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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Horror > Superhero > Animation > Giant Monster > Martial Arts > Crime > Murder > Horror > Superhero > The Stylist (2021/Arrow w/CD/*all MVD Blu-rays)

Action U.S.A. (1989*)/Anything For Jackson (2020/RLJ Blu-ray)/Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One (2021/Blu-ray**)/Born A Champion (2020/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Drive (1997*)/Godzilla Vs. Kong 4K (2021/4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray/**both Warner)/The Stylist (2021/Arrow w/CD/*all MVD Blu-rays)

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

All kinds of genre madness on all budget levels follows...

The title pretty much sums up the film, Action U.S.A. (1989) is about as stereotypical of an action movie as you can get. Directed by John Stewart, who himself was a Hollywood stunt man known for acting in the Al Pacino film Serpico and quite a few other notable releases. The film here is a typical mob revenge story that has guys falling out of skyscraper and helicopters, hot babes, explosions, cool cars, and badass dudes doing bad things. The film is pretty much what one would expect the end result to be with a Stuntman in the director's chair.

The film stars Gregory Scott Cummins, William Smith, Cameron Mitchell, Ross Hagen, and Hoke Howell.  The story centers on two FBI agents that protect a woman whose being pursued by gangsters. But, let's face it, in a movie like this the plot hardly matters as long as there's lots of stunts and things that go boom.

Action U.S.A. is presented in 1080p on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec and a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78 X 1 and audio mixes in lossless English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 and LPCM 2.0 tracks. The 4K restoration here is definitely better than previous releases and looks fine for the format.

Special Features:

Audio Commentary with Director John Stewart, star Gregory Scott Cummins and cinematographer Thomas Callaway moderated by filmmaker Steve Latshaw

Interview with Director John Stewart in HD

Action U.S.A. Behind the Scenes - Stunts Featurette (SD) (MVD EXCLUSIVE)

Theatrical Trailer

Collectible Mini-Poster

Reversible artwork

and Limited Edition Slipcover

New from RLJE and Shudder is Anything for Jackson (2020), directed by Justin G. Dyck, who has previously made a lot of Hallmark-style romantic/religious movies and is (drastically) turning over a new leaf with this demented thriller.

An elderly couple (one of whom is a doctor) lose their grandson tragically and kidnap a young pregnant woman and hold her hostage in their home. We soon discover that this elderly couple are devote satanists who plan to resurrect their dead grandson via this young woman's pregnancy. Reading from an ancient demonic text, they soon realize that they didn't read the spell that they though they did, but instead raised several terrifying ghosts from hell that now lurk in their home and bring some frightening skeletons in their closet back to life. The film gets crazier and crazier as it goes and is never predictable. I will say I wanted a little bit more from the (very) ending, but all in all it was a fun demonic ride that horror fans will want to check out.

The film stars Sheila McCarthy, Julian Richings, and Konstantina Mantelos.

Anything For Jackson is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with a MPEG-4 AVC codec and a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39 X 1 paired with a lossless English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 (48kHz, 16-bit), both of which are standard for the format. The film is nicely photographed throughout especially the scenes that require demonic characters. A few moments are exceptionally dark on purpose, but it adds to the overall effect.

No extras.

Scarier and more effective than the new Conjuring movie, Anything For Jackson is unpredictable and quite gory and dark.

The latest graphic novel DC adaptation is the classic Batman story, The Long Halloween (2021), which is being told over two feature length (adult oriented) animated films. An inspiration to Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, the story features many of the Dark Knight's most infamous villains including Joker, Solomon Grundy, Calendar Man, Catwoman, Harvey Dent, and more and teases even more baddies for the second part finale coming later this summer.

Directed by Chris Palmer (Superman: Man of Tomorrow), the film also stays pretty close to the original graphic novel by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, and features eye popping animation that is pretty beautiful (including Gotham City itself), even if its more akin to the style of the '90s animated series than directly mimicking the style from the book. Simply put, if you're a Bat-Fan then you won't want to miss this.

The Long Halloween, Part One features the voice cast of Jensen Ackles as Batman, the late Naya Rivera as Catwoman, Josh Duhamel, Billy Buke, Titus Welliver, David Dastmalchian, and more.

This is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with a widescreen 1.78 X 1 aspect ratio and a lossless English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio 5.1 mix, both of which are of the norm for the format and of which comes across fine here. The animation is crisp and the sound mix is very cinematic and on point. I didn't notice anything that detracted from the image, although I'm surprised they didn't option a 4K UHD version as well. This Blu-ray edition will do for now as hopefully later we will get a two pack of both films on the higher format.

Special Features include:

DC Showcase - The Losers (New Animated Short)

A Sneak Peek at the next DC Universe Movie - An advance look at the next animated film in the popular DC Universe Movies collection, Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two.

From the DC Vault - Batman: The Animated Series Christmas With The Joker

From the DC Vault - Batman: The Animated Series It's Never Too Late

DC and Warner Bros. do a great job with these animated Batman films and this one is no exception. Recommended!

Sean Patrick Flannery stars in Born a Champion (2020), which isn't too bad for a martial arts drama that is based loosely on Flannery himself (who also produced). Also featuring Katrina Bowden and Dennis Quaid, the film centers on Mickey Kelly (Flannery) who is of the first American black belts in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, who gets torn away from his life and into an a vicious MMA battle. The film has some pretty awesome fight sequences and a hardened performance by Flannery that's akin to what Mickey Rourke did in The Wrestler.

Born a Champion is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39 X 1 and a lossless English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mix. The film looks and sounds up to par with the Blu-ray format and is very nicely shot and put together for being a straight to video sort of title.

Special features include:

Directors Commentary

The Final Fight w/Alternate Score Music

The Jimmy Fight w/Alternate Music

and a Trailer.

This is not to be confused with the Ryan Gosling starring film of the same name.

Drive (1997) starring legendary action star Mark Dacascos (John Wick 3) lands on Blu-ray courtesy of MVD Rewind Collection with an improved transfer and new extras. Directed by Steve Wang, the film is pretty interesting and while a little dated, still packs a punch.

The film centers on Dacascos whose an enhanced test soldier from Hong Kong who is pretty much an invincible superhero. On the run from his creator and fleeing to California, he befriends Malik Brody (Kadeem Hardison), whose a silly fast talking sidekick of sorts, and the late Brittany Murphy as the damsel in distress. As they evade one explosive situation after the next, the creation finally faces the creator. The film also stars John Pyper-Ferguson and Tracey Walter. Drive is fun and feels very much like a '90s era action film. Made on a lower budget, the choreography and action featuring its star is well done and entertaining.

Drive is presented in 1080p on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec and a widescreen aspect ratio of 2:39 X 1 and audio mixes in lossy English Dolby Digital 5.1 and LPCM 2.0 tracks. This is a new 4K transfer of both the theatrical and director's cuts of the film. The transfer looks great for the format and is certainly the best this film has ever looked.

Special Features:

Audio commentary by director Steve Wang, fight choreographer Koichi Sakamoto and stars Mark Dacascos and Kadeem Hardison

Drive: The Force Behind The Storm' documentary (SD, 47:42)

Six Deleted Scenes (SD, 08:42)

Interview gallery with cast, director and crew including stars Mark Dacascos and Kadeem Hardison, director Steve Wang, Second Unit Director Wyatt Weed and Stunt Coordinator Koichi Sakamoto (SD, 24:30)

Original Theatrical Trailer (SD, 01:38)

Collectible Mini-Poster

and Reversible Artwork with Alternative Cover

Definitely a pro-type for films like the Rush Hour series in terms of fish out of water buddy comedy, this Mark Dacascos action film is fun to watch and feels very much like a straight to VHS title from the '90s era. For better or worse.

Two of the silver screen's biggest monsters go head to head in Godzilla vs Kong (2021), which is the fourth film in Warner Bros./Legendary's Monsterverse and of course a remake of the original Toho film from 1962, but the two don't share much in common aside from featuring the characters.

Other films in the Legendary Films Monsterverse series that you should probably watch before this one include Godzilla (2014), Godzilla King of Monsters (2019), and Kong: Skull Island (2017). Granted, you could probably enjoy this movie regardless as it kind of sums up the highlights of those films in a flashy opening title sequence, but this storyline picks up shortly after Godzilla: King of Monsters (2019). I personally am a fan of 'versus' movies, even though narratively they tend to be similar. There are many elements in this screenplay that one could compare to a Hollywood sequel powerhouse like Batman v Superman (also produced by Warner Bros and Legendary), but that doesn't take away from the fun of seeing these characters share some screen time for the first time in decades.

Needless to say, this reviewer is a huge fan of giant monsters, these characters, and this movie and so I am more forgiving about some of this film's lesser moments of silliness than other critics might be. Sure, a lot of things here are a bit far fetched and VERY Hollywood, with some sequences (such as the journey to Hollow Earth sequence) even feeling like the home equivalent to an amusement park ride, but the real price of admission here is seeing these two monsters brawl in the midst of modern times paired with the latest technology, and in that regard this film is a success. One complaint amongst fans of previous outings in this Americanized series was that we didn't see enough of the monsters, but with this entry we definitely get a good up close look at them in action!

The epic film has a strong cast and stars Alexander Skarsgard, Millie Bobby Brown (the star of Stranger Things, whose character was also featured in Godzilla King of Monsters), Eiza Gonzalez, Julian Dennison, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Kyle Chandler, Demian Bichir, and Shun Oguri to name a few. The real star of film is Kaylee Hottle, who plays a young deaf girl with a unique connection to Kong. Her performance is incredible for a child actor (deaf of not) and is really the heart of the film that makes Kong more relatable to the audience. This is her debut Hollywood performance and I'm sure we will be seeing her again in other franchises in the future.

The film is directed by Adam Wingard (You're Next), of whom obviously has an affection for these characters and does a pretty solid job overall in terms of directing. I'm sure he has a few more interesting genre films left in him in the coming years.

Our story is set in a world where Titans (giant monsters) exist, and the King of Monsters, Godzilla, attacks a facility that's bent on creating an artificial robotic version of him known as Mecha Godzilla. On the other side of the world, Kong is being held on Skull Island in captivity for research and monitoring. The humans decide that he is one of the only creatures that can lead them on an expedition to discover the Hollow Earth, a place in the center of the Earth where the Titans are thought to originate and a journey no human has ever been able to successfully make. Of course in the midst of the expedition, the two Titans cross paths and brawl, but when the new threat of Mecha Godzilla proves to be a worthy adversary, these two Titans may have to work together to stop their own destruction.

Godzilla vs Kong is presented in 2160p on 4K UHD disc with an HEVC / H.265 codec in native 4K with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39 X 1 and HDR (Dolby Vision, HDR10+) and several audio options including English lossless Dolby Atmos, and Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit). The film is quite colorful and the 4K transfer helps see more details in the special digital effects and creatures than in lesser editions. It is mind-boggling how detailed some of the shots of the monsters are in this 4K UHD edition, this is a demo worthy disc for sure! The 1080p high definition Blu-ray edition with similar specs is also included as well as a digital copy. There is also a 3D version of the film available on Blu-ray disc, but unfortunately we weren't given that copy to review. The epic score by Junkie XL isn't too bad, but not quite as good as Alexander Desplat's underrated score for the 2014 Godzilla film.

Special Features include:

Audio Commentary by Director, Adam Wingard

Kong Discovers Hollow Earth

Kong Leaves Home

Behold Kong's Temple

The Evolution of Kong, Eighth Wonder of the World

Godzilla Attacks

The Phenomenon of GOJIRA, King of the Monsters

Round One: Battle at Sea

Round Two: One Will Fall

Titan Tag Team: The God and the King

and The Rise of MechaGodzilla

Godzilla Vs Kong was a great return to the movie theater in March 2021 after being delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All things considered, it did pretty well in the box office and with audiences, some of which watching it by way of streaming. Now that it's on 4K UHD, it can be enjoyed at home in this breathtakingly beautiful 4K transfer. Simply put, this is the best way to view a film this epic at home.

As of this writing, it is unsure what the next film in the Monsterverse will be, but personally I feel there are lots of great stories that can still be told with these classic characters.

Arrow video presents The Stylist (2021), which is a sort of re-imagining of William Lustig's Maniac (reviewed elsewhere on this site) in the idea that it's about a serial killer that likes to scalp victims and keep them as part of a bizarre scalp collection. (Of course, they can't resist but to try them on too.)

In this film, the killer is a hair obsessed female in a role played well by Najarra Townsend - who does a pretty good job in her role that is split between psychotic and seemingly normal psychotic. When she has to do her friend's hair for an upcoming wedding she realizes that she is the woman that she wishes she could be, one who has a seemingly normal life, and she soon becomes obsessed with trying to become her. The film explores the psychological connection between the two women and it all culminates into an ending that's pretty shocking and disturbing. The Stylist is the debut feature of Jill Gevargizian, who won many prestigious awards for the project.

The film also stars Brea Grant, Millie Milan, Laura Kirk, and Kimberly Igla.

The Stylist reminded me a lot of a Soska Sisters film in a way, especially American Mary, which succeeded at crafting a very unsettling female serial killer with lots of dark secrets. Some parts of The Stylist are pretty unrealistic and a lot of it has to be excused for the sake of narrative. In the opening nonetheless, she scalps a woman who is so 'drugged' that she doesn't wake up while being scalped to death. Then she kills this same woman at her place of employment and expertly cleans up the scene off camera? (In a downtown location where they would clearly see her dumping or moving a body.) My point is, that there are one too many things about this movie that are really convenient for the sake of moving forward the plot. If you can put aside some of these things, it's not too bad, as the main focus of the film is more character driven than being overly realistic.

The Stylist is presented in 1080p on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec and a widescreen aspect ratio of 2:39 X 1 and a lossless English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. The film is eloquently cinematic and shot very well. The soundtrack, which is also included in this limited edition set, is eerie and suits the dark style of the film well.

Special Features:

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sara Deck

Double-sided fold-out poster

Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Emma Westwood and a gallery of exclusive location scouting photographs

Audio commentary by co-writer/producer/director Jill Gevargizian and actress/producer Najarra Townsend

Exclusive Blu-ray introduction by Jill Gevargizian

The Invisible Woman, an exclusive visual essay by author and critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, exploring the themes of women's labor and female killers in The Stylist and horror cinema

The Stylist - Behind the Scenes, a series of eight behind-the-scenes featurettes on different aspects of the film's production, featuring interviews with the cast and crew

Location scouting featurette


Original Kickstarter video

The original 2016 The Stylist short film directed by Jill Gevargizian and starring Najarra Townsend, that inspired the main feature

Pity, a 2016 short film directed by The Stylist's editor, John Pata, and executive produced by Jill Gevargizian, with an optional introduction by Pata

Teaser Trailer

Theatrical Trailer

and Image galleries


CD containing the original The Stylist Soundtrack.

While this Arrow release of the film is quite impressive and loaded to the gills with extras and thrills. The film itself left a bit to be desired for me personally.

- James Lockhart



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