S.W.A.T. (2003): Special Edition [Blu-ray]

While I wouldn’t call it a action movie masterpiece, “S.W.A.T.” is a decent iteration of the television series that broadens its appeal for a younger audience. While I would have loved a movie that was darker and grittier, the movie works as a comic book kind of movie about the S.W.A.T. unit that look kind of like law enforcing Avengers. The 2003 action crime thriller flaunts every would-be super star and up and coming superstar, taking the S.W.A.T. team and turning it on its head when corruption reaches even its ranks.

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Proud Mary (2018)

More “Leon: The Professional” than “Atomic Blonde,” Babak Najafi’s “Proud Mary” is a classic tribute to the blaxploitation films of the seventies that wears its intentions on its sleeves. It’s a film that feels like it would have been made in 1978 with Pam Grier as Mary, Bernie Casey as her ex-lover mobster boss. I wouldn’t be quick to call it a masterpiece, but through and through, it’s a sweet tribute, with some well drawn characters that’s almost brought down by its flaws in storytelling and editing.

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Bright (2017)

It’s David Ayer with another cop drama except rather than a socially relevant tale about mismatched officers of a different race or gender or religion—it’s got Orcs! “Bright” is by no means as clever as it thinks it is, as it uses fantasy tropes not to move the story forward or to lend a new twist to the cop drama, but to hammer us over the head with clumsy allegories and symbolism. Max Landis’ script is painfully stale and lacks any kind of idea as to what it’s trying to get across. It’s much too serious to take as a fantasy film, and not silly enough to take it as a meta-cop movie. Even the opening scene of Will Smith’s character beating a fairy to death on his front lawn with a broom is flat and never quite played up as a meta joke, so much as a poorly delivered device to alert us that we’re watching a “different” kind of cop movie.

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The Violent Years (1956): Special Edition [Blu-Ray]

This is the story of Paula Parker, a petulant prepubescent princess whose depravities produced a plethora of death and deception. For shame, parents of Paula Parker, you dare not look after your teen daughter in the age of the fifties where crime was rampant. For the first time on Blu-Ray, it’s also a worthwhile title for collectors thanks to AGFA, “The Violent Years” is one of the many infamous baby boomer products of fear and hysteria that warned of a world filled with darkness, crime, debauchery, and premarital sex. Make no mistake, your teen would smoke the marijuana, and tongue kiss way before they matured in to upstanding citizens.

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Fast Convoy (Le Convoi) (2016)

A convoy carrying drug to Spain hits a few issues on the road and must make due with what they can.

Written by Yann Brion and Frédéric Schoendoerffer and directed by the latter, Fast Convoy is a road movie and a drug movie while it also kinda feels like a heist movie in that these guys, in multiple cars, are basically trying to make it to a destination with illicit merchandize.  The film is rather character-based with each character traveling with a co-pilot and taking orders from an unseen man.  The story builds around them as they drive.  While the title is a bit misleading, the film does have a few car-chase-ish scenes which have occasional nods to different car films and may or may not be influenced by the Luc Besson way of shooting cars on the road (low to the ground, front car pov).  The car stuff is really one of the main appeals to this film and the scenes are well done and shot.

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Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017)

“Brawl in Cell Block 99” is the second feature from director S. Craig Zahler, the man behind “Bone Tomahawk,” the acclaimed horror western that sent critics buzzing. I, for one, didn’t enjoy the movie, so imagine my surprise when I tuned in to “Brawl in Cell Block 99,” a movie that is essentially a throwback to prison brawlers and a compelling drama. Not since “Raze” have I seen a movie so raw and vicious in its depiction of humanity. Vince Vaughn gives an enormous turn as Bradley, a man at the end of his rope who literally has to dive in to hell to save his wife and unborn child. And what’s surprising is not how far he goes, but how easy it is for a good man to sink in to hell so rapidly.

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Batman vs. Two Face (2017) [Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital]

I was not at all a fan of the original “Batman” animated movie, as I felt it was somewhat unfocused. Thankfully “Batman vs. Two Face” not only gets the idea more about the Batman series, but uses Two Face quite cleverly. As most fans know, the original Adam West Batman show wanted Clint Eastwood to play Two Face, but deemed the character too disturbing for viewers. Producers for this animated movie go back to re-cast Two Face for their show, but bring aboard another television icon to play the villain, William Shatner. Shatner is perfect for the role of the duplicitous deviant ne’er dowell known as Two Face, and what makes the pot even sweeter is that he’s turned in to an allegory for homosexuality.

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A Fish Called Wanda (1988): Special Edition [Blu-Ray]

Charles Crichton’s “A Fish Called Wanda” is probably the last bit of Monty Python cinema we’ve ever gotten, and it embodies much of the same lunacy of the comedy troupe while also standing alone as one of the funniest movies ever made. “A Fish Called Wanda” is a zany and often raucous comedy that teams a slew of brilliant actors together for a unique, film that mixes sub-genres quite well and never loses sight of its comic themes, and Python-esque humor that borders on absurd without ever being ridiculous.

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