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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Drama > Comedy > Action > Fantasy > TV > Thriller > Crime > Neo Noir > Murder > Robbery > Swas > Firefly: 15th Anniversary Complete Series Blu-ray Set (2002 - 2003/Fox)/The Hitman's Bodyguard (2017/Lionsgate 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/L. A. Confidential: 20th Anniversary Edition (1997/Fox DVD

Firefly: 15th Anniversary Complete Series Blu-ray Set (2002 - 2003/Fox)/The Hitman's Bodyguard (2017/Lionsgate 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/L. A. Confidential: 20th Anniversary Edition (1997/Fox DVD)/The Legend Of The Holy Drinker (1988*)/London Heist (2017/Lionsgate DVD)/The Pirates Of Blood River (1962/Hammer/Sony/Columbia/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/The Show (2017/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Suspicious Death Of A Minor (1975/aka Too Young To Die/*both MVD Visual/Arrow Blu-ray w/DVD)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Pirates Of Blood River Blu-ray is now only available from our friends at Twilight Time, is limited to only 3,000 copies and can be ordered from the link below.

Here's a great group of new genre releases to check out...


In 2002, Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon brought a series to Fox that masterfully blended elements of the classic Western with hard Science Fiction and featured a remarkable ensemble cast. That series was Firefly (2002 - 2003), and it accomplished more in fourteen hour-long episodes than most science fiction television shows have done during their entire multi-year runs. Of course this begs the obvious question, why did the show fail? Quite simply, not enough people watched.

Firefly never gained the acclaim or success it deserved when it was originally airing.

Who can understand the vagaries of the television ratings system? The bottom line was that despite being as smart, slick, and spirited as anything produced for the genre over the last ten years, Firefly failed. Now fifteen years later, Fox has released a new 3-disc Blu-ray collection of the show totaling 14 episodes (3 of them unaired) and loaded with all of the extras any diehard fan could hope to see.

While Mr. Whedon trades on Western themes, Firefly adroitly mixes in the sci-fi elements that make it a mainstay on the watchlists of fans and convention goers worldwide. Led by Captain Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), a roguish Han Solo type scarred by war and desperate to maintain his independence, the crew of the Serenity-class spaceship called Firefly steals and swindles their way across the 'Verse, but still manages to often do the right thing. The show features a brilliant ensemble cast including Ron Glass (Preacher Book), Gina Torres (Zoe Washburne), Morena Baccarin (Inara Serra), Adam Baldwin (Jayne Cobb), Alan Tudyk (Hoban Washburne), Jewel Staite (Kaylee Frye), Sean Maher (Dr. Simon Tamm), and Summer Glau (River Tamm).

A few of these characters hold secrets that drive the plot along like a runaway meteor. Chief among them is River Tamm. Rescued by her brother from a government facility and pursued by mysterious agents of that same hegemonic entity, the young woman exhibits strange flashes of ESP shows considerable mental damage from her imprisonment. And what of Preacher Book, the Shepherd (re: Priest) who knows military hardware and tactics better than any holy man has a right to?

The Blu-ray performance is one of the reasons for the rewatchability, on top of the storytelling and action, of course. The Surround sound on this set is remarkable, but newcomers to the show shouldn't be alarmed when the gorgeously digitized space explosions produce no noise - Whedon and crew stuck to their guns on the show's 'hard' sci-fi tone, and everybody knows that there is no sound in a vacuum. The images on this collection are as sharp as the sound, but look better than the broadcast of the show could hope to offer, at a 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition aspect ratio.

The collection is loaded with extras as well, including numerous commentaries on individual episodes, deleted scenes, gag reels, and a number of other great features. One additional note on presentation: the episodes are arranged as Whedon originally intended them to be, with the two-part 'Serenity' leading off, followed by 'The Train Job' (the 'first' episode as dictated by Fox executives at the time).

In all, Firefly totals over ten hours of damn-good sci-fi entertainment. Watching episodes and extras in this boxed set certainly leaves one wondering what could have been had the show truly found its audience when it counted, rather than months and years later.

After the series, the feature film Serenity was made, as recently issued on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray whose playback performance is getting mixed reviews (we hope to see it at some point). You can read more about this series and that film at these links...

Firefly previous Blu-ray set (proving the show could make a great 4K release too)


Serenity Blu-ray


Serenity DVD


The Hitman's Bodyguard

Action superstars Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson star in The Hitman's Bodyguard (2017) which is popcorn munching fare at its dumbest. The big budget, visual effects fueled, massacre that is this film has the feel of a bad Die Hard sequel so much so that you'll wait for Bruce Willis (Jackson's co-star in the third installment of that franchise) to pop up... but he never does. It's also comparable to every buddy cop movie you've ever seen in terms of plot as well with both leads doing their usual schticks and nothing out of their comfort zones.

Also starring Gary Oldman (giving it his all as per usual) as a Eastern European Foreign Dictator baddie and Salma Hayek who phones it in here with an underwhelming performance as Jackson's estranged criminal wife, the film is silly, unrealistic, and in the same realm as The Expendables films in terms of intelligence... which is appropriate as the film's director, Patrick Hughes, also directed The Expendables 3.

After a client dies on duty by chance, one of the world's top body guards (Reynolds) ends up with his career (and relationship with a hot Interpol Agent) down the toilet. But when an unkillable hitman (Jackson) ends up getting hunted down by Gary Oldman for knowing too much, Reynolds must come out of retirement to get him to a court date with the International Court of Justice. Killing hundreds of baddies along the way, Reynolds and Jackson do what they must to make it to the court date on time, get the girls, and clear both of their names.

Presented on 2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image and 1080p Blu-ray disc with a 2.39:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a Dolby Atmos 11.1 tracks, the film looks and sounds awesome on both formats. The film is well shot with high production value, exotic locations including Amsterdam, and a nice mix of practical and computer enhanced effects. The 4K disc has more noticeable details, particularly in close ups shots and wide scenics. The sound mixes are the same on both discs.

A digital copy is also included.

Special Features:

"Big Action in a Big World" Featurette

Director's Commentary


Deleted/ Extended/ Alternate Scenes

"The Hitman's Bodyguard: A Love Story" Featurette

"Hitman vs. Bodyguard" Featurette

and "Dangerous Women" Featurette

There's plenty of eye candy on display here that entertains but it doesn't really stick with you after the credits roll. A great 4K presentation though.

L. A. Confidential

As far as nailing the look and feel of a film noir, L.A. Confidential (1997) comes pretty close to capturing it. While its hard to believe it's 20 years old now, the film is being put back out on disc in celebration. Please note that we are covering the standard definition DVD in this review and not the Blu-ray. If you haven't seen this film and you're a fan of 1950s crime action, then it's a must see for sure.

Directed by Curtis Hanson (8 Mile), the film features an all-star cast with Guy Pearce (before his arguably best performance in Memento), Russell Crowe (a few years before his role in Gladiator), Kim Basigner, Kevin Spacey (pre-scandal), James Cromwell, and Danny DeVito amongst many others.

1950s Los Angeles. Three very different cops are all after the truth, each in their own style: Ed Exley (Pearce), the golden boy of the police force, is willing to do almost anything to get ahead, except sell out. Hard edged Bud White (Crowe), is gruff and out for justice but unable to control his violent temper. Finally, the clever Jack Vincennes (Spacey), who feeds the tabloids what they want to hear (much to reporter DeVito's delight) and is on top. Until his conscience drives him to join Exley and White down the one-way path to find the truth behind the dark world of L.A. Crime. In the midst of it all is the beautiful Lynn Bracken (Basigner) who is a femme fatale in the truest sense of the word and out for her own reasons.

Presented in standard definition with an anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 track, the film doesn't look nearly as good as it does in HD, but it is passable here. The colors are a bit muted and compressed, but the film has a wonderful score by the late Jerry Goldsmith (and source music of the era) and breathtaking cinematography by Dante Spinotti, A.I.C. Humorously, the digital HD version of the film included is a tad better looking than the DVD on a 4K UHD television. This film would be a good candidate for the 4K UHD format, and hopefully that will happen down the line.

Special Features include a commentary track with several cast and crew members.

The Legend Of The Holy Drinker

Italian filmmaker Ermanno Olim (The Tree of Wooden Clogs) brings his personal touch to The Legend of the Holy Drinker (1988), a film that I had never heard of prior to this release. A Prince and the Pauper-type story, the film centers around Andreas Kartack (Rutger Hauer) who plays a homeless man who lives under the bridges. One day a rich stranger pays him 200 francs to right his life... however, his alcoholism gets in the way.

Legend of the Holy Drinker also stars Anthony Quayle (Lawrence of Arabia, TV's Strange Report), Sandrine Dumas (The Double Life of Veronique) and Dominique Pinon (Delicatessen, Alien Resurrection).

The film is presented here with a brand-new 4K restoration from the original negative, produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this release that is nothing short of stunning. Included is both there 1080p Blu-ray and the anamorphically enhanced, standard definition DVD which features both the English and Italian versions of the film. The film is presented in lossless 5.1 DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) on the Blu-ray and Stereo 2.0 that features both the English and Italian language tracks.

Special Features include...

Brand-new interview with actor Rutger Hauer, recorded exclusively for this release

Interview with screenwriter Tullio Kezich

Theatrical trailer

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: New writing on the film by Helen Chambers, author of Joseph Roth in Retrospect: Co-existent Contradictions

While a great showcase for Rutger Hauer as an actor, the critically acclaimed film has a fun story that is nothing short of marvelous to behold visually. This is great work done by Arrow.

London Heist

The new heist thriller, London Heist (2017) is about a group of thieves who get more than they bargain for after a grand bank robbery. The film stars Craig Fairbrass as Jack Cregan - a robber who pulls off a successful heist but shortly after his father is murdered. Out to get revenge in any way he can, Jack takes to the streets and seeks revenge against the man who took his loved one from him... at any cost!

The film is your standard revenge action thriller that isn't anything too groundbreaking. The production value and acting aren't too bad with co-stars James Cosmo, Men Ferda and Nick Moran amongst others. If you're a fan of these sorts of films then this isn't the worst one out there... or the best.

Presented in muddy standard definition, anamorphically enhanced 2.40:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital mix, the presentation is as good as DVD allows. Colors and details are highly compressed with this really showing on a 4K UHD TV but maybe not as much on an older television set.

No extras with the exception of previews for other Lionsgate movies.

The Pirates Of Blood River

One of Hammer's lesser known films and surely one that isn't easy to find is The Pirates of Blood River (1962). This British gem is an interesting epic that stars Christopher Lee in a role unlike any other you've seen him in before. Unlike Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, this film is a tad bit slower but still has plenty of swashbuckling to get your jolly rogers off.

Known as 'the pirate movie without a boat', this low budget film only shows an actual boat in its opening scenes (likely stock footage) and as a matte painting later on. But who says you need millions to make a pirate movie. All you need is an eyepatch and a thirst for treasure-seeking to join this group.

The Pirates of Blood River is directed by John Gilling (Hammer's The Reptile and Plague of the Zombies to name a few) and features Kerwin Matthews, Glen Corbett, Maria Landi, Oliver Reed, Andrew Keir, and Peter Arne with a screenplay by John Hunter, John Gilling, and Jimmy Sangster.

In a village of Huguenot refugees, Jonathon Standing (Matthews) is exiled by his religious and politically powerful father to a nearby penal colony for committing adultery. This penal colony is then invaded by pirates (led by Lee) who force Jonathan to lead them back to his village, convinced that it contains a treasure beyond their wildest dreams.

Presented in 1080p high definition with a 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a English 2.0 lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) Mono, there’s no doubt that the film looks and sounds fantastic thanks to the new HD master Sony sent over to Twilight Time. In pretty good shape for its age, nothing really stuck out to me and I'm sure this is the best the film has looked before.

Special Features include...

Isolated Score (By Gary Hughes) & Effects Track

Audio Commentary with Writer Jimmy Sangster, Art Director Don Mingaye, and Film Historian Marcus Hearn

Original Theatrical Trailer

and a collector's insert booklet with linear notes and another great Julie Kirgo essay

I'm surprised Peter Cushing didn't pop up somewhere in this tale, as he would have fit right in (and make a good pirate as well!). The film is surprisingly pretty historically accurate it seems, with impressive costumes and sets that reflection the era. The film is shot nicely and is a good popcorn muncher. Not one of Hammer's best, but certainly deserving of a nice release such as this one.

The Show

The Show (2017) is an interesting little film in the view of The Running Man that poses the question of 'how far will a TV show go for ratings?' Starring Josh Duhamel as a TV show host of a 'bachelor show' whom is exposed to a horrific incident when one of his contestants commits suicide on live air. While at first posed as a disaster to the network, soon the idea comes to create a whole show where people kill themselves on live air. Of course, the show is a giant hit and soon many that are living on hard times are considering going to this outrageous length to help make their family rich.

The film also stars Famke Janssen (the X-Men film, GoldenEye), Sarah Wayne Callies (The Walking Dead), Caitlin FitzGerald, James Franco (in a cameo) and Giancarlo Esposito (who also directed).

Presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and an English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless track, the film is up to Blu-ray standards and is presented in a clear and detailed transfer. The film is shot pretty well with strong production values that highlight L.A., where the film was obviously shot.

A digital UV copy is also included.

Special Features...

Making The Show Featurette

Cast and Crew Interviews


Suspicious Death Of A Minor

This Italian giallo The Suspicious Death of a Minor (1975) is an entertaining thrill ride in the vein of some of Dario Argento's earlier works. Director Sergio Martino (Torso) brings us this film, which is his sixth stab at the genre. Beautifully restored in HD, the film has a great style with nice production value and interesting filmmaking.

The film stars Claudio Cassinelli (What Have They Done to Your Daughters?), Mel Ferrer (Nightmare City), Barbara Magnolfi (Suspiria) and Jenny Tamburi (The Psychic), and features a script by veteran giallo writer Ernesto Gastaldi (All the Colours of the Dark, Death Walks at Midnight).

Paolo Germi (Cassinelli) is an undercover cop who is hot on the trail of a murderer, who is killing off more and more witnesses before the Police can get to them. Centering around the death of a prostitute, the crime inflates as Germi is put to the ultimate test.

Presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and a new 2K restoration from the original film elements, the image on this film has never looked better than it does here. Sporting a PCM 1.0 Mono lossless track (dubbed in English or the original Italian soundtrack) on the Blu-ray, the mix comes across flawlessly. Also included is a standard definition DVD with a lesser and more compressed presentation in lossy Dolby Digital and anamorphically enhanced image.

Special Features include...

New audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films.

New interview with co-writer/director Sergio Martino

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon

and FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing by Barry Forshaw.

To order The Pirates Of Blood River limited edition Blu-ray, buy it and other great exclusives while supplies last at these links:




- Scott R. Pyle (Firefly) & James Lockhart



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