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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Great Depression > Sports > Olympics > Nazis > Action > Revenge > India > Genocide > Vietnam > Boys In The Boat (2023/MGM/Warner Blu-ray)/Monkey Man 4K (2023/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Vuot Song: Journey From The Fall (2006/MVD/Whole Grain Blu-ray w/CD)

Boys In The Boat (2023/MGM/Warner Blu-ray)/Monkey Man 4K (2023/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Vuot Song: Journey From The Fall (2006/MVD/Whole Grain Blu-ray w/CD)

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

These dramas offer character studies, can veer into various genres and definitely all take place in a world just far enough from our own to make them even more interesting...

George Clooney's Boys In The Boat (2023) is the story on how the U.S. Olympic Rowing Team was formed at the University Of Washington for the infamous 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany, when the Nazis had taken over the country and were trying to show the world how great they were. Well, their plans did not always work out and is one of the stories long overdue to be told and told again.

The screenplay is very thorough, the look and style of the film very smooth and authentic and the cast is solid, including mostly unknowns who we may be seeing a lot more of if were lucky. Callum Turner, one of the more recognizable actors here, is Joe Rantz, a focus point to show how bad The Great Depression is and tough his life is as he tries to find work, go to school and juggle much more. The screenplay eventually builds up to include his friends, other rowers and the situation at hand, until it works its way to Nazi Germany.

It is based on a true story, but for a change, you can believe it and it is not faint or loosely using that term for a change.

Clooney is a fine actor, big star and successful producer, but this is his ninth feature film where he is at the helm and he is a better journeyman director than he gets credit for. He gives everyone in the cast their moments and it all synergises into the climax of the film. A tribute with some pleasant surprises, even when some of it is what you expect, this film barely found its audience and maybe the double strike is one of the reasons. However, it is one of last year's best films and I definitely recommend it. Joel Egerton and Luke Slattery also star.

There are sadly no extras here, but maybe if this can get a 4K edition, who knows.

Dev Patel's Monkey Man 4K (2023) is an action/revenge film with a difference as the protagonist (Patel stars and gives it his all, one of the best actors of his generation) plays the young adult version of a young boy who had a very loving mother whom he lost, primarily because of a kingpin thug who beat her and worse. We see the mother/son relationship at first, then are in the current day as he is looking for work. Little do we know he has other plans too.

The film lays out all the background it wants to and is better at it than most action films of our time, yet I have to warn viewers it is very graphic and violent, but that violence has context, so the film lands up having more impact. He is fearless here helming his first feature film, one he fought to get made and you too will be glad he did. Yes, we have seen a few things here we have seen before and the script has a few lite nods to that, but it is as good as any such film of the last few years and those who live that kind of thing need to make this one a must see.

The locales and sets are a plus, as are the cast including Pitobash, Sharlto Copley, Makrand Deshpande, Sikandar Kher, Brahim Chab and Ashwini Kalsekar, who I think is really effective here in ways she makes look too easy. Hope we see all of them and more in more upcoming films because this film just has all kinds of talent. Catch it if you can stand the intensity.

Extras (per the press release) are many and include:




    • True Shakti

    • Mother's Death

    • Training Montage

    • Lucky Kid

    • Alphonso Death

    • Post Credit Button

  • A LABOR OF LOVE - First-time director Dev Patel shares how this project came about as well as some of the obstacles he and his crew faced along the way. Cast and crew highlight Patel's unique scope of skills and contributions to the film as well as partnering with Monkeypaw Productions.

  • MONKEY MAN OF ACTION - In MONKEY MAN, Dev Patel transforms from underdog to hero, establishing a style of action that is uniquely his own. This piece goes behind the scenes into Patel's stunt and fight training, taking a closer look at how the movement in these scenes was captured.

  • FATEFUL ENCOUNTERS - Throughout our hero's journey, Kid comes face to face with many individuals. Some embody good and others evil, but each encounter shapes Kid's actions. Cast discuss their characters and what drew them into the light, or darkness, that their roles required.

  • ROOTS EXPOSED - MONKEY MAN explores the story of a beloved folktale and its place in our modern world. Writer, director, producer, and star of the film, Dev Patel, shares his passion for bringing this story along with the representation of his culture to life.

  • and a FEATURE COMMENTARY with Director/Actor/Writer/Producer Dev Patel, Producers Jomon Thomas and Sam Sahni, and Co-Producer Raghuvir Joshi.

Ham Tran's Vuot Song: Journey From The Fall (2006) is a rare Vietnamese film that deals with the people who fought in vein with the United States during the disastrous battle, then abandoned and left behind as the communists won and genocide followed. The screenplay leaves no stone unturned and gets to the moment the U.S. leaves and leaves them behind, even after falsely promising to bring many back to safety in The States. Instead, it was a disgrace at what happened and this film explicitly shows the kind of horrors that followed.

A father (Long Nguyen) intends to stay behind as Saigon crumbles, but tells his family to get to the U.S. any way they can. His mother, wife and son manage to escape and get a boat that way, but of course, it will not be easy. The film runs over two hours and is a little long for the times it gets uneven in places, but it is very ambitious, honest and thorough, making it one of the key films on the subject up there with Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, The Deer Hunter and Platoon. Cheers to the bold cast and solid directing by Tran. Definitely worth a look if you can handle the subject matter.

Extras include a decent-sounding CD soundtrack with the fine Christopher Wong score, while the disc adds a full-length audio commentary with cast and crew

  • Deleted scenes, B-roll and on-set footage

  • Cast and crew interviews

  • Original trailer and TV spots

  • Extensive historical testimonials, cultural notes and teaching supplements.

Now for playback performance. The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 2.35 X 1, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on Monkey Man 4K is the best performer on the list as expected with some great shots, editing, composition and use of color throughout. The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on the Blu-ray is softer than expected with less color range and is not that good, especially in comparison. Both offer Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixdown for older systems) sound mixes that have some great moments and are one of the better soundtracks of this kind for a major motion picture this year.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer is styled to look like the mid-1930s and this works without looking dumb or phony, never condescending or overdone. So good, I bet this could really deliver in 4K. The Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixdown for older systems) is on the quiet side, but has some fine sound editing and mixing.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 AVC @ 25 MBPS digital High Definition image transfer on Journey can look great and rough, as it is shot on Super 16mm as was Joel Schumacher's Tigerland and parts of Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods as a select choice of format for dealing with Vietnam dramas. Even George Lucas was going to use it when Apocalypse Now was his feature film project before Francis Coppola took over, going for all 35mm Technovision anamorphic filming. So it van be soft, but more than a bit of that is intended and the style chosen. The lossless Vietnamese and Spanish DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 and Vietnamese PCM 2.0 Stereo mixes can show their age the the budget limits of the film, but considering that, they sound pretty good, though the 5.1 mixes worked better for me.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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