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article imageReview: Training is no match for the real world in this week’s releases Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jul 18, 2017 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include a first-time North American release; the reimagining of a larger-than-life character’s existence; a moving documentary about soul man; and the complete collection an old school crime drama.
Doberman Cop (Blu-ray & DVD)
Untitled
Arrow Video
Joji Kano (Sonny Chiba) is a tough-as-nails police officer from Okinawa who arrives in Tokyo's Kabuki-cho nightlife district to investigate the savage murder and mutilation of an island girl who had been working as a prostitute. Initially dismissed as a country bumpkin — complete with straw hat and live pig in tow — Kano soon proves himself a savvier detective than the local cops, and a tougher customer than anyone expected. As he probes deeper into the sleazy world of flesh-peddling, talent agency corruption and mob influence, Kano uncovers the shocking truth about the girl, her connection to a yakuza-turned-music manager (Hiroki Matsukata), and a savage serial killer who is burning women alive.
This is director Kinji Fukasaku’s only manga adaption, which is being released on video for the first time outside of Japan. Adapting elements of an American-style crime movie, the film incorporates martial arts and comedy as Kano carries out his more successful, independent investigation. In spite of being the fish out of water, he causes a local stripper to fall in love with him, escapes wrongful arrest and is victorious after multiple confrontations with the bad guys. The story is actually far more complex than anyone suspected as it’s potentially linked to a serial killer, the yakuza, a cover-up and extortion. Chiba appears very at home in the role, blending action and humour to bring his charismatic cop to life.
Special features include: “Beyond the Film: Doberman Cop”; interview with actor Shinichi 'Sonny' Chiba; interview with screenwriter Koji Takada; and reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon. (Arrow Video)
Gospel According to Al Green (Blu-ray)
Untitled
MVD Visual
After taking 13 months to gain soul and pop singer Al Green’s permission to participate in the creation of a documentary, filmmaker Robert Mugge shot the film between 1983 and 1984. First he captured the seventh anniversary celebration of Green’s Full Gospel Tabernacle that included a second choir and most of Green's touring musicians and backup singers; then a studio rehearsal in Memphis as well as interviews with his producer/co-writer Willie Mitchell and Green himself, who candidly speaks about his career and the personal tragedy that led him to abandon it.
This 96-minute film is astonishing from beginning to end. The music, from Green’s ‘70s hits “Let’s Stay Together” and “Take me to the River” to his moving gospel performances, are exceptional. In fact, it’s believed this film is the first and only of Green’s church services committed to film. Incorporating an interview with a music critic, Mugge is able to trace the former pop star’s place in soul as well as his rejection of that successful career in favour of one as a pastor. During the making of the film, Mugge had difficulty recording some of Green’s earlier hits as the musician had embraced the fundamentalist notion that it was the devil’s music, but it managed and the result is spellbinding. It also includes Green’s first public discussion of the “hot grits incident” in which he was burned and his girlfriend took her life.
Special features include: select commentary by director Robert Mugge; audio interview with Al Green; and film and audio concert and church service outtakes. (MVD Visual)
Kong: Skull Island (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Untitled
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
A diverse team of scientists, soldiers and adventurers unite to explore a mythical, uncharted island in the Pacific, as dangerous as it is beautiful. Cut off from everything they know, the team ventures into the domain of the mighty Kong, igniting the ultimate battle between man and nature. As their mission of discovery becomes one of survival, they must fight to escape a primal Eden in which humanity does not belong.
Social commentary is not uncommon in the giant monster genre; however, there is an art to making it somewhat subtler. The message that the Vietnam War was a mistake is so clichéd and obvious, viewers may be justified in feeling somewhat insulted. On the other hand, widespread opinion has generally been that no one should have to think too hard at one of these films; and if that’s the case, filmmakers succeeded. It’s difficult to imagine such a broad range of actors coming together for this type of film, but the eclectic group of characters is impeccably cast. The soundtrack is packed with period-appropriate rock classics, kicking off with “Time has Come Today” and “White Rabbit” to give audiences a taste of what’s to come. The army-issue boombox blasts Black Sabbath from the choppers, while a surviving player provides an anthem for their calamity on the ground. The familiar music serves as another reminder of the time period and connects it to the Vietnam War movies that came before.
Special features include: commentary by director Jordan Vogt-Roberts; deleted scenes; “Creating a King: Realizing an Icon”; “Creating a King: Summoning a God”; “Monarch Files 2.0”; “Tom Hiddleston: The Intrepid Traveler”; “Through the Lens: Brie Larson’s Photography”; and “On Location: Vietnam.” (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
Navy Seals v Demons (Blu-ray)
Untitled
MVD Visual
Jack County was like any other Texas town in the Bible belt. It was a place where your soul meant more than your paycheck and where the little things in life mattered most. Churches were as common as gas stations. The corner store, the local watering hole and the barbershop were where friendly neighbours convened... until Demons from Hell showed up and took over the town. Now there's no stopping them. And if they can take over Jack County, what's next? But when a group of Navy SEALS are sent undercover and enlist the help of local bikers to take the town back, it's a race against the clock to save Jack County (and the rest of humanity) and all hell is about to break loose.
It’s obviously somewhat of a gimmick that this film stars real life Navy Seals and Special Forces Operatives as it has the expected performance issues, which are not helped by equally weak script. The SEALS take up in the town’s church, where a “pure” young woman is being harboured from the demons. As they struggle with the evil penetrating their minds, ghastly creatures take advantage of their vulnerabilities. This is a low-grade B-movie that’s a laborious watch as it lacks the campy fun of its counterparts, attempting to make a ridiculous situation serious.
There are no special features. (MVD Visual)
T.J. Hooker: The Complete Series (DVD)
Untitled
Shout Factory
Sgt. Thomas Jefferson Hooker (William Shatner) is a veteran cop with the LCPD who has the smarts and the skills to take on the city's toughest criminals. Along with his young partners in blue, cocky Vince Romano (Adrian Zmed) and comely Stacy Sheridan (Heather Locklear), Hooker protects and serves with all the courage he can muster … and he's taking out the city's trash one perp at a time!
This series ran for five seasons before concluding in 1986. Mixing the serious crime drama with good-natured humour, the cops deal with new crimes each episode and try to solve them with the fewest potential casualties. Shatner retains some of Captain Kirk’s charisma, though his now older character is struggling with the ladies and leading by more responsible, less impulsive example. His former co-star, Leonard Nimoy, makes a guest appearance on the show as Hooker’s former partner looking for justice (or revenge) for the rape of his daughter. Romano and Sheridan are always there to help, taking Hooker’s orders above anyone else’s.
There are no special features. (Shout Factory)
The Untouchables: The Scarface Mob (DVD)
Untitled
Paramount Home Media Distribution
Based on the bestselling memoir of Eliot Ness, this film was the first to tell the incredible story of the lawmen who battled the deadliest criminal in American history: Al “Scarface” Capone.
This film is a chronicle of Capone’s takedown, depicting the police as the resolute heroes of the story. Unfortunately, some of the narrative’s thunder is hampered by the terrible Italian accents of its villains. The narrator keeps audiences well-informed regarding the events taking place and his colourful adjectives ensure they know for whom they’re supposed to be rooting. The multifaceted investigation into the mob and its well-known bootlegging includes especially complex wiretapping, informants and several corpses. The story remains a compelling one and its champions are handsome and charming with their hardened, gumshoe attitudes that backup their determination to jail Capone. The film was originally aired in two parts with separate introductions include in the bonus features.
Special features include: introductions by Desi Arnaz and Walter Winchell. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
More about Doberman Cop, Kong Skull Island, Gospel According to Al Green, Navy Seals v Demons, TJ Hooker
 
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