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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Action > Adventure > Animation > Comedy > Comic Book > Martial Arts > Live Action > Revenge > Ga > We Die Young (2019/Lionsgate Blu-ray w/DVD)

Justice League Vs. The Fatal Five 4K (2019/DC Comics/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Robot Ninja (1989/Tempe Digital Blu-ray w/DVD)/The Vault (*)/Vengeance: A Love Story (*both 2017/MVD/FilmRise Blu-ray)/We Die Young (2019/Lionsgate Blu-ray w/DVD)

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

Here's a group of releases that intersect animation, live action, fantasy and martial arts all over the place...

DC Comics and Warner Bros. have come out with yet another animated Justice League film, this time it's Justice League vs The Fatal Five (2019). Captured in a style similar to the original Batman: The Animated Series from the 1990s and the work of Bruce Timm, this new animated film is a fun adventure that brings back some veteran DC voice talent, including fan favorites Kevin Conroy as Batman, Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman, and George Newbern as Superman. This film will attempt to fill the void of live action Justice League entries, since this film as live action would cost an upwards of $200 Million to produce!

Justice League vs The Fatal Five features the voice talent of Susan Eisenberg (as Wonder Woman), George Newbern (as Superman), Elyes Gabel, Diane Guerrero, and Peter Jessop. The film is directed by Sam Liu and the animation is, of course, by Warner Bros. Animation respectively.

The Justice League face off against a new threat, the time traveling misfits The Fatal Five; this time with a new female Green Lantern named Jessica Cruz. As the Fatal Five attack Metropolis, the team bands together in an attempt to stop them before the they destroy space and time! In addition to the new Green Lantern, the film also features Star Boy and Miss Martian, who are new to the DC animated film-verse.

The animated film is presented in 2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on a 4K UHD disc and a widescreen version of 1.78:1 and English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix. The animation is clean throughout and there's a bit more texture and detail than in the (also included) Blu-ray edition. The score to the film is pretty generic and nothing to write home about, but not distracting.

Also included is a 1080p high definition Blu-ray edition with similar widescreen and audio tracks, and a slightly more compressed image than the 4K UHD obviously. Being that the animation here isn't too complex, the similarities between the two are more minimal than usual. A digital copy is also included.

Special Features include...

The Battling the Invisible Menace featurette explores the nuanced hero as many characters must deal with the everyday feelings of anxiety, depression, and other incapacitating emotions that we all must battle and overcome.

Justice League vs. Fatal Five: Unity of Hero featurette looks at how the pantheon of DC heroes has never been more diverse and inclusive, as writers and artists break boundaries and smash stereotypes.

Audio Commentary with Bruce Timm, Sam Liu, Jim Krieg and Eric Carrasco share their thoughts and insights on Justice League vs. The Fatal Five.

A Sneak Peek at the next DC Universe Movie, Batman: Hush, An advance look at the next animated film in the popular DC Universe Movies collection.

Sneak Peek Revisited: A Preview of Justice League Dark, John Constantine leads a group of misfit characters that use magic to vanquish their opponents. This is the dark version of The Justice League taking on the malevolent forces that go beyond our plane of existence.

Sneak Peek Revisited: A Preview of Justice League vs. Teen Titans, A glimpse into the characters known as the Teen Titans.

From the DC Vault: Justice League Unlimited, "Far From Home"

and from the DC Vault: Legion of Superheroes, "Man of Tomorrow"

J.R. Bookwalter, the indie director behind '80s zombie romp The Dead Next Door (which got a special edition release last year and is reviewed elsewhere on this site), fuses both the superhero and ninja genres with Robot Ninja (1989). A 'do it all himself' filmmaker much like Robert Rodriguez, Bookwalter wrote, edited, produced, scored, and directed the film! Which is no easy feat mind you.

While it has some fun moments and interesting ideas, Robot Ninja is Troma-level low budget thrills that cult movie fans will certainly enjoy, but a majority of critics won't be raving about. Hilariously dated and over the top, the film also serves as a '80s time capsule piece. Robot Ninja is a perfect film to put on for a few cheap laughs on a Friday night with friends.

Robot Ninja stars Michael Todd, Bogdan Pecic, Maria Markovic, Floyd Ewing Jr., Bill Morrison, James L. Edwards, and cameo appearances by Burt Ward (Robin from the original Batman live action television series in the 1960s.)

A comic book artist named Leonard Miller (Todd) witnesses a horrible rape crime and becomes the vigilante Robot Ninja, which is inspired by his own famous character. However, Leonard gets a bit too involved, and soon becomes a murderous madman, hell bent on tracking down the bad guys of the crime he witnessed at any cost necessary. As Leonard's sense of reality becomes blurred, he also starts taking drugs, making him even more unhinged! Bad guys beware!

This Ultimate Edition is two discs and presents the 79-minute film in 1080p high definition with a 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix. A 2K master from the original film elements, the overall restoration is pretty nice with smooth colors, and an image far superior to previous releases considering it was likely last seen during the VHS era.

There are several different audio mixes on the disc including lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 and lossy, original Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix. The score by Bookwalter is synth and gives the film the '80s vibe that's appropriate. A standard definition DVD with a full frame 1.33 X 1 aspect ratio and the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 & 2.0 tracks is also included as a bonus.

Special Features include...

Audio Commentary with writer/director J.R. Bookwalter, moderated by Matthew Dilts-Williams of Phantom Pain Films!

Audio Commentary with executive producer David DeCoteau & producer J.R. Bookwalter!

Audio Commentary with director J.R. Bookwalter, star James L. Edwards, associate producer

Scott P. Plummer, co-creator David Lange, and special makeup consultant David P. Barton!

Rebuilding the Robot: J.R. Bookwalter on the Restoration. (21 mins.)

Thank You Miss Barbeau: Interview with Linnea Quigley. (5 mins.)

Contemplating Coleslaw: Interview with Scott Spiegel. (6 mins.)

Dr. Goodknight's Neighborhood: Location Tour with Benjamin Bookwalter. (5 mins.)

"The Robot Ninja" 2013 Fan Film with introduction by director Johnny Dickie. (7 mins.)

Artwork & Promotional Gallery (5 mins.)

Behind The Scenes Gallery (6 mins.)

Production Stills Gallery (4 mins.)

and Tempe Digital Trailers.

The film had a kickstarter campaign, where I'm sure they were given to contributors.

Robot Ninja is a fun B-movie that isn't perfect, but was made with love. It's nice to see that it is getting a second life on the Blu-ray format after all of these years.

A paranormal bank robbery movie, The Vault (2017), is just that. Directed by Dan Bush (The Signal), The Vault is an interestingly made film with James Franco being the most recognizable face in the cast. The Vault reminds me a little bit of The Strangers series in some of its later acts as masked entities hunt down their human prey, but overall the film isn't too bad and packs a few scares as the demons force people to kill themselves.

Two sisters are part of an elaborate bank robbery that seemingly goes to plan at first, but when they discover that there is even more money in a lower vault level, the payday seems to be too good to be true. When they go down to the vault to investigate, what they find is beyond anything that they expected... a group of demonic bank robbers who are protecting a fortune that they refuse to part with.

The film stars Taryn Manning, Francesca Eastwood, Scott Haze, Q'orianka Kilcher, and Clifton Collins Jr.

The Vault is presented on Blu-ray in 1080p with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and audio tracks in both English 5.1 and English 2.0. The film is shot digitally and looks up to standards with detail in the image and an interestingly colored palette. The film never feels cheap despite the fact that it was likely made for a few million.

The only extra is a Trailer.

Vengeance: A Love Story (2017) stars Nicolas Cage and that's about the best thing that it has going for it. Another rape/revenge story to add to Hollywood's long list of rape/revenge movies with one dimensional characters and plot points that are painfully predictable. Directed by Johnny Martin (I Am Wrath), Vengeance: A Love Story is basically a less effective version of the Death Wish films, but with Nicolas Cage in the lead.

The film also stars Anna Hutchison, Deborah Kara Unger, Don Johnson, Joshua Mikel, and Charlene Tilton.

Walking her daughter home from a wild Fourth of July party one night, a woman ends up gang raped in front of the child. The little girl identifies the offenders, but their hot shot lawyer (Johnson) ends up getting them free. Its up to a Police Officer (Cage) to go after the perpetrators and form his own brand of justice, by killing them off.

Vengeance is presented in 1080p high definition with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital English surround sound mix. The film looks and sounds fine, though shot on a high budget, the pallet is mostly realistic with nothing too over stylized.

The only extra here too is a trailer.

Finally, Jean-Claude Van Damme returns in the new gang-centric film, We Die Young (2019), which is written and directed by Lior Geller. Set on the dirty streets of Washington DC, two young boys get mixed up with the San Salvadorean gang. Just as they start to get in too deep, it's soon up to a mute Van Damme (whose also suffering from PTSD) to save these boys from this terrible life. It'll be an all out war though before things get properly settled...

We Die Young also features Joseph Long, Joana Metrass, David Castaneda, Gary Beadle, and Elijah Rodriguez.

The film is presented in 1080p on Blu-ray disc with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.40:1 and an English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix, both of which are of a high quality for the format. The overall look is stylized and colorful, yet grounded in realism. As expected, the lot of the soundtrack is rap centric, to make the gang seem even more threatening, I guess.

A digital copy is also included.

Special Features include...

Commentary with Writer/Director Lior Geller and actors Elijah Rodriguez and Nicholas Sean Johnny

Storyboard-to-Screen Comparison

On the set of We Die Young

and a Trailer for this and other Lionsgate releases.

As far as gang movies are concerned, We Die Young is fine for it is, but nothing I'd necessarily watch more than once.

- James Lockhart



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