Believe the Hype Movie of the Week
The Raid - Sony - Blu-ray and DVD
Release Date: Mar 23, 2012
Directed By: Gareth Evans
Cast: Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, Ray Sahetapy. Full cast + crew
Movie geeks have no doubt heard us and others beat you over the head with how incredible The Raid: Redemption is. Truth is, you've probably gotten tired of hearing it at this point and you just want to see it for yourself to see if the hype was worth it.
It is. It absolutely is.
Abhorrent cover art that makes this look like a Playstation Virtua Cop game aside, this is hands down one of the most exhilarating action movies of the last few decades. It's the perfect marriage of martial arts-style fights with a Hollywood-level plot - so Hollywood the assault an apartment high-rise full of criminals setup is the exact one used in the forthcoming Dredd 3D - and the result is not only an excellent movie about cops, criminals and the intersection of the two, but it's just a plain old badass, back-to-basics action movie. There's a two-vs-one fight in The Raid that's one of the best fight scenes ever filmed, which by itself makes this Blu-ray worth a blind buy. You could only ever watch that scene and still have gotten your money's worth, though you'd be missing out on a ton.
Special Features: Commentary (director Gareth Evans is actually Welsh, so don't worry about a language barrier here), behind-the-scenes clips, a 40-minute chat with Evans and composers Mike Shinoda and Joe Trapanese; anatomy of a fight scene; Claycat's The Raid
It's certainly the biggest name new release of the week, but unlike an underdog movie like The Raid, mammoth box office hit The Hunger Games doesn't need any more champions behind it. If you're already a fan of it, then this Blu-ray is certainly going to be a must-own. It's packed with special features, and the fluffy EPK-level stuff is surprisingly kept to a minimum. The presentation is top notch, as well, so there's really nothing that fans will be able to cite as a disappointment. If you're not already a fan, though, if you caught the film in theaters mid-phenomenon, there's not a lot of objectivity here that'll convert you into a fan.
Box office surprise aside, there are, however, quite a few more indie films hitting disc this week that do deserve some extra love. First is Kill List, a harrowing horror movie about a hitman that digs into you like bamboo shoots under your fingernails. That's not to say it's insanely gory, it's just that director Ben Wheatley is an expert at unnerving the audience. If you don't mind being challenged a bit by your thrillers (there are no easy answers here), definitely give this film a shot.
Next up are two movies that both got quite a deal of buzz from the festival circuit: Juan of the Dead and Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory. Despite what the cover art looks like, only one of them is a real horror movie. The former is a Cuban zombie comedy, while the latter is the latest in a series of award-winning documentaries about the horrors of the American legal system that kept three teenagers in jail for nearly 20 years on a wrongful conviction.
The rest of the new releases aren't quite as high priority as any of those. There's the Chloe Moretz-led drama Hick, the ensemble dating comedy Girl Walks into a Bar, featuring Zachary Quinto, Carla Gugino, Josh Hartnett, Rosario Dawson and a whole lot more, and the rom-com Tonight You're Mine about a rock star and a groupie handcuffed together for a night. If light comedies aren't your thing, however, there's The Snowtown Murders, based-on-a-real-tragedy drama about intolerance and abuse set in '90s Australia, and The Life and Death of a Porno Gang about the Serbian porn industry.
If either of those is too heavy for you (and who could blame you), you can head back into the carefree, relatively speaking, arms of straight-to-video movies like Assassin's Bullet (check out a clip of that here), Breathless, Coffin and Bigfoot, the latter of which stars Danny Bonaduce and is handily one of the worst Syfy movies I've ever seen (and that's saying a lot).
Must-Own Movie of the Week
Jaws - Universal - Blu-ray
Release Date: Jun 20, 1975
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton. Full cast + crew
I'll be doing a full review of the Jaws Blu-ray tomorrow, but here's the Cliff Notes version: It's gorgeous.
Yes, there was very little fear that a studio as big as Universal would mess up the Blu-ray for a movie as important as Steven Spielberg's breakout blockbuster, but I can happily report that it's every frame as glorious a restoration as one could wish for. There are a few curiosities that emerged on this release, but you'll have to check out the full review to read about those.
Special Features: The previously unreleased fan documentary The Shark Is Still Working, a featurette on the elaborate restoration process, and hours of extras from the previous DVD release
Win a copy of Jaws on Blu-ray in our giveaway right here!
Wes Anderson fanatics will no doubt disagree that Jaws is the must-own Blu-ray of the week. To those arthouse crusaders, the Criterion Collection Blu-ray release of The Royal Tenenbaums surely steals the spotlight. But it's also not the only Criterion title of the week. In a rare movie, there are actually three this week, the other two being a pair of Dardenne brothers films, Rosetta and La Promesse.
The rest of the week's catalog releases aren't nearly as influential as any of the above films, but will surely be of note to any fans who have been holding out for Blu-ray releases of Les Vampires, New Jack City, Cradle 2 the Grave, A Man Apart, Shaft (the original), Fallen, or a trio of Sylvester Stone films: Rambo, Cop Land and Lock Up.
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