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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Comedy > Gangster > Thriller > Italy > Horror > Science Fiction > Bullet Train (2022/Sony Blu-ray w/DVD)/Contraband (1980/MVD/Cauldron Blu-ray)/Nope 4K (2022/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Pulse Trilogy (2006, 2008/ViaVision Region Free Import Blu-ray Set)

Bullet Train (2022/Sony Blu-ray w/DVD)/Contraband (1980/MVD/Cauldron Blu-ray)/Nope 4K (2022/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Pulse Trilogy (2006, 2008/ViaVision Region Free Import Blu-ray Set)/The Witch 2: The Other One (2022/Well Go Blu-ray)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Pulse Import Blu-ray set is now only available from our friends at Via Vision Entertainment in Australia, can play on all 4K & Blu-ray players and can be ordered from the links below.

Now for more Horror and other genre film releases for you to know about...

David Leitch's Bullet Train (2022) was a moderate hit on the star power of Brad Pitt, as viable as ever, but it is a lousy 2+ hours as he plays an assassin hired freelance to get a metal suitcase with millions of dollars in it, yet he has all kinds of enemies go after him when he lands up in Japan on the title vehicle. As a rule, movies set on trains usually work and work well, no matter how weak the script, directing or the like might be. This is a rare one that does not.

A little pat and nearly smug, the fast ride is one of cliches, played out conventions, fight scenes you have seen done better before and worst of all, coming close to more than a few stereotypes throughout that make it seem cheaper than it should, but Director Leitch is consistently awful and is one of those rare cases where he keeps getting hired because his movies are just staying profitable and he pretty much is about nothing and is not an artist of any kind because he has zero to say.

That makes him ideal for package deals like this, but why Pitt would agree to something so obvious and boring is beyond me, save that he felt he alone could make it make money. Thus, it is not a bomb, but the train never feels like a real train and there are even missed opportunities here that are too long to list. To say this one is playing it safe, 1,000th-generation Tarantino imitator and all, is putting it mildly. You should put this one on COVID lockdown and try something else.

Extras include Movies Anywhere Digital Code, while the Blu-ray (per the press release, only a few of these things are on the DVD) add Outtakes & Bloopers

  • Catch What You Missed: Easter Eggs

  • All Aboard the Pain Train: Stunts

  • Mission Accomplished: Making of Bullet Train

  • Trained Professionals: The Cast

  • Select Stunt Previs

  • and a Feature-Length Audio Commentary with David Leitch, Kelly McCormick & Zak Olkewicz.

Lucio Fulci's Contraband (1980) is an eventually brutal Italian Crime Film from the country's 1970s cycle of such films that walked the line of A and B-movies. The director, usually know for his horror genre work, may have entered the cycle towards the end, but he eventually goes for broke in the torture, brutality, rape and murder department. A few years before De Palma's Scarface remake, Fabio Testi (a big star at the time) is Luce, torn between two gangs of smuggles who become more and brutal in a game of who can be the coldest and most willing to outdo each other in the toxic masculinity department.

The film starts out slow, but I give it credit for having a consistent atmosphere like the best gangster genre films do, though I was reminded of Peter Medak's The Krays (1990) in how it was as personal as it was regional, here taking place in Naples. It can also be a bit gory in the Fulci tradition, but never becomes any kind of outright horror film, though its sometimes extreme violence got it banned in places just the same. I also think it is an odd film because the 1970s were ending and you can start to see that in the film, even when the makers do not know what that is.

Still, it is a key film in the cycle of from Fulci for being a rarity, though it is safe to say he did everything he could with this genre in one film and that alone is why it holds up enough over 40 years later as gangster films have too often become a joke. The Sopranos was so thorough in dealing with the genre that its decline is partly the reason the genre is not what it used to be, their recent prequel theatrical film included, so this film and Scarface (1983) can be seen as film running up to the biggest year of the genre since early sound filmmaking, which is 1990.

This film has not been available for a long time widely and its arrival on Blu-ray is long overdue, making it a great title for new video label Cauldron to build their company with. It is worth seeing, despite some obvious moments, just for its honest brutality, even if you are not a fan of gangster tales. Especially since this is the uncensored version.

Extras include reversible cover, plus the disc adds new interviews with Ivana Monti, Saverio Marconi, Sergio Salvati & Giorgio Mariuzzo, archival interviews from Salvati, Fabio Frizzi, Fabrizio Jovine & Venantino Vanantini, Trailers, an Image Gallery and an solid (if sometimes off track) feature length audio commentary track by Bruce Holecheck, Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson.

Jordan Peele's Nope 4K (2022) is the director's third hit thriller in a row following his remarkable all-horror releases Get Out and Us, making for one of the key trilogies in the genre along with Romero's original Dead films, Larry Cohen's It's Alive films, the original Alien trilogy and the late, great Bob Clark's hat trick of Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things (his 1972 dark comedy that was the first-ever spoof of Romero's first Dead film,) Deathdream and Black Christmas (both 1974,) the film that inspired Carpenter's original Halloween in 1978.

This time, Keke Palmer (in a remarkable performance) and Daniel Kaluuya (a Peele veteran holding his own very well) are siblings who are still getting over the shock of losing their father, who handled animals for major and small Hollywood film productions for decades. They worked with him and are keeping the family business alive, living on their Southern California ranch. At first, they are in grief, but they suddenly are thrown a few curveballs when strange things start to happen in and around where they live.

When they finally agree that they are not imagining things, they start to realize they are onto things more than they imagined and events quickly heat up. This includes a former child star who was once involved in a bizarre real-life event on the set of his somewhat odd hit TV situation comedy, the amusement park that has odd things about it and other figures that come out of nowhere. This keeps adding up into something strange, suspenseful, truly scary and the result is a very palpable film that surprised me as Peele's previous films had.

He has found new territory to explore in the genre, even if Science Fiction gets entangled in the mix and using large frame film formats to make the whole film, he unveils a whole new sense of terror that we also do not see enough in the genre. As of now, he is as important as any horror and suspense filmmaker out there and his love of the genre is only equalled by his ability to create and break new ground in it.

Some of this might have been more visually intense in some ways than his previous films and I think he may have lost some viewers in the process, though the film has a few down moments that hold it back a little bit. Still, it is a remarkable film, its obsession with the ideas of images has all kinds of things to say (you get more than one film within this film if you think about it, but I will not spoil anything) and you really will need to watch this film multiple times to really get what he is doing here. He keeps this up and he'll be the next Master of Suspense!

Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray version is the best way to see this outside of a big theatrical screening (especially in Dolby Vision) and I think it might make several Top Ten lists by the end of the year because outside of outright dramas, he is ahead of most people in the event film department. Also, late in the year, it is one of the best films I have seen, though we'll see what awards season brings.

Extras are not bad either and include Movies Anywhere Digital Code, while the discs (per the press release) add: SHADOWS: THE MAKING OF NOPE: Unpack the meaning of NOPE with Jordan Peele. Secrets are revealed with this 56-minute immersion exploring the film's unanswered questions, taking you on an intimate journey inside every aspect of production and offering a detailed look at Peele's revolutionary filmmaking process.

  • DELETED SCENES: Watch five unreleased scenes from NOPE

  • GAG REEL: A highlight reel of bloopers and outtakes featuring main cast

  • CALL HIM JEAN JACKET: The object of the Haywood siblings' fascination is an entity known only as ''Jean Jacket.'' Filmmakers provide insights into the conception, design, and execution of this mysterious organism.

  • and MYSTERY MAN OF MUYBRIDGE: A deep dive into THE HORSE IN MOTION by Eadweard Muybridge, its relationship to the Haywoods, and how it relates to the larger themes in NOPE.

Remember The Pulse Trilogy (2006, 2008)? In a time not too long ago when portable technology was more unknown or simply not known much and expensive at that, we landed up with a cycle of movies that tried to exploit this. One of the few hits from this cycle was the early Sandra Bullock hit The Net, while a few moderate successes like Hackers developed a cult following to go with their lack of success. Most films were just plain bad and the three Pulse films are among that cynical, forgotten group.

Also unintentionally funny now when not insulting, supernatural forces are literally out to kill people by going through their (8-bit?) devices. Though the first film only did a little business at best, the makers were going to make a trilogy no matter how little anyone wanted them. Here's our coverage of these films around that time:

Pulse HD-DVD (yes, in that defunct format)


Pulse 2: Afterlife DVD


Pulse 3 DVD


Extras are exactly the same for all three films, so they had nothing new to add, which is no surprise. What can they say?

That makes this is a slight upgrade for hardcore fans of this mess, which no one talks about anymore save its fans and hardcore Horror genre folks. Now back in print (Universal originally handled the first film, The Weinstein Company, the sequels and they have all three now and just in time for the still-continuing Harvey Weinstein scandal) for those who are somehow curious, at least you can see them and see what all the complaining is about.

Park Hoon-Jung's The Witch 2: The Other One (2022) is a sequel to a film I and most people have not seen, plus is not connected to the many other films that might be called 'The Witch' while it plays like an action film at times to its detriment as the title character escapes a government stronghold prison to stop her from killing again. Of course, she escapes as the sole survivor of some 'Witch Program' or the like, or we would not have a sequel.

From there, you are expected to at least know something about a previous film of some sort, but it is also a little familiar since we've seen all these cliches in other and better film and even TV (Stranger Things) productions. Then there is the question of if we side with her or the people trying to stop and contain her. The screenplay is so bad here, 'first' film or not, it is just pointless and I did not care after the first few scenes. I did not want to see any other connected film. I wondered if the 'first' film had been any kind of hit, why have we not heard of it? Much of it? At all?

So to say this is for fans only is an understatement. Yes, there is some serious effort in making this and at least a little money on the screen, but it is quickly forgotten, is part of a glut of every kind of film it tries to be and offers nothing original along with more cliches than expected. The only thing this Witch can do is fly away and be as forgotten as the 'story' itself, but a cynical third film is set up here. Too bad. South Korea has turned out some interesting films. This is not one of them.

A brief Making-Of featurette and trailer for this and three other Well Go releases are the only extras.

Now for playback performance. The 2160p HECV/H.265, 2.30 X 1/1.78 X 1, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on Nope was all shot on 65mm Kodak Vision 3 series color negative motion picture film, sometimes IMAX and though no actual film prints were struck for its original release like some such films, it did play on select Dolby Theater screens with 12-bit color and advanced Dolby Vision technology. For some reason, Universal is only using 10-bit HDR color and it looks good, but no match for my Dolby Vision screening.

However, there are still a few demo shots here and they rank above my letter grade. This is still one of the best shot and best-looking films of the year and Director of Photography Hoyte Van Hoytema, ASC, FSF, NSC, delivers another very memorable film visually and with some strong, even engulfing form. I was pleasantly surprised and impressed when I first saw it and you will be too if you missed it. The 1080p digital High Definition image on the Blu-ray version with the same aspect ratios is not bad, but you are really missing too much color range, detail and subtle visuals if you do not see it in 4K. Yes, it looks that good. We get Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixdown for older systems) on both discs and it is a really good, smart mix, going being 'standard' on purpose to many great breakout moments that are among the best sound design fo the year too.

To say the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on the Bullet Train Blu-ray is highly digitized is an understatement, reveling in its green screen, blue screen and artifice, along with its imitations of better films and again, this might be more fun in 4K, but for as bad as this is and gets, it would only be a curio at best. The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on the DVD is even softer and poorer, but we don't expect much from DVDs these days or the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 they include as their best tracks, especially since you rarely see older DTS on DVDs anymore. Makers are saving DTS for Blu-ray and 4K discs now, so the DVD is here for convenience at best.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Contraband can show the age of the materials used, which is noted on the case, saying the original 35mm camera negative has damage to it that they did not have the time, money, other resources or back-up film materials to fix. It still looks good, but it can look a slight shade darker than maybe it should. The sound is here in original, better Italian PCM 2.0 Mono and an original English dub so bad, even the audio commentary gets into detail of how bad it is.

As for the Pulse films, the 1080p upgrade of the sequels in 1.78 X 1 only go so far, while the 2.35 X 1 of the original film only benefits slightly from being a new transfer of the same HD master form the old, old HD-DVD! All the sound is upgraded for lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 sound, save the original film, with the same lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 sound and alternate, lossy Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 mix, another format that did not succeed much.

That leaves the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Witch, it is often soft throughout, even counting styling and you get a little motion blur here and there, giving the impression the HD camera is an older model that is at least semi-obsolete in a 4K world. The presentation is still consistent, but not much better than the Pulse films. Better and more state-of-the-art is the Korean DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix that has some punch to it and clarity is fine. The English DTS-MA 5.1 version is weak and to be skipped.

To order the Region Free Pulse Trilogy Blu-ray set, go to this link:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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