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Review: They’ve got double lives in this week’s releases (Includes first-hand account)

Blade: The Iron Cross (Blu-ray)


Full Moon Features

When the malevolent Dr. Hauser (Roy Abramsohn), the Third Reich’s maddest scientist, rises again with murder and mayhem on his mind, psychic journalist Elisa Ivanov (Tania Fox) awakens her own angel of death in Blade. Together, the pair set out to stop Dr. Hauser’s sinister plot and hammer him back into hell where he belongs.

As the franchise continues its WWII story arc, things continue to get weird. Hauser is working on super soldiers to turn the tide of the war, while also torturing prisoners with his experimental machines. Elisa returns, continuing to use her psychic dreams to fight the Nazis. This spin-off was supposed to be Blade’s first stand-alone picture, but he unfortunately has very little screen time. That said, the intimacy of his connection with Elisa is a bit unusual and gives the film a strange vibe. The other puppets are definitely missed, though Blade does get in a few impressive kills. Notably, this film was shot as part of Full Moon’s “Deadly Ten” series, which were produced in front of live audiences via webcams so filmmakers and fans could observe the movie’s production.

Special features include: commentary by director John Lechago; behind-the-scenes videos; and trailers. (Full Moon Features)

Breach (DVD & Digital copy)


Paramount Home Entertainment

Clay (Bruce Willis) is a hardened mechanic selected to maintain an interstellar ark, leaving Earth from a catastrophic plague. Bound for a new planet, Clay and his small crew are responsible for the safety of the last surviving humans. But when a teammate is brutally murdered, the crew discovers a terrifying new threat: a vicious, shape-shifting alien creature whose goal is to wipe out the human race before they reach their new home. Hunted by their invisible enemy, Clay must find a way to fight what they cannot even see and protect mankind from total extinction.

This is a low-grade cross between Alien and The Thing. Confined to a spaceship, there aren’t too many places to run and hide, particularly from a menace that conceals itself among the passengers and crew. Stowaways are not tolerated, but one man traded ships to be reunited with the woman he loves and turns out to be one of their best assets in the fight for humanity. Throw in a lot of big guns and Thomas Jane, and you have yourself an action B-movie that disappoints in all the ways expected while still being occasionally entertaining (or just plain silly).

There are no special features. (Paramount Home Entertainment)

Chuck Berry – The Original King Of Rock ‘N’ Roll (Blu-ray)


MVD Visual

In this feature length-documentary, the absolute instigator of rock ‘n’ roll, Chuck Berry, is truly revealed, with unprecedented exclusive access. Despite his iconic status and reverence for his talent by rock’s heroes — including John Lennon, Keith Richards, Steven Van Zandt, Joe Perry, Nils Lofgren and Alice Cooper, all featured — Chuck Berry was a family man. He was a prolific craftsman of word and chords; an undisputed and stunning combination of talent and charisma. Director Jon Brewer was personally selected by the Berry Estate to produce and direct the inside story of the man known as the bedrock of rock ‘n’ roll.

Chuck Berry is a music legend who’s touched millions of people with his music, whether directly or via the dozens of other artists inspired by his ground-breaking sound. His popularity bridged colour barriers as he was often accidentally booked to play white establishments, but not allowed to take the stage after meeting the proprietor. The film is a cross-section of his personal life and public life, which he apparently kept entirely separate. He was a devoted husband and father who loved his family when he was at home. On the road, he was professional but lively. He had a friendly competition with Jerry Lee Lewis about who would open for who when they toured together. Interestingly, Berry didn’t travel with a band but opted instead to use local musicians who could accompany him on the fly. Some of the best anecdotes are from fellow musicians who couldn’t keep up with Berry’s quick but seamless key changes when they played with him. Overall, the documentary doesn’t dig up any dirty details, but it still feels comprehensive.

Special features include: extended interviews. (MVD Visual)

Cinema Paradiso (4K Ultra HD & Blu-ray)


Arrow Academy

Salvatore di Vita (Jacques Perrin), a.k.a. “Toto,” is a successful film director, returning home for the funeral of Alfredo (Philippe Noiret), his old friend who was the projectionist at the local cinema throughout his childhood. Soon memories of his first love affair with the beautiful Elena (Agnese Nano) and all the high and lows that shaped his life come flooding back, as Salvatore reconnects with the community he left 30 years earlier.

This multi-award winning picture, including an Oscar for best foreign language film, is an enchanting narrative about the magic of cinema. Toto’s obsession with the local theatre from such a young age infuses the movie with such contagious passion. Other cinephiles will recognize themselves in him and the wonder he experiences watching these stories unfold on screen. His relationship with Alfredo is also incredibly charming as the older man tries to direct Toto into any other profession, even though his advice is no match for the young man’s love of cinema. The series of events that occur around Salvatore’s return to his childhood home share a meaningful connection that is both appropriate and somewhat melancholy. The film’s terrific performances elevate the two or three hour picture (depending on which version you watch) to great heights of entertainment and memory.

Special features include: Cannes Festival theatrical version and director’s cut; commentary by director Giuseppe Tornatore and Italian cinema expert critic Millicent Marcus; “A Dream of Sicily”; “A Bear and a Mouse in Paradise”; “The Kissing Sequence”; original director’s cut theatrical trailer; and 25th anniversary re-release trailer. (Arrow Academy)

Guncrazy (Blu-ray)


MVD Visual

Since Anita Minteer (Drew Barrymore) was nine, every man she ever met has wanted only one thing. But when she becomes pen-pals with imprisoned convict Howard Hickock (James LeGros), she gains self-confidence and sees a possible escape from the torment of her everyday life. Howard’s infatuation with guns drives Anita to them as well. But with this new found strength in her hands, she murders her sexually abusive guardian. Now with Howard out on parole and the police on their back, there can be no turning back.

Sometimes sad beginnings also have sad endings. Anita is a victim of circumstance, abandoned by her mother and abused by her mother’s boyfriend who assumed the role of her guardian. At school, the boys are only nice to her when they think they have a shot at having sex with her. Therefore, when a poorly explained pen pal assignment puts her in touch with a seemingly sensitive convict, she thinks she’s finally found Mr. Right. While the initial physical distance meant he actually couldn’t take advantage of her, he may actually prove better than every other man in her life. The problem is escaping one’s life is easier said than done, and Anita’s happy ending keeps getting further out of reach. The film was shot during a difficult period for Barrymore, but she insisted on playing Anita and does an excellent job portraying the broken girl looking for love.

Special features include: commentary from director Tamra Davis and star Drew Barrymore; making-of featurettes, new and archival; “Portrait of a Director: Tamra Davis”; behind-the-scenes footage; theatrical trailers; and mini poster. (MVD Visual)

Let Him Go (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)


Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

After their life is set off course following the tragic loss of their son, retired sheriff George Blackledge (Kevin Costner) and his wife Margaret (Diane Lane) leave their Montana ranch on a mission through the North Dakota desert to rescue their young grandson from a dangerous family living off the grid. Navigating tragedy and tumult, the couple soon discover that the Weboy family, a deep-rooted local clan led by ruthless matriarch Blanche (Lesley Manville) has no intention of letting the child go, forcing George and Margaret to ask how far they will go to fight for their family.

This drama is set in a time before cell phones and the internet, making their search for their grandson a little more difficult and personal. Costner and Lane reunite to play the Blackledges, who must physically track the boy’s whereabouts, visiting people they believe could point them in the right direction. However, as the film tries to make a point of their laborious search, it also drags out the already slow narrative unnecessarily. Not surprisingly, driving from one town to another only to be pointed further down the road is not especially interesting. Though a chance meeting with a young Aboriginal man does have later implications, it still feels somewhat out of place in the overall story. Their interactions with the Weboy clan is certainly more entertaining, but even that seems to go off the rails, leading to an equally over-the-top conclusion.

Special features include: making-of featurette; “The Blackledges: Kevin Costner & Diane Lane”; and “Lighting the Way: Thomas Bezucha.” (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)

Sukiyaki Western Django: Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray)



Two clans battle for a legendary treasure hidden in a desolate mountain town. One day, a lone gunman, burdened with deep emotional scars but blessed with incredible shooting skills, drifts into town. Two clans try to woo the lone gunman to their sides, but he has ulterior motives. Dirty tricks, betrayal, desire and love collide as the situation erupts into a final, explosive showdown.

The spaghetti western went East like never before. The gunslingers pack a six-shooter next to their samurai swords and dress like glam-rockers gone back to reclaim the duster. The cast is Japanese but the dialogue is English, and the actors deliver the lines phonetically. Nonetheless, their articulation of lines like “Are you gonna come at me or whistle Dixie?” are reminiscent of the popular genre of post-dubbed Asian fight films. Takashi Miike skilfully creates moments of hilarity with the noticeable use of painted backgrounds, exaggerated injuries and the recital of Shakespeare in between strategy planning. Furthermore, the ineptitude of both gangs is underscored by the accuracy and ability of the stranger and the Bloody Benten, “nicknamed double B for short.” Miike creates a mishmash of Sergio Leone westerns and Sergio Corbucci surreal, bloody gunfights encompassed by an Americana-kabuki-baroque style. The result is non-stop entertainment.

Special features include: deleted scenes; making-of featurette; sizzle reel; and theatrical trailers. (Filmrise)

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Written By

Sarah Gopaul is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for film news, a member of the Online Film Critics Society and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved critic.

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