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Wolf Warrior 2 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Wolf Warrior 2” exceeds the first film in quality and performances.  A film with international flavor and shot in Africa, director and actor Wu Jing has no doubt directed and starred in his best action film yet!  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Beijing Dangfeng International Culture & Communication Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Wolf Warrior 2

FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 124 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment

RATED: NR

Release Date: December 12, 2017


Directed by Wu Jing

Written by Qun Dong, Yan Gao, Yi Liu, Jing Wu

Producer: Hallong Guan, Daoqing Ji, Jianmin Lv, Zhang Miao

Co-Producer: Qingyi Chen, Jie Cui, Lu Han, Hong Ling, Hongyan Liu, Xiaojiang Quji, Wenji Sun, Yi Xiu, Hao Zhu

Associate Producer Hao Deng, Defu Jiang, Yang Li, Kailuo Liu, Yan Wu, Zhiyong Xu, Haicheng Zhao, Jiangjun Zhao

Line Producer: Ying Liang

Music by Joseph Trapanese

Cinematography by Peter Ngor

Edited by Ka-Fai Cheung

Production Design by King Man Lee, Ligang Wang

Art Direction by King Man Lee


Starring:

Wu Jing as Leng Feng

Frank Grillo as Big Daddy

Celina Jade as Rachel Prescott

Gang Wu as He Jianguo

Hans Zhang as Zhuo Yifan

Qian Yu as Bida Qian

Nan Yu as Long Xiayoun

Shanshan Chunyu as Lin Zhixiong

Haifeng Ding as Captain Zhang

Oleg Prudius as Bear

Heidi Moneymaker as Athena

Ann James as Nesa


The Wolf Warrior is back, bigger and badder than ever, in this action-packed sequel to the 2015 blockbuster hit. With his career in tatters, China s deadliest Special Forces operative has settled into a quiet life on the sea. But when he crosses paths with a sadistic band of mercenaries terrorizing innocent civilians, he must reaffirm his duty as a soldier and save the day once again. Fists (and bullets, tanks, missiles and much more) will fly in this adrenaline-fueled tour de force of bravura action filmmaking, all culminating into a climatic battle between the Wolf Warrior and the mercenary leader (Frank Grillo, Captain America: The Winter Solider and Captain America: Civil War).


From martial arts actor Wu Jing (“Tai Chi II”, “The Mummy”, “Shaolin”, “SPL: Kill Zone”) comes his second film in the “Wolf Warriors” series in which he directs and also has the starring role.

In 2015, Wu Jing shown audience internationally that he’s the next generation of Chinese action stars and his last film, Wu Jing played the role of Sergeant Leng Feng, a a Chinese Special Forces marksman who is facing a court martial because he didn’t follow orders in the field.

This time around Leng Feng has gotten into trouble once again!  And the situation has gotten even worse.

The film was release in China in the Summer of 2017 and created with a budget of $30.1 million, the film would go on to earn $870.3 million becoming one of the top grossing films of 2017 and now the film will be released on Blu-ray in North America courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment in December 2017.

Along with Wu Jing, the film also stars Frank Grillo (“Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, “Warrior”, “The Grey”), Celina Jade (“Arrow”, “Legendary Assassin”, “Skin Trade”), Hans Zhang (“Boss and Me”, “No Limit”, “The Rise of a Tomboy”), Nan Yu (“The Expendables 2”, “Tuya’s Marriage”, “The Taking of Tiger Mountain”) and former WWE superstar Oleg Prudius.

The film continues right after the first film as Leng Feng and his fellow Wolf Brigade members bring his remains to his comrade’s family for the funeral.  But while the family are mourning, a real estate company is destroying the family’s home on the day of the funeral.

The boss of the real estate company threatens the soldiers to leave but Leng Feng kicks him.  When the boss sends his thugs after the soldiers, they easily beat them.  When the police arrives arrive, the boss of the real estate company tries to get Leng Feng in trouble and tells him to his face that he will make the family wish they were all dead when they are all gone.

Leng Feng kicks the boss and kills him.  This leads to Leng Feng being sent to prison for two years and is dishonorably discharged from the Chinese Army which he had sacrificed his life for.

After serving his two years in prison, Feng leaves to Africa where he has been spending his life as a mercenary providing security aboard a freighter delivering relief supplies to Africa.  But while aboard the freighter, they are attacked by Somalian Pirates which Feng defeats. We learn that Feng is carrying a bullet which he found when his fiance was kidnapped while on a mission while incarcerated.  And so, he has been in Africa trying to get clues of where the bullet originates from.

While having fun with the locals in Africa, they are caught in an attack by rebel forces who seek to overthrow the government.  Bloodshed happens on both sides but for Leng Feng, he tries to make sure his young friend, Tundu gets to safety.

While Feng Leng is intent of getting Tundu to safety, he doesn’t want to leave because his mother is still in the danger zone (working at a Chinese factory).

Meanwhile, we learn that the rebels are working with a mercenary group known as the Dylan Corps led by Big Daddy (portrayed by Frank Grillo).  And they are after a Dr. Chen who has the vaccination for Lamania, which many people in Africa have contracted and are dying from.

As Leng Feng manages to infiltrate the lab, Dylan Corps mercenaries are there, including Bear (portrayed by Oleg Prudius) and sharpshooter Athena (portrayed by Heidi Moneymaker) who shoots and kills Dr. Chen.  But he is not the only person that knows how to create the vaccine, so does his assistant, Dr. Rachel Smith (portrayed by Celina Jade).  Dr. Chen’s last dying wish is for  Leng Feng to take his daughter, Pasha to safety and so, Leng Feng, along with Dr. Smith and Dr. Chen’s daughter must survive the onslaught of Dylan Corps mercenaries that are after them, as they attempt to capture Dr. Smith and the girl.

 


VIDEO:

“Wolf Warrior 2” is presented in 1080p High Definition and is presented in 16×9. There is no doubt that “Wolf Warrior 2” was created with a higher budget.  It has an international feel, shot in Africa, international talent, larger explosions and everything from picture quality is much better with this sequel.  Close-ups show great detail, the film looks great in HD

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Wolf Warrior 2” is presented in Mandarin and English  5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Dialogue is crystal clear through the front channels but also the action sequences which utilize the surround channels and LFE well. The film is quite immersive during the action sequences and the film sounds great in HD!

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Wolf Warrior 2” comes a “Behind-the-Scenes” featurette


For many films with a sequel, not all can best the original.  But there are few films that do.

“Wolf Warrior 2” can be added to those list of films that are much better than the original as the last film was too focused in a jungle and while action-packed and exciting, it became a bit repetitive.

“Wolf Warrior 2” is much different than most Chinese action films that stay focused in Asia, but this time around, Wu Jing’s latest film has an international flavor.  I’m not sure where the film was shot in Africa but with the collaboration between both countries, it was no doubt fascinating to see this international flavor for a Chinese action film.

This time you have actor Frank Grillo and even former WWE superstar Oleg Prudius as antagonists.  “Arrow” star Celine Jade as Dr. Rachel Prescott Smith as Leng Feng’s counterpart along with actors Hans Zhang and Gang Wu.

I have no doubt that Weng Ju will no doubt be the next martial arts star that we will see more of in the near future as this film is bigger, better, more explosive than the first.

It’s one thing to have action scenes from martial arts fighting, gun battles but this film has tank battles, drone attacks and high-adrenaline battle scenes.  There is so much packed into this one film that it’s a popcorn action film with substance, not all just action.

And we will no doubt see more of the character Leng Feng in the near future! (So, don’t stop watching when the credits show up.)

The film also shows the collaboration between China and Africa.  I didn’t know much about China’s presence in Africa but learned that a few years ago, the Chinese government offered a $60 billion loan and aid package to Africa to develop infrastructure, improve agriculture and reduce poverty in the content.

I read on one site that there are almost 75,000 Chinese residents living in Ghana.  Chinese businesses such as restaurants, casinos and grocery stores are being developed, facilities are being built, railways and telecom systems and more roads being developed.    Although media tends to report on the negative of illegal gold mining or illegal poaching or creating a new location for cheap labor costs and that China is exploiting the resources of a poor country.

I’m not going to be polemic upon the subject because I’m not really in the know of how things truly are economically and politically but the fact is that both countries are working together and a film such as “Wolf Warrior 2” is an example of that and wouldn’t be surprised if we start seeing more Chinese films shot in Africa.

The Blu-ray looks great in 1080p High Definition and the lossless soundtrack is immersive and cool!  And you get behind-the-scene featurettes which include interviews with director Wu Jing, the talent and also filming in Africa.

Overall, “Wolf Warrior 2” exceeds the first film in quality and performances.  A film with international flavor and shot in Africa, director and actor Wu Jing has no doubt directed and starred in his best action film yet!

Recommended!

Warrior (a J!-ENT 4K Ultra HD Review)

October 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Gavin O’Connor’s “Warrior” is a riveting action film that captures the thrill of MMA fighting, the thrill of competition and the heart of a fighter.  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2011 Lions Gate Films LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Warrior

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2011

DURATION: 140 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 2160p 4K Ultra High Definition. 2:40:1 Aspect Ratio, English Dolby Atmos, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio Optimized for Late Night Listening, English 7.1 and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (on Blu-ray), SUBTITLES: English, English SDH,  Spanish

COMPANY: Lions Gate

RATED: PG-13

RELEASE DATE: October 24, 2017


Directed by Gavin O’Connor

Screenplay by Gavin O’Connor, Anthony Tambakis, Cliff Dorfman

Story by Gavin O’Connor, Cliff Dorfman

Producer: Gavin O’Connor, Greg O’Connor

Executive Producer: Lisa Ellzey, John J. Kelly, David Mimran, Michael Paseornek, Jordan Schur

Co-Producer:  Josh Fagin, Jamie Marshall, Anthony Tambakis

Music by Mark Isham

Cinematography by Masanobu Takayanagi

Edited by Sean Albertson, Matt Chesse, John Gilroy, Aaron Marshall

Casting by Randi Hiller

Production Design by Dan Leigh

Art Direction: James Donahue

Set Decoration by Ron von Blomberg

Costume Design by Abigail Murray


Starring:

Joel Edgerton as Brendan Conlon

Tom Hardy as Tommy Conlon

Nick Nolte as Paddy Conlon

Jennifer Morrison as Tess Conlon

Frank Grillo as Frank Campana

Kevin Dunn as Principal Zito

Maximiliano Hernandez as Colt Boyd

Bryan Callen as Bryan Callen


An ex-Marine haunted by a tragic past, Tommy Riordan returns to his hometown of Pittsburgh and enlists his father, a recovering alcoholic and his former coach, to train him for an MMA tournament awarding the biggest purse in the history of the sport. As Tommy blazes a violent path toward the title prize, his brother Brendan, a former MMA fighter unable to make ends meet as a public school teacher, returns to the amateur ring to provide for his family. Even though years have passed, recriminations and past betrayals keep Brendan bitterly estranged from both Tommy and his father. But when Brendan’s unlikely rise as an underdog sets him on a collision course with Tommy, the two brothers must finally confront the forces that tore them apart, all the while waging the most intense winner-take-all battle of their lives.


From filmmaker Gavin O’Connor (“Tumbleweeds”, “Pride and Glory”, “The Accountant”) came his 2011 film “Warrior”.  And was written by O’Connor, Anthony Tambakis and Cliff Dorfman.

The film earned Nick Nolte (“Thin Red Line”, “48 Hrs.”, “Cape Fear”) an Academy Award nomination for “Best Supporting Actor” and would jettison the acting career of Tom Hardy (“Mad Max: Fury Road”, “The Revenant”) as a major presence in the movie industry.

“Warrior” stars Nolte and Hardy but also stars Joel Edgerton (“Black Mass”, “The Gift”, “Exodus: Gods and Kings”), Jennifer Morrison (“Once Upon a Time”, “House”, “Star Trek”), Frank Grillo (“The Grey”, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, “The Purge: Anarchy”), Kevin Dunn (“Transformers”, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”) and many more.

The film begins with U.S. Marine Tommy Riordan (portrayed by Tom Hardy) visiting his father, Paddy Conlon (portrayed by Nick Nolte).  When Tommy sees his father, he offers him a bottle of alcohol and talks rudely to his father.  We learn that Paddy is a recovering alcoholic and as an alcoholic, he was quite abusive.  But now, he has returned to his Catholic faith and has been sober for quite awhile now.

But for Tommy, he has only contempt towards his father because he had to runaway with his mother, who was dying and was there through the hard and difficult times of having to clean and watch his mother die.  And he has not forgiven his father for the way he treated them.

Paddy tries to tell him that he’s a changed man, but Tommy has a hard time accepting it.

The day after, Tommy goes to a local gym where a professional MMA fighter named Pete “Mad Dog” Grimes (portrayed by Erik Apple) is giving a spar to a few of the gym trainees.  But Tommy signs a release that he wants a real fight against “Mad Dog” and if he gets hurt, letting the gym and Mad Dog that they are not liable for any damage he receives.  And when the match starts, in less than a minute, Tommy knocks out Mad Dog and those filming the fight have posted on YouTube, making Tommy a superstar on social media as the video has gone viral.

When he finds out that there is a MMA tournament called Sparta in which the winner will receive $500,000, he feels that he wants to do it, to help support the family of his friend who was killed in battle.  As the video goes viral, a soldier sees it and recognizes that Tommy was a person who saved his life and not only does Tommy become a social media sensation but he is branded a hero, despite there is nothing about him that can be found online.

While Tommy does not want a relationship with his father, he asks Paddy to be his trainer (as his father trained him to become a champion wrestler when he was younger).  Paddy looks at this as an opportunity to get close to his son, but Tommy wants nothing from him.  Just to keep the relationship as trainer/pupil.

The film then shifts to another person, Brendan Conlon (portrayed by Joel Edgerton).  Brendan is a high school physics teacher and a former UFC fighter.  He is married to Tess (portrayed by Jennifer Morrison) and have two daughters.  But because one of his daughter had open heart surgery, the medical bills have hurt the family that Brendan is having difficulties paying the mortgage.  And now he is months away from foreclosure, so he needs the money badly.

When he goes to make money in a MMA parking lot match, he wins but because his face is bruised and rumors are running through the school about his fight, the supervisor of the school district punishes Brendan by suspending him.

With no money to pay the bills, Brendan makes the decision, to get back into MMA full time and he goes to his buddy Frank Campana, who owns a gym and trains up-and-coming MMA fighters.  While Frank feels that Brendan is a bit older and its time for the younger fighters to shine, when Frank’s top prospect is injured during a run, Brendan asks Frank if he can take his place and fight in the Sparta tournament.  This would also be a way to make the money needed to pay for their mortgage.

But his wife Tess is scared of him fighting, especially that one of the top MMA fighters in the world, Russia’s Koba (portrayed by Kurt Angle) will be fighting in Sparta.  She thought Brendan would be fighting parking lot fights, not a major fight that could hurt him tremendously.

As Brendan is heading back home, he is met by Paddy and it is revealed that Paddy is his father and similar to Tommy, Brendan wants nothing to do with his father, because he was an abusive alcoholic.  Also, the fact that Paddy favored Tommy even more (because of his success in wrestling) and as Paddy tries to apologize, tells them he is sober and wants to see the kids, Brendan doesn’t want his father around.

And now both brothers will be entering the Sparta tournament.  Will any of them be victorious despite being the unknown underdogs?


VIDEO:

“Warrior” receives its first 4K Ultra HD release and is presented in 4K Ultra High Definition. The film is presented in 2160p (2:40:1 aspect ratio)

Picture quality is fantastic.  From capturing skin detail on closeups, capturing the scars, cuts and bruises of a competitor and for the most part, skin tones look natural, black levels are nice and deep and the film looks great in 4K Ultra HD.

IMPORTANT TO KNOW: To watch 4K Ultra HD, you will need a 4K UHD TV with HDR and an Ultra HD Blu-ray Player + a high-speed HDMI (Category 2) Cable.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

Lossless audio quality for “Warrior” is equally impressive. Featured in English Dolby Atmos, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio Optimized for Late Night English Listening and an English 7.1 and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.   Featuring crystal clear dialogue, great use of surround channels for audience and large crowds in the audience of the Sparta arena and crystal clear music.  For the most part, a wonderful lossless soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Brazilian, Portuguese, Complex Mandarin, French Canadian, Japanese and L.A. Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Warrior” comes with the following special features (on the Blu-ray Disc):

  • Full Contact: Feature Length Enhanced Viewing Mode – While watching the film, you can get access to special features of the filmmakers and the making of the film..
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with filmmakers and actor Joel Edgerton
  • Redemption: Bringing Warrior to Life Documentary – (31:57) A documentary on the cast and crew in making “Warrior”.
  • The Diner: Deleted Scene (with optional commentary) – (3:02) A deleted scene with optional commentary with the filmmakers.
  • Cheap Shots: Gag Reel – (3:58) The gag reel for “Warrior”.
  • Brother vs. Brother: Anatomy of the Fight – (11:49) How Director Gavin O’Connor used traditional storyboards as well as live action pre-visualization shots in preparation in creating the fight segments for the film.
  • Philosophy in Combat: Mixed Martial Arts Strategy – (21:01) World-renowned MMA trainer Greg Jackson reunited with friend and actor Frank Grillo to discuss Mixed Martial Arts and their experiences on the film “Warrior”.
  • Simply Believe: A Tribute to Charles “Mask” Lewis, Jr. – (13:58) A featurette dedicated to Tapout co-founder Charles “Mask” Lewis Jr. who was an asset to director Gavin O’Connor.  Mask passed away before the film was released in theaters.

EXTRAS:

“Warrior” comes with a slipcover, both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray disc and an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


When I first watched “Warrior” back in 2011, one can’t help but be inspired by the storyline of underdogs making it into the MMA industry and beating the top challengers to make it into the finals.

The film manages to capture the thrill of MMA but also capture the heart of competition but most of all having a storyline so riveting that you are instantly captivated by the two stories of a fractured family, two estranged brothers who have lived different lives, both with MMA talent and knowing that both are on a collision course of what if these two were to make it into the Sparta final.

Of course, there is nothing to spoil as the poster of “Warrior” already gives that away but what is interesting is to see one brother, Tommy, who has grown up under abuse, trying to raise his terminally ill mother and seeing her die.  Then going into the military to see his fellow brothers all die and he being the only one to live.

He is a man full of pent-up frustration, rage, hate and so much anger that his only solace in life is to help a family of his friend who was killed in battle.  As an MMA fighter, he is a man of pure brutality.  A man who hurts people with his hits.  A former wrestling champion, he is a man that is pure offense.

Meanwhile, his older brother Brendan is the opposite.  While he grew up in a home of abuse, unlike Tommy who ran away with his mother to escape abuse and take care of her, Brendan fell in love with a woman named Tess and stayed with her.  He fell in love, fought in the UFC, while also going to college to become a physics teacher.

But as an MMA fighter he is pure defense.  Using timing, using strategy and doing what he can to expose a fighter by using various locking moves to put them in pain.  He can punch and kick but it’s being smart and looking for any holes in the opponent’s strategy and waiting for the opportunity to strike.

As both actors Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton are magnificent, a lot has to be said about Nick Nolte’s performance as Paddy Conlon, the father of both men who was an abusive alcoholic.  Hated by his children but yet reunited, as Paddy has found God and also has become sober.

For Tommy, seeing his father now clean and sober frustrates him for all the pain he put him and his mother through.  For Brendan, the same situation but unlike Tommy, lived with his girlfriend and not aware of the pain that Tommy went through.  Not aware of how his mother died and because he chose his girlfriend, Tommy held an anger towards his older brother for abandoning him and his mother.

The family is no doubt dysfunctional but it’s these relationships that add dimension to Warrior’s wonderful story.  Add in the action and the thrill of MMA and watching these brothers overcome major odds is no doubt thrilling.

Gavin O’Connor has no doubt crafted one of his finest films yet and the cinematography by Masanobu Takayanagi was also on point and he managed to capture the thrill of the fight!

The film makes its debut in 4K Ultra HD and the film looks wonderful with closeups showing much more detail.  You can see the split in Brendan’s cut’s underneath his eyes or bruises around his face with clarity, that’s how much detail you get in watching a film in 4K.  The lossless soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue and music but the surround channels also do a great job of capturing the thrill of a fight with the audience screaming.  The soundtrack is quite immersive and alive during those moments.

The special features are located on the Blu-ray disc and features numerous featurettes that showcase the making of the film, those who contributed to the film and more!

Overall, Gavin O’Connor’s “Warrior” is a riveting action film that captures the thrill of MMA fighting, the thrill of competition and the heart of a fighter.  Recommended!

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

capamerica-winter

“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is thrilling, action-packed and a damn good superhero film! And for the Blu-ray release, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is one of the better looking and sounding Blu-ray releases in 2014. A reference Blu-ray release that is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2014 Marvel Studios. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

TELEFILM RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 136 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio), English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, SUBTITLES: English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Marvel/Walt Disney Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13

Release Date: September 9, 2014

Directed by Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Screenplay by Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely

Concept and Story by Ed Brubaker

Based on the Comic Book by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

Produced by Kevin Feige

Co-Producer: Nate Moore

Executive Producer: Victoria Alonso, Alan Fine, Michael Grillo, Stan Lee

Associate Producer: Mitchell Bell

Music by Henry Jackman

Cinematography by Trent Opaloch

Edited by Jeffrey Ford, Matthew Schmidt

Casting by Sarah Finn

Production designer: Peter Wenham

Art Direction by Steve Christensen, Beat Frutiger, Kevin Ishioka, Gary Kosko, Thomas Valentine

Set Decoration by Leslie A. Pope

Costume Design by Judianna Makovsky

Starring:

Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America

Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow

Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier

Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce

Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury

Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill

Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow

Maximiliano Hernandez as Jasper Sitwell

Emily VanCamp as Kate/Agent 13

Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter

Toby Jones as Dr. Arnim Zola

Steve Rogers continues his journey as the super-powered American soldier who’s grasping to find his place in a modern world after being frozen in ice since WWII with this Marvel Studios sequel. Chris Evans returns to star, with Community director/producers Joe and Anthony Russo helming.

With the box office success of Marvel films, especially with the 2011 film “Captain America: The First Avenger” (which earned over $370 million in the box office), there was no doubt that another film based on the superhero would be released.

Fastforward to 2014 and the sequel “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” was released in spring and the film did magnificent in the box office, making over $714 million.

And now “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” will be released on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD in Sept. 2014.

For those not familiar with “Captain America”, the first film introduced us to Steve Rogers (portrayed by Chris Evans) in 1942.  Steve is a young man who tried to enlist for World War II military recruitment but failed due to health and physical issues.  And his friend Sgt. James “Bucky” Barnes (portrayed by Sebastian Stan) convinces him to keep trying.

As Dr. Abraham Erskine hears their conversation, he gives Steve a chance to enlist by recruiting him into the Scientific Strategic Reserve as part of the “super-soldier” experiment.  As Steve is injected with a top secret serum that only Dr. Erskine knows and dousing him with “Vita-rays”, Steve becomes taller and more muscular.  But an assassin kills the doctor and the secret formula is lost.

During a mission, Steve Rogers crashes into the arctic and he is thought to be dead.  When he reawakens, he finds out that he is not living in the 1940’s but it is present-day New York and that he has been sleeping for nearly 70 years.

He is recruited by Director Nick Fury (portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson) of S.H.I.E.L.D. and takes on the persona Captain America.

For the sequel “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, the setting takes place two years after the “Battle of New York” in which the Avengers took on an alien race.

Steve is working with S.H.I.E.L.D. and he is working with Agent Natasha Romanoff (a.k.a. “The Black Widow”, portrayed by Scarlett Johansson) and S.H.I.E.L.D.’s counter-terrorism S.T.R.I.K.E. team to free hostages from a S.H.I.E.L.D. vessel from Georges Batroc and a group of mercenaries.

Steve learns about Project Insight and how three helicarriers are linked to spy satellites and are designed to eliminate threats.  As Nick becomes suspicious about the project, he goes to S.H.I.E.L.D. official Alexander Pierce (portrayed by Robert Redford) to delay the project.

While Nick goes to meet with Maria Hill, he is attacked while driving and is nearly killed by the assassin called the Winter Soldier.  When Steve returns home, he finds a bloodied Nick Fury who tells him to trust no one and that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been compromised. And he gives him an encrypted flash drive.

While the two are talking, a sniper shoots through Steve Rogers window.  As Steve goes after the fugitive, he comes in contact with the Winter Soldier who manages to escape.

Meanwhile, Nick Fury is taken to S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ to undergo surgery and dies and S.H.I.E.L.D. becomes a mess.

Alexander Pierce calls Steve to meet with him and discuss the final conversation he had with Nick Fury but Steve gives Pierce hardly any information.  As Steve is about to leave S.H.I.E.L.D., a group of S.T.R.I.K.E. agents try to kill him, but Steve with the help of Natasha Romanoff, are able to escape  and Pierce has branded Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanoff as wanted fugitives.

Now Steve, Natasha and with the help of Sam Wilson (a.k.a. The Falcon, portrayed by Anthony Mackie) try to uncover the treachery that has gone on behind the scenes at S.H.I.E.L.D. and who may be responsible.

VIDEO:

“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  And once again, another Marvel film that is reference quality with wonderful detail and no picture quality issues at all.

While the colors are not vibrant as the film is intentional but the film looks impressive with its magnificent presentation!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1.  And similar to the magnificent picture quality, the lossless audio are also reference quality.  Crystal clear dialogue, beautiful musical score and with the high amount of action, you get one heck of an immersive soundtrack.  Vehicles, weaponry and with every crashing sound, every gunshot shot, every form of destruction, everything is immersive with surround and rear surround channels being utilized, especially the LFE.  Definitely one of the coolest and most immersive soundtracks I have heard on Blu-ray in 2014, I was very impressed and also didn’t expect anything lower than perfection for this Marvel film.

Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” comes with the following special features:

  • On the Front Line: An Inside Look at Captain America’s Battlegrounds – (10:11) The action and special effects featured in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”.
  • On Set with Anthony Mackie: Cut the Check! – (1:52) A short featurette with Anthony Mackie (who plays the character, Falcon).
  • Steve Rogers’ Notebook – (2:18) What’s in Steve Rogers’ notebook.
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes – (3:34) Featuring four deleted/extended scenes with optional audio commentary.
  • Gag Reel – (2:36) Gag reel for “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”.
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring directors Anthony & Joe Russo and Screenwriters Christopher Markus & Stephen Mcfeely.

While “Captain America: The First Avenger” was an entertaining action film, you couldn’t help that with the success of “Thor”, “The Avengers” and the “Iron Man” films, that Captain America would receive a wonderful storyline to go along with the awesome visual effects.

For me, all I cared for was an entertaining storyline after the major introductions have been made and hopes that the film would be as successful and entertaining as the other Marvel films post-2012.

And for the most part, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” was much better than I expected.

Having read the comic books, the fact is that as long as I have read the Captain America comic books, the way Marvel has used Bucky Barnes in the past, was not the greatest storyline and if anything, the storylines played off like Batman and Robin, in this case, Captain America and Bucky.

But after doing some research about today’s current Marvel Comics, the Winter Soldier has been an integral character, a violent character and one that no one wants to mess with.

And sure enough, seeing Sgt. Barnes transformed into this killing machine was rather interesting but also to see the incorporation of characters such as Natasha Romanoff, Nick Fury, Maria Hill and the newest and coolest character, the Falcon was pretty awesome to see.  But for long time Marvel fans, to see the criminal organization Hydra make its move!

As one can expect from a Marvel action film, the film is eye candy when it comes to visual effects.  Many things blow up, many forms of destruction can be found in this film and the action was non-stop that surprisingly, there is a storyline that is not hidden and easy to follow.

S.H.I.E.L.D. has been compromised, Nick Fury is dead and Captain America must team up with the Black Widow with the help of the Falcon to get into the bottom of things and find out who this Winter Soldier is.

And if you didn’t leave during the credits at the movie theater, you will want to make sure you watch what happens during the mid-credits and what happens after the credits are done as the film transitions to an appearance of Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver.

But this is a much better film than the first.  There is so much happening in this film, so many characters and the film definitely sets up for a highly anticipated sequel to “The Avengers” and also for a third Captain America film.

The chemistry between Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson is fantastic, the inclusion of Anthony Mackie as the Falcon is awesome and Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders is a must for Marvel films and Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter/Agent 13 is also another fantastic addition (despite her screentime being a bit short).  It was also interesting to see Robert Redford play an antagonist.  Also, to see the Frank Grillo as the character Brock Rumow (a.k.a. in the comics as “Crossbones”) and Sebastian Stan return as Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier.

With that being said, because of the many characters, for those who have never followed the comic books and the characters, may feel lost.  But because of the film’s action-heavy storyline, I do feel the film is accessible and I enjoyed the more modern feel of the film and nothing too cheesy.

As for the Blu-ray release, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is one of the highlights of Blu-ray releases in 2014.  This is a reference Blu-ray release in terms of picture quality and lossless audio.  Picture quality is fantastic, lossless audio is amazingly immersive and you feel every boom and because of its chaotic action sequences that keep coming at you, audiophiles will no doubt be in glee over its awesome soundtrack.  There are a good number of special features included as well.

Just remember that if you have a 3D enabled receiver, Blu-ray player and television, there is a Blu-ray 3D version of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” also available.

Overall, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is thrilling, action-packed and a damn good superhero film! And for the Blu-ray release, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is one of the better looking and sounding Blu-ray releases in 2014.

A reference Blu-ray release that is highly recommended!

 

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