Up first this week is Young Ip Man. I’m a big fan of the Donnie Yen Ip Man films. I enjoyed The Grandmaster. Unfortunately the Ip Man stories are heading towards Django territory where there are so many movies not really connected, but all use Ip Man as a central figure. I have no idea how accurate any of them are now or how loosely based they are on the real man at this point. This finds a young Ip Man involved with a kidnapper holding his classmates hostage. Ip Man has a past with the criminal and one of the other kidnappers. There’s a crooked cop as well. You watch these for the fighting sequences and these are ok. They won’t be confused for any of the Yen fights, but the film has a short runtime which helps speed things along. The actor playing young Ip Man is fine, but again you won’t confuse him for Yen. It’s good for a watch if you like the character and like Chinese martial arts films, but don’t expect to be blown away.
Second we have Samurai Wolf 1 & Samurai Wolf 2: The Hell Cut. These are two late 1960s films now available in North America for the first time. The first film is about a wandering samurai who gets caught up with a blind woman who runs a local transportation post. He gets convinced to help guard a delivery, but someone from her past comes along and his sword is ncessary. The second film finds the samurai caught between a crooked goldmine owner, a betrayed swordsman, a manipulative lady and a dojo master. They are sort of spaghetti western-esque, but have good action. They are both pretty quick and easy to get through and the lead is very good. I wasn’t familiar with the black & white films and tend to enjoy these films so I’m glad this Blu-ray set came my way. I have a few friends into samurai/wandering good guy flicks and I’ll be recommending this to them if they aren’t familiar with the series either.
Third we have Sweetheart. If you read me enough you know my least favorite genre of film is coming-of-age. I’m well beyond my teen years and didn’t like coming-of-age when I was coming of age. I especially hate them when the main characters are awful people. That brings us to this film about a gay teenager who goes on holiday with her mother, younger sister, pregnant older sister and her brother-in-law. You’re supposed to root for the main girl allegedly, but I thought she was just an awful person. Oh no nobody gets you. Your mother wants you to have fun and enjoy life and go in the water. Your sister wants to fix your terrible haircut. How awful for you. There is nothing redeeming about a girl who does nothing, but complain all the time and intentionally doesn’t fit in. Her brother-in-law was a nice guy going out of his way for everyone and trying to stop all the fighting, but she didn’t care. She gets drunk and pukes in the trailer. She yells and screams simply because she wasn’t getting her way. No thank you. The film didn’t work for me, but I’m sure others will disagree and talk about how great of a character she is despite her being a miserable person.
Sticking with coming-of-age, next is Shabu about a young man who wants to be a famous rapper. He lives in a predominantly black neighborhood in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. I’m not a rap fan so I can’t tell you if the kid was any good or not. The story is something we’ve seen a thousand times before, someone wanting to use their talent (sports, music, acting, etc.) to escape an area of poverty. The young actor was pretty solid even if I didn’t get much out of the film itself. The story is just done too much at this point that nothing really stands out about the characters in the film.
The last two releases come from Mill Creek Entertainment. First is the Uncut Director’s Edition of In The Cut. Despite starring Meg Ryan, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Kevin Bacon and coming from acclaimed director Jane Campion I had never seen this sexual thriller. Meg Ryan plays a teacher with JJL her stripper sister. Ruffalo is a detective investigating a murder and Bacon is a love interest Ryan wants nothing to do with. It’s pretty sexual and graphic and it’s also very early 2000s. The lighting, the style and look of the filmmaking will definitely bring you back 20 years in that post 1990s/pre-digital/technological way. Ruffalo is good and Ryan is as well even if I didn’t love the film. It’s good for a watch, but I don’t see myself needing to watch it again. Having never seen it before I can’t comment on how different the Uncut Director’s Edition is compared to the theatrical release, but I’d assume it has a lot more nudity especially one graphic oral sex scene. If you are a fan I’m sure you’ll enjoy this new edition.
Last we have a Miami Vice Steelbook. I’ve said it before, but I truly believe this Jamie Foxx/Colin Farrell remake of the beloved TV show is underrated. I enjoy the heck out of the film. This Steelbook is also an Unrated Director’s Edition which is great if you’re a Michael Mann fan. It has the style of Bad Boys minus the comedic elements. The film looks great on Blu-ray and this Steelbook packaging is pretty sweet. It has fun bonus features including the theatrical release, shooting on location, gun training and commentary with Michael Mann. If you only gave it a shot years ago when it came out give it another try. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised and the film still holds up well thanks to Mann. My favorite release of the week.