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article imageReview: This week’s releases are full of vision Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jul 4, 2018 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include a revamped version of a classically brutal picture; an unexpectedly gripping thriller comedy; another hairy police caper; a true story of perseverance; and the next chapter in a woman’s independence.
Another Wolfcop (Blu-ray)
RLJ Entertainment
A year has passed since the dark eclipse transformed hard-drinking Officer Lou Garou (Leo Fafard) into the infamous lycanthrope crime-fighter. Although the evil that controlled Woodhaven was defeated, the community is far from returning to normal. A villainous entrepreneur (Yannick Bisson) is looking to open a new brewery and revive the local hockey team, but it’s clear he has ulterior motives. With a new mayor (Kevin Smith) and the new chief of police (Amy Matysio), Wolfcop has his work cut out for him when he has to save the town all over again.
Wolfcop’s unorthodox and bloody way of taking care of the bad guys means a lot of paperwork for the police chief, but in this town at least there’s a time and a place for ripping people apart. There’s the mysterious return of a dead man who seems to have brought something a little extra back and the continuous threat of the shapeshifters with which to contend, on top of trying to keep Lou confined during his wolf state. But from moon dust cocaine to another lycan to bulletproof robots, there’s plenty of weird still going on in this small Alberta town. And what’s a Canadian picture without a good ol’ hockey game?! Smith’s appearance is only slightly surprising, but the honorary Canuck is a welcome addition to the cast who’ve all returned for this fun sequel.
Special features include: making-of featurette; “Friends & Foes: Meet the Cast”; “The Monster Shop: Special FX”; and “Shoot or Die!: Surviving the Set.” (RLJ Entertainment)
China Salesman (Blu-ray)
MVD Visual
Based on a true story about the dangerous adventure to Africa where a Chinese engineer/salesman (Dong-xue Li) comes face-to-face with a corrupt competitor over the contract for the first African mobile telecom technology. Local tribesman Kabbah (Mike Tyson) and mercenary Lauder (Steven Seagal) get drawn into the conflict while the entire country faces civil war battles.
There is a lot happening in this movie, from double dealing to corporate espionage and sabotage to ground-breaking innovations. While he’s generally referred to as the Chinese salesman, Li’s character is actually a skilled engineer who trades his improvements for securities and equipment from his company. However, the French liaison overseeing the bids and one of the competing companies are doing everything they can to ensure the Chinese do not win the telecoms contract, including working with local mercenaries. Tyson gets to face-off with another movie martial arts legend in Seagal, but it’s not that memorable of a fight. The former boxer has been appearing in a lot of overseas films, though these filmmakers seem less aware that his ability to deliver long, moving speeches is almost non-existent.
Special features include: image gallery; and theatrical trailer. (MVD Visual)
Director’s Cut (Blu-ray & DVD)
Epic Pictures
Herbert Blount (Penn Jillette) is a crowd-funding contributor for the new Adam Rifkin feature, Knocked Off. Unhappy with the film, he steals the footage and kidnaps actress Missi Pyle to star in his own “director’s cut.”
This is actually a crowd-funded film with hundreds of contributors who are all recognized in the end credits while Jillette plays guitar with a band and a half-naked woman dances around. Fortunately, it’s money well-spent as the movie is strangely engaging and exceptionally entertaining. This “unauthorized” version of the movie within the movie splices together material from Knocked Off, behind-the-scenes footage shot by the crew and Blount, and post-kidnapping scenes filmed by Blount in his basement studio. However, Blount’s commentary is the element that makes this so interesting. It’s all actually quite genius and creates a whole new viewing experience for audiences, particularly those not accustomed to listening to audio commentary. It’s also a rare opportunity to hear Jillette’s typically silent partner, Teller, speak.
Special features include: deleted scenes; “Riffin’ with Rifkin and Penn”; “Blount’s Behind-the-Scenes”; Knocked Off early cut; Slamdance premiere; Brendan Mitchell at the L.A. premiere; and outtakes. (Epic Pictures)
The Last House On The Left (Blu-ray)
Arrow Video
On the eve of her 17th birthday, Mari and friend Phyllis set off from her family home to the big city to attend a concert by shock-rockers Bloodlust. Attempting to pick up some marijuana on the way, the pair run afoul of a group of vicious crooks, headed up by the sadistic and depraved Krug (David Hess). Gagged and bound, the young women are bundled into a car trunk and driven to the woods, where the gang subject them to a terrifying ordeal of sexual humiliation, torture and murder.
This horrific picture was the first directed by Wes Craven and produced by Sean S. Cunningham in 1972. Influenced by the horror of the Vietnam War, Craven wrote a script with what appeared on the page to be over-the-top violence. When shooting with little known actors willing to take the scenes to their limit, what once seemed absurd became realistic and disturbing. And the terribleness of their actions is compounded by the upbeat soundtrack that parallels the violence. The violence in the first and latter half of the film is quite contrasted: whereas the acts committed by the gang are somewhat spontaneous and in the moment, those of the parents are deliberate and with purpose. The first evokes hints of shame from the perpetrators, while the latter nears satisfaction. In the end, it shows it’s not just the underbelly of society that is capable of extreme violence. This re-issue allows for an insightful look back at the movie that made history and was originally banned in the U.K. and Australia. From an intimate chat with the now-late Craven about his brainchild and the unexpected impact it produced to a 40-minute documentary featuring interviews with most of those involved in the film’s production to possibly the most candid commentary ever recorded as stars David Hess, Marc Sheffler and Fred Lincoln discuss shooting the film and their off-set affairs, there is plenty to uncover with this release.
Special features include: three cuts of the film; commentary by writer/director Wes Craven and producer Sean S. Cunningham; commentary by podcasters Bill Ackerman and Amanda Reyes; commentary by stars David Hess, Marc Sheffler and Fred Lincoln; deleted scene; “Junior's Story”; “Marc Sheffler in Conversation at the American Cinematheque”; interview with wardrobe and make-up artist Anne Paul; “Songs in the Key of Krug,” never-before-seen archive interview with David Hess; “Celluloid Crime of the Century”; “Still Standing: The Legacy of The Last House on The Left”; “Scoring Last House on the Left”; “It's Only a Movie: The Making of The Last House on the Left”; “Forbidden Footage,” the cast and crew of Last House on the film's most controversial sequences; “The Craven Touch”; “Early Days and 'Night of Vengeance'”; “Tales That'll Tear Your Heart Out”; outtakes and dailies; image gallery; TV and radio spots; trailers; couble-sided poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork; six lobby card reproductions; limited edition perfect-bound book featuring new writing on the film by author Stephen Thrower; and reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Paul Shipper. (Arrow Video)
Striking Out: Series 2 (DVD)
Solicitor Tara Rafferty (Amy Huberman) is embattled but not beaten. She has built a new life for herself after leaving her cheating fiancé, Eric (Rory Keenan), and the high-powered law firm where they both worked. But with one of her employees betraying her and another in jail, she struggles to keep her fledgling practice afloat. Convinced that her former boss — Eric’s scheming father — is behind it all, Tara decides to strike back. To pay the bills, Tara takes on clients whose legal problems range from deportation to divorce from a bigamist to a lawsuit against a convent. As she frequently faces off against Eric and her former colleagues in court, Tara’s mentor, Vincent (Neil Morrissey), leads a high-level corruption inquiry that could endanger them both.
This season gets quite dicey as Eric slowly comes to terms with his father’s corruption, though he may not fully comprehend how deep or treacherous it runs. There’s a huge push to prove Ray’s innocence, which uncovers even more corruption linked to the police force. However, glimpses of the high stakes players and small yet impactful demonstrations of their powers at all levels could have terrible consequences for Tara and her team. In the meantime, she takes on a number of different cases that aim to help the little guy stand up to Goliath.
Special features include: behind-the-scenes featurette; panel at the Television Critics Association event; and photo gallery. (Acorn)
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