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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: Crank, Transformers 4K Steelbook Collection, A Good Person, Fist of the Condor and more

Jason Statham in Crank

This week doesn’t offer up the biggest mix of genres ever, but if you’re looking for action, drama, or giant robots, we’ve got you covered. Read on to see all of this week’s notable home video releases.

Transformers 4K Steelbook Collection

The Transformers movie franchise has been a bit of a roller coaster ride. While there’s no denying that Michael Bay’s films have been huge hits at the box office, critics largely pan them and audiences can be divided at best on them. For me, personally, I’m not a Transformers hater. I’m a longtime fan of the franchise from my childhood, and I do like a few of the films, especially the first and the third ones. And then, out of nowhere, when the franchise had suffered two pretty bad entries in a row (Rise of the Dinobots and The Last Knight), came Bumblebee, like a savior from the heavens. One of my Top 10 films of 2018, Bumblebee showed that it was possible to make the Transformers film that we all wanted. It’s all about the ‘80s: it’s set in the ‘80s, it has a great ‘80s soundtrack, and best of all, it has a real ‘80s vibe to it that is reminiscent of great movies like Starman and D.A.R.Y.L. Hailee Steinfeld is terrific in the lead role, and Bumblebee is a terrific character on his own when he has time to develop as an actual character. Plus, the first five minutes of the movie is basically the Transformers movie that we’ve all been waiting 30 years to see. I absolutely loved this movie, and so did my kids. Still, you can’t have one without the others, so now the entire franchise has been collected into a beautiful new box set which sees all six films in 4K Ultra HD (as well as Blu-ray, two discs for each movie) and each enclosed in its own Steelbook case, all of which feature beautiful and colorful artwork. And then you have the films themselves; they’ve all been released on 4K before, but that doesn’t affect how fantastic they look and sound here. These are the kinds of movies that 4K Ultra HD is made for, boasting incredible sharpness and jaw-dropping colors. The surround soundtracks will literally shake your speakers, so you might want to nail them down. These are breathtaking transfers of the entire series that has them looking and sounding the best they ever have outside of theaters. If you don’t like the movies, there’s nothing for you here, but if you’re a fan you will absolutely want to add this gorgeous set to your home video collection.

Crank (4K Ultra HD Steelbook)

I’m a huge Jason Statham fan and I’ve watched pretty much every movie he’s ever made. And for the most part, I love all of them. The rare exception to that, however, is Crank. Written and directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, a dup who specialize in hyper-kinetic, over-the-top action films such as Gamer and Ghost Rider, the film sees Statham play an assassin need Chev Chelios who learns he’s been poisoned with a substance that will kill him if his heart rate drops. It’s basically Speed in a human body. What follows is a non-stop action ride that I should have loved, but unfortunately was so over-the-top that it lost me completely. Still, the movie was popular enough to garner a sequel a few years later, so your mileage may vary. Now, the film has been rereleased on 4K Ultra HD in a special Steelbook case which is currently a Best Buy exclusive (and also includes a Blu-ray Disc and a digital copy.) The 4K Ultra HD release really gives the film a makeover. Compared to a standard high-def release, the difference in color saturation and image clarity is impressive. It makes the film look a whole lot more enticing, and this is a film with a lot of visual stimuli so it works well. The surround soundtrack also offers up a nice sense of directionality and good low-end bass, so if you’re a fan of the movie, the super cool Steelbook case and improved audiovisuals will make this one you’ll want to own.

A Good Person

I got every excited when this film came across my desk, because I love both Florence Pugh and Morgan Freeman and the idea of them in a film together was very exciting. Then I read the film’s description: “Daniel (Morgan Freeman) is brought together with Allison (Florence Pugh), the once thriving young woman with a bright future who was involved in an unimaginable tragedy that took his daughter’s life. As grief-stricken Daniel navigates raising his teenage granddaughter and Allison seeks redemption, they discover that friendship, forgiveness, and hope can flourish in unlikely places.” Yikes. That sounds heavy. Oh, and it’s over two hours long? Oh boy. Still, A Good Person, as written and directed by Zach Braff, is ultimately a good movie, if a bit too long and not without its flaws. Both the two main characters struggle with addiction, and that’s a clear theme of the film, so this isn’t a happy-go-lucky movie. However, the performances by Pugh and Freeman are both terrific (not surprisingly), and it’s hard not to get caught up in the drama, even if some of it is heartbreaking. While A Good Person isn’t the kind of movie I’m going to watch over and over again, it was definitely worth seeing.

Fist of the Condor

You don’t see a lot of martial arts films from Chile hitting the home video market these days, but Fist of the Condor is here to change that. Starring B-movie action star Marko Zaror in not one but two roles, the film tells the story of a Mayan book of combat secrets that has been passed down and guarded since the 16th century. Now, numerous deadly warriors are searching for it and Zaror (playing town brothers) must defend its secrets from falling into the wrong hands. The film is certainly an interesting one, and for the most part, it’s enjoyable. There are some great action scenes, and it runs under 90 minutes, making it an easy watch. Zaror isn’t a great actor but there’s no denying the raw physicality and skill he brings to a role. Meanwhile, the film takes its martial arts and the philosophies surrounding them quite seriously. Fist of the Condor won’t blow everyone away, but I suspect there is a sector of martial arts cinema fans out there who will enjoy it quite a bit.

Also Available This Week on Home Video:
  • Mojave Diamonds – I guess if you’re going to have a character in your film be a former MMA superstar, it makes sense to populate your cast with former MMA superstars. Such is the case with Mojave Diamonds, a direct-to-video action flick that features former MMA fighters Don “Cowboy” Cerrone, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, and Chael Sonnen. The film sees Cerrone play a man named Roy who is tasked with transporting $50 million dollars in diamonds for the mob, but when the shipment gets hijacked, Roy’s family is kidnapped and held hostage. Teaming with his two brothers, the three men must try to get the family back alive. The film is pretty much what you’d expect from a movie like this; the acting isn’t great, the budget isn’t high enough, and the script doesn’t do anyone any favors. I’ve seen worse DTV fare, but this is the kind of film that will mostly appeal to fans of the actors/fighters appearing in it.
  • The Siege – I can’t say I’m familiar with Daniel Stisen, the lead actor in The Siege, but I guess I can see how he got a job anchoring a low-budget, direct-to-video action film. He’s buff (I believe I read that he’s a bodybuilder) and he can handle himself in the action scenes, but his acting is not yet at the point where he’s ready for meatier roles. Luckily, not a lot of acting talent is required in The Siege, which sees Stisen play an assassin who is sent to a group home of sorts to recover… at least until the home comes under attack by mercenaries. They’re hunting for a pair of women who are also there, and Stisen’s Walker must team up with them to survive. Much like Mojave Diamonds above, the film has a few decent action scenes but is ultimately not that great, largely due to the acting, the low budget, and the script (bit of a theme there this week, isn’t there?) Again, for people who just want a mindless action flick to veg out to for 90 minutes there are worse options out there, but there are better options as well.
  • The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriett: The Complete Seasons 11 & 12 – The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet may not be the household name in television series that it once was, but the show was a cultural powerhouse at one point in American history. Starting in 1952 and running for a whopping 14 seasons (with over 400 episodes!), the show was a prototypical family comedy with parents Ozzie and Harriet raising their two young sons, David and Ricky. The twist here was that the family on screen was played by the real life Nelson family. America got to watch the boys grow up, and Ricky Nelson became one of the first teen heartthrobs of the television generation. While there have been a smattering of home video releases over the years, most of them were just random collections of episodes with no semblance of order to them. Over the last year-plus, MPI Video has been releasing every season of there show in its entirety, dropping two complete seasons at a time. So this month we are treated to The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet: The Complete Seasons 11 and 12, each released as their own complete season set. Both of these sets includes all of the episodes from their respective seasons, and as we’re starting to near the end of the series, it’s amazing how much has changed from the first season. Whereas Ricky and Dave were young boys in the first seasons, now they’re young men, in college and dating, and much of the show’s comedy and conflict comes from those romantic entanglements. Yet somehow the show manages to retain much of its charm, which isn’t always the case when young actors and the characters they play grow up. The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet is a fun and wholesome family comedy that is a nice snapshot of a different time in America’s history, and I’m glad to see MPI Video finally giving this touchstone of American pop culture the release it deserves.
  • Warm Water Under a Red Bridge – This 2001 film from Japan comes to Blu-ray for the first time courtesy of Film Movement. The premise of the film sounds at the very least offbeat, and at the very worst, oddly raunchy. But while the film does focus on sexuality and romance (and is definitely offbeat), it’s not a raunchy film. The last film by acclaimed Japanese director Shohei Imamura, the movie sees a down-on-his-luck man named Yosuke looking for a supposed treasure in a small town. When he meets (and falls for) a woman named Saeko, he’s surprised to learn that she fills up with water that needs to be released, and when she reaches sexual satisfaction, water gushes out of her in streams. I know, it sounds vaguely pornographic, but it’s more like a light romantic fantasy. The film then follows Yosuke and Saeko and their romance, as well as Yosuke drifting farther from the life (and wife) he left behind. It’s a surprisingly warm and engaging film, and if you can get over the odd premise (which works in the context of the film), it’s a solidly interesting watch.

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