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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Twentieth Century Fox 75th Anniversary Gift Set Debuting on DVD December 72


Fox Home Entertainment To Commemorate and Promote Fox’s Library and Legacy With Collectible Gift-Sets, Gift With Purchase Programs And Unique Partnerships

Visit WWW.FOX75TH.COM For A Chance To Win $75,000,
Limited Edition Posters, Blu-ray and DVD Products

Los Angeles, CA April 13, 2010 – Today, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment kicked off a 12-month marketing, promotions, publicity and media campaign to honor and promote the studio’s legacy and library. The celebration will include the release of more than 300 films on Blu-ray Disc and DVD, showcasing a remarkable, rich and unparalleled heritage of great movies, Academy Award®-winners and box office smashes featuring a cast of the greatest movie stars and directors from yesterday and today.

Fox’s year-long celebration will include extensive catalog releases of more than 300 of the studio’s most notable films on Blu-ray Disc and DVD and will be supported by event publicity campaigns, national advertising, retail and account specific promotions, internal and studio driven special events and limited-edition gift with purchase promotions.

The studio has launched a dedicated Web site – – that will feature information about upcoming Blu-ray Disc and DVD products, theatrical releases and national and local events and promotions tied to the 75th Anniversary campaign.

The website provides consumers with a chance to win a prize daily from Fox Home Entertainment. Prizes include a chance to instantly win $75,000 or a special limited edition poster, Blu-ray Disc or DVD. Complete rules and eligibility requirements are available at

Fox Home Entertainment will release a selection of seasonally timed singles, double and triple features and classic quads on DVD representing some of Fox’s most recognizable films. Each product includes a gift with purchase offer to redeem a limited edition 75th anniversary commemorative movie poster. Each poster features a globally recognized and iconic film image from Fox’s 75 years of glamour, dynamic duos, rebels, cult classics, screams, sci-fi and music.

The first product wave representing critically acclaimed films timed to awards season is available in stores now. Product includes:

SINGLES ($14.98 and $19.98 US / $16.98 and $21.98 Canada MSRP)
Nine titles including:

DOUBLE FEATURES ($14.98 US / $16.98 Canada MSRP)
Nine collections including:

TRIPLE FEATURES ($22.98 US / $25.98 Canada MSRP)
Seven collections of award-winning dramas, comedies and sci-fi films in 75th branded packaging include:

CLASSIC QUADS ($19.98 US/ $21.98 Canada MSRP)
Three collections of Fox studio classics in 75th branded packaging include:

Upcoming seasonally available product waves will include family friendly films timed to Easter, a selection of dramas timed to Mother’s Day, westerns and war films timed to Father’s Day, key comedies in time for summer vacation, sci-fi and horror films timed to Halloween and a selection of collector’s edition and gift box sets for the holidays.

Fox will release a selection of event titles on Blu-ray Disc for the first time. Event titles making their Blu-ray Disc debut in Q3 and Q4 2010 include:

All four Alien films digitally restored and available together in a six disc set packed with extras
New special features including live cast re-enactments and RHPS karoake

Digitally restored with 7.1 audio and never before seen interactivity and features
New high definition transfer and BD Live special features including Live Lookup
New high definition transfer and BD Live special features
All-new Director’s Definitive Cut and interviews with Daniel Day Lewis

To cement the Fox 75th Anniversary promotion, Fox will premiere the most comprehensive collection of Fox films ever to be released on DVD this fall in a lavish collectible package. This unique collection was handpicked by studio chairmen Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos based on several criteria including cinematic merit, historic significance, cultural impact and commercial and critical success. Titles include ALL ABOUT EVE, AVATAR, BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCE KID, CLEOPATRA, DEVIL WEARS PRADA, GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES, ICE AGE, JUNO, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, MINORITY REPORT, PATTON, WALL STREET, and more.

Exact title configurations, packaging and release dates for Fox 75th Blu-ray Disc and DVD releases will be confirmed in the coming weeks.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, LLC (TCFHE) is a recognized global industry leader and a subsidiary of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, a News Corporation company. Representing 75 years of innovative and award-winning filmmaking from Twentieth Century Fox, TCFHE is the worldwide marketing, sales and distribution company for all Fox film and television programming, acquisitions and original productions on DVD, Blu-ray Disc, Digital Copy, Video On Demand and Digital Download. The company also releases all products globally for MGM Home Entertainment. Each year TCFHE introduces hundreds of new and newly enhanced products, which it services to retail outlets from mass merchants and warehouse clubs to specialty stores and e-commerce throughout the world.

Follow Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment on Twitter @FoxHomeEnt

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

ExTERMINATORS -- DVD review by porfle

If listening to the Dixie Chicks warble "Goodbye Earl" gives you a lift, then you'll probably enjoy ExTERMINATORS (2009).  Unless, that is, you're one of those weirdos who prefer their comedies to actually be funny.

After getting fired from her accountant job and then divorcing her lazy, no-good husband for cheating on her, mousy Alex acts out her anger by decking a bespectacled guy in a department store.  (It's the usual cliche' of two women fighting over a piece of merchandise during a clearance sale, but this time Alex's opponent happens to be a man in order to comply with the film's theme.)  Anyway, this lands her in a rage-management therapy group along with several other women who have "man problems", including Stella (Jennifer Coolidge), who owns a pest control service, and punky, chain-smoking fruitcake Nikki (Amber Heard). 

When they witness another woman in their group (Joey Lauren Adams) being slapped around by her husband, they follow him in Stella's car one night and accidentally run him off a cliff.  The grateful widow then gives them $10,000 before leaving town to start a new life.  This comes just as a creepy IRS agent named Hutt (Sam Lloyd, the creepy TV-Guide guy from "Seinfeld") is breathing down Stella's neck about her back taxes.

To Alex's dismay, Stella and Nikki go into the lucrative man-killing business, and, with more and more potential customers joining their therapy group, they make a killing (intentional pun!) as the body count escalates rapidly.  Torn between friendship and morality, things get worse for Alex when she falls in love with Dan (Matthew Settle), the lead detective on the case, and then discovers that Hutt, who's been stalking her, has amassed enough videotape evidence to convict all three of them.

ExTERMINATORS presents a world in which roughly 99% of all men are leering, groping pigs who deserve to die, while the women who kill them aren't bloodthirsty psychos but simply lovable flakes. This makes whatever they do not only okay but downright cute, whether it be vehicular homicide, the old bludgeon-and-dismemberment routine, or simply setting a frat guy on fire for being a drunken ass. 

We're even conditioned for the distaff revenge fantasy to come when some of the early therapy sessions get borderline real and veer toward the preachy side.  But then the screenplay tries to have it both ways by showing Alex's disdain for such vigilante actions--at least, up until the point where she herself has something to gain by them.

Nevertheless, even if all this sounds to you like a surefire formula for hilarious black comedy, the film's dull script, meandering pace, and lackluster direction will eventually cure you of that notion.  Heather Graham, who used to be in good movies like BOOGIE NIGHTS, injects as much life as she can into her limp character by acting alternately perky and jittery, and by wearing giant glasses that make her look like that egghead kid from the "Foghorn Leghorn" cartoons.  Matthew Settle's "Dan" exists only to represent that one-percent of males who are harmless simps, and to give the filmmakers a chance to insert a series of romantic scenes such as the "meet stupid" and the ever-popular "goofy one-knee proposal."

Amber Heard spends the entire film either puffing cigarettes like a non-smoker pretending to be a chainsmoker, or sucking on Tootsie Pops ("Nikki" seems to have some kind of weird oral fixation), but her quirky affectations are more irritating than amusing.  Her high-school flashback story about having sex with a jock's "retard" brother for fifteen dollars and then getting stiffed (the jerk!) is just...oh, what's the word...disturbing?

Most disappointing of all is proto-MILF Jennifer Coolidge, because she's usually so effortlessly hilarious in such films as BEST IN SHOW and GENTLEMEN BRONCOS.  I've never seen her give a more lifeless, dispirited performance than she does here.  Strangely enough, the lengthy gag reel found on the DVD showcases her usual flair for funny improvisations, yet only her least inspired takes seem to have found their way into the final cut.

The DVD from Image Entertainment is in 1.85:1 widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.  No subtitles or chapter list.  In fact, the only two clickable items listed on the menu are "Play" and "Gag Reel." 

I was rooting for the creepy IRS stalker guy while watching ExTERMINATORS, when I assume I was actually supposed to be on the girls' side.  Then again, I was also rooting for the movie to be on the funny side, and that didn't work out, either.

Buy it at

DVD2BLU Expands: Exchange ANY DVD for a new WB Blu-ray!


- Only at

What’s NEW?  For the first time with consumers can send in ANY DVD they own (produced by any studio/sold at retail, online) even those old dusty ones under their beds or in the garage and get a new Warner Bros. Blu-ray title in return for as low as $4.95.

Over 100 Blu-ray titles are available including Gran Torino, V For Vendetta, Superman II, Wedding Crashers, The Shining, and several other favorites.

Here’s how it works:

Visit, view the selection of over 100 Blu-ray titles and pick the ones you want to add to your collection.
Dust off those unwanted DVDs you already own and send us one (Disc Only) for every Blu-ray you wish to own.  Please note only professionally produced DVDs (anything from a major/independent studio sold at retail), non Adult content will qualify.
Go to check out for all of the final details and in a few weeks get your new Blu-ray(s).

"MERANTAU" Coming To Blu-ray and DVD December 28

Showcasing the unique form of martial arts style, Tiger Silat in MERANTAU coming to Blu-ray and DVD December 28 from Magnolia Home Entertainment

Synopsis: Leaving the simple life of a young man in rural Sumatra, Yuda must undergo merantau, a traditional rite of passage in which a young man must leave his family’s home to make it on his own. After heading to the big city of Jakarta, Yuda begins his trial of merantau. He quickly learns that living in the big city is very different from all he has ever known. After a young boy tries to steal his wallet, he is plunged into a violent world of human trafficking where his martial arts skills are tested in a rapidly escalating spiral of violence.

Actors: Iko Uwais
Directors: Gareth Evans
Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only.)
Number of discs: 1
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Magnolia
DVD Release Date: December 28, 2010
Run Time: 106 minutes

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DAMNED BY DAWN -- DVD review by porfle

The DVD cover blurb for DAMNED BY DAWN (2009) states "Sick of waiting for EVIL DEAD 4?  Check out Damned by Dawn."  Well, not quite.  But it is about half of the spookiest movie I've seen in quite a while. 

Not that director and co-writer Brett Anstey, along with his filmmaking co-horts who call themselves The Amazing Krypto Bros., aren't going for a Sam Raimi vibe here, because they are.  It's just that they aren't quite capable of delivering the kind of balls-out gut-wrenching terror fest that the original EVIL DEAD was when it first came out.  Not for the entire running time anyway.  What they do manage to achieve to a certain degree, however, are the kind of good old-fashioned ghostly chills that get under your skin and give you goosebumps.

Though shot in Australia, the isolated setting of DAMNED BY DAWN has the fog-shrouded feel of the English countryside.  It's here that Claire O'Neill (Renee Willner) and her boyfriend Paul (Danny Alder) arrive at the old family estate where she grew up to visit her dying grandmother.  Paul meets Claire's dubious dad, Bill (Peter Stratford), and her bouncy younger sister, Jen (Taryn Eva), before setting off for the nearby village for some pizza.  He almost runs into a ditch at the sight of a spectral figure standing in the road.

Meanwhile, Claire is at Nana's bedside when the old woman begins to tell her a disturbing tale of a banshee who will come for her when she dies.  Claire awakens in the middle of the night to frightening far-off screams, and before long the entire family is beset by the Banshee herself and a host of other undead figures who have risen from the grave.  During a night of terror, Nana is taken away and their efforts to find her result in some grisly deaths.  The survivors attempt to escape the next day but are confronted by an army of the dead at every turn.

An atmosphere of unease begins to build from the very start and sets us up for the kind of scares that used to have us peeking through our fingers when we were kids.  An early shot of the Banshee appearing in an old family photograph during a flash of lightning is just the beginning of a series of chilling jump scares that are truly frightening.  Earlier, when Paul is standing on that dark road after his fleeting vision, a brief glimpse of the white-shrouded spectre floating by in the background should raise a few hackles. 

Director Anstey places her off-center in several shots and lets us discover her slowly approaching figure ourselves as she emerges out of the fog, along with the terrified Claire who watches from a window during the initial siege.  The front door slowly swings open in a swirl of mist, the Banshee enters, and Claire hides in a closet as the ghostly apparition moves through the house.  It's like something out of a child's nightmare, recalling some of our earliest irrational fears and giving us that old familiar shivery feeling. 

The film succeeds in doing so only sporadically from that point forward.  There are some nice shots of zombie-like wraiths floating through the air, one of them wielding a scythe in Grim Reaper fashion as he inexorably pursues his living victims.  These figures begin to lose their effectiveness, however, as the film's reliance on less-than-convincing CGI steadily increases.  Rarely are computer-generated ghosts scary, and DAMNED BY DAWN is no exception. 

The mood is further diminished as the film makes the same mistake that ruined the finale of POLTERGEIST along with many other supernatural films--namely, the belief that ratcheting up the noise level and adding a bunch of flashy effects and frantic activity will increase the scare factor, when, in fact, it has the opposite effect.  Having the Banshee repeatedly break out in prolonged, supersonic screams is also less than terrifying.  As the story goes on, long stretches in which a character creeps around waiting for something to jump out at her tend to further drag the pace of the film's second half.

Still, there are some good moments throughout.  When a shotgun-wielding Claire warily enters an old barn in search of her missing sister, last seen being yanked away from a window by an unseen force, the sequence generates jittery suspense.  The gross-out factor takes front and center with a Raimi-inspired episode in which a character previously hanged by his own intestines shows up in the kitchen the next day, spilling entrails from his gaping stomach and vomiting cockroaches.  Kindly old Nana gets into the act herself later on when she returns as one of the hostile undead in the film's frenetic climax.

For a low-budget effort, DAMNED BY DAWN looks great and is clearly the work of a talented and enthusiastic bunch of filmmakers.  The cast is uniformly good, especially Renee Willner as Claire and Dawn Klingberg as Nana.  Bridget Neval does her best as the Banshee, though the character's effectiveness varies depending mostly on the director and the script.  She's never better than in those early scenes in which her unnerving presence is fleetingly seen.  (Call me weird, but I think she's pretty hot, too.)

The DVD from Image Entertainment is in 1.78:1 widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.  No subtitles this time.  Along with the trailer there's a 55-minute behind-the-scenes documentary that is quite engaging.  A crew commentary provides more information on the making of the film, while the cast commentary (most of them are seeing it for the first time) is lively and fun.

Although DAMNED BY DAWN isn't entirely successful and can't maintain its ability to scare us past those chilling early scenes, it's still a worthwhile effort that should please horror fans.  Definitely the sort of thing to liven up your Halloween viewing experience. 

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

THE LOST TRIBE -- DVD review by porfle

A sense of familiarity hangs over THE LOST TRIBE (2009), which seems like a rehash of elements from several other movies.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing, since there are lots of entertaining monster flicks that aren't all that original.  But the fact that this one is so well acted (especially by the impressive Emily Foxler), imaginatively directed by Roel Reiné, and attractively photographed makes it all the more disappointing when it starts to lose steam in its second half.

Two couples--Anna & Tom and Joe & Alexis, plus loner Chris--are on a sailing cruise somewhere in the Mediterranean when they come across a man floating on a piece from a wrecked boat.  He's so frantic that he must be sedated, but during the night he awakens and desperately takes control of the sailboat, dashing it into a reef and sinking it.  The others barely make it to shore, where they find the man's body and bury it.  Later, they discover the grave empty and splattered with blood.

Naturally, Tom (Nick Mennell) ventures into the jungle by himself when he hears strange noises.  Anna (Emily Foxler), goes in search of him when he fails to return, and eventually the entire group is traipsing around in the bush.  They discover the remains of a military encampment and an anthropological dig, but no people.  Meanwhile, there are mysterious, hairy figures darting about in the treetops and communicating with each other in gutteral growls, and one by one the helpless castaways start disappearing.

What we know that they don't know is revealed in a goofy subplot in which the missing link between ape and man is unearthed, and the Vatican, fearful that the discovery will validate the theory of evolution once and for all, unleashes killer priest Father Gallo (Lance Henriksen) upon the hapless scientists with orders to terminate them.  Which he does, in sadistic and decidedly unpriestly fashion. Ooh, that ee-vil Vatican!  Well, Gallo soon finds himself the last survivor of his team after they're wiped out by the ape creatures (it turns out that the missing links aren't quite missing after all), but that doesn't stop him from continuing to kill anyone else who shows up.  Which brings us back to...

...our hapless heroes, whose ranks are thinning rapidly.  The first half of THE LOST TRIBE is pretty suspenseful and we never quite get a good look at the creatures as they swoop down out of the trees and snatch people away.  As the main characters start to turn on each other, their true colors are revealed in interesting ways.  For once, thank goodness, the fat guy (Marc Bacher) doesn't turn out to be the most selfish and cowardly of the bunch.  That honor goes to Chris (Hadley Fraser), who wants to go back to the beach and wait for the Coast Guard to show up rather than search for Tom.  Not a healthy move for ol' Chris, or Joe's ditzy blonde girlfriend Alexis (Brianna Brown), who tags along with him and becomes the object of a quick snatch-and-grab.  Anna and Joe, meanwhile, meet up with none other than unkindly Father Gallo, who's still in a terminating mood.

While the trailer for THE LOST TRIBE gives away just about every freakin' plot point in addition to fully revealing the ape creatures themselves, I'll try to avoid spoiling everything and simply say that Final Girl stays alive long enough to witness the others being either executed by papal decree or devoured by a bunch of ravenous missing links.  (Come to think of it, there's no way I can avoid spilling at least some of the beans, so you might want to skip the next paragraph.)

For some reason, the ape creatures have what resembles "Predator" vision, and since Final Girl obviously saw that movie she discovers that she can become invisible to them by smearing herself with mud and sticky grape juice.  Thus, we get a long sequence of her sneaking around in the secret ape cave looking for her missing companions until finally the beasts surround her and start to close in.  This is where she meets the dreaded Alpha Male (Terry Notary), who expresses an urgent desire to either eat or mate with her.   

All of this manages to be fairly involving for awhile, but toward the end it starts to get a little tiresome.  The ape costumes aren't all that impressive, and I had to wonder where in the evolutionary process these half-ape, half-human creatures acquired the ability to hop around like giant grasshoppers and soar around through the treetops like flying squirrels.  About halfway through the movie we see them chowing down on a human buffet, which is pretty disconcerting, and after that scene they never seem quite as menacing again. 

The whole weird "Catholic conspiracy" subplot, along with Lance Henriksen's character, are quickly forgotten and what's left of the story just sort of peters out.  An emotional high point is reached when Final Girl discovers the fate of her boyfriend during the cave sequence, but EDEN LAKE covered this sort of devastating emotional territory much more effectively.  A lot of THE LOST TRIBE's second half, in fact, reminded me of EDEN LAKE but with hairier monsters. 

The DVD from Image Entertainment is in 2.35:1 widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.  Subtitles are in English and Spanish.  Extras include a commentary with producer Mohit Ramchandani and actor Hadley Fraser ("Chris"), a "behind-the-scenes" featurette, and the trailer. 

According to IMDb, this film was originally shot as "The Forgotten Ones" with Jewel Staite ("Firefly", "Stargate: Atlantis") in the lead role, but the producers thought they could do better and filmed it all over again.  (Unlike 1936's TARZAN ESCAPES, which was the subject of a similar re-do, "The Forgotten Ones" has reportedly been released overseas.)  It would be interesting to compare the two versions.  As it is, THE LOST TRIBE is a well-made film that should hold your interest, but fails to live up to its potential.   

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

BANGKOK ADRENALINE -- DVD review by porfle

I wish there were some way to keep a tally of how many brain cells I lost as BANGKOK ADRENALINE (2009) spin-kicked them into oblivion.  The story is a mess, much of the comedy is aggressively unfunny, and some of the main characters are so stupid and unlikable that I wanted to see them die horribly.  But aside from all that, it's a pretty kickass action flick.

The setting is beautiful downtown Bangkok as four white guys who we immediately can't stand do the "annoying tourist" routine which includes boisterous partying and gambling.  Since they suck at the latter, they end up owing a local crime boss one million batt (I think that's a lot) and will die "a painful and violent death" (yeah!) unless they pay within one week.  Their only logical solution?  You guessed it--kidnapping.

The millionaire whose daughter they snatch, Harris Dawson (Liam Noel Harrison), turns out to be a comically ruthless gang boss.  The daughter, Irene, turns out to be a girl whom our main character, Dan (Daniel O'Neill), dashingly rescued from some street toughs earlier.  She's also quite a handful and gives the guys a lot of trouble until she finds out that her father actually wants her dead in order to inherit all the money she's due to get on her 21st birthday.  So Irene and her erstwhile kidnappers join forces to stick it to Dad, but must deal with his deadly army of hired goons. 

A lot of the early comedy comes from seeing our heroes playfully taunt and terrorize their captive, which is incredibly endearing.  We forgive them because, darn it, they're just plain stupid!  Since Dan rescued her earlier and feels kind of bad about kidnapping her now, and is so cute besides, he's meant to be A-okay in our book.  So is Mike (Gwion Jacob Miles) even when he's threatening to kill Irene.  We know he doesn't really mean it!  Plus, Dan and Mike are martial arts experts, which makes them totally cool. (Note: I'm using sarcasm here!)

Worst of the lot is John (Raimund Huber), a red-dread-head who's a total waste and--God help us--our main comedy relief, along with a towering, musclebound meathead named Conan (Conan Stevens).  When Irene tells Conan she needs to go to the bathroom, the moron puts her in there, still tied to her chair.  John peeks in to check on her, sees the urine splashing between her feet, and cackles, "You peed yourself!  You peed yourself!"  It's gold, Jerry--gold! 

More laughs come later when the guys all wear funny masks so that Irene can't see their faces, and, sure enough, the masks are actually pretty funny.  Huber, by the way, directed the movie, and he and Stevens collaborated on the screenplay along with the guy who plays a transvestite named "Aunt Bulldog" later on in the story.  Just throwing that out there.

Anyway, as soon as they find out that Irene's dad wants her dead, the guys do a one-eighty and decide to help her, along with a couple of her badass bodyguards, Lek and Hans, who have always considered her a "little sister."  What follows is a series of frenetic, stunt-packed, and often thrilling fight scenes which are strung together by the rest of the dopey plot.  These involve several different combinations of good guys and goons, and take place in a variety of locations including some tall buildings and moving vehicles.  One particularly determined baddie scores laughs by continually hurling himself at our heroes like a crazed Energizer bunny.

While the editing is often on the irritating side, the action itself is dazzling, particularly with O'Neill (who was also the stunt coordinator and fight choreographer) going at it with an arsenal of spin kicks, pinwheel flips, reckless stunts, a little breakdancing, and some nice parkour-type moves.  (When he gracefully lifts himself over an iron fence with a stunning gymnastics move, I was thinking, "No way!")  Conan, meanwhile, bashes his way through bunches of bad guys like a piledriver, while cowardly John entertains us with a series of "funny" confrontations which, oddly enough, aren't funny!

Even Irene gets in her kicks, running around in a towel and catching her pursuers off-guard by flashing her nude body at them, until one of them turns out to be gay.  Then she's handed back over to Dad, setting the scene for a final showdown that pays off pretty well in thrills.  Huber actually does a decent directing job aside from the choppy editing, and most of the cast are capable, particularly Harrison's teeth-gnashing performance as Dawson and Dom Hetrakul as Irene's concerned bodyguard, Lek.  I also like Michael Ocholi as Jacque, a French mercenary friend of John's who keeps getting killed and coming back. 

The DVD from Image Entertainment is in 1.78:1 widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.  Soundtrack is in English with English and Spanish subtitles.  The sole extra consists of 56 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage which demonstrate how boring a movie shoot can be. 

I really hated this movie the first time I watched it, but upon second viewing I began to warm up to it thanks to the non-stop action and overall jackass attitude.  This, in addition to a few moments here and there which are actually kind of funny, make BANGKOK ADRENALINE worth a look.  That is, if you don't mind risking brain damage from being exposed to its more stupefying qualities.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Weigh anchor with HARPOON: WHALE WATCHING MASSACRE, on Blu-ray and DVD December 7th from Image Entertainment

"(A) carefully crafted, intelligent addition to the horror genre." —     Movie Talk

"The kill scenes are well executed and pack some nice gore, including …an actual deck-mounted harpooning (hell yeah!) and more." —    Dread Central

Welcome aboard! Our course heading – pure terror!


Setting sail onto DVD , Unrated DVD and Unrated Blu-ray™ December 7

Chatsworth, CA – A whale-watching expedition will promise many things:  the scent of fresh, sea air; the sound of the crashing, high seas and just maybe a sight of one of nature’s most magnificent creatures. Usually. On December 7 Image Entertainment presents Harpoon:  Whale Watching Massacre, the terrifying tale of a pleasure cruise gone deadly wrong.    Harpoon:  Whale Watching Massacre will be available at an SRP of $27.97 for the DVD .  In addition, fans can experience the unrated DVD with two additional minutes of extra “slumgullion” for an SRP of $27.97 and the unrated Blu-ray™ for $29.97.  Pre-book is November 9th.

On the cold waters off Iceland ’s coast, a boatload of international tourists set off on a whale-watching expedition. But when a freak accident leaves their captain mortally wounded, they are stranded…and suddenly the ocean’s loveliness turns ominous. 

Help seems to arrive in the form of a helpful whaler (Gunnar Hansen, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) who offers to take them back to shore, but instead leaves them on a decaying whaling barge. 

At first they believe they’re alone, until they discover that the barge is already occupied by a deranged family, determined to hunt each one down in a night of oceanic terror!  Forced to overcome cultural as well as personal differences, the tourists become comrades in fear…willing to brave the high seas to survive an ocean of blood.

Written by award winning novelist and lyricist Sjon Sigurdsson (collaborator with The Sugarcubes, writer for Björk), Harpoon: Whale Watching Massacre has been called Iceland ’s initial foray into the slasher/horror movie genre.  Gutsy and graphic, it puts its crew in circumstances that are both inventive and unimaginable.  When a day of leisure becomes a night of terror, who succumbs…and who survives?

Harpoon:  Whale Watching Massacre DVD
Genre:                         Horror, Feature Film
Rating:                         R
Rating Reason:             Bloody violence, language, some nudity and drug use
Languages:                   English 
Format:                        Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1)
Audio:                          Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:                       N/A
Year:                            2009
SRP :                            $27.97
Street Date:                  December 7, 2010
Pre-Book:                    November 9, 2010
Length:                         82 minutes
UPC :                            014381677324
Cat#:                            CVI6773 DVD

Harpoon:  Whale Watching Massacre DVD (unrated)
Genre:                          Horror, Feature Film
Rating:                          Unrated
Languages:                   English 
Format:                        Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1)
Audio:                          Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:                       N/A
Year:                            2009
SRP :                            $27.97
Street Date:                  December 7, 2010
Pre-Book:                    November 9, 2010
Length:                         84 minutes
UPC :                            014381680522
Cat#:                            CVI6805DVD

Harpoon:  Whale Watching Massacre Blu-ray™ (unrated)
Genre:                         Horror, Feature Film
Rating:                          Unrated
Language:                     English
Format:                        Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1)
Audio:                          DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 
Subtitles:                       N/A
Year:                            2009
SRP :                            $29.97
Street Date:                  December 7, 2010
Pre-Book:                    November 9, 2010
Length:                         84 minutes
UPC :                            014381677454
Cat#:                            CVI6774BD

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DVD Unrated
Blu-Ray Unrated

FADE TO BLACK -- DVD review by porfle

Oliver Parker's FADE TO BLACK (2006) has been described as "a movie lover's movie."  Or, more specifically, an old movie lover's movie, since you have to be reasonably familiar with early 20th century cinema in order to really appreciate it.  First off, you have to know who Orson Welles was.  Which, unfortunately, leaves out a large percentage of the current moviegoing public.

For the rest of us, the fact that Danny Huston is portraying a young Welles in an apocryphal tale of post-war intrigue and murder during a film shoot in Rome is a pretty enticing lure.  All that's needed is for Huston to give us a convincing portrayal of Welles, and for writer-director Oliver Parker to deliver a story that takes full advantage of its potential.  Which, more or less, is what they did.

Having just split from his beautiful actress-wife Rita Hayworth and finding his career in a bit of a slump, Welles arrives in a politically-volatile Rome in 1948 to star as Cagliostro in a Dumas adaptation called "Black Magic", while also trying to get a film version of "Othello" off the ground (at least this much is true).  It's fun watching Welles try to insinuate his directorial influence into the not-so-great production which clearly seems beneath him, while getting a vicarious look at the inside workings of the famous Cinecitti studios. 

During a take, the company is shocked when a costumed extra named Dellere (Frano Lasic), whom Welles has met previously, staggers into the frame and dies after whispering a single word: "Nero."  The police deem it a drug overdose, but a dubious Welles starts delving into the mystery himself, with the help of his young Italian bodyguard Tommaso (Diego Luna).  Tommaso, an ex-cop, leads Welles into a dark world of political intrigue and danger where shady government officials and crime bosses such as "Lucky" Luciano threaten the overly-inquisitive thespian with death or, even worse, professional disgrace.

The tangled plot is pretty easy to follow if you just ignore most of it.  What's really interesting is the idea of lanky, ego-driven sophisticate Welles weaving his way through all this cloak-and-dagger stuff like a character from one of his own movies.  It takes a while to become accustomed to Danny Huston in the role--he looks the part, but you miss that familiar voice.  Huston, in fact, sounds more like his father, legendary filmmaker John Huston, than the bass-toned Welles.  But he gives it his best shot, and it eventually becomes less of an effort to accept him in the role. 

I like the humorous touches such as Welles' frustration with playing second fiddle to his ex-wife in the public eye (reporters keep calling him "Mr. Hayworth"), and a throwaway shot of the slender Welles eagerly stuffing himself with delicious Italian food in an open-air restaurant (we all know where that's going to go).  Huston acquits himself convincingly in the more dramatic scenes, whether romancing a reluctant Italian actress named Lea Padovani (Paz Vega), whom he discovers is linked directly to the murder of Dellere, or venturing into perilous situations where he doesn't belong and then having to sweat his way out of them. 

Interestingly, director Parker, who helmed 2007's I REALLY HATE MY JOB (which I really hated), makes little attempt to imitate any kind of late-40s filmmaking style.  Although the rich colors and noirish lighting are evocative of the era, the look of FADE TO BLACK is a somewhat mismatched combination of formal style and hand-held naturalism which I could never totally settle into.  This isn't a big problem, though, and the modern-looking photography makes the "Black Magic" rushes and silent-movie clips that we see (which are very well-done) look more convincing by contrast.  Some of Parker's quirky editing choices, while not always successful, are interesting as well.

As the likable Tommaso, Diego Luna (MILK) ably conveys the inner conflict that motivates his character to overcome his fears and plunge into political turmoil, while his loyalty to the impetuous Welles draws him into even deeper peril.  Paz Vega (SPANGLISH) is okay as Lea, although I never found her convincing as the stunningly glamorous film star whom Welles is supposed to find so irresistible.  In a minor role as Welles' CIA-connected friend Pete Brewster, Christopher Walken gives the film some poster-friendly star power just by strolling through it.

The DVD from Image Entertainment is in 2.35:1 widescreen with Dolby 5.1 surround sound and English and Spanish subtitles.  The sole extra is the film's trailer. 

While hardly memorable, I found FADE TO BLACK a diverting "what if" tale that takes a while to get warmed up but eventually begins to pay off for the patient viewer.  The idea of Orson Welles as the reluctant hero in a real-life thriller which rivals the fictional intrigue of his own movies is fun, and Parker and Huston just manage to pull it off.  I wonder, though--if they ever decide to give John Huston the same treatment, who are they going to get to play him?

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

HUNT TO KILL -- DVD review by porfle

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin is back to look stiff and kill people in his latest action vehicle, HUNT TO KILL (2010), which should please his fans who are easily pleased.  Others may feel inclined to hunt for something else to watch.

A prologue features Austin and the venerable Eric Roberts, one of my all-time favorite actors, as Texas border patrol agents staking out a trailer in the desert.  Steve just got a promotion, and for some reason best pal Eric gives him a James Bond watch with a band that can be unraveled into a rope. Not that he'll have any use for it sometime later in the movie when he really needs a rope, of course.  Roberts, who currently seems to be making a living simply by showing up for awhile in various movies, is so relaxed here that he seems on the verge of taking a blissful nap during every take.  It isn't hard to figure out that the lifespan of his character is roughly the same length of time that his pre-titles cameo role in this movie will last.  As soon he's killed during a botched raid on the trailer, a heartbroken Steve moves to Montana to live in the woods...and hunt.  Hunt to kill, that is.

Meanwhile, we see a gang of thieves who have just pulled off a big bank heist, and their gray-haired leader, Lawson, double-crosses everyone and absconds with the bonds.  But Banks (Gil Bellows, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION) secretly planted a bug on the guy and with the help of their electronics expert, Geary, they track Lawson all the way to the woods of--you guessed it--Montana, where he plans to cross the border into Canada.  Since these city slickers will need a guide, they take Steve's rebellious, incredibly annoying daughter Kim (Marie Avgeropoulos) hostage and force him to lead them through the forest on Lawson's trail.  Naturally, the baddies commit all sorts of indignities against Steve and his daughter along the way, which we just know Steve is keeping track of so that it will be just that much more satisfying when he eventually gets a chance to slaughter them all later.

An aside--Steve's daughter in this movie is so annoying from the start that I hate her.  She's cute, but I hate her.  It's obvious that before the movie's over she'll gain a newfound respect for Dad after he saves her from the bad guys, just like Mary Elizabeth Winstead in LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD, but it'll be too little, too late.  I permanently hate her.  Unfortunately, we know there's no way Kim can die because her being held hostage is the only reason Steve doesn't just go ahead and wipe out all the bad guys in the first ten minutes of the movie.

Anyway, it all sounds like a pretty good premise, but we mostly get more interaction than regular action as the group does a lot of trudging around in the woods and arguing with each other.  Bellows enjoys overplaying the crazy-funny psycho Banks and taunting Steve to the breaking point, which we know he's about to reach because his immobile stare becomes slightly more intense.  These moments usually end with someone pointing their gun at Kim's head while her deadly Dad restrains himself and makes another notation in his mental "I'm going to kill you later" notebook.  Not much happens in the first half of the movie, although one of the bad guys actually does lay hands on Kim--and not in a nice "faith-healer" type of way--so Steve avails himself of the opportunity to treat him like a giant piece of crunchy-style KFC chicken until Banks steps in.

Complications arise in their pursuit of Lawson, and Steve is forced to rappel down the side of a cliff to retrieve a certain backpack.  Although they don't have any rope, Steve remembers the handy James Bond watch that Q...I mean, Eric Roberts gave him before the titles.  And sure enough, the magical watchband unravels into roughly a hundred feet of thick, durable rope.  I haven't seen anything this hard to believe since that "Matt Helm" movie where Dean Martin pulls a suitcase-sized kit out of his car trunk and builds a helicopter. 

Eventually, Steve gets separated from the rest of the group as Kim continues to act as their unwilling guide.  Just to show us what a badass he is, he barely winces while digging a slug out of his gut with a red-hot knife.  Then he runs across a crossbow that someone has conveniently left in the woods, makes some arrows along with a couple of spears, and goes into hunt-to-kill mode.  Meanwhile, as the bad guys begin to get on each others' nerves, we're treated to a fun dust-up between irritating tech-guy Geary and Banks' girlfriend, Dominika (Emilie Ullerup).

Dominika, by the way, is a gorgeous blonde babe who wields a gun and likes to tie people up, automatically making her my favorite character.  The fact that she ties up Steve's annoying daughter and drags her around like a dog on a leash for most of the movie gives it a certain fetishy goodness that I won't even attempt to explain.  At any rate, watching her kick Geary's whiny ass is one of the film's high points. 

Without going into detail, the rest of the movie consists of a few mildly interesting hunt-kills and some really bad one-liners, until inevitably it all comes down to Steve versus Banks.  Their extended chase and fight sequence isn't all that exciting, with Banks' Chucky-like ability to keep bouncing back from apparent death getting a little dumb after awhile.  The comical sight of Steve Austin doing a speeded-up wheelie on a four-wheel ATV leads to the film's second explosion (the first being that trailer way back in Texas).  All in all, the best fight in the film is probably Steve's burly brawl with the beefy Gary Daniels as "Jensen", who delivers some roundhouse kicks and other fancy moves against our dogged hero's more traditional two-fisted style.

The DVD from Anchor Bay is in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound and English and Spanish subtitles.  Extras include a commentary track with director Keoni Waxman (Steven Seagal's THE KEEPER) and actor Michael Eklund ("Geary"), plus a very low-key "behind-the-scenes" featurette and a trailer.    

Steve Austin is a reliable tough-guy hero who makes okay action flicks, and you know what you're going to get when you watch one so there's no use expecting anything more.  HUNT TO KILL is like a bologna sandwich--neither great nor awful, but good enough to tide you over until something tastier comes along. 

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PREDATORS -- DVD review by porfle

Not the adrenaline-charged action blowout I was expecting, PREDATORS (2010) is still a reasonably exciting and, for the most part, absorbing monster flick.

Things get off to a dynamic start as mercenary soldier Royce (Adrien Brody) wakes up to find himself in the middle of a harrowing freefall through the clouds.  His chute opens just in time but he still goes crashing perilously through the ceiling of a dense jungle below before finally thudding into the turf.  Before long he discovers he's not the only one, as more confused people keep popping up and wondering where the hell they are and how they got there.

Curiously, they all seem to be adept at killing, either for business or pleasure.  Along with soldiers Isabelle (Alice Braga), Nikolai (Oleg Taktarov), and Mombasa (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), there's drug cartel executioner Cuchillo (Danny Trejo), a Yakuza named Hanzo (Louis Ozawa Changchien), and a flaky rapist-murderer from Death Row named Stans (Walter Goggins).  The odd man out is seemingly mild-mannered doctor Edwin (Topher Grace), who, like the others, was abducted in a flash of white light.

They may be in the dark as to what's going on, but most of us viewers are well aware that these hapless individuals are the latest prey for big, vicious aliens known as Predators, who hunt and kill for sport.  As we wait for them to appear, the humans, with Royce taking the lead, trudge through the jungle toward higher ground and eventually realize that they're on another planet.  The game now afoot, they're soon tracked down by a pack of doglike creatures in a lively attack sequence that's pretty nicely CGI-rendered.

Some of the characters start dying off before we get to know them at all, while the rest remain sketchy and enigmatic.  Royce, who cultivates a cold ruthlessness in order to survive, gives Adrien Brody a welcome chance to not be a wuss for a change.  Isabelle (played by Sonia Braga's niece Alice) and Nikolai are patriots who kill efficiently for their country yet retain their humanity--Nikolai proudly displays a photo of his kids at one point, while Isabelle refuses to leave a wounded Edwin behind. 

Cowardly blowhard Stans reminds me a little of Bill Paxton's "Hudson" from ALIENS, until he starts fantasizing about getting coked up and going on a raping spree when he gets back to Earth.  A surprising new character introduced late in the film (I won't go into any details) provides the story with its strangest and most interesting interlude.  The dialogue is serviceable but nobody is given anything very memorable to say, including the sort of pithy one-liners Arnold spouted in the first film. 

KNB EFX Group, Inc. provide the excellent makeup effects which we get to see in loving close-up.  The "original" Predator, we discover, was a little feller compared to the bigger, badder species introduced here, and it turns out there's a blood feud between them which becomes important to the plot later on.  I still prefer the original-style Predator to the jazzed-up new version, and it's a little disconcerting to see him diminished in comparison.

Highlights include a clash of swords between Predator and Yakuza, an inter-species Predator showdown, and a final clash between the baddest Predator and the most resourceful human.  But while there are several action setpieces and some thrilling stunts here and there, viewers expecting a monsters-versus-humans free-for-all along the lines of ALIENS will probably be disappointed.  The breakneck pace of that film is also missing here, as the story moves rather leisurely between action scenes and never really maintains much momentum.  Still, PREDATORS remains fairly absorbing throughout. 

The DVD from 20th-Century Fox is in 2.35:1 widescreen with soundtracks in English Dolby 5.1 and Spanish and French Dolby 2.0.  Subtitles are in English, Spanish, and French.  Extras include a chummy commentary track with director Nimrod Antal and producer Robert Rodriguez, a look at the film's location shooting in Hawaii and Texas, three short motion comics, the theatrical trailer, and several trailers from other 20th-Century Fox releases. 

Good performances, top-notch makeup effects, and high-gloss production values keep this somewhat lackluster screenplay moving along well enough.  But Nimrod Antal, while certainly a capable director, doesn't have that Robert Rodriguez touch, and PREDATORS comes off as an entertaining but unremarkable sci-fi/monster flick with a direct-to-video vibe.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

KALIFORNIA [Blu-Ray] -- DVD review by porfle

(Blu-Ray comments by Ian Friedman.)

Seeing the tense road thriller KALIFORNIA (1993) shortly after it first came out is the reason that I never viewed Brad Pitt as just another pretty-boy actor.  This was the one of the first movies I ever saw him in, and his character, a sleazy, parole-jumping serial killer named Early Grayce, is about as unglamorous as you can get. 

David Duchovny, trying to get a film career off the ground just as "The X-Files" began to take off, plays a psychology grad student named Brian Kessler who's writing a book about serial killers.  He decides to drive from Atlanta to California with his girlfriend Carrie (Michelle Forbes, "Homocide: Life on the Streets") and stop off at various famous murder scenes along the way for research.  But in order to share expenses for the trip he invites none other than Early and his ditzy girlfriend Adele (Juliette Lewis) along for the ride, getting way more than he bargained for. 

Director Dominic Sena (SWORDFISH) keeps things interesting as Brian and Carrie begin to discover just how dangerous their traveling companion is.  At first, Brian likes having such a colorful character to observe and is intrigued by his violent nature, which is demonstrated when Early beats the crap out of a guy in a bar.  Soon, however, he discovers that Early has been leaving a trail of bodies during their journey.  When Early kills one cop and then insists that Brian finish off the other one, the not-too-bright college boy realizes too late just how deep he's gotten himself into. 

If you've never seen this side of Brad Pitt, his portrayal of scum-of-the-earth Early may come as a real surprise.  (One thing's for sure--this is probably the only time we'll ever see Brad blow his nose through his fingers.)  As Adele, Juliette Lewis plays her patented dingbat character to a tee, gaining our sympathy with her childlike naiveté and constant desire for acceptance not only by Early but also by the intellectual Brian and Carrie, whom she regards as her betters.

Michelle Forbes, a fine actress known almost solely for her television work (she was Ensign Ro on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and more recently played Admiral Helena Cain on "Battlestar Galactica") does what she can with the role of Carrie.  David Duchovny is his usual low-key, somewhat unremarkable self as Brian--sort of like Fox Mulder as an overconfident doofus.  Unfortunately, this film didn't do much for his big-screen career, and he's barely featured in the film's advertising these days if at all.

KALIFORNIA arrives on Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox/MGM with the unrated version of the film in HD. The movie looks nice in it's original 2:35:1 scope and has a normal amount of grain. The picture and detail are sharp and the colors are neither over or de-saturated achieving a good balance allowing for an accurate representation of the original movie-going experience. There were no noticable compression errors. This film was never a summer blockbuster experience, but it still looks very nice on Blu-ray. The English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is acceptable as the movie is more character-driven than heavily action-oriented your sound system doesn't really get a heavy workout.

You just know that sooner or later Early's really bad side is going to turn against his fellow travelers, and when it does, KALIFORNIA delivers a violent and fairly satisfying conclusion which takes place on a nuclear test site in Nevada.  It's not really what I'd call a classic, but with a good cast and a pretty involving story, it should keep you in suspense till the journey's end.

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Kung Fu Classic SHAOLIN MANTIS Explodes Onto DVD 11/16


Latest Dragon Dynasty Installment Of Shaw Brothers' Classic Debuts On DVD November 16 From Vivendi Entertainment And The Weinstein Company

"Judged on Kung Fu action alone, Shaolin Mantis is a winner" - Kung Fu Cinema

UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - Full of non-stop action and spectacular Kung Fu, the Shaw Brothers' classic Shaolin Mantis explodes onto DVD November 16 from Vivendi Entertainment and The Weinstein Company.  From director Lau Kar-Leung (The 36th Chamber of Shaolin) comes the thrilling origin story of the highly effective and dangerous Mantis Fist Kung Fu.  Starring Kung Fu cinema legends David Chiang (One Armed Swordsman) and Liu Chia Hui (Kill Bill films, The 36th Chamber of Shaolin), the tale begins when Wai Fung (Chiang) is sent to infiltrate the Tien family to gather evidence of their rebellion against the king. 

Soon discovered as a spy, Fung is soundly defeated by the evil Tien brothers and ejected from the house.  Retreating to the wilderness after his devastating loss, Fung observes the delicate and intricate movements of a praying mantis.  Finding inspiration from the insect, he develops the deadly Mantis Fist Kung Fu and returns to seek vengeance on his enemies.  Featuring mesmerizing fight scenes and compelling drama, the newest Dragon Dynasty installment Shaolin Mantis will be available for the suggested retail price of $19.97.

David Chiang (One-Armed Swordsman) invents a new fighting technique - the Mantis Fist - to battle his way through a deadly stockpile of villains as he seeks revenge for his wife's murder. Featuring "spectacular kung fu choreography and a standout action performance for David Chiang" (Mark Pollard, Kung Fu Cinema), this Shaw Bros. classic instantly emerged as one of the genre's very best!

Price: $19.97
Street Date:  November 16, 2010
Order Date:October 12, 2010
Catalog Number:  WN2959
Languages:  English/ Mandarin (English/Spanish subtitles)
Running time: 101 minutes
Rating: NR

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Martial Arts Thriller KILL ZONE on Blu-ray Disc 11/30


Martial Arts Legends Donnie Yen And Sammo Hung Star In The Dragon Dynasty Favorite, Arriving As An Ultimate Edition Blu-Ray Disc November 30 From Vivendi Entertainment And The Weinstein Company

"An all-star smack-down that will get fans salivating...a must see item!" - Daily Variety

Synopsis: Detective Chan (Simon Yam) relentlessly pursues vicious crime boss Po (Sammo Hung) for the death of his brother.  Unable to tie him to the murder, Yam eventually resigns himself to the fact that Po will never pay for his crimes and prepares to retire from the force.  His replacement, Ma (Donnie Yen) is a principled, committed cop who is a deadly martial arts expert and has no problem using his skills to bring down the bad guys.  Ultimately, the two manage to grab Po in what turns out to be one of the bloodiest confrontations ever filmed! 

Starring: Donnie Yen (Seven Swords), Sammo Hung (Legend of the Dragon) and Simon Yam (Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life)

Bonus Features:
Audio commentary by Hong King cinema expert Bey Logan
Exclusive interviews with director Wilson Yip and stars Sammo Hung, Simon Yam, Donnie Yen and Wu Jing
Trailer Gallery
Price: $19.97
Order Due Date: October 26, 2010
Street Date: November 30, 2010
MPAA Rating: NR
BD Catalog #: WN01399
Run Time: 93 mins
Languages: English & Cantonese

Read our original KILL ZONE review

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