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Category:    Home > Reviews > Blaxploitation > Camp > Drugs > Comedy > Drama > Superhero > Fantasy > Action > Martial Arts > Cleopatra Jones (1973/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Glass (2018/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Road House 2 (2006/Sony/MVD Blu-ray)/Sister Street Fighter (1974 - 1976/MVD/Arrow Blu-ray Set)

Cleopatra Jones (1973/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Glass (2018/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Road House 2 (2006/Sony/MVD Blu-ray)/Sister Street Fighter (1974 - 1976/MVD/Arrow Blu-ray Set)



4K Ultra HD Picture: A- Picture: B/B+/B/B Sound: B-/A/B/B Extras: C-/B/C-/B Films: B-/B/C/B (B+ first film)



PLEASE NOTE: The Cleopatra Jones Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.



Here's a wild group of genre releases, all gone mad...



Max Julien's Cleopatra Jones (1973) made a star out of Tamara Dobson in the title role of a woman of action who happens to work for the federal government as one of its special agents. A classic of the Blaxploitation genre/cycle, Warner Bros. had this and Super Fly (reviewed on Warner Archive Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) as their strong showing in these films that were produced for about a decade before they disappeared. Adding to this is Shelley Winters going all out as racist drug-dealing kingpin (or queenpin?) 'Mommy' which itself is a perverted send-up of her Ma Parker villain on the 1960s Batman series, including some explicit lesbianism.


Jones has to stop her and begins by flying out of the country to the Middle east to bomb a poppy field (not unlike a similar sequence in Live & Let Die, the 1973 James Bond film of the same year (also reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site)) driving Mommy to want her dead. From there, the film (shot around Los Angeles) has amusing fight scenes, a car chase that tries to imitate Bullitt, acting turns by Antonio Fargas, Bernie Casey, Ester Rolle, Brenda Sykes and even Soul Train creator/host Don Cornelius in a fun turn as himself.


Though Pam Grier remained the queen of these films, Dobson is just fine here, with a interesting series of clothes changes and Corvette of the time that fits her style just fine. So successful, it was one of the rare films of its kind to have a sequel, Warner has restored this one very well, retaining its grit, look and feel from everything I have ever seen of the film over the years. Fans will be pleased.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer can show the age of the materials used in small places, but not only is this far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film, but it is one of the only Blaxploitation films to ever be issued in (now VERY valuable) 35mn dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor prints and this version has that kind of superior color quality throughout. The restoration team did their homework and it looks as great as it can. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix shows its age being this was a low-budget optical monophonic theatrical film (most films were monophonic at the time) and will not sound better than this.


The only extra is an Original Theatrical Trailer, though I think it deserves something a little more. We'll see what we get when the sequel hits Blu-ray.



Director M. Night Shyamalan's Glass (2018) picks up where Split (2016) and Unbreakable (2000) left off, bringing the fantastic idea of superheroes into a grounded reality in what has become known as the 'Eastrail 177 Trilogy.' Glass is a satisfying conclusion to both of Shyamalan's earlier films packed full of suspense and originality, making this a must see for genre fans.


Set in Philadelphia, James Dunn (Bruce Willis) was a seemingly normal man until the day he walked away unharmed from a fatal train accident that happened decades ago, which was later realized to be planned by Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson in one of my personal favorite roles of his). Realizing that he is stronger than ten men and weakened only by an excess of water, Dunn becomes a vigilante who can see into anyone's dark secrets by simply touching them. Mr. Glass, an art aficionado and comic book expert, also has a rare disease where his bones break very easily and has spent most of his life in pain. His superpower, however, is his magnificent brain. The circle is now complete with Crumb (James McAvoy) whose a young man tormented by 20 different split personalities, one of them known as 'The Beast' who is a superhuman figure of types and also a serial killer.


All three of these special men find themselves find themselves in a mental ward with Price (Sarah Paulson), who is bound and determined to convince these three that they are simply three normal men with wild imaginations and logical reasons behind their so called 'super powers.' It doesn't take long for Mr. Glass to hatch a master plan using Crumb as his pawn, both of which go up against Dunn in his most vulnerable state.


The film also features returning cast members Anya Taylor-Joy, Spencer Treat Clark, and Charlayne Woodard. Shyamalan infamously put up $20 Million of his own money to supply the film's budget, and it went on to gross several times that, becoming a hit for both Blumhouse and Universal. While the Director's filmography has been a mixed bag over the years, you have to at least credit Shyamalan for sticking to (mostly) original storytelling and for maintaining his keen visual eye. Let's just try to forget (or forgive) that After Earth and The Last Airbender never happened...


Glass is presented in 2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image and a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1, paired with impressive audio mixes in Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) sound for older home theater systems) lossless mix. This is a gorgeously shot film and has a wide color palette, which is keenly displayed here with everything down to skin textures being strikingly on point. Dark scenes play across nicely with no signs of compression and the haunting score by West Dylan Thordson is center in the mix, even if it isn't as effective as James Newton Howard's original Unbreakable score, though they at least re-used some of his themes.


Also included is a 1080p Blu-ray edition of the film (same widescreen/audio specs) and which doesn't look as good as the 4K UHD but looks fine for the format. A digital copy is also included. Split is also available on the 4K UHD format (and reviewed elsewhere on this site). However, there shockingly hasn't been a 4K update to Unbreakable (or The Sixth Sense for that matter) as of this writing, with that film's Blu-ray even becoming hard to find these days.


EXCLUSIVE 4K BLU-RAY/BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES:


Alternate Opening - Introduction by director M. Night Shyamalan available


Deleted Scenes - Introductions by director M. Night Shyamalan available


A Conversation with James McAvoy and M. Night Shyamalan - Star James McAvoy and Producer/Writer/Director M. Night Shyamalan discuss the importance of originality when creating a film in this genre.


Additional extras:


The Collection of Main Characters - A look at all the main players and how they fit in the universe created by filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan.


Bringing the Team Back Together - M. Night Shyamalan is famous for working with many of the same crew from film to film. In this piece, cast and crew share personal stories of why Shyamalan's productions feel like seeing family again.


David Dunn vs. The Beast - An in-depth look at the animalistic face-off between David Dunn and The Beast.


Glass Decoded - M. Night Shyamalan unveils some secrets of continuity and style from across the Glass trilogy.


Breaking Glass: The Stunts - The superhuman strength of The Beast is best illustrated in the stunts. Take a behind the scenes look into the very effective methods of executing stunts in the film.


Connecting the Glass Universe - Explore M. Night Shyamalan's stylistic approach to the Glass trilogy and the unconventional concept of a comic book movie grounded in reality.


M. Night Shyamalan: Behind the Lens - Cast and crew discuss Shyamalan's dedicated and meticulous approach to storytelling.


The Sound of Glass - Composer West Dylan Thordson elaborates on his use of string instruments to create tension, and explains why recording the score on-location enhanced the tone of Glass.


Enhancing the Spectacle - The VFX team provides details on the rewarding task of using CGI as an effective tool to intensify the narrative of Glass.


Raven Hill Memorial - Roam the long corridors of Raven Hill Memorial Hospital and see why the cast and crew describe the eerie location as its own character in the film.


and Night Vision - A look at the early stages of Glass by examining the storyboards and their remarkable similarity to the final shots in the film.


There are various editions of the film available, including a quite cool Target steel book edition which features artwork by the infamous comic artist Alex Ross. If nothing else, Glass works as a great conclusion to both Split and Unbreakable, and shows that Shyamalan is still capable of making an effective film and returning to the same form of suspense that he started his career off with. Heck, I was starting to give up hope (until a few years ago) that a follow-up to Unbreakable would EVER happen!


While it can be argued that some of this film was spoiled in its excessive marketing, it's still a fun ride that doesn't really let up until its last few minutes. Personally, I found myself captivated the whole time both at home and in the cinema, and look forward to seeing more films from Mr. Shyamalan in the future.


You can check out my review of the Blu-ray version of Split from a few years back...


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/14850/Split+(2017/Universal+Blu-ray+w/DVD


and a very old review of Unbreakable here...


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/6799/Unbreakable+(2000/Blu-ray



A lackluster follow-up to the original Patrick Swayze hit Road House, the 2006 direct to video sequel Road House 2 features more drug dealing, bottle breaking, sexual situations, tramp stamps, and country music than ever before. Preserved here in 1080p high definition, this is certainly the best that this predictable film has looked, but doesn't save its cringe-worthy performances and on the nose dialogue.


The film stars Will Patton, Johnathon Schaech, Ellen Hollman, Richard Norton, Jake Busey, and Larnell Stovall. Road House 2 is directed by Scott Ziehl (Cruel Intentions 3, Exit Speed).


The Black Pelican roadhouse is home to many scum and villainy and its up to the owner's nephew (Schaech) to make sure things don't spiral out of control. However, that's not an easy task as the town is full of seedy characters steeped high in drugs, sex, and illegal money.


Road House 2 is presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and audio mixes in both DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) English 5.1 and English 2.0 Stereo lossless sound depending on your home entertainment specs. The presentation is fine and has plenty of color and detail that can be taken from the original master. This is the first time that this film has been available in HD.


The only special feature is an Original Trailer.



Finally, born from the success of Sonny Chiba Street Fighter films, all 4 Sister Street Fighter films get a new HD restoration courtesy of Arrow Video, and are available together in this packed 2 disc Blu-ray release. If you're into martial arts films from the 1970s (and even 1980s) era, then these should definitely make your list.


Starring Etsuko Shihomi and her mentor Sonny Chiba, there's plenty of kung fu and over the top gore to please genre fans. These films were also the first real time a non-sexualized female lead character took a male driven genre by storm.


You can definitely see a bit of inspiration on the part of Quentin Tarantino for his Kill Bill series here. The four films in the set include Sister Street Fighter (1974), Sister Street Fighter: Hanging By A Thread (1974), Return Of The Sister Street Fighter (1975), and a final (unrelated) follow-up Sister Street Fighter: Fifth Level Fist (1976).


The first Sister Street Fighter film centers around Li Hong-Long (Shihomi), whose the ultimate martial artist. When her brother gets kidnapped by some colorful druglords, she uses all of her keen skills to kick the butt of any fighter who comes her way. This is the ultimate battle for revenge! The subsequent sequels center around the heroine and her constant battles with several colorful (and often times unintentionally hilarious) villains.


The films have been restored in 1080p high definition (though some footage was not HD ready, most if it came from 35mm sources) and presented on Blu-ray disc with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.40:1 and original uncompressed Japanese mono audio tracks with new English subtitles. There's also a dubbed version track made available for the original Sister Street Fighter film, but that's the only one in the set that's dubbed. As a bonus, there's also English SDH subtitles for the English dub for the first Sister Street Fighter film as well. The transfers all look pretty nice, with the first installment being the sharpest of the bunch. The sound design is quite goofy and works the best when the colorful music behind them stops, giving the FX center stage.


Special Features include...


New video interviews with actor Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba, director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, and screenwriter Masahiro Kakefuda


Original Japanese theatrical trailers for all four films


Original U.S. theatrical trailer for Sister Street Fighter, plus original English opening titles to the film


Original German theatrical trailer for Sister Street Fighter, plus original German opening titles to the film


Stills and poster gallery


Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Kungfubob O'Brien


and FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated booklet featuring writing on the series by Patrick Macias and a new essay on the U.S. release of Toei's karate films by Chris Poggiali.


We have covered the films in previous versions over the years, but this is finally the set to have in the best possible Blu-ray presentation, adding tot he amazing work Arrow keeps producing.



To order the Cleopatra Jones Warner Archive Blu-ray, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


http://www.wbshop.com/



- Nicholas Sheffo (Jones) and James Lockhart

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


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