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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Thriller > Drama > Korean War > Spaghetti Western > Horror > Supernatural > Superhero > Supervill > Acceleration (2019/Cinedigm Blu-ray)/Battle Of Jangsari (2019/Well Go Blu-ray)/Django The Bastard (1969/Synapse Blu-ray)/Gallows: Act II (2019/Lionsgate Blu-ray w/DVD)/Joker (2019/Warner 4K Ultra HD B

Acceleration (2019/Cinedigm Blu-ray)/Battle Of Jangsari (2019/Well Go Blu-ray)/Django The Bastard (1969/Synapse Blu-ray)/Gallows: Act II (2019/Lionsgate Blu-ray w/DVD)/Joker (2019/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/The Shed (2019/RLJ Blu-ray)

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

These films look like genre films and are, but some of them go a bit further as you are about to see...

Dolph Lundgren returns again to the action genre, this time in Acceleration (2019), which is a low budget romp that's definitely inspired by Michael Bay movies and the TV show 24, in terms of its style. Neon colors, lens flares, and gunfights are aplenty here, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing for the audience it's aiming for. Some of the acting is a bit patchy, but overall is fast paced enough to capture a modern action viewer's attention.

The film also stars Sean Patrick Flanery (Boondock Saints, Young Indiana Jones), Natalie Burn (The Expendables 3), Chuck Liddell (D-Day), and Danny Trejo (Machete).

Acceleration centers around a bad ass driver named Rhona (Burn) who must complete a dangerous five part mission in one night in order to rescue her kidnapped son from her former boss (and crime lord) Vladik (Lundgren).

The film is presented in 1080p high definition with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and an audio mix in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless. The film has a very neon look to it in the beginning that comes across nicely on disc with its vibrant pinks and blues. Despite being a lower budgeted production, the cinematography isn't half bad, and the production value is there to match.

No extras.

Acceleration isn't anything groundbreaking, but its fun and stylized enough to stand out from the crowd more than other contenders.

Based on a true story, Battle of Jangsari (2019) lands on disc courtesy of Well Go USA and Warner Bros. Megan Fox plays a woman of intelligence here rather than the usual sex symbol figure she normally plays and is joined with Kim Myung-Min, Minho Choi, and George Eads.

Set during the Korean War, a small, inexperienced battalion of student soldiers are tasked with liberating the strategic location of Incheon. With little ammunition, low food supplies, and second-hand weapons, the soldiers head for the frontlines of Jangsari beach with their wits being their best asset.

The Battle of Jangsari is presented in 1080p on Blu-ray disc with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and an audio mix in lossless Korean DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 with English subtitles. Most of the film is in Korean with the exception of the scenes with Megan Fox, which are primarily in English.

The film has a very cinematic look and nice color correction with a heavy yellow tones in many of the scenes. There's some lackluster CGI here and there that sticks out, but otherwise the film looks pretty good. Also included is a standard definition DVD with a 2.39:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a lossy Korean 5.1 mix with English subtitles.

Special Features include a Making of Featurette and Trailers.

Battle of Jangsari has some cinematic moments and isn't a half bad watch. However, it falls into many cliques with the war movie genre and has some lackluster digital effects that take away from some of its good photography.

Also known as Stranger's Gundown and Django the Avenger, Django The Bastard (1969) gets a new HD transfer on Blu-ray disc courtesy of Synapse Films. Directed by Sergio Garrone, the film centers around a Union soldier who comes back from the dead to take revenge on three officers that betrayed his unit in battle. The result is pure bloodshed!

The film stars Anthony Steffen, Paolo Gozlino, Luciano Rossi, and Carlo Gaddi.

What makes this Django film unique is that it has more of gothic element to it by making Django a spirit of death almost. He places a cross in the middle of the street with his victim's name and death date before extracting his revenge, which I thought was a nice touch. Synapse notes on the back on the cover that this film was also an inspiration for Clint Eastwood's High Plains Drifter. So if you're a fan of that film you may want to check this one out!

Django the Bastard is presented on Blu-ray in an all new 2K scan from the original 35mm film elements that comes across nicely here. The film features a 2.40:1 widescreen aspect ratio and an audio mix in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix that nicely compliments. Considering the age and the fact that this was a low budget Italian production, Synapse has done a fine job of restoring the film here with little signs of wear on the print.

Special Features include a Feature Length Audio Commentary from film historian and author Troy Howarth.

While it doesn't have Franco Nero and isn't the best Django film, it's nice to see another Italian Spaghetti Western restored in HD.

The Gallows Act II (2019) is the inevitable slasher follow-up to the mediocre 2015 original film and is more of the same formula as the first but a far better film. In case you're unfamiliar, the cursed stage play of The Gallows haunts anyone who dares read it (similar to the MacGuffin of The Ring films). This time, it attacks an attractive YouTuber who reads a verse of it on her YouTube page. Once she becomes famous because of reading the cursed passage and doing the 'Charlie Challenge', she ends up challenged by The Hangman (the sinister entity of the franchise), who gives her a deadly ultimatum.

The film stars Chris Milligan, Brittany Falardeau, Dennis Hurley, Jono Cota, and Anthony Jensen. It is directed by Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing, who also created the first film.

The Gallows Part II is presented in 1080p high definition with a 2.39:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a lossless audio mix in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1, both of which capture the film fine. The overall look of the film is pretty cinematic and it's definitely a mid level budget considering it's a Blumhouse production. Also included is a standard definition DVD with similar (yet compressed) specs. The audio mix is in lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital on the anamorphically enhanced DVD. A digital copy is included.

Special Features include:

Feature Length Audio Commentary with Writers and Directors Travis Cluff & Chris Lofing

"Summoning the Hangman: Staging The Gallows Act II" Featurette

Deleted Scenes

The Gallows Act II isn't necessarily groundbreaking, but it's a fun supernatural slasher that was better than I was expecting. It starts to go into Nightmare on Elm Street territory a little bit towards the end of the second act but is still fun regardless.

DC Comics' The Joker is a hard character for even the best actors to grasp. Even harder due to the fact that the late Heath Ledger did such a haunting and incredible performance in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight (2008) that it's hard for any actor since to compete. Before then we had Jack Nicholson do a fine job in Tim Burton's Batman (1989) and Mark Hamill doing incredible voice work years later in Batman: The Animated Series.

Infamously, Jared Leto did a bizarre spin on the character in David Ayer's The Suicide Squad (2016), which imagined the character as a tattooed gangster and the result was mixed. Leto's version may have had a similar sounding voice to Ledger, but he pushed the character too far over the top that it become silly both on and off screen. As a result, his character drastically got screen time cut from the film, and plans for his appearance in future installments became pretty dim. They even had a spin-off with Leto as Joker and Margot Robbie returning again as Harley planned on the DC film slate, but after Leto went over the deep end, the studio backed out.

Then came Todd Phillips' Joker (2019), where the leading man is so perfect for the part that even fans of Ledger applauded. Joaquin Phoenix IS the Joker in this incredible one-off origin film. Whether Phoenix and Phillips return to this version of Gotham City in future sequels or spin-offs (Phoenix has said no in advance) is unknown at the writing of this review, but I don't think many would oppose to the idea. They even abandoned the traditional 'purple jacket' look for the character here, giving his face paint a subtle nod to some of its more classic incarnations. This Joker film is completely original and doesn't follow any comics or other films, and doesn't intend to be followed up with a franchise. Inspired by early Martin Scorsese films like The King of Comedy (1983) and Taxi Driver (1976), this Joker only had the mission of being R-rated and hard hitting. In that respect, it's one of the better films of 2019.

Phoenix plays Arthur Fleck, a broken man without a father figure, who cares for his elderly Mother, and only wants to be a clown (or a comedian) and make people laugh. But as society grinds on him harder and harder, Arthur starts to lose his optimism and slowly becomes his alter ego - The Joker. At the same time, Thomas Wayne runs for political office while his son, Bruce, is only a small boy. Unbeknownst to the Waynes or anyone else, a tragedy is about to occur and Gotham City will be forever transformed because of it.

The film also stars Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Marc Maron, Bill Camp, Glenn Fleshler, Shea Whigham, Brett Cullen, Douglas Hodge, and Josh Pais.

Joker is presented in 2160p HEVC/H.265, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image and a 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio. The audio mixes are top notch in lossless Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), and lossy English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps). Also included is a 1080p Blu-ray version with similar specs. The film is brilliantly photographed with a great score and really comes across nice on disc, especially in 4K UHD. A digital copy is also included.

Special Features include:

Joker: Vision & Fury featurette

Becoming Joker featurette

Please Welcome... Joker! featurette

and Joker: A Chronicle of Chaos featurette

Aside from Logan, this is possibly the darkest comic book inspired film to date. Joker was a huge success for Warner Bros and everyone involved and the project really came out of left field in terms of the 'norm' for the genre. The bar is set pretty high for other filmmakers and even Phillips himself to come back with something equally as compelling to follow this up. For now, we can just enjoy this great film in stunning 4K.

Finally, from one of the producers of the Saw franchise comes The Shed (2019), a new creature feature that resides in, you guessed it, a shed!

A troubled teen named Stan (Jay Jay Waren) has a complicated school life and lives with his cruel Grandfather. One day when walking his dog, he finds a vampire-like creature living in the shed that kills his dog. Locked in the shed and allergic to sunlight, the only way this creature can survive is in the darkness of the shed. Soon, the creature takes Stan's Grandfather, and leaves Stan on his own. Bullied at school as well, his friend Dommer discovers this monster and launches a plan to get revenge on his bullies.

The film also stars Sofia Happonen, Frank Whaley, and Timothy Bottoms. The Shed is directed by Frank Sabatella.

The Shed is presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and an audio mix in lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1. The film isn't badly shot and has a few day for night shots that are very blue. The soundtrack is very new age with a few rock covers of some famous tunes, including House of the Rising Sun.

No extras.

The Shed has a little bit of a Donnie Darko meets Fright Night vibe and some surprising bursts of gore from time to time. Some of the teenage angst gets a bit tiresome, and some scenes where characters just yell obscenities at each other seem highly improvised. The base concept of The Shed is interesting, but overall the film is a mixed bag.

- James Lockhart



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