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Sam (Newcastle, Uk)

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The Blues Brothers Collection [DVD]
The Blues Brothers Collection [DVD]
Dvd ~ Dan Aykroyd
Price: 16.05

31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "They wont catch us, we're on a misson from God", 16 Sep 2006
Disc 1: The Blues Brothers (1980)

The film begins with Jake Blues (John Belushi) being released from federal prison, waiting for him is his brother Elwood (Dan Aykroyd.) Their first stop is the orphanage they grew up in run by a group of nuns. They are informed that the church has stopped donating funds to run the orphanage, and unless they can pay up $5000 in 11 days it will be closed down. Jake comes up with an idea to raise the money - put the band together. As the band didn't split up on the best of terms and all went their separate ways its up to Jake and Elwood to find and reunite the greatest rhythm and blues band of all time: The Blues Brothers.

This is possibly one of the funniest movies of all time and almost certainly the greatest and most original musical of all time. The comedy is hilarious and rarely do any of the jokes miss their target, this is mainly down to the comedy duo of John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, two of the most likeable characters you could possibly watch. The highlight of this movie has to be the songs themselves, coupled with some fantastic choreography and the charisma of the brothers themselves I guarantee each song will have you jumping up and down, singing and dancing along. The list of guest stars is an amazing feat in itself: Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Frank Oz, Steven Spielberg and James Brown to name a few. This movie also managed to break the world record for total number of cars crashed in one of the most over-the-top comedy scenes in the history of cinema only beaten by its sequel Blues Brothers 2000.

It's fair to say this could be the best feel-good movie of all time. It will have you laughing out loud as well as singing along to each and every song. Of course this being a DVD you can simply skip to the next musical number, but why would you want to do that? It's an almost impossible thing to do, one look at those legendary black suits and hats will make watch this movie from start to finish: the comedy moments are fantastic and the car chases superb and stunning musical numbers. If it wasn't for the language I'd recommend this movie to every one of all ages.

Disc 2: The Blues Brothers 2000 (1998)

The sequel begins very similarly to the first one (which to honest can be said for most aspects of this movie) but this time it's Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) who is released from prison, but this time no one is waiting. He is informed that his brother Jake died while in prison. Just like in the first, Sister Mary needs his help, but this time to raise money for a children's hospital. And yes, you guessed it, to raise the money he attempts to put the band together, but this time he has his sight set on the big prize at a battle of the bands contest. To help him on his quest he enlists the help of soulful bartender, Mighty Mac (John Goodman) who is more than willing to come along for the ride.

To say "all the elements of the first film are here" is a bit of understatement, this movie is almost exactly the same as the first, with about seven scenes being exact copies but with a far less compelling storyline and unfunny comedy. This movie feels empty without the charisma and comedy talent of John Belushi: John Goodman is little consolation with only a fraction of Belushi's wit and charm. The only real redeeming feature of this movie is the songs, still not as good as the original, but the songs themselves do give relief from the otherwise dire screenplay.

Fans of the original will most likely hate this movie, but it is still worth a watch. The sequel is definitely more family-orientated with a PG certificate, but if you honestly had to choose one of the films to watch the first would win every time.

Disc 3: The Best of the Blues Brothers (1993)

A documentary on how a Saturday Night Live sketch leads to the creation of possibly the greatest blues band of all time, presented by Dan Aykroyd. It includes the rare footage of John Belushi performing his sketch on SNL that inspired the whole idea of the band as well as some of their many fantastic on-stage performances. Sadly the death of John Belushi is pushed aside in the documentary, it would have been nice to hear more about his life and give you something to remember him by. The documentary itself is quite dull, the musical numbers being the main redeeming feature, but it's worth a watch nevertheless.

If you're looking for any music by the band I recommend purchasing The Definitive Blues Brothers Collection, a fantastic CD with all the songs from the first movie plus many more. If you are ever in bad mood, stick this CD on and I guarantee you'll cheer up as you sing along to the many blues classics.

I'd recommend this set to any lovers of comedy, blues music, John Belushi or Dan Aykroyd, its certainly great value for money with the quality (of the first movie mainly) and the rare documentary on the third disc.

Sam


The Killing [DVD]
The Killing [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sterling Hayden
Offered by Discs4all
Price: 4.44

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kubrick's Unsung Masterpiece, 16 Sep 2006
This review is from: The Killing [DVD] (DVD)
Reading the list of Stanley Kubrick's directorial efforts is more like reading "what's what" of movie masterpieces; however "The Killing" is one of his movies that is often overlooked. This doesn't mean this is a bad movie, with so many fantastic movies to his name it's inevitable that a couple would be overshadowed and forgotten about, this just happens to be one of them. It also happens to be one of Kubrick's first times in the directors chair.

The movie begins at a racetrack; our no-nonsense narrator begins describing the art of betting on horses, just before introducing his intentions to the audience; robbing the racetrack during the most important race of the year. One by one those involved are introduced, while running parallel with discovering exactly how the heist will be carried out. Then sticking with each character individually we witness each one carrying out their side of the heist, the scripts jumps between characters, and back in forth in time to show what happens to each of them during the preparations for the heist, before we witness the heist itself from all possible points of view. This being Kubrick we know he will do something different with this crime caper - The Killing marks the birth of possibly the first true non-linear storyline. It's this unique (at that time) storytelling style that makes this movie so memorable but just another movie on the list of Kubrick's classics.

Surprisingly the two dimensional characters do not let the script down in the way you'd think it would, in time two dimensional characters have become synonymous with the Noir tradition, keeping us distant from the dark, criminal characters. As previously said, Kubrick is possibly the most versatile director of all time, and almost certainly has had many more hits than misses; this movie certainly deserves to be up there with his greatest. Quentin Tarantino has cited this as one of his greatest influence to write his own masterpiece Reservoir Dogs, so this movie must have something going for it.

One negative point is the transfer, keeping the no-frills 4.3 ratio it was filmed in, while also just having the original mono soundtrack. I should also point out that this movie is black and white; but since when did that matter? The special features are also a let down; one measly trailer is all we get, but then again, as long as you get the movie that's all that matters!

All being said, this is still one the genres greatest examples with a blend of dark humour, dark characters and almost unbearable tension as we become totally immersed in the heist itself, wondering if they are going to succeed. Kubrick fans will love it, crime fans will love it, noir fans will love, fans of thrillers of love what; what's there not to like?

Sam


Stagecoach (John Wayne) [DVD] [1939]
Stagecoach (John Wayne) [DVD] [1939]
Dvd ~ John Wayne

23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars John Ford + John Wayne + Stagecoach = The beginning of one of the greatest partnerships in cinema history, 15 Sep 2006
A group of seven strangers set off on a stagecoach to Lordsburg, New Mexico, along the way they pick up fugitive The Ringo Kid (John Wayne) whom has just escaped prison and is now tracking the people responsible for killing his own brother. Of course the story is made all that more interesting when they are informed Geronimo and his group of Apaches is on the loose in the area; but they go on anyway.

Stagecoach has one of the most unique storyline of any Western, it primarily dealing with the relationship of those on the journey. Contrasting personalities cause confrontations almost instantly, but it's the lingering fear of the Apaches inevitable attack that gives this film its greatest twist. The Apache attack on the Stagecoach is nothing short of superb, the cinematography, so unique at that time made this movie stand out from the rest, and still stands up today as an amazing action set piece. Back in 1939 danger was not a factor for stuntmen, which simply creates an authentic action scene rarely seen today.

Although I have already commented on the cinematography it definitely deserves another mention. Filmed on location in Monument Valley, Utah, one of John Fords many trademarks, the scenery is so stunning it deserves a second watch to take it all in.

Although John Wayne had starred in over 80 movies, it was his role in Stagecoach that catapulted him to movie stardom. He plays his role effortlessly as the "nice guy" he plays in most films, and you can never say he "overplays" a character. The rest of the cast are great in their various personas, but it's Claire Trevor who stands out as Dallas, a woman left bitter after being run out of town by the local females for her questionable behaviour.

At the helm was one of the greatest directors of Old Hollywood, John Ford. This set the bar for not just all Westerns but all movies to follow. Characterisation and relationships between characters was rarely explored in as much detail before this movie was made. Ford has taken stereotypical characters and brought them to life by giving them believable personalities and revealing them for the people they are underneath; whether that is a hypocrite or just a misunderstood "lady of the night" in the case of Dallas. (Nominated for seven academy awards and winning to of them (Best Supporting Actor and Best Music Scoring) this movie was seen as revolutionary for its time. Orson Welles famously watched this movie over 40 times while creating Citizen Kane.

The first thing you probably noticed about the DVD is the box, yes; I agree it does look hideous, but fortunately that's not the box I received and believe me the correct box is a lot more pleasing to eye, however that is not really important. What is important is the extra features, basically there is none, but thinking about, it would be almost impossible to find any thing extras about such an old film. Like most films from the era it was shot in Full Screen 4:3, which you cannot really complain about considering the age of this movie. I have also read many complaints about the quality and treatment of this masterpiece, but to be honest I had no problem with and it certainly does not spoil the enjoyment of this movie.

In simple words this movie is a masterpiece of Old Hollywood, this movie should be adored by none Western lovers and Western lovers alike, of course to class this movie as a Western is slightly false as many genres are represented here; Western, Drama, Comedy, Romance and Action.


The Project A Collection [DVD]
The Project A Collection [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jackie Chan

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great value, Great movies and best of all: Jackie Chan, 20 Jan 2006
'Project A' stars the always brilliant Jackie Chan as a turn-of-the century Hong Kong coastguard hot on the trail of the cut throat pirates terrorizing the seas around it. His job is made harder by the rival gangs and corrupt policemen whom all inhabit Hong Kong. Starring alongside him are his old school friends and frequent co-stars Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao, two amazing martial artists in their own right.

If the plot seems pretty thin, that's because it is, but who cares. The story is hardly compelling but the action is jaw-dropping the comedy side splitting, which is really all you should expect from a Jackie Chan movie. The fight scenes are uncomparable in their choreography which ultimately creates too many 'rewind and watch again moments,' which completely makes up for the poor acting and weak script.

The sequel 'Project A Part II' continues where the prequel left off. The story still involve the same plot devices: corrupt policemen, rival gangs and of course the favourite of them all pirates. Jackie Chan's character gets to witness the corruption from a different angle this time as the new chief of the local police. Unfortunately Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao do not reprise their roles in this movie which is the only thing that lets down this sequel.

The movie took what is in the prequel and made the fight scenes longer, more frequent and more exciting with the comedy even more side splitting hilarious. As with the first film the acting is acceptable, it carries the storyline along nicely but do not expect any Oscar worthy performances and the plot is thin and unconvincing but as I always say 'Who cares, It's Jackie Chan' and this time he is definetly at his best.

Jackie Chan is often compared to heroes of the silent era and even admits to them being his biggest influence. In Project A he pays homage to the late Harold Lloyd by imitating one of his most famous stunts in the 1923 movie Safety Last! But with a very Jackie-esque twist. His influences are very clear throughout all of his movies but even more so in these two films.

The DVDs are presented in both its original and the prefered Cantonese language with English subtitles, although English dubbing is not as laughable as in other films i've seen you still cannot beat the more authentic Canotonese original soundtack. I won't bother listing all the extras on the DVD as they are all shown above, but I can guarantee amazing insights into the production of the movies and rare interviews with the lesser known martial arts experts in these movies. In stores I have seen these movies for 20 and over each; this is a rare gem that contains two movies and the fantastic bonus disc that people love so much (and in this case does not dissapoint). To get both movies plus an extra disc for under 20 is an offer not to be missed.

All in all these movies are very exciting, and definetly one of the greatest series to come out of Hong Kong. I can not stress how exciting the death defying stunts are and how hilarious the comedy moments actually are. I challenge anybody to watch these movies without ending up with a smile on their face!

Sam


Hard Boiled [DVD]
Hard Boiled [DVD]
Dvd ~ Chow Yun-Fat
Offered by gowingsstoreltd
Price: 2.75

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Let me catch my breath!, 15 Jan 2006
This review is from: Hard Boiled [DVD] (DVD)
Set in the violent Hong Kong underworld, Hard Boiled tells the story of a gun-happy detective (Yun-Fat Chow) who prefers shooting than confronting and arresting. While confronting smugglers illegally bringing guns into Hong Kong his partner is unjustly murdered by an undercover cop (Tony Leung Chiu Wai). After some persuasion the two of the team up to take down the mob and saves the lives of hundreds of civilians.

You might think this sounds all too familiar to be interesting, but don't be put off. The storyline takes a back-seat in this film. The violent half hour gun fights take centre stage. It's all about the gun fights, if you feel like watching and action packed movie, no thinking required you can not go far wrong with this. The action is so mind blowing you need a couple of minutes to catch your breath after each 'massacre' of Hong Kong gang members. Believability is not a factor in this film, no one reloads, non of the "good guys" are ever killed but that is not the point of this film.

It is near impossible to rate the acting in this film, most characters are dead before you get a chance to see their face. Of course the main actors do what their job nicely. Directed by the legendary action director John Woo, all his trademarks are here, chaotic gun fights, fast dialogue and graphic violence, if you enjoyed any of his Hollywood movies, I gurantee this will blow your mind.

I couldn't find much wrong with the DVD itself, one of its biggest downfalls is the dubbing. As usual the dubbing is quite laughable and no option to watch it in its original language is a bit disappointing. Although it will not ruin your enjoyment of the movie, as I said before, the story line takes a back-seat in this film. The only subtitles available are English.

All in all this film is enjoyable if you're looking for an easy film to watch, definitely a great film for any fans of action movies. Do not expect a complex storyline or outstanding acting. Just enjoy this movie for what it is and not for what it isn't.

Sam


The Fly [1986] [DVD]
The Fly [1986] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Movie
Offered by 101Trading
Price: 3.85

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Horror with a Heart, 15 Jan 2006
This review is from: The Fly [1986] [DVD] (DVD)
Jeff Goldblum stars as the ingenious yet over-ambitious scientist/inventor Seth Brundle. During a unique teleporting experiment he accidentally merges his DNA with that of a common house fly. A journalist (Geena Davis) documenting his scientific endeavours can only watch in horror as Seth's often horrific and shocking transformation into the fly begins.

Great acting all around which is becoming increasing rare in the sci-fi/horror genre. Goldblum's portrayal of going from the caring inventor who only wants to do good in the world through his decent into madness as the hideous fly is flawless. Geena Davis' performance as the journalist who falls in love with Seth is also very persuasive.

With Cronenberg realising that a transformation into a fly would not be a beautiful thing he has managed to create a repulsive, gradual, and no holds barred transformation into the fly. The brilliance here is the fact you feel sympathy for this misunderstood monster which Cronenberg has captured perfectly.
Even nowadays this film would still hold an 18 certificate purely because of the final and over-the-top transformation into the fly, and some parts leading up to it. The greatest triumph with this film is the sympathy you feel for the doomed inventor. It's rare that a horror film such as this has the key ingredient of sympathy that too many movies in this genre lack. Although this film is horror, the horror elements take a back-seat to the relationship between the journalist and the inventor.

The DVD itself I had no problems with. However, it did lack in the special features department. Only containing a six minute behind the scenes featurette which is really just the retelling of the story from the actors, producers and the directors point of view with only a short insight into the production. The same can be said for the cast and crew interviews. The main language for this film is English but does you do have the option for subtitles in Czech, Danish, Finnish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish and of course English.

Fans of the original may be surprised by the different interpretation Cronenberg has taken of the same story. Instead of an instant transformation from inventor to the fly. The fly is completely absorbed into the inventor making the transformation slow and gradual but only creating one monster, another difference from the original.

In my opinion this is an unforgettable film and a classic of this fading genre. Today horrors are all about the violence. Here we have an enjoyable movie that has elements from many genres: science fiction, romance, drama and obviously horror. But don't be put off by this; what you get is unbearable tension that is so rare from many recent films. For 5 it is definitely a movie you need to add to your collection.

Sam


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