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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Martial Arts > Western > Drama > Comedy > Science Fiction > 12 Monkeys 4K (1995/Universal/Arrow 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray/*all MVD)

A Dangerous Man (2009/Liberation Hall Blu-ray*)/Desperate Riders (2022/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Hostile Territory (2022/Well Go Blu-ray)/Ninja Badass (2022/BayView Blu-ray)/One Armed Boxer (1972/Arrow Blu-ray*)/12 Monkeys 4K (1995/Universal/Arrow 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray/*all MVD)

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

PLEASE NOTE: Early pressings of the 12 Monkeys 4K Blu-ray disc has a defect in the pressing where some sequences you have just watched will start repeating. Consult the Arrow Video website about replacement discs should you buy a copy that has one of these early discs.

Now for some genre releases, including a classic and some wild entries too...

Steven Segal stars in a typically constructed but mildly entertaining action film, A Dangerous Man (2009), which has gotten a new Blu-ray release. The movie has a lot of what you would expect to see in this kind of movie: Seagal is a badass ex-con whose on the run who happens to rescue a damsel in distress (who is loaded with crooked cash), and he must beat the bad guys and drug cartels that pursue him and his newfound fortune. The pacing and overall filmmaking reminds me a bit of a Crank movie or something of the like where the film has to constantly be moving and action happening every second of the film so that it's ADD audience won't lose interest.

The film also stars Mike Dopud, Marlaina Mah, Vitaly Kravchenko, Jesse Hutch, and Terry Chen.

A Dangerous Man is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec, a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and a lossless, English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit). The film was previously released on disc by Entertainment One (aka E1) and so I am unsure how much different the two transfers are, but I would assume they are pretty similar. There's nothing glaringly bad about the transfer, and all seems pretty clean and normal.

The only extra is a Behind the Scenes featurette.

A Dangerous Man is much like many other action films in the genre, and doesn't do anything groundbreaking. But if you're after mindless violence and a thin predictable story, then this will deliver on those principals.

Another new western skips theaters and lands on the home video market, Desperate Riders (2022) which centers on a lone gunman and badass female gunslinger who must work together in an attempt to save a boys mother from a ruthless outlaw and his cronies. The production design isn't terrible and there are moments that are pretty cinematic, but other all there isn't much new being brought to the genre here.

The film stars Tom Berenger, Trace Adkins, Drew Waters, Vanessa Evigan, and Sam Ashby.

Desperate Riders is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec, a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and a lossless English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit). The presentation is pretty standard with nothing hindering the performance in any way.

No extras.

Desperate Riders is standard popcorn munching fare that will please fans of westerns at the bare minimum.

Brian Presley's Hostile Territory (2022) is another one of these too-clean-to-be-convincing new Westerns that share many of the same repetitive issues Desperate Riders and hundreds of countless other such productions in the last 10 to 15 years share. Somehow avoiding some illicit appeal to pity, the plot here has to do with the lead's children on an orphan train heading into bad territory (or use the film's title). He is joined by an ex-slave to find the train car, but that feels a little condescending as merely a plot point.

Boring and droning on for an unconvincing, long feeling 94 minutes, there is some effort and some money in this one, but the cast of unknowns cannot bring this to life and it is everything we have seen otherwise. Only for the very, very curious, the director co-stars with a cast of unknowns.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer is not bad, but the dark stylizing is overkill and is not convincing, while the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is the default highlight of this release, professionally competent and consistent enough with a soundfield that stays in tact for the most part.

Extras include a Behind The Scenes featurette and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

By the 1980s, the actual martial arts genre had become loaded with comedies, partly a fall out of genre fatigue, but also the immeasurable loss of Bruce Lee, who haunts all such film to this day. When the Ninja cycle of films arrived in the reactionary 1980s, the silly fighting made the 1960s Batman TV series look like a series of military training films. This led to a big straight-to-video cycle and this then continued as shorts on line, to the point that even The New York Times did an article about it a decade or so ago. Ryan Harrison's Ninja Badass (2022) wants to continue the madness over 40 years later and make it into a feature film!

Harrison (no relation to Rex or Noel, though trying to be as wacky as Stewie on Family Guy) is the kind of low art Troma Studios tries to go out of their way to make by reputation, but Harrison (as the white lead in an 'Asian martial arts world') and company pull this off (as it were) all on their own for over 100 inane (or insane, both fit) minutes of cliches, stereotypes and repeating everything such shorts, VHS and Beta tape releases accomplished decades ago, no matter how gross or ultra-stupid. But that is what they set out to do and WOW, they did it. After suffering... I mean watching it, it can only be thought that this were their intent. Sadly, this will not be the last of its kind, but if you want to waste a big spot of time, here it is.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer is sloppy, has detail issues here and there and is simply not too consistent, but that is the way all these wacky productions want to look, so it is par for the course in this case, while the PCM 2.0 Stereo has its rough spots and the makers likely realized an 5.1 mix would be a mistake.

Extras include a Director's Commentary, Blooper Reel, Stills, a Music Video, Deleted Scenes and some Making Of clips.

One Armed Boxer (1972) is an early production of Golden Harvest Studios, which was a rival to the infamous Shaw Brothers studio, and stars famed marital artist Jimmy Wang Yu (who just passed away recently as we post this) in the no holds barred lead role! The title pretty much gives it away but essentially the film centers around a one armed fighter who can lay to waste anyone that crosses his path, even an army of skilled assassins stand no chance against him!

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 an English LPCM 2.0 Mono mix. This new scan comes from a 2K restoration from the original elements by Fortune Star and original, lossless Mandarin PCM Mono audio, alternate Mandarin PCM Mono soundtrack and original English PCM Mono dubbed audio so you can have an authentic experience if you like. (Of course parred with English subtitles.)

Special Features:

Commentary by Frank Djeng from the NY Asian Film Festival

Career retrospective interview with Wang Yu, filmed in Nantes in 2001 and never released before, courtesy of the Frederic Ambroisine Video Archive

Trailer gallery, featuring the original Hong Kong theatrical trailer, a US TV spot (as The Chinese Professionals) and over half an hour of trailers for other Wang Yu classics including One-Armed Swordsman and Master of the Flying Guillotine

Image gallery

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Ilan Sheady

and First Pressing Only: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Simon Abrams.

One Armed Boxer is pretty fun to watch and has the spirit of a Shaw Brothers film even if it technically isn't one.

Last and absolutely not least, Terry Gilliam's rare box office hit and cult classic 12 Monkeys (1995), looks better than ever in this updated 4K edition from Arrow Video with similar features and packaging as the previous release, but with a noticeably impressive bump in terms of presentation in native 4K.

A daring and twisted look at the future that is certainly original, 12 Monkeys 4K stars Bruce Willis as a convict named James Cole who is sent back in time to stop a dark future devastated by a deadly disease that's responsible for wiping out the lot of humanity. Of course everyone thinks that he is insane and he is treated as such and put into a mental ward. From there the film goes wild and it must be seen to be believed as it takes a lot of surrealistic twists and turns that blur the line of what is real and what the character is experiencing through his own time traveling reality.

This movie has been remade into a series and other reincarnations before, but let's face it, this is about as Terry Gilliam as you can get. This filmmaking trademark is stamped all across this and it's that brand of zany humor and creativity that is what makes this unique. Love it or hate it, it's an interesting piece of filmmaking.

This was made in 1995 and so the deadly virus topic in the film hits a little closer to home watching it now thanks to current events more-so than it did in the film's initial release. Still impressive is the near opening sequence where Willis sees a tiger on top of a building in the deserted city and, well, the cinematography of the film itself is simply outstanding and stands the test of time. You can really tell that Willis put his heart into this role as he isn't afraid to go completely off the rails in this one. Brad Pitt's weird eyeball also helps make for a fun character that isn't exactly the type of role that he is usually known for doing.

The film stars Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt, and Christopher Plummer among its solid cast.

12 Monkeys 4K is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with both 2.0 stereo and DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless tracks (same as the previous Arrow Blu-ray release) in 2160p in native 4K ultra high definition on 4K UHD disc, Dolby Vision and HDR10 (high dynamic range). The original 35mm camera negative has been scanned in 4K resolution and has new color grading, which is an improvement over the previous Arrow edition we covered on this site a while back.

Special Features (same as the previous Arrow Blu-ray) include...

Audio commentary by Terry Gilliam and producer Charles Roven

The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of Twelve Monkeys, a feature-length making-of documentary by Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe (Lost in La Mancha)

The Film Exchange with Terry Gilliam, a 1996 interview with Gilliam and critic Jonathan Romney, recorded at the London Film Festival

Brand-new appreciation by Ian Christie, author of Gilliam on Gilliam

The Twelve Monkeys Archives

Theatrical trailer

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin

and FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Nathan Rabin and archive materials.

This is a cult classic and is definitely improved in this release.

- Nicholas Sheffo (Ninja, Territory) and James Lockhart



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