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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Psychological > Murder > Mystery > Crime > Identity > Sex > Korea > Numerology > Supernatural > Bri > Burning (2018/Well Go Blu-ray w/DVD)/Death Is A Number (1951*)/Doctor Who: The Complete Eleventh Season (2018/BBC DVD Set)/Mystery Road: Series One (2018/Acorn Blu-ray)/Torment (1949/*both MVD/Juno Se

Burning (2018/Well Go Blu-ray w/DVD)/Death Is A Number (1951*)/Doctor Who: The Complete Eleventh Season (2018/BBC DVD Set)/Mystery Road: Series One (2018/Acorn Blu-ray)/Torment (1949/*both MVD/Juno Selects DVDs)

Picture: B & C+/C/C+/B+/C Sound: B & C+/C/C+/C+/C Extras: C/D/C+/C/D Main Programs: B+/C/B-/B+/C

Here comes a very varied group of releases with mystery, action and other thrills to know about...

Jong-su (Ah-in Yoo) is your typical young man living in the city just working and trying to get by, until he meets his childhood friend Haemi. Jong-su and Haemi (Jong-seo Jun) get romantically involved, but things get complicated when Haemi returns from a trip with a mysterious new friend named Ben (Steven Yen). Ben is charismatic and wealthy, but his job remains a mystery. As time goes on, Jong-su becomes jealous and paranoid of Ben, is he a rival, foe or something more dangerous? When Jong-su learns of Ben's secret hobby ...he can't help but wonder is Ben a friend or killer psychopath?

In Lee Chang-Dong's Burning (2018), Jong-su lived a pretty normal and boring life until he ran into his childhood friend Haemi. After having sex, Jong-su views Haemi as his romantic partner/friend. When Haemi brings another man into the relationship Ben, Jong-su can't help but feel jealous that Ben is superior to him in every way. As the three relationships continue, Ben continues to remain a mystery, including what he does for a living and make Jong-su more jealous of his life style. But after one night Jong-su learns of Ben's secret hobby is burning abandoned greenhouses which causes Jong-su to become suspicious of Ben. Jong-su confronts Haemi and Ben of his feelings, but then Haemi ends up leaving with Ben. Jong-su tries to find and reconnect with Haemi, but find no traces of her. After discovering Haemi's empty apartment and Ben taken in a stray cat like Haemi's cat, Jong-su becomes even more paranoid that Ben has 'killed' Haemi. Jong-su lures Ben to the country side and kills him. After burning Ben's body and all the evidence the story ends.

Watching this movie felt like it was watch a Korean version of The Talented Mr. Ripley. A tale of filled with jealousy, envy, paranoia and murder. There is no evidence, the main character just become more and more paranoid/jealous of another man (who may have either stolen or killed the girl he likes). In the end what makes the story so scary, is anyone in the main character position would become suspicious and want to commit murder. Extras include about the characters and trailers.

Roger Henryson's Death Is A Number (1951) is an interesting film I had seen decades ago when I was VERY young and though the whole film overall is not great, it is ambitious, a little creepy and interesting in its telling of how a numerologist uses his talents to show how cursed his family and related people are for no other reasons than numbers, which also affect a professional car racing situation. This is made more effective by unusually good editing.

Unfortunately, the film only has 50 minutes and offers no other reason(s) besides these numbers (particularly #9) to flush out a suspension of disbelief or further creepiness. The cast includes Terrence Alexander, Denis Webb, Leslie Osmond, Isabel George, Ingerorg Von Kusserow and Peter Gawthorne, all of whom have the right temperament for this to work as well as it does. Though not a perfect film or classic, it is better than so many similar horror genre films we've seen since (and especially lately) that makes me surprised it did not become a cult classic of some kind. Interesting, deserves to be in print and a plus for MVD's new Juno Selects series.

There are sadly no extras.

Doctor Who: The Complete Eleventh Season (2018) is one of the best best seasons of the revived version of the classic series as Jodie Whittaker takes over as the first female Doctor and manages to pull it off. Though the famous Time Lord is unaware at first he is of the other general human gender, the now she shows up just in time as people are bing killed by being instantly vaporized by a mysterious killer figure originating from another world. The Doctor also needs to rebuild the Sonic Screwdriver, hopefully in time.

Also helping is a sense of energy that has not always been on the show since way back when Tom Baker was pushed off the show. We get a good pace, the show is up to speed and though it still is far form the peak of darkness and suspense that the original show had in its early seasons, this is formidable enough and the ten episodes (these new seasons are much shorter than the older series offered) are pretty consistent. The supporting actors are good and we'll have to see where the show goes from here.

Extras include eight behind the scenes featurettes and select audio commentary on some episodes.

When two young men disappear in small town, the big city sends indigenous detective Jay Swan (Aaron Pedersen) to help with finding their bodies with the local law enforcement Sargent Emma James (Judy Davis). At first, Jay and Emma clash with their different styles of investigations, but they soon realize the case is more than just a party gone wrong or couple of runaway boys, but they will have to work together in order to solve this case. But before this case is over, they will uncover a secret, a secret the townspeople has been keeping from the authorities, specially from a white sheriff and a big city detective in Mystery Road: Series One (2018).

Detective Jay is a smart, rough, tough and ready detective and is willing to break the rules (and some heads) in order to solve the mystery and catch the murderer. But Jay is immediately given the cold shoulder treatment by hard headed, by-the-book, no-nonsense Sargent Emma who tells him he isn't need or wanted in her town ...and that she has everything under control (~right~). But after Jay points out a few (major) clues they missed at crime scene, Emma reluctantly allows Jay stay to help with the case. Both of them are considered outsiders in the small town of aborigines, Emma because she is white (and a woman), and Jay because he's from the city and considered a sellout for working for his 'white' bosses. No one is willing to tell them anything, much less trust them. However, both of them also have problems of their own, Emma's ex-husband is the defense lawyer for their suspects and Jay's estranged daughter and ex-wife comes into town and manages to get involved with those related to the case. What they thought was a simple drug deal gone wrong, turns out maybe related to a case 10 years ago where young girl was raped in town, they may have jailed the wrong man. Also they discover a darker secret about Emma's family history (unknown to Emma, of course) when she discover her family got rich from murdering the aborigines who lived there originally.

This was your typical detective murder mystery, two detectives who don't get along but after working together realize they have effective chemistry. The story is set in a small town in the Australian outback where the aborigines have a strong hatred/dislike/prejudice against white people (and those who work for them) along with a conspiracy where those in power covered up a crime and tried to rewrite the town's history. Extras include interviews with cast and crew and trailers.

Finally we have an early thriller from director John Guillermin, Torment (1949) is about two writers who are brothers and one of them starts to get too into his work and commit murder. Jim (John Bentley) and Cliff (Dermot Walsh) also both have a thing for the murderer's secretary Joan (Rona Anderson) which complicates matters all the more.

This British programmer runs only 65 minutes, yet it is a mixed bag with some good moments, and some that just fall flat, but Guillermin does what he can to keep things going. Later, he would direct some of the full color Tarzan films before big success with the 1976 King Kong and Towering Inferno, so this is an early work of a very successful journeyman director doing what he can with what he had to work with and that's why it should be in print.

This is the other release from MVD's Juno Selects DVD series and they all have curio interest for serious film fans. We'll have to see where this series goes. In this case, the disc has no extras.

As for playback quality, the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Burning is pretty good for an HD shoot, but has some minor flaws, which are even more evident or hidden on the softer, anamorphically enhanced DVD version included with this Blu-ray, so it is a surprise that the 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Mystery Road actually looks better, more consistent and is the best looking release on the list. Why, its hard to say, but the good looking show just adds to why it was a success.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Doctor Who is the best-looking of the DVD releases, even over the Burning DVD and was issued on Blu-ray (but not 4K Blu-ray) at the same time as this set. The BBC is definitely putting money into the show, especially at this point and it shows, a well-rounded HD shoot as good or better than any equivalent on either side of the Atlantic. Fans can be happy.

The 1.33 X 1 black and white image on the Juno DVDs are a little soft and seem to come from older transfer and film sources, but they could be worse and its good to get them on DVD for starters. If these do well enough, maybe restorations will follow, but for lower-budget productions of their time, they look pretty good.

As for sound, Burning has Korean DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is the best sonically on the list, followed by the English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on Mystery Road, which can be more dialogue-based than expected. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Doctor Who, which would definitely sound better lossless and has more surround activity than Mystery and maybe Burning. That leaves the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on the Juno DVD sounding a generation or two down from the original optical theatrical monophonic sound. You can make out what is being said usually, but could sue some restoration like its picture.

- Nicholas Sheffo (DVDs) and Ricky Chiang


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