Pages Navigation Menu

"No matter where you go, there you are."


US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: Night Swim, First Blood, Affliction, Winnie The Pooh: Blood and Honey, The Roundup: No Way Out and more

It’s a relatively light week this week but we do get a recent theatrical horror outing and a classic action film on 4K Ultra HD, so I’ve seen worse. Here’s the full breakdown:

Night Swim

The Movie: I don’t expect much from most horror movies these days, but the trailer for Night Swim had me intrigued and I had hopes for a fun, creepy thriller that might offer up something new. After all, we don’t get a lot of haunted pool movies these days. Unfortunately, despite a really strong cast that includes Wyatt Russell, Kerry Condon, and standout Amelie Hoeferle, the film is mildly engaging at best, and somewhat cliched at worst. It never feels particularly scary, and once they reveal some of the “spirits” (or whatever you want to call them), it’s even less so. Honestly, the scariest part of the film is just how it takes place in a pool; as a kid who was often freaked out by irrational fears of getting sucked down the drain, there are some tense moments that brought up some old phobias for me. Sadly, that’s not enough to make the film effective as a horror outing. It’s not terrible; in fact, it’s fairly watchable, it’s just completely underwhelming.

The Special Features: There is an audio commentary with writer/director Bryce McGuire, as well as four making-of featurettes that run about 24 minutes total.

The Wrap-UpNight Swim does get some things right, including giving us realistic characters that we can get invested in. But the rest of the film feels like an awful lot of been-there-done-that that we’ve seen too many times before.

First Blood (4K Ultra HD Steelbook)

The Movie: As a child of the ‘80s, I have a deep love of the Rambo movies. I mean, for the most part I love all things Sylvester Stallone, but the Rambo movies are some of my favorites. While the series has been released (and re-released!) many times by Lionsgate, the last time there was a Steelbook offering it was in a Best Buy-exclusive box set. Now the studio is putting out some of the films in 4K Ultra HD Steelbook individual releases (this time they’re Wal-Mart exclusives!), starting with First Blood. As I’ve rewatched the movies over the years, I’ve been surprised to find that my favorite film of the three had changed in more recent times. I always loved Rambo: First Blood Part II and more… appreciated First Blood, thinking of it as less of an action film than a drama. I’ve now realized that First Blood is a near-masterpiece. Rambo is still an utterly fantastic check-your-brains-at-the-door actioner, but First Blood is an amazing mix of action, drama, and suspense, and it’s by far the best of the three.

The 4K Video/Audio: For a movie that’s now over 40 years old, First Blood looks exceptionally good. Sure, it obviously doesn’t look like a brand-new movie, but the imagery is crisp and clean with vivid colors and excellent shadow delineation. The surround soundtrack gives your speakers a workout with active and discrete surround soundtracks that can shake the room at times. It’s a very strong A/V presentation for a movie that you want to look and sound as good as possible.

The Special Features: There are two audio commentary tracks, one with Stallone himself, and one with author David Morrell, whose book the film is based upon. Then there are five making-of features that run about an hour and a half in total. You also get a brief collection of deleted scenes, an alternate ending, and a very short look at the restoration of the film for 4K.

The Wrap-Up: The Steelbook that First Blood comes in is gorgeous, and this release also includes a digital copy of the film. So in case you already own the film but don’t have it in your digital library, this is a great way to get a collectible package and a digital copy all in one. First Blood is a must-have in any film lover’s collection and this is a beautiful new edition of it.


The Movie: If you look up “typical awards movies” in the dictionary, you might find a picture of Affliction. I don’t mean that as a knock on the film, which is a wonderfully acted deep drama. It’s just that it’s the kind of film that Academy voters tend to resonate with. In it, Nick Nolte plays a small-town sheriff investigating a hunting accident. As he investigates, we learn about who he is as a man, and it’s not a pretty picture. He drinks too much, his family hates him, and it’s pretty clear he also hates himself. And then we learn why: Nolte’s abusive father, played by James Coburn (who would go on to win a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.) The scenes between Nolte and Coburn are magnificent, with Nolte showing a side of himself we’ve never seen on screen before as Coburn seems to swallow him up like a monster. This is not a feel-good movie, and it’s often a tough watch, but the addition of the mystery that runs through the film keeps it from just being a melodramatic slog. The film makes it’s Blu-ray debut this week courtesy of Shout Studios, who give us a nice new home video edition of the film.

The Special Features: I’m a little surprised that as part of the Shout Select line, this release comes without any extra features. Bummer.

The Wrap-UpAffliction also earned several other awards nominations, including one for Nolte for the Best Actor Oscar (which he didn’t win), and it’s easy to see why. This isn’t the kind of movie I usually gravitate towards, but it’s hard not to see what an effective film it is.

Winnie The Pooh: Blood and Honey

The Movie: Some of you who may be wondering how Winnie the Pooh is starring in a horror movie; after all, that doesn’t seem very Disney-like. Well, in case you hadn’t heard, the original A. A. Milne character of Winnie the Pooh is now in the public domain, meaning people can create their own interpretations of him. In this case, we have a low-budget horror film in which Pooh and Piglet and the other denizens of 100 Acre Wood are imaginary friends (of a sort) who were abandoned by Christopher Robin. When he comes back with his girlfriend and some others, the animals are now murderously angry and start killing in a variety of grisly ways. I get why a studio would want to capitalize on an existing I.P. like this, but once the novelty of Winnie the Pooh killing people wears off, the film is just a low-budget slasher that isn’t particularly interesting or good. The animals are represented on screen as live-action characters, effectively looking like creepy fixed-mask characters (like you might see walking around a theme park.) The novelty value is limited, and the rest of the movie is just kind of dull.

The Special Features: You get a lone 15-minute making-of feature and the film’s trailer.

The Wrap-UpWinnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey is a novelty film and little more, but apparently it was successful enough to warrant a sequel, which has been announced and I believe has already been filmed. If you want to check this one out because you’re curious about it, I totally understand, just don’t expect too much in the way of good filmmaking.

The Roundup: No Way Out

The Movie: This new action movie from Korea is actually the third entry in a franchise of movies that started a couple of years ago (and apparently has plans to run for several more years.) The first movie was a blockbuster hit in its native country, and it’s not hard to see why. It was a crime movie that was also a full-on action spectacle, and the fight scenes were quite impressive. I think I missed the second film, but these are largely stand-alone stories (at least from a plot standpoint) and you don’t need to have seen the previous films in order to understand what’s happening here. This one picks up seven years after the previous installment, and the story is fairly typical cops-versus-drug-dealers/gangsters fare. There’s a lot of action throughout the film and it’s quite gritty and violent at times (as well as having some comedic relief, a common trait in action films from this corner of the world), and while it’s not as good as the first movie, it’s an enjoyable enough action romp.

The Special Features: There are no extra features, but that’s not unusual for American releases of Asian action films lately.

The Wrap-Up: Supposedly, The Roundup franchise is aiming to run for eight films total, of which No Way Out is the third. I’m not sure that all that seems necessary, but so far the movies have at least been enjoyable. Asian action movie fans — or action fans in general — will likely want to track this one down.

The Mysteries of Bradshaw Ranch: Aliens, Portals, and the Paranormal 

The Movie: This new documentary (narrated by former wrestler Steve Austin) explores the mysterious Bradshaw Ranch in Sedona, Arizona. The ranch has been a hotbed of paranormal or unexplained phenomena over the last several decades, and in 2023 a team of paranormal researchers spent six months on the site trying to capture scientific readings and evidence of the mysterious events. This movie gives us a glimpse into what they found. And while I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, I will say that it’s like most films or TV shows in this genre: ultimately, a little inconclusive. If you’re a believer, you’re going to see a lot of what’s on screen as incontrovertible proof of your beliefs. If you’re a skeptic, there’s nothing in here that will challenge your worldview. It’s an entertaining enough movie, but it’s not going to prove anything definitive one way or the other.

The Special Features: There are no extras on the disc.

The Wrap-UpThe Mysteries of Bradshaw Ranch does the best it can do with a subject matter that is – by its very nature – ethereal. I didn’t expect to get any concrete answers, and while some findings are presented in that way, there’s nothing here that I saw as hard fact. Your mileage may vary.

Previous PostNext Post