Agent 8 ¾ (aka
Hot Enough For June/1964/VCI
Blu-ray)/Norwegian Ninja (2010/Dark
Sky DVD)/UFC: Bad Blood – Chuck Liddell
vs. Tito Ortiz (2011/Anchor Bay Blu-ray + DVD)
B/C+/C/B- & C+ Sound:
B-/B/C+/C+ Extras: C/C/B-/C+ Films/Main Programs: B-/C+/C+/B-
are looking for action, these latest releases might give you what you want on
Thomas’ Agent 8 ¾ (aka Hot Enough For June/1964) is an early
fun spy spoof of the trend and James Bond with Dirk Bogarde and Sylva Koscina
we previously reviewed in a British PAL DVD import at this link:
even better in this upgraded edition with much improved picture and improved
sound, here in Dolby Digital 5.1 (which is somewhat limited as a multi-channel
presentation, of course) and 2.0 mixes that have more detail and clarity throughout
instead of the previous releases’ rough spots.
The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image has much better color,
depth and overall fidelity, even if the print has some minor issues. Both have the same theatrical trailer, but
the new Blu-ray has it in HD as well and both also offer stills sections, but
the DVD has more sections and more stills.
Bond fans should catch this one.
Lester’s Blitz (2011) puts Jason
Statham in a much-needed smart thriller (far superior to his dud appearance in
the unnecessary Mechanic remake) as
a somewhat unorthodox police officer looking for a cop killer in the loose in England. This could have been dumb or just a police
procedural with more blood (and we get more than usual here) and violence, but
this has some interesting moments throughout and even when it is a bit
predictable and falls into some of the formulaic traps of all Statham films, it
is worth your time. Sure, it is odd to
see it after the Summer 2011 British riots and does not question his
character’s actions enough, but it has a richness and palpability to it not
enough such films have and is ambitious.
Paddy Considine, Aidan Gillen, Zawe Ashton and David Morrissey are among
the solid supporting cast and this Statham film will eventually find its
audience like the underrated Bank Job
(reviewed elsewhere on this site) did, especially since this hardly got any
theatrical release in the U.S.
market, so expect it to be a hot title.
2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image has been stylized down to be softer for
whatever reason, but oddest of all, the top sliver of the image is constantly
softer than the rest of the image and this was apparently shot on film, so go
figure, but I liked the look enough and the locales are used well. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix is easily the best
on the list with a rich, strong soundfield throughout, even if this is dialogue
based somewhat and does not have surrounds that go bonkers, but I liked the
consistency and this is the best TrueHD track I have heard in a while. Extras include the U.K. Trailer, Behind The
Scenes featurette, Cast/Crew Interviews and Previews for other Millennium
releases, some of which do look interesting.
Cappelen Malling’s Norwegian Ninja
(2010) has a silly title and is a silly film, but it is so oddly amusing that I
could see it becoming a cult hit and more if it finds it audience. Inspired by silly 1980s action films and set
in the 1970s based on a true story of scandal in Norway, it may take liberties
with it, but it is also set in The Cold War and this offsets the problems in
trying to this kind of tale in a humorous context making it less of a problem
as revisionist history as it is far form that.
has set up a secret ninja organization of Norwegians (I know, I can’t believe
it either) to keep Norway Norwegian against plots by either the U.S. and CIA and/or Soviet
Union. Heading the team is Commander
Arne Treholt, extremist to some, patriot to others. Needless to say some of this makes no
narrative sense, what does hold it together is its celebration of old
technology (almost a spoof of the stupid, big-budget, high tech overproductions
that keep bombing from Hollywood, et al), how being a imitator of the
reactionary 1980s spoofs that by default and reminds us how wacky that whole
cinematic discourse always was (i.e., Rambo)
and now is more than ever.
is almost unknown in the U.S.,
but they are good and between the screenplay, the mix of old-fashioned and
digital effects plus almost every character being eccentric on some level, this
is a hoot everyone should see once just to believe it actually exists. Too bad this could not have been a surprise
Summer 2011 theatrical release, because had it been able to get some screens,
it could have even been a hit.
anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image is purposely stylized to look like it is
soft and very 1970s. so the rating is more relative than usual in this case as
this is how it is supposed to look with its share of old analog video (imitated
or not) and it never deviates from that look to its credit. Its unique sense of artifice just makes this
work better, though I would like to see a Blu-ray. The Dolby Digital 5.1 lossy mix is good, but
this is not always a mix with surrounds or big explosions, especially since it
has many monophonic moments and other quiet parts in keeping with its 1970s
imitation. The combination works for
this format. Extras include a Music
Video for an extended instrumental dance mix of one of its tracks, Deleted
Scenes, Bonus, Scenes, a bunch of fun featurettes, theatrical trailers, TV
Spots and even an “action figure advertisement” that you should see after
watching the film and is even more fun than the fun of the film itself. Norwegian
Ninja is a real hoot!
else fails, you can check out UFC: Bad
Blood – Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz (2011), a new documentary program about
the two friends who found themselves having a very interesting MMA rivalry that
shows another side of the UFC as the growing franchise it is. We have covered many of their DVD and now
Blu-ray titles before and this set is as good as any of them. Fans will enjoy it and it serves as an
interesting intro to their world if you are less familiar with them. The fighters are likable and formidable. This is well made as the UFC video releases
have found their niche. You can find
more on this site by entering “UFC” in our search engine.
1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer is a mix of new HD materials
and a good share of analog and low-def 1.33 X 1 digital video, so it is more
like watching any other documentary, especially on sports and the anamorphically
enhanced DVD is a little weaker in color and overall definition. Both version only have lossy Dolby Digital
2.0 Stereo as their soundtrack, which is sometimes just simple stereo and even
monophonic at times, but works well enough for the program. Extras include three of their fights in full
- Nicholas Sheffo