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Category:    Home > Reviews > Martial Arts Cycle > Action > Crime > China > Prison > Spaghetti Western > Monster > Creature > Horror > Exp > Bruce's Deadly Fingers (1976/MVD/VCI Blu-ray w/DVD)/Escape Plan 2: Hades (2018/Lionsgate Blu-ray w/DVD)/A Pistol For/The Return Of Ringo (both 1965/MVD/Arrow Blu-ray)/Rampage 4K (2018/Warner 4K Ultra

Bruce's Deadly Fingers (1976/MVD/VCI Blu-ray w/DVD)/Escape Plan 2: Hades (2018/Lionsgate Blu-ray w/DVD)/A Pistol For/The Return Of Ringo (both 1965/MVD/Arrow Blu-ray)/Rampage 4K (2018/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/The Violence Movie: Part One (1988) + Part Two (1989/MVD DVD)



4K Ultra HD Picture: A Picture: B & B-/B+ & B-/B/B+/C Sound: B & B-/B+ & B-/B/A & B+/C Extras: C+/C+/B/B/B Films: C/C/C+/C+/C+



These are one of the sillier sets of genre films we've covered lately, but here they are...



Bruce Le (not to be confused with Bruce Lee) stars in Bruce's Deadly Fingers (1976) - one of many films of the 'Bruceploitation' movement that happened in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan in the '70s. The producers of these films hired Bruce Lee lookalike actors for this C grade martial art romps in an effort to cash in on the void audiences felt after the real Lee died. This movement ended when Jackie Chan making his mark and others who stepped into the martial arts genre's spotlight but for much of the 1970s these ripoff films were made (and people watched them!).


Bruce's Deadly Fingers stars Bruce Le, Michael Wai-Man Chan, and Nora Miao to name a few.


After a group of martial arts savvy gangsters capture Bruce Le's ex-girlfriend, a young martial artist attempts to rescue her. But they will have to acquire the late master's book containing lethal techniques for killing with one's fingers in order to face against the master.


The film has been restored in 2K high definition from the original camera negative and looks and sounds surprisingly good here on 1080p Blu-ray disc. Some scenes look a little washed out but part of that could be in how it was shot initially or the low grade film stock that was used. The film is presented in its original widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and a PCM 1.0 mono track that sounds fine for what it is. The movie was shot on a shoestring and has initially bad sound effects with each kick and punch thrown and a soundtrack that's very tongue-in-cheek, but that's what is great about this! Don't expect a perfect transfer as this is likely the best it's going to look. Also included is a compressed, anamorphically enhanced, standard definition DVD of the film with similar features.


Special Features include...


Photo and poster gallery of Bruce's Deadly Fingers and other 'Bruceploitation' films


Original Theatrical Trailer


Audio Commentary by Michael Worth - author, director, actor, and expert on Bruce Lee, and 'Bruceploitation' films


Video interviews with some of the players


Theatrical Trailers for other Blaxploitation films



Hollywood superstar Sylvester Stallone returns (perhaps because he was contractually obliged to?) for the unnecessary sequel to Escape Plan. Director Steven C. Miller's Escape Plan 2: Hades (2018), which also stars Hollywood heavyweight Dave Bautista (Blade Runner 2049, Guardians of the Galaxy, SPECTRE) who probably did the film as either a favor to some producer or just to share some screen time with Sly.


While the film isn't horrible and is completely watchable, it has some scenes that feel a bit held down by mediocre performances from the supporting cast and isn't anything new in terms of story or execution. The production design isn't too bad and there are some fun scenes involving the two leads, however, it still feels a bit 'direct to video' despite some of its big name stars.


Escape Plan 2 also stars Jaime King (Sin City), Wes Chatham (Hunger Games MockingJay), and Jesse Metcalfe (2 Broke Girls).


HADES is a super high tech-prison that pits prisoners against one another in a battle to the death. When Ray Breslin (Stallone) gets wind of a team member stuck inside, he must hatch a brilliant plan to help get his friend out. Teaming up with Trent DeRosa (Bautista), the two end up inside a prison unlike any they have encountered before.


Presented in 1080p high definition with a 2.39:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix, the Blu-ray looks as good as to be expected. As mentioned, the film has some decent production design and this shines through in HD much more than it does on the also included anamorphically enhanced, standard definition DVD, with similar but compressed features and a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix.


Also included is a digital copy.


Special Features include...


"Making Escape Plan 2: Hades" featurette


"Creating the Look of Escape Plan 2: Hades" featurette


"Building the Robot of Escape Plan 2: Hades" featurette


Extended Cast / Crew Interviews


Escape Plan 2 is worth checking out if you're a Stallone fan or if you really enjoyed the original but just isn't anything too new or exciting. With it's high budget concept and a bit more imagination, it could have been better.


Be sure to check out our review of the first Escape Plan, which just hit the 4K UHD format, elsewhere on this site.



Next we have two spaghetti westerns from Director Duccio Tessari, A Pistol for Ringo and The Return of Ringo (both 1965). The film stars Giuliano Gemma, Fernando Sancho, and Lorella De Luca to name a few and while it doesn't have Clint Eastwood, still has plenty of rough and tough gunslingers to fill your Western craving.


In A Pistol for Ringo, the gunslinger Ringo (Gemma) ends up protecting a rich Texas family from a Mexican bandit who plans on robbing them blind. In the sequel, The Return of Ringo, he faces off with Mexican bandits again only this time it's a whole town that he has to protect.


Both films have been restored in 2K from the original camera negatives and presented here in lush 1080p high definition with a 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio and both the original Italian soundtrack in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio), uncompressed Mono (with English subtitles) and English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless tracks on the disc as well. The scores by Ennio Morricone are fantastic and definitely add to the classic western cinematic experience and tone.


Special Features include...


Audio commentaries for both films by Spaghetti Western experts C. Courtney Joyner and Henry Parke


They Called Him Ringo, an archival featurette with star Giuliano Gemma


A Western Greek Tragedy, another archival featurette with Lorella de Luca and camera operator Sergio D'Offizi


Revisiting Ringo, a new video interview with critic and Ringo fan Tony Rayns


Gallery of original promotional images from the Mike Siegal Archive


Original trailers


Gallery of original promotional images


Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx


FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the films by Howard Hughes and a newly-translated interview with Duccio Tessari.



Next up, let's face it, we are living in the time of Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson. The man has had blockbuster after blockbuster (not to mention an HBO series) in recent years with more on the way (whether they make money or not). One of his better films and one of the better films based on a video game is Rampage (2018), which debuted to not mediocre fanfare upon its initial theatrical release. Warner must have been inspired by the success of their own Kong: Skull Island to launch this special effects bonanza and it will likely please fans of that film as well (which I also am in that crowd). Its also their second not-so bad video game adaptation this year along with their remake of Tomb Raider (which is reviewed in 4K UHD elsewhere on this site).


I went in with low expectations for Rampage, especially since I'm not the biggest fan of The Rock (nor do I hate him), and because I've been burned by so many video game inspired films in the past that I wasn't expecting much. I was pleasantly surprised by the film's impressive effects (by the reigning champions at Weta) and the not so bad story, which does feature a King Kong-esque giant gorilla and a Godzilla-esque Lizard monster. The video game featured characters that resembled those classic characters even more closely, so I was pleasantly surprised by how they changed up the style of the monsters here. There's even a giant mutated wolf thrown into the mix!


The film also has a decent supporting cast with Naomie Harris (Thor Ragnarok), Joe Manganiello (Justice League), Malin Akerman (Watchmen), and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead).


A top secret government experiment goes awry when a rare white gorilla is infected at a zoo after debris falls from space. As the gorilla starts to grow several times his size, it soon becomes apparent that other creatures that are a part of this experiment are breaking loose as well. Its up to The Rock and a few friends to save as many lives (and deliver the anecdote to cure them) as they can before these creatures run fully amok.


Rampage is presented on 4K UHD with a 2160p HECV/H.265, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image and a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1. The audio mixes are high level all across the board with a Dolby Atmos 11.1 mix (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixdown) and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix as well. The sound and picture quality here is photo realistic that really shows off the attention to the detail in the computer generated effects. Also included is a 1080p high definition Blu-ray with similar audio and visual specs and a digital HD copy is also included.


Special Features (as the press release explains) include...


Not A Game Anymore - From arcade sensation to movie monster epic, we explore how the Midway video game inspired the filmmakers to create the ultimate disaster film.


Gag Reel - Hilarious outtakes and mishaps captured during production.


Deleted Scenes - Deleted scenes that barely missed the final theatrical cut.


Rampage - Actors in Action: Strap in for a wild ride as Dwayne Johnson, Joe Manganiello and the cast prepare for the film's demanding stunts and explosive set pieces.


Trio of Destruction - Follow the innovative design team and the artists at Weta Digital as they bring to life the biggest and baddest monsters for the film's climactic battle royal.


Attack on Chicago - Director Brad Peyton reveals the challenges of filming on-location in Chicago and turning digital destruction into a cinematic reality.


Bringing George to Life - Discover the wonder of what it's like to be a gorilla, as movement coordinator Terry Notary teaches actor Jason Liles how to move, behave and become "George."


Rampage is an entertaining popcorn muncher with some impressive visual effects.



'Never meant for public consumption' is The Violence Movie: Part One (1988) and The Violence Movie: Part Two (1989) which are shot on VHS homages to Friday the 13th and slasher films and were shot by then teenage brothers David E. Wilkinson and Eric D. Wilkinson.


Featuring a score by Harry Manfredini (Friday the 13th), the film is homemade filmmaking and nothing more but still kind of fun to check out... so how the heck did this end up on DVD and released by MVD you ask?


Now a producer for MVD Rewind, Eric decided to go back and re-visit his film and re-cut it, hire Manfredini to score it, and release it out to the world... even going as far as submitting it to the New Jersey Horror Film Festival. When audiences received the film well, they started demanding copies of it, so Eric decided to put out the film in a grand scale and here it is, along with its sequel, and some interesting bonus features on DVD.


Presented in standard definition with a full frame aspect ratio, the film doesn't look too great because it was... well... shot on VHS! The film looks as good as one can expect knowing the limitations of the format... which makes DVD a fine outlet for it.


Special Features include...


Commentaries


Deleted Scenes


Violence in '03 Featurette


Scrapped Violence Movie Commentary


Original Opening Credits


Photo Gallery



- James Lockhart

https://www.facebook.com/jamesharlandlockhartv/


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