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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Crime > Drama > Magic > Mystery > Thriller > Murder > Serial Killer > Police Procedural > British T > The Prize (1963/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Trapped Alive! (1988, 1993/Arrow Blu-ray/*both MVD)

Escape Plan: The Extractors (2019/Lionsgate Blu-ray w/DVD)/The Illusionist (2006*)/The Intruder (2019/Sony Blu-ray)/Manhunt (2019/Acorn TV Blu-ray)/Manifest: The Complete First Season (2018 - 2019/Warner DVD Set)/The Prize (1963/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Trapped Alive! (1988, 1993/Arrow Blu-ray/*both MVD)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Prize 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 wide variety of new genre releases, many of which are ambitious, but most with so-so results...

The first Escape Plan (2013) was a pretty solid action movie and finally united two of Hollywood's biggest names in Sly Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The second film, Escape Plan 2: Hades (2018) which is reviewed elsewhere on this site, was a lackluster follow-up with Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy) replacing Arnold for second lead billing. This third film, Extractors (2019), is an unnecessary entry and about as bland and boring as an action movie can get. In fact, it will likely be an endurance test for most of its audiences to see who can sit through it until the end. You know when a film with two big leads such as this doesn't get theatrical that something has gone awry...

The film also stars Jaimie King (Sin City), Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson, and Devon Sawa (Final Destination). Security expert Ray Breslin (Stallone) is back again and this time he is hired to rescue the kidnapped daughter of a Hong Kong tech mogul from a formidable Latvian prison, as well as his girlfriend (Jaime King) who is also captured. That doesn't stop a generic villain (Sawa) from witty one liners and shaking his gun around at anyone who crosses his path. Can Breslin and his team (Bautista and 50 Cent) save the girl and kill the bad guy?

The film is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and audio mix in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless sound. The film looks fine and has some decent production value for being a lower budgeted direct to video film. Also included is a DVD standard definition copy and a digital copy, which are both lesser than the Blu-ray.

Special Features include (from the press release):

Audio commentary with director John Herzfeld, Sylvester Stallone, Devon Sawa, and Daniel Bernhardt

"The Making of Escape Plan: The Extractors" - featuring never-before-seen cast and crew interviews that explain what it took to make this white-knuckle film.

Stallone has gone on record as saying that this was one of the worst productions he ever had been on and by seeing the mixed end product, I'm not too shocked.

For some reason in 2006 two dark period magician films were released, Christopher Nolan's The Prestige and Neil Burger's The Illusionist, and there hasn't been a film like either of them since. While The Prestige is the winner in my book, there's still plenty to like about The Illusionist (2006), which has a solid screenplay by the director himself (Neil Burger - Limitless and The Divergent series director in years prior) and a solid cast in Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, Rufus Sewell, (a very young) Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Jessica Biel Timberlake. MVD has remastered the film and presents it in 1080p Blu-ray, making this the fourth time that it has been released on the Blu-ray format.

Eisenheim (Norton) is a bizarre stage performer like no other in early 1900 Vienna. As his popularity grows, so do the strength of his illusions. As the crowds gaze in awe at his otherworldly talents, he ends up rekindling his lost love from his youth, Sophie von Teschen (Biel). The only catch is that she is to marry the Crown Prince Leopold (Sewell). As Eisenheim and Sophie fall back in love, Leopold strikes back with a plot to expose him. Eisenheim has a master plan of his own though, and raises the stakes with each act including an illusion that involves communicating with the dead. As the plot to expose him grows thicker, Eisenheim must pull off the ultimate trick to escape this negative attention and imprisonment.

The film is presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and audio mixes in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 and English LPCM 2.0 Stereo lossless sound. The film is shot like an old fashioned film and interestingly colored with rich brown hues and a soft vignette that comes in at times that adds to the old fashioned tone. Costuming and production design are all top notch and captured nicely here. The notable film score is by maestro Phillip Glass and is a beautiful aid to this great looking film!

Special Features include:

Commentary by writer/director Neil Burger

The Making of The Illusionist featurette

Jessica Biel on The Illusionist featurette

and an Original Trailer

The Illusionist is a very cool film and would be a nice candidate for 4K Ultra HD disc. For a 1080p presentation, however, this one is just fine. It would have been nice to have the soundtrack included with the movie or something to make this edition stand out.

Deon Taylor's The Intruder (2019) is a formula film we've seen plenty of times before, especially when the likes of Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct were all the rage. In this case, it is the invasive stranger who is either a fellow tenant, landlord or in this case, next-door neighbor. Megan Good and Michael Ealy are a happily married couple and buy a new house like so many lucky enough to be in love with some cash do, but they immediately encounter a rifle-wielding neighbor (Dennis Quaid) shows up, you know they're in trouble.

In this case, he's the seller, as if that made this 102-minutes yawner original. Maybe someone will enjoy seeing this kind of thing repeated and the actors are not bad, but the script is lame and you'll feel more intruded on than anyone else.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image is a passable shoot and the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is a mix of dialogue that is not loud enough and music that is sometimes too loud. It only makes this duller. Extras include a Gag Reel, Alternate Ending that could not come fast enough (like any ending that would cut the running time), Deleted & Alternate Scenes, feature length cast/crew audio commentary and a Behind The Scenes featurette still using the film's previous title? Next!!!....

When a murder rocks the quiet town of Twickenham Green in London, DCI Colin Sutton (Martin Clunes) is appointed as the lead detective to solve a high profile murder. With little evidence and no witnesses they search the area for clues and missing articles on the victim. As the case carries on, media pressure, the stress and frustration takes a toll on the detectives on the case, but DCI Colin Sutton doesn't believe in giving up and that their case maybe linked with several others cases with similar MO ...and they may have serial killer on their hands in Manhunt (2019).

DCI Colin Sutton is a veteran on the force and is finally given a high profile case in where losing is not an option. They begin by searching for trace evidence and viewing all CCTV footage of the area. Through hard work and determination they discover a lead in the vehicle in which the killer took, but are frustrated when the vehicle is discovered missing. As they build a profile on their suspect, DCI Colin soon discovers over the years, every place the suspect lived a girl has been murdered and each time his 'vehicle' has been sighted in the area, but it always goes missing afterwards.

Frustrated by lack of evidence they cannot arrest their suspect until forensic evidence is found. Colin and his team clash with their superiors who think they are wasting time and money on red herrings, as well as other police agencies who aren't willing to share their evidence from their cases afraid of Colin's team of solving the murder (after failing for two years) and stealing all the glory. But in the end, Colin discovers the lost evidence to finally prove their suspect is a serial killer.

This was another British murder mystery series based on a true story. It was refreshing because it showed real murders aren't solved by just one single detective or even a team of detectives, but an entire company of officers. It isn't just about kicking down doors, but finding evidence and it may take days, weeks or months before they catch the suspect(s). But just as much as dealing with a murderer, they also have to deal with internal office politics and media sharks who could easily contaminate, lose or destroy the precious evidence they have. Looks like more of this show is on the way.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer and DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix are as good as they can get for a TV series like this and shames many a feature film, so you'll enjoy the playback. Extras include interview with Martin Clunes and producer Phillippa Braithwaite and trailers.

Manifest: The Complete First Season (2018 - 2019) is a new TV series where the characters go on a simple airplane flight, but when they return, it is five YEARS later and they are as confused as those who are shocked by their return. What happened? A time slip? A trick kidnapping? Alien intervention? Who knows.

It is important that this has been the plot of half-hour episodes of the original Twilight Zone TV series, the plot of spy shows like Department S (solved in an hour) and even a few old radio dramas, so the idea of making this into a TV series already on its second season means they need a different approach. Will it be mystery, suspense or formulas? Sadly, they just want to follow the Lost style and that makes the show drag on and on and on and on.

We get 16 hour-ish shows that really poor on the melodrama and makes everyone look too puzzled for our own good, plus the usual and many scenes of upset and shock that is beyond predictable. The cast is just doing their job, but the teleplays are as flat and dull as this is all stretched out and I had not really heard of the show and then watching it, I can see why.

Presented on 4 DVDs, you get a small paper episode guide as the extra, while the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image and the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 sound is also nothing to write home about, so don't be too tired trying to take this one on if you are actually interested and don;t operate heavy equipment. Otherwise, it might be five years before anyone sees you!

Mark Robson's The Prize (1963) goes way out of its way to be like a Hitchcock film and this was all the rage in A-movie releases at all the studios, especially after hits like Psycho and North By Northwest. MGM was determined to do a smart thriller that included suspense, mystery and a trick plot, so they got a screenplay by the writer of that latter Hitchcock hit, Ernest Lehman, to pen this one built around the Nobel Prize.

Paul Newman is the rather alcoholic writer who has won the literature award, while Kevin McCarthy has to reluctantly share his science award with a young Italian he thinks stole from him, and Edward G. Robinson is the physics winner, but Newman's Andrew Craig is just there for the prize money and has already openly criticized the award in the press. However, that takes a backseat when he may be onto something he should not know and someone wants him dead!

Adding to the potential fun are Diane Baker as Robinson's sexy relative and Elke Sommer as Craig's assigned guide, both looking very glamorous and Sommer oozing with sex without even trying. Too bad the script is clueless on what to do with that, nor is the director or producers, so the film comes across as a dated Hitchcock imitator (Donen's Charade the same year fared better, but Newman's own actual Hitchcock film three years later (Torn Curtain in 1966) was not that much better than this) among so many. This one just has more money, though it is an old Hollywood production with plenty of obvious rear projection and some other effects that are mixed.

At least they tried and the music and cinematography help, but This is a curio at nest and runs over two hours, so be prepared for a long one.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer has some softness here and there, but seems to be from a new HD master from Warner Archive and the MetroColor (shot in real anamorphic 35mm Panavision) is accurate for the most part. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix shows the age of the recording (save the music, which was recorded separately and sounds better if you can hear the CD) and this includes some flaws. Otherwise, the combination is fine for its age.

An Original Theatrical Trailer is sadly the only extra, but for more on the music, try my review of the limited edition soundtrack I covered in the early years of this site at this link that has even better sound:


We conclude with a little-known film that is that way via its subject matter. Trapped Alive! (1988/1993) is an obscure indie horror flick that isn't too talked about when you mention horror films of the late 1980s-early 1990s era, but one that you should check out. Arrow has done a fantastic job of restoring and revamping the film in this new Blu-ray release that's packed with never before seen extras. While it is an '80s film, it wasn't released until 1993, and by that time the horror craze was on the verge of a resurgence. However, now is a great time to revisit as Arrow has been unearthing many lesser known horror films as of late and giving them new life on disc.

The film stars Jay Leggett, Cameron Mitchell, Laura Kallison, Mark Witsken, Michael Nash, and Sullivan Hester. It's directed by Leszek Burzynski (Wooly Boys).

Two beautiful teens, Rhonda and Monica are on their way to a party when they get carjacked by a group of escaped convicts. Things should turn even more hopeless, when their car gets stuck in a mineshaft... which also happens to be home to a mutant cannibal!!

The film has been restored and scanned in 2K high definition from the original camera negative and presented here on 1080p Blu-ray disc with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and an original mono audio mix. The film hasn't aged hardly at all and really looks great here, with even dark scenes popping out more than before with new color correction. I think it's safe to say that this is the best looking and sounding version of the film out there.

Special Features include:

Brand new audio commentary with director Leszek Burzynski

Brand new audio commentary with special effects artist Hank Carlson and horror writer Josh Hadley

Brand new audio commentary with The Hysteria Continues

There's EVIL Underground... - brand new making-of documentary featuring interviews with director Leszek Burzynski, cinematographer Nancy Schreiber, production manager Alexandra Reed and actors Alex Kubik and Sullivan Hester

Upper Michigan Tonight - 1988 television documentary on Windsor Lake Studios, featuring footage from behind the scenes of Trapped Alive and contemporary interviews with director Leszek Burzynski, producer Christopher Webster and production designer Brian Savegar

Leszek Burzynski: The Early Years - the Trapped Alive director discusses his early forays into genre movie-making

a reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Justin Osbourn

and FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector's booklet featuring new writing by Zack Carlson.

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


- Nicholas Sheffo (Intruder, Manifest, Prize), Ricky Chiang (Manhunt) and James Lockhart



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