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Category:    Home > Reviews > Western > Drama > Comedy > Romance > Crime > Jail > Urban > Mystery > Detective > British TV > Cable TV > Scienc > Ballad Of Cable Hogue (1970/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Brawl In Cell Block 99 (2017/RLJ 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Doc Martin: Season 8 (2017/Acorn Blu-ray Set)/Fargo: Season Three (2017/MGM DVD Set)

Ballad Of Cable Hogue (1970/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Brawl In Cell Block 99 (2017/RLJ 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Doc Martin: Season 8 (2017/Acorn Blu-ray Set)/Fargo: Season Three (2017/MGM DVD Set)/The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976/Lionsgate Blu-ray w/DVD)/Night School (1981/Warner Archive DVD)/Shattered (2017/Cinedigm DVD)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Ballad Of Cable Hogue and Night School Blu-rays are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the links below.

The following crime drama releases are diverse (including more humor in places than you might first expect) and deal with dark goings-on in all kinds of ways...

Sam Peckinpah's The Battle Of Cable Hogue (1970) is a good, if somewhat laid back and slightly predictable film he made in between his two most shocking, famous films: The Wild Bunch and Straw Dogs. The great Jason Robards is in for the long haul as the title character, once on top of the world selling water to thirty people building their future in the 1900s when he is betrayed and left for dead (they never do check to see if those they leave this way actually die; such arrogance!) that is sort of a Revenge Western too busy with its comedy, character study and sudden love relationship (he falls for Stella Stevens, in fine form) than getting to the revenge part.

Playing that angle almost as a joke in itself, the film almost teases that this might happen a few times, then moves on with its real concerns, the end of the West before things get settled for better and worse. It makes the proper points of 'progress' leaving pioneers and great people behind and forgotten, it is more for Western genre fans or fans of those involved than most people I have to say. However, the one thing besides how well this is shot and how it goes the long way to tell its story to its credit (a long 121 minutes and better than most Westerns I have seen lately) is the great cast that include David Warner (Time After Time), Strother Martin, Slim Pickens and L.Q. Jones, all of whom get time to shine and are cumulatively hard to beat.

I get the impression before any extras or research that Peckinpah made this as a more personal film and that was partly confirmed later, though you can say that about the honesty in his whole filmography. Warner Archive has rightly restored the film for Blu-ray and for the little I have seen of it over the years, it has never looked this good and for such a key director, this upgrade was way overdue. In fairness, Warner has a ton of films to tend to and are, so some just take longer than others. Either way, he was a master of this genre and it shows.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image is impressive as noted and though you can see the age of the film in small parts, you can also surmise how good a 35mm dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor version of the film would have looked at the time and it has good touches of color, though the color of the outdoors are not tampered with ands they look good too. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix also sounds very good for its age, the soundmaster surviving nicely and featuring a fine music score by the great Jerry Goldsmith that is playful and smart.

Extras include an interview featurette with Miss Stevens entitled The Ladiest Damn'd Lady and an exceptional feature length audio commentary track by the great film scholars and Peckinpah megafans Nick Redman, Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons and David Weddle that goes with other some of the participants have delivered on other Peckinpah Blu-rays. Its commentaries like these that make Blu-ray so great!

Vince Vaughn is back with the inventive new thriller Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017), from the genre's favorite new director of the Kurt Russell hit Bonesaw Tomahawk, S. Craig Zahler.

This is no doubt one of Vaughn's best performances as of late, and stars here as a no holds barred drug runner with a head tattoo that finally sets things right with his on and off again girlfriend (Jennifer Carpenter) and a baby on the way. But when he gets in too deep on a job, he ends up behind bars ...and that's where the insanity begins.

Brawl also stars Don Johnson, Marc Blucas, Fred Melamed, and Tom Guiry.

What works here is Vaughn, who is able to be relatable to an audience while still a bit rough around the edges and believable as a villain. One of the better scenes of the film is near the beginning where Vaughn suspects Carpenter of cheating on him, where he lays his hands on her car and rips it to apart with his bare bloody hands.

RLJ Entertainment pulls out all the stops with this stunning 2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image presentation of the film with a 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix, with similar specs on the also included 1080p Blu-ray disc. The colors are nicely saturated throughout and is sure to look great on your home entertainment system. No digital copy.

Special Features...

"Journey to the Brawl: The Making of Brawl in Cell Block 99"

Beyond Fest Q&A with Cast and Crew

This is definitely an interesting thriller and one to check out for your next movie night.

British TV Comedy/Drama, Doc Martin (2017), returns with Season 8 of the hit series to land on disc. Gorgeously shot and eloquently acted, the show features Martin Clunes as Dr. Martin Elligham, whose dry humor and quick wits bring plenty of laughs to the table. Set in the small town of Cornwall, the Doctor and his wife Louisa (Caroline Catz) constantly bump heads raising a small baby while the Doc keeps up his busy profession in the small town.

The show also stars Ian McNeice, Joe Absolom, John Marquez, and Selina Cadell. Directors on the show include Ben Bolt, Nigel Cole, Paul Seed, Minkie Spiro, Charlie Palmer, and Ben Gregor.

8 episodes include Mysterious Ways, Sons and Lovers, Farewell My Lovely, Faith, From the Mouths of Babes, Accidental Hero, Blade on the Feather, and All My Trials.

The series is presented on Blu-ray disc in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and a nice sounding DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless track which is up to standards with the format and an improvement over the original broadcasts. The show is shot digitally and its details really show in some beautiful landscape shots of the country.

Special Features...

Nine Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes


You can also read about earlier seasons elsewhere on this site.

Ewan McGregor plays a dual role leading an all-star cast in Fargo: Season Three (2017), an MGM-produced series that's a hit for the FX Channel and a spin-off of the great, classic Coen Brothers film. Intelligently written and keeping with the spirit of the original movie, the show expands upon the universe and balances dark comedy with modern suspense. If you're a fan of the original movie, you'll definitely want to check this series out.

The show also stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Billy Bob Thornton, Carrie Coon, Goran Bogdan, David Thewlis, and Martin Freeman to name a few.

Episodes include The Law of Vacant Places, The Principle of Restricted Choice, The Law of Non-Contradiction, The Narrow Escape Problem, The House of Special Purpose, The Lord of No Mercy, The Law of Inevitability, Who Rules the Land of Denial?, Aporia, and Somebody to Love - all of which span four DVD discs.

Presented in standard definition on DVD with an anamorphically enhanced widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and a lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital mix, the show looks and sounds as good as it can on DVD, but leaves much to be desired. Also available on Blu-ray, we are just covering the standard definition DVD edition here for now.

Special Features include...

First Look

Ray and Nikki

Emmit Stussy and Sy Feltz

One Actor, Two Characters

Gloria Burgle


Anatomy of a Scene

The Digital Age

Connectivity and References


Noah Hawley

You'll want to start at the beginning for this series, but likely find it worth it.

Before his death, David Bowie knew a new 4K restoration of his great Nicolas Roeg film The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976) had been finished, even rereleased in theaters in the U.K. and it would make its way to home video worldwide. This was particularly promising in the U.S. where the incredible Criterion Blu-ray edition, with its stunning playback, had been discontinued over rights issues. Now going for huge sums, we reviewed the amazing edition here on the site at this link...


In early 2017, Lionsgate announced a Blu-ray/DVD set, but it would be a limited edition, so the title would still be scarce, but at least it would be more copies and with Bowie's passing happening around the same time, a highly collectible tribute to his acting work and career in a copy at least as good as the Criterion, right? Well....?

The transfer turned out to be a big problem, with the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer looking strangely soft, almost filtered, tampered with, unnatural. Lacking depth & detail, with poor Video Red that leaned off orange and even framing that was not as wide as the original film, Criterion Blu-ray or footage from the new 4K restoration, which it does not resemble either. What happened? The anamorphically enhanced DVD image much worse and one better not discussed and skipped like the disc itself. Then the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix on the Blu-ray was not even as clear or real as the Criterion and the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on the DVD version very weak.

Apparently, someone at Lionsgate got carried away, took severe liberties with the film and ruined it, if not worse as the latest slap against a great film that shared more than its moments of censorship and being chopped up. There was no recall and not enough fans or scholars complained, so it is to be avoided as a set of its playback.

Therefore, only the extras in a thin slide-case is worth your time with a 1977 Bowie interview from TV (just over 8 minutes), a Theatrical Trailer, a featurette of about 17 minutes entitled The Lost Soundtracks Of The Man Who Fell To Earth that gets into the music that did and did not make the film and nearly three hours of interviews with many of the key people involved with the film and still photographer David James.

Pointless then is the Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber capable devices, but you get a poster, mini-press program reproduction, a set of fill color postcards and a nicely illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and two essays. All that is good too, making it all the more awful the actual film looks and sounds so poor.

Get it if you must for the extras, but the rest of us should wait for a correction, maybe when Lionsgate does a 4K 2160p version, though my complains mirror what some of said of their 4K Lincoln Lawyer disc (reviewed elsewhere on this site) looking a little fake color wise and whispers of the same are going around on the 4K 2160p Terminator 2 were about to cover. We'll get to the bottom of all of this soon.

Night School (1981, also known as Terror Eyes) finds a new HD release courtesy of Warner Archive. While definitely inspired by the works of Hitchcock, the '80s slasher goes as far as doing its own version of the classic shower scene from Psycho.

The film also echoes the Italian giallo that's notorious in the films of Dario Argento. Cleverly shot and edited, the film has everything from bizarre sex scenes, decapitations, and '80s nostalgia. This is the film's first ever home entertainment release on any format.

The film stars Rachel Ward and Leonard Mann in leading roles and is directed by Kenneth Hughes (the original 1967 Casino Royale among many big films in his time), this film centers around a serial killer that likes to decapitate his victims, mainly young beautiful women. As police scramble to get one step ahead of the killer, the body count keeps rising as the black suited/motorcycle helmet wearing madman continues to slash away.

Restored in 2K from the original high definition camera negative, the film looks and sounds great on Blu-ray disc and is up to par in 1080p. Featuring a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono track, the film has certainly never looked or sounded this good. Some shots are a bit in soft focus, which was either intentional or the fault of the filmmakers, but we suspect soft on purpose in at least some cases like some thrillers of the time.

The only extra is a restored HD trailer here.

Night School is a fun time capsule and really does look fantastic on disc. If you've never seen it or haven't seen it in a while, then it's definitely worth a watch on Blu-ray.

Shattered (2017), inspired by a true story, is a thriller that centers around a young woman (Molly Burnett) who marries into a wealthy political family that has a few dark secrets in their bloodline.

While at first Kate's romance is on fire, her new husband and her decide to adopt and the boy (named Logan) that they adopt ends up being a bit a temperamental out of control brat. However, a dark secret centers around Logan that links him to the husband's past, present, and future and soon Kate's life is 'shattered'.

The low budget film isn't too bad nor badly shot or acted, with direction by Natasha Kermani (The Mentors, Pole) and also stars Ray Wise (Twin Peaks), Arianne Zucker, Alfonso Freeman, Eileen Dietz, and Adam Huss.

Presented in standard definition with an anamorphically enhanced 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital track, the film looks and sounds fine for the DVD format. While it could of course be improved with a HD release, the film looks and sounds as good as can be expected here.

No extras... except for some trailers before the menu for other Cinedigm releases.

An interesting indie, Shattered is worth a one-time watch.

To order either of the Warner Archive Blu-rays, The Ballad Of Cable Hogue and Night School, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo (Cable, Earth) & James Lockhart



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