Wish You a Hairy Chest Wig
(and a Bucket of Beer)!
holidays one and all! Hopefully, most of you out there can keep your
heads out of the oven this holiday season, and into some DVDs you've
either gotten already or will get soon. You know... 'cause
depression is real high this time of yea- never mind.
I, myself, can't wait to get at all the toys my wife got for me
this year. Yes, I peeked! No DVDs though. Bummer.
Just to let you know, a lot of you (the vast majority) out there
are happy with my rant
the last column on about celebrities who want big paydays for
commentaries. Those who didn't agree with me nicely reminded me that
DVD isn't about "the love of the game," but rather it's a
big business. My answer to that is: well, duh. But so is everything
else in this world. I mean, what I'm doing right now is a business.
And if you guys didn't buy DVDs, there would be no business, period.
The point is, we made DVD successful. Me, you... all of us. And as a
finicky lot, we can make things unsuccessful. Ask Patrick Swayze,
Steven Seagal and Jean Claude Van Damme. Some of these celebrities
would do well to remember that before asking for a cool mil to talk
about what kind sandwich they ate on set on a commentary track.
But hey, it's Christmas! So peace, love and all that. I love you
guys. Really, I do. We're all brothers in arms. We watch, we love
and we buy. The studios reap that. And the creative folks get
opportunities because we like what they do. When we all forget our
roles, things get sticky. But for one day a year, we can all forget
who we are and all be children under a tree, with love in our
hearts, hope in our minds and DVDs in our hands. Everyone except me.
I'm just getting toys. Wonderful toys!
Before I go on my vacation, I leave you with some quick looks at a
brilliant, but depressing, Vietnam drama and a new Jet Li kick 'em
1989 (2001) - Columbia TriStar
Program Rating: A
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A/A
Specs and Features:
114 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, dual-layered (no layer switch), Amaray keep case
packaging, Eriksson's War,
video interview with Michael J. Fox, The
Making of Casualties of War documentary, 5 deleted
scenes, theatrical trailers (for Casualties
of War, Birdy and
The Bridge on the River Kwai),
cast and crew filmographies, film themed menu screens, scene access
(28 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0) and French,
Spanish and Portuguese (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, French,
Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Thai, Closed Captioned
survive in the Nam and you get to live forever, man."
In 1989, Michael J. Fox was still Alex P. Keaton, I was moving from
my home in suburban New York to a Southern big city and Paula Abdul
was Paula Abdul... I guess. What the hell was I trying to say?
Forget the above part. Have you seen Casualties
of War? Don't worry, not many have. It's a hidden gem
from director Brian De Palma. After his stock rose with the success
of The Untouchables, he chose
to steer this film. And it's a shocker. It's about morals,
redemption, humanity and the theory of one person making a
Casualties of War is a brutal,
harrowing and unflinching look at what the human soul is capable of,
but it's a coin flip too, because it shows us both possibilities.
Sean Penn plays a superior officer who loves his men and believes in
his fight, but he's so twisted in his logic that the idea of taking
a young girl away from her family seems right, and raping her with
his platoon is just as correct. Fox can't bring himself to
participate, but he also has trouble stopping Penn and company
because, in the military, there are chains of command and rules. So
he's bound by morals and codes that sometime work against each
other. It's a complicated issue. Most of us couldn't know what we
would do unless we were in that situation. And even if we say we'd
do the right thing, we might be thinking the best of ourselves.
I think Casualties is one of
the best films De Palma 's ever made. It's not full of gimmicks,
it's well acted all the way through and it's anything but cartoony.
It's a heavy piece, but a piece worth seeing nonetheless.
The DVD looks really, really good. The colors are crisp, the
transfer is clean and the blacks are well rendered. The anamorphic
transfer really brings the film alive. I only saw this film in the
theater when it first came out, but it looks even better in my home.
The sound is a very active and alive Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, with a
backup Dolby Digital 2.0 track that gets the job done. This is a
good looking and sounding disc.
Columbia could have thrown this thing out as a movie only disc, and
I would have been happy, but they go another mile. Thanks to Laurent
Bouzereau, we get two additional features. The first is a current
interview with Michael J. Fox about how he became involved in the
film, why he took the role and what it was like working with De
Palma and Penn. It runs about 18 minutes and is very well done.
Additionally, there's a very nice 31-minute documentary about the
making of the film, with interviews with the crew. It's also very
well done and sheds vast amounts of light on the film and how it
came to be, with nuggets of info about previous incarnations and
pseudo-sequels. You'll also find five deleted scenes, trailers and
cast and crew filmographies. Not a bad package at all.
Casualties of War is a hard
film to swallow, but it's worth the meal. This DVD really makes the
journey worth the trip and should be seen by everyone who loves
movies. Give it a chance.
of the Dragon
2001 (2001) - 20th Century Fox
Film Rating: B
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A+/A
Specs and Features:
98 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 43:13 in chapter
11), Amaray keep case packaging, audio commentary (with director
Chris Nahon, actor Jet Li and actress Bridget Fonda),
Jet Li: Fighting Philosophy
featurette, Cory Yuen: Action Academy
featurette, Police Gymnasium Fight
(2 martial arts video demonstrations with scene from film),
On the Set Action video loop,
The Laundry Chute
storyboard-to-scene comparison, The
Orphanage storyboards, "making-of" featurette,
animated production stills gallery with music, 6 TV spots,
theatrical trailers (for Kiss of the
Dragon, Behind Enemy Lines
and Planet of the Apes (2001)),
Easter egg (Kiss of the Dragon
international trailer), animated film themed menu screens with
sound, scene access (24 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) and
Spanish (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned
Li. Ya gotta love the guy. In Kiss of the
Dragon, he plays a guy running from both sides of the law
in Paris, France. Why? Well, to tell ya would give away too much of
the plot and this is a fun film to unravel as you go. Suffice it to
say, Li kicks much ass, Bridget Fonda is pretty much wasted in it
and the action set pieces are pretty incredible.
Conceived by Li and French director/writer Luc Besson,
Kiss of the Dragon hops from
one incredible action sequence to another with little time to
breathe. This is a popcorn movie if there ever was one, and it's not
bad if you aren't expecting much. It's got humor, thrills, chills
and just about everything else you could think of in terms of
action. I recommend it for a Saturday night or lazy, rainy Sunday
The DVD is pretty wild. An anamorphic widescreen transfer presents
the film with very nice color representation, solid blacks and great
detail. The picture is slightly soft, but it's nothing that will
bother anyone unless you're really staring at the screen looking for
it. The audio is only in English Dolby Digital 5.1 (no DTS), but it
rocks nonetheless. This DVD sounds really good. Why a French track
isn't here just for shits and giggles is a mystery though.
The extras go very deep, starting with an audio commentary, where
everyone (director Chris Nahon, actor Jet Li and actress Bridget
Fonda) was recorded separately and edited together. There's also a
bunch of featurettes, starting with Jet
Li: Fighting Philosophy, which is Jet on himself and how
he got involved in martial arts and acting, along with his take on
life. A Fonda interview is thrown in for good measure. The
Cory Yuen: Action Academy
featurette is neat, showing Yuen talking about his past and how he
likes to work. The Police Gymnasium Fight
is two martial arts video demonstrations with a scene from film, so
you can get an idea how it all came together. On that menu screen,
toggle over to the right to get an Easter egg - the international
trailer for Kiss of the Dragon.
On the Set Action is a video
loop of behind-the-scenes footage. The
Laundry Chute is a storyboard-to-scene comparison, where
you can watch just the storyboards with sound effects, see them
side-by-side with the film or just view the scene from the film
itself. The Orphanage
storyboards are just storyboards with a music soundtrack. Rounding
it all out is a fluffy "making-of" featurette, an animated
production stills gallery with music, six TV spots and theatrical
trailers for Kiss of the Dragon,
Behind Enemy Lines and
Planet of the Apes (2001).
It's a nice little special edition for a flick fans of brainless
throat smashers should love.
Kiss of the Dragon is a very
cool flick. It's not a great movie mind you, but it does its job
well and that's what counts. This DVD is a very detailed look
behind-the-scenes, worthy of anyone's collection.
of the Dragon
see you next year. Oh, and what a year we have planned. I'm going to
be jumping a rocket bike across a tank of sharks. Then I'm going to
wrestle alligators for packs of smokes. Oh, you won't want to miss
any of The Digital Bits 2002.
Be safe, be good and you better be spinning those DVDs. I'm making
a list and checking it.
Ho, ho, ho, and all that jive.