Gordy's The Last Dragon 4K
(1985/Tri-Star/Sony 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray
Gilman: Teenage Kraken
(both 2023/Universal Blu-rays w/DVDs)
Ultra HD Picture: B Picture: B-/B/B & C/B- & C Sound:
B/B-/B & C+/B & C Extras: C+/C+/C/C- Films: C+/C+/C/D
for some brad action and comedy releases, old and new...
Gordy's The Last Dragon 4K
(1985) is directed by journeyman veteran Michael Schultz, whose films
Way Is Up?,
and the odd 1978 fantasy film comedy musical remake of The Beatles
Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Gordy felt he was the man for this new fantasy martial arts comedy
and it turned out to be their last high-profile collaboration.
martial arts student (Taimak) does not just want to get a Black Belt
or become a master of the self-defense artform, but attain a state
called ''The Glow'' and is ready for anything, but in Harlem, a very
evil ''Shogun Of Harlem'' (Julius J. Carry III) is building an unseen
evil empire and intends to let no one stop him, running night clubs
and other fronts to commit endless crimes without a second thought.
In the middle of this is a very sexy singer (real life singer Vanity,
who recently left us too young) who the young man quickly finds
affinity for and wants to save.
set up is obvious and thanks to the massive success of Michael
Jackson's massive-selling Thriller
album, meant ideas of magic and fantasy were all over the place in
music videos and feature films, partly by way of the Lucas/Spielberg
successes as well. The press for the film at the time kept reminding
us that Gordy had something to do with Jackson's success (partly
true, of course, but Jackson's first number one solo song and only #1
for Motown was the theme to Ben!)
was pushing it a little bit more as Gordy once again felt al the
Motown stars should have stayed at the label for life. Many did just
fine after leaving, which in some cases was inevitable.
is joined by the underrated DeBarge (the last big act Motown Records,
in its original form, ever launched,) Stevie Wonder and a
then-still-active Temptations made up the songs on the soundtrack and
the film became the most expensive, ambitious, mostly
African-American cast Hollywood big studio release since The Wiz
(1978, issued the same year as that Sgt. Pepper's movie; they
both disappointed at the box office) and is now an interesting time
capsule of that time representing the presence of almost all the
major music forces in soul and pop music (Prince is represented by
Vanity by default, joining the Jackson connections) and has Gordy's
movie producing period ending on a high note in style.
resulting film is a mixed bag and some of it is obvious and
predictable, but it is also very 1980s and looks good, the cast is
all in for this and some of the fighting (even when optical 'glow'
printing gets in the way like nothing since Olivia Newton-John made
Xanadu a few years before) is not bad as well as interesting
from a period martial arts films had tapered off in the U.S. Market
and turned to (too much) comedy elsewhere.
is a film that deserved to be restored and upgraded for all to see
and enjoy, with this new steelbook edition offering nice art and the
4K presentation being the best way to see this outside of a near
mint-to-mint 70mm blow-up film print.
include Digital Code Copy, while the discs add Feature-Length Audio
Commentary with Director Michael Schultz on both discs, while the
Blu-ray adds a Return of the Dragon featurette and an Original
(1979) is a film Hung also stars in that, as I noted in my DVD review
has him joined by...
Biao as one of two thieves, who have things going smoothly until they
cross a kingpin thief (Hung). This fares better than the previous two
films, but does not go as far in the grittier world of underworld
crime that it does in hand to hand combat and has way too much humor
injected into its fighting sequences.''
too much comedy for me, I like Hung even more now than before, but
that does not change my feelings much on the film. Now you can judge
it for yourself on this very worthy upgrade.
are many for this upgrade and include:
on the HK Theatrical Cut by martial arts cinema experts Frank Djeng
& Michael Worth
on the Export Cut by action cinema experts Mike Leeder & Arne
interview with Sammo Hung
interview with Bryan 'Beardy' Leung Kar-Yan
interview with Grandmaster Chan Sau Chang (aka The Monkey King),
a master of Monkey Style Kung Fu
'Red Room' scene, featuring stars Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung in
a teaser promo for the film's Japanese release
sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Ilan
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collectors' booklet
featuring new writing by Simon Abrams and original press materials.
Gilman: Teenage Kraken
(2023) is a somewhat charming CGI animated comedy about being
different and not necessarily being a monster, two gals in high
school (Ruby and Chelsea) who are just trying to lead normal lives,
only to find out more is ahead of them than they ever knew. This is
Animation's latest attempt at a hit and possibly a franchise, as some
of these CGI features like being water-bound to show off visual
animation and effects to go with that theme.
am not the audience for this one, found it very predictable and the
voice-overs were slightly too hyped for their own good, but this is
ambitious and veterans Toni Collette and Jane Fonda are joined by
Lana Condor, Annie Murphy and Colman Domingo in a work that is at
least ambitious, consistent and well-rounded enough to likely land
with its young (and female skewing) audience. You'll have to see it
for yourself to judge ultimately, but I would like to take a second
look at it in 4K whenever I can to see if it works better that way.
include Digital Code Copy and the following (per the press release)
features on the discs that are plenty enough for its audience,
SCENES WITH INTROS: Introductions by Co-Director Faryn Pearl
DRAWING GUIDE: Head of story, Glenn Harmon, will teach everyone how
to draw Ruby Gillman in her teenager and kraken forms, Grandmamah,
Chelsea, and mermaid Chelsea.
VAN DER ZEE
YOUR OWN AQUARIUM: With a few simple products and a little
imagination, you can bring the undersea world into your own home.
SOLIDARITY: ADVENTURES IN ADR
KRAKEN: MYTH OR MONSTER: In this animated piece narrated by Lana
Condor and Annie Murphy, we dive deep into the mysteries of krakens
and discover how stories of these mythical beasts have evolved over
hundreds and hundreds of years.
THE GILLMAN CAST: Meet the cast behind your favorite RUBY GILLMAN,
TEENAGE KRAKEN characters and discover what they loved about lending
their voices to this aquatic adventure!
KRAKEN KREW: MEET THE HUMANS BEHIND THE GILLMANS
STORIES: Ruby's greatest wish was to attend prom with her friends
and crush Connor! Here, the cast of the movie share their own prom
stories and explain how they would design a promposal.
SEA GIRL BESTIES: If you can see it, you can be it! In this piece we
meet the talented women involved in the making of RUBY GILLMAN,
FEATURE COMMENTARY: with Director Kirk DeMicco, Co-Director Faryn
Pearl, Producer Kelly Cooney Cilella, Head of Character Animation
Carlos Fernandez Puertolas and Head of Cinematography, Layout Jon
Gene Siskel used to have a segment on their original half-hour
reviews show Sneak
in the 1970s called 'Dog Of The Week' where they would name the worst
film the studios had issued, though sometimes it would be a release
from a smaller company. John Greenbaum's Strays
(2023) with foul-mouthed talking fogs and equally pointless talking
humans continues that tradition of bad cinema, though were at the
point where releases like this are now not even being called that.
Ferrell voices a puppy who is abandoned by his owner (Will Forte) and
the pup only starts to realize this when he meets a streetwise dog
(voiced by Jamie Foxx) when left in the tough part of town. Instead
of even trying to make this work, it ids just an hour and a half of
obviousness, obscenities (we're told this is the R-rated version, so
there was an NC-17 cut too?) and who is this really made for? It
just goes on and on and on and on to no point, save the actors just
doing a little voiceover work, picking up their paychecks and moving
on. Dreadful and best skipped!
include Digital Code Copy and a longer-than-expected set of lame
extras on the disc (per the unfunny press release) including:
Like a Dog: Meet the humans behind the dogs as Will Ferrell, Jamie
Foxx, Isla Fisher, and Randall Park discuss how they got into the
canine mindset to voice their roles.
Ultimate Treat: Making STRAYS: Go on a journey with filmmakers and
cast and share in their joy at bringing this unique film to the big
Booms, and Shrooms: You'd be surprised how challenging it is filming
big scenes with non-human actors. In this piece we take a look at
how the filmmaking team executed some of the film's most memorable
Forte: STRAY Actor: Sit down with Will Forte and learn what it's
like playing someone we all hate. Filmmakers and his castmates join
in to reveal why Will was the best man for the job.
to be STRAY: Sit, stay, pee, hump? Take a look at the creative
methods used by trainers to get the canines to perform.
New Best Friend: The bond between human and dog is undeniable.
So much so that director Josh Greenbaum couldn't resist bringing a
stray from set home with him.
feature commentary with Director/Producer Josh Greenbaum and
Screenwriter/Producer Dan Perrault.
for playback performance.
The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 1.85 X 1, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD
Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on Dragon
is the best-looking release here with solid images, fine color range
and a consistent image, but because of the way it was shot and some
of the older visual effects, there is a built-in softness throughout
that is authentic, but holds the overall image back a little. This
is a fantasy genre film, music and martial arts taking second place,
so that is to be expected. When compared to the 1080p regular
blu-ray, which is much weaker and even disappointing, you can see
just how good the better points of the 4K edition are.
4K version has a new Dolby Atmos
11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixdown for older systems) that takes
advantage of the original 70mm blow-up 4.1 Dolby magnetic soundmaster
and likely the separate studio-recorded music soundtrack that was
encoded with Dolby's older A-type analog noise reduction. With some
solid work here, this film will never sound better, while the regular
Blu-ray has a harsher, older 5.1 mix presented in DTS-HD MA (Master
Audio) 5.1 lossless sound that makes it sound older, aged and not as
good as it could.
1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on Knockabout is
a nice upgrade from the older DVD with better color and a more solid
look, holding up better than expected and the scan is well done.
Instead of a DTS upgrade like the old DVD, all we get is PCM 1.0 Mono
sound, but it is just fine, though it could have been 2.0 Mono and
would have sounded a bit better.
1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Kraken
has some slight motion blur, but decent colors, though I bet this
would look better in 4K, while the DTS-HD
MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix is not bad, but sounds like a
mixdown from a 12-track soundmaster. The combination is still good,
but I felt like I was missing out throughout from a better
1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on the Strays
Blu-ray is for the dogs with a motion-blur-filled presentation, flat
cinematography and I doubt it can ever look better than this, even if
it somehow got a 4K release. It likely won't. The
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix barely keeps a soundfield
and is one of the most unimaginative multi-channel mixes we've heard
in years, barely professional and unexciting.
title come with anamorphically enhanced DVDs that are too soft, have
barely passable, lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 and are just their for
convenience at best.