Fans booed, and the Chinese ultimately brought back Star Wars as soon as they contractually could, but now, in the modern area of George Lucas-bashing, it seems like the perfect time to check out what everyone thought would be his stiff competition, and appreciate it for what it is – a tense thriller about four guys paid the big bucks to drive a truck full of nitroglycerin across the jungle. The Blu-ray conversion was supervised by Friedkin himself (something none of the DVD versions can claim), and features a 40-page booklet with pictures and excerpts from the director’s autobiography.
Spider-Man Trilogy/Spectacular Spider-Man: The Complete Series – In advance of the imminent Andrew Garfield sequel that many of us are having a bad feeling about, you can prepare by procuring either the animated series everybody liked, or the Sam Raimi collection that most people liked at least one of. But since you probably already own any of the Raimi films you wanted by now, the real deal here is to get these as easily available gifts for kids who end up liking the new one, methinks.
Torque – Better-than-average early attempt at a Fast and Furious rip-off, with a miscast Martin Henderson but some entertaining turns by Ice Cube and a pre-My Name Is Earl Jamie Pressly and Eddie Steeples. Fun fact – Steeples is a friend, and I brought him to the press screening because he hadn’t been invited to any premiere. We drank absolutely atrocious cocktails made with Southern Comfort beforehand. I guess what I’m saying is my judgment may be totally suspect here.
Exit Wounds – Before Polish director Andrzej Bartkowiak became infamous for the worst videogame movies since Uwe Boll (namely Doom and Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li), he made a fun little trilogy of action comedies all geared towards turning rapper DMX into an action star and featuring Anthony Anderson as the comic relief (Anderson made the most of his push, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen ‘X onscreen). Two of them costarred Jet Li, but in this one it was Steven Seagal’s turn, and the result is easily one of the most entertaining movies The Scowling Ponytail has ever made. Seagal plays a white cop transferred into a black neighborhood, who learns stuff, and stuff.
Get Carter/Get Carter – A brutal gangster (Michael Caine or Sylvester Stallone, depending which version you buy) seeks revenge for the death of his brother. I’ve only seen the Caine original, but was enough to make me wonder why you’d change a thing about it.
Big Bad Wolves – A brutal Israeli thriller that got some attention when Quentin Tarantino briefly raved it up, which had the same effect his thumbs-up had on The Lone Ranger’s grosses…that is to say not much. Here’s the official synopsis: “a series of brutal murders puts the lives of three men on a collision course: The father of the latest victim now out for revenge, a vigilante police detective operating outside the boundaries of law, and the main suspect in the killings – a religious studies teacher arrested and released due to a police blunder.”
The House on Sorority Row – Sorority girls get slashed up by a mysterious cane-wielding killer. This is the 1983 version that has been out-of-print on DVD for some time. Director Mark Rosman went on to direct Hillary Duff movies for Disney.
Seven Warriors – 1989 Hong Kong take on The Seven Samurai, with Tony Leung and Sammo Hung. Probably decent.
And that’s all I got for this week. Anything you’d add?