Streaming might be the future, but physical media is still the present. It’s also awesome, depending on the title, the label, and the release, so each week we take a look at the new Blu-rays and DVDs making their way into the world. Welcome to this week in Home Video for February 28th, 2023! This week’s home video selection includes Sammo Hung in Millionaires’ Express, Training Day in 4K UHD, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
Millionaires’ Express [Arrow Video]
What is it? A great double feature with The Good, the Bad, the Weird.
Why see it? As with that South Korean gem mentioned directly above, this mid 80s classic brings Eastern sensibilities to the western by way of stellar action and fun comedy. Sammo Hung headlines the ensemble which also includes Cynthia Rothrock, Yuen Biao, Yukari Oshima, and more, and he also directs ensuring a wildly fun time. Various characters converge on a small town in the middle of nowhere — thieves, heroes, Japanese samurai — and the place descends into action-filled chaos. Big brawls, one on one fights, terrific stunts, and entertaining laughs combine for a terrifically entertaining time. Arrow’s new Blu-ray offers up four cuts of the film, all newly restored and looking great.
[Extras: New 2K restoration, four versions of the film, poster, booklet, commentaries, interviews]
Training Day [4K UHD]
What is it? A fresh-faced detective has a rough first day.
Why see it? While Street Kings remains my favorite David Ayer associated film, his script for Training Day is an all-timer. Director Antoine Fuqua brings an electric energy to to the streets of L.A., and while Ethan Hawke makes for an engaging protagonist, the beating heart here is Denzel Washington. Not in an emotional sense, but because he drives the film’s pulsating tension and danger as a corrupt detective who thinks he’s invincible. The action beats are exhilarating, and they’re couched between scenes rich in character and suspense. The film takes full advantage of its 4K scan capturing the details and dark corners beautifully.
[Extras: Commentary, deleted scenes, featurette, music video]
What is it? A bedridden man is “helped” by a “friend.”
Why see it? This Spanish tale is a dramatic thriller, of sorts, that unfolds with two men in a house smothered in tension. One is is poor shape, his body unable to follow all of his mind’s instructions, while the other is perfectly fine — although he may be hiding something. Mind games ensue, and that’s where the film finds its greatest strength. Things are amiss, and there’s a dark humor intertwined throughout as their time together ticks by. There’s a feeling of inherent cruelty afoot for reasons that become obvious while watching, but it’s for the viewer to decide of that enhances or detracts from the film.
[Extras: Featurette, interviews, Q&A]
B’Twixt Now and Sunrise: The Authentic Cut
What is it? A writer finds inspiration and a possible salvation.
Why see it? Francis Ford Coppola is obviously an extremely talented filmmaker responsible for some stone-cold classics of American cinema. This is one of the exceptions as it’s instead a sloppy, ugly mess of a film. Some viewers will be swayed by the film’s personal connection — it touches on the death of a child, and the manner of death is nearly identical to that of Coppola’s own son — and seeing the filmmaker work through his own grief is at least interesting, If only the finished product wasn’t so damn shoddy.
What is it? Nuclear power, vampires, and underwater terrors, oh my!
Why see it? The idea(s) behind this ultra low budget genre effort are interesting with a major point of appeal being the underwater shenanigans. Even with the plot pieces making little sense along the way, it’s an engaging combination. Unfortunately, the budget and talent pool can’t guarantee the execution matches the inspiration. It’s also arguably too long for the tone and energy they’re able to reach with some long, dull stretches spent underwater as we seemingly dive in real time. All of that said, there’s a lot of interest here for budding filmmakers to chew on and appreciate.
[Extras: Two versions, commentary, documentary, Q&A, featurette, short film]
What is it? The true story of a naval friendship.
Why see it? Fresh off of Top Gun: Maverick, Glen Powell returns to the skies as a U.S. Navy pilot leading up to the Korean war. The film’s focus is his friendship with the Navy’s first Black pilot, played by Jonathan Majors, as the two form a bond at a pivotal time in the country’s struggle with race relations. It’s a well told tale, albeit familiar, and arguably a bit too long for what we get. The action beats are well crafted beyond some CG, and there’s a power to the film’s finale. Ultimately, the big draw here is the acting, and both Majors and Powell deliver.
Eat Brains Love
What is it? A road trip with zombies.
Why see it? The zom-com is a tried and true subgenre with good ones (Shaun of the Dead), great ones (Anna and the Apocalypse), and a lot of garbage. This indie is close enough to being a good one as its ideas — a government agency is tracking the zombies, and they use psychics to aid the effort — and some of its humor land. What doesn’t work, though, is the film’s tone which feels like it’s unfolding through the eyes of a horny twelve-year-old boy. Maybe if it was an 80s film and/or actually funny, but this is only a couple years old and isn’t.
[Extras: Interview, commentary, essay]
What is it? Three foxholes, three wars, and the common fears that fill them.
Why see it? Jack Fessenden’s feature explores mortality and morality in a high concept locale, and while it probably would have worked better as a short, there’s some truly engaging themes and beats here. We spend time in the Civil War, the first World War, and Iraq, but the time jumps reveal how similar those stuck in war feel about their predicament. The stress, fear, doubt, and concern are familiar feelings for them all, and the result is something of a sad meditation on war is hell.
[Extras: Introduction, commentary, documentary]
Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows
What is it? A documentary on Bret Hart’s exit from the World Wrestling Federation.
Why see it? This is actually an honest look at the sports entertainment that is professional wrestling, both the highs and the lows. The focus, though, is on that douche weasel Vince McMahon, and he definitely lives down to the hype. Hart’s insights are interesting as a member of a famous family in the sport, and his sincere love for wrestling is felt… as is his honest thoughts when fans turn on him and embrace McMahon’s sleazier antics.
[Extras: Commentary, interviews, The Life and Death of Owen Hart]
What is it? A man fears his brother has been lost to a right-wing militia.
Why see it? The core premise here is a good one and ideal for a direct-to-video action film as an Army veteran goes looking for his brother. The discovery that the younger man has been recruited into a violent extremist group makes for a solid trigger point, but the filmmakers don’t quite have the budget to do much with it on the action front. Setting it during the pandemic adds a temporarily intriguing element, but it ultimately adds little to nothing to the story or characters. Still, if you can forgive the lack of cinematic excitement, there’s the thinnest layer of DTV action thrills to be found here.
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
What is it? What happens when a cat uses up eight of its nine lives?
Why see it? Shrek may me long dead (the franchise, not the character, as far as I know), but Puss in Boots carries on. This time around he’s hanging up his dashing costume and retiring to the simple life of a kept puss, but when he discovers a way to restore his nine lives he’s off once again for on the adventure of a lifetime. There’s fun to be had with this latest Dreamworks animated tale as both the set-pieces and Antonio Banderas bring high energy beats. The animation style is a bit iffy, though, as it’s going with a shaded, cell animation style at times — an interesting change up but a bit off-putting.
[Extras: Short film, deleted scenes, featurettes]
Also out this week:
American Rapstar, Detective Knight: Independence, For the Plasma, GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, God’s Country, Hollywood Shuffle [Criterion Collection], Marathon Man [4K UHD], Rocky: The Knockout Collection [4K UHD], The Son of the Stars, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre [4K UHD], Thrust!, Two Films by Marguerite Duras [Criterion Collection], Who Done It: The Clue Documentary, Wild Reeds
Related Topics: Home Video