Tuesday, March 19, 2019

THE POISON IVY COLLECTION (1992-2008) (Scream Factory Blu-ray Review)


Label: Scream Factory 
Region Code: A
Rating: R, Unrated
Audio: English DTS-HD MA Stereo 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles  
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Directors: Katt Shea, Anne Goursaud, Kurt Viss, Josh Hreno

Synopsis: Tempestuous young Ivy (Drew Barrymore) befriends introverted teen Sylvie (Sara Gilbert) and seduces her way into the lives of Sylvie's wealthy family in Poison Ivy. In the piquant follow-up, Poison Ivy 2: Lily, a sheltered art student (Alyssa Milano) finds Ivy's diaries and, after reading them, is lured into uninhibited risk-taking to become a wild woman! Then Ivy's sister (Jaime Pressly) visits the Greer residence in Poison Ivy: The New Seduction, and it doesn't take long for her to use her skills of manipulation to throw the household into a slate of panic and deceit. A college freshman (Miriam McDonald) is invited to join an exclusive campus sisterhood, where cold blooded ambition causes the group to seduce, blackmail or do away with anyone that gets in their way in Poison Ivy: The Secret Society.

Scream Factory bring us all four of the Poison Ivy films with this four-disc set, and let me tell you I was rather shocked to learn there were three sequels to the first film, a movie I saw in the cinema my senior year in high school with my girlfriend. She is sort of the reason I hated the film when I forst saw it, being a teen and a bit insecure at the time the movie absolutely hit a sore spot for me, as I had learned by girlfriend at the time had a thing for older men, which made me feel a bit inadequate. With that on my mind when I was sitting in the theater and Drew Barrymore's sexually charged femme fatale went all-in for older man Tom Skerrit it just annoyed be to an unreasonable degree, so much so that this Blu-ray was the first time I revisited the film since I saw it in the cinema. Watching it now I think Katt Shea's erotic-thriller is a fairly well-crafted and entertaining slice of tawdry trash, a sort of Fatal Attraction for 90's teens. The sequels however are nowhere near as fun as the first film in my opinion, but they do star attractive young actresses, the sequels starring Alyssa Milano (TV's Who's The Boss?), Jaime Pressly (TV's My Name Is Earl and Miriam McDonald (TV's Degrassi: The Next Generation). If you're a fan of erotic-thrillers with made-for-cable-TV production values there's some fun to be had, offering some minor 90's softscore sizzle with a bit of camp value and little else.

Audio/Video: The Poison Ivy Collection arrives on 4-disc Blu-ray in 1080p HD widescreen, but do not look to have been restored much, with these probably just being HD masters provided by the licencors. The unremarkable image shows a bit of bit of grit and debris throughout, not at all impressive, with the first film looking the best of the bunch. Each film gets an English DTS-HD MA Stereo 2.0 mix with optional English subtitles. 

Onto the extras the first three films get both r-rated and unrated cuts (with standard definition inserts) of the film, plus the first film gets an audio commentary from Katt Shea, plus trailers for all the film. The 4-disc sets arrives in an over-sized Blu-ray keepcase, each film presented on it's own disc. On the reverse side of the wrap there's a four quadrant image of the movie posters for the films. This release also comes with a slipcase featuring the same key artwork as the wrap.  

Special Features: 
Disc One: Poison Ivy
- R-Rated Version Of The Film
- Unrated Version (With Standard Definition Inserts)
- NEW Audio Commentary With Co-writer/Director Katt Shea (Theatrical Version)
- Trailer
Disc Two: Poison Ivy 2: Lily
- R-Rated Version Of The Film
- Unrated Version (With Standard Definition Inserts)
- Trailer
Disc Three: Poison Ivy: The New Seduction
- R-Rated Version Of The Film
- Unrated Version (With Standard Definition Inserts)
- Trailer
Disc Four: Poison Ivy: The Secret Society
- Unrated Version
- Trailer

The first film is the best of the bunch here but this sort of 90's erotic thriller stuff is not my bag. I tend to like my erotic films to be more stylish or a lot more filthy, truth be told, and these films don't really meet those criteria for me, so not a recommend for me. I would think this collection is a bit of a hard sell as the A/V is not all that impressive and the extras are very slim, you'd have to be a big fan to shell out for it, but if you're dying to get your hands on these film it's available. 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

KRYPTON: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (2018) (Warner Bros. Blu-ray review)

Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this blog post. The Opinions I share are my own. 


Label: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment 
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 427 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Cast: Cameron Cuffe, Georgina Campbell, Shaun Sipos, Colin Salmon, Elliot Cowan, Ann Ogbomo, Aaron Pierre, Rasmus Hardiker, Wallis Day, Blake Ritson, Ian McElhinney  

Synopsis: What if Superman never existed? Set two generations before the destruction of Superman’s home planet, Krypton follows a young Seg-El, the legendary Man of Steel’s grandfather, who is faced with a life and death conflict – save his home planet or let it be destroyed in order to restore the fate of his future grandson. With Krypton’s leadership in disarray and the House of El ostracized, Seg fights alongside Earthly time-traveler Adam Strange to redeem his family’s honor and protect the ones he loves while saving the future of his legacy from DC Super-Villain Brainiac.

Okay, I'll be honest, when I first heard about this prequel of sorts about the adventures of Superman's grandpa back on Krypton I was not exactly on board with it.  It just sounded like an awful idea for a show to me, but being a comic-fan I dutifully set the Direct TV record it and let a few episodes record before I finally sat down to binge-watch it. While my expectation were low I was quite surprised to find that I did not hate the show, in fact it not-so-slowly began to grow on me.

Set two hundred years before Krypton was destroyed we follow the adventures of Kal-El's grandfather Seg-El, whose family has been stripped of their upper-class status privileges following the banishment of Seg-El's grandfather Val-El to the Phantom Zone for treason. Enter into the fray future Earth's Adam Strange who arrives in the city of Kandor on Krypton to warn Seg about a potential threat to his future grandson Kal-El, Earth's Superman, and how events in the present day Krypton threaten the life of his grandson and the safety of the whole universe. That's a heavy load and Seg is not too keen to believe this stranger's story, but as the series continues a bond is formed between the young, and we follow their adventures leading to the arrival of a pair of Superman's greatest villains, the world-collecting Braniac and Doomsday! 

There's a lot of Kryptonian politics at plahy here, expanding on what we know from both the comics and the films, as well as a bunch of social commentary on the culture's caste systems, religious and power structures, all diffused through the filter of the world-building that is Krypton. The political intrigue and social commentary is probably my least favorite part of the series to be truthful, and there's a lot of it, but what this series does that I absolutely love is the world building. The visuals of the show are fantastic, building a rich culture with unique architecture, vehicles 
and weaponry, all of deeply and well realized. 

Obviously you cannot have a story about Krypton and not also tell the story of the House of El versus The House of Zod, and we get it here, the two family lines are entangled, and by the end of the season there's a great set-up for where the Zod arc could potentially lead, and I loved it. 

Let's talk about villains, sure, we have political villains, military villains, but we also have a pair of very familiar super-powered villains by way of Brainiac and Doomsday. This is by several measures by favorite incarnation of Brainaic, played here by Blake Ritson, who infuses the world-collecting villain with the sort of creepy vibe that brought to mind someone like Jefferey Combs (Re-Animator), in fact I thought it was him when he first arrives on the scenes, and that's a total compliment to Ritson. Fans of Doomsday are in for a treat, we don't  get a full-on Doomsday story arc but we get the beginnings of what's to come, and it was a tasty treat indeed, looking forward to more when season two is released sometime this spring! 

Audio/Video: All 10-episodes of Krypton arrive on Blu-ray from Warner Bros. framed in 1.78:1 widescreen in 1080p HD. The ten episodes are spread out over 2-discs, looking solid with excellent color saturation and decent black levels, though some darker scenes can be a bit bit murky with less than stellar shadow detail. Reds and blues pop throughout when called upon, clarity is good. Audio on the discs come by way of an impressive English DTS-HD 5.1  with optional English subtitles, the sound designs boasts some excellent use of the surrounds for both action and more subtle immersive elements. 
Extras are present but not exactly deep, we get a 2017 Comic-Con panel with show runners speaking about the show and taking questions, deleted scenes, a gag reel and two featurettes exploring the world building and social themes of the series. 

Special Features: 
- Krypton: 2017 Comic-Con Panel (24 min) HD 
 -Krypton: Bringing the Home World to Life (17 min) HD 
- A Lost Kingdom: Life on Krypton (23 min) HD 
- Gag reel (3 min) HD 
- Deleted Scenes (6 min) 

THE STREET FIGHTER COLLECTION (1974) (Shout Select Blu-ray Review)


Label: Shout Select 
Region Code: A
Duration: 91/83/95 Minutes 
Rating: Unrated/Unrated/R
Audio: English and Japanese DTS-HD MA Mono with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Director: Shigehiro Ozawa, Teruo Ishii
Cast: Sonny Chiba, Etsuko Shihomi, Masashi Ishibashi, Claude Gannyon, Yôko Ichiji, Frankie Black 

In the first film Sonny Chiba plays Takuma "Terry" Tsurugi, an assassin for hire who at the start is tasked with freeing a deathrow inmate. To that end he infiltrates a death row prison disguised as a religious monk, putting the criminal into a kung fu-induced coma that makes him appear dead, allowing for Terry and his comic-relief sidekick Ratnose (Goichi Yamada) to free him when he is transported to the hospital for medical treatment. Terry's dealing with the criminal's family concerning a lack of proper payment results in the accidental death of the criminal's younger sibling, who misses Terry during flying kick, crashing through a window, falling several stories to his bloody death. Terry is then hired by the Yakuza to kidnap the heiress to an oil fortune, but when he refuses the job he becomes a target of the Yakuza, with Terry taking it upon himself to save the heiress from the gangsters, leaving a trail of bloodies corpses in his wake along the way. 

The first film is one bad-ass kung-fu film, Chiba is a freight train of flying-fist punishment, delivering a ton of bloody action in a film that is said to be the first film to receive the x-rating solely for the sake of violence, and damn it that might just be true based on what I saw. The film has a lot of cool, kinetic kung-fu trauma, including a blow to the head that never fails to gob smacks me, with Chiba's character hitting an opponent so hard on the top of the head the screen flashes to an x-ray of his fist making contact with the skull, before showing the man spewing copious amounts of blood from his his mouth - it's fucking awesome! This movie also features a nasty castration scene of Terry ripping the junk right off a would-be rapist with his bare hands, and later tearing out the throat of his nemesis during an exquisite brawl set during a down pour on the deck of a tanker ship.

Sonny Chiba is a powerful presence in the film, his strength pops right off the screen in just about every scene, but I always found his contorted facial expressions and dramatic breathing techniques throughout the film sort of humorous in a way, which for me is all part of his charm of these films. The story here is very simplistic, you have bad-ass Chiba as an assassin, he's not a good guy, he's a bad guy who's not the worst guy in the film, tearing his way through the criminal underworld,making this a tasty and hyper-violent slice of exploitation that keeps fans of gritty kung-fu action coming back for more. 

Special Features: 
- NEW 2K Scan Of The Original Film Elements Of The Uncut Version
- Uncut Version Of The Film (91 Minutes) With English And Japanese Audio
- Two English Dubs – The Theatrical Dub And The New Line Home Video Dub
- NEW Street Fighting Man – An Interview With Star Sonny China (27 min) 
- NEW Cutting Moments – THE STREET FIGHTER Trailer – An Interview With Filmmaker Jack Sholder (13 min) 
- U.S. Theatrical Trailer (2 min) HD 
- Japanese Theatrical Trailer (3 min) HD 
- Still Gallery (6 min) HD 

In the sequel we have Sonny Chiba returning as assassin for hire Takuma "Terry" Tsurugi, the film opens with him taking an assignment from Yakuza to murder an accountant who is currently in police custody, it seems the number cruncher has some dirt that could prove harmful to the organization. To that end Takuma starts a brawl on the streets with the cops and gets himself thrown in jail, which is where he finds the target and rips out his throat before escaping the jail. However, when Takuma discovers that the Yakuza are using a karate school as a front to extort money from the community he winds up taking them on yet again! 

The sequel still has plenty of Chiba action and cool moments but the sequel suffers a bit, there's a bit too many flashbacks to the first film for a barely 80-minute movie, and Chiba doesn't have enough screen time this time around either. The comedy is also ramped-up a bit this time around, but there is also some nudity which was lacking from the first film, so it's a a bit of mixed bag. Highlights this time around are the police station fight sequences, Chiba fighting his way through the station is kinetic and fast-paced, plus we get a snow-set fight in the mountains which is also very cool. There's another rain-drenched fight recalling the end of the first film, but it's just not as cool in my opinion, with some of the fight choreography lacking visceral energy, even being a bit cartoonish, like when Chiba's character literally knocks the eyeballs of his opponent right out of their sockets, it's a bit too silly for it;s own good, but it's still an entertaining slice of kick-ass karate cinema.   

Special Features: 
- NEW 2K Scan Of The Original Film Elements Of The Uncut Version
- Uncut Version Of The Film (83 Minutes) With English And Japanese Audio
- U.S. Teaser Trailer (1 min) HD 
- U.S. Theatrical Trailer (2 min) HD 
- Japanese Theatrical Trailer (3 min) HD 
- Still Gallery

The third and final film to star Sonny Chiba as assassin for hire Takuma "Terry" Tsurugi is a bit of a departure, the action packed violence of the first pair of films is toned down in favor of a 007/Fletch spy-thriller, with Chiba expanding on the opening of the first film where he's disguised as a monk, donning masks and secret identities. This time out Terry is again double-crossed by a crime family who are after the secret recipe for a synthetic form of heroin which can be produced on the cheap. The film's spy-thriller leanings lend it a bit more color and style than the the previous sequel but lacks the violence I loved about the first film, really dragging in places, making this the worst of the bunch for me, but not to the point of hating it, just not exactly loving it. 

Special Features: 
- NEW 2K Scan Of The Original Film Elements Of The U.S. Cut (80 Minutes)
- NEW 2K Scan Of The Original Film Elements Of The U.S. Cut With Standard Definition Inserts From The Original Japanese Cut (84 Minutes)
- U.S. Theatrical Trailer (3 min) HD 
- Japanese Theatrical Trailer (3 min) HD 
- Still Gallery

Audio/Video: The Street Fighter Collection arrives on Blu-ray from Shout Select with new 2K scans of archival color reversal internegatives done by Warner Bros., with the first two films incorporating footage from an older existing HD Master of the Japanese version of the film to get it to it's proper uncut run time. The third also offers the option to view both the U.S. and the longer running Japanese cut of the film, the longer versions includes standard-definition inserts, and it looks the worst of the trio, but still looks pretty good all things considered. All three film  generally look solid in HD, the 2.35:1 cinematography is intact, there are some minor blemishes by way of white speckling, dirt, scratches and vertical lines, along with some very minor fading fading throughout. That said, the grain is present and unmolested, the black levels are decent, and colors are surprisingly rich throughout, with reds and blues really popping.

All three film have both the original Japanese audio in addition to English dubs in DTS-HD MA Mono, with the first film having the original English dub as well as the New Line Cinema home video dub from the 90's. The mono track is solid but unremarkable, thin and treble-y in places, the music can be a bit on the shrill side without much bottom end, optional English subtitles are provided.

Extras on disc one begin with a new 27-min interview with star Sonny Chiba who reflects on how he came upon acting when his Olympic athlete aspirations were dashed. He's very candid about his experience making the films, pointing out some things he doesn't care for about them, going into the film's new found popularity after The Street Fighter trilogy was featured in the Quentin Tarantino scripted True Romance, and being cast in Kill Bill and Kill Bill 2, also touching on Bruce Lee and how they had planned on appearing in a film together, but the legend passed away before it could come to fruition.

There's also a very cool interview with director Jack Sholder (The Hidden) who edited the film for New Line Cinema, speaking about how he came to be a trailer editor for the distributor, editing films for content to get a proper rating from the MPAA, and how editing all those films and trailers prepared him for his own directorial career. Disc one is finished up with both U.S. and Japanese trailers and an image gallery of stills, promotional shots, newspaper ads, home video releases and posters for the film.

Extras for the sequels include a handful of trailers for the film plus a gallery of stills, lobby cards, poster artwork and various home video releases. 

The three-disc release comes housed in a standard sized Blu-ray keepcase with a sleeve of artwork featuring a new illustration by artist Robert O'Brien. The reverse side of the wrap featuring three original movie posters for the trilogy. This release also comes with a slipcase featuring the same artwork, both the spine of the sleeve and the wrap are numbered, this being number 65 in the Shout Select line-up.

While I don't consider my self a huge martial art/kung-fu cinema fan by any means the first film in this set is a stone-cold kung fu classic, it's hyper violent and bloody as hell, I loved it a bunch! The other films I'm not as enthusiastic, but regardless this is an attractive set from Shout Select, fans of the film (and series) should be very pleased by what they find here.