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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!

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!

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!

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

August 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Oren Moverman’s “The Dinner” may not have the same shock factor of its novel counterpart and its bleek characters.  While characters and their actions are much more subdued in this film adaptation, the film is still provocative, that I can’t help but recommend for people to watch it.

Images courtesy of © 2016 Tesuca Holdings. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Dinner

FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 120 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:85:1 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 by Herman Koch

Directed by Oren Moverman

Screenplay by Oren Moverman

Produced by Caldecot Chubb, Lawrence Inglee, Julia Lebedev, Eddie Vaisman

Executive Producer: Eva Maria Daniels, Leonid Levedev, Angel Lopez, Olga Segura

Cinematography by Bobby Bukowski

Edited by Alex Hall

Casting by Jodi Angstreich, Maribeth Fox, Laura Rosenthal

Production Design by Kelly McGehee

Art Direction by Gonzalo Cordoba

Set Decoration by Joanne Ling

Costume Design by Catherine George


Starring:

Richard Gere as Stan Lohman

Laura Linney as Claire Lohman

Steve Coogan as Paul Lohman

Rebecca Hall as Katelyn Lohman

Chloe Sevigny as Barbara Lohman

Charlie Plummer as Michael Lohman

Adepero Oduye as Nina

Michael Chernus as Dylan Heinz

Taylor Rae Almonte as Kamryn Velez

Joel Bissonnette as Antonio


Golden Globe® winner Richard Gere, Laura Linney, and Steve Coogan star in this dark psychological thriller about how far parents will go to protect their children


Dutch author Herman Koch wrote the novel “The Dinner” and was first published back in 2009 and has become an international bestseller and has received three film adaptations.  The first in Netherlands (2013), the second in Italy (2014) and the most recently was in 2017 directed by Oren Moverman (writer of “The Messenger”, “I’m Not There.”, “Rampart”), who also wrote the English screenplay.

The film stars Richard Gere (“Pretty Woman”, “Primal Fear”, “Hachi”), Laura Linney (“The Truman Show”, “Mystic River, “Primal Fear”), Steve Coogan (“Philomena”, “Alan Partridge”, “Tropic Thunder”), Rebecca Hall (“Iron Man 3”, “The Prestige”, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”), Chloe Sevigny (“Boys Don’t Cry”, “Big Love”, “Love & Friendship”), Charlie Plumber (“King Jack”, “Granite Flats”) and Adepero Oduye (“12 Years a Slave”, “The Big Short”, “Pariah”).

And now, “The Dinner” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Lions Gate.

“The Dinner” revolves around a dinner between brothers, politician Stan Lohman (portrayed by Richard Gere) and his brother, former professor Paul Lohman (portrayed by Steve Coogan), who has a mental illness which has progressively gotten worse).  Joining them are Paul’s loving wife Claire (portrayed by Laura Linney) and Stan’s wife Katelyn (portrayed by Rebecca Hall).

But this is a dinner which Paul does not want to be a part of but his wife cajoles her husband to go.  Meanwhile, Paul discovers the smartphone of his son Michael (portrayed by Charlie Plummer) and sees that his son may be getting himself into some trouble.

As the four meetup for dinner and things often get volatile, Stan tries to explain that he gotten everyone together because he has something very important to discuss.

But each time he tries, Paul gets into a fit and often gets angry or leaves the table.  Paul looks at his brother, a wealthy politician as a sign of what is corrupt in society.

Through flashbacks, we learn that Paul has a mental illness, lacks any empathy towards people, obsessed with the Civil War but how his mental illness had gotten worse.  If there is one thing that is certain, his love for his wife and his only son, Michael.

Meanwhile Stan, is trying to get a mental health bill passed, which was inspired from his brother’s mental illness, but also their mothers mental illness.

But as we see how challenging of a relationship both Stan and Paul has had, the hot and heated marriage between Stan and his wife Katelyn (portrayed by Rebecca Hall), Claire Lohman is more of the rock in the family of Paul and Claire’s marriage.

We learn that Stan has been married before to Barbara (portrayed by Chloe Sevigny) who has had a mental breakdown and in that marriage, they adopted an African American boy named Bo.

We then see multiple flashbacks involving Paul’s child Michael (portrayed by Charlie Plummer), a friend and Bo going to a party.  We learn from Flashbacks that perhaps Michael may have symptoms like his father, lacking empathy.  In fact, going so far to diss Bo because he’s Black and doesn’t care.

While walking home, they want to go to an ATM but find a homeless person sleeping in the ATM booth during the cold winter.  Wanting to use the ATM, Michael tells the homeless woman to leave.  She doesn’t and so he and his friend find trash to throw at the homeless woman but then, doing the unthinkable.

But what happens during the dinner and why does Stan Lohman, who is on a major political campaign, find it important to bring his brother and sister-in-law together?


VIDEO:

“The Dinner” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). Closeups show good detail but for the most part, the film was shot indoors, in the evening but overall, the film looks very good with no signs of significant artifacts or banding issues.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Dinner” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director Oren Moverman and actress Laura Linney.
  • Photo Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailer

EXTRAS:

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


When Herman Koch’s novel was published, needless to say, it was a novel that shock people to its core and showing how apathetic a family could be in order to protect their children.

While the novel pulls off a lot of surprises, Oren Moverman’s adaptation of the Koch novel is more subdued.  Less troubling, but nevertheless suspenseful and still entertaining despite not being a 100% faithful adaptation.

Without spoiling the film, “The Dinner” is a film that touches upon various characters.  The often-angry and apathetic Paul Lohman who suffers a mental illness (which is never revealed in the film or the book) who doesn’t want to see his brother, a successful politician named Stan.  Who has invited Paul and his wife Claire over for dinner at a restaurant to discuss something important.

Meanwhile, Paul is suspicious of his son’s behavior due to what was on his phone.

And we start to see through flashbacks of the things that his son have done and unfortunately there are repercussions that affect Stan and Paul’s family.

In the film, there is focus on mental health but also for people who are of privilege.  Does morality prove to be much more important over family union or politics?

The novel tends to show how each person is guilty of immoral choices and actions, which do not make it into the film.  There was no doubt that the book was very dark and it’s not something that filmmaker Oren Moverman wanted to take on.  And this is where people who have read the book may have a problem with the film, for not going where Herman Koch was able to go in the novel.

And Oren’s choice of a more subdued storyline is no surprise where people not familiar with the book, probably don’t want to watch a film so bleek and f’d up.  But for storyline purists, creating a film that strays from the source is not cool!

There were a lot of bad things that should have happened, but they don’t in the film.  But the provocative message involving every major character in the film still drives the message through of how far people would go to protect their children (especially those with money and power).

The performance by Steve Coogan, especially from Richard Gere were quite solid.  Coogan who had to play Paul in various states of mental illness was no doubt difficult, but he manage to pull it off with efficacy.  Richard Gere is a talented actor along with Laura Linney who both shine in this film and it’s great to see the two united since their film “Primal Fear”.

As for the Blu-ray, picture quality is very good and the lossless soundtrack is dialogue-driven, so more front channel speaker focus for this film.  And you also get special features including an insightful audio commentary by filmmaker Oren Moverman and actress Laura Linney.

Overall, Oren Moverman’s “The Dinner” may not have the same shock factor of its novel counterpart and its bleek characters.  While characters and their actions are much more subdued in this film adaptation, the film is still provocative, that I can’t help but recommend for people to watch it. Check it out!

Who’s Crazy? (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 30, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Thomas White’s “Who’s Crazy?” is a fascinating film that captures creative energy on film but also through the mesmerizing music of Ornette Coleman Trio.  A wonderful, frenetic blend of free cinema and free jazz that I highly recommend.

Images courtesy of © 2017 KINO LORBER. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Who’s Crazy?

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 1966

DURATION: 73 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p (1:33:1 Aspect Ratio), English 2.0 Stereo, B&W

COMPANY: Kino Lorber

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: July 25, 2017


Directed by Thomas White, Allan Zion

Written by Thomas White, Allan Zion

Produced by Thomas White, Allan Zion

Music by Ornette coleman, David Izenzon, Charles Moffett

Cinematography by Bernard Daillencourt

Edited by Denise de Casabianca


Starring:

Wimme Andre

Melvin Clay

Tom Edmonston

Carl Einhorn

Michael Elias

Warren Finnerty

Peter Glaze

Gene Gordon

Diane Gregory

Leroy House

Nona Howard

Steven Ben Israel

Gene Lipton

Michele Mareck

Dorothy Shari

William Shari

Barry Shuck

Esther Silber

Luke Theodore

Steve Thompson

James Tiroff

Lester Waldman


Long thought to be lost until the only surviving copy was salvaged from director Thomas White s garage, Who s Crazy? (1966) is a wild, free-form burst of 1960s experimentalism.

Accompanied by an ecstatic original soundtrack by the great Ornette Coleman, and starring actors from The Living Theatre, Who s Crazy? follows a group of mental patients who hole up in a deserted Belgian farmhouse, where they cook large quantities of eggs and condemn one of their own in an impromptu court. The actors don t have much need for words when they can dance around, light things on fire, and drip hot wax on each other instead.

Ornette Coleman and the other members of his trio David Izenzon and Charles Moffett recorded their score for Who s Crazy? in one go while the film was projected for them, and the result feels like a slapstick silent film with the greatest possible accompaniment.


Back in the ’60s, many creative individuals looked towards experimentation with media.  May it be musical or film, it was the sign of the times.

And for Thomas White, who lived in Paris at the time, produced a semi-improvised movie featuring the members of the avante-garde Living Theater and featured the music by the free jazz innovator Ornette Coleman and bassist David Izenzon and drummer Charles Moffett.

While the film was screened at the 1966 Cannes Film Festival, the film was never seen again and was considered as lost.

But filmmaker Vanessa McDonnell, a fan of Ornette Coleman, started a search for the film after Coleman’s death (she saw a short version online via streaming video website Vimeo and found Thomas White’s name) and wanted to find out if a surviving copy exists.  So, looking for a Thomas White, she contacted every Thomas White she can find and managed to find Thomas White in Connecticut and learned that he had a print of the film in the shelf of his garage and has been there for decades.

As White lived a Bohemian lifestyle in Paris, next door to his apartment was a fathering place for musicians, writers and artists.  And that is how he was able to recruit members of the Living Theater to take part of his film in 1964.

And immediately, the film was cleaned and repaired by Anthology Film Archives and the film which was screened in 2016, is now made available to the public via Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Kino Lorber.

The film which was fully improvised begins with a bus transporting psychiatric patients in the middle of nowhere.  When the bus breaks down, an in inmate runs and as the two guards go after him, the rest of the patients escape from their keepers and run to an abandoned farmhouse to take shelter and creating their own new beatnik society.

And as the patients take part in various activities such as playing music, screaming, trying out breathing exercises, staring into one’s eyes, playing with candles, taking part in a ritual or wedding and more.


VIDEO:

“Who’s Crazy?” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:331 aspect ratio) and is presented in black and white. The quality of the film on Blu-ray is very good in terms of clarity and sharpness and Anthology Film Archives did a good job with restoring the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Who’s Crazy?” is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and the music presented for this release is a wonderful as the music is a key highlight as it features the Ornette Coleman trio and just listening to the musical soundtrack, it was magnificent.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Who’s Crazy?” comes with the following special features:

  • David, Moffett & Ornett – (28:17) Featuring a 1966 episode of Tempo International.
  • Q&A with Director Thomas White – (27:48) Moderated by Vanessa McDonnell and Nicolas Rapold, courtesy of the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
  • Trailer – The theatrical trailer for “Who’s Crazy?”.

EXTRAS:

Includes a booklet essay by Adam Shatz, contributing editor at the “London Review of Books”


Call it experimental.  Call it avant garde.  Call it a film that was a sign of the times.

Watching Thomas White’s “Who’s Crazy?” brings us a creative look into a film where everything is improvised, everything goes and while watching these individuals, who happened to be members of the Living Theater, improvising and coming up with things creative and wild.  And while the troupe do their thing, captivating one’s senses it he music by the Ornette Coleman Trio.

What people may not realize is that visually, you are watching actors being creative.  Not knowing what will come next but just running with it while Thomas White captures them on film.  And as wild and crazy they may be, Ornette Coleman and his technique could be seen as the same.  A master of the alto sax (and other instruments), hearing his music sets the mood as these individuals, who happen to be psychiatric patients, enjoying their freedom.

While one must think this is a film about mental health, director Thomas White has said it wasn’t.   While mental health is in the forefront of news today, the mindset towards the mentally ill were different.   This film is not about people suffering but creative freedom, the freedom of expression and free will.

Gone are the prison clothes and when the men and women get dressed up, the group shows us a display of limitless energy.

But as the film will be enjoyed by man, one of the biggest inclusions to the Blu-ray release of “Who’s Crazy?” is the inclusion of “David, Moffett & Ornette”, a 1966 episode in which one see what has taken place behind-the-scenes in the making of this film as the Ornette Coleman and musicians play to what they see on screen but also the mindset of the times and the disagreements that people had.

Watching this featurette alone, you can’t help but be amazed to see the music being played and recorded.  It gave me a deeper appreciation for the music for the film.

The Kino Lorber Blu-ray release also features the Q&A with director Thomas White recorded in 2016 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and also included is a booklet essay by Adam Shatz, contributing editor at the “London Review of Books”.

Overall, Thomas White’s “Who’s Crazy?” is a fascinating film that captures creative energy on film but also through the mesmerizing music of Ornette Coleman Trio.  A wonderful, frenetic blend of free cinema and free jazz that I highly recommend.

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

July 30, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Azazel Jacobs “The Lovers” is a romantic comedy a failed marriage, two affairs and two individuals facing the next chapter in their lives with other people.  An entertaining film overall.

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


TITLE: The Lovers

FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 94 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:85:1 aspect ratio, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: Spanish, English SDH

COMPANY: Lions Gate

RATED: R (Sexuality and Language)

RELEASE DATE: August 1, 2017


Written and Directed by Azazel Jacobs

Screenplay by James Ponsoldt, Dave Eggers

Produced by Ben LeClair, Chris Stinson

Music by Mandy Hoffman

Cinematography by Tobias Datum

Edited by Darrin Navarro

Casting by Nicole Arbusto

Production Design by Sue Tebbutt

Art Direction by Celine Diano

Set Decoration by Nancy Niksic

Costume Design by Diaz


Starring:

Debra Winger as Mary

Tracy Letts as Michael

Aidan Gillen as Robert

Melora Walters as Lucy

Tyler Ross as Joel

Jessica Sula as Erin

Lesley Fera as Susan


Three-time Academy Award® nominee Debra Winger stars in a deliciously grown-up comedy about love and marriage.


From Azazel Jacobs (“Terri”, “Momma’s Man”, “The GoodTimesKid”) comes his romantic comedy, “The Lovers”.

Starring Debra Winger (“Terms of Endearment”, “An Officer and a Gentleman”, “Urban Cowboy”), Tracy Letts (“Killer Joe”, “Bug”, “The Big Short”), Aidan Gillen (“Game of Thrones”, “King Arthur”, “The Wire”), Melora Walters (“The Butterfly Effect”, “Magnolia”, “Dead Poets Society”), Tyler Ross (“Zombieland”, “Nate & Margaret”, “Officer Down”) and Jessica Sula (“Split”, “Honeytrap”, “Skin”).

The film revolves around a married couple, Mary (portrayed by Debra Winger) and Michael (portrayed by Tracy Letts).  Both have noticed there is no more passion in their marriage and both are having affairs.

Mary with Robert (portrayed by Aidan Gillen) and Michael with Lucy (portrayed by Melora Walters) and while the people they are having affairs with have been adamant that they dissolve the marriage, both agree that they will when their son Joel (portrayed by Tyler Ross) and his girlfriend Erin (portrayed by Jessica Sula) arrive.

But as these two are ready to separate and move on with their new relationships, somehow the two are able to have a spark and begin having passionate sexual encounters.

But will these two stay in their marriage or end their marriage and move on with their new lovers?


VIDEO:

“The Lovers” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). With a lot of scenes shot outdoors, the picture quality for the film is vibrant and looks great in HD. Closeups show good detail but for the most part, the film looks very good with no signs of artifacts or banding issues.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Lovers” is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and features crystal clear dialogue and music from Mandy Hoffman. Surround channels are utilized for ambiance but for the most part, this is a front-channel driven soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Lovers” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by writer/director Azazel Jacobs.
  • The Music of Romance: Scoring the Lovers – (13:50) A featurette about the making of the music for “The Lovers” with Mandy Hoffman and Azazel Jacobs.
  • A Complicated Passion: The Making “The Lovers” –  (19:15) A featurette on the making of “The Lovers”.  Interviews with cast and crew.

EXTRAS:

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


Quite often when we watch relationships being torn apart and the protagonists in the broken relationship finding new love or each other, they are typically a couple who are much younger.

But what if the story centered on two long-married individuals who are in a bad marriage and are both having affairs.

This is what is explored in the romantic comedy “The Lovers” by filmmaker/writer Azazel Jacobs.  Exploring life and love and just waiting for the right moment to divorce and that moment is when their son comes to visit.

Actress Debra Winger plays the wife, Mary, while Tracy Letts plays husband, Michael and both are in intimate affairs.

Mary is having an affair with Robert and Michael with Lucy, and both are often cajoled by their lovers to end their marriage and are getting tired of waiting.

As their son Joel pretty much was raised in a home where his parents fought and knows his father is having an affair, he is unaware that his mother is also having an affair.

And to make things more interesting, as Mary and Michael get closer to the date when they will tell their son the truth and how they are separating, a spark develops between estranged husband and wife and their affairs have triggered a passionate, sexual relationship within them.

But is that spark strong enough to keep them married?  Or in their hearts, will they move on and start on a new relationship away from each other and with their new lovers?

For the most part, I found “The Lovers” to be a film about two long-married, dispassionate people who know their time together is not working.  But what I found interesting and all I could think about was if this was a younger couple, I probably would have disliked this film with a passion.

But there is something about this film that I felt entertained.  Yes, what these two are doing are wrong and how they break it to their son is very wrong but there is a small twist to this film as one would see in the final scene.

In the case of Mary and Michael, it’s very interesting on how their affairs have made them better lovers towards each other, but both know that they went to far into their affairs that their marriage is much more sexual than about love.

And I have to say that Debra Winger and Tracy Letts made this film work thanks to each of their performances and made this film much more enjoyable.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good, considering that a lot of the scenes were shot outdoors, was a major plus.  Lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and music, and you get an audio commentary and two featurettes.

Overall, Azazel Jacobs “The Lovers” is a romantic comedy a failed marriage, two affairs and two individuals facing the next chapter in their lives with other people.  An entertaining film overall.

Bitcoin Heist (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 25, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

I love the fact that Well Go USA Entertainment has chosen to release this Vietnamese action film to the US and Ham Tran’s “Bitcoin Heist” is an enjoyable action/heist film that I hope paves the way for more Vietnamese cinema to be released in the US.  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Old Photo Films LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Bitcoin Heist

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 1116 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Well Go USA

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: July 4, 2017


Directed by Ham Tran

Story by Anderson Le, Scott Nguyen, Ham Tran

Exec. Produers: Ben Tsiang, Jean Tsien, Chao-wei Chang, Hsiao-ming Hsu

Producer: Ruby Chen

Co-Producers: Guan-ting Yue, Jing Liu

Editors: Jean Tsien, Bob Lee

Music by Tristan Leral

Cinematography by Cong Minh Trang

Edited by Ham Tran


Starring:

Kate Nhung as Dada

Thanh Pham as Phuc

Petey Majik Nguyen as Jack

Suboi as Vi

Jayvee Mai The Hiep as Luhan

Lam Thanh My as Linh

Veronica Ngo as Ky

Teo Yoo as Thomas


Hackers have become the bank robbers in the new world of crypto-currency. In order to catch the most wanted hacker, The Ghost , an Interpol special agent assembles a team of thieves to plan the ultimate heist. But as any good criminal knows, there is no honor among thieves.


Far often, we have seen companies release Asian action films from Hong Kong, China, Japan, Korea, Thailand and we are seeing an influx of films coming from Indonesia and the Philippines.

But recently we are seeing companies start to look at action cinema from other countries for release in the United States and Well Go USA has chosen to release “Bitcoin Heist” from Vietnam.

Directed by Vietnamese-American director Ham Tran, “Bitcoin Heist” is an action heist film that has Hollywood action flair and top notch quality that will hopefully pave the way for more Vietnamese cinema to be released in the U.S.  The film was written by Anderson Le, Scott Nguyen and Ham Tran.

The film stars Kate Nhung, Thanh Pham, Petey Majik Nguyen, Suboi, Jayvee Mai The Hiep, Lam Thanh My, Veronica Ngo and Teo Yoo.

For those not familiar with “Bitcoin”, it is a cryptocurrency with a digital payment system.  Transactions take place without any banks or intermediary, and many people have gone to bitcoins to protect their currency from high inflation, taxing or confiscation.  And because of that, while embraced by many companies, many shun it because of its use for illegal activity.

The film begins with a young man named Phuc (portrayed by Thanh Pham) playing chess in the prison courtyard with a gangster and explaining to his opponent of the bitcoin credit system.  Phuc wins against the gangster.

Fastforward and Phuc is being pursued by Vietnamese police led by Dada (portrayed by Kate Nhung), who is trying to take down a ring of international money laundering through bitcoin transactions.

Phuc is being paid by the mysterious Ghost, an IT finance operator managing his bitcoin accounts.  While Phuc and his bodyguard are trying to outrun the police and trying to close on a bitcoin deal, the two split up and Dada pursues Ghost while her boss pursues his bodyguard.

Dada manages to capture Phuc but his bodyguard, trying to get a smartphone with the bitcoin information fixed, walks into a smartphone repair shop owned by Vi (portrayed by Suboi) and her brother Bi.  But when Bi transforms the bitcoin credits from the bodyguard’s phone to his account, he is beaten and shot, and as she is about to shoot vi, police come in time to shoot the bodyguard to death.

Because of the death of an innocent and the failure of the mission, Dada, who happens to be the daughter of the police chief, is forced to resign.  But secretly, she has been taken back on again as an undercover copy whose job is to form a gang of criminals which include Phuc, a thief magician named Jack Magique (portrayed by Peter Majik Nguyen), a thief named Luhan (portrayed by Jayvee Mai The Hiep) and his young daughter Linh (portrayed by Lam Thanh My) and Vi (who wants to avenge her brother, Bi who is laying in a coma) in hopes to bring Ghost down.


VIDEO:

“Bitcoin Heist” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Featuring close-ups with very good detail, the film looks very good as a lot of the scenes were shot outdoors. I didn’t notice any major artifacts, banding or issues with picture quality during my viewing of the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Bitcoin Heist” is presented in Vietnamese 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:

“Bitcoin Heist” comes with no special features.

EXTRAS:

“Bitcoin Heist” comes with the Blu-ray and DVD version of the film.


While Asian cinema and group heist films are common, there is something to be said about Ham Tran’s “Bitcoin Heist” that separates itself from similar, banal heist films.

A Vietnamese film with production flair and stylish presentation, “Bitcoin Heist” features a collection of characters, each quite different from each other but yet manage to capture your attention.

A group of thieves led by undercover police officer Dada, the film features bitcoin thief Phuc and together they find a group of thieves that are quite fun to watch.

You have the magician Jack, a man from Dada’s past, often called “Magic Jack” in which he continuously reminds people it’s “Jack Magic” (for those who don’t understand the joke, “Magic Jack” is a popular voIP device that allows people to make unlimited calls without the phone bills and popular among many people of various Asian ethnicities).

You have Vi, the blue haired young woman who wants revenge for her brother being shot.  But the most interesting characters is the older Luhan, father of the chirpy and young teen, Linh.

It’s an odd group but how they managed to plan their efforts with hopes to pull off a major heist on the mysterious Ghost, is rather fascinating and fun.

But just when you think the film has the humor and action as other similar Asian films, you have a twist that takes the characters out of the humor and fun and putting them in a most dark place that I didn’t see coming, but made the film even more entertaining, as you learn what these characters are doing, is quite risky and their lives may be at stake.

The Blu-ray features wonderful picture quality and great lossless audio but unfortunately no special features, so it’s a barebones Blu-ray release.

Overall, I love the fact that Well Go USA Entertainment has chosen to release this Vietnamese action film to the US and Ham Tran’s “Bitcoin Heist” is an enjoyable action/heist film that I hope paves the way for more Vietnamese cinema to be released in the US.  Recommended!

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

July 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

While I enjoy films that make me think and allow for discussion or debate, I did feel that “The Circle”, which has a talented cast, came up short and felt the storyline could or should have been better. A film that is average for the most part, not great, not terrible, just a film that is just O.K.

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


TITLE: The Circle

FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 110 Minutes

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

COMPANY:  Lions Gate

RATED: PG-13 (A Sexual Situation, Brief, Strong Language and Some Thematic Elements including Drug Use)

RELEASE DATE: August 1, 2017


Based on the Novel by Dave Eggers

Directed by James Ponsoldt

Screenplay by James Ponsoldt, Dave Eggers

Produced by Anthony Bregman, Gary Goetzman, James Ponsoldt

Executive Producer: JStefanie Azpiazu, Peter Cron, Evan Hayes, Russell Levine, Federica Sainte-Rose, Ron Schmidt, Steve Shareshian, Marc Shmuger, Sally Wilcox

Music by Danny Elfman

Cinematography by Matthew Libatique

Edited by Lisa Lassek, Franklin Peterson

Casting by Avy Kaufman

Production Design by Gerald Sullivan

Art Direction by Sarah M. Pott, Sebastian Schroder

Set Decoration by Rosemary Brandenburg, Sarah Sprawls

Costume Design by Emma Potter


Starring:

Emma Watson as Mae

Ellar Coltrane as Mercer

Glenne Headly as Bonnie

Bill Paxton as Vinnie

Karen Gillan as Annie

Tom Hanks as Bailey

Beck as Beck

Nate Corddry as Dan

Mamoudou Athie as Jared

John Boyega as Ty


THE CIRCLE is a gripping modern thriller, set in the not-too-distant future, starring Emma Watson (HARRY POTTER franchise), Tom Hanks (SULLY), and John Boyega (STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS).


Writer David Eggers is forever known for his successful book “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius”.

Having written numerous non-fiction and fictional books, his 2013 novel “The Circle” received a film adaptation and was released in the U.S. in theaters back in April 2017.

Directed by James Ponsoldt (“The Spectacular now”, “Smashed”) and co-written with Eggers, the film would make over $30 million in the box office.

Starring Emma Watson (“Harry Potter” films, “Beauty and the Beast”), Tom Hanks (“Forrest Gump”, “Saving Private Ryan”, “The Da Vinci Code”), Karen Gillan (“Guardians of the Galaxy”, “Doctor Who”, “Oculus”), Ellar Coltrane (“Fast Food Nation”, “Boyhood”, “Barry”), Glenn Headly (“Don Jon”, “Mr. Holland’s Opus”, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”), Bill Paxton (“Titanic”, “Aliens”, “Apollo 13”) and John Boyega (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, “Attack the Block”, “Imperial Dreams”).

The film revolves around Mae Holland (portrayed by Emma Watson), a young woman who tries to work survival jobs, rides a car that is in bad shape and having to help her mother Bonnie (portrayed by Glenne Headly) care for her father Vinnie (portrayed by Bill Paxton) who is suffering from multiple sclerosis.

One day, Mae gets a call from her friend Annie Allerton (portrayed by Karen Gillan) who works for the powerful tech and social media company, The Circle.  Annie got her an interview in Customer Experience, assisting users of products and services from the Circle.  And with each experience, they are rated by customers and she wants to do her best and keep her score high.

During a company meeting, Eamon Bailey (portrayed by Tom Hanks) introduces a new initiative called “SeeChange” in which small cameras can be placed anywhere and provide real-time, high quality video feeds.

Meanwhile, her fellow employees try to get her active on social media and she meets Ty (portrayed by John Boyega) who is not partying with others and is often alone.

While on break, she learns from her mom of how Mercer is plans to start a business of making chandeliers out of deer antlers.  Not thinking anything bad of it, she posts the photo of Mercer’s chandelier online.

Meanwhile at another meeting, Tom Stenton (portrayed by Patton Oswalt) introduces a political candidate who plans to make all of her communications transparent and visble to those who wish to see them.  And how transparency brings accountability.

When Mae sees Ty, the two talk and he takes her to a restricted area and how an abandoned underground room will be keeping information on everyone.  She also learns that Ty is the creator of The Circle’s popular product, True You.

Back at work, Mercer comes to visit Mae and tells her that by posting her photo of the chandelier, now he is receiving death threats and being accused of killing animals, which he doesn’t do.  When the two are talking, people surround them, streaming video as people accuse Mercer of being an animal killer publicly.  Mae pleads that she didn’t mean to hurt him but Mercer leaves angry at what has happened to his life.

Upset about what has transpird, Mae goes kayaking late at night but because it is so late, she nearly drown but is rescued by the coastguard.  Fortunately, the Seechange cameras caught her breaking int the kayak premises and taking the kayak and the Coast guard were able to rescue her.

As she is to meet with The Circle co-founders Eamon Bailey and Tom Stenton, the two want to give her a chance by making her the first Circler to go completely transparent.  And from that point on, Mae will broadcast her life 24/7 (with the exception for bathroom related situations).  But how will Mae’s life be affected, especially those close to her?


VIDEO:

“The Circle” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). With a lot of scenes shot outdoors, the picture quality for the film is vibrant and looks great in HD. Closeups show good detail but for the most part, the film looks very good with no signs of artifacts or banding issues.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Circle” is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and features crystal clear dialogue and music from Danny Elfman.  Surround channels are utilized for ambiance, especially during scenes with audiences.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Circle” comes with the following special features:

  • No More Secrets: Completing the Circle – (30:55) A film about the making of “The Circle” and interviews with the cast and crew.
  • The future Won’t Wait: Design & Technology – (10:55) A featurette about the visual effects and design of the social media world for the film.
  • A True Original: Remembering Bill Paxton – (13:50) A featurette honoring the late Bill Paxton as “The Circle” was his last film and Tom Hanks talks about working with Bill.

EXTRAS:

“The Circle” comes with the Blu-ray, DVD and an UltraViolet HD code.


As I finished watching “The Circle”…I was left of feeling that it was a film that left me unfulfilled.  Granted, it was an OK film and and an interesting take about social media companies pushing the boundaries of privacy and ethics.

A film of where The Circle is the dominant social media company and how everyone who works for the company is engrossed in the new technologies employed by the company.  And with the development of a miniature camera, people can now watch and communicate all over the world/globe through these cameras that watch society in high quality video.

People watch live streaming of the life of Mae (portrayed by Emma Watson), who learns about the importance of privacy and open transparency but when her posts lead to her good friend in trouble, nevertheless one can watch and see how certain things can mirror real life.

One scene that does have relevance is when Mae (Emma Watson) puts a photo up of her friend who created a chandelier of antlers. But what she didn’t expect is that by doing so, opened him up for death threats, as many people felt he slaughtered animals to make the chandelier (which he didn’t) and the repercussions of such actions.

It made me think about how numerous people that I know who used to post photos on Facebook and other social media of them hunting deer or other animals (legally) but with the backlash that people have received from hunting and the threats that others have experienced, they have stopped.

Recently, I noticed even pet owners who post photos of their dogs in outfits are getting vilified on social media and also any video posts from a zoo will incur angry comments for those who feel zoos are inhumane.

That’s how social media is today, people who disagree are going to be highly vocal, while you have others who could care less and are unfazed.

But for the film “The Circle”, the film goes into the topic of what if things change and how open transparency can actually hurt the people you care about.

No doubt the film would be a fascinating film to encourage discussion but I felt certain areas of the film to be farfetched, while other scenes being quite plausible.

Especially when Mae turns the cameras on and not knowing her parents are having sex.  I think for those of us who remember such things during the Justin.tv years have already seen these things years ago but to push for open transparency is an interesting topic that will encourage discussion in the near future as privacy is always a major topic being discussed.

While I felt the story was OK, I felt that the film was bolstered by its talented cast which include Tom Hanks, Emma Watson, Karen Gillan, John Boyega, Patton Oswalt and you also have the final film appearance of actor Bill Paxton, who passed away in February 2017, a few months before the film’s theatrical premiere.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is fantastic and for the lossless soundtrack, it features crystal clear dialogue and music but also good use of the surround channels for the large crowd-related scenes.  The film comes with nearly an hour’s worth of special features including a tribute to actor Bill Paxton.

Overall, while I enjoy films that make me think and allow for discussion or debate, I did feel that “The Circle”, which has a talented cast, came up short and felt the storyline could or should have been better.  A film that is average for the most part, not great, not terrible, just a film that is just O.K.

S.W.A.T.: Under Siege (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“S.W.A.T.: Under Siege” is a solid direct-to-video film.  Aiming to please the popcorn action fans that love films with guns ablazing, the film is worth checking out.

Images courtesy of © 2017 Sony Pictures Worldwide. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: S.W.A.T.: Under Siege

FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 89 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:78:1 aspect ratio, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Hungarian, Russian VO 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Estonian, Finnish, French, Greek, hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenne, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (Violence and Language Throughout)

RELEASE DATE: August 1, 2017


Directed by Tony Giglio

Written by Jonas Barnes, Keith Domingue

Produced by Greg Malcolm, Neal H. Moritz, Vicki Sotheran

Executive Producer: Jonas Barnes

Music by Patric Caird

Cinematography by Michael Balfry

Edited by Charles Robichaud

Casting by Candice Elzinga

Costume Design by Andrea Des Roches


Starring:

Sam Jaeger as Travis Hall

Adrianne Palicki as Ellen Dwyer

Michael Jai White as Scorpion

Kyra Zagorsky as Sophia Gutierrez

Ty Olsson as Ward

Olivia Cheng as chu

Zahf Paroo

Monique Ganderton as Simone

Pascale Hutton as Carley

Mike Dopud as Franklin

Matthew Marsden as Lars

Aren Buccholz as York

Dakota Guppy as Becky

Marci T. House as Angela Jefferson


When a D.E.A. and S.W.A.T. cartel takedown ends in a shootout, S.W.A.T. Agent Travis Hall seizes a mysterious prisoner and takes him into custody. Before long, the S.W.A.T. compound is under siege by wave after wave of assault teams attempting to recover the prisoner known as “The Scorpion” for the tattoo blazed across his back. When Travis discovers that his prisoner is a black ops specialist with the goods on both U.S. intelligence agencies and international criminals, it’s up to Travis and the expert S.W.A.T. team to keep The Scorpion and his billion-dollar secrets safe.


Back in 2003, the first “S.W.A.T.” film was released in theaters.

Another “S.W.A.T.” film titled “S.W.A.T.: Firefight” was released on video in 2011 and now the latest direct-to-video film will be released in 2017.

Titled “S.W.A.T.: Under Siege”, the film is directed by filmmaker Tony Giglio (who wrote “Death Race: Inferno” and “Chaos”) and was written by Jonas Barnes and Keith Domingue.

The film stars Sam Jaeger (“Parenthood”, “Lucky Number Slevin”, “American Sniper”), Adrienne Palicki (“John Wick”, “G.I. Joe : Retaliation”, “Red Dawn”), Michael Jai White (“The Dark Knight”, “Spawn”, “Blood and Bone”), Kyra Zagorsky (“Helix”, “Continuum”, “Travelers”), Ty Olsson (“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”, “The Twilight Saga”, “X-Men 2”), Olivia Chang (“Marco Polo”, “Travelers”, “Supernatural”) and Zahf Paroo (“Defying Gravity”, “The Magician”).

The film begins with the D.E.A. and the S.W.A.T. led by Agent Travis Hall (portrayed by Sam Jaeger) taking on a drug cartel.  While many of the cartel were killed in battle, the team discovers a mysterious prisoner known as “The Scorpion” that is chained.

While head of the S.W.A.T., Ellen Dwyer (portrayed by Adrianne Palicki) is handing over the prisoner to authorities as it is out of their jurisdiction, because the death of his crew, Agent Hall decides to interrogate The Scorpion while his teammember, Sophia Gutierrez interviews one of the captured people in the Cartel.

The Scorpion warns Agent Hall that he will give him more info., but he must protect him from false agent coming to retrieve him.  Meanwhile, the cartel member being interviewed by Sophia bangs his head on the desk repeatedly, killing himself.

As Agent Hall goes to meet the two FBI agents who are coming for the Scorpion, he notices that the men are not carrying FBI weaponry and realizes that The Scorpion is telling the truth.

Agent Hall is attacked but his teammates come in time to save him and capture one of the fake FBI agents.

Seeing how dire the situation in regards to this mysterious prisoner, The Scorpion tells Hall that an evil group is after him for the information he has in his head.   But worse, now that they know where his located, they will do what they can, by all means necessary to get him.  But to make things worse, he warns that one of the people in the S.W.A.T. team is assisting the evil cartel.

Not wanting to see anymore deaths in the day, Agent Hall tries to escort The Scorpion out of the building but they are attacked by a large group of men with machine guns.

As the S.W.A.T. comes to Halls assistance, the S.W.A.T. team prepare for their building to be attacked as the cartel with heavy armory is planning to attack and do whatever is necessary to retrieve The Scorpion.


VIDEO:

“S.W.A.T.: Under Siege” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio). With a lot of scenes shot outdoors, the picture quality for the film is vibrant and looks great in HD.  Closeups show good detail but for the most part, the film looks very good with no signs of artifacts or banding issues.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“”S.W.A.T.: Under Siege” is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Hungarian and Russian VO 5.1 Dolby Digial. Dialogue is crystal clear and with the many gun, rifle and machine gun shots throughout the film, audio is crystal clear and quite immersive during those action sequences!

Subtitles are in English SDH, Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Estonian, Finnish, French, Greek, hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenne, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“S.W.A.T.: Under Siege” comes with no special features.


A new “S.W.A.T.” film has arrived on video and “S.W.A.T.: Under Siege” is full of action that popcorn action fans will no doubt enjoy the constant barrage of gun/rifle shots throughout the film.

So far, I haven’t been disappointed with the direct-to-video S.W.A.T. films and you often have to watch these films with an open mind. The story is that the S.W.A.T. has found a Secret Ops double agent who goes by the name of “The Scorpion” (portrayed by Michael Jai White) and he is taken into custody by the S.W.A.T team.

Something doesn’t add up and Agent Hall goes to interrogate the mysterious man who they found chained up.  But all he tells them is that fake FBI agents are coming after him and that bad things are going to happen if he’s kept in the building.

And sure enough, chaos erupts as a cartel begins attacking the S.W.A.T. facility with rapid fire machine guns.  Leading to the S.W.A.T. team to barricade themselves in the building but Hall learns from the mysterious Scorpion that one of their own is on the Cartel side.

The Cartel shuts down all power for the facility and also has their hacker trying to open up all shutters barricading the doors and windows of the facility.

And now, the S.W.A.T. team must prepare for an army of armed Cartel about to rampage into their facility.  Will they survive?

If anything, it’s a bit of a stretch that we have a cartel in a major face-off with no one nearby contacting law enforcement.  Granted, with the firepower that the cartel has, it would be too much for police officers but still,  you would think someone would report and come to the aid of the S.W.A.T team.  But that’s my brain working overdrive and one should remember, one shouldn’t think too logically about operations and such.  Just enjoy the action and the plethora of machine gun/rifle shots going off.

Sam Jaeger does a great job of playing agent Hall, while it was interesting to see “Friday Night Lights” star Adrianne Palicki as a role of the leader of the S.W.A.T. department and seeing her in a major action role. Michael Jai White is always a solid action actor and writer turned director Tony Giglio did a great job andfor the most part, I did enjoy this film.

The Blu-ray looks and sounds great but there are no special features unfortunately.  It’s a barebones Blu-ray release.

Overall, “S.W.A.T.: Under Siege” is a solid direct-to-video film.  Aiming to please the popcorn action fans that love films with guns ablazing, the film is worth checking out.

 

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