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Review: This week’s releases find ways through the impossible (Includes first-hand account)

Braveheart [25th Anniversary] steelbook (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)

Paramount Home Entertainment

William Wallace (Mel Gibson) is a bold Scotsman who rallies his countrymen to liberation from oppressive English rule.

The 1996 film was only Gibson’s second time behind the camera and the historical epic won five Academy Awards, including best picture, director and cinematography. Wallace’s rallying cry before engaging in what should’ve been a losing battle has been etched in pop culture history. But the tale of the man who led the battle for a free Scotland hundreds of years ago is more than a bloody war drama as it also depends in large part on the hero’s charisma and ability to inspire courage. The film has stood the test of time as the performances are still rousing and the story for independence remains one people can understand and with which they can sympathize. The historical timeline in the bonus feature helps viewers locate the film’s events in history, as well as better understand the events.

Special features include: commentary by Mel Gibson; timelines; “Battlefields of the Scottish Rebellion”; “Braveheart: A Look Back”; “Smithfield: Medieval Killing Fields”; “Tales of William Wallace”; and “A Writer’s Journey.” (Paramount Home Entertainment)

Jungle Queen (Blu-ray)

MVD Visual

During World War II, the Nazi High Command sends agents into the African jungle to stir up the local Tongghili tribes against the British Allies. This allows them to plant Commander Elise Bork, posing as a scientist, and her subordinate, Lang, within the Tambosa Experimental Farm. Along with the help of Maati, an evil rival tribesman, they search for the legendary “Secret Sword”, which has mysterious powers. Two Americans, Bob Elliott (Edward Norris) and Chuck Kelly (Eddie Quillan) arrive to aid the Allies and meet Pamela Courtney (Lois Collier), who is looking for her father, an explorer who mysteriously disappeared. Bork and Lang feign friendship with the trio in order to find out what they know, before trying several ways to kill them. Their attempts always fail though, due to the well-timed appearances of Lothel (Ruth Roman), the beautiful and mysterious Queen of the Jungle, Tongghili’s spiritual leader.

This movie is actually a collection of serials stitched together to recreate a feature originally released in cinemas in 1945. Each chapter includes opening credits and a sneak peak of the next part of the story. However, for a serial, the narrative is somewhat complex with the number of players and parallel storylines as the Nazis and Allies each try to leverage the Tongghili for their own ends. Unfortunately and not entirely unsurprisingly, the film doesn’t play well 75 years later, relying on the antiquated white savior plot as the “Queen of the Jungle” is a mystical Caucasian woman in a white dress tasked with protecting the jungle’s black inhabitants.

There are no special features. (MVD Visual)

One Cut of the Dead steelbook (Blu-ray & DVD)

RLJE Films

While shooting a low-budget zombie film in an abandoned warehouse, the crew find themselves caught between actual zombies and a mad director who won’t stop rolling. If you think you know what happens next, think again.

There is no longer a lot of innovation occurring in the zombie horror genre, but occasionally a film proves itself to be the needle in the haystack. Filmmaker Shinichiro Ueda turns the genre on its head more than once as it repeatedly surprises and entertains audiences in this unique take on the undead. Shooting in a creepy, abandoned building, the cast and crew are already a little on edge. But when things go from bad to worse, the director is determined to catch everything on camera. This results in a 30-minute sequence without cuts or edits — an admirable feat both on- and off-screen. It’s best to go into this picture cold, but difficult to talk about without revealing any spoilers so just know this horror comedy is worth your time and money.

Special features include: “POM! Instructional Video”; outtakes; and photo gallery. (RLJE Films)

South Park: The Complete Twenty-Third Season (Blu-ray)

Paramount Home Entertainment
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Join Stan, Kyle, Cartman, Kenny, and Randy as they explore the wonders of the human biome, tackle the consequences of immigration, and get banned in China.

The first half of this season focuses on Tegridy Farms, Randy’s foray into operating a marijuana farm, taking over the opening theme with their own lyrics and graphics. The venture pits him against home growers, Towelie, the Chinese government and his own daughter. Other stories include Kyle being sent to an ICE detention centre, Stan starts a heavy metal band, Cartman’s phobia turns him into an anti-vaxxer, girl gamers get push back from the boys and one father tries to ban streaming shows in South Park. There’s also an episode about the “PC Babies,” the politically correct children of PC Principal and vice principal Strong Woman, as well as another that centres on the women’s irrational obsession with a new beauty treatment.

Special features include: #socialcommentary on all episodes; and concept art. (Paramount Home Entertainment)

Universal Horror Collection Volume 5 (Blu-ray)

Scream Factory

A mobster’s brain is transplanted into an ape who carries out his revenge in The Monster and the Girl. A mad scientist turns an ape into a beautiful, but deadly woman in Captive Wild Woman. Jungle Woman, the sequel to Captive Wild Woman, is an eerie thriller with all the danger of wild animals on the loose and a sexy killer on the prowl. And in Jungle Captive, a scientist has experimented on re-animating animals, but now he has decided to go one step further and re-animate a human.

The theme for this collection is quite obvious, though three of the four films are directly connected by their inclusion of the unfortunate ape-woman. In the first picture, a man wrongfully on death row gives his body to science only to wake up as a gorilla. However, he uses this new lease on life to get revenge on all those who set him up. In the next picture, rather than perform a transplant, a scientist actually transforms an ape into a human woman. However, her love for an unavailable man makes life difficult. The second picture is composed of a series of flashbacks as various characters recount the events of the first film in a courtroom. Finally, in the last picture, another mad scientist decides to revive the ape-woman at the expense of many other innocent people.

Special features include: commentaries by film historians Tom Weaver, Steve Kronenberg, Gregory William Mank and Scott Gallinghouse; still galleries; and theatrical trailers. (Scream Factory)

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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