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The Seventh Dwarf (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

August 14, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

theseventhdwarf

“The Seventh Dwarf” is a fun, adventurous animated film for the entire family!


DVD TITLE: The Seventh Dwarf

DURATION: 88 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Anamorphic Widescren (1:85:1), English/French Dolby Digital 5.1, Closed Captions

COMPANY: Shout! Factory

RATED: PG

Release Date:  August 18, 2015


Directed by Boris Aljinovic, Harald Sipermann

Written by Harald Siepermann, Daniel Welbat, Douglas Welbat

Producer: Douglas Welbat

 


Featuring the voices of:

Cameron Elvin as Speedy

Matt Gilbert as Tschakko

Joshua Graham as Bobo

Peyton List as Princess Rose

Norm MacDonald as Burner, the Dragon

Joe Marth as Cooky

Geoff May as Sunny

Al Parrish as Cloudy


It’s the eve of Princess Rose’s 18th birthday. Everyone in the kingdom has come to the castle to celebrate including Snow White, the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella and Red Riding Hood. But just before the stroke of midnight, Bobo, the youngest dwarf, accidentally pricks the finger of Princess Rose (a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty) with a cursed needle and sends the kingdom into a century-long slumber! To find Rose’s true love, Jack, to save her with a kiss, Bobo and the other six dwarfs must go on a treacherous journey, face a fiery dragon and outwit the jealous, scheming and evil witch, Dellamorta!


From German actor/director Boris Aljinovic (“Seven Dwarfs”, “7 Dwarves: The Forest is Not Enough”) and character designer/writer Harald Siepermann (“Who Framed Roger Rabit”, “Tarzan”, “Brother Bear”) comes the animated film “The Seventh Dwarf” (Der 7bte Zwerg).

The film marks the final animated film written and directed by Harald Siepermann who passed away of cancer in 2013.

“The Seventh Dwarf” was also co-written by Daniel Welbat and Douglas Welbat and now “The Seventh Dwarf” will be released on DVD in August 2015 courtesy of Shout! Factory.

“The Seventh Dwarf” is set during a time when Princess Rose is set to celebrate her 18th birthday.

Her true love Jack and the Princess are trying to keep their relationship hidden because of the evil Dellamorta will do anything to put a curse on the princess.

She tells him that he is on the only one that can lift the curse if Dellamorta gets to her and the only way to help her is with a kiss.  But he must stay safe from Dellamorta, in order to save her, so Princess Rose gives him a map for him to travel to an area of safety, and also a locket that plays music.  But he must return after the 18th birthday celebration.

But as Jack goes to travel to the safe location, he runs into the youngest dwarf Bobo and when he plays the music on the locket, he immediately reveals his position to Dellamorta, who sends a dragon to capture him.

On the 18th birthday of the Princess, Snow White, the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderalla and the Red Riding Hood come to celebrate with the Princess but when Dellamorta shows up, she tells Princess Snow of her plans to curse her.

Hoping for Jack to come and rescue her, she finds out that Jack has been kidnapped by Dellamorta and to make things worse, Bobo accidentally allows the Princess to get pricked in the finger, putting her into a curse.

Wanting to make things right, Bobo and the Seven Dwarfs go on a mission to rescue Jack and save the Princess.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“The Seventh Dwarf” is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen (1:85:1) and in English/French Dolby Digital 5.1.

It’s important to note that if you want the best picture and audio quality, “The Seventh Dwarf” is available on Blu-ray.  But on DVD, picture quality is as good as one can expect on DVD with DNR.  Picture quality for the most part is good and the children will not mind.  The film is colorful and objects and scenery are well-detailed and shaded.

Subtitles are in English SDH and also provided in Closed Captions.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Seventh Dwarf” comes with the following special features:

  • Character Profiles – Text-based character profiles.
  • Fairy Tales– (2:08) Featuring a behind-the-scenes recording with talents Peyton List and Norm Macdonald.
  • Sing-Alongs – Featuring two songs “Cake” and “Friend”
  • Royal Birthday Invitation – A PDF-based invitation that can be read when the DVD is put on a laptop or PC.

For those who grew up with animated films or fairy tales featuring the seven dwarfs, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White will find “The Seventh Dwarf” to be an enjoyable animated film for the entire family.

A film made in Germany and showcasing American talent such as Peyton List and Norm MacDonald providing voices of the Princess and Burner, the Dragon, this tale is much different than the story tales which we grew up watching or reading and focuses on the adventures of seven dwarfs, especially the shy and clumsy Bobo, who try to make things right by going on a mission to find Jack, the only person who can awaken Princess Rose from her sleep.

But before they can do that, they must prepare themselves with a confrontation with a dragon before facing the evil Dellamorta.

While the animation should not be compared with the big budget Disney Pixar films (for visual graphics and deep storyline), for the most part, CG is well-done and the film has its own personal, unique style for character designs with a story that children and families will enjoy.

While the film is rated PG, due to the dark nature of its antagonist, Dellamorta and slight violence caused by a dragon, for the most part, the film is safe for children.

As for the DVD release, while picture quality is good, for those looking for better picture quality and audio will want to go for the Blu-ray release of this title.  But the DVD looks good as one can expect on DVD and you get a few special features as well.

Overall, “The Seventh Dwarf” is a fun, adventurous animated film for the entire family!

 

Jasper: Journey to the End of the World (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

March 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

jasper

For parents looking for a safe and enjoyable children’s film, “Jasper: Journey to the End of the World” is recommended.

Images courtesy of © 2008 Toons’ Tales FilmProduction GMBH, Fun Movies, Dacodac Studios, a German-French-Romanian Co-Production. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Jasper: Journey to the End of the World

YEAR OF RELEASE: 2008

DURATION: 60 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Widescreen (1:78:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions, English Dolby Digital 2.0, Subtitles: English SDH

COMPANY: Shout! Factory

RATED: For All Ages

DATE: March 10, 2015


Directed by Eckart Fingberg, Kay Delventhal

Written by John Chambers, Eckart Fingberg, Michael Madel

Translation by Martin Quaden

Produced by Sunita Struck

Associate Producer: Roch Lener, Andreas Messerschmidt

Line Producer: Marc Dhrami

Music by Florian Tesslof

Edited by  Reiko Pfeiffer


Featuring the voices of:

Malte Arkona as Jasper

Maresa Sedlmeier as Emma

Christoph Maria Herbst as Dr. Block

Rufus Beck as Kakapo

Torsten Lennie Munchow as Rolf

Christine Leyser as Diva

Manou Lubowski as Jasper’s father

Katrin Frohlich as Jaspers Mother


Join the cutest and most curious penguin you’ve ever seen in the delightful animated adventure Jasper: Journey To The End Of The World!

Down at the icy South Pole, Jasper and his family live a peaceful and happy life. But when he and his brother Junior run afoul of the evil Dr. Block and a scheme to steal some rare parrot eggs, it’s up to the plucky penguin to save the day! With the help of Junior and their new friend, a nine-year-old girl named Emma, Jasper embarks on an incredible journey that will take him to places he’d never imagined before.

With a gentle sense of humor and a bright, colorful animation style, Jasper: Journey To The End Of The World is perfect penguin fun for you and your little one.


In 2008, the animated film “Jasper: Journey to the End of the World” was released.

A German, French and Romanian co-production,  the family film will be released on DVD courtesy of Shout! Factory in March 2015.

The film begins with a young penguin named Jasper who feels he spotted a green bird.  As he tells his father, his parents feel that he has a great imagination and doesn’t believe him.  Years later, after the birth of his little brother, he sees the green bird again and then a figure (that is a ship) and tries to tell his family and friends about it, but when he shows them, no green bird is to be found.

Meanwhile on a ship, a nine-year-old named Emma rides with her father, the captain of the ship.  Riding on the ship is the evil Dr. Block and his henchman, who have been trying to capture eggs from a threatened parrot species, Kakapo.  And to use the ingredient from Kakapo’s for his lemonade.

But as Emma spies on Dr. Block, she knows they are up to no good and tries to tell her father.  But his father thinks she is imagining everything and is starting trouble, so he entrusts Emma during the duration of the trip to singer, Madame Svetlana Bolamova.

One day, as Jasper tries to show his little brother Junior around their area, Junior runs off and jumps on icebergs and scares Jasper because his little brother doesn’t know how to swim.

Junior ends up landing on an iceberg that takes him to a far destination and Jasper goes after him.  When he does, the two end up coming close to a ship and the green kakapo, who goes by the name of Agent Kakapo.

The three go on board the ship and they decide to team up in order to find the stolen kakapo eggs.

But when junior starts messing around and runs off, the three end up running into Emma and they tell her of their mission to recover the stolen eggs that Dr. Block has stolen.  Now knowing that Dr. Block is evil, Emma joins the three in hopes they can retrieve the kakapo eggs, but will they succeed?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Jasper: Journey to the End of the World” is presented in 1:78:1 anamorphic widescreen and in Dolby Digital.  The CG animation is probably best summarized as CG animation that is a bit better than the standard CG animated children’s shows on television.   Animation is well-shaded and the figure movements are good but it’s a European CG style that is not a big-budget animated film but still features good movement and good shading.  And for the most part, most children will enjoy the CG animation.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Jasper: Journey to the End of the World” comes with no special features.


“Jasper: Journey to the End of the World” is a enjoyable children’s animated film.

The story about a penguin named Jasper that sees a ship and a green bird, but yet no one believes him.  And a 9-year-old girl named Emma who feels that Dr. Block is up to no good, but yet her father doesn’t believe her.

And their parents for the most part feel they imagine everything despite Jasper and Emma knowing that something is definitely happening, but can’t prove it.

So, when Emma, Jasper and his little baby brother Junior and Agent Kakapo team up in order to retrieve stolen Kakapo eggs, it sets them up in an adventure aboard a ship,  as they try to outwit Dr. Kakapo and his assistant.  But can they?

“Jasper: Journey to the End of the World” is a short animated film, but no doubt, a film that will entertain children thanks to its cute characters and adventurous plot.  There is no major violence (aside from Emma and friends being caught and tied up) but these group of friends know they can succeed with teamwork.

The DVD is barebones with no special features, but overall, for parents looking for a safe and enjoyable children’s film, “Jasper: Journey to the End of the World” is recommended.

Prisoners of War: Season One (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

July 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

PrisonersOfWar-s1

“Prisoner of War: Season One” has turned out to be a magnificent and riveting series that makes viewers wanting more and more! And I have to admit, I enjoyed “Prisoners of War” much more than “Homeland”, so if you enjoyed the American political thriller, definitely give this award-winning Israeli series a chance. Especially now that it is available on DVD in America courtesy of Shout! Factory! Highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2014 Keshet Media Group. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Prisoners of War: Season One

RELEASE OF TV SERIES: 2009

DURATION: 13 Episodes (530 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: Anamorphic Widescreen, Hebrew with English Subtitles

COMPANY: Shout Factory!

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASED: July 8, 2014

Directed by Gideon Raff

Written by Gideon Raff

Produced by Liat Benasuly

Cinematography by Itai Ne’eman

Edited by Simon Herman

Casting by Hila Yuval

Starring:

Gal Zaid as Haim

Yael Eitan as Dana

Salim Dau as Jamal

Sendi Bar as Iris

Hadar Ratzon Rotem as Leila Qasab

Mili Avital as Nurit Halevi-Zach

Assi Cohen as Amiel Ben-Horin

Adi Ezroni as Yael Ben-Horin

Ishai Golan as Uri Zach

Yoram Toledano as Nimrod Klein

Guy Selnik as Hatzav

After 17 years in captivity, three Israeli soldiers are finally returned to their families: one of them in a coffin. The first season of this award-winning and controversial series follows the former captives and their families as they try to reconnect with each other. But the adjustment is painful, and when secrets of the years gone by begin coming to light, betrayal, resentment and suspicion threaten to destroy their lives all over again.

This deeply moving, intense and thrilling series was adapted into the acclaimed drama Homeland.

Before “Homeland” became a popular American political thriller, there was “Hatufim” (Prisoners of War), the Israeli drama series created by Gideno Raff, which “Homeland” was based on.

But while the series have similarities, because the difference in culture and what is going on in the Middle East, especially with Israel, “Prisoners of War” differs from its American counterpart as the focus is less on political thriller but more on a POW’s acclamation into society and their relationships with their family upon returning home.

A winner of “Best Drama Series of 2010” by the Israeli Academy of Film and Television and multiple awards, the controversial series would become Israel’s highest rated TV drama of all time.

And with a third season of “Prisoner of War” greenlighted, the first season was released in North America on DVD courtesy of Shout! Factory.

“Prisoners of War” revolves around three families.

For 17 years, these families have hoped for Israeli soldiers: Uri Zach (portrayed by Ishai Golan), Nimrod Klein (portrayed by Yoram Toledano) and Amiel Ben-Horin (portrayed by Assi Cohen) to be returned back home.

For a long period of time, both men were held in Lebanon and tortured but after negotiations for their freedom (in return of the release of prisoners), the families receive news that their love ones will be returning.

For Nimrod’s wife, Talia Klein (portrayed by Yael Abecassis), she has worked hard for her husband’s release.  But in return, her family has had it’s major trouble.

Dana (portrayed by Yael Eitan) is a rebellious daughter who has dealt with not having her father around by having sexual relations with older men.  While Hatzav is the teenage son that Nimrod had never met and was born after Nimrod was captured.

For the Zach family, Uri’s return is not as easily accepted as Uri’s longtime girlfriend, Nurit (portrayed by Mili Avital) went on to marry his older brother Yaakov (portrayed by Mickey Leon) and both have a son named Asaf (portrayed by Adam Kent).  While Nurit and Yaakov are not as thrilled and are not sure on how to handle this situation, his father Joseph (portrayed by Shmuel Shilo) is happy for his son’s return.

For the Ben-Horin family, Adi Ezroni has been waiting to find out that her brother Amiel (portrayed by Assi Cohen) would return back home but learns that he was killed during captivity.

While the families deal with the difficulties of learning that their loved ones have changed severely due to captivity, Dana has a hard time dealing with Nimrod’s attitude, as Nimrod feels he could get back to normal life immediately but quickly learns that his wounds from torture is much deeper than expected.

And possibly, Nimrod is keeping a secret of what happened during his captivity.

Meanwhile for Uri, he has been reduced to a shy individual due to the beatings he had suffered.  As for Nurit, life is not easy for her because unlike Talia who remained single and waited for her husband’s return, she chose to marry his older brother and public opinion towards her has been nothing but negative.  Meanwhile, Yaakov is not comfortable that Nurit has been told to pretend she was waiting for him and she is willing to keep from Uri the truth that she had married his older brother.

As for Yael, she is dealing with Amiel’s death very hard and keeps seeing visions of Amiel alive and trying to communicate with her.

But as Nimrod and Uri are being studied by IDF psychologist Haim Cohen (portrayed by Gal Zaid), who suspects something may be amiss between the stories of captivity that both men are giving, what happened to both men during captivity and what secret(s) are they hiding?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Prisoners of War: Season One” is presented in 1:78:1 anamorphic widescreen and Hebrew Dolby Digital with English subtitles. Overall, picture quality is good for what one can expect on DVD.  It helps that Shout! Factory has kept a minimum of 3-4 episodes per DVD.  While I didn’t notice any major artifacts or problematic video, I do wish that “Prisoners of War: Season One” was released on Blu-ray.

But dialogue is clear and English subtitles are easy to read.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Prisoners of War: Season One” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary  – Featuring audio commentary for episodes 1-3 by show creator  Gareth Evans and Director of Photographer Itai Neeman.
  • An Open Wound: Making Prisoners of War – (38:176) Featuring the making of “Prisoners of War” with interviews with creator Gideo Raff, cast and crew.

Having watched “Homeland”, I have been wanting to watch “Hatufim” (Prisoners of War) after reading so much about the series and how it inspired the American political thriller but also reading on forums of how the original was much better.

With “Homeland” being the focus of a POW who is deemed a hero by America, a CIA operative believes this hero may have been turned by terrorist group,  al-Qaeda.

“Prisoners of War” takes a different approach to its storyline.

As Israel is constantly always preparing for war with a few of its neighboring countries, the discussion of POW’s continues to be a hotly debated topic in the country and “Prisoners of War” tries to depict the torture that these POW’s must face especially with a lower budget made the crew focus on the families affected.

And for the most part, the writers were able to pull off the emotional return but also the difficult of the POW’s and families adjusting as so many years have passed.

For series creator,  Gareth Evans did his research in trying to learn from POW’s and their families of how they felt before and after their loved one’s release and how life is not that easy and that life and the normalcy of life will never be the same.

The character of Nimrod is rather fascinating.  A man with so many plans, he comes back to find out that his young daughter is a troubled young woman and he has a teenage son that he never knew.  He notices that times have changed with cell phones, fashion styles and the Israel which he knew, is not the same.  And the wife he loved, has gotten older but also insistent that he gets help and is worried about his well-being.

And then there is Uri, once a young man who was looking forward to marrying his longtime girlfriend Nurit.  But to be emotionally destroyed in captivity and now, a very shy man, he returns back home to find out his love has married his older brother and to find out that his loving mother had passed away while he was in captivity.  Similar to Nimrod, both men have faced daily and severe torture while in captivity and both feel that despite their freedom, the world they once knew and the people they loved, have all changed.

But to add intrigue to the storyline is the storyline of what happened to these men during captivity and each glimpse that we get, the more we learn that something ominous has happened to both of them and the two are keeping a secret which they do not want anyone to know about.

What happened while these men were imprisoned?  Suffice to say, each episode is riveting and captivating that you can’t help but watch episode after episode.

The writing for the series is well-done and I can only hope that the second season (which did even better in the ratings) is even better, which is hard to do when the first season was critically acclaimed.

As for the DVD, you get three audio commentary tracks and a making-of featurette.  Picture quality is good, as what one can expect on DVD and I didn’t notice any major severe artifacts during my viewing.  The audio is clear and English subtitles were easy to read

Overall, “Prisoner of War: Season One” has turned out to be a magnificent and riveting series that makes viewers wanting more and more!  And I have to admit, I enjoyed “Prisoners of War” much more than “Homeland”, so if you enjoyed the American political thriller, definitely give this award-winning Israeli series a chance.  Especially now that it is available on DVD in America courtesy of Shout! Factory!

Highly recommended!

 

Transformers Animated: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

June 22, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

transformers-animated

The release of “Transformers Animated: The Complete Series” is a fantastic collection on DVD of all episodes from all three seasons. It’s a safe animated series that parents can easily show their children and for those who are young at heart, watch a “Transformers” series that is not banal and took a different creative direction for each character. Exciting, action-packed and a different type of “Transformers” series, “Transformers Animated: The Complete Series”: is recommended!

Image courtesy of: © 2014 Hasbro. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Transformers Animated: The Complete Series

DURATION: 42 Eposodes (15.5 hours)

DVD INFORMATION: Anamorphic, 1:78:1, Dolby Digital – English 2.0

COMPANY: Shout! Factory

RATED: TV Y7 FV

RELEASE DATE: June 10, 2014

Trapped on Earth, far from home and living in disguise, the brave Autobots must protect the ancient, all-powerful AllSpark from getting into the hands of the malevolent Decepticons. As if their task weren’t difficult enough, the team (led by the honor-bound Optimus Prime and including Bulkhead, Prowl, Ratchet and Bumblebee) must also protect Earth from its own nefarious super villains! Can this mere maintenance team live up to the highest standard of what it truly means to be Autobots?

Finally, you can own the complete Transformers Animated series, including the never-before-released third season, right here in one exciting collection!

Back in 2007, a new Transformers animated series was unveiled on Cartoon Network.

Thanks to a unique overhaul of the characters courtesy of popular Japanese animation studios MOOK DLE, The Answer Studio and Studio 4°C (who were known for their animated work in the U.S. for series such as “Teen Titans” and “Ben 10”), the series proved to be a hit with children but also the young at heart.

Featuring a storyline that although is quite different compared to past series, the overall theme of the Autobots versus the Decepticons continues but there are some twists and turns that would eventually happen through the two seasons as the series would focus on a small crew of Autobots who find the AllSpark artifact and while on a mission, the crew led by Optimus Prime was being pursued by the Decepticons led by Megatron.

The group would eventually land in future Detroit, once known for creation of automobiles, has now become a leader of creating robots.

And while the Autobots are of higher alien technology, they are assisted by the spunky Sari Sumdac and her scientist father Isaac Sumdac.

And while season 1 was more of a character introducing season, by season two, the series  would feature more twists and turns but also more action, more battles and several surprises with appearances of more Autobot and Decepticon characters but also episodes paying some homage to the past “Transformers” animated film and series.

This second season continued where the last left off. The first season focused on the Autobots working with a young girl named Sari Sumdac and trying to find the Allspark, meanwhile Sari’s father (Professor Isaac Sumdac) thinking that Megatron is a good guy, works hard to revive him (and following his orders to keep his existence private). The season reached it’s climactic point as Megatron is revived and the battle between the Autobots and Decepticons go full force. And Sari’s father is kidnapped by Megatron and forced to be a slave to Megatron.

While the third season began with the Autobot group, Team Athenia, led by Rodimus Prime defending a space bridge against the Decepticons, Team Char led by Strika.  But trouble arises and Rodimus Prime is forced to seek help, meanwhile Megatron manages to infiltrate Omega Supreme, the Autobot that was created to be a weapon of mass destruction against the Decepticons.  But his inactive body was taken by Megatron who tries to find a way to use the Autobot weapon against the Autobots.

Also, the origin of Sari is revealed.  But most importantly, the final season features the conclusion to the animated series and the battle between Optimus Prime and Megatron.

To give a quick refresher on who the main robots are in the series.

The main Autobot team are:

Optimus Prime (played by David Kaye) has always been the main leader of the Autobots in the past but with this Optimus Prime, he is a rookie leader for the Autobots on planet Earth. Unlike previous Optimus Prime, this leader didn’t do that well in Autobot Academy. Optimus Prime transforms into a futuristic firetruck in vehicle mode and in robot mode, his weapon of choice is an Energon axe.

Ratchet (played by Corey Burton) is an Autobot medic and a veteran. He shares his classic stories about the past Great War with his fellow younger Autobots and can be quite grumpy towards others. Ratchet is equipped with an EMP generator as his main weapon and transforms into an ambulance in vehicle mode.

Bulkhead (played by Bill Fagerbakke) is the bulky Autobot that is a demolition specialist but enjoys art and quite laid back. His main weapon are his cannonballs and he transforms into a green swat truck.

Bumblebee (played by Bumper Robinson) is the young, overconfident member who is friends with young Sari and his best friend is Bulkhead. Bumblebee transforms into futuristic bug but has speed blasters on its rear and his main weapons are his stingers on his hands.

Prowl (played by Jeff Bennet) loves nature and he sometimes acts alone. He transforms into a motorcycle and his weapons are ninja-like stars.

The main Decepticon team are:

Megatron (played by Corey Burton) is the cold and manipulative leader of the Decepticons. Transforms to a Cybertronian Fusion jet fighter and a gunship with two propellers. His main weapons are a fusion cannon and twin swords.

Blitzwing (played by Bumper Robinson) is unstable and has a split personality. Each personality can chance to a cold warrior, another that is aggressive and then a flame face which is psychotic. He transformers into a tank and also a jet.

Lugnut (played by David Kaye) is a giant Decepticon with brute strength and is devoted to Megatron. He can turn into a bomber jet.

Starscream (played by Tom Kenny) is sarcastic and as always, two-faced. Wants to take over of the Decepticons and has many clones of himself. He can turn into a fighter jet.

Blackarachnia (played by Cree Summer) was formerly an Autobot named Elita-1 and friend to Optimus Prime. Was caught in an accident that has transformed her into a techno-organic spider and now has a hatred towards the Autobots.

Lockdown (played by Lance Henriksen) is a mercenary and is a bounty-for-hire. Not a Decepticon or Autobot but has been known to assist Megatron for parts.

The following episodes included on “Transformers Animated: The Complete Series” are as follows:

  1. TRANSFORM AND ROLL OUT (Part One) – Optimus Prime and the Autobots are pursued by the Decepticons for the AllSpark.
  2. TRANSFORM AND ROLL OUT (Part Two) – The Autobots get used to their temporary home on Earth.
  3. TRANSFORM AND ROLL OUT (Part Three) – The Autobots team up with humans.
  4. HOME IS WHERE THE SPARK IS – The Autobots have a new HQ.
  5. TOTAL MELTDOWN – Bumblebee transforms into Meltdown.
  6. BLAST FROM THE PAST – Professor Sumdace upgrades a trio of animatronic dinosaurs.
  7. THRILL OF THE HINT – A robotis creating problems in Detroit.
  8. NANOSEC – Bumblebee has a new rival on the road…. Nanosec.
  9. ALONG CAME A APSIDER – Bumblebee and Bulkhead confront Blackarachnia.
  10. SOUND AND FURY – Sari’s toy robot becomes evil.
  11. LOST AND FOUND – The Autobots confront Decepticons Lugnut and Blitzwing.
  12. SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST – Sari has been kidnapped.
  13. HEADMASTER – A Sumdace employee wants revenge and takes control of an Autobot.
  14. NATURE CALLS – Prowl, Bumblebee and Sari go on a mission.
  15. MEGATRON RISING (PART 1) – The Decepticons plan to invade earth.
  16. MEGATRON RISING (PART 2) –  The Autobots must defend the AllSpark by all cost and keep it away from the Decepticons.
  17. THE ELITE GUARD – The Elite Guard featuring Ultra Magnus, Sentinel Prime and Jazz arrive to Earth and find out if stories by Optimus Prime in regards to the Allspark fragments and Decepticons are true. Meanwhile, with Sari’s father missing and no one heading the company, without proof that Sari is a legitimate child of the Professor, she is kicked out of the Sumdac Building and lives with the Autobots.
  18. THE RETURN OF THE HEADMASTER – The Headmaster returns and this time, he takes the body of Sentinel Prime.
  19. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED – Ultra Magnus receives a distress message from Ironhide that there is a major uprising by the Decepticons and requests backup. With no proof of Decepticons on Earth, the Elite Guard asks Optimus Prime and the main Autobots to leave Earth and assist the other Autobots in different parts of the galaxy. That is, until Starscream shows up to take on the Elite Guard and the Autobots.
  20. GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT – The Allspark fragment brings trashbots to life which includes a naive robot named Wreck-Gar who doesn’t know who to follow…the Autobots or Decepticons. Note: This is a homage to the Transformers animated film (1986) with references to to the film and Weird Al Yankovic song “Dare to be Stupid”. And to make things even sweeter, Wreck-Gar features the voice of Weird Al.
  21. VELOCITY – Bumblebee bends the rules and takes part in street racing but there is another speedster in the race. How is it that an Earth car be faster than Bumblebee? Unless it’s another robot. Note: This episode is the first appearance of the Autobot, Blur.
  22. RISE OF THE CONSTRUCTICONS – Autobot fragments have turned vehicles at the construction site to robots. Bulkhead befriends Scrapper and Mixmaster but what happens when Megatron sways them to join the Decepticons?
  23. A FISTFUL OF ENERGON – Prowl and Bulkhead try to help Grimlock of the Dinobots from an injury. Afterwards, Prowl goes after Starscream alone but it seems another robot is after Starscream… Lockdown returns!
  24. S.U.V. – SOCIETY OF ULTIMATE VILLAINY – The villains are back and it seems they have teamed up with an evil robot intergalactic arms dealer named Swindle. (Note: First appearance of Swindle)
  25. AUTOBOOT CAMP – Wasp escapes from prison and Sentinel Prime starts pursuing him. In this episode, you learn more about Bumblebee and Wasp’s relationship and why Wasp hates Bumblebee so much.
  26. BLACK FRIDAY – The Dinobots become servants of Blackarachnia and she has them kidnap Meltdown of the Autobots.
  27. SARI, NO ONE’S HOME – The return of the Constructicons and Bulkhead and Bumblebee are attacked by Blitzwing.
  28. A BRIDGE TOO CLOSE, PART ONE – The Constructicons join the Decepticons, Starscream and his clones concoct a plan. Meanwhile Megatron kidnaps Bulkhead after Shockwave reveals that Bulkhead is a top space bridge engineer.
  29. A BRIDGE TOO CLOSE, PART TWO – Starscream and his clones attack the Decepticons, the Autobots do what they can to prevent the Decepticons from using the space bridge and the Autobots spaceship transforms to Omega Supreme. Also, something happens to Sari.
  30. TRANSWARPED (PART 1) – A traitor among the Autobots.
  31. TRANSWARPED (PART 2) – Megatron’s plans of invading Earth continues.
  32. TRANSWARPED (PART 3) – Can the Autobots protect the Earth from the Decepticons?
  33. THREE’S A CROWD – Bulkhead wants help from the Constructicons.
  34. WHERE IS THEY STING? – Wasp wants revenge on Bumblebee.
  35. FIVE SERVOS OF DOOM – How is Sentinel Prime achieving all this success?
  36. PREDACONS RISING – Wasp ends up on Dinobot Island.
  37. HUMAN ERROR, PART 1 – It’s Christmas time for the Autobots.
  38. HUMAN ERROR, PART II – The Autobots are held captive but can Sari save them?
  39. DECEPTICON AIR – The Decepticons aboard the Elite Guard try to take down the Autobots.
  40. THIS IS WHY I HATE MACHINES – Ratchet and Captain Fanzone are sent to Cybertron.
  41. ENDGAME, PART 1 – Megatron takes control of Omega Supreme.
  42. ENDGAME, PART 2 – The Autobots defend Detroit from the Omega Supreme clones and Megatron.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Transformers Animated: The Complete Series” is presented in anamorphic (1:78:1) and is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0.  Animation for “Transfomrers Animated” is colorful and vibrant and looked very good on DVD.  Dialogue is dialogue-driven and crystal clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

The special features on this “Transformers Animated: The Complete Series” are:

  • Audio Commentary by Matt Youngberg (Supervising Director), Eric Siebenaler (Lead Product Designer) and Derrick Wyatt (Art Director) for “Mission Accomplished” and “Garbage In, Garbage Out”. The audio commentary was very nice as the guys talk about the various anime studios that produced certain scenes from the animation. Talk about how certain characters were supposed to be featured but didn’t, homages to “Transformers” past and much more. What I found awesome was that you get the perspectives of those who work on the show but also the perspective of someone involved in the toy line. And each are big fans of “Transformers” that listening to the audio commentaries were definitely worthwhile.
  • Audio commentary by Marty Isenberg (Story Editor), Sue Blue (Dialogue Director), David Kaye (voice actor for Optimus Prime, Lugnut and more), Matt Youngberg (Supervising Director) and Derrick Wyatt (Art Director) for “Transwarped, Part 1, 2 and 3”

“TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED” is a big part of my family.

As a fan of the older series, I enjoy watching it with my five-year-old, who is just a big fan of the series. We own nearly every toy in the “TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED” line and for him, he really loves the character designs of the robots. I enjoy the storyline. It’s quite interesting because I know many parents who watch the series with their kids and also, own a lot of the toys because they love transforming them and their kids love playing with them.

This passion for “TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED” is worldwide and sure, I’m always going to be a diehard fan of G1 but even for me, I really enjoy what Hasbro has done in creating a cool, refreshing, action-packed animated series. The thing is, this series was created for today’s generation but created by people who were passionate about the older “TRANSFORMER” series and know that there are fans who will continue to stick with the series no matter what age they are, thus the creators put a bit of that nostalgia into this series and in my opinion, they succeeded in making sure the series attracts the young and older fans.

And for anyone who grew up watching this animated series and enjoyed it, many fans will be pleased with a full collection of all 42 episodes on DVD for a great price!

There were so many characters introduced throughout the three seasons and quite a few surprises as well. There is also quite a bit of humor in the series and even some drama (even though it’s more towards the hilarious side) as we see Sentinel Prime and Optimus Prime’s dislike for each other escalate but also the same can be said with the relationship between Megatron and Starscream. Also, the battles between the Autobots and Decepticons were pretty exciting and the incorporated characters, the inclusion of Omega Supreme and also an alternative look at Autobots, especially an Optimus Prime that was not a high-ranking Autobot was rather fascinating to see.

Overall, the release of “Transformers Animated: The Complete Series” is a fantastic collection on DVD of all episodes from all three seasons.  It’s a safe animated series that parents can easily show their children and for those who are young at heart, watch a “Transformers” series that is not banal and took a different creative direction for each character.

Exciting, action-packed and a different type of “Transformers” series, “Transformers Animated: The Complete Series”: is recommended!

Bushido Man: Seven Deadly Battles (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

bushidoman

 “Bushido Man: Seven Deadly Sins” may not be the greatest martial arts film and far from being a great Japanese martial arts film, but for those who appreciate wild and crazy Japanese martial arts films with mindless action, awesome and creative fight choreography, will find the film to be entertaining and all-out fun! Otherwise, if you are looking for a deep storyline to go along with the martial arts action, then this film may not be for you.

Images courtesy of © 2014 The Klockworx Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Bushido Man: Seven Deadly Battles

FILM RELEASE: 2013

DURATION: 88 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:78:1, Japanese and English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Shout! Factory

RATED: Not Rated (Contains Adult Content)

Release Date: June 10, 2014

Directed by Takanori Tsujimoto

Produced by Yohei Haraguchi, Miku Kikuchi

Co-Producer: Mitsuki Koga, Kensuke Sonomura, Takanori Tsujimoto

Executive Producer: Itaru Fujimoto

Assistant Producer: Ema

Music by Hikaru Yoshida

Cinematography by Tetsuya Kudo

Edited by Kensuke Sonomura, Takanori Tsujimoto

Starring:

Mitsuki Koga as Toramaru

Yoshiyuki Yamaguchi as Gensai

Masanori Mimoto as Eiji Mimoto “Yakuza”

Kentaro Shimazu as Billy Shimabukuro “Gun Master”

Kazuki Tsujimoto as Muso “Blind Samurai”

Ema as Denko

Kensuke Sonomura as Yuan Jian “Kung Fu Master”

Masaki Suzumura as Rinryu “Nunchaku Master”

Naohiro Kawamoto as Mokunen “Bojutsu Master”

Marc Walkow as Boss “Bounty Hunter”

Yasutaka Yuuki as Yu “Bounty Hunter”

Takashi Tanimoto as Tani “Bounty Hunter”

Taiju Nemoto as Nemo “Bounty Hunter”

Takanori Tsujimoto as Yakuza Brother

Eat and Fight.

Upon returning from a pilgrimage across Japan, the warrior Toramaru arrives with tales of seven epic battles against Japan’s most legendary fighters. As Toramaru’s philosophy dictates that he ’know the enemy by eating his food, ’ each masterfully-choreographed fight is preceded by a helping of his prey’s favorite dish.

Designated successor to Master Gensai and leading proponent of the all-round martial-arts discipline, The Cosmic Way, Toramaru tells the tales of The Seven Deadly Battles as Master Gensai eagerly listens to the lavish and violent details of Toramaru’s adventures.

When it comes to martial arts films, the majority of the films are from Asia, typically China/Hong Kong, Korea and Thailand.

For Japan, the years of Japanese martial arts cinema has not been apparent in live action films but primarily in animation.

But for Takanori Tsujimoto, director of “Kill”, “Hard Revenge, Milly: Bloody Battle” and “Monster Killer” comes his latest film “Bushido Man: Seven Deadly Battles”, a frenetic and stylish martial arts film that behaves as it was like it was made primarily for a video game.

And now Takanori Tsujimoto’s wild and crazy martial arts film, “Bushido Man: Seven Deadly Battles” will be released on Blu-ray in June 2014.  Courtesy of Shout! Factory!

“Bushido Man: Seven Deadly Battles” revolves around a samurai warrior named Toramaru (portrayed by Mitsuki Koga) who has went through a pilgrimage across Japan, going up against many of Japan’s legendary fighters.

As Toromaru visits his Master Gensai, the leader of the martial arts known as “The Cosmic Way”, Toramaru explains how he conquered various martial arts rivals including a blind samurai; a yakuza member; an English speaking Japanese gun master; a Kung-Fu master, a Nunchaku master, a Bojutsu master and more.

But in order to prove himself to Master Gensai, he must provide his Master with a scroll which documents him defeating the martial arts rival.

But how will Master Gensai feel about Toromaru’s fighting  adventures?

VIDEO:

“Bushido Man: Seven Deadly Battles” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio).  It appears that there was intentional high contrast shots, while close-ups feature amazing detail.  If anything,  the look and style of “Bushido Man” appears to change with each battle but for the most part, picture quality is fantastic.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Bushido Man: Seven Deadly Battles” is presented in Japanese LPCM 2.0 and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and LPCM 2.0.  Personally, it is a preference of mine to watch martial arts films in their original language.  But with that being said, the English dub is good and because of its 5.1 lossless soundtrack, you get better dynamic range.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Bushido Man: Seven Deadly Battles” comes with the following special features:

  • The Making of Bushido Man: From the Fantasia Film Festival – (11:17) Director and a few talent visit the Fantasia Film Festival and take part in a Q&A.

If I had to describe “Bushido Man: Seven Deadly Battles”, for those who are familiar with fighting video games, I would bring up the what if you choose a character and it was a character discussing each battle and what you are watching are the full on chaotic battles.

Somehow, that is how I feel about “Bushido Man: Seven Deadly Battles”, it’s a film that will not be remembered for its storyline, because basically there is not much there…if anything, the film relies on its chaotic, fierce battles featuring actor Mitsuki Koga and watch the awesome fight choreography as the character of Bushido Man, takes on a slew of enemies with different fighting styles.

If anything, this is a film for those who are content with all-out fighting and less of a story.  Similar to a fighting video game, there are those who could care less for the story and are more into the overall fighting.

“Bushido Man: Seven Deadly Battles” is that type of film where the story follows the adventures of Toramaru taking on various rivals in order to get their scroll and present it to his master.

And while this may seem boring, it never gets boring because the fighting is really intense, far-out, stylish and just a lot of fun.

For example, Toramaru takes on Eimi Mimoto of the yakuza and both engage in a dangerous duel of knives.  Another features Toramaru trying to find Denko, a woman who specializes on weapons that activate on punches and kicks.

And while the film looks like a period film, when Toramaru arrives in a city, you realize that this is a melding of modern and traditional-style filming and leaving it to the cast and fight choreographers to come up with something amazingly fierce and all-out awesome.

“Bushido Man: Seven Deadly Sins” also looks wonderful in HD.  Colors feature high contrast, close-ups feature amazing detail and both Japanese and English dub are well-done and feature crystal clear audio.

Overall, “Bushido Man: Seven Deadly Sins” may not be the greatest martial arts film and far from being a great Japanese martial arts film, but for those who appreciate wild and crazy Japanese martial arts films with mindless action, awesome and creative fight choreography, will find the film to be entertaining and all-out fun! Otherwise, if you are looking for a deep storyline to go along with the martial arts action, then this film may not be for you.

 

SlugTerra: Ghoul from Beyond (a J!-ENT Children’s DVD Review)

May 25, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

slugterra-movie

Eli & the Shane Gang take on their most powerful foe yet, the Dark Slinger in the first “SlugTerra” animated film, “SlugTerra: Ghoul from Beyond”.   A fun and exciting “SlugTerra” film for children or the young at heart!  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2014 Slugterrainea Productions Inc. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: SlugTerra: Ghoul from Beyond

TV SERIES AIR DATE: 2014

DURATION: 43 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Full Screen, Dolby Digital English Stereo

COMPANY: Shout! Factory

RATED: TV Y7 FV

RELEASE DATE: June, 2014

Directed by Johnny Darrell

Written by Rob Hoegee, Scott Sonneborn

Executive Producer: Ken Faier, Asaph Fipke, Rob Hoegee, Chuck Johnson

Co-Producer: Nancy Lees

Art Direction by Andy Poon

Featuring the voices of:

Sam Vincent as Eli Shane

Lee Tockar as Pronto

Shannon Chan-Kent as Trixie

Michael Dobson as Maurice

Andrew Francis as Kord

Mark Oliver as Dr. Blakk

Just when the evil Dr. Blakk has been defeated and it seems like Eli Shane’s duties as protector of Slugterra are getting easier, a new danger emerges from beyond the 99 caverns. Eli and the Shane Gang rush to the rescue, but nothing can prepare them for what they encounter: a slug that can do something no one in Slugterra has ever seen — or heard — a slug do before! Traditional slugslinging no longer applies. Eli will have to engage in a very different kind of duel to save Slugterra…and himself!

With the defeat of the evil Dr. Blakk, it would seem that Eli and the Shane Gang can take things easy.

Until they discover a new threat, beyond the 99 caverns, a new enemy with dark energy to create a Goon Doc with special abilities that the Shane Gang has never encountered before.  Good Docs created by the evil Dark Slinger!

Find out who wins the battle in the “SlugTerra” animated film, “SlugTerra: Ghoul from Beyond”!

What is “SlugTerra”?

“SlugTerra” is a series that begins with Will Shane, the protector of SlugTerra taking on his arch nemesis Dr. Thaddius Blakk. As Dr. Blakk tried to unleash an evil power using a ghoul slug in SlugTerra that would envelop Will Shane, Will uses his blaster to shoot out his slug Burpee to find his young son Eli to find a letter before he is enveloped.

Burpee shows young Eli a letter that his father left to him, just in case something bad has happened to him. Will wrote about how many in the long line of the Shane family had ventured to SlugTerra, to protect the area which is located 100 miles below Earth. But the condition if he chooses to accept, is that he can begin his adventure as a Shane in SlugTerra when he turns 15-years-old but also that he must keep the existence of Earth as he knows it, a secret from those living in SlugTerra.

Fast forward to a teenage Eli, who decides to venture to SlugTerra, knowing that he may not be able to get back home. And upon arriving, he arrives to his fathers hideout where his weapons, gear and mecha beast vehicles are located.

While his father left him a blaster, he must find his own slugs which is a key to surviving in SlugTerra. How each slug has a special ability and gets stronger over time. If the owner bonds with the slug, the better the relationship.

Eli eventually meets several people who try to teach him the way of living in SlugTerra and join him as part of the Shane Team. Pronto the Magnificent is a molenoid tracker, so he says. But he seems to get everyone in trouble but also manages to help him the team once in awhile. Beatrice “Trixie” Sting is filming a documentary on slugs but she is also wonderful in fighting competitions and is great strategist. And there is Kord Zane, a huge cave troll who loves technology, and is a mechanic who loves upgrading blasters and vehicles.

Meanwhile, when Dr. Thaddius Blakk and his group find out a Eli is back in SlugTerra, he is determined of ridding Eli as he did with his father. But Blakk has found away to convert innocent slugs to evil ghouls and trying to recruit people to cause havok in SlugTerra.

And as the film takes place after the defeat of Dr. Thaddius Blakk, Eli and the Shane Gang continue their journey beyond the 99 caverns.  But Eli and the Shane Gang thought with the defeat of the Dark Bane and Dr. Blakk, that all would be good in SlugTerra.  But with their encounter with a new enemy known as Dark Slinger, who has the ability to create Boon Docs and Good Docs with special abilities never seen before, will the gang be able to take on this new, powerful enemy?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“SlugTerra: Ghoul from Beyond” comes is presented a series that blends CG animation with hand draw animation. Produed by Nerd Corps Entertainment, the style of “SlugTerra” almost has an anime mashed with Disney style. Colors are vibrant and colorful, character designs for the humanoid characters are well done but also for the slugs which are cute or crazy or mean looking slugs. But the characters are well-shaded and art backgrounds are also nicely done.

Mechanical design is also created quite well from the beast vehicles to the blasters, for the most part, “SlugTerra” is a series that looks good as one can expect on DVD.

The series is presented in Dolby Digital and dialogue and sound effects are clear. And while there are no subtitles, closed captions are included.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“SlugTerra: Ghoul from Beyond” comes with the following special features:

  • Slugisodes – Burpy & Friends Take a Ride – (1:02) Burpy and friends get some R&R by diving into a pool.

 

As I have been enjoying the “SlugTerra” series and the adventures of Eli and the Shane Gang, with the revelations featured in the animated film “SlugTerra: Ghoul from Beyond”, suffice to say that as the group wanders the caverns, they encounter new enemies unlike they have ever encountered before.

Enemies that are more powerful, enemies that have Goon Docs that can change and have abilities unlike any other ghouls they have encountered.

But now facing a major enemy known as the Dark Slinger who has the dark power to be as powerful, if not more powerful than Doctor Blakk.  But what will happen when Eli and the Shane Gang come into contact with their latest enemy?

Featuring an exciting, all-action storyline that  children or the young at heart will definitely enjoy, the series and the film benefits from “SlugTerra” thanks to its cool characters, well-written storyline and a story that will no doubt impact the next season with its surprising revelations.

Parents looking for a safe animated series on DVD for their children who love action and sci-fi, will definitely enjoy this “SlugTerra” film, “SlugTerra: Ghoul from Beyond”.

Recommended!


Martial Arts Movie Marathon Vol. 1 (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

May 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

mamm-1

Four classic Golden Harvest films for the price of one! If you love classic ’70s martial arts films, “Martial Arts Movie Marathon Vol. 1” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2010 Fortune Star Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Martial Arts Movie Marathon Vol. 1

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 1974 & 1975

DURATION: The Skyhawk (85 Min.), The Manchu Boxer (82 min.), The Dragon Tamers (103 min.), The Association (87 min.)

DVD INFORMATION: 2:35:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen), English Mono and Mandarin Mono, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Shout! Factory

RATED: NOT RATED (Films feature nudity and violence)

RELEASE DATE: May 20, 2014

The Skyhawk (1974)

Directed by Chang-hwa Jeong

Written by I. Fang Yeh

Executive Producer: Yin Fang Hsiao, Louis Sit

Producer: Raymond Chow

Music by Joseph Koo

Cinematography by Yu-tang Li

Edited by Yao Chung Chang

Costume Design: Sheng-hsi Chu

Manchu Boxer (1974)

Directed by Ma Wu

Written by On Szeto

Producer: Raymond Chow

Music by Fu Yung Chou, Lan-Ping Chow

Edited by Yin Kwong

The Association (1975)

Directed by Chang-hwa Jeong

Written by Kuo Hui, Chang-hwa Jeong

The Dragon Tamers (1975)

Directed by John Woo

Written by John Woo

Starring:

The Skyhawk (1974)

Tak-Hing Kwan as The Skyhawk (Wong Fei Hung)

Nora Miao as Hsiang Lan

Hsiung Chao as Ku

Carter Wong as Leo

Sammo Hung Kam-Bo as Fei Fei

Manchu Boxer (1974)

Chi Chu Chin

Piao Ho

Sammo Hung Kam-Bo

Ling Ling Li

Tony Liu

Sa-seong Mo

Man-ming Tao

The Association (1975)

Yu Byong as Huang Tien-hsin

Niu Tien

Angela Mao as Fang Chu/Lui Ying

Carter Wong

Sammo Hung Kam-Bo as Tiger

The Dragon Tamers (1975)

Chuan Chen

Chi Chu Chin

Keiko Hara

Sammo Hung Kam-Bo

Han Jae Ji

Chang-suk Kim

Wang Kuk Kim

Chie Kobayashi

Before Jet Li became well known for the role of Wong Fei Hung, the great Kwan Tak Hing played the role in hundreds of films. The Skyhawk finds Wong Fei Hung fighting the local crime boss. Also starring Sammo Hung, Carter Wong (Big Trouble In Little China) and Nora Miao (Fist Of Fury).

A roaming fighter gets into the ring to win a boxing tournament to thwart an evil warlord in The Manchu Boxer, starring Anthony Lau Wing (The Big Boss), Sammo Hung and Wilson Tong Wai Shing (Lady Whirlwind).

Two fighters must come together to fight a pair of evil brothers in The Dragon Tamers. Starring Carter Wong, James Tien (The Big Boss) and Ji Han Jae (</>Hapkido), The Dragon Tamers is director John Woo’s (Hard Boiled, The Killer) second film.

A detective must thwart an evil organization is running an international prostitution ring in The Association, starring Byong Yu, Tien Nei (The Young Dragons), Angela Mao Ying (Hapkido) and Carter Wong.

When it comes to martial arts films from the ’70s, the Shaw Brothers and Golden Harvest were known for their action films.

Some that have made it overseas via Kung Fu Saturday afternoon television in the United States, others that have not yet been released or seen for a long time.

While the Shaw Brothers films have been picked up and released by various companies in the U.S., Shout! Factory will be releasing the Golden Harvest films as part of their “Martial Arts Movie Marathon” beginning in May 2014.

Each set will feature four films and with the first volume, two films from 1974 – “The Skyhawk” and “The Manchu Boxer” and for 1975 – “The Dragon Tamers” and “The Association” will be released on DVD.

These films are uncut (with nudity and violence retained) and will be presented in Mandarin or the classic English dub.

The first film featured is “The Skyhawk” and revolves around the popular character Skyhawk/Wong Fei Hung (portrayed by Tak-Hing Kwan).  As he and two of his students (portrayed by Carter Wong and Sammo Hung) go to Thailand to celebrate a friend’s birthday, word gets around to his nemesis and the local crime boss.  As the crime boss is wanting the deed of the restaurant that Skyhawk’s friend owns, the gang tries to ensure that Skyhawk and students have a difficult time in Thailand.

The second film is “The Manchu Boxer”, a young fighter (portrayed by Liu Yung) gets into a fight with a man who tries to kill him.  In self defense, the young fighter kills the man but despite it being self-defense, his father feels his son’s shame and kicks him out of the house.

With no home and wanting to atone for his sin, the young fighter leaves but is nearly killed by a robber but he manages to beat the robber easily.  The robber turns out to be an older man who is sick and trying to raise money for his wife and daughter.  The man eventually dies and for the young fighter, he heads to his village, wanting to work and help the family.  Just to work and forego any knowledge of his martial arts.

But with a martial arts tournament happening in the city, an evil Warlord and his evil family try to bully shopkeepers by threatening them (or raping them) to get what they want.  But for the young fighter, he refuses to use his martial arts in fear of killing anyone.  But when his new friends are being threatened and are hurt, will he step up to defend them with his martial art skills?

The third film is titled “The Dragon Tamers” and was the second film directed by John Woo (“Hard Boiled”, “The Killer”).  The film stars Liu Yung, a teacher of Kung-Fu for a school of girls who do not get along with another girl’s martial arts school and are often fighting with each other.  As Liu becomes captivated by Tae Kwon Do, an enemy from his past comes to the village and trying to take over the martial arts schools.

And the fourth and final film “The Association” begins with a detective who arrested his former love for murder and now she is to be executed.  But while she fought and killed a person that murdered her family, she feels that a corrupt police and corrupt military commander are running illegal activities and her final request before being executed is for the detective to get the evidence to arrest them.

The detective discovers that an evil organization is running an international prostitution ring and also discovering an illegal abortion business.   But will he be able to mount a case against a powerful military commander and a higher up in the police force?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

Each of the four films are presented in widescreen (2:35:1 aspect ratio) and in Mandarin and English monaural.    As for picture quality, picture quality differs greatly from film to film, the 1975 films looking much better while “The Manchu Boxer” looking the worst of the four films.

Neither of the films have undergone digital remastering or any cleanup and it’s a shame considering many of the Shaw Brothers films are receiving restoration and remastering.  But for those wanting to watch these classic Golden Harvest martial arts films, you do get four films (two films per DVD) for a low price.  Just don’t get expect any clarity or boost in better video.  As for audio, I’m quite happy that the Mandarin soundtracks are included.  Both the soundtracks can be heard clearly, and the subtitles are easy to read.  And of course, the English dub that many people have watched long ago on Kung Fu theater, is included.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Each of the four films included in “Martial Arts Movie Marathon Vol. 1” includes a theatrical trailer.

For any fans of older martial arts films, the Golden Harvest collection of films featured in Shout! Factory’s “Martial Arts Movie Marathon” is what many fans have been waiting for.

Or is it?

For one, 1974-1975 were amazing years for martial arts films from both Golden Harvest and the Shaw Brothers.  For Golden Harvest, the Wong Fei Hung character/Skyhawk is a long going character, possibly known more today in the Western world as a character Jet Li played in “Once Upon a Time in China” or by Gordon Liu.  The fact is that Wong Fei-hung films has started as afar back in 1949 and for many decades, the man behind the portrayals of the Hung Gar martial artist was Kwan Tak Hing.

Bu tin truth, for actor Kwan Tak Hing, the character was his character that he made popular for many films and “The Skyhawk” was one of the coolest Wong Fei Hung films that I have watched.  It’s a tragic tale as characters are killed and as Wong Fei Hung tries to take the high road and not fight, you could see his enemies doing all they can to provoke his students and him into fighting.  It’s a great martial arts film on discipline but also a film that delves into corruption.

“The Manchu Boxer” is quite interesting because instead of the banal tale of fighting hero showing up to a village and becoming the village’s hero, it’s quite the opposite as the protagonist will not fight as a promise to his father, after he killed a man.  But when the local enemies in town try to cause amazing trouble that leads to rape and murder, he has no choice but to fight for those that were killed.

“The Dragon Tamers” is interesting in the fact that it was John Woo’s second film that he had directed.  A martial arts film that features female groups involved in martial arts, it’s also a film that goes into various fight styles and of the the four films included, one that does focus on the various martial arts and those corrupted trying to take control of the martial arts schools in town.

The final film, “The Association” is a martial arts film but one that tries to incorporate a lot of sex.  While each of the films has its share of nudity, this one features a lot more of it as we see rituals of nude women for the sake of practicing abortion to women getting raped, it’s a deep film that involves a detective doing all he can to take down powerful officials who are responsible for the major crime in the city.

As for the DVD, I wish the films were digitally restored and remastered but I suppose that four four films for the price of one, you are getting a pretty solid deal price-wise.  Picture quality differs from picture to picture with the 1975 films looking much better, while “The Manchu Boxer” being the worst of the four.  But they are all watchable.  For audio, you get both the monaural Mandarin and English dub.  And of course, if you were raised with the English dub, it’s interesting to watch and see how much the dialogue was changed and how the dub makes the film have an unintended comedy slant because the voice acting is so bad.   And as for special features, you get the trailers for each of the films.

Overall, I do enjoy the fact that Shout! Factory is releasing each of these films as part of a four film collection the “Martial Arts Movie Marathon” DVD series.  These films are rather fascinating as the storylines are quite fascinating, the whole ’70s approach to martial arts filmmaking and the use of sex and ’70s music is also interesting.  But for any martial arts film fan, having these four films in one set is a pretty amazing deal!

Recommended for fans of classic martial arts films!

 

Transformers: Energon – The Complete Series (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

May 9, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

energon-a

If you grew up with “Transformers: Energon” as a child or an adult who has followed every or many”Transformers” animated series as possible, and watching the series with an open mind to a fresh new story and alternate timeline, “Transformers: Energon” is definitely recommended and a great value for fans of the “Transformers” animated series!

Image courtesy of © Hasbro Studios. All Rights Reserved.

BLU-RAY TITLE: Transformers Energon: The Complete Series

TV RELEASE DATE: 2004

DURATION: 51 Episodes (18 3/4 Hours)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 4:3, Color, stereo

COMPANY: Hasbro Studios/Shout! Factory

RATED: TY Y7

DVD RELEASE DATE: May 6, 2014

Directed by Jun Kawagoe, Yutaka Sato

Written by Akira Okeya

Produced by Actas Inc. and Studio A-CAT

Featuring the Voices of:

Garry Chalk as Optimus Prime

Trevor Devall as Alpha Q

Matt Hill as Ironhide

Scott McNeil as Jetfire

Brent Miller as Hot Shot

David Kaye as Megatron

Michael Daingerfield as Inferno

Michael Dobson as Starscream

Alvin Sanders as Demolishor

Don Brown as Cyclonus

Paul Dobson as Rodimus

Ron Halder as Dr. Jones

Kirby Morrow as Rad

Colin Murdock as Scorponok

Doug Parker as Mirage

Ward Perry as Landmine

Brad Swaile as Kicker

Alistair Abell as Prowl

Ten years of peace have passed since Unicron’s destruction, but all of that’s about to change. A mysterious enemy has unleashed the Terrorcons on the Autobots’ cities, gathering energy for plans of total domination. Enter a newly revived Megatron and the universe is in for a war unlike any it s ever seen between the Autobots and Decepticons. And once again, Earth is caught in the middle!

Can Optimus Prime and his valiant Autobots (alongside their human allies) protect the Earth against this new threat? Find out with the complete series of Transformers: Energon!

In 2004, the latest Transformers animated series titled “Transformers: Energon” aired in Japan.

With a total of 51 episodes, the series is a direct sequel to “Transformers: Armada” and would feature the return of Armada human characters Rad White, Carlos Lopez and Alexis and takes place during a time where peace has taken place on Cybertron and Earth after the defeat and destruction of Unicron.

But as the Autobots and Decepticons have lived in peace, a mysterious being known as Alpha Q has been observing afar.  Sending out Terrorcons, led by Scorponok to attack Cybertron cities in order to obtain Energon.

On Earth, Alexis has grown up to become a diplomat for the human delegation of the Earth Federation as a liaison between Earth and the Autobots/Decepticon alliance.  Meanwhile, Carlos is working at a space station observing any problems in outer space.  While Rad is working on Cybertron with Dr. Brian Jones.

“Energon” would focus on Dr. Brian and Miranda Jones son Kicker, an excellent Cyclist and often headstrong.  He has a had problems with all Transformers and is considered a brash teen who tends to upset the Autobots because of his behavior and actions.  But because of his many phobias, he has a problem with trusting anyone.

As Alpha Q continues to gain Energon in order to re-create Decepticons to follow him, Megatron is engineering his own resurrection and to bring back Unicron but to gain revenge against Optimus Prime.

The primary Autobots for “Energon” are Hot Shot, Inferno, Ironhide, Jetfire, Wing Saber and Omega Supreme as the first season focused on the Autobots taking on Alpha Q who intends to resurrect Unicron.

For the second season, Megatron continues his plot for revenge against Optimus Prime, while Rodimus returns but not to help the Autobots stop Alpha Q but wanting the Autobots to allow him to recreate Unicron.  This causes some division with the Autobots, who don’t understand why Rodimus would support the return of Unicron.

And as the fight continues, Megatron will evolve into the mighty Galvatron. Can Optimus Prime and the Autobots defeat him?

 

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Transformers: Energon – The Complete Series” is presented in 4:3 (standard definition), color and in stereo. While I am still biased towards the original animation of the “Transformers” and for modern animation, more towards “Transformers: Cybertron” and “Transformers: Prime”, while the character design of “Transformers: Energon” was fascinating as the animation would feature interesting mecha design but also better character design animation for the human characters, while mechanical design may be subjective to the viewer.

Backgrounds are the usual standard rocks and trees, but the backgrounds are detailed and well-painted.

But for those who enjoyed “Transformers: Energon”, the positive about this series is that the series looks very good on DVD. There is no sign of any blemishes, dust or aging. The animated series looks very good on DVD and if anything, fans should be happy with the overall picture quality.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Transformers: Energon – The Complete Series” comes with no special features.

EXTRAS:

“Transformers: Energon – The Complete Series” comes with a cardboard slipcover.

When I first caught “Transformers: Energon” on television, I have to admit that my first feeling was that the series was more about promoting the toyline, featuring so many different types of accessories and trying to think outside of the box in terms of doing something different than any other “Transformers” series before it.

The Optimus Prime that we knew before, looked very different.  Actually, all Autobots and Decepticons looked different as the goal was to use CG animation for the mecha, while we got to see much better human character designs with a stronger anime connection (much better than “Transformers: Armada”).

But I have to admit that the series had its positive moments, from featuring many Autobots/Decepticons and bringing on a new antagonist and utilizing a Unicron-driven storyline.  The problem was that the execution felt rushed.

Unicron was made much weaker in the series and while it was great to see a new antagonist for a short while, the fact is that it strayed too far from the Autobots vs. Decepticon theme  until the second half of the series.

And while he was only a baby when this series came out, my son grew up watching “Transformers” and the continuing series and eventually having his own large collection of Transformers. But for him watching this series in 2014, it was seeing him react to the series that I realized that Hasbro/Takara did a good job in creating this alternate universe and new storyline for “Transformers: Energon”.  Sure, it’s nothing like the G1 I love but it’s also for a new generation of Transformers fans can watch and enjoy and I collected a few of the Transformers in the toy line, so it’s actually a fascinating concept for the animated series and toy line.

But in terms of story…I do feel that while the animation is much better than “Armada”,  Kicker was quite irritating as a human character and to see the Autobots become emotional because of Kicker’s behavior, was no doubt too much for me.  But as for my young son, he absolutely enjoyed “Transformers: Energon”, for its characters, its humor and even its mild battles.

With the release of “Transformers: Energon”, fans are getting all 51-episodes and for any fans of the “Transformers” animated series, these complete collections are wonderful as there is no having to purchase multiple volumes and it’s straight-up a complete collection of all episodes for a great price at under $30.

While I am not familiar with the older DVD release of “Transformers: Energon”, the DVD quality from the Shout! Factory release is very good.  I detected no major signs of major damage or aging. No major artifacts and the best that one can expect from a DVD release. There are no special features included but with seven DVD’s featuring 51-episodes, I’m quite thrilled with the overall package. A complete series with all seasons for under $30. That’s a major deal!

Overall, if you grew up with “Transformers: Energon” as a child or an adult who has followed every or many”Transformers” animated series as possible, and watching the series with an open mind to a fresh new story and alternate timeline, “Transformers: Energon” is definitely recommended and a great value for fans of the “Transformers” animated series!

Transformers Armada: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

March 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

transformers-armada

If you grew up with “Transformers Armada” as a child or an adult who has followed every or many “Transformers” animated series as possible, and watching the series with an open mind to a fresh new story and alternate timeline, “Transformers: Armada” is definitely recommended!  A great value with all 52-episodes for under $30!

Image courtesy of © Hasbro Studios. All Rights Reserved.

BLU-RAY TITLE: Transformers Armada: The Complete Series

TV RELEASE DATE: 2002

DURATION: 52 Episodes (19 3/4 Hours)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 4:3, Color, stereo

COMPANY: Hasbro Studios/Shout! Factory

RATED: TY Y7

DVD RELEASE DATE: March 11, 2014

Directed by Masayuki Matsumoto, Hidehito Ueda

Written by Shoji Tonoike, Jono Howard, Terry Klassen, Ryo Motohira, Ward Perry, Kathleen Westlake

Executive Producer: Steve Drucker, Eugene Ishikawa

Animation Producer: Hiroshi Kato, Kichou Minami

Cinematography by Yasuhisa Kondo

Edited by Bruce Cathcart

Art Direction by Nobuto Sakamoto

Featuring the Voices of:

Michael Dobson as Starscream

Terry Klassen as Jetfire

Ward Perry as Scavenger

Don Brown as Cyclonus

Michael Daingerfield as Wheeljack

Brian Dobson as Red Alert

Scott McNeil as Jetfire

Kirby Morrow as Rad

Collin Murdock as Thrust

Doug Parker as Tidal Wave

Tony Sampson as Fred

Alvin Sanders as Demolishor

Tabitha St. Germain as Alexis

Sam Vincent as Sideswipe

Dale Wilson as Hoist

Garry Chalk as Optimus Prime

David Kaye as Megatron

Paul Dobson  as Nemesis Prime

Brian Drummond as Blurr

Andrew Francis as Billy

Matt Hill as Carlos

Brent Miller as Hot Shot

Jim Conrad as the Narrator

Kelly Sheridan as Hologram Girl

Mark Acheson as Unicron

The fight between the valiant Autobots and treacherous Decepticons continues, but the fate of the war may lie in the hands of the small, power-enhancing Transformers known as Mini-Cons. With the aid of the Autobots, the Mini-Cons escape Cybertron, but their safety is short-lived after an attack cripples the ship and forces it to crash land in Earth s solar system. Now, after millions of years in stasis, the Decepticons have been alerted to the Mini-Cons whereabouts and it s up to the Autobots to protect them as well as all of humanity.

In 2002-2003, “Transformers: Armada” aired on television in Japan but also in the United Stats.

The first “Transformers” series co-produced by Hasbro and Takara, the series would be a new chapter in alternate universes of “Transformers” and a series that would try to appeal to the new younger fans to “Transformers” but also to the young at heart who have followed “Transformers” since the ’80s.

With a total of 52 episodes which have aired on television, “Transformers Armada” will now be released on DVD in March 2014 courtesy of Shout! Factory.

In “Transformers: Armada”, the war between the Autobots and Decepticons continues but for this series, the war is over the Mini-Cons which can enhance the power for either side.

As the Mini-Cons try to escape with the Autobots, the Decepticons were able to damage their escape ship through the spacebridge.

The Autobots were able to materialize into Earth’s solar system, crashing into the moon, while the other half lands on Planet Earth, scattering Mini-Cons all over the world.

Over millions of years later, two young teens, Bradly “Rad” White and Carlos Lopez enter caves and discover the wreckage of a Mini-Con ship and as it activates, a signal is sent to both the Autobots and Decepticons who now know that their war with each other will continue on another planet.

Optimus Prime leads the Autobots which include Hot Shot, Red Alert, Smokescreen, Scavenger, Blurr and Sideswipe to find the Mini-Cons, while Megatron leads the Decepticons which includes Starscream, Demolishor, Cyclonus, Thurst, Tidal Wave and Wheeljack.  But for Optimus Prime, to understand Earth, they put their trust in Rad, Carlos and their friend Alexis.

“Transformers Armada: The Complete Series” featured the following episodes (spoilerless summary) on eight DVD discs:

  • EPISODE 1 – The day Rad and Carlos met the Autobots
  • EPISODE 2 – The Autobots vs. the Decepticons
  • EPISODE 3 – Rad and friends team up with the Autobots
  • EPISODE 4 – The Autobots try to save the MiniCons and Optimus comes face to face with Megatron
  • EPISODE 5 – Hot Shot and Red Alert have their own set ways and Hot Shot has a hard time believing Red Alert was a brave soldier on Cybertron.
  • EPISODE 6 – Starscream orders Demolisher and Cyclonus to attack the Autobots.
  • EPISODE 7 – Rad and Carlos take Highwire and Sureshock to a carnival.
  • EPISODE 8 – Optimus and the Autobots arrive on a desert to save Mini-Cons.
  • EPISODE 9 – Billy and Fred are kidnapped by Cyclonus.
  • EPISODE 10 – Who is the mysterious Transformer? Is he Autobot or Decepticon?
  • EPISODE 11 – Carlos tries to help a girl he becomes smitten with.
  • EPISODE 12 – Rad figures out how the people who had possession of the Star Saber destroyed themselves.
  • EPISODE 13 – Cyclonus searches for the Autobot base.
  • EPISODE 14 – Demolisher, Starscream and Cyclonus try to capture a Mini-con.
  • EPISODE 15 – Is Hot Shot the most powerful Autobot?
  • EPISODE 16 – Hot Shot and Sideways become good friends.
  • EPISODE 17 – Hot Shot is depressed…
  • EPISODE 18 – What happens when Scavenger shows up?
  • EPISODE 19 – Rad, Carlos and Billy take Smokescreen, Red Alert and the Mini-cons to a vacation site.
  • EPISODE 20 –The Autobots meet Blurr, but why doesn’t he and Hot Shot get along?
  • EPISODE 21 – Megatron challenges the Autobots to a battle.
  • EPISODE 22 – The Decepticons set a clever trap for the Autobots.
  • EPISODE 23 – Megatron vs. Starscream
  • EPISODE 24 – What happens when Alexis’ laptop is infected with a virus?
  • EPISODE 25 – The Decepticons losing streak lead to the group starting to quarrel with one another.
  • EPISODE 26 – Optimus Prime is wounded in battle.
  • EPISODE 27  – Will Thrust’s new plans help the Decepticons?
  • EPISODE 28  – Enter the Decepticon known as Tidal Wave.
  • EPISODE 29 – Rad and friends discover a fearful Mini-con.
  • EPISODE 30 – The kids take the Mini-cons out of the base.
  • EPISODE 31  – A past from the old days when Hot Shot trained a young soldier named Wheeljack.
  • EPISODE 32 – Wheeljack the enemy?
  • EPISODE 33 – Starscream challenges the Autobots.
  • EPISODE 34  – Can Red Alert help a wounded Transformer?
  • EPISODE 35 – The Autobots vs. the Decepticons in an all-out battle.
  • EPISODE 36  – Starscream wants revenge against Megatron.
  • EPISODE 37  – Sideways and Thrust plan on how to get the Mini-Cons from the Autobots.
  • EPISODE 38  –  Megatron wants Starscream to use the Hydra cannon on Earth.
  • EPISODE 39  – Megatron has a new weapon.
  • EPISODE 40  – The new leader of the Autobots.
  • EPISODE 41  – Rad has a nightmare about the Autobots.
  • EPISODE 42 – Can anyone save Optimus Prime?
  • EPISODE 43 – The fight against Nemesis Prime.
  • EPISODE 44  – The Autobots and Decepticons are back on Cybertron.
  • EPISODE 45  – Hot Shot heads to the Decepticons base.
  • EPISODE 46  – The kids learn the truth about the Mini-cons.
  • EPISODE 47  – The kids, Hotshot, Wheeljack and Starscream go after Thrust.
  • EPISODE 48  – Optimus Prime tries to convince Galvatron of working together to fight Unicron.
  • EPISODE 49  – The Decepticons debate to join forces with the Autobots.
  • EPISODE 50  – The Autobots and Decepticons unite to fight a greater evil.
  • EPISODE 51  – The search for Optimus and Galvatron.
  • EPISODE 52  -FINAL EPISODE: The Transformers vs. Unicron.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Transformers Armada: The Complete Series” is presented in 4:3 (standard definition), color and in stereo.  While I am still biased towards the original animation of the “Transformers” and for modern animation, more towards “Transformers: Cybertron” and “Transformers: Prime”, while the character design of “Transformers: Armada” was not as detailed for the humans, a lot of the animation was focused on mechanical design of the Transformers.

Backgrounds are the usual standard rocks and trees, but the backgrounds are detailed and well-painted.

But for those who enjoyed “Transformers Armada”, the positive about this series is that the series looks very good on DVD.  There is no sign of any blemishes, dust or aging.  The animated series looks very good on DVD and if anything, fans should be happy with the overall picture quality.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Transformers Armada: The Complete Series” comes with no special features.

EXTRAS:

“Transformers Armada: The Complete Series” comes with a cardboard slipcover.

When “Transformers Armada” aired on television, there was no doubt that animators were going for a family friendly animated series.

The animated series during the 2000’s, focused on the Autobots working with children to help them find some sort of relic and in this case, Armada was about the Mini-cons which could be utilized to create powerful weapons.

And I have to admit that when this series aired, that was part of my frustration as a longtime “Transformers” fan, seeing how this series was playing out too soft and seemed more of family series to appeal to the young and the young at heart but also emphasizing the toyline.

But by the second half of the series, the third season would flip the danger level of “Transformers Armada” and show major battles with major repercussions as certain characters, literally are killed.  And in someways, there were some aspect of the series that looked as it was paying homage to the oldschool “Transformers” animated film with something bad happening to Optimus Prime, a new leader for the Autobots, but most importantly, the major antagonist towards the end of the series started to change from Megatron to the behemoth known as Unicron.

And from that point on, my faith was restored in the series and I would end up catching the next series with “Energon” and “Cybertron” and even going so far as to purchase the toys and introducing my son to the world of the Transformers.

And while he was only a baby when this series came out, my son grew up watching “Transformers” and the continuing series and eventually having his own large collection of Transformers.  But for him watching this series in 2014, it was seeing him react to the series that I realized that Hasbro/Takara did a good job in creating this alternate universe and new storyline for “Transformers: Armada” that this new generation of Transformers fans can watch and enjoy.

My son absolutely enjoyed “Transformers Armada”, for its characters, its humor and even it’s mild battles.  Sure, “Transformers Armada” is nothing like the series that I grew up with in the ’80s and it’s not meant to be.  This series was created for the new generation of fans of the Transformers and as the series had its fans who grew up watching it on television, they also grew up with the toys, like the series did for me back in the generation 1 years.

With the release of “Transformers Armada: The Complete Series”, fans are getting all 52-episodes on eight DVD’s and for any fans of the “Transformers” animated series, these complete collections are wonderful as there is no having to purchase multiple volumes and it’s straight-up a complete collection of all episodes for a great price at under $30.

While I am not familiar with the older Rhino DVD release of “Transformers Armada”, the DVD quality from the Shout! Factory release is very good, no signs of major damage or aging.  No major artifacts and the best that one can expect from a DVD release.  There are no special features included but with eight DVD’s featuring 52-episodes, I’m quite thrilled with the overall package.  A complete series with all seasons for under $30.  That’s a major deal!

Overall, if you grew up with “Transformers Armada” as a child or an adult who has followed every or many”Transformers” animated series as possible, and watching the series with an open mind to a fresh new story and alternate timeline, “Transformers: Armada” is definitely recommended!  A great value with all 52-episodes for under $30!

SlugTerra: Heroes of the Underground (a J!-ENT Children’s DVD Review)

February 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

“SlugTerra: Heroes of the Underground” is a pretty solid animated series for children or the young at heart. Cool characters, well-written stories with plenty of action and humor! Parents looking for a safe animated series on DVD for their children who love action and sci-fi, will definitely enjoy “SlugTerra: Heroes of the Underground”. Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2012 Slugterrainea Productions Inc. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: SlugTerra: Heroes of the Underground

TV SERIES AIR DATE: 2013

DURATION: 110 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Full Screen, Dolby Digital English Stereo

COMPANY: Shout! Factory

RATED: TV Y7 FV

RELEASE DATE: March 4, 2014

Directed by Johnny Darrell

Written by Rob Hoegee, Scott Sonneborn

Executive Producer: Ken Faier, Asaph Fipke, Rob Hoegee, Chuck Johnson

Co-Producer: Nancy Lees

Art Direction by Andy Poon

Featuring the voices of:

Sam Vincent as Eli Shane

Lee Tockar as Pronto

Shannon Chan-Kent as Trixie

Michael Dobson as Maurice

Andrew Francis as Kord

Mark Oliver as Dr. Blakk

Join Eli Shane and the Shane Gang as they venture further into SlugTerra’s 99 caverns! But the further they go, the more trouble they seem to find.  From an icy drive-in theatre to the Shane Gang Hideout itself, danger lurks in every cavern. Our heroes find themselvs confronted by ice ogres, thieves, con artists, a cyclops and robots, but it’s not  just a simple matter of slugging it out to protect the underground world.  Eli will have to work with his enemies, duel without Burpy and his best slugs, and reveal his most precious secret in order to protect the underground world from both everyday troublemakers and the fiendishly ambitious Dr. Blakk!

In 2012, the new sci-fi action animated series “SlugTerra” made its debut on Disney XD in October 2012.

An American/Canadian co-production created by Asaph Fipke (co-founder of Nerd Corps Entertainment and worked on series such as “Beast Wars”, “Beast Machines”, “ReBoot”, “Heavy Gear” and “Max Steel”), the animation is produced by Fipke’s Animation studio Nerd Corps Entertainment.

With 39 episodes aired on television (three seasons), the latest volume of “SlugTerra” titlted “SlugTerra: Heroes of the Underground” (episodes 16-20 from season two), will be released on DVD!

“SlugTerra” is a series that begins with Will Shane, the protector of SlugTerra taking on his arch nemesis Dr. Thaddius Blakk. As Dr. Blakk tried to unleash an evil power using a ghoul slug in SlugTerra that would envelop Will Shane, Will uses his blaster to shoot out his slug Burpee to find his young son Eli to find a letter before he is enveloped.

Burpee shows young Eli a letter that his father left to him, just in case something bad has happened to him. Will wrote about how many in the long line of the Shane family had ventured to SlugTerra, to protect the area which is located 100 miles below Earth. But the condition if he chooses to accept, is that he can begin his adventure as a Shane in SlugTerra when he turns 15-years-old but also that he must keep the existence of Earth as he knows it, a secret from those living in SlugTerra.

Fast forward to a teenage Eli, who decides to venture to SlugTerra, knowing that he may not be able to get back home. And upon arriving, he arrives to his fathers hideout where his weapons, gear and mecha beast vehicles are located.

While his father left him a blaster, he must find his own slugs which is a key to surviving in SlugTerra. How each slug has a special ability and gets stronger over time. If the owner bonds with the slug, the better the relationship.

Eli eventually meets several people who try to teach him the way of living in SlugTerra and join him as part of the Shane Team. Pronto the Magnificent is a molenoid tracker, so he says. But he seems to get everyone in trouble but also manages to help him the team once in awhile. Beatrice “Trixie” Sting is filming a documentary on slugs but she is also wonderful in fighting competitions and is great strategist. And there is Kord Zane, a huge cave troll who loves technology, and is a mechanic who loves upgrading blasters and vehicles.

Meanwhile, when Dr. Thaddius Blakk and his group find out a Eli is back in SlugTerra, he is determined of ridding Eli as he did with his father. But Blakk has found away to convert innocent slugs to evil ghouls and trying to recruit people to cause havok in SlugTerra.

Can the Shane Gang find a way to defeat the evil in SlugTerra?  And what will happen when Eli’s secret of coming from “The Burning World” (the surface) is revealed to the members of the Shane Gang?

Here are the following episodes featured in “SlugTerra: Heroes of the Underground” (Season 2):

  • EPISODE 16: Snowdance – The Shane Gang take on the Hooligang and with the Hooligang upset about being fired by Dr. Blakk for losing against the Shane Gang the first time, now they want revenge.
  • EPISODE 17: Inheritance – Danna Por, the daughter of Will Shane’s old partner, Tom Por, wants treasure which she believes, belongs to her.
  • EPISODE 18: A Distant Shore – An adventure tries to go on an expedition to “The Burning World” (the surface where Eli is from).  Eli tries to stop him.
  • EPISODE 19: The Journey Home – Eli  takes on Much without some of his trustworthy Slugs.
  • EPISODE 20: Roboslugs – The Shane Gang takes on Quentin, a mad scientist who has created Roboslugs.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“SlugTerra: Heroes of the Underground” comes is presented a series that blends CG animation with hand draw animation. Produed by Nerd Corps Entertainment, the style of “SlugTerra” almost has an anime mashed with Disney style. Colors are vibrant and colorful, character designs for the humanoid characters are well done but also for the slugs which are cute or crazy or mean looking slugs. But the characters are well-shaded and art backgrounds are also nicely done.

Mechanical design is also created quite well from the beast vehicles to the blasters, for the most part, “SlugTerra” is a series that looks good as one can expect on DVD.

The series is presented in Dolby Digital and dialogue and sound effects are clear. And while there are no subtitles, closed captions are included.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“SlugTerra: Heroes of the Underground” comes with the following special features:

  • Creating Your Own Slugs– (4:18) Learn how to draw a slug by Andy Poon (art director for “SlugTerra”).
  • Slugisodes – The Right Slug For the Right Job – (1:01) Trixie talks about using your Slugs.
  • Slugisodes – Getting Around in SlugTerra – (1:01) Trixie talks about getting around in SlugTerra.

EXTRAS:

“SlugTerra: Heroes of the Underground” comes with a slipcover.

I have to admit that when I first hear about “SlugTerra”, the first thing that came to my mind was “not another Pokemon type of anime series”!

Having seen series such as “Monsuno” and “Kaijudo”, I was curious to see how “SlugTerra” would differentiate from these other titles. And sure enough, “SlugTerra” turns out to be a fantastic animated series.

It does have the similarity to Pokemon, in the case of “SlugTerra”, collecting Slugs with special abilities and dueling other competitors with their slugs.

The adventures of the Shane Gang continues in the latest volume of “SlugTerra” with episodes 16-20 from season two as the gang continues to go further into SlugTerra’s 99 caverns.  But as the gang continues, they run into the Hooligang again, but also other sorts of rivals.

But this time, it becomes more personal as secrets of Eli’s father start to emerge, especially Dana Por, the daughter of Eli’s father, Tom Por, who tells him how Will Shane was responsible for the breakup of their working relationship, when Will tried to hide treasure from Tom.

But as the Shane Gang starts to have their doubts about Eli’s father, Eli must make a difficult decision…should he tell the Shane Gang the truth of where he comes from and the secret that he and his father had tried to protect?

Overall, “SlugTerra: Heroes of the Underground” is a pretty solid animated series for children or the young at heart. Cool characters, well-written stories with plenty of action and humor!

Parents looking for a safe animated series on DVD for their children who love action and sci-fi, will definitely enjoy “SlugTerra: Heroes of the Underground”.

Recommended!


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