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Gangster Squad

Speaking ‘Confidential’ly ...


Action

Rod Lott
Gangster Squad takes place in 1949 Los Angeles, a time when the Hollywood sign still sported “LAND” at the end, and a time that looks like L.A. Confidentiala lot like L.A. Confidential.
 
Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Sorcerer and the White Snake

Jet Li slithers into a fairy tale with fights.


Action

Rod Lott
Although front-and-center on the Blu-ray box and the film’s trailers, Expendables team member Jet Li takes more of a supporting role in The Sorcerer and the White Snake. This shouldn’t be a surprise; about to turn 50, the guy isn’t as spry as he used to be. What is a surprise is how kid-friendly the Hong Kong film is. With little exception, it’s practically made for them.
 
Friday, April 19, 2013

The Four

For martial-arts action, it mostly adds up.


Action

Rod Lott
One easy way to review The Four would be to call it a kung-fu X-Men. Hell, director Gordon Chan (The King of Fighters) already has a pair of sequels planned. The big difference, of course, is that this Chinese/Hong Kong film is a period piece set nearly a thousand years ago. Therefore, it’s not interested in adamantium blades, but counterfeit coins.
 
Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Sweeney

Get nicked.


Action

Rod Lott
Not only is The Sweeney one of the best TV-to-film adaptations in history, but quite possibly the best adaptation of a TV series you’ve never heard of ... unless you’re British.
 
Thursday, April 4, 2013

Quentin Tarantino’s Rolling Thunder Pictures Triple Feature

Three from the QT.


Action

Rod Lott
DVD seems made for someone like Quentin Tarantino, who grew up on a steady diet of drive-in drivel and grindhouse greats. And for a short while, Quentin Tarantino made DVDs — in a sense, releasing such long-forgotten or never-noticed flicks under his Rolling Thunder Pictures label.
 
Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Thief of Bagdad

Still magical, nearly 90 years later.


Action

Rod Lott
With the Cohen Film Collection, we may have another Criterion Collection-level provider of classic movies in the making, if its Blu-ray presentation of The Thief of Bagdad is any indication.
 
Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Tarzan Collection Starring Jock Mahoney and Mike Henry

Contract a case of jungle fever.


Action

Rod Lott
What an unwieldy title The Tarzan Collection Starring Jock Mahoney and Mike Henry is. Then again, so many actors have donned the loincloth of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ iconic lord of the jungle across nearly 100 movies and counting, so specificity is required. This particular five-flick, five-disc set from Warner Archive rounds up the entire turns of the two men mentioned in the title.
 
Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Protector / Crime Story

Jackie Chan is twice the man.


Action

Rod Lott
Who in the hell hires Jackie Chan and then tells him not to kick a lot? The Exterminator director James Glickenhaus, that’s who.
 
Saturday, February 2, 2013

Tai Chi Zero

‘Zero’ nearly scores a 10.


Action

Rod Lott
Here's the first great Blu-ray surprise of 2013: Tai Chi Zero, a Hong Kong martial-arts spectacle that's inventive and invigorating.
 
Monday, January 14, 2013

Premium Rush

Take the ride.


Action

Rod Lott
Premium Rush is the Joseph Gordon-Levitt movie from 2012 that didn't have him playing a Gotham City rookie, a time-traveling hit man or a POTUS' son. (Damn, was this kid busy!) It's the only one of those four that ended the year without any hint of Oscar buzz, yet I'd argue it's the most purely entertaining.
 
Thursday, January 10, 2013

Resident Evil: Retribution

‘Evil’ dead.


Action

Rod Lott
Fifth in the increasingly slick but decreasingly lucid franchise, Resident Evil: Retribution had potential to be the best entry since the 2002 original. After all, returning director Paul W.S. Anderson (The Three Musketeers) has positioned so many elements from the previous films that it seemed set up to play like a greatest-hits package. Instead, the result is baffling.
 
Friday, December 21, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

Christopher Nolan directs a fitting send-off to his Batman trilogy.


Action

Phil Bacharach
Due to the twisted savagery of a young man in a Colorado movie theater, The Dark Knight Rises will forever be a footnote in American history. Hopefully, that horrific massacre will not influence perceptions of this epic conclusion to writer-director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.
 
Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Osombie

The war on terror meets ‘The Walking Dead.’


Action

Rod Lott
By sheer coincidence, Osombie arrived on my desk the same day I screened Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar-worthy depiction about the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Osombie begins where Zero ends: with the American military raid on bin Laden's compound on May 2, 2011. Whereas Zero puts bullets in the al-Qaeda leader's body, Osombie lets him inject himself with an aggressive pathogen so that, once he washes up on the Arabian Sea, he's a full-fledged zombie.
 
Monday, December 10, 2012

Painted Skin: The Resurrection

Your ‘Skin’ looks lovely.


Action

Rod Lott
While not fully lucid, Painted Skin: The Resurrection excels from a standpoint of visuals. Whether that’s worth an entire viewing depends on your tolerance for fantastical whimsy.
 
Friday, November 30, 2012

Kill ’Em All

Morrrrrtal combatttttt!


Action

Rod Lott
For the first 10 minutes, I wondered if Kill ’Em All weren’t a movie at all, but a collection of unrelated action vignettes — a bomb hit here, a knife throw there, fists and feet everywhere — as seemingly unrelated characters fight, but hardly speak, with no story given.
 
Thursday, November 29, 2012
 
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