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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Dark Comedy > French > Politics > Oppression > Swiss > Martial Arts > China > Children > Belgium > Hor > Bloody Oranges (2021/Dark Star DVD)/Caged Birds (2020/Corinth DVD)/Come Drink With Me (1966*)/Playground (2021/Film Movement DVD)/Spiritwalker (2021/Well Go Blu-ray)/To Sleep So As To Dream (1986/*bot

Bloody Oranges (2021/Dark Star DVD)/Caged Birds (2020/Corinth DVD)/Come Drink With Me (1966*)/Playground (2021/Film Movement DVD)/Spiritwalker (2021/Well Go Blu-ray)/To Sleep So As To Dream (1986/*both MVD/Arrow Blu-rays)

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

Now for a mix of mostly foreign films, most of which are oddities...

Jean-Christophe Meurisse's Bloody Oranges (2021) wants to be funny and shocking at the same time with multiple storylines that add up to some kind of dark comedy, but its choppiness, lack of any irony and simply a constant need to be pointlessly gross and worse tries to link sex, death and old age in the oddest ways.

The only reason it gets the rating it gets is that some of the early segments show some promise and the actors are trying, but then it loses ground within its first half hour of its long, long, long 105 minutes with the really over the top bit being a man knocking out, abducting and constantly sexually assaulting another man for sexual pleasure in a graphic manor that is so off the rails that it is insulting.

The anamorphically enhanced 2.00 X 1 image is on the soft side and not always easy to watch, but the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is at least passable (the 5.1 sounds better in this case) and the 2.0 has some surrounds to it.

A trailer is the only extra.

Oliver Rihs' Caged Birds (2020) wants to deal with crimes against the people of Switzerland in the 1980s through an extremely out of date prison system that led to all kinds of atrocities that have rarely been heard of. Barbara (Marie Leuenberger) is a politically radical lawyer who goes wild testing the broken system, even if it means physical abuse and multiple arrests, but the script offers little else we have not seen before and the film's nearly two-hour length could have done much more with what they convincingly claim is based on as true story.

That the country had or has any corruption may bed shocking to those who assume it is a paradise of political neutrality (many actually supported the Nazis during WWII) and chocolate (even Nestle is embroiled in many scandals as you read this) so that we at least get a more realistic discourse on the country is in itself a good thing and there are good scenes with good actors here. Too bad it does not go further like it could have.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is on the soft side too and that adds to not being able to get engaged in what is going on, but the Swiss/German PCM 2.0 Stereo is very weak, transferred at a very low volume and really poor. Be VERY careful of high playback volumes and volume switching.

There are no extras.

Come Drink With Me (1966) is comparative to the feel of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, and is a beautiful martial arts picture that's recently been restored and presented in deluxe Blu-ray treatment by Arrow Video. Directed by King Hu, the film stars Pei-pei Cheng, Hua Yeah, Siu-Tung Ching, Jackie Chan, Ying-Chieh Han, and Hung-Lieh Chen. The film is also notably produced by Sir Run Run Shaw. If you're a fan of The Shaw Brothers films then this is an early one and definitely worth checking out for it's epic-ness alone!

A western / mystical marital arts film, a group of bandits kidnap the governor's son and hold him hostage with demands of leading their captive leader free in exchange.

Come Drink With Me is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec, a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and lossless English DTS-HD Master Audio Mono mix; also on the disc in a lossless, Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio Mono with English subtitles.

Special Features:

Brand new audio commentary by film critic and historian Tony Rayns

Interview with star Cheng Pei-pei, filmed by Frederic Ambroisine in 2003

Interview with star Yueh Hua, filmed by Frederic Ambroisine in 2007

Interview with star Chen Hung-lieh, filmed by Frederic Ambroisine in 2003

Talk Story with Cheng Pei-pei, a 2016 Q&A at the University of Hawaii moderated by George Chun Han Wang

Cinema Hong Kong: Swordfighting, a documentary on the history of the wuxia genre and Shaw Brothers' contributions to it, produced by Celestial Pictures in 2003 and featuring interviews with Cheng Pei-pei, Gordon Liu, Lau Kar-leung, John Woo, Sammo Hung, Kara Hui, David Chiang and others

Original theatrical trailer, plus trailer for the sequel Golden Swallow

Image gallery

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tony Stella

and First Pressing Only: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Anne Billson, and a 2010 essay by George Chun Han Wang about the relationship between director King Hu and producer Sir Run Run Shaw.

Laura Wandel's Playground (2021) is a somewhat realistic take of the first day of school for a younger girl Nora (Maya Vanderbeque) and the upset she has being alone, though older brother Abel (Gunter Duret) is there sometimes. Running only 72 minutes, it is a long exercise that is pretty much a run-on narrative about fear, boredom, bullying and everything we've seen before on the subject without having much of anything to say about it. The result is good acting in a forgettable tale.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image has some good color, but is a little soft throughout, any kind of style choices notwithstanding. At least it is consistent, while the sound is available in two lossy, Belgian Dolby Digital choices: a passable 2.0 Stereo and somewhat better 5.1 mix that is just fine for a dialogue-based piece with its share of silences.

Extras include trailers and Wandel's short film Foreign Bodies (aka Les Corps Etrangers) about a war photographer that runs 15 minutes.

A man loses his memory and wakes up in a new body every 12 hours in Yoon Jae-keun's Spiritwalker (2021,) which is a nicely choreographed action extravaganza on Blu-ray from Well Go USA that has a cool story to boot. I can definitely see this high concept action thriller being rebooting with an American slant in the near future.

Spiritwalker stars former K-pop singer Yoon Kye-Sang (Chocolate, The Outlaws), Park Yong-Woo (Nailed), Lim Ji-Yeon (Obsessed, High Society) and Park Ji-Hwan (The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure).

The film is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec, a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1, and Korean and English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) lossless mixes, with the Korean more convincing overall. The film is nicely photographed and has some really cool special effects, especially whenever he is switching bodies. Well Go has done a nice job here.

Special Features:

Behind the Scenes featurette

Action trailer

and a Theatrical trailer

And now, the final film here. To Sleep So As To Dream (1986) is an interesting film to say the least and is a mix of film noir and fantasy. A silent film actress is trapped within a silent ninja film and it's up to two detectives to figure out how to rescue her. A feature film debut of director Kaizo Hayashi (Maiku Hama trilogy, The Most Terrible Time in My Life). This is the first time that this film has been available outside of Japan and was critically acclaimed at the time of its release. The film is pretty easy to get sucked into and is certainly impressive in this Arrow release.

To Sleep So As To Dream is presented in 1080p high definition black and white image on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec, a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.37:1, and a lossless Japanese DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) Mono mix, both of which present a beautiful presentation on disc. The film is beautifully photographed and surrealistic throughout.

Special Features:

Brand new Audio Commentary by Japanese film experts Tom Mes and Jasper Sharp

Second Feature Length Audio Commentary with director Kaizo Hayashi and lead actor Shiro Sano recorded in 2000

How Many Eggs? Actor Shiro Sano Talks, a brand new interview with the film's lead actor

Talking Silents: Benshi Midori Sawato Talks, a brand new interview on early Japanese film culture and the art of the benshi silent film commentator

Midori Sawato Performs 'The Eternal Mystery', an exclusive benshi performance to the film within the film

The Restoration of To Sleep So As To Dream featurette

Fragments from Japan's Lost Silent Heyday, a selection of scenes from silent jidai-geki films from the Kyoto Toy Museum archives

Original Theatrical trailer and English-language restored re-release trailers

Image gallery

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by David Downton

and First Pressing Only: Illustrated Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Aaron Gerow

- Nicholas Sheffo (DVDs) and James Lockhart



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