(2012/Cohen Media U.S. Region A vs. Umbrella Region B Import
The Adventure Begins
(1985/Arrow U.K. Region B Import Blu-ray)/Sitting
B-/B-/C+ Sound: B-/B-/C Extras: C & C-/B-/C- Films:
Import version Blu-ray is now only available from our friends at
Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, can only play on Blu-ray players
that can handle the Region B format, as is the case with Remo
another Region B Blu-ray. It is now only available with its
extensive extras from our friends at Arrow U.K., while Sitting
is another Warner Archive online DVD exclusive, also available only
from its website. All can be ordered from the links below.
is one of our most unique mixes of action film coverage we've had in
a while, films offering mixed results that still have their
Nooshin's The Last Passenger
(2012) tries to join the great list of thrillers involving trains,
but despite some great potential starting with the underrated Dougray
Scott in the lead, it never builds enough suspense, has too many bad
red herrings, bad visual effects, overacting, a huge lack of suspense
and never capitalizes on any of its visuals as a medical dad (Scott)
travels with his son Max (Joshua Kaynama coming across way too much
like a British version of Danny in Kubrick's The
Shining) it what seems
like a normal trip, but as the number of customers dwindle down,
things get odd and then the train starts passing scheduled stops.
What is going on?
is a superfluous reason this is happening that we eventually find out
about, but the script never really gives us a compelling back story
to this, so this makes the train seem to want to keep moving no
matter what. Is it supernatural too? Never even implied?
Terrorists? We don't see any? So what is going on? It could have
even been ambiguous and made us wonder while never totally explaining
itself, but the makers have no idea what they are doing and I waited
to watch this to make sure I was seeing a transfer that was accurate.
The Cohen Media Region A and Umbrella Region B Blu-rays are just
about the same, so no flaws got in the way of my taking this one in.
Too bad, because enough talent was there, but this ultimately is just
a package deal gone wrong.
reviewed the import before at this link:
this time on the U.S. version repeat the Original Theatrical Trailer,
then adds B-Roll clip, four promo clips to promote the film and
compilation of interview clips with various cast & crew running
over an hour. It is barely the best entry here.
Hamilton's Remo Williams:
The Adventure Begins
(1985) was based on the Destroyer
action novel series and Orion Pictures thought it might make for a
big, modernized franchise in that combined elements of James Bond and
Indiana Jones with the then-current martial arts cycle. Hamilton had
directed four mostly big hit Bond films (Goldfinger,
Diamonds Are Forever,
Live And Let Die)
and one (his last one) that bombed, only to become a cult hit (The
Man With The Golden Gun,
all reviewed elsewhere on this site). He planned to helm The
Spy Who Loved Me (whose
co-writer Christopher Wood wrote the script here as he had for
left to do Superman,
and landed up doing neither, so he moved onto other projects.
should be added that he proved he could still make a great genre film
(his 1982 film of Agatha Christie's Evil
Under The Sun is
disgustingly underrated) so you could see why Hamilton was picked to
make Remo Williams.
With some odd touches, odd humor and unintentionally amusing (and
even politically incorrect) moments, Fred Ward played the title
character, trained by a mysterious, odd Korean mystical fighting
expert (Joel Gray, taking up more of the early parts of the film than
it should), followed by often unrealistic fighting sequences where he
is an assassin out to stop a corrupt group from defrauding the U.S.
even add Hitchcock touches as he seems to be trying to pick up where
he left off on The Man
With The Golden Gun, but
the silliest possible sides of that film are here full tilt and then
they add elements of 1970s thrillers, so everything but the kitchen
sink is here and the result is a bomb for Orion that did not help the
company in the long run or help Ward become the lead he had hoped
for. The satire, even when in the Doc
Banzai mode, is
inconsistent. Wilford Brimley, Kate Mulgrew and Jon Polito are among
the unusual supporting cast. An odd work all genre fans should see
once, but don't expect much.
include a reversible cover and another illustrated booklet on the
film including informative text as Arrow usually adds, while the
Blu-ray adds a brand new feature length audio commentary track
by co-producers Larry Spiegel & Judy Goldstein on the making of
the film including Hamilton's approach to the production, the
Original Theatrical Trailer, an isolated Music & Sound Effects
track and four Behind The Scenes/Making
Of featurettes: make-up piece Changing
Faces with lead
artist Carl Fullerton, music score look Notes
For A Nobleman with
composer Craig Safan, Joel Gray discussing his controversial casting
in When East Meets West
and the longer (77 minutes) Remo,
Rambo, Reagan & Reds
including interviews by film
critic/historian Howard S. Berger, Asian
cinema expert Bey Logan, Commando
director Mark L. Lester, American
Ninja director Sam
producer Donald P. Borchers and film author/professor Susan Jeffords,
writer of the amazing and amazingly prophetic book Hard
Bodies: Hollywood Masculinity In The Reagan Era,
which we strongly recommend.
Hickox's Sitting Target
(1972) is an interesting entry in the cycle of hard, tough British
crime (and gangster films) happening at the time with Oliver Reed as
a convict who becomes so furious with his girlfriend (Jill St. John
doing a good British accent) telling him in a prison visit that she
is leaving him and is pregnant with another man's baby that he
intends to break out and kill her!
McShane is one of his few friends in prison and they will escape
together with a brainy con named MacNeil (Freddie Jones) and get
something only hardened criminals get, guns! This has some
interesting moments, but there are more than a few sloppy moments and
bad visual effects as well (see the process shooting with the car
interiors). Frank Findlay shows up as a corrupt old friend and
Edward Woodward (the original Equalizer, Callan) plays
the inspector trying to protect the girlfriend but is highly
underutilized to the film's detriment. Still, it is worth a look for
all the talent involved and I worth a look for what does work.
TV trailer is the only extra.
1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on both copies
of Last are exactly the same, shot with an Arri Alexa HD
camera, but using old, great, real anamorphic J-D-C Scope lenses (now
handled by Panavision) used on films like Return Of The Jedi,
Year Of the Dragon and Blue Velvet add some atmosphere
and character to the shots, but that is foiled by detail issues,
slight image fluctuation and bad visual CGI effects I thought might
only be inherent to the Umbrella edition. Color varies, detail can
be poorer in some shots than others and outdoor shots can look better
than indoor ones too often. A British edition is in a lesser
1080/50i Blu-ray and sounds like it
has the same issues.
1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Remo
can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a
transfer to all previous releases of the film despite this being from
an older HD master with its own image inconsistencies, color issues,
depth and detail limits. It does try for a 1980s style
action/adventure look (images are phony clear, but not always
natural), but that too makes it look dated.
anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Target was issued in
MetroColor prints and has some nice form by Director of Photography
Edward Scaife (Khartoum, The Dirty Dozen (see both
elsewhere on this site), The Kremlin Letter) with some form
shots that put it ahead of the other films on the list. James Bond
editor (and later 5-time director) John Glen edited the film.
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix both Blu-ray editions of
Last are identical, with dialogue well recorded enough, but not as
loud as the sound effects (which can sound too loud and/or digital)
and music. The resulting imbalance is a little awkward and works
against it. The PCM 2.0 Stereo on the Remo has Pro Logic-like
surrounds and was issued in Dolby's old analog A-type theatrical
noise reduction sound format on 35mm film prints. Some sound is
actually pretty good here including the music score, but other sound
can show its age including the odd Tommy Shaw (Styx) solo semi-title
song. Still, this is the best this ever sounded. That leaves the
lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Target is which may be the
poorest of the three, but sounds good for its age and the format.
John Barry's interesting score comes through well enough and deserves
some kind of isolated track if they ever make a Blu-ray version.
can order the loaded Remo Williams Region B Blu-ray import at:
Umbrella import Region B Blu-ray version of The
at this link:
to order Sitting
on Warner Archive DVD, go to this link for it and many more great
web-exclusive releases at: