Colors are absolutely vibrant in HD. While it would have been nice to have a 5.1 lossless soundtrack instead of a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, it does happen with many TV animated series.  But lossless audio ala dialogue, sound effects and music are crystal clear!

As for special features, you get an “Adventure Time Forever” featurette” with the crew talking about how the series has evolved and reminiscing of their earlier years with the original pilot and how fans reacted to the show, animatic clips and a special snail hunt.

Overall, if you are a fan of “Adventure Time”, I can easily say that you’re getting your money’s worth with both Blu-ray releases of “Adventure Time”. But if you purchased the four seasons on Blu-ray or DVD, owning the fifth season is a no-brainer! It’s a must own for “Adventure Time” fans!

If you are looking for an animated series that is crazy, hilarious, addictive and so much fun, “Adventure Time – The Complete Fifth Season” is highly recommended!

Helix: Season 2 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 23, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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If you enjoyed the first season of “Helix”, you’re in for a treat with a much more twisted, dark and enjoyable second season.  Recommended!


TITLE: Helix: Season 2

YEAR OF AIR-DATE: 2014

DURATION: 536 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English, French and German 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Turkish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: Not Rated

Release Date: July 28, 2015


Directed by Brad Turner, Jeremiah S. Chechik, Duane Clark, Mike Rohl, Bradley Walsh, Steven A. Adelson, Jeffrey Reiner

Written by Cameron Porsandeh (Creator), Misha Green, Sean Crouch, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Adam Lash, Cori Uchida, Ed Decter, Tiffany Greshler, Mark Haslett, Keith Huff

Executive Producer: Steven Maeda, Ronald D. Moore, Brad Turner

Co-Executive Producer: Maril Davis, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Cameron Porsandeh

Produced by Sandrine Gros d’Aillon

Co-Producer: Misha Green

Associate Producer: Stephen Welke

Music by Reinhold Heil

Cinematography by Stephen McNutt, Pierre Jodoin

Edited by Randy Bricker, Elena Maganini, Blake Maniquis, Marta Evry, Todd Desrosiers

Production Design by Guy Lalande

Art Direction by Louis-Rene Landry, David Gaucher, Charlotte Rouleau

Set Decoration by Suzanne Cloutier, Ginette Robitaille

Costume Design by Mariane Carter


Starring:

Billy Campbell as Dr. Alan Farragut

Hiroyuki Sanada as Dr. Hiroshi Hatake

Kyra Zagorsky as Dr. Julia Walker

Mark Ghanime as Major Sergio Balleseros

Jordan Hayes as Dr. Sarah Jordan

Meegwun Fairbrother as Daniel Aerov

Neil Napier as Dr. Peter Farragut

Matt Long as Dr. Kyle Sommer

Severn Thompson as Sister Anne

Alison Louder as Sister Amy

Sean Tucker as Landry

Luciana Carro as Anana

Steven Weber as Brother Michael

Sarah Booth as Sister Olivia

Catherine Lemieux as Dr. Doreen Boyle

Chimwemwe Miller as Dr. Haven

Cameron Brodeur as Soren

Patricia Summersett as Lt. Commander Winger

Jim Thorburn as Caleb


After barely escaping with their lives, the survivors of Season One attempt to move on from the horrors that took place at Arctic BioSystems. But when their work takes them to a mysterious and remote wooded island, they quickly discover the Ilaria Corporation’s reach is deeper and darker than anyone imagined, and a deadly new virus presents a threat that no one thought possible.


In 2014, the American sci-fi series “Helix” premiered on SyFy.  Created by Cameron Porsandeh and executive produced by Ron Moore (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”, “Battlestar Galactica”, “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”, “Roswell”), the second season of “Helix” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in July 2015 courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The series would star Billy Campbell (“The Rocketeer”, “Dracula”), Hiroyuki Sanada (“The Wolverine”, “47 Ronin”, “Sunshine”), Kyra Zagorsky (“Toxin”, “Green Season”), Neil Napier (“300″, “Immortals”), Jordan Hayes (“House at the End of the Street”, “10 Speed”) and Matt Long (“Jack and Bobby”, “Ghost Rider”, “Sydney White”).

What is “Helix” about?

In season 1, far out at an arctic bioresearch station, a few employees were infected by an unknown virus.

Because of the sensitivity of what is taking place at the bioresearch station and worry of a potential outbreak, top CDC scientist Dr. Alan Farragut (portrayed by Billy Campbell), Dr. Julia Walker (portrayed by Kyra Zagorsky) and Dr. Sarah Jordan (portrayed by Jordan Hayes) are assigned to the lab do their research on the infected individuals.

One of those infected is Dr. Peter Farragut (portrayed by Neil Napier), brother of Dr. Alan Farragut but as they try to learn more about the virus and hunt down those who may have been exposed to the virus, panic starts to grow in the station and to make things worse, Julia is attacked by Peter and becomes infected.

But as Dr. Alan Farragut and his team start to learn more about the virus, he starts to uncover secrets that Dr. Hiroshi Hatake (portrayed by Hiroyuki Sanada) is hiding and why has the Ilea Corporation have major interest in the virus?

Which leads us to “Helix: Season 2”:

When “Helix” season one ended, the show fast forward to Day 235, eight months later and a massive outbreak of the virus has hit the world.  Alan is unaware that Peter is working for Ilaria and that Julia has become a member of Ilaria’s Immortal Board of Directors.

A lot was revealed as director Hiroshi Hatake is a quasi-immortal and over 500-years-old and he was the one that was responsible for creating the Vector virus and that Ilaria is after the virus in order to have control of the world.

So, many are wondering why Dr. Julia Walker would side with the immortals, what has happened to Dr. Alan Farragut, Dr. Sarah Jordan and more.

When season two kicks in, the setting has now changed.  The bulk of the story is set in a remote island of St. Germain and Dr. Peter Farragut, Dr. Kyle Sommers and Dr. Sarah Jordan have traveled to the location to look for the cure of the virus, but things change when they come in contact with members of a religious community but for some reason, human skeleton and skulls are scattered throughout.  Meanwhile, Dr. Alan Farragut is wanted for the murders of immortals and to Dr. Sarah Jordan’s surprise, one of the members of the religious cult happens to be Dr. Alan Farragut.  But also discovering a new outbreak on the island.

Meanwhile, a second storyline features Dr. Julia Walker being captured by a man, who may have some major importance to the world.


VIDEO:

“Helix: Season 2” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  Shot digitally, picture quality is wonderful and there is a good amount of detail, especially on the faces of those who are suffering from the virus outbreak.  Close-up details are wonderful and black levels are nice and deep.  Skin tones look natural and for the most part, the series looks great on Blu-ray.  I didn’t notice any artifacts or major banding issues during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Helix: Season 2” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and dialogue and music is crystal clear.  While the film is shot in an island, there is good ambiance with the surroundings but in terms of action, there is good use of the surround channels, especially for the final two episodes.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Helix: Season 2” comes with the following special features:

  • Deleted Scenes – Featuring 11 deleted scenes
  • Outtakes – (3:11) A short clip featuring outtakes from season 2.

EXTRAS:

“Helix: Season 2” comes with an UltraViolet code.


When I first watched “Helix”, it had the feeling of “Resident Evil” (the movie) in terms of virus outbreaks and also its full sheer of violence.

With the second season of “Helix”, it was a much more enjoyable season as the main characters are now in an island inhabited by religious cult and there was no denying that the TV series “Lost” came to mind, with inhabitants of an island shut out from the world.

With a new direction, new characters and not getting to heavily entrenched with the world of the immortals but more becoming a series about three scientists trying to stop a virus outbreak, you also have your horror element as people exposed to the virus are killing people in wicked ways and we also see the main protagonists also put into horrific situations.

Once again, the series does not allow one to get to captivated with a character because chances are, they may die.  No one is safe in the series and the wicked and violent scenes do not disappoint at all.

If there was one thing that some may not like are the two storylines that happen throughout the series, as they are from two different timelines.  Once again, another situations that was featured on “LOST” and also confused many viewers, the same could happen with this series if it becomes to convoluted with flashbacks and storylines in the future.

But still, I can’t help but say that I enjoyed the second season because of its twisted, dark storyline and then leaving us with another season finale that leaves us with more questions but also giving viewers something to chew on and anticipate for the third season.

As for the Blu-ray release, the season is helped by allowing the main characters to explore outdoors and also to interact with so many other characters in the island.  Picture quality for the most part is very well-done, with great detail and no signs of major banding or noise.  The lossless soundtrack is crystal clear with crisp dialogue and music, while ambiance of the island and the numerous action sequences do sound very good.  As for special features, you are treated with deleted scenes and a gag reel.

Overall, if you enjoyed the first season of “Helix”, you’re in for a treat with a much more twisted, dark and enjoyable second season.  Recommended!

 

Merchants of Doubt (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 19, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

merchantsofdoubt

“Merchants of Doubt” is a documentary that will open many eyes and will be a film that will inform, anger or cajole an individual, or hopefully a next generation of future leaders or scientists and inspire them to do something in the best interest of the people and planet, not just for increased profits. “Merchants of Doubt” is highly recommended!


TITLE: Merchants of Doubt

FILM RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 93 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 Aspect Ratio), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Chinese Traditional, Chinese Simplified, French, Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, Turkish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics

RATED: PG-13 (Brief Strong Language)

Release Date: July 7, 2015


Directed by Robert Kenner

Written by Erik M. Conway, Robert Kenner, Naomi Oreskes, Kim Roberts

Produced by Robert Kenner, Melissa Robledo

Executive Producer: Pierre Omidyar, Jeff Skoll

Co-Producer: Dylan Nelson, Taki Oldham, Brian Pearle, Youtchi von Lintel

Music by Mark Adler

Edited by Kim Roberts


Starring:

Patricia Callahan

Matthew Crawford

Stanton A. Glantz

James Hansen

Katharine Heyhoe

Bob Inglis

Michael Mann

Marc Morano

Bill O’Keefe

Naomi Oreskes

John Passacantando

Tim Phillips

Sam Roe

Benjamin Santer

Michael Shermer

Frederick Singer

Jamy Ian Swiss


Inspired by the acclaimed book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, MERCHANTS OF DOUBT takes audiences on a satirically comedic yet illuminating ride into the heart of conjuring American spin. Filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the curtain on a secretive group of highly charismatic, silver-tongued pundits-for-hire who present themselves in the media as scientific authorities – yet have the contrary aim of spreading maximum confusion about well-studied public threats ranging from toxic chemicals to pharmaceuticals to climate change.


In 2010, American historians of science Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway wrote “Merchants of Doubt”.  A book that would identify the parallels between the global warming controversy and also earlier controversies such as tobacco smoking, acid rain and the hole in the ozone layer.

In 2014, award-winning filmmaker Robert Kenner (“Food, Inc.”, “America’s Endangered Species: Don’t Say Goodbye”) would create his latest documentary based on the 2010 book.  And now, “Merchants of Doubt” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Sony Picture Classics.

“Merchants of Doubt” is a documentary that tries to show the debate between science and politically conservative scientists or groups that are funded by corporations supporting a certain product.

The film would first focus on the tobacco industry and how the major players in the industry would testify that there were no proof that tobacco would cause lung cancer.  The documentary would feature an interview with Stanton Glantz and how tobacco companies and the doctors were reporting of how there is no conclusive evidence.  But how a whistleblower would eventually leak documents .

But how other companies would focus on a similar style such as the tobacco companies and other people observing the documents would look into other dangerous topics that companies may be hiding its dangers.

Another topic is in regards to flame retardant chemicals and how they are used on furniture and material used by children.  And how the Chicago Times focused on a story of flame retardants and the doctors downplaying the dangers of the chemicals.

The next topic which is greatly focused on, would be about global climate change and the battle between scientists, special interest groups, individuals, organizations and how certain “experts” are undermining the scientists and delaying any progress of trying to prevent global warming.  And both continuing the ongoing debate who is right and who is wrong.

But the film focuses on how corporate-financed public relation efforts are utilized to create confusion and skepticism and interviewing scientists, activists, whistleblowers and politicians who have tried to expose these activities.


VIDEO:

“Merchants of Doubt” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio). The documentary uses newer, digital footage and also archived video sources.  For the most part, the picture quality of the film is very sharp and colorful.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Merchants of Doubt” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital.  For this documentary, dialogue and musical soundtrack is crystal clear and there are some moments where surround channels are utilized.  But for the most part, this is a dialogue-driven soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Chinese Traditional, Chinese Simplified, French, Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, Turkish

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Merchants of Doubt” comes with the following special features:

  • Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director Robert Kenner.
  • An Evening at the Toronto International Film Festival with Robert Kenner – (17:45) A Q&A with director Robert Kenner about “Merchants of Doubt” at TIFF
  • Unlikely Voices – (5:25) Featuring a group of other individuals that were not featured in the final cut of “Merchants of Doubt”.
  • Theatrical Trailer – Theatrical trailer for “Merchants of Doubt”.

EXTRAS:

“Merchants of Doubt” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD version of the film.


“Merchants of Doubt” is no doubt an informative and important documentary from award-winning filmmaker Robert Kenner.

There are no doubt a lot of things in the world and how human actions have affected this planet and while you have a large group of scientists who are vocal about how the world will need to change its ways or else it’s too late, there are other groups who intend to discredit the scientists and both offering their facts.  Who is right?  Who is wrong?

And these groups who provide evidence and studies showing something detrimental to one’s health or to the planet, there is always a group to discredit the findings and this is something we will see ongoing for the rest of our lives.

We can read many stories in the newspaper, from the threat of cell phones being held to one’s head so long, may lead to cancer.  Eating too much of this food or that food is bad for you.  And I’m sure many of us have seen many similar stories of other subject in the media throughout our lifetime, not knowing who is right and who is wrong.

But “Merchants of Doubt” does a wonderful job of showing how facts can be spun and how a quote from a scientist can be used out of context, how doctors, scientists serving a certain corporation can easily support their superiors and discrediting the facts.

The film first establishes how the tobacco industry was able to hide the facts that cigarettes were harmful to people and delayed the process in order to make money.  A whistleblower was able to leak classified information and the tobacco industry would receive a punishment but also open pandora’s box of other companies who may be doing something similar.

While Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway has done a wonderful job with their book, what’s surprising about Kenner’s documentary is the ability to interview individuals on both sides.  At first, because the film tries to show how corporations and hired clients try to create confusions and skepticism about the research from the scientists, we learn how its affected various scientists (many who receive death threats), how one politician went from highly favorable to losing in an election because of his perspective on global warming.

While the film tries to be optimistic that wrongs will be eventually be fixed in hopefully a shorter time it has taken with the tobacco industry, unfortunately, the days of seeing America take climate change seriously and the government backing it, seems unattainable, especially if politicians keep flipflopping from originally supporting that global warming was man-made and then suddenly changing their tone, of not sure who to blame.

But these topics are not restricted to global warming and there is no point of rehashing other topics since we live with it daily and can see it in the media too often than we would like.

As for the Blu-ray release, “Merchants of Doubt” is a film that is well-put together, considering Kenner was able to get individuals on both sides discussing their thoughts and their perspective of what they are supporting.  Picture and audio quality is well-done and you also get quite a few special features included as well!

I personally would love to share the same optimism that Robert Kenner has set in “Merchants of Doubt” by offering hope that things would someday change.  But for now, “Merchants of Doubt” is a documentary that will open many eyes and will be a film that will inform, anger or cajole an individual, or hopefully a next generation of future leaders or scientists and inspire them to do something in the best interest of the people and planet, not just for increased profits.

“Merchants of Doubt” is highly recommended!

 

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

July 19, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

kfk-a

“Kung Fu Killer” may not be remembered as a great Donnie Yen action film, but it no doubt a thrilling action film that martial arts fans will enjoy.  If you love Teddy Chan or Donnie Yen action films, then definitely give “Kung Fu Killer” a try!

Images courtesy of © 2015 Well Go USA. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Kung Fu Killer

FILM RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 101 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 16:9, Cantonese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment

RATED: NR

Release Date: July 21, 2015


Directed by Teddy Chan

Original Story by Teddy Chan, Ho Leung Lau

Written by Tin Shu Mak

Executive Producer: Alvin Chow, Nga-Bok Lei, Xiaoming Yan

Producer: Catherine Hun, Ning Song, Alex Tong

Associate Producer: Gin Lau, Paul Au

Music by Peter Kam

Cinematography by Wing-Hang Wong

Edited by Ka-Fai Cheung, Derek Hui

Production Design by Kenneth Mak

Art Direction by Wai Kin Lam

Costume Design by Dora Ng


Starring:

Donnie Yen as Hahou Mo

Charlie Yeung as Detective Luk Yuen-Su

Baoqiang Wang as Fung Yu-Sau

Bing Bai as Sinn Ying

Deep Ng as Tai Yue

Alex Fong as Chief Inspctor Lam

Kang Yu as Wong Chit


A vicious killer stalks the streets of Hong Kong, methodically executing top martial arts competitors. Xia (Donnie Yen), a convicted killer and kung fu expert, offers to help police find the killer and put him behind bars in return for his own freedom. The killer eludes them again and again, taunting the cops – and Xia, his new target – to discover his next moves. Xia refuses to play his lethal game…until the killer threatens the woman he loves most.


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Filmmaker Teddy Chan is known for many of his action films.

From “Downtown Torpedoes” (1997), “Purple Storm” (1999), “The Accidental Spy” (2001)”, “Bodyguards and Assassins” (2009), now comes his latest, martial arts film “Kung Fu Killer”.

The film stars Donnie Yen (“Ip Man”, “Hero”, “Iceman”), Baoqiang Wang (“Lost in Thailand”, “A Touch of Sin”, “Assembly”), Charlie Yeung (“Fallen Angels”, “Seven Swords”, “Bangkoko Dangerous”) and Bing Bai (“The Viral Factor”, “Shaolin”, “As the Light Goes Out”).

And now “Kung Fu Killer” will be released in the U.S. courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment.

“Kung Fu Killer” begins with an introduction to Hahou Mo (portrayed by Donnie Yen), a martial artist serving time in prison.

While reading a newspaper, news is broadcasted that a boxer was killed and the case is being investigated by Detective Luk Yuen-Sum (portrayed by Charlie Yeung).  Hahou Mo tries to ask guards for a personal meeting but seeing that he’s not going to get any special privileges, he causes a major prison fight and then tells the guards that he wants to see the detective.

Detective Luk Yuen-Sum goes to the prison to meet with Haou Mou.  He tries to explain to the detective that the boxer was murdered and that he can help her with the case.  But when she leaves, he starts naming seven names of seven martial-artists and telling her that one of these men will be next.

We are then introduced to Fung Yu-Sau (portrayed by Baoqiang Wang), a martial artist who has learned all major disciplines and has now targeted nine martial arts masters and wants to kill each of them in order to become #1.

With another martial arts expert killed by this martial arts serial killer, Detective Luk Yuen-Sum agrees to let Hahou Mo help her and her investigative team, if it would prevent any more deaths.

But does Hahou Mo have another reason why he wants to help the detective?


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VIDEO:

“Kung Fu Killer” is presented in 1080p High Definition and presented in 16:9 widescreen.  Picture quality is very good with skin tones being natural and great detail on closeups, as face details or clothing textures can be seen very well.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Kung Fu Killer” is presented in Cantonese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.  Dialogue and musical soundtrack is crystal clear and while an action film, you can hear the surround channels come into play with efficacy near the end of the film.  But overall, lossless audio is very good.

SPECIAL FEATURES

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

  • Fight to the Top – (2:21) The talent and crew discuss “Kung Fu Killer”.
  • The Final Duel – (2:49) What to expect from a Donnie Yen film and making a realistic Kung Fu film.
  • The Spirit of Kung Fu – (2:30) Donnie Yen and Teddy Chen discuss the characters of the film and their connection to Kung Fu.
  • Legendary Action Directors – (2:34) How many respected figures came to work in this film.
  • Trailer – Theatrical trailer for “Kung Fu Killer”.

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With Donnie Yen’s latest martial arts action film, you either get a wonderful martial arts film or a popcorn action film that you felt the only good thing about the film was that Donnie YUen starred in it.

And while I was wowed with “Ip Man”, felt OK about “Ip Man 2” and rolled my eyes when watching “Legend of the First: The Return of Chen Zhen” and felt amused with “Dragon” and not feeling any love for “Special ID”, the fact is that Donnie Yen’s presence is a big draw in an action film and that the 51-year-old actor still has a lot in him to continue to create action films that make money.

And with his last film “Iceman”, felt that Donnie Yen still had it in him to create great martial arts films.

My belief still continues that Donnie Yen is a bankable, thrilling action star with his latest film “Kung Fu Killer”.

Pitting together Yen and one of my favorite actors, Baoqiuang Wang as a martial arts serial killer and retaining that cold demeanor that he had in “A Touch of Sin”, it was amazing to see Wang keep up with Yen and other characters in the action scenes.

The actor dedicated himself into learning the martial arts moves, practicing intensely even during rehearsal and it paid off as the fight scenes in the film were absolutely thrilling and to see him play the villain against Donnie Yen’s character, who is the protagonist but also a man serving time in prison, was really interesting.

For those who grew up with martial arts fighting video games such as “Street Fighter” or “King of Fighters” will no doubt gravitate to this film because we see one man, who has learned various martial arts skills to take on the best martial arts master of their discipline in order to become #1.  And in this battle, all losers of each battle will die.

Yes, it may not be as deep as “Ip Man” and for many, will be more on the popcorn action side of Donnie Yen films, but you can’t help but enjoy these fast-paced battles leading to the main one-on-one battle between Donnie Yen and Baoqiuang Wang’s characters.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture and lossless audio is very good.  Slight use of DNR from what I can see but for the most part, picture quality is very good and also the lossless audio.  You do get a few short special features as well.

Overall, “Kung Fu Killer” may not be remembered as a great Donnie Yen action film, but it no doubt a thrilling action film that martial arts fans will enjoy.  If you love Teddy Chan or Donnie Yen action films, then definitely give “Kung Fu Killer” a try!

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