Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > Thriller > Horror > Science Fiction > Surrealism > Psychological > Drama > Sweden > Crime > Gangst > Aporia (*)/Black Circle (2018/Synapse**)/Dance Fools, Dance (1931/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Long Arm Of The Law, Parts I (1983) & II (1987/88 Films/**both MVD Blu-ray)/Wandering Earth II (*both 2023

Aporia (*)/Black Circle (2018/Synapse**)/Dance Fools, Dance (1931/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Long Arm Of The Law, Parts I (1983) & II (1987/88 Films/**both MVD Blu-ray)/Wandering Earth II (*both 2023/Well Go Blu-rays)

Picture: B+/B+/B-/B/B Sound: B+/B+/C+/B-/B+ Extras: C/B/C/B/C- Films: C+/C+/B-/B-/C+

PLEASE NOTE: The Dance Fools, Dance Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

Here's a wide range of mystery thrillers, most involving crime...

Aporia (2023) is a time bending drama starring Judy Greer (Jurassic World, Halloween series) in a nice starring role for the underrated veteran actress. The Hollywood indie brings up a lot of questions about life decisions and what lengths a person dealing with trauma would go to change their troubled past, and the ripple effects of one event or bad decision, and how that can affect others.

The story centers around a woman whose husband is killed by a drunk driver and it ruins both her and her daughter's life in a ripple effect. When a brilliant scientific friend of the husband comes up with a time machine of sorts, the woman does what she must to bring back her husband, even if it means taking the life of his accidental killer in exchange. Once the husband comes back to life, things in the new reality start to change. The more and more the machine is used, the stranger things start to get, the wilder this all becomes.

The film is similar in some ways in tone to The Butterfly Effect, as the film challenges its viewers with moral dilemmas and an interesting first two acts and then a semi-lackluster ending. The film also stars Edi Gatheg and Payman Maadi.

Special Features: a Behind the Scenes featurette and a Trailer.

Aporia is a bit too dramatic for its own good at times, but is well made and acted, and makes ya think a little bit too. Worth checking out!

Adrian Garcia Bogliano's Black Circle (2018) is a artsy Swedish psychological horror film that is the cinematic equivalent of being hypnotized or drugged in a weird way. Gasper Noe is another filmmaker who experiments with a similar cinematic formula of gives the viewer a sense of unease. The story centers on a troubled young woman whose sister recommends that she listens to the B side of a weird record before she goes to sleep and her life will improve after a few days; a sort of magnetic hypnotism. But once she starts to fall down the rabbit hole things do start to improve in her life, the paper she can't seem to write just flows out freely. Soon after, she starts to have several bizarre visions and occurrences and the true mystery behind the black circle is revealed.

The film doesn't play out like a traditional narrative, but rather slingshots it's viewers all over the place with different cinematic styles, weird music and sound design, and both narrative and arthouse cinematic forms.

The film stars Christina Lindberg, Felice Jankell, Erica Midfjall, Hanna Midfjall, and Hanna Asp.

Special Features:

Original teaser trailer

Don't Open Your Eyes original short film

Interview with Adrian Garcia Bogliano and Christina Lindberg

Inside Black Circle Behind-the-scenes featurette

and a Still Gallery.

Black Circle is interesting, but may not be suited for everyone's taste due to its experimental style.

Harry Beaumont's Dance Fools, Dance (1931) is a really good film that goes from joy to disaster as Joan Crawford, in great, rare form, is the daughter of a wealthy stockbroker who knows the market better than most. We see her at a party for the rich elite early on and her lifestyle for a good while, then the market starts to turn and her father is so stressed out, he dies on the stock market floor of a heart attack!

That leaves her and her brother (William Holden in an early role) having to sell the estate and their belonging to survive and when none of their friends seem to be around, she gets a job writing at a local newspaper. Her brother gets involved in selling alcoholic beverages to his rich pals like he was before the crash as Prohibition continues and that leads him soon getting involved with a dangerous gangster (Clark Gable, very effective in an early role too) who has darker plans for everyone.

When her beloved fellow reporter is killed by someone associated with Gable's men, she goes undercover as a dancer in one of his clubs, but she looks too good and soon gets his attention. This could help her assignment at first, then things get worse and the film really gets rolling.

Warner Bros. was the home of the gangster picture, but MGM gives it its best try here and though it is not totally such a film, do a good job. Gable and Crawford have unexpected chemistry and would make more films together, while MGM made sure this production was top rate. That part of it sure holds up. I had not seen this one for a long time, even forgetting a few points, so I was very happy to see it again and would argue that it is one of the best and most underrated films all involved made down to journeyman filmmaker Beaumont (Speedway) shows how underrated he remains.

With the rest of the cast including Cliff Edwards, Lester Vail, William Blakewell, Joan Marsh, the underrated Natalie Moorhead (I wish she were in the film longer) and uncredited Wilbur Mack and Ann Dvorak (who was in the original Scarface a year later,) this is a must-see film for all serious film lovers!

Extras include the documentary Hollywood: The Dream Factory and two monochrome Warner Bros. animated shorts: One More Time and Smile, Darn Ya, Smile.

Johnny Mak's The Long Arm Of The Law, Parts I (1983) & II (Michael Mak, 1987) came along when the films coming out of Hong Kong had become very comical and were usually just entertaining for fun, especially the Martial Arts genre which moved to comedy after they fell out of favor in places like the U.S. and other genres become popular. Though Martial Arts movie legend Sammo Hung was involved as a producer on the first film, for which there is some humor included, he sadly is not on screen.

Either way, the films helped launch a new more raw, brutal, violent and realistic series of films, usually involving crime and becoming the core of Hong Kong Cinema until its recent demise due to political changes too involved to go into here. A gang starts to rob from rich people in Hong Kong, but the police become more proactive than expected and go after them hard. At first, it is hard to tell if they'll succeed, then things start to happen and the plot really picks up.

The second film (also called Saga II) has three wild Chinese soldiers with bad records escape China, then get recruited to fight crime in Hong Kong and trusting their superiors, but things quickly escalate into violence when criminals from China also come to visit and maybe permanently to make money, et al. This has almost no humor and some advantages over the first film, though the makers were very smart not to try and imitate the first film much or think more of the same would do for audiences. I liked this one a little more and think it holds up a little better, but no doubt these were important and influential in their time, eventually influencing several genres worldwide and helping establish the likes of John Woo.

That makes them more than key enough to more than justify this nice special edition set and one that those who like such films should go out of their way for just to see what they pulled off. Sure, the films owes much to Film Noir, 1970s action films from Hollywood and Italy, more hard-hitting British crime films and a few other sources, including the more serious Martial Arts films of the 1970s. That is why these films needed restored and reissued. Now you can see for yourself.

Extras are many and include the great packaging, a double-sided mini-poster, high quality illustrated booklet with poster reproductions, tech info & an excellent, extensive essay by scholar Tim Cunliffe, reversible sleeves featuring original artwork and discs adding...

  • Audio Commentaries by Hong Kong Film Expert Frank Djeng

  • Brand New Interviews for each film with Actor Philip Chan

  • Brand New Interviews for each film with Director Michael Mak

  • Brand new artwork by Sean Longmore

  • Brand New Interview with Ben Lam on the sequel

  • An interview with stuntman Stephen Chan

  • and Trailers.

Two more films in what turned out to be an anthology series followed and maybe we'll see what they are like at some point, but those interested should definitely get this set.

Frantgwo's The Wandering Earth II (2023) is a big budget sequel to the hit film by director Frant Gwo (reminds us of legendary clothing designer Don Feld also identified often as Donfeld and almost legendary music composer Frank De Vol being identified as De Vol) is a sequel to a film that has not been issued on home video on the U.S.!

Set over several years in the future, it deals with disasters mankind has to deal with and can technology properly applied save humans worldwide. Such speculative fiction is nothing new, but this film goes way out of its way to portray the potential events, even if they get dated like the 1936 British sci-fi classic Things to Come (reviewed elsewhere on this site) and I actually welcomes that risk of dating quickly just to get the audience to think differently and more freely in that direction.

Most of the cast was new to me, though Andy Lau from Infernal Affairs is the best seen and known here, though cheers to the whole cast for going all out to meet what the makers are trying to do here. Though this did not stay with me and knowing this particular genre better than most as a self-admitted superfan, at least they tried and for Chinese Cinema, that is a good thing. Those interested will want to give it a good look, but know it is about three hours long.

A trailer for this film and a few similar ones from Well Go are the only extras.

Now for playback performance. Aporia 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 Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) mix. Shot in Los Angeles, the film has a nice look and feels like a larger movie than it is considering its smaller budget feel.

Black Circle 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 a lossless, Swedish DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) with English subtitles. The film looks and sounds great on Blu-ray disc and really pushes the limitations of the format. Synapse Films is known for putting out strong content with a high level of sound and picture presentation and this release is no exception.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Dance can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and despite some softness and very slight motion blur in places, it looks really good and is interesting to see the MGM gloss still trying to be gritty. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix is an impressive restoration of the original theatrical monophonic sound and considering its age, is the best this film will ever sound.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on both Long Arm films come from 2K scans and can also show the age of the materials used with some grain present a little more than you might expect, especially in the first film. The sequel definitely gains in clarity, depth of field and detail and color range in comparison to the first and more money is in the film. Maybe the original camera negatives or best surviving materials have not held up because of storage and/or the 35mm negatives were not as good as other color stocks of the time. Odds are it is Kodak, Fuji or a combination of both. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes on both have been restored well and are as good as these films will also ever sound.

Finally, the 1080p 2.75 X 1 digital High Definition image on Wandering Earth II is an all-Ultra HD shoot that uses new Hawk anamorphic lenses trying to look like lenses from the mid-1970s (1974 to be exact, if we believe the name of them) and it helps the film look better, though there is far too much CGI here and it was made partly during the worldwide pandemic. It owes some of its look to past space films (non-space opera types like 2001, Solaris, Alien, Event Horizon, etc.) and is visually ambitious. The results are more hit than miss. The lossless Mandarin Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixdown for older systems) is not bad and the film was also issued in IMAX, making for a combination that does fare better than many tired blockbusters of late. Not issued on 4K here yet, that will make for an interesting comparison when that happens.

To order the Warner Archive Dance Fools, Dance Blu-ray, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo and James Lockhart (Aporia, Circle)



 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com