To Kill 4K
(1967/Criterion 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Calamity
(1999/88 Films*)/His Dark
Materials: The Complete Third Season
(2023/Warner Blu-ray Set)/L.A.
Wars (1994/*all MVD
Ultra HD Picture: B Picture: B+/B/B-/B+/B+/C+ Sound:
B+/B-/B-/B+/B+/B- Extras: B/B-/B/B/D/C Main Programs:
some restored action and horror, plus a new hit series...
Koolhoven's AmnesiA (2001) gets a deluxe Blu-ray edition from
Cult Epics. The psychological thriller follows a photographer that
unlocks some bizarre family secrets which includes his twin brother.
The film stars Fedja van Huet in a dual role, Carice van Houten, and
Theo Maassen. The production is interestingly made with pretty
strong performances, but is definitely geared at those who follow
more adult drama fare.
is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4
AVC codec, a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.67:1 and three Dutch audio
tracks in lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1, LPCM 2.0 Stereo, and
lossy, weaker Dolby Digital 5.1. The film has been remastered from
the original camera negative.
by Martin Koolhoven
Length Audio Commentary by Martin Koolhoven, Fedja van Huet,
moderated by Peter Verstraten
Conversation with Martin Koolhoven & Carice van Houten (2022) 44
Making of AmnesiA (2001) 38 mins
with Carice van Houten (2001)
TWO: Bonus TV films by Martin Koolhoven
Q (1999) 85 mins
Light (Duister Licht) (1997) 55 mins
Slipcase Art by Peter Strain
a Double-sided Sleeve with Original Bonus Film Posters.
Sukuki's Branded To Kill
4K (1967) has been
recently restored and after these two excellent Blu-ray editions were
issued in the last few years. They are from...
film has been restored in 4K and this new Criterion set has both a 4K
Ultra HD Blu-ray and regular Blu-ray. Though you can see some
details and slightly more frame in the new edition, the 2160p
HEVC/H.265, 2.35 X 1, black and white (Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced
Ultra High Definition image has zero HDR of any kind and is
disappointing, with the image being too pale, lite and lacking the
rich Video Black the film needs and still has on the previous
editions. Why? Once again, we have a case in recent 4K releases
like the Lionsgate Man Who Fell To Earth or import Picnic
At Hanging Rock (both of which are worse than this one) where
those doing the transfers and color grading when off the rails and
took liberties they should not have.
the image is not as Noir or foreboding and the dark, dirty world of
the film looks like it is too cleaned up. Maybe it was new black and
white 35mm film with a lack of silver content or someone who had a
fear it would look 'too dark' and panicked, not understanding the
film, but that's what you get. At least with this set, you get both
PCM 2.0 Mono is only so much better than the previous Blu-rays, so
its improvements are slight but fine.
repeat the previous Criterion release, including the excellent
Chang's Calamity of Snakes (1982), hasn't aged well as it is
obvious that many snakes WERE harmed during the making of this
outrageous foreign exploitation slither-fest. In fact, this edition
of the film on Blu-ray even includes a 'cruelty free' cut. However,
Unearthed Films has even gone a step further and reportedly are
donating some proceeds of this disc to an animal rights group! A
classy move indeed!
and well made despite its shortcomings, Calamity of Snakes
centers on a apartment building that is new and under construction on
top of a large population of killer snakes. As new residents start
moving in, the snakes come out for a snack, leading to the ultimate
battle between human and serpent which can be both comical and
frightening. Anyone who has a phobia about snakes need not apply.
The premise is no doubt a good one and could be remade easily for
American audiences using the cinematic mentality akin to Cocaine
film stars Yun-Peng Hsiang, Ping-Ou Wei, and Yuen Kao.
of Snakes 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
audio tracks in Mandarin, Cantonese, and English LPCM 2.0 Mono (with
optional English subtitles) with the best sounding audio channel
being the English one, as it has the best mastering of the bunch.
The film looks okay here considering its budget and is a fine
restoration from the original source material translated to Blu-ray
Length Audio Commentary from Nathan Hamilton and Brad Slaton
Length Documentary: From Shaw to Snakes: The Venom And Violence of
Early Chinese Language Horror Cinema
Recollections: Lin Kuang-Yung In Conversation With Chui-Yi Chung
the 'Cruelty Free Cut'.
pretty clever in story and execution, Calamity of Snakes is
just as wild and at times disturbing as it sounds.
Superstar Jackie Chan stars in Gorgeous (1999), which now has
a special edition Blu-ray release from 88 Films in grand fashion with
both the international and Hong Kong versions of the film captured
here in this limited edition. The film is a fun action adventure
featuring Jackie Chan in arguably the biggest time in his career.
film stars Jackie Chan, Shu Qi, Richie Jen, Ken Lo, Tony Leung
Chiu-wai, and Stephen Chow with direction by Vincent Kok.
romance comedy / action film, Gorgeous follows a young woman
(Shu Qi), who finds a romantic message in a bottle and goes to Hong
Kong in search of the sender. However, it turns out to be a gay
beautician who is not at all interested. Of course, she does find
love anyway, but it doesn't come easy as his famed foe is dead set on
ruining the relationship.
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 both an English
dub and better Cantonese, lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1
(48kHz, 24-bit) set of lossless mixes. Though a 4K UHD version not
yet available as of this writing, this Blu-ray edition features 2K
Transfers from 'original film materials' of the Hong Kong &
International versions of the film. For those wondering, the Hong
Kong Cut has only Cantonese 5.1 whilst the International Version has
both English/Cantonese audio channels.
Edition includes an O-Ring Slipcase with Matte Finish, a 28 Page
Booklet by Matthew Edwards, and a A3 Folded Travel Poster
Commentary with Frank Djeng and FJ Desanto
Commentary with Action Experts Mike Leeder and Arne Venema
Commentary with Jackie Chan
Guy: Andy Cheng on Brad Allan
with Director Vincent Kok
The Making of 'Gorgeous'
Music Videos, Hong Kong Trailer, English Trailer
a reversible cover with new artwork by Sean Longmore.
on the novels by Philip Pullman and specifically ''The Amber
Spyglass'', His Dark
Materials: The Complete Third Season (2023) continues the
series' hit success, which is now out on Blu-ray disc from Warner
Bros. and HBO. While a 4K UHD would have been a preferred method of
release, this well rendered Blu-ray edition looks comparable to the
series streaming on HBO Max and is an interesting fantasy / adventure
series that has a big budget and a big cast to back it up.
Dark Materials stars Dafne Keen (of Logan fame and soon
the Star Wars series The Acolyte), James McAvoy, Ruth
Wilson, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Clarke Peters.
one hour episodes comprise the season including The Enchanted
Sleeper, The Break, The Intention Craft, Lyra and Her Death, No Way
Out, The Abyss, The Clouded
and The Botanic Garden.
Dark Materials is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray
disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec, a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.00:1
and lossless, English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) on
all episodes. The series has high cinematic production value and
looks nice on the aging Blu-ray format with a presentation similar to
the alternate streaming presentation. The season spans two packed to
the brim Blu-ray discs.
Special Features, which is a little surprising.
Dark Materials is a pretty fun and imaginative series that is
faithful to its source material.
VHS era produced hundreds, even thousands of one-shot and independent
productions, sometimes more than one from so many sources, that the
last few years saw a shocking boom in the value of such titles in the
science fiction and horror genre saw the few playable tapes out there
going for $100.00 and up. This caused a wave of some of these films
being restored and reissued on Blu-ray and even DVD. Those shot on
analog videotape where upscaled and cleaned up, but that was only a
small number and those still not in print still fetch big bucks.
Martin Morris and Tony Kandah's L.A.
Wars (1994) is one of
those films, save it is the action genre and any tape version was
never that pricey.
many of these semi-angry/comic (intentionally and unintentionally)
reactionary 'revenge' action films were produced in big numbers to
try to get any of the money a big screen market that included
Schwarzenegger, Lundgren and Van Damme with a lead who had much less
acting talent, could maybe fight (bad choreography notwithstanding)
and was hitting the gym just enough to fit the bill.
we get someone named Vince Murdocco, fighting Italian and Hispanic
drug cartels, while falling for the daughter of one of them. From
there, the formula becomes as predictable and obvious as it is
unoriginal, and yet they all keep moving on, shooting on actual
photochemical film, thinking all those things will not matter as the
market is at the peak of pre-DVD saturation. Unfortunately, it not
well directed, acting is 'limited' to say the least the the fights
are overly thought out. This is still a better example of such indie
productions and they should all be saved as much as they can so we
can see how bad they were, but they are semi orphan films and the
clock is ticking. At least we have this example for better and
1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image 2K transfer can show the
age of the 16mm color film used (likely Kodak, though maybe some Fuji
or even Agfa?,) but the source here has scratches and other flaws
throughout that can be distracting and definition is on the weak side
despite what the film stocks of the time could produce when exposed
properly. The film materials need some serious photochemical
restoration, but at least this was not shot on old, low definition,
analog videotape, so their film still exists.
PCM 2.0 Stereo may be a little overly loud, boosted and slightly
harsh, but that is better than the also-included PCM 2.0 Mono, which
is just too weak and mousy to be heard. The Italian Dub version is
amusing at best, but also as weak.
(partly per the press release) include a Limited
Run SLIPCOVER (First Pressing Only,) retro
mini-poster and reversible
cover, while the disc adds a NEW! Feature Length Audio Commentary
with producer, co-writer and co-director Tony Kandah moderated by
host Heath Holland, a NEW! Video Commentary with producer, co-writer
and co-director Tony Kandah & Heath Holland, 'Starting
(17:26, HD) conversation with 'L.A.
producer, co-writer and co-director Tony Kandah, 'Shoot First'
(23:00, HD) interview with 'L.A.
cinematographer Mark Morris, a Photo Gallery and an Original
Theatrical Trailer (2:51, SD).
Nicholas Sheffo (4K, Wars) and James Lockhart