What is it? Invitees to a fancy but remote restaurant are in for a treat.
Why see it? As critiques on class and common decency go, this new black comedy is a delight. Ralph Fiennes plays an elite chef who invites several people to his island restaurant only to surprise them with something big, and Hong Chao is his right-hand woman. Both are terrific here, and they’re joined by a fantastic Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult as a young couple on the invite list with Hoult in particular delivering most of the film’s big laughs. It’s a delicious and devilish dark comedy with a commentary that only marginally gets in the way of the fun with some hazy details missing in order to truly lock down its themes.
Cloverfield [4K UHD, steelbook]
What is it? A giant creature attacks New York City.
Why see it? Some films are ultimately more appreciated than enjoyed, and that’s where I stand on Matt Reeves’ found footage hit, Cloverfield. I know, I’m in the minority, but its flagrant and nonsensical choices knock me out of the fun again and again. Why film the big creature when you can literally turn away from it to film your friends talking instead? Just stupid. That said, giant creatures destroying a city is never going to get old. There are still some entertaining beats here, and the discs are loaded with behind the scenes peeks. This being a found footage film, expectations for the new transfer were probably low, but Paramount’s new UHD is surprisingly sharp (when the camera’s not whipping and shaking) bringing new detail to the film’s visuals. Add in a slick new steelbook case, and you have a title worth upgrading for fans.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes]
What is it? Two adult siblings return to the small village they called home after the death of the mother.
Why see it? Indonesian horror is still a burgeoning genre with strong entries by the likes of Joko Anwar, Kimo Stamboel, and Timo Tjahjanto. They’re the big names in the field but not the only ones, and this debut by Cornelio Sunny shows promise. It’s folk horror with its rural secrets and malicious spirits, but while there are some interesting elements here it never really pops. Well, almost never, as the final shot is pretty great.
Ghost Warrior [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A samurai frozen in ice is resurrected in modern day Los Angeles.
Why see it? The premise here sounds like a winner as a genre riff on the likes of Iceman with Timothy Hutton. This should be a lot more fun, though, but instead it tries too hard to find heart and drama where little exists. We get some minor action as the samurai slices up some gangbangers, but the bulk is surprisingly mediocre and dull at times. I mean, it’s fine? The biggest highlight is the couple eating in a restaurant who mistake the guy for Toshiro Mifune.
[Extras: Commentary, interview]
Missing in Action Collection [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? All three films in Chuck Norris’ “return to Vietnam” trilogy.
Why see it? First Chuck Norris goes back to Vietnam to rescue POWs, then we go back with a prequel showing his ordeal as a POW, and then he goes back again because he forgot his wife and kid. Norris has his charms in the right material (Silent Rage, Lone Wolf McQuade, Code of Silence), but this Cannon Films trilogy riff on the success of Rambo is a mixed bag of the slight to the perfectly okay. Explosions and gun battles are the name of the game with the first, although the final shot still squeezes out real satisfaction. The second film is a bit underwhelming as prequels often are, but the third is arguably the best of the bunch with a possibly bigger budget and some entertaining action set-pieces. Kino Lorber’s new scans give all three films a bit more color and clarity than we’re used to seeing with them, and each features an informative commentary track as well. The trilogy is available in a box set or individually, and fans will want to pick them up.
[Extras: New 2K/4K scans, commentaries, interview]
No Mercy [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A cop and his sultry witness go on the run.
Why see it? The pairing of Richard Gere and Kim Basinger are enough to raise the temperature on this mid 80s action picture as both are in their arguable prime here. They’re mostly a tease on that front, but there’s still some ridiculous fun to be had with a straight face. Director Richard Pearce crafts some entertaining beats and set-pieces as the pair try to fend off her maniacal lover. It’s nothing spectacular, mind you, but car stunts and explosions are never boring.
Programmed to Kill [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A terrorist is converted into a CIA-controlled assassin.
Why see it? As Terminator riffs go, this one is no great shakes. It even pales beside the likes of Eve of Destruction which at least found some personality in its leads. Here we’re saddled with a competent Robert Ginty and fairly bland Sandahl Bergman. The latter is capable of better, but here she’s seemingly been directed to play her “robotic” self as flat as possible. The action gets pretty explosive, but even there the violence rarely stands out as interesting.
[Extras: New 2K scan, commentary, interview]
Also out this week:
Big Time Gambling Boss, Detective Knight: Redemption, Double Jeopardy [4K UHD], Lady Whirlwind & Hapkido [Arrow Video], Lars von Trier’s Europe Trilogy [Criterion Collection], Spin Me Round, Till, Voodoo Macbeth