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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Crime > Extreme Fighting > Erotic > Circle Of Pain (2010) + From Paris With Love (2010/Lionsgate Blu-rays) + The Stranger (2009/Anchor Bay Blu-ray) + Undisputed III: Redemption (2010/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD) + Wild Things: Foursome (2010/S

Circle Of Pain (2010) + From Paris With Love (2010/Lionsgate Blu-rays) + The Stranger (2009/Anchor Bay Blu-ray) + Undisputed III: Redemption (2010/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD) + Wild Things: Foursome (2010/Sony Blu-ray)


Picture: B-/B-/C/B & B-/C     Sound: B- (B on Undisputed Blu-ray)     Extras: C/D/D/C-/D     Films: C/D/D/C+/D



One of the standbys for home video since the 1980s has become the “guys film” cycle that is not openly discussed much, but is a big target market.  These releases are usually shallow, smug, condescending, narrow, shallow and have tough guy leanings they usually fail to live up to.  It is also one of the more tired segments of the market and Blu-ray is not inspiring anything much new, as five new releases demonstrate.


Circle Of Pain (2010) is from the TapOut bunch and is the only one of two of the releases here that we could consider really tough, for reasons that will be obvious as we go along.  They have another Rocky story, redecorated with name fighters (like Kimbo Slice, who is top-credited, but not the star!), Dean Cain (a former Superman in a wheelchair as the brother of the lead) and Tony Schiena (who is nowhere to be found on the cover, even in name) is the lead.  Talk about bait and switch.  It is mildly amusing and to their credit, they have better fights and a sex scene more credible than anything in Wild Things Foursome below, but not much else.  Ling Bai (Lords Of Dogtown) is wasted as a modern-day quasi-stereotypical ‘dragon lady’ villain.


From Paris With Love (2010) is John Travolta’s worst performance since Battlefield Earth and worst film since that and Be Cool, which is why it deserved to tank upon first release.  I don’t know what he or director Pierre Morel were thinking, but this film is a mess, Jonathan Rhys Meyers is cast as the passive wimp opposite Travolta’s wild man and we have seen this a million times, though Rhys Meyers gives a goods performance.  The real culprit once again is a horrid script by Producer Luc Besson, whose ruinous ways of bad action cinema continue to erode the genre beyond belief.  Action is weak and lame, I never bought any of this after Travolta showed up and it jumped the shark with no hope of recovery.  Wow, is this bad!


The Stranger (2009) is certainly not to be confused with the Orson Welles classic and you should be a stranger to it as wrestler Steve Austin (a tough guy in a weak actioner) as he plays a man whose family is killed brutally in one night and he wants revenge.  We have seen this done to death and Austin has one too many scenes where he is tortured; acting is not his strong suit.  Adam Beach shows up and is also wasted, as is anyone who sits through this dud.


Undisputed III: Redemption (2010) is the second sequel to Walter Hill’s underrated film that was not a big hit, yet here it is a franchise just the same.  It is as tough as Circle, but tends to be the best film on the list since the fighting (there is more here than in any other film) overrides any writing formula.  This time, eight of the best fighters from maximum security prisons are smuggled to Eastern Europe for a competition for gambling interests.  This is best when it forgets the story and we get fighting, which is more intense than your average action flick.  Scott Adkins and Mykel Shannon Jenkins star.


Wild Things: Foursome (2010) is as continuation of a film that was a hit, which seems rarer and rarer these days.  However, it is an awful excuse for a sexy thriller with little sex and no real thrills.  Ashley Parker Angel from the band O-Town (discovered in a so-called reality TV contest show) is particularly awful as a sort of animated mannequin and devil of a bad actor, no to mention posing for holy pictures in the would-be sex scenes doing nothing as the other women pose with him and look bored, leaving the “action” to though police lesbianism and toplessness that has zero of the edge of anything in the original film.  Maybe Schneider should have given him some tips and advice, because he obviously needs them.


The gals blur together and the lame script is smug beyond belief.  Only Schneider (who makes himself look older than he is current in real life) does any acting worth seeing and maybe if he (as the investigating policeman over any murders and robberies) was not made out this way, this could have been a camp classic if he got in on the action.  Jillian Murray and Marnette Patterson also star.



The 1080p digital High Definition image on each are 1.78 X 1 save Wild at 1.85 X 1 and Paris at 2.35 X 1, but none look particularly good except Undisputed and a few look awful.  All apparently are high definition shoots (except maybe Undisputed, but it is hard to tell), so any films used was in theaters that got prints made from the lesser HD material.  The anamorphically enhanced DVD that comes with Undisputed is not bad for the format and looks about as good (and even better in a few cases) than the other Blu-rays here.  The bad performance on Stranger and Things is particularly awful and should probably not have been issued on Blu-ray at all.


All have DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mixes save Stranger with PCM 5.1 and Paris with DTS–MA 7.1, but they all exhibit disappointing soundfields and have their fidelity limits, except the DTS-MA 5.1 on Undisputed, which has a strong soundmix and is more of what I expected form all five releases.  Therefore, all but Undisputed have unimpressive audio recording and Paris is really stretching out its sound mix, which definitely seems like it was meant to be 5.1 as well.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVD of Undisputed is not bad for that old codec, but it is not far away from the other Blu-rays in terms of overall quality which are not the best examples of what Blu-rays can offer in the genre.


Extras vary between releases, with the most minimal offerings including Wild only offering BD Live interaction, Stranger only offering an original theatrical trailer and behind the scenes featurette and Undisputed offering the bonus DVD and Digital Copy for PC and PC portable devices.  Circle has TapOut promos, trailer gallery, interviews piece, behind the scenes featurette, Fight Choreography featurette and feature length audio commentary track, leaving Paris offering four making of featurettes, audio commentary track with BonusView, a trivia game, theatrical trailer and Lionsgate BD Live Menu System.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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