Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Thriller > Slasher > Teens > Comedy > Religion > Politics > Racism > Comedy > France > Science Fictio > Ma (2019/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/Mad Adventures Of ''Rabbi'' Jacob (1973/Film Movement Blu-ray)/MIB: International (2019/Sony Blu-ray w/DVD)/One Night Stand (1984*/**)/The Shadow (1994/Blu-ray**)/Val

Ma (2019/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/Mad Adventures Of ''Rabbi'' Jacob (1973/Film Movement Blu-ray)/MIB: International (2019/Sony Blu-ray w/DVD)/One Night Stand (1984*/**)/The Shadow (1994/Blu-ray**)/Valentine: The Dark Avenger (2018/*both PAL Import DVDs/**all Umbrella Ent.)

Picture: B & C/B-/B & C/C/B-/C+ Sound: B & C+/B-/B & C+/C/B-/C+ Extras: C/C/C/C-/D/D Films: C/C/C/C+/B-/C

PLEASE NOTE: The One Night Stand and Valentine DVDs and The Shadow Blu-ray imports are now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, the Blu-ray is region free, while the DVDs will only play on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K players that can handle the PAL DVD format and can be ordered from the link below.

Sometimes I am asked what a commercial film is, which usually means a film meant to make a big amount of money, usually one that costs a nice chunk of change, but you can have other kinds of hits too, so I decided to group these new releases together...

We'll start with Tate Taylor's Ma (2019), a rare upscale slasher film with Octavia Spencer reuniting with her The Help director for this intended-to-be horror thriller playing Sue Ann, a woman mostly alone who lets herself be taken advantage of when a group of teenagers want her to get contraband for a party they are having. She says no at first, then quickly relents, establishing trust, but she has ulterior motives and things are about to get bizarre quickly.

The idea is good and Spencer is sure up to the job of the acting, joined by Allison Janney in a role that should have been more, Juliette Lewis and Luke Evans, but the script has problems early on and if you can somehow buy it, than one would have to admit that these are the dumbest teenagers in recent slasher horror cinema, so much so that this unintentionally plays like a spoof of the genre the many times it gets it wrong. It never recovers, especially from an early over-the-top scene that would have ended this movie sooner and different. Too bad, because the set up was ideal for the genre, but they just do not deliver.

Extras (per the press release) include a NEW Alternate Ending that did not make any difference to this writer/critic, Creating Sue Ann - Take a deeper look at the character of Sue Ann, and how trauma from people's past can manifest itself later in life, Party at Ma's - The cast, crew, and filmmakers discuss how all the elements came together to make this unique thriller, Deleted Scenes and a Theatrical Trailer.

Gerard Oury's The Mad Adventures Of ''Rabbi'' Jacob (1973) is a questionable comedy that became a hit in France as their comedies got sillier in the post-Tati era, this one replacing old stereotypes with new ones (including a few parts that are racist for any era) as we meet the real Rabbi of the title leaving New York City for Paris, where a factory-owning bigot (Louis de Funes) gets involved with a Arab opposition man (Claude Giraud) who has been targeted for assassination.

The film tries to make the bigot funny and cute, with de Funes doing all kinds of non-verbal comedy and it never pans out, but this was considered funny, if not a satire of bigotry as you would find in the U.K. (Warren Mitchell's Alf Garnett) or the U.S. (Carroll O'Connor's Archie Bunker, based on Mitchell's Garnett with elements of the non-racist Archie of Duffy's Tavern). A blackface joke early on gives you an idea of the film's antiquation.

Still, there are a few funny moments, with the twist in that the bigot here is mistaken for the actual Rabbi and spends the rest of the movie using that to avoid his murder, murder of his new Arab friend and his family, as his daughter is about to get married!

A curio with some historic value, don't expect much and be almost stunned and shocked at some of its insensitivity as it thinks it is making a statement about unity.

Extras include an illustrated booklet on the film including informative text an essay by Phoebe Maltz Bovy and the disc adds an interview with writer Daniele Thompson about the film's release.

F. Gary Gray's MIB: International (2019) is the fourth Men In Black film overall and a spinoff of a trilogy that everyone thought wrapped up that franchise. Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith are gone (almost killing the point of making this film) but the re-pairing of Marvel Comics co-stars Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth should have worked, but the poor script and some very poor directing makes this one of the strangest disappointments of late... for those who even thought this should have been made.

She has a childhood experience that exposes the MIB people to her very early, while he is already an agent (we bounce back and forth in a timeline, though this is not time travel film) and they land up working together later (the present) against a new creature invasion through the time/space continuum (translation, boring digital monsters that are tired, destroy everything and will kill us all, but we never believe it) so you can imagine how the 115 minutes here goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on.

At least some money is on the screen and the likes of Emma Thompson and Liam Neeson are always a plus on the big screen, but the script is for fans only and Director Gray just cannot handle commercial films well. This needed the Gray of The Italian Job remake or even Set It Off and it got the Gray of lesser music videos (he's made a few good ones, though) and the nadir of his career, Be Cool. True, he was coming off of hits that are also extreme fluff like Law Abiding Citizen and Fate Of The Furious, but a film like this requires much more and he could not overcome the problems here. He's just a so-so journeyman. If they do another MIB film, they need a new director and some new writers. Otherwise, they should quit while they are ahead.

Extras are many in any event and (per the press release) include 4K exclusive Deleted Scenes, ''Alien-cestry.com'': Everyone has a little alien in them! Trace your roots with Alien-cestry.com, and ''Neuralyzer: Like It Never Even Happened'': As NOT seen on Alien TV, order now to get your very own Neuralyzer and erase life's embarrassing moments like a pro, PLUS a Gag Reel: Even top MIB agents forget their lines. See their bloopers in this unforgettable gag reel, ''New Recruits, Classic Suits'': Anchored by the delightful chemistry between Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth and supported by icons like Emma Thompson & Liam Neeson, the cast of MIB International is truly out of this world!, ''Let's Do This! Inside the Action & Stunts'': MIB International is packed with action and stunts, go behind the scenes with the team to see how they pulled it off, ''Look Right Here: Gadgets, Weapons, & Rides'': From the iconic Neuralyzer to a tricked out Jag, check out the amazing arsenal of gadgets, weapons and vehicles, ''Expanding the Universe of MIB'': MIB ups the ante with international locations, aliens and more as the universe expands, ''Frank & Pawny's Peanut Gallery'': Everyone's favorite pug and pawn join together to watch a few key scenes and share their thoughts, ''Les Twins Leave It on the Floor'': Dance sensations Les Twins show off their signature style and how they devised their alien moves, ''In Case You've Been Neuralyzed: MIB Recap'': Join Frank the Pug for this rapid-fire recap of the MIB franchise and ''The MIB Meet the NBA'': With talent like this, these NBA stars must be super-human.

John Duncan's One Night Stand (1984) is meant to be a hit film, even if it is not an expensive one, plus add it qualifies as an Oz-Ploitation film at the ned of the run of such releases and it shows that a B-movie can still be ambitious. Four friends forming two couples (Cassandra Delaney, Tyler Coppin, Saskia Post and Jay Hackett) attend a concert by the great band Midnight Oil (with good performance footage of them live, if not long enough), but U.S. warship shave been arriving in Sydney and it looks like the Cold War will heat up into a nuclear battle between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. And this is one of the main places it will break out.

The film belongs in a cycle of films at the time with such fears (this extended to TV shows and even music videos like ''Russians'' by Sting) and the four are alone at the Sydney Opera House (the security apparently had tother things to do) leaving them facing their mortality, watching movies and wondering if it is the end. There is no deep statements being made or brilliant statements made, but it has a few good moments.

Unfortunately, the makers where allowed to use rough footage from Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1926, but rough older footage, see more in the tech review below) and it really dates the film. Queen used such footage in a few of their music video (Freddie Mercury actually recorded the song ''Love Kills'' for the much-debated New Wave/Rock soundtrack for his 70mm re-release of the film in 1984, actually now on Blu-ray) and it just does not work.

They should have spent the time on more ideas and character development, especially since the actors are interesting. Instead, we get a time capsule at best. See it if you are curious.

The only extra is a trailer after the film.

Russell Mulcahy's The Shadow (1994) is a mixed-but-underrated film by a music video director with more classics under his belt. Bad, dated digital effects, a few missteps and jingoism hold it back and age it, but between the production design, attitude, action, humor and sheen, it has turned out to be an important film in the superhero genre, inspiring several dozen dialogue & plot points in Batman Begins, trying to be original enough, revive the spirit of the original pulp novels and radio series and all a few years before Blade finally proved a Marvel Comics movie could work and be a hit after decades of embarrassing failures.

The new back story is that ultra-rich Lamont Cranston (Alec Baldwin at his classic Hollywood best) has run off to Tibet and become a killer dictator with a kingdom, but he is kidnapped one night by someone who knows who he really is and punished for his crimes while being taught a new way. Back in New York City of the 1930s, he has become the title hero, fighting gangsters and other nemesis, but soon face a visitor in Shiwan Khan (John Lone of Year Of The Dragon and The Last Emperor, a classic nemesis from the print version) and the new threat is on.

Production design, costumes, sets, use of color and Director of Photography Stephen H. Burum, A.S.C., delivering still-impressive cinematography makes the film very watchable, while co-stars Peter Boyle, Penelope Ann Miller, Tim Curry, Jonathan Winters and a pre-X-Men Ian McKellan are better here than they got credit for at the time. The fact that the script lets it become a sort of Raiders Of The Lost Ark by the end does not help, but this was one of the classiest superhero movies up to that time and still holds up for the most part on that level.

Jerry Goldsmith's music score is one of his last best works and in retrospect already 25 years later, one of the most important transitional works in superhero genre history. The character had a serial in 1940 from Columbia Pictures with Victor Jory, but it was very repetitive, a TV pilot was a bust and Universal created some short theatrical films, but this is probably the most well realized version of the character to date, flaws and all. It was also issued at the time the Billy Zane The Phantom arrived and found an audience, but not enough of one to inspire a sequel. The Shadow is worth revisiting.

There are no extras, though a recent U.S. Blu-ray has some and an expanded version of the soundtrack was issued on CD relatively recently, expanded with bonus and previously unheard tracks.

Finally, we have Agus Hermansyah's Valentine: The Dark Avenger (2018) which is a very rare release, a superhero film on a low budget from a small, unknown set of producers and comic book company I never heard of. This one comes from Indonesia and the pretense is a movie producer is trying to hire an actress for his project, but expects her to be a masker vigilante/superhero. I never bought it, the film looks like everything we've seen in the genre (from the big films to some of its spoofs, or somewhere in between like Kick Ass or P.J. Masks) and adds nothing new to the near-genre glut save where it is shot.

So much so, it looks like it was made in the 1990s around the time of
The Shadow before the genre was renewed by that film and Blade. Set up with an obvious sequel or series in mind, it is a curio, but sadly does not add up to much else.

There are no extras.

Now for playback performance. We'll note in advance that Ma and MIB: International have also been issued on 4K Ultra HD disc and we hope to see them at some point, but you are probably better off getting them in 4K if you have a system that can play that format back. With that said, the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Ma is an HD shoot that has a few more soft points than I expected, but is good enough, though the anamorphically enhanced DVD is definitely softer and not as easy to watch. Color is not bad on the Blu-ray, though.

The 1080p 1.66 X 1 digital High Definition image on Rabbi has more soft shots than expected, but the color is actually really good and as good as anything here, oddly, including the location shooting. Shot on Eastman Kodak 35mm negative, I like the compositions in this now lesser-used aspect ratio.

The 1080p 2.00 X 1 digital High Definition image on MIB obviously is loaded with visual effects and plenty of money is on the screen, but the HD shoot still has some soft shots and some CGI animation is not as good as other such moments. That aspect ratio is still new, though it was the original one for SuperScope back in the 1950s by coincidence, so now its back. The anamorphically enhanced DVD is softer and just watchable enough, but not great.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on The Shadow can show the age of the HD master and the film, so some of the matte work and visual effects look great, but some are sloppy, misaligned and this is one of the very first films to use Cgi digital effects in a practical way, so the image can look degraded before some of them kick in. Color is still good and some shots have not looked this good since I saw it on 35mm film, for which it was so well shot in. This will do until a 4K remaster turns up.

The 1.33 X 1 color image on Stand is from an old PAL video master of the original 35mm shoot, so it has a disclaimer about the flaws and those analog videotape flaws including video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, PAL cross color, faded color, aliasing errors and tape damage. Otherwise, the original shots look great, the footage from Lang's Metropolis is very dated (before the two restorations took place) and concert footage of Midnight Oil not bad. Hope they recover the 35mm elements on this one.

That leaves the anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Avenger looking fine for a new HD shot, but nothing special is here and some of digital effects look poor. Color is not bad, though and the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 sound is consistent enough if not memorable.

All four Blu-rays offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless mixes, with Rabbi offering 2.0 Mono that sounds pretty good for its age, while Ma, MIB and The Shadow have 5.1 mixes, with Ma just barely holding its soundfield, MIB obviously a mixdown from a 12-track master and The Shadow maybe down a generation, it was an early demo for DTS at the time. You can still hear how good Jerry Goldsmith's score is, but maybe it will get a 12-track upgrade when they make a 4K disc of it.

The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Stand is a generation down, so it barely has its Pro Logic surrounds, so be careful of volume switching and loud playback levels.

To order either of the Umbrella import One Night Stand and Valentine DVDs and/or The Shadow Blu-ray, go to this link for them and other hard to find releases:


- Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com