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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Murder > Horror > Assassination > Action > Martial Arts > Mystery > Suspense > Blow Out 4K (1981/MGM/Criterion 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Drive 4K (1997/88 Films* 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray)/Frost (2022/Cleopatra* Blu-ray w/CD)/Massacre At Central High (1976/Synapse* Blu-ray)/2LDK

Blow Out 4K (1981/MGM/Criterion 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Drive 4K (1997/88 Films* 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray)/Frost (2022/Cleopatra* Blu-ray w/CD)/Massacre At Central High (1976/Synapse* Blu-ray)/2LDK (2013/Unearthed Blu-ray/*all MVD)

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

Now for more genre action, including three major upgrades...

Brian De Palma's Blow Out 4K (1981) is back from Criterion, one of his greatest thrillers that just gets better with age and is as relevant as ever. You can read my review of their older Blu-ray edition, that is included with the 4K upgrade, at this link:


Of course, extras from that set are repeated here including the great booklet with some upgraded information, but the true highly is how fine the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray is and impressive it is. You can read more specifically about that below, but this is very seriously recommended for all serious film fans and remains one of De Palma's best films.

Steve Wang's Drive 4K (1997) is not the Ryan Gosling film, but an earlier film that does its best to mix martial arts, cars and action, a low budget, independent production with some ambition that was somewhat successful in its time. A young man named Toby (Mark Dacascos, so successful that you have seen him before whether you know it or not) is fitted with a device that gives him extra powers to go with the martial arts he already knows in Hong Kong, but leaves for Los Angeles before the U.K. turns the town over to the Chinese Government.

Thinking he can sell the technology with no hassle there, he quickly finds out how wrong he is when it is not easy, he meets a singer named Malik (Kadeem Hardison) who is himself in trouble and they both soon find a group of assassins who want them both dead.

It is more obviously an 'all guy' film now than upon its first release, as films like Fast & Furious and its various imitators have more women on the front lines of the action, but the performance that steals every scene is that of the late Brittany Murphy, who outacts everyone else and shows us what a great, energetic talent she was. If made now, she'd be either driving a car and/or doing martial arts throughout, yet her moments here are impressive and it is something to see now.

88 Films has included both the original cut of the film and the later one in 4K that the producers made by taking the film over and adding new hip electronic music. Though by a narrow margin, I lean towards the older version a little just because it does not seem as forced. Either way, this is a film that keeps becoming more and more a curio and now, you can see both versions in the best way possible. Had it been a bigger hit in any cut, there would likely have at least been one sequel, but that was not meant to be. It is at least from a time when independent productions were more ambitious and not often lazy like now, something I miss. Anyone curious should check it out.

Extras include a mini poster, while the disc adds a feature length audio commentary track by Director Wang, Co-Leads Dacascos & Hardison and Choreographer Koichi Sakamoto, the original 100 minutes cut of the film with its original music score in 1080p but only lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, Six Deleted Scenes, a reversible sleeve, Original Theatrical Trailer, Interview Gallery with vintage clips of the cast & crew at the time of production and two Making Of featurettes: Highway To Nowhere: Jason Tobin & Drive and Drive: The Force Behind The Storm.

Brandon Slagle's Frost (2022) starts out with a premise that could have worked if they had seen it through. The title substance becomes a menace that can kill and not even as some kind of global warming warning. The first few scenes hint at this and we then wait to see more characters show up and more narrative kick in. Then, things collapse and this becomes yet another lame, tired, 'stuck-in-a' story that just ruins everything and turns this into a big dud. Why?

They had some good music, an interesting idea and we get this instead. No less than music legends Rick Wakeman and Geoff Downes even play on some of the tracks and the makers were not more inspired? What a disappointment and set of wasted opportunities. Too bad, because if it had taken the other direction, this could have been some kind of cult hit or cult favorite. Oh well.

Extras include a trailers for this and other Cleopatra exploitation film releases, stills and the CD soundtrack.

Renee Daalder's Massacre At Central High (1976) is one of the more interesting B-movie independent action exploitation thrillers of its time. Sometimes seeming more progressive than many such films about high school today on some level. A group of rich guys are harassing (and worse) various people they are targeting in their local high school, but the new kid in town (Derrel Maury as David) is not impressed. Strangely, he knows one of the perpetrators (Andrew Stevens on his way to some stardom and two years away from De Palma's underrated The Fury) who tries to get him to join their group.

At first he refuses and when he sees things getting worse, ticks them off so much that they almost kill him. Suddenly then, bad things start to happen to them and it looks like an accident or two, but before they know it, they suspect David. Is it him? Are others starting to plot these accidents?

After briefly dealing with 'right from wrong' ideas and presenting the politics of the day, the film then goes off the rails and does not care about anything else when all kinds of people start to get killed. That also leaves the last act or so of this film with some strange results, but it was moderately successful in its time (thanks in part to a great promo campaign) and I'm glad it is not a lost film. Instead, it needs to be seen as part of a cycle of such films, usually B movies, but also films like The Fury, De Palma's Carrie, Ruby and the like because of the way it reflected the era so well and honestly, even when it was not trying.

The locations look good and the supporting cast is not bad, including Rex Steven Sykes, Kimberly Beck, Ray Underwood, Steve Bond, Tom Logan and a pre-Eight Is Enough Lani O'Grady, so good on that show (we lost her way too young), who actually appears nude from a distance in one scene. That hit series launched a year later. This is definitely a film worth a good look, no matter what you land up thinking about it!

Extras include a Stills Gallery, Original Theatrical Trailer, TV Spot, Radio Spot, audio interviews with Mike White hosting Andrew Stevens, Robert Carradine, Derrel Maury & Rex Steven Sykes, a second audio interview by film scholar Michael Gingold with Director Daalder and brand new HELL IN THE HALLWAYS: The Making Of MASSACRE AT CENTRAL HIGH documentary.

The Unearthed Films-presented 2LDK (2003) centers on two actresses who are sharing an apartment together and both have additional for the same part. Tension get pretty high between the two of them is this extreme exploration of competition and friendship.

The film stars Eiko Koike, Maho Nonami, Yoriko Kamimura, and Daisuke Kizaki.

So it is a battle between two women, which we see occasionally in commercial films (Black Widow, Single White Female) and even underrated thrillers (Chul-Soo Park's 301/302 (1995), all reviewed elsewhere on this site) so such films are rare, but this is not one of the better ones. Still, it is a curio for that reason alone and those really interested might want to see it just the same.

Special Features:

Feature-length Audio Commentary with Maho Nonami & Eiko Koike (subtitled)

Making of 2LDK

Tokyo International Fantastic Film Festival Interviews

Premiere Screening Interviews

Duel Production Briefing

Video Message For Theatre Audience

Screening At Kudan Kaikan Interviews

Photo Gallery

and Trailers.

Now for playback quality. The 2160p HECV/H.265, 2.35 X 1, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on the Blow Out 4K disc is an impressive upgrade from an already solid Blu-ray from MGM via Criterion in a new 4K scan of the original 35mm camera negative and it is as good as the film has ever looked outside of a mint 35mm or maybe 16mm anamorphic film print. Color range, depth and detail jump, as well as warmth and realism in a way shows why people are upgrading to 4K set-ups in the first place. Video Black and Video Red are further improved, as are Video White. The regular 2.35 X 1 Blu-ray is fine for what it is, but no match for this new 4K edition. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 2.0 Stereo soundtrack is the same soundmaster used or the older Blu-ray, but it actually sounds warmer, louder, clearer and better on the 4K disc than the older Blu-ray version for some reason, but that furthers the film's impact and is yet another great surprise from the upgrade.

The 2160p HECV/H.265, 2.35 X 1, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on Drive 4K (1997) was shot in Super 35mm, which is not as sharp as using anamorphic lenses for scope like Blow Out 4K does with such lenses by Panavision, but this still looks good for its age and budget. Some shots and effects have dated the film and its look, but this is as good as this will ever look and the company did the best transfer job possible with a new 4K scan of the original camera negative. The other interesting thing at the time of its release is that it was only available in DTS digital and DTS analog sound exclusively (ignoring Dolby and Sony's SDDS format) so it was proud to be loud, which does carry over to the Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixdown for older systems) and DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo lossless upgrades here, but its budget and some sonic choices still show the film's age. Wonder why no DTS: X was included, but again, this is the best the film will ever sound.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Frost is a little weak and is an HD shoot with what looks like an older HD camera. The limits can sometimes help the narrative, but that does not last here and there are color limits. The sound is oddly lossy Dolby Digital 5.1, which further hurts the presentation. A lossless track would have helped, but Cleopatra does not seem to believe in them, though the PCM 2.0 16.44.1 Stereo CD soundtrack also included sounds really good. All the more reason we believe a lossless soundtrack would have been better.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Massacre can show the age of the materials used in spots, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film I have ever seen (save on actual film) and its nice the original camera materials survived as well as they did. Color, detail and depth are nice for a low-budget films its age. It was 1.85 X 1 theatrically, but this framing is just fine and the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix is as good as this film will ever sound.

Lastly, 2LDK is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec, a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78 X 1, and lossless Japanese DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) and LCPM 2.0 Stereo tracks with English subtitles. The presentation here is up to standards and captured nicely.

- Nicholas Sheffo and James Lockhart (2LDK)



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