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Category:    Home > Reviews > Adventure > Action > Drama > Poaching > Animals > Mystery > Crime > Legal > Irish > Walsh > British TV > Martial > Life After Flash: Gordon's Alive (2019*)/My Samurai (1992/*both MVD Blu-rays)

Congo (1995/Paramount/Umbrella Region Free Import Blu-ray)/Keeping Faith: Season 2 (2018/Acorn DVD)/Knight Of Shadows: Between Yin and Yang (2019/Well Go Blu-ray)/Life After Flash: Gordon's Alive (2019*)/My Samurai (1992/*both MVD Blu-rays)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Congo import Blu-ray is now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, can play on all Blu-ray players and can be ordered from the link below.

Here's a new group of genre-oriented releases, including a documentary about a film with an ever-growing following and more...

Based on the novel by Jurassic Park and Andromeda Strain author, Michael Crichton, Congo (1995) is a fun action packed Hollywood thrill-ride from the past that's all but been forgotten. Stan Winston Studio's incredible ape costumes are still a highlight and hold up very well to this day, as does the fun cast of characters including Laura Linney, Joe Don Baker, Ernie Hudson, and Tim Curry to name a few.

This barebones Blu-ray release from Umbrella looks and sounds fine for now, but with some of the film's fantastic jungle photography, let's hope a more detailed 4K restoration is in the not too distant future.

The film also features Bruce Campbell, Joe Pantoliano, Dylan Walsh, Misty Rosas, and Grant Heslov. The film is also produced by Hollywood heavyweight Kathleen Kennedy, whose now the head of Lucasfilm, and directed by her husband, Frank Marshall. Both of them are huge collaborators with Spielberg as well. However, known mainly for producing, Frank Marshall does a good job of directing here.

An eight person exhibition, including a super intelligent gorilla that can speak with sign language, journey to Congo together, all with different motives. One of them being to discover a lost city and a priceless diamond. A Scientist in the group, played by Laura Linney, is after a friend whose presumably dead. But after they go deep into the jungle, they discover a violent race of apes that aren't too happy to seem on sacred grounds. Now, they must all band together and use their wits and limited tech and weaponry to escape.

Congo is presented here in 1080p on Blu-ray disc with a 1.77:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix. The score by the late Jerry Goldsmith is front and center in the mix and sounds great as do many of the action sequences. The film is nicely shot and looks good but could be a great candidate for a future 4K restoration as mentioned. Paramount did release the film on Blu-ray in 2017, and so this might be the same transfer as that disc.

The only special features are the Teaser & Theatrical Trailers. It would have been great to get some more detailed extras on the behind the scenes and some interviews with all the talent involved.

Congo wasn't a huge hit at the time that it was released, but wasn't necessarily a failure either. The film holds up pretty well today and remains an original and fun adventure film. It no doubt would be made quite differently today with a more digitally animated approach, like the new Planet of the Apes trilogy, I am sure.

It is also an interesting afterthought that the late profound special effects artist Stan Winston took this job to sort of 'prove' to legendary FX artist Rick Baker (who was known his Gorillas in the Mist apes and later Burton's Planet of the Apes) that he could make realistic apes too.

I found this Umbrella release, while bare bones, still recommendable.

Faith Howells is back, a solicitor/lawyer in a small seaside town in Wales, while standing and fighting for justice in the courthouse she struggles to raise her family and save a broken marriage. She take on a homicide case that has rocked the town against her own firm's recommendations in which they said the client will be guilt no matter what. Not everything is black and white, and there are back door deals, anyone can be bought and everyone has their secrets in Keeping Faith: Season 2 (2018).

All Faith Howells wants is to raise her family and see justice in the courthouse. On the outside she is the positive, never-give-up British woman, but on the inside she is in a loveless and broken marriage with her husband's ties to the mob (she hates him, but still needs his help in the court cases) and she is left in debt to the local crime kingpin and to do 'odd jobs' and favors for her. She takes on the hard luck cases where every single piece of evidence must be bought or bribed. The crown courthouse isn't about proving innocence or justice, but who has the most convincing story with circumstantial evidence or reasonable doubt. All the meanwhile she is under the eyes of a corrupt detective who seems to be playing both sides of the fence.

This is a crime series with the most drama filled character using a middle-age-single-parent-strong-independent-woman in a mid-life-crisis who is struggling with her job and her family. In some ways it reminds me of the TV series The Good Wife. The character struggles trying to living a straight life, but is always left cleaning up everyone else's mess (and she's no angel either). The main character is a woman who looks and acts like she is trying to be 10 years younger than she is. Every episode ending seems to summarized/justified/symbolized by the character standing by a beautiful seaside with a melancholy song in the background. The entire series message is totally about being a strong woman.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image looks as good as it can for the format, slightly improved from the debut season, but still with some motion blur present on the previous Blu-ray set. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 is also as good as that old format can deliver, if not quite as warm or full as the DTS-MA on the First Season Blu-ray set. Extras include behind the scenes and trailers.

For more on the show and its debut season, try this link to its Blu-ray release...


Jackie Chan stars and directs this kooky family adventure film, The Knight of Shadows: Between Yin and Yang (2019). The film fuses live action with digital animation (sometimes strong and other times a bit questionable), that sees Chan as a legendary demon hunter that's able to capture demons that enter the human dimension via a powerful ancient book that he paints them back into. He has several bizarre little monster friends that help him on his quest using their own unique super powers and also a protege who helps him as well. They investigate a strange disappearance of young girls from a local village where the unthinkable happens and they face their greatest adversary.

The film also stars Elane Zhong, Lin Bo-hong, Lin Peng, Shan Qiao, Kingdom Yen, Pan Changjiang, and Ethan Juan.

The Knight of Shadows is presented in 1080p on Blu-ray disc with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and several different audio options, both in original Mandarin (lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo) with optional English subtitles and English dubbed (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo). The film is very colorful with several scenes with CGI that is sometimes strong and other times questionable.

Special Features:

Several different Trailers for this film and other Well Go releases in the same vein. This could have had at least an interview with Jackie Chan or a BTS featurette. Oh well.

The Knight of Shadows is an interesting film but kinda of silly and predictable. It's Asian flair, odd characters, and strange animation will make it worth checking out if you're a Jackie Chan fan or are just interested in Chinese genre cinema.

Sam J. Jones enjoyed a meteoric career in Hollywood. After being cast as the titular character in Dino De Laurentiis' epic adaptation of the sci-fi comic strip Flash Gordon, Mr. Jones languished as first a B-list actor, then something even less than that. This amazing documentary chronicles those early days of the movie's production, the casting of Mr. Jones, and his on-set battles with director Mike Hodges, Mr. De Laurentiis, and himself.

Just as the subtitle, Gordon's Alive, refers to one of the movie's most exciting scenes, Life After Flash (2019) does a nice job of showing us that Sam J. Jones remains very much alive and well. Now sporting a graying flat-top haircut, and bolstered by his recent appearance as himself in the movie Ted, the 66 year old Jones works the sci-fi convention circuit, masterfully eking out an existence as a pop culture icon. Still sporting an athletic build, but now informed by time and his personal faith, Mr. Jones shows amazing patience and perseverance. He treats his fans like gold, and keeps his wife and family close to him. They obviously ground him, and this feature shows that in any number of tender scenes.

Life After Flash also digs into the process of making a feature film like Flash Gordon. While still a big budget feature, compromises were made. These financial and creative decisions often lead to strife on the set. Mr. Jones, then a bit of a hot-headed 26 year old, did not always behave in the most professional manner on set. As the lead role in a film with a ballooning budget and plenty of creative friction between the director and the producers, he was not always placed in the best position to succeed.

Extras abound in this Blu-ray disc, and include: an interviews with Brian (Voltan) Blessed, Melody (Dale) Anderson, Sam Jones on his transition from sports and modeling to acting, and much more. Fans of Queen will also enjoy sections on the band's amazing score for the film, and a number of other short pieces on the film's production.

The solid 1080p 1.78 X 1 picture and sound quality on this Blu-ray do not detract from the overall presentation, even with some rough video clips from the past, while the stereo sound is just fine.

Interspersed with interviews from other cast members and production staff, we see Mr. Jones in enough personal and professional moments to give us a very clear picture of his life now. While one might argue that he did not make the most of his chances for fame and fortune in his younger years, it would be difficult to say Mr. Jones is not getting the most out of this late second act. He remains very much alive.

Universal has issued a solid Blu-ray of the 1980 film a few years ago that looks pretty good and has some good sound, but fans are now waiting for a 4K upgrade, especially since a new wave of memorabilia (some of it shown here) has been produced as the film has stayed popular. This is a great release to have in the meantime.

Finally, Fred H. Dresch's My Samurai (1992) gets an HD update thanks to the MVD Rewind Collection, several titles of which we have reviewed elsewhere on this site. Comprised mainly of films that were popular during the VHS era, this action thriller is no exception and was released around the time when martial arts films had high returns thanks to the success of The Karate Kid and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchises, although this is obviously a more mature entry.

The film stars Julian Lee, Tupper Cullum, C. Edward McNeil, Christoph Clark, and Mako.

A young boy and martial artist in training (Lee) accidentally kill a crooked cop and along with his older friend and instructor, end up on the run from a gang that wants them dead. As the young boy learns from his martial arts instructor, he becomes a stronger warrior through this nerve-racking game of cat and mouse where just about everyone has it in for them. Essentially, the film jumps from fight scene to fight scene with a very '90s appropriate vibe.

My Samurai is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and an English LPCM 2.0 (48kHz, 16-bit) Stereo mix. Shot on film, it looks and sounds fine although some of the production value isn't terrible. The restoration here looks fine for Blu-ray however, and an upgrade for sure over previous releases.

Special Features include:

Interview with stars Julian Lee & Mark Steven Grove

"Watching My Scenes" with actor Jim Turner

A Conversation with Christophe Clark

Photo Gallery

Julian Lee Photo Gallery

Original Theatrical Trailer

and a Collectible Mini-Poster.

To order the Congo Umbrella import Blu-ray, go to this link for it and other hard to find releases:


- Scott Pyle (Flash), Ricky Chiang (Faith) and James Lockhart



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