Archive for the ‘DVD review’ Category

dvd review – SUPERHEROES

December 16, 2011

When I was a kid, more than anything, I wanted to be a superhero. This desire was fueled by syndicated reruns of Batman starring Adam West, and my inability to comprehend that what I saw on television wasn’t necessarily real. But then I turned five, and reality set in, and I knew that not only was I not going to be a superhero, I probably wasn’t going to be bionic either (which only left me the possibility of being a kung fu master). I know that many other people wanted to be superheroes as well—inspired by the same comic books and television shows and movies that sparked my imagination. And most people let the bitter pill of reality shatter their childhood dreams and squash their hopes of someday putting on a costume to right the wrongs perpetrated by evildoers on the innocent and weak. But then there are those who were not deterred by common sense, laws against vigilantism, and, in some cases, a healthy dose of reality; and these people are the subject of the new documentary Superheroes. (more…)

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dvd review – REEL INJUN

December 7, 2011

When I first heard of the documentary Reel Injun: On the Trail of the Hollywood Indian, I was more than a little bit excited. I’m a sucker for docs about film, especially those that examine aspects of cinematic history that are seldom discussed. So for me, the subject of how Native American Indians are portrayed in film—something I have been obsessed with and written about at length—was exactly what I’ve been waiting for. And in some ways, Reel Injunis very much what I was looking for, while in other ways it falls short of some expectations. (more…)

Best of BAMF – POLICE BEAT

October 27, 2011

The Best of BAMF is a showcase of older reviews of films still worth watching.

Police Beat is one of those rare films that can be extremely difficult to adequately describe. Having first seen it at the Sundance Film Festival back in 2005, it was hard for me to find the right words to describe it back then, and having seen it three more times since, it’s still hard to find the right words. Rarely does a film come along that seems so innovative and original that you can’t really compare it to anything else. And that’s what Police Beat is—a film so uniquely original and stylish that is stands apart from pretty much anything I recall seeing in recent years. (more…)

BAMF Blaxploitation Archive – SUGAR HILL

October 25, 2011

BAMF’s Blaxploitation Archive is a collection of reviews originally written in the 1990s that appeared in the pages of BadAzz MoFo. This review and many others have been reprinted and collected in BadAzz MoFo’s Book of Blaxploitation, Volume One, which is now available for purchase.

SUGAR HILL 1974 (a.k.a The Voodoo Girl; Zombies of Sugar Hill); director Paul Maslansky; starring: Markie Bey, Robert Quarry, Don Pedro Cooley, Richard Lawson, Zara Cully, Charles Robinson

Not to be confused with the other films with the same title, this is the one and only Sugar Hill, starring Markie Bey as the fine momma Diana “Sugar” Hill. When her old man gets dead at the hands of some mobsters trying to muscle in on his nightclub, our heroine decides to out do Foxy Brown and Coffy. Sugar takes her fine self to see Mama Maitresse (Zara Cully, The Jeffersons’ Mother Jefferson), a local voodoo woman. Mother Jefferson raises the spirit of her other son — George’s evil brother, Baron Samedi, the lord of the undead. Quicker than you can say, “We’re movin’ on up”, the good Baron is offing the honky mobsters, in all sorts of manners both unusual and fun (one jive sucker is eaten by pigs). No one is safe from Sugar and Baron Samedi’s army of buggy-eyed zombies. (more…)

Best of BAMF – The 36th CHAMBER OF SHAOLIN

October 25, 2011

If you are a true fan of martial arts flicks, then you no-doubt have seen this film in at least one of its several incarnations, which includes the alternate titles Master Killer and Shaolin Master Killer. If, however, for some strange reason you have never seen this movie, then you can’t, in any way, shape or form, consider yourself to be a true die-hard fan of kung fu films. As harsh as that may sound, the reality is that for every genre and sub-genre of film you can imagine, there are only a very small handful of films that are essential viewing within that particular group. The 36thChamber of Shaolin is one of those films. (more…)

dvd review – ATTACK THE BLOCK

October 21, 2011

Writer-director Joe Cornish has made the best John Carpenter movie since John Carpenter made great movies. Cornish’s debut feature, Attack the Block, conjures memories of Carpenter when he was on top of his game with an impressive list of genre movies that includes Assault on Precinct 13, Escape from New York, The Thing, and Big Trouble in Little China. Set in South London, ATB finds a gang of hardened teenage criminals becoming neighborhood heroes when their apartment block is swarmed by deadly extra terrestrials. Led by the steely-eyed Moses (John Boyega), the gang is mostly black, making the heroes of Attack the Block the most unlikely to save the day since the forgotten blaxploitation classic Together Brothers. But much of what makes the film work is Moses and his gang, a motley assortment of thugs played by a cast of unknowns, who are simultaneously tough and funny, exuding equal parts two-fisted badassness and adolescent awkwardness. This is easily one of the most compelling groups of teenage boys to come along in quite some time, and far more interesting than the kids in Super 8. As Moses and his crew square off against the deadly creatures that are terrorizing the block, Cornish keeps the film moving at a rapid pace, while finding just the right balance of humor. His direction is as assured as his writing, and Cornish’s decision to cast his film with heroes you’re not likely to see in any other movie is the added ingredient that gives Attack the Block its heart and soul. Along with John Carpenter, Cornish seems to be most influenced by Edgar Wright, whose genre-blending films like Shaun of the Dead have found the perfect creepy-to-comedy ratio. And like Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Wright’s under-appreciated Scott Pilgrim, Attack the Block is a highly entertaining film that holds up to multiple viewings.

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dvd review – THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS

August 9, 2011

Over four decades ago, Italian filmmaker Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers was considered one of the most provocative, politically incendiary movies of its time. The Black Panther Party used it as a training film, the French government banned it, and lovers of cinema revered it as a masterpiece. In 2003, the Pentagon hosted a special screening of the film, in hopes it would shed valuable light on how to deal with rebel forces in Iraq. The following year The Battle of Algiers was released in a beautifully packaged addition to the Criterion Collection, where it could be studied, appreciated and, no doubt, argued about. Most recently, Criterion has released the Blu-Ray edition of Pontecorvo’s classic. (more…)

dvd review – GORDON'S WAR

June 7, 2011

The good news is that I can finally get rid of my VHS copy of the blaxploitation classic Gordon’s War. After years of waiting, and even breaking down and buying a bootleg DVD version off of eBay with picture quality worse than my video tape, Gordon’s War is finally getting a legitimate home video release. The not-so-good-news is that it is being released as part of a double feature with Off Limits, a movie I was less-than-impressed with the first time I watched it. But the good news to offset the not-so-good-news is that the price for both movies is low, and you can always skip Off Limits if you want to. (more…)

dvd review – SOMETHING WILD

May 12, 2011

This isn’t really a DVD review, at least not in the traditional sense. Sure, I’m getting ready to write about a movie that’s out on DVD, but honestly, this is about something more than just a DVD. I’ve often said that an integral part of enjoying a movie is not so much the film itself as it is the experience and circumstances surrounding the film. For nearly every movie I’ve seen, there’s a story involved of where I saw it, who I saw it with, and what was going on at that point in my life. This week sees the Criterion Collection release of Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild, a film that stands up as one of the more memorable movie-going experiences of my life. (more…)

dvd review – IP MAN 2

April 11, 2011

Let me start this review with a disclaimer: I have not seen the first Ip Man movie. There are several reasons for me pointing this out from the get-go, not the least of which being that when I say, “Ip Man 2 is easily one of the best Donnie Yen movies I’ve ever seen,” I won’t be inundated with people asking me, “Better than the first Ip Man?” Honestly, I don’t know if Ip Man 2 is better than Ip Man. And when I say that Ip Man 2 is one of the best Donnie Yen movies I’ve ever seen, I’m not saying that it is the absolute best—just one of the best. Yen has been in some awesome movies, including Iron Monkey, Wing Chun and Hero, and for my money, Ip Man 2 ranks right up there with those films. (more…)