May 12, 2010

DVD Pick of the Week: Kid with the Golden Arm

Welcome back! Well, to some of you, anyway. To the rest of you, glad you decided to stop by and I hope this humble column helps you navigate the stacks of new releases each week. My goal is to point you toward titles of interest and warn you away from those films that seek to do nothing but leech away your time and give you nothing in return.

Full disclosure: I have not seen many of these titles, and what follows are not necessarily reviews, but opinions based upon what I know of the titles I pluck from the new release lists I peruse. The opinions I give based on the new releases are my own, and my recommendations are based on my personal interest. In any case, I hope you enjoy and perhaps find something you like or a title to point me towards.

Kid with the Golden Arm. When it comes to kung fu, there is nothing quite like the classics from the Shaw Brothers studio during the 1970s. This film was originally released in 1979 and was directed by Chang Cheh and stars many of those who starred in the classic Five Deadly Venoms. This movie focuses on a the Chi Saw gang, led by Golden Arms and their plans to steal a shipment of gold. It has been awhile since I have seen this, but I recall it being fast paced and having plenty of weapons-based fights. This is a port of the Celestial UK remaster, so I suspect this is going to look quite good. It has to be better than the VHS to DVD version I bought on the cheap some years ago.

Daria: The Complete Animated Series. I only ever watched this series sporadically, but I always liked what I saw. The show was a spin off of the massively popular Beavis & Butt-head. This focused on the smart, sarcastic classmate to the duo. It has been such a long time, I may have to give this a rental.

Legion (also Blu-ray). This movie just did not work. Bad dialogue, uninspired action, boring visuals, and lackluster direction. The war between Heaven and Earth never looked so uninspired. Paul Bettany stars as an angel who cuts off his wings to side with humanity. The funny thing is that part way through I realized what the movie was, it was a different take in Terminator 2. If you don't believe me, watch them back to back.

Edge of Darkness (also Blu-ray). This is a classic style Mel Gibson revenge film. It is much more procedural than action, but it works. It works primarily because of Gibson's performance and how you are really only given one perspective of the story. You will be taken on a ride, you will be involved in the story, and you will be shocked by the spurts of violence. Definitely give this a shot.

Daybreakers (also Blu-ray). Despite a slight case of over-earnestness, this is a good movie. It is an interesting look at what a vampire society could be like, complete with technology and business changes. It has a distinctive look to it, thanks to the Spierig Brothers (Undead). The film pits a small band of humans against the vampire machine. Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe star.

The Karate Kid I & II (Blu-ray). I love that first Karate Kid movie. Mr, Miyagi and the whole wax on/wax off thing was just great entertainment. The subsequent films not so much, but this pairing on Blu-ray looks pretty snazzy. It is also here in time to herald the nearing of the remake with Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith.

Hang'em High (Blu-ray). Classic Clint Eastwood western. Eastwood is an innocent man who narrowly escapes a lynching only to return as a lawman. There is nothing quite like an Eastwood western. I wonder how this is going to look in high definition?

M (Blu-ray). A high definition release from Criterion, M is a movie I have been wanting to see for a long time. Fritz Lang directs Peter Lorre who plays a child murderer hunted by police and other criminals alike.

Marked for Death (Blu-ray). What better to follow up Lang and Lorre than with a classic of another sort. Steven Seagal may possess a single expression, but there is no doubt his string of early films are bone crunching fun. This is one of those action films you cannot help but enjoy.

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