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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Monster > Creature > Alien > Comedy > Animation > TV > Action > Crime > Martial Arts > Australia > Expl > The Blob (1988 remake/Sony/TriStar/Umbrella import Blu-ray)/Bob's Burger's: The Complete 5th Season (2014 - 2015/Fox DVDs)/The Man From Hong Kong (1975/restored/Umbrella Blu-ray w/Deathcheaters & Stun

The Blob (1988 remake/Sony/TriStar/Umbrella import Blu-ray)/Bob's Burger's: The Complete 5th Season (2014 - 2015/Fox DVDs)/The Man From Hong Kong (1975/restored/Umbrella Blu-ray w/Deathcheaters & Stunt Rock)/Mechanic: Resurrection (2016/Summit/Lionsgate Blu-ray w/DVD)/The Trail Of Dracula (2016 documentary/InterVision DVD)/War Dogs (2016/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)



4K Ultra HD Picture: B+ Picture: B/C+/B/B & C/C+/B Sound: B/C+/B/B & C/C+/B+ Extras: C/D/B+/C/C+/C Main Programs: C/C+/B-/C-/C+/C+



PLEASE NOTE: The Blob 1988 remake and Man From Hong Kong Import Blu-rays are now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, can play on all Blu-ray players worldwide and can be ordered from the link below.



Here's a great group of genre releases you should know about, including the restoration of an Oz-Ploitation classic...



Chuck Russell's 1988 remake of The Blob is not a great remake and did not do well in its original release, but when Twilight Time issued it on Blu-ray with more copies pressed than usual it still went out-of-print. Here's our review of that edition...


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/13098/The+Blob+(1988+remake/Sony/TriStar/Twilight+Ti


Now, Sony/TriStar has issued it in a more basic edition with the same HD master through Umbrella Entertainment in Australia as an import Blu-ray, so fans who missed out on the U.S. release can get it. I hoped in 1988 that it would be a good film and a hit, but it was too derivative of other horror films, added nothing memorable, TriStar decided on very limited promotion and the film was a critical and box-office dud. The latex ans creature work does hold up and the odd cast keeps this at least odd, so I get the near cut status. Otherwise, this is for completists.


Unlike all the extras the out-of-print Twilight Time Blu-ray had, all we get here is the Original Theatrical Trailer and an on-camera Chuck Russell interview not on the Twilight Time release. Note that Rob Zombie wanted to do a 3D remake a few years ago, but that was mercifully cancelled.



Bob's Burger's: The Complete 5th Season (2014 - 2015) continues the winning ways of the moderate hit animated TV show, one I was never a fan of, that we've never reviewed before and one that is consistent if nothing else. Considering it is produced in the shadow of the Big Three animated series (The Simpsons, South Park and Family Guy, the latter succeeding Beavis & Butthead and Daria spiritually) and competes with its spin-offs and imitators, that is a quiet victory in itself.


For those who have missed the award-winning show, this is about the trials and tribulations of the Belcher Family selling burgers, for better and worse, with the usual side plots, gags, subplots and twists. You don't necessarily have to have seen the series from its first episodes, but I have and that made little difference to me as I simply could not get into the show. We get 21 episodes in all, so at least fans will be happy.


There are no extras.



Brian Trenchard-Smith's The Man From Hong Kong (1975) is back in an incredible new 4K picture and sound restoration from Umbrella and its home country of Australia, for the first time ever on Blu-ray. We previously reviewed the film in a deluxe DVD set a few years ago at this link...


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/9613/The+Man+From+Hong+Kong+(1975/Region+Four/4


We have seen a slew of restored and upgraded films in recent years, including some very high profile classics, but it has been years since a restoration was so amazing that it actually had me enjoying and liking a film more than I already did. This is such an improvement because this fixed up, it is a whole new film and whole new experience. Though I've been talking about the film for years as an underrated genre gem (I'm not the only one), there's so much to see (scenery, fight scenes, acting, stunts) and enjoy that very few have been able to get out of the film since its worldwide mid-1970s release.


Now, you can see how this is up there with the original Mad Max as one of Australian Cinema's best action films and one that was even closer to the Bond films than its many imitators then and mow, even with its ironic satire. More on how technically impressive this is below, but just weeks after Arrow issued a great upgrade of Trenchard-Smith's Dead End Drive-In (1986, reviewed elsewhere on this site) we get this even more impressive upgrade that reestablishes Trenchard-Smith as one of the key genre directors worldwide and an Australian original.


Jimmy Wang-Yu remains hilarious in the lead (intentionally and unintentionally) in his best attempt to become a big international action star, as a Hong Kong detective who has to go down under to investigate a series of murders and corruption led by an evil arms dealer. George Lazenby is the villain, more fondly remembered now as James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) than then when he left the role in one of the greatest mistakes in cinema history. He too wanted this to be a big hit badly, but it was not to be. But watch both try hard to make this work, even though they reportedly despised each other.


Extras are many, starting with a repeat of some of the previous DVD sets goodies such as a feature-length audio commentary track led by Trenchard-Smith with legendary stuntman Grant Page & co-star Hugh Keays-Byrne, the Australian trailer (now in HD) and Kung Fu Killer making-of featurette directed by Trenchard-Smith. New extras including Trenchard-Smith talking about the trailer for this film in a Trailers From Hell segment, a Making Of featurette, alternative trailer that puts Lazenby's name first (!), the section from the great Not Quite Hollywood documentary (reviewed elsewhere on this site) on this film, a newsreel of the films premiere and FOUR MORE (that makes six films by Trenchard-Smith in all!!!) in standard definition. We get two other Trenchard-Smith classics we reviewed as separate 2-DVD import sets. Deathcheaters...


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/9889/Deathcheaters+(1976/Region+4+PAL+Import/Madm


and Stunt Rock (aka Sorcery aka Crash)...


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/9802/Stunt+Rock+(1978+aka+Sorcery+aka+Crash/Regio


They are great and also repeat Trenchard-Smith audio commentary tracks from those sets, Trenchard-Smith's Dangerfreaks from the Deathcheaters set, then the Stunt Rock set repeats Trenchard-Smith's The Stunt Men film with Page, Cannes promo reel and original theatrical trailer. Easily, that is one of the best sets of single Blu-ray extras in years and tops off an incredible upgraded reissue of an action classic. Now everyone can really enjoy The Man From Hong Kong like never before!



Dennis Gansel's Mechanic: Resurrection (2016) is the kind of resurrection we don't need, with Jason Statham looking very bored reprising his assassin role from the disappointing first film, a semi-remake of the 1972 gem that we suffered through on Blu-ray a few years ago at this link...


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/10964/The+Destructors+(1974/MGM+Limited+Edition+Col


That was issued by Sony, but though it seemed that was that, Summit (via Lionsgate) has decided to pick up the sequel six years later (!?!) and it barely looks better than the 2010 film. Also trying to emulate a Bond and Bourne film, but failing miserably at both, the nonsense plot has our would-be hero/anti-hero has retired and left the rough secret life of work behind, but Jessica Alba is a woman who pulls him back in, leading him to a skyscraper swimming pool murder stunt that is the only interesting part of the film despite Tommy Lee Jones (in ornery auto pilot mode like never before) and Michele Yeoh (the Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, among other hits) showing up.


They had this talent and did nothing much with it, leaving us with a boring package deal as empty as any of them. See it at your own risk, even if you're a fan of anyone here and don't operate heavy machinery while viewing.


Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the discs add five Behind The Scenes/Making Of featurettes.



David Mitchell & Jamie Lockhart's The Trail Of Dracula is not another dramatic film on the evil count, but a 2016 documentary that looks at the history on and behind the iconic figure. It starts with myths and history involving vampires in fact and fiction, plus events and historic figures that contributed to the build-up of whom we know as Dracula via film clips (including Murnau's Nosferatu), stills and expert interviews. Then they cover three eras of Dracula on the big screen, starting with Bela Lugosi, how Universal did not rehire him to play the character again as you might think and despite that, how his 1931 debut performance still defined the character for an entire era down to TV syndication.


Just when it seemed Dracula had see the light, Christopher Lee revived the character and created another golden age for Bram Stoker's legend that powered Hammer Studios, Lee and vampires into the 1970s. Again, some amazing work and classic films resulted, but even the lesser works were interesting and the interviewees have much to say. However, the era after with key works starting in the late 1970s, like John Badham's Dracula remake, are brought up, not examined and the documentary ends too soon. What we get is fine, but too bad they ran out of time and/or money as 15 to 25 more minutes would have made this even more amazing since they were on a roll. Still, this one is definitely worth your time.


Extras include 94 minutes of Original Theatrical Trailers from several dozen Dracula feature films, separate vintage audio interview with Christopher Lee and Francis Lederer (from Return Of Dracula, reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site), plus separate vintage on-camera interviews with Werner Herzog (the 1979 Nosferatu remake) and Udo Keir (from Blood For Dracula aka Andy Warhol's Dracula, directed by Paul Morrissey).



Finally we have Todd Phillips' War Dogs (2016), based on a true story about how a young Florida massage therapist and guy just trying to find his way (Miles Teller), lands up meeting up with an old friend (Jonah Hill) who is taking advantage of a crazy George W. Bush-era loophole that anyone can bid on military contracts to supply arms to the U.S. Military via a government Internet site and if worked properly, can make serious money.


Of course, the old friend is up to no good, his company is a joke out of rented office space where the meaningless company name is written on a Post-It and yet, he's making money. Who wants to do massages when you can make thousands and thousands of dollars off of this? Of course, things get more complicated, even as they start to rake in the cash, even having to go overseas too assure those involved get what they want.


The leads are well-cast and they have their moments, we get some good moments here and there, but the script and director so over-imitate Martin Scorsese's gangster genre films (and this is really not a gangster genre film, humor intended or not), that it sabotages a great story that would have worked better if the makers did not try so hard and let the film be itself. They stunted its growth and the missed opportunities pile up, even when we get fine turns by Kevin Pollock and Bradley Cooper. Still, it is a mixed success worth catching at least once, but it could have been so much more.


Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds two brief Behind The Scenes/Making Of featurettes and an animated dark comical film ''Pentagon Pie'' which has the leads as rats, describing what they did to make the money via contracts, but it is actually a clever spoof of the classic Schoolhouse Rock animated shorts series, but things do not work out here as they did on the show.



The 2160p HECV/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced 2.35 X 1 Ultra High Definition image on Dogs is just good enough to be the best performer on this list, an HD shoot that can look phony (especially versus Scorsese's films and GoodFellas in particular), but has just enough good shots to keep it moving along. The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition regular Blu-ray version's image lands up having limits, some of which are a bit annoying despite the difference between the two not being that huge, but noticeable enough.


The four regular Blu-rays just about tie for second place in performance, but the 1080p 2.35 X 1 restored in 4K digital High Definition image transfer on Hong Kong is slightly above the others, though it can show the age of the materials used as noted. However, besides being far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film on home video anywhere, the color and the best shots here are often stunning and amazing, worthy of the grittier bond films and its grittier imitators.


Unfortunately, the HD-shot, 1080p 2.35 X 1 restored in 4K digital High Definition image transfer on Mechanic is trying to look less gritty, but still be gritty and fails all around visually. It is competent, but looks less slick than Hong Kong with limited good form and is very forgettable visually when you finish watching it. The anamorphically enhanced DVD version included is unusually soft and the poorest performer on the list, even against the other DVDs.


That leaves the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer The Blob 1988 remake that can also can show the age of the materials used, but looks exactly like the Twilight Time HD transfer and that is a good thing, even if I was not as impressed as my fellow writer with it. Color is pretty consistent and this is what the film looks like for the most part from everything I have seen on it over the years.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image performance on Burgers (all animated) and Dracula (a mix of newly video-recorded interviews and a bunch of film clips) have some flaws here and there, but look about as god as they possibly could. Dracula is a compilation, so expect some analog videotape flaws, video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, cross color, faded color, tape damage and 35mm and 16mm film that show their age, especially coming from trailers.


As for sound, Mechanic is actually here in a Dolby Atmos 11.1 mix, but it sounds like an afterthought, not very effective or imaginative, so don;t expect much of anything you could think of as demo moments. However, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on both the 4K and regular Blu-ray of Dogs is the real sonic champ here, very well mixed and presented, with strong sound, usually impressive location audio and a stronger mic that really delivers and is a very pleasant surprise.


Blob and Hong Kong also impress despite their age in upgrades of their older audio that surprises in both cases. Blob has the same 5.1 upgrade from its old analog Ultra Stereo sound mix that the Twilight Time edition offered, but Hong Kong surprised me even more by even being in 5.1, as it is originally a monophonic theatrical release as reflected by its older DVD version and some serious effort was put into this to deliver a really fun, even strong upgrade despite the age of a good amount of the original sound materials. It was worth all the trouble.


As for the DVDs, Burgers has a sometimes laid back, lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 that has some good moments, but other times seems to be missing punch, while Dracula is in lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo even though the trailers and clips are often monophonic. The mix and melding of the two is as good as you could expect for such a documentary and it is fine.



To order either of the Umbrella import Blu-rays, The Blob 1988 remake and/or The Man From Hong Kong, go to this link for them and many more hard-to-find releases at:


http://www.umbrellaent.com.au/



- Nicholas Sheffo


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