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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: Body Cam, Enter the Fat Dragon, Beecham House, The Wild Goose Lake, and more

Body Cam

Well, it’s another small week thanks to the Coronavirus. Usually, a week like this mid-July would be chock full of the home video releases of all the movies from March and April. But since there were almost no new movies in March and April, things are drying up a bit. Here’s what’s out this week, though:

Body Cam – Mary J. Blige takes the lead role in this spooky thriller that also stars Nat Wolff. It’s kind of a cool concept, in that we have a malevolent force of some sort that seems to be targeting police and criminals, and Mary J. Blige has to figure out why. The film is a little bit of a mixed bag, though. On the one hand, I liked the concept, and I liked the way they created a spooky villain with a relatively low budget. On the other hand, I’m not sure that adding in scenes requiring Blige to have to emote heavily was the best decision. She’s not a bad actress at all, and she carries the film just fine, but the moments where she has to dive into really heavy emotions don’t ring true. Still, I like where the story goes and overall, it’s a pretty entertaining fright flick that’s an easy way to kill 90 minutes.

Enter the Fat Dragon – Donnie Yen is one of the biggest Asian movie stars in the world, even if he’s not a household name in the US. Personally, I’ve always been a little indifferent to Yen. While his martial arts skills are impeccable, I’ve always found him lacking a little in the charisma department in all the movies I’ve seen him in. So I was excited to see him in an action-comedy because I thought maybe it would allow his charm to shine through a bit more than usual. In this remake of a Sammo Hung film from the ‘70s, Yen plays a former superstar cop who becomes overweight after being relegated to a desk job, then has to go into action to help break up a crime ring — all while wearing a fat suit. I wish I could say I liked the film more than I did, but it’s just okay. The fight scenes are stupendous, as always, but the comedy fell flat for me and I still don’t find Yen all that engaging to watch. It’s a perfectly fine film that martial arts/action aficionados will enjoy, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to enjoy it more than I did.

Beecham House – From Gurinder Chadha, noted director of Bend It Like Beckham, comes the drama Beecham House, a six-episode series set in Delhi in the late 1700s. The easy comparison is to say it’s “Downton Abbey set in India,” and that’s not entirely incorrect, as it is a show about a wealthy family in a big house with staff and the drama that ensues between all the characters. So it’s hard not to compare it to shows like Downton and the excellent A Place to Call Home. Ultimately, I found the show pretty uneven. There are characters I didn’t quite like (and honestly, not enough characters that I did like), and the show tries to cram a lot into its six-episodes. There are times when you wish the writers would slow down and let you take a breath, and then there are times when you wish a little more was happening. Spoiler alert: the show runs six episodes and ends on a cliffhanger but has not been renewed, so unless something new crops up, you might not get a conclusion to all of the storylines.

The Wild Goose Lake – This Chinese crime film has won a slew of international awards and was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, which is no small feat. Now, I’ll admit I was unfamiliar with director Diao Yinan before this, but I’m definitely interested to see his other films now. This movie is a crime thriller about a low-level mobster who accidentally kills a cop, then has to go on the run from both the cops and other gangsters who want the reward out for his capture. I know, I know, it sounds like a million other crime films, so why should you bother? Well, Diao Yinan brings a fresh voice to the film, one that utilizes atmosphere and mood as if they were tangible things, while also crafting action sequences that will leave you sweaty and with your heart pounding. It’s NOT like a million other crime films, and that’s what makes it so exciting. Check it out.

Also Available on Home Video This Week:

  • Home From Home: Chronicle of a Vision – Okay, I’m going to keep this one brief, because it’s not something I have a lot to say about. Home from Home is set in mid-19th-century Germany, in a time when a lot of Germans were relocating to South America to escape poverty, and it deals with a man dreaming of escape and trying to hold on to the love his life when events happen to upset the delicate balance he’s created. Now here’s the thing: I’ve got no problem with foreign films, but you give me a FOUR-HOUR drama — in German, no less — and you’ve gotta work really hard to keep my interest. I just don’t think ANY film needs to be four hours, and unfortunately, this one is not the exception to that rule. There are some good performances to be sure, but this one really only is for people who have a lot of patience.
  • Target Philadelphia – I’ll be honest, I had never heard of the MOVE bombing in Philadelphia, but it seems like it was a pretty seminal event. Apparently, in 1985, Philadelphia police dropped a literal bomb in the city, on a residential house, in order to break up a stand-off with the Black liberation group called MOVE. This film looks at the event and reminds us how important these things are, especially in light of recent events, even if it does so in a very uneven manner. The film uses all different types of source material, some of which are poor quality; the audio is uneven; overall, it has a very amateur feel to it. The information is important to get out there, I just wish the film was put together in a better manner; there might be more effective resources available to tell this story.

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