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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Action > Ancient War > Epic > History > Murder > Crime > Sex Trade > Child Exploitation > Hate Crime > Game Of Thrones: The Complete Sixth Season (2016/HBO Blu-ray Set)/Hardcore (1979/Columbia/Sony/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/Imperium (2016/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/The Night Of (2016/HBO Blu-ray S

Game Of Thrones: The Complete Sixth Season (2016/HBO Blu-ray Set)/Hardcore (1979/Columbia/Sony/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/Imperium (2016/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/The Night Of (2016/HBO Blu-ray Set)/Taxi Driver: 40th Anniversary Edition (1976/Sony Blu-ray w/DVD)

Picture: B/B/B/B/B+ Sound: B+/B-/B/B/B Extras: B-/B/B-/D/B Main Programs: B/B/B-/B/A-

This new set of serious, gritty storytelling for mature adults are all more than worth your time, including a few classics...

We start with Game Of Thrones: The Complete Sixth Season (2016), the latest from the all-time HBO hit in this new Blu-ray set. The first automatically with Dolby Atmos sound (even better than the high quality sound the show was already known for), HBO Video has been upgrading previous seasons with the more dynamic, detailed sound and you can read about the Third and Fourth Seasons in their new editions here...


Again, if you don't start at Season One or are a fan of this genre of storytelling (which the series exceeds at times), you will get lost quickly, but you can read about the previous seasons elsewhere on this site to get familiar of you are not already a fan. For me it is interesting when I am viewing it, but it does not stay with me as much after despite being superior to most of its competitors. Yet, I wonder if this is the peak of such storytelling of its kind on TV for a while. I'm impressed they've kept the quality so high though and its worth all the effort.

Paul Schrader's Hardcore (1979) is the great writer's second feature film after Blue Collar and thanks to the critical success of penning Taxi Driver for Martin Scorsese, reviewed below. An inspiration of sorts of Joel Schumacher's 8MM (also a Columbia Picture), Sony has decided to have this Columbia Pictures all-time catalog gem issued as a Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray, though it also has a great set of extras.

George C. Scott is the father of a religious, Calvinist family enjoying the holidays, runs a custom furniture company and all seems well until his daughter goes missing. Is she dead? Was she kidnapped? He eventually finds out she is involved in the XXX sex film industry (they were not using videotape just yet and HD did not exist), so he decides to go into that dark world and find out where she is and how she got there before he never sees her again.

Though some moments push credibility, this still is a creepy eerie work that got lost in the shuffle of blockbusters like the original Star Wars (though it was shot at the time and wait until you see how the film surfaces throughout this movie!) supplanted mature filmmaking overall. Scott is great here and Peter Boyle, Bibi Besch, Tracey Walter, Reb Brown (who became Captain America on TV that year!), Ed Begley Jr., Dick Sargent (no joke, in a serious role, but not as a sex pervert), Hal Williams and Season Hubley are the more familiar supporting actor in a really good cast. Like Taxi Driver and the rest of Schrader's work, you can read more about it in Robin Wood's great book Hollywood From Vietnam To Reagan [and Beyond] (reviewed elsewhere o this site) but this is a must-see film that manages to be a time capsule, yet is as relevant as ever in how dark the world can be and is.

Daniel Ragussis' Imperium (2016) is also dark and has a computer and tech worker (Daniel Radcliffe) working for the federal government when one of his bosses (Toni Collette) asks him to go undercover to deal with hate groups and a possible domestic terrorist attack in the making. He may seem an unlikely person to do this, but he accepts, studies quickly and is soon involved with some very angry, crazy, dangerous people who might just turn out to be up to something more deadly than anyone thought or wants to believe.

Based on the real life stories of Michael German (who wrote the screenplay), Radcliffe is pretty impressive in his transformation to go undercover, as well as transformation outside of his commercially safe roles (especially Harry Potter of course), but I was convinced enough (despite a slightly mixed ending) by much of this and am impressed how bold and honest the film is able to be. It may not be the most commercial material and some people would rather not even deal with such material, but it needs to be dealt with and now that Lionsgate has issued this fine Blu-ray of the film, everyone should check it out.

The Night Of (2016) is an interesting collaboration by Richard Price (The Wire, The Color Of Money) and Steven Zaillian (Hannibal, Shawshank Redemption) based on a British TV mini-series, but transplanted to current New York City about a young college student (the underrated Riz Ahmed of Nightcrawler, et al) who is going to party somewhere with his friends. Missing his ride, he unwisely borrows his father's taxi (his livelihood he co-owns with two other friends), gets distracted by people trying to get him to ride them to their destinations and picks up a pretty young gal who is being a bit self-destructive. He gets involved with her, very much so, then he wakes up the next morning in her place to find her dead!

Making more mistakes, it looks like he may have murdered her, but he does not remember, has no reasons or motives to do so and gets slowly by surely into trouble. John Turturro plays a lawyer who happens to notice him and takes on his case, knowing something is wrong. What plays out plays nicely against the endless (and endlessly dull) police procedurals on TV (on both sides of the Atlantic, by the way) and has important things to say about justice, injustice and bad situations good people land up in when they should not have. Racism is also addressed well here and we get some mystery and suspense well handled.

This is impressive, underseen, not being talked about and HBO has issued a solid Blu-ray set of the show, however basic. The result is one of the best TV series of the last few years, worth going out of your way for.

Finally we have an updated version of Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver: 40th Anniversary Edition (1976) on Sony Blu-ray with more extras than any and all previous editions (if missing a bit from earlier releases, as you would expect for a classic this important). This is our second time looking at the film, with the maxed-out film-only Blu-ray with zero extras reviewed at this link...


It may not look as good as the previous Blu-ray, but its pretty close, both from the new 4K HD master. Thus, see more about picture, sound and the many extras below.

All the Blu-ray releases here look fine with solid playback throughout including the 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition images on Game and Night, two of the best HBO productions on their network. Game has the money on the screen, its digital work is never too distracting and it is consistent with the high quality of the previous sets, while Night is an all-HD shoot that can look odd at times, but is fine otherwise. Some may not like the look, thinking it is strained, but it is consistent if nothing else.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Hardcore can show the age of the film a little bit at times, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film despite Schrader now thinking it was a little too bright visually in hindsight. I agree to some extent but am glad he didn't go and artificially darken it for this release.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Imperium is as consistent an HD shoot as Night, but comparatively more naturalistic and better than you might expect.

Finally, the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Driver is from the amazing new 4K master of the film by Scorsese we previously reviewed in the high-bitrate Blu-ray with zero extras linked above, but the extras here get in the way of maximum performance a bit as they did on the 2011 extras-filled edition. Despite that, it is still the best picture playback performer here and impresses enough throughout.

As for sound, Games continues its Dolby Atmos 11.1 rollout, still the only TV series to do so so far, making it the sonic champ again throughout. Again, the makers are not just enhancing the sound to show off gimmickry, but honestly enhancing the narrative.

The rest of the Blu-ray are here in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, save the 2.0 Mono on Hardcore, with the 5.1 films tying for second place and Hardcore a not so bad last/third place, sounding as good as it ever will. Sound is not as different between the three versions of Driver we've discussed, while Night and Imperium have fine, professional, consistent soundfields that deliver very well for such serious material.

Night sadly has no extras, but the rest of the releases offer audio commentaries, with 15 of them on episodes of Game, two new feature length audio commentary tracks on Hardcore (one by Director Schrader, the other by Lee Pfeiffer, Eddy Friedfeld & Paul Scrabo), one on Imperium by Director Ragussis & Writer Michael German and three on Driver by Scorsese (from the 1986 Criterion 12-inch LaserDisc edition, one by writer Schrader and one by the great film scholar Robert Philip Kolker. Game and Driver are the only discs here with Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices.

Game also has Blu-ray exclusive In Episode Guide and Histories & Lore features, then also adds Deleted Scenes, the amusingly entitled The Battle Of The Bastards: An In-Depth Look, 18 Hours At The Paint Hall and Rebuilding The Dothraki World. Hardcore also adds a nicely illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and yet another excellent, underrated essay by the great film scholar Julie Kirgo, while its Blu-ray disc also offers an Isolated Music Score and Original Theatrical Trailer.

Imperium also adds a Living Undercover featurette, Making Of Imperium featurette and Cast/Crew Interviews, while Driver also an all-new 40 Minutes Taxi Driver Q&A with Scorsese, De Niro, Foster & more taped recently, then adds previously made featurettes God's Lonely Man, Martin Scorsese on Taxi Driver, Producing Taxi Driver, Taxi Driver Stories, Travis' New York, Travis' New York Locations and an Original Theatrical Trailer on the Blu-ray. The DVD of only extras adds Animated Photo Galleries, Scorsese introducing his Storyboards for the film and Making Taxi Driver. Most of this did appear on the 2011 release with a nice set of postcards not here, but this version easily has the most extras.

To order the Hardcore limited edition Blu-ray, buy it and many more great exclusives while supplies last at these links:




- Nicholas Sheffo


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