A Better Tomorrow (2010 Remake/Korea/Well Go USA Blu-ray w/DVD)/Shaolin (2011/Well Go USA DVD)/13 (2011/Anchor Bay Blu-ray)
B- & C+/C+/B- Sound: B- & C+/B-/B Extras: C/C-/D Films: C+/C/D
latest martial arts action selections are more show than go.
starters, did we really need a remake of John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow? Well, a
new 2010 version is here, shot this time in Korea and includes every cliché we
have seen since everyone started imitating Woo and especially since they
started imitating him so badly. Woo
served as Executive Producer, but all it does is add to the tired, embarrassing
glut of bad remakes we have seen in Hollywood and beyond. Director Song Hae-Sung said he wanted to tell
the more personal character story of the characters. He failed!
The action scenes are awful, pace tired and even Korea could
look better. Extras include a Woo
Interview, trailers, Making Of featurette and Director/Cast Interviews.
better fight scenes and even more clichés and silliness is Benny Chan’s Shaolin (2011), another costume epic with plenty of fighting, but less of a
point. As a matter of fact, this has
some of the best hand-to-hand combat I had seen in any film in a while, so it
is all the more disappointing it does not work.
The formula script is made worse by an odd, unnecessary appearance by
Jackie Chan that is just there for commercial reasons. At least the money is in this and it can look
good, but it is really a big missed opportunity and maybe they’ll do better next
time. Extras include Deleted Scenes,
International Trailers and a Theatrical Trailer.
have saved the worst for last in Géla Babluani’s 13 (2011), a would-be mysterious thriller about a young man (Sam Riley)
who makes the mistake of substituting himself for a older man who has died to
make some big money. So what is the
large-paying job? Professional Russian
Roulette! Wow is this dumb!!!
I knew we
were in trouble when Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson
was announced as a co-star (he has a radar for bad scripts like no one since
Freddie Prinze, Jr.), but this mess also wastes Ray Winstone, Mickey Rourke,
Jason Statham, Michael Shannon Alexander Skarsgard, Ben Gazarra and everyone
else in its way. I am ready for a
marathon of Cimino’s Deer Hunter
(1978, reviewed elsewhere on this site) after this. Unless you want top waste two hours or more
of your life skip it. There are
fortunately no extras.
2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on Better and 13 Blu-rays
are styled down in the most clichéd ways and the playback suffers for it. Dull colors equals bad movies now more than
ever. The anamorphically enhanced DVD
version of Better is even worse and on
par with Shaolin with playback,
though that is on a Blu-ray we have not seen as of posting time. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix on 13 is sadly the best sound on the list
so you can hear people shooting their brains out with the highest fidelity
possible, which epitomizes how wonderful the design is not. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix
on Better is more towards the front
speakers and oddly more limited, with the Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVD version
even noticeably lossier. Shaolin also has Dolby Digital 5.1 with
the same kind of limits, but I wonder if the Blu-ray sounds better and if so,
- Nicholas Sheffo