Win Paul Greengrass’ action-packed thriller CAPTAIN PHILLIPS on Blu-ray!
The Oscar and BAFTA nominated thriller CAPTAIN PHILLIPS comes to Blu-ray, DVD and digital download this February 10th and to celebrate we’ve got 3 copies of the Blu-ray/DVD to give-away completely free!
Directed by Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum, United 93), CAPTAIN PHILLIPS is based on the true story behind the first American cargo ship hijacking in 200 years, the Maersk Alabama,and its U.S. Navy rescue in 2009. The emotionally charged and critically acclaimed film focuses on the relationship between the ship’s captain, Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks), and the Somali pirate captain (breakout actor Barkhad Abdi) who takes him hostage 145 miles off the Somali coast, with both men at the mercy of forces beyond their control.
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS stars two-time Academy Award® winner Tom Hanks (Best Actor, Forrest Gump, 1994; Best Actor, Philadelphia, 1993) and first time actor Barkhad Abdi (nominated for a Golden Globe, BAFTA and Oscar for his performance).
To be in with a chance of winning simply watch the above trailer and answer the following question. What is the name of the hijacked ship in the movie?
STUDIOCANALare thrilled to announce that the number one box office smashRUSH is racing to Blu-ray, DVD and digital platforms this January. Directed by Ron Howard (Apollo 13, The Da Vinci Code) and starring Chris Hemsworth (Thor, Snow White & The Huntsman), Daniel Brühl (Inglourious Basterds, The Fifth Estate), Olivia Wilde (Cowboys & Aliens, TRON: Legacy) and Alexandra Maria Lara (Control),RUSH has been met with universal acclaim and is the film to own in 2014.
Set against the sexy, glamorous golden age of Formula 1 racing in the 1970s, RUSH is based on the true story of one of competitive sport’s great rivalries as the charismatic English driver James Hunt (Hemsworth) competes against the methodical and brilliant Niki Lauda (Brühl) to be top dog in a world where one wrong decision can ultimately lead to death. Focusing on the astonishing and now legendary 1976 Formula 1 season, RUSH throws the two drivers’ personal styles into stark relief as both put their all into winning in a world that doesn’t allow for margins of error.
Visually stunning, hugely entertainingly and almost unbearably tense, RUSH is Ron Howard’s latest masterpiece and a blistering thriller in its own right regardless irrespective of an interest in motor sports. So fasten your seatbelt, brace for the green light and get ready to experience a RUSH like no other.
Race For The Chequered Flag: The Making Of Rush
The Real Story Of Rush
Sainsbury’s Exclusive Extras:DISC 1:Deleted ScenesRace For The Chequered Flag: The Making Of RushThe Real Story Of Rush
DISC 2: UK exclusive interviews with RON HOWARD, CHRIS HEMSWORTH, DANIEL BRÜHL, OLIVIA WILDE, ALEXANDRA MARIA LARA AND NIKI LAUDAWorld Premiere FeaturetteBehind the Scene Featurettes: Ron Howard’s Tweet, Filming in the rain, Driving an F1, A Look inside, The sexy 70’s, Nurburgring
Denis Villeneuve’s gripping new thriller PRISONERS arrives on Blu-ray and DVD this February 3rd from Entertainment One and to celebrate we’ve got 3 copies of the Blu-ray/DVD to give-away completely free!
Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) is facing every parent’s worst nightmare. His six-year-old daughter has gone missing with her young friend and as the minutes turn to hours, panic sets in. The best lead is a dilapidated RV that had earlier been parked on their street. Heading the investigation, Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) arrests its driver, Alex Jones (Paul Dano), but a lack of evidence forces his release.
As the police pursue multiple leads and pressure mounts, knowing his child’s life is at stake, the frantic Dover decides he has no choice but to take matters into his own hands. But just how far will this desperate father go to protect his family?
Led by Jackman and Gyllenhaal, the gripping and tense thriller PRISONERS features an all-star cast, including Oscar® nominee Viola Davis (“The Help,” “Doubt”), Golden Globe Award nominee Maria Bello (“A History of Violence,” “The Cooler”) and Oscar® nominee Terrence Howard (“Hustle & Flow”), with Academy Award® winner Melissa Leo (“The Fighter”) and Paul Dano.
To be in with a chance of winning simply watch the above trailer and answer the following question. What is the name of Jake Gyllenhaal’s detective character?
The 2014 Oscars will take place on March 2. And with the nominations announced, film fanatics all over the world are debating which works and individuals should take home the top awards. To some extent, this seems like a less predictable season than those in recent memory. There are many worthy films and performances but few clear frontrunners among the nominees. However, in previewing the Oscars, here's a look at the true runners and riders in most major categories.
Best Actress In A Supporting Role
This is a very competitive field in 2014, featuring Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle), Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years A SlaveAugust: Osage County), and June Squibb (Nebraska). However, despite the strength of the field, it certainly seems as if there's no stopping the J-Law train. Her role in American Hustle proved once more that she has a very natural ability. She's also fresh off another Golden Globe win, making her perhaps the only true contender here. This is certainly not meant to discount the other performers in this category. In particular, it was nice to see Julia Roberts doing something more ambitious while Lupita Nyong'o gave about as stirring a performance as we saw in 2013. But momentum counts in awards season, and Lawrence has bundles of it. Our Prediction: Jennifer Lawrence.
Best Actor In A Supporting Role
Those who were surprised by Jared Leto's Golden Globe win likely haven't actually seen Dallas Buyers Club, in which Leto's turn as the transgender Rayon was absolutely Oscar-worthy. While all very enjoyable in their respective roles, Bradley Cooper (American Hustle), Jonah Hill (The Wolf Of Wall Street) and Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips) will probably wind up more in the "happy to be there" category. The true challenge to Leto will come from Michael Fassbender, whose brutal performance as slave owner Edwin Epps in 12 Years A Slave was frighteningly strong, and could result in something of a dark horse win for Fassbender. The scales will likely tip in Leto's favor if for no other reason than he simply has more screen time, and a bit more to do, in his role, whereas Fassbender's Epps was essentially a chapter in 12 Years A Slave. Our Prediction: Jared Leto.
Best Actress In A Leading Role
All you need to know to understand how stacked this category is this year is that perennial frontrunner Meryl Streep (August: Osage County) may be the least likely to pull off the win. Amy Adams has some momentum after winning the Golden Globe in the "best actress in a comedy or musical" category for her outstanding work in American Hustle, but it's fair to say Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), Sandra Bullock (GravityPhilomena) are on even footing with Adams. In fact, Blanchett, who won the Golden Globe for best actress in a drama, as well as a SAG award, is the true favorite as noted by Indiewire. Again, the category is incredibly impressive this year, with Adams being the only nominee without an Oscar. In all likelihood it's down to her and Blanchett, who justifiably has a slight edge. Our Prediction: Cate Blanchett.
Best Actor In A Leading Role
Go ahead and count out Bruce Dern right off the bat. Dern is immensely talented and beloved in the industry, but his role in Nebraska just wasn't as complex or demanding as the other roles we'll see in this category. Seriously, no disrespect to Dern, but he basically meandered around mumbling for 110 minutes. Christian Bale (American Hustle), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf Of Wall Street), Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave), and Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) will duke it out for the prize, with the latter three likely out in front. There are strong arguments for each of these three, and DiCaprio and McConaughey have already won top honors this awards season. With the Golden Globe for best actor in a drama and the SAG award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role under his belt, however, McConaughey appears poised for the win. Many fans are calling for DiCaprio to win his first top prize, though. Our Prediction: Matthew McConaughey.
David O. Russell may be the hottest name in directing these days, with back-to-back Oscar hits in Silver Linings Playbook and, this year, American Hustle. Meanwhile, Steve McQueen achieved an undeniably remarkable feat in bringing 12 Years A Slave to life. Alexander Payne (Nebraska) and Martin Scorsese (The Wolf Of Wall Street) are generating a bit less buzz this time around, but the real frontrunner appears to be Alfonso Cuaron, whose stunningly beautiful and original Gravity sets itself apart.
Interestingly enough, online betting site Betfair published special look ahead at the Oscars has named Steve McQueen as the favorite in this category. The same site offers betting odds for each award and has Cuaron with a significant edge. He has roughly even odds to win, as compared to McQueen's 7.6/1 odds. Still, this is certainly one category that could tip either way. Our Prediction: Alfonso Cuaron will come on top, echoing last year's win for Ang Lee (which signified a triumph of a visual masterpiece over a grand historical film, in Life Of Pi over Steven Spielberg's work on Lincoln).
With nine films nominated, this is the toughest category to analyze and predict, and really it's anyone's guess which film will earn this top honor in 2014. It appears, however, that a group of favorites can at least be separated from the field: 12 years A Slave (winner of the Golden Globe for best drama), American Hustle (Golden Globe for best comedy/musical), Dallas Buyers Club and Gravity are four of the most talked about films of the award season, and are the ones to watch for Best Picture. 12 Years A Slave seems likely to miss out on several other awards for its cast and crew. Also, it's possible that Oscar night ends up a balanced affair, with Cuaron taking Best Director, the casts of American Hustle and Dallas Buyers Club winning personal awards, and 12 Years A Slave taking Best Picture. Our Prediction: That's exactly what will happen. 12 Years A Slave actually even has stronger betting odds to win, as it's been given a significant edge over distant second American Hustle.
2 Discs (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 296 minutes approx.
In the aftermath of World War V in which saw the Earth’s population reduced to half, the metropolis of Olympus is the last remaining symbol of hope. Run by an artificial intelligence called Gaia, the city is controlled by genetically engineered humanoids known as Bioroids, but resentment among the three groups – humans, cyborgs and Bioroids – threatens to undermine the stability of Olympus. A plan to preserve humankind under Bioroids supervision, named the Ark Project, is opposed by the Human Liberation Front, who have powerful support in the terrorists group Argonauts, lead by a man named Alcides, who had been presumed dead for twenty years.
The creation of Masamune Shirow, the Appleseed story is as interesting and complex as the tales he writes. Originally a manga he started in 1985 Shirow halted work on it in 1989 after four volumes to commence work on his next and most famous project, the seminal Ghost In The Shell. An animated OVA appeared in 1988 but it wasn’t until 2004 with the CGI film Appleseed directed by Shinji Aramaki that the franchise re-entered the public conscience, followed by a sequel in 2007 Appleseed: Ex-Machina produced by none other than the Hong Kong movie legend John Woo! A TV series Appleseed: Genesis was scheduled for a 2006 release but a bitter lawsuit over a production dispute saw this fall by the wayside.
In 2011 it befell Takayuki Hamana and the mighty Production IG to rescue the franchise once more with this thirteen episode series, later turned into two theatrical films. In keeping with the two Aramaki movies, the animation for Appleseed XIII is CGI and has the unique premise of having each episode handled by a different production team. The story here is said to follow Shirow’s manga more closely than the two films, which will provide a shock for people familiar with the characterisations of the saga’s two leads, ES.W.A.T members, female special agent Deunan Kanute and her cyborg partner Briareos Hecatonchires. The latter was once human but was severely injured beyond recognition during a bomb blast, thus he was rebuilt as a cyborg. In the Aramaki films the relationship of these two was open to speculation; here they are fully fledged lovers living together. On and the ice cool tough gal that was Deunan has, for some reason been replaced by a pouting little brat!
After the typical anime start of the “villain of the week” formula things settle down as the mystery behind the return of Alcides and Deia, a woman whose role in the proceedings is never straight forward. She takes on a multitude of roles all of which are designed to throw both ES.W.A.T and the viewer off course until her true identity and intentions are revealed. But even then the truth is buried deep under personal tragedy and resultant distorted values, turning the already complex story on its head on multiple occasions. To go further would be to recount the entire plot.
Those familiar with Shirow’s works will know one of his favourite themes for exploration is the concept of existence and what it means to be “human”. Ghost In The Shell is noted for its tackling of human emotion versus cyborg logic and similar existentialist musing are very much present in the Appleseed saga. At the centre of the story is a newborn baby which Deia leaves in the care of Deunan’s Bioroid pal Hitomi. Over time she becomes attached the little nipper and wonders if these feelings are the same as what humans feel towards babies. Similarly, while the Human Liberation Front discriminates against Bioroids they are victim to a bigotry that the Bioroids can’t feel or understand. So who is the real “monster” here?
Don’t expect any easy answers here, the plot twists more times that a pirouetting ballerina on speed, often being too cryptic for its own good. The climax runs across three episodes hosting many revealing but repetitive flashbacks that threaten to cause the story to implode in its own self referential indulgence. Meanwhile the final episode is detached from the rest, a sort of lightweight comedown after the spiralling onslaught of the previous chapters.
In order to create a visual continuity with the Aramaki films, the same CGI/cell shaded animation technique has been employed for this series and frankly it is very hit and miss. The budget clearly isn’t the same which is quite obvious from the get go, with the character renderings of the human looking cast suffering the most. To their credit the facial expressions and subtle nuances are well observed, but the actual rendering is rather plain and outdated. Had this been made twenty years ago it would have been hailed as a break through in CG animation; in 2013 it resembles an early CG video game at best. The figures clash badly with the admittedly gorgeous and detailed backgrounds and quite often even the veneer of the cyborgs and the military equipment is lacking in finesse.
The good news is that you do get used to it over time but the first episode will no doubt be largely spent making that adjustment. The fight scenes however seem to have been spared the budget limitations and are frantic and exciting set pieces, possibly a bit too Michael Bay in their closely shot, quick edit manic pace with some J.J Abrahams lens flare thrown in for good measure.
Appleseed XIII tries extremely hard to be a viable and worthy entry into the franchise but its lofty ambitions are let down by the budget limitations and uneven narrative. This is by now means a bad series, built around a compelling and intelligently written story that would have benefited from a deeper focus than having to fit into the TV series paradigm that provides too many early distractions. The animation will also be a sore point for many, again a case of ambition over ability.
Enjoyable but flawed for existing fans but not a good starting point for newcomers.
Dragonball Z Complete Season Nine (Episodes 254-291) (PG)
6 Discs (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 882 minutes approx.
Picking up from the end of the last volume, the feared beast Majin Boo has been awakened and destroyed half of the Earth’s population but finds his peaceful side when he encounters a puppy and Mr. Satan, preferring to enjoy time with his new friends rather than going on the rampage. This serenity is short lived however when a pair of hunters shoot the puppy, sending Boo into a furious rage so devastating that he splits into two; while his softer side is his current form his evil side is slimmer, taller and grey. The two Boos collide with the evil version coming out top by a peculiar method – by turning the other one into chocolate and eating him!
This gives birth to a new and virtually indestructible Boo, a pink and more muscular version of the evil boo, with a malleable body, parts of which he can separate and manipulate at will. Driven by his uncontrollable rage Boo resumes his destruction of the earth, ending up at Dendes hideout where he issues a challenge to resume his fight against Goten and Trunks, who have created a fusion being named Gotenks, but are still in the midst of perfection this new skill. Meanwhile Gohan is still training with the Elder Kai in order to increase his powers and release a latent Super Saiyan form within him to defeat Boo.
It’s been quite a journey but we have arrived at the final instalment of this celebrated global phenomenon which, truth be told, feels like a long time coming. In actuality it is just under a year and a half thanks to these mammoth disc set collections from Manga Entertainment (and the marathon play feature), as opposed to the original six year run in its native Japan, but it feels longer. The end is nigh and I wish I could tell you that some major surprises are in store but Dragonball Z is a show where its greatest ambition is in its epic adventure storytelling as opposed to reinventing the wheel in shonen anime. Ironically DBZ did fulfil the latter and set the bar for fantasy action adventures, its influence still felt on anime manga to his day.
For this final volume the seemingly impossible is achieved in that what is essentially one fight eked out across thirty seven episodes. Don’t be to put off by this – every effort is made to break it up into smaller bouts to include various permutations of the Z-Fighters to try their hand against the monstrous Majin Boo – including Majin Boo himself. Running the gauntlet of our heroic group, Majin Boo stands alone in his quest for total domination in what is literally a universal battle; Boo takes his fight across every planet in the galaxy in order to destroy Goku and pals, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake with reckless abandon and little in the way of contrition.
To break up the monotony of endless protracted grunting and screaming on the part of our superhero combatants, moments of levity and silly comedy are thrown in, including, but not limited to, some literal toilet humour. Then again come of the occurrences during the fights are also subject to some random silliness, not in the least Boo’s ability turn things and people into sweets and chocolate. Late in the fight Boo’s facility to absorb his opponents sees the unique instance where two of heroes so battle inside Boo’s stomach against all sorts of nasty creatures let alone his bodily fluids! Only in anime!
As this is the grand finale everything is built up to a might climax suited to the show’s sense of the grandiose with the Earth’s future in grave jeopardy and the only people capable of preventing this are in dire straits. It may be fairly predictable stuff but one can expect the type of unbridled bombastic mayhem and colourful noisy denouement we’ve become accustomed to from this seminal series. Unfortunately the series doesn’t end there with four more episodes of detached light hearted hijinks acting as a coda in the wake of the Boo arc finishing, with a slightly unusual twist in the last chapter to keep things open ended while leaving the way for the next stage in this epic saga. It is certainly an odd way to bring things to a close with the preceding episodes serving as somewhat superfluous distractions.
Despite being aimed at a younger audience and being almost twenty years old the modern cynical viewer will still find themselves invested in the main story and the plight of our heroes – as hokey as it is – the mark of a truly effective show. The visual restoration the show received especially for this release has helped it tremendously to appeal to today’s audience who otherwise may have felt a little hesitant to investigate what some may have written off as a relic. The more dedicated and learned anime fan will of course already be aware of DBZ’s place in anime history and will have indulged in these sets to relive their youth.
The Dragonball franchise continues to earn its spot in the hearts of otaku world wide with various spin off films and TV series sequels, with Akira Toriyama’s original manga and this series gaining new fans every year. While it may have been surpassed in terms of story telling and animation there is still a palpable and pertinent charm to the people and the world of the Dragonball universe that will forever resonate within the milieu of popular culture.
English Language with Japanese Music 5.1 Surround Sound
US Broadcast Version Stereo
Original Japanese Language Mono with English Subtitles
WWE: Straight To The Top – Money In The Bank Ladder Match Anthology (15)
2 Disc Blu-ray / 3 Disc DVD (Distributor: Freemantle Media) Running Time: 392 minutes approx.
In 2005, with Wrestlemania 21 approaching, a number of top tier stars of the time didn’t have a match on the card for the Grandest Stage Of Them All until Chris Jericho made an announcement on RAW about a concept he had brewing in his mind. Jericho felt that he and five other RAW wrestles were deserving of a shot at the brand’s title (at that point it was the World Title held by – who else? – Triple H) so he proffered the idea to then RAW GM Eric Bischoff of a ladder match where the prize would be a briefcase containing a contract for a world title shot with a one year expiration date. Bischoff liked the idea and thus the Money in The Bank Ladder match was born.
Despite first being introduced to the WWF in mid 1992 in a match taped for a home video release between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, the ladder match was a spectacle used rather sparingly with only four more being held until the first tag team ladder match at the No Mercy PPV in October 1999 between Edge & Christian vs Hardy Boyz. Suddenly the potential for this high risk stunt fest to steal the show was realised and from then on the ladder match – which then morphed into the TLC match – became a more frequent (and occasionally overused) gimmick match on TV and PPV. The MITB match is the latest permutation to liven it up a bit by making it a multi-man affair and make the choice of winner (hopefully) less predictable.
This very comprehensive release is hosted by The Miz, himself a former MITB winner in 2010 and a subsequent WWE champion when he cashed his contract in on then WWE Champ Randy Orton. In an empty studio surrounded by ladders The Miz is in character somehow flitting between heel and face from link to link, which is an odd thing to do when presenting a video. They also do that annoying thing when they cut to a profile shot of The Miz while he is talking directly to the main camera so he appears to looking in the wrong direction. It would have been nice to get some thoughts from the wrestlers themselves about participating in such a dangerous match but no such luck, so we are stuck with The Miz prattling on. At least the links are kept short.
As the title suggest this set contains every MITB from its debut in 2005 right through to the two matches at this year’s MITB PPV (full review of that show is HERE) while the Blu-ray extras features all of the matches where the briefcase was cashed in thus far - from Edge’s surprise appearance at the New Year’s Revolution PPV in 2006 to Dolph Ziggler cashing in on Alberto Del Rio on RAW the night after Wrestlemania 29. Since most of these “matches” were basically run ins on the champion who had just competed in a gruelling match of their own, these are largely short affairs, aside from the classic RVD vs Cena match from ECW One Night Stand where the champ faced his most hostile crowd ever.
For those of you who are interested, the first match has been heavily edited due to the presence of Chris Benoit. His entrance has been cut as has every mention of his name. While his contributions to the match couldn’t be cut without ruining it, the moments where he is carried out of the match and his triumphant return have also disappeared into the ether. If you’ve not seen the match before this may not bother you so much but it is oddly noticeable al the same. A slightly more beneficial edit is in the match from WM 26 where the winner had an embarrassing seventeen second struggle to get the briefcase down has been cleverly cut down to two seconds!
Aside from the seven hours plus of metal on bone insanity the nostalgia factor provides some interest to long term fans who will revel in seeing some faces from the past no longer with WWE or – like this reviewer – startled to be reminded of some of the names that did participate in the early Wrestlemania MITB matches. Personally I had forgotten that the likes of Finlay, Booker T, Bobby Lashley and even Ric Flair had been in this match! Also with time moving so fast it seems like it has been more years since the likes of MVP, Matt and Jeff Hardy and Mr. Kennedy were last in the WWE than it actually has been.
It is possible to have feelings of overkill when watching this release in that there have been fourteen MITB matches in just eight years making this a title that you shouldn’t watch in one go for fear of fatigue. After all there are so many bumps from and into ladders one can watch before they becomes desensitised to them, not to mention the repetition of certain spots. Thus, dipping in and out of this one at a whim is recommended. However, if you are a fan of this car crash concept then having all of the entries in one place rather than having to sift through your DVD collection to watch them makes this a doubly handy addition to your collection.
Straight To The Top delivers the action from start to finish and the Blu-ray extras make this one of the most complete collections released by the WWE in sometime. Obviously the MITB legacy is far from over so a second volume will no doubt appear in a few years time but for now, ladder match lovers will be in their element with this jam packed, top value for money collection!
German & French Language
New Year’s Revolution - January 8, 2006 - WWE Championship Match - John Cena (c) vs. Edge
ECW One Night Stand - June 11, 2006 – WWE Title Extreme Rules Match - John Cena (c) vs. Rob Van Dam
Smackdown - May 11, 2007 - World Title Match - The Undertaker (c) vs. Edge
Raw - June 30, 2008 - World Title Match - Edge (c) vs. CM Punk
Extreme Rules - June 7, 2009 - World Title Match - Jeff Hardy (c) vs. CM Punk
Smackdown - April 2, 2010 - World Title Match - Chris Jericho (c) vs. Jack Swagger
Money in the Bank - July 18, 2010 - World Title Match - Rey Mysterio vs. Kane
Raw - November 22, 2010 - WWE Title Match - Randy Orton (c) vs. The Miz
*Bonus: Behind-the-Scenes Footage Following The Miz’s Victory
Summerslam - August 14, 2011 - WWE Championship Match - CM Punk (c) vs. Alberto Del Rio
TLC - December 18, 2011 - World Title Match – Big Show (c) vs. Daniel Bryan
Raw - July 23, 2012 - WWE Title Match - CM Punk (c) vs. John Cena
Raw - April 8, 2013 - World Title Match - Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler
1 Disc Blu-ray / DVD (Distributor: Freemantle Media) Running Time: 169 minutes approx.
At one point considered the second biggest show of the year after Wrestlemania, this year’s annual August event took place on August 18th 2013 at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles in front of 14,500 fans. Back in the day when there were only four PPVs a year, with two being largely “concept” shows (Royal Rumble, Survivor Series), it would befall Summerslam to produce some of the more memorable matches of that calendar year and as we have seen it didn’t disappoint. Arguably the most famous Summerslam match would be the unequivocal five star classic from Summerslam 92 between Bret Hart vs British Bulldog at Wembley Stadium.
Can the twenty fifth instalment of this summer sizzler supershow deliver another classic match for the ages? Let’s find with our commentators who, as always, are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and JBL. While my match review won’t contain any results, expect plenty of opinion – although the cover of this release is one huge spoiler so kudos to the cruel moron who made that egregious call.
Ring Of Fire Match - Kane vs. Bray Wyatt
Formerly known as an Inferno match, this is where the ring is surrounded by flames, via gas pipes placed around the ring. Much safer than an infamous match in Japan (where else?) where they wrapped the ring ropes in towels that had been doused in paraffin then set alight, almost burning the ring down in the process! No such threat of that here nor was there much threat of a good match here as the whole thing was designed to be a pure spectacle because of the flames.
There are numerous segments featuring the Miz, as the “host of Summerslam” which featured constant interruptions from Fandango and Summer Rae. Thank heavens for the skip button…
Damien Sandow vs. Cody Rhodes
Sandow betrayed his erstwhile best friend Cody at the Money In the Bank PPV a month earlier leading to the latter’s face turn and this match. Nice work from both men although Sandow’s briefcase was not on the line. The fans have got behind Cody quite quickly in this feud which helped this match a lot and these two showed great chemistry as opponents as they did as partners. A great showcase for two of the company’s more promising prospects for the future.
World Title Match - Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Christian
Christian had already defeated Del Rio in a Ladder Match for the World Title at Extreme Rules two years ago but lost it immediately to Randy Orton. This match sees this old feud reignited after Christian won a Triple Threat match on Smackdown over Orton and Rob Van Dam. Despite the early placement on the card, they delivered an exciting and hard worked match with some hot near falls in the final stretch.
Natalya vs. Brie Bella
This is a match that was born out of the surprise hit “reality” TV show Total Divas and not a regular WWE show. Better than it had any right to be largely due to Natalya, it seems that whoever watches Total Divas wasn’t in the crowd of this PPV, begging the question who WAS watching the show? At least it was short.
CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar
Okay, now we’re talking. After Paul Heyman turned on CM Punk at MITB we witnessed a very public and very definite parting of the ways on RAW that was punctuated by an F5 courtesy of Brock Lesnar in one of his rare contracted appearances. Billed as “The Best vs The Beast”, this was made a No DQ match on the PPV pre-show with the end result being a truly brutal affair. The punishment both guys dished out on each other was horrific and made for a tense and memorable encounter and a bona fide Match of the Year candidate.
Mixed Tag Team Match - Big E. Langston & A.J. Lee vs. Kaitlyn & Dolph Ziggler
Despite getting more TV time to build it up than most of the matches on the card this was stuck in the “breather” spot, the point in the show after one of the marquee matches to allow the crowds to chill before the main event. Keeping it short also meant it didn’t feel like a proper blow off to the two feuds, leaving with a brief but functional match only.
WWE Title Match - John Cena (c) vs. Daniel Bryan – Special ref – Triple H
Daniel Bryan got this title opportunity when Cena was allowed to choose his own opponent and after some egging on from the crowd on RAW chose Bryan. Damn good match as expected, one of Cena’s best but then again look who he was in there with. To his credit, Cena was working with a tricep tear as well as a swelling in his right elbow –and of course the usual hostile crowd who were emphatically pro-Bryan. The big story however is what happened after the match which is spoiled on the DVD cover.
Unquestionably one of the strongest Summerslams in many a year, continuing the streak of good PPV shows in 2013. After a rather shaky opening match things picked up quickly and rarely disappointed, with two very strong matches in Punk vs Lesnar and Cena vs Bryan to make this show stand out in what is a debatably over saturated calendar of PPVs for the WWE. The big question however is the direction things take from here with the controversial ending that both opened a door for a new direction while taking an immediate detour back down the road signed posted “same old, same old”.
Best Match – CM Punk vs Brock Lesnar
German & French Language
Pre show match - U.S Title Match - Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Rob Van Dam
Monday Night RAW 12th August 2013:
Daniel Bryan vs. Wade Barrett
Randy Orton vs. Damien Sandow
Mr. McMahon Picks a Special Referee for SummerSlam
Miz TV with John Cena & Daniel Bryan
CM Punk vs. Paul Heyman
SmackDown 16th August 2013
Bray Wyatt Tells a Story About Kane
No Disqualification Match - Daniel Bryan vs. Wade Barrett
A family of Korean Taekwondo experts – father Moon (Cho Jae Hyun), mother Mija (Ji-won Ye), daughter Tae-mi (Kim Kyung-suk), eldest son Tae-yang (Tae-joo Na) and youngest son Typhoon (Thanathep Sucharitchan) – move to Bangkok, Thailand where Moon runs a small Taekwondo school. On their way to perform a special showcase of their martial art, Tae-yang intercepts the theft of a precious Thai artefact called the Kris, earning the family hero status. The gang responsible, headed by the ice cool Suck Doo (Lee Kwan-hun), threatens the family, forcing Moon to send the kids to stay with old friend Mum (Petchtai Wongkamlao). Suck Doo however won’t give up that easily.
This Thai/Korean co-production aims to put Taekwondo on the map in the same way Bruce Lee brought Kung Fu to the masses and Tony Jaa introduced the world to Muay Thai. To be fair, it does a good job of highlighting its unique style in both the official competitive field and as a martial arts spectacle, but whether it can make stars of its talented young practioners remains to be seen. But don’t expect a story of profound substance, although in this genre the story is hardly a paramount concern.
Seasoned film watchers, aspiring writers, or anyone with a keen eye for movie storytelling will recognise the rather signposted plot devices that you know will suddenly have a significant impact on the story later in the film. I won’t spoil them for you but you’ll know them when they appear, although it shouldn’t be any surprise to learn that the titular “kick” is a vital one. With such a functional story the viewer can pretty much write the script in their heads before it takes place on the screen, but, of course, that isn’t why we are here.
While the idea of a fighting family sounds cute, they is some inner tension created by the insecurities of Moon, who failed to win gold at the 1992 Olympics, something he promised his father. Having given up his dreams for marriage and fatherhood, Moon pushed his kids hard to be the best fighters – even little Typhoon – but especially Tae-yang, whom he wants to win that gold medal for him. However Tae-yang wants to be a dancer and naturally Dad aggressively disapproves, pouring scorn on his weak son. Moon seems to upset the whole family with his stubbornness, pushing his luck with wife Mija when he forgets their wedding anniversary.
One of the draws of this film for many, especially in her native Thailand where this was a box office smash, is the talented JeeJa Yanin, star of Chocolate and Raging Phoenix. She doesn’t actually appear until thirty minutes into the film and even then she is a supporting character, playing Mum’s niece Wawa, who is conveniently staying with Mum and his family of animals at the same time. However she gets to show off her stuff and pretty much steals the show from her equally talented Korean co-stars, even if her character is essentially ballast. She is due a major breakout film of her own and let’s hope it comes soon. At almost thirty she should be a bigger star by now and time won’t wait.
Directed by – who else? - Prachya Pinkaew, this culture clashing butt kicker also owes a debt or two to Jackie Chan with its slapstick comedy and “everything plus the kitchen sink” fight scenes. With the family having they own area of expertise this almost invites such frivolity and dedicated Martial Arts fans will enjoy spotting the Chan influence. Mija is a skilled cook which she employs in her fighting skill, so naturally she has a big utensil filled punch up in a kitchen; Tae-mi is into football so her style is kick heavy (and boy can she kick) and Tae-yang’s dancing is incorporated into his move set. In one scene that is reminiscent of Chan’s seminal Drunken Master, Tae-yang is losing a fight until some music plays on his phone and suddenly his hip-hop movements and Taekwondo come together to turn the tide in his favour.
The fights are naturally the main allure of this film and we are richly rewarded with a number of bone crunching, acrobatic and hard hitting bouts that, true to the Thai martial arts movie style are largely CGI, wire and artificial preservative free. Only some of Tae-yang’s big moves are given some assistance otherwise this is pure bone on bone contact. Stick around for the end credits where the extent of the physical damage incurred by the cast both main and supporting, male and female, with the leads all getting busted open while the stunt fighters are legit knocked out and hospitalised left, right and centre.
Aside from the derivative and uninspiring story the only other noticeable quibble is the use of CGI for a pit of crocodiles. Not that I would advocate the actors being thrown unprotected before these savage reptiles but the end result is some unfortunately insufficiently rendered creatures that spoil the overall effect that is required. Aside from this there is really little to complain about a film that is essentially a martial arts showcase and to be overly critical or overly attentive to its shortcomings on the content is frankly specious, even if the marketing aspect – a largely Korean cast, in Thailand, with two famous Thai faces added to draw the crowds – does warrant a raised eyebrow or two.
The Kick delivers what one wants from a martial arts film and that is impressive kick ass fights that shows off a certain style to its maximum potential. It won’t be a classic, something that in this modern age is hard to achieve, but for a sheer good time, popcorn, action flick ninety minute slice of escapism this is just the ticket.
Whilst Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger ruled the 80’s as action Gods, nowadays heir apparents such as Jason Statham and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson are the perennial muscle men. Unbelievably the two titans never united at their zenith, an oversight which Escape Plan has now righted. It delivers exactly what you would expect from a film that has these two names side by side – and that is by no means a bad thing.
Directed by Mikael Håfström, Stallone stars as security specialist Ray Breslin, whose job it is to test the reliability of prisons by breaking out of them. When he’s sent to a new high-tech facility called ‘The Tomb’ (the movie’s original title), he soon realises he’s been double-crossed. Now wrongfully imprisoned, he must recruit fellow inmate Emil Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger) if he is to break out. Early on, there’s an element of smarts to the narrative that distinguishes it from similar fare, with a well-staged prison break giving us a first-hand view of Breslin’s talent for finding weaknesses in prison defences. Ultimately though the innovation level is at a minimum, and once Stallone is unceremoniously thrown in prison, Escape Plan settles into a familiar groove.
Miles Chapman and Jason Keller’s screenplay wisely ditches the self-awareness inherent in The Last Stand and (to a lesser extent) Bullet to the Head, but whilst the unfolding drama in prison is compelling enough, other plot elements could do with much more tightening. Breslin’s back story should be far better-defined for such an important piece of information, whilst his security team – which comprises of Amy Ryan and Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson – grow more and more superfluous as proceedings escalate.
Thankfully the bulk of the action takes place in ‘The Tomb’, and when our two protagonists are playing off one another Escape Plan is at its immensely enjoyable best. Schwarzenegger in particular looks more alive on screen than he has been in years, adding spark to a lacklustre middle act in what is a playful performance. In contrast Stallone seems to be having less fun, but if there is an art to playing the straight guy, the Italian Stallion perfected it many films ago. Additionally, Håfström is smart enough to give his stars moments which are guaranteed to put a smile on any fan’s face, from a prison showdown (“You hit like a vegetarian!” going straight into 2013’s best lines) to the Governator wielding a BFG in the exciting final act. The supporting cast is strong too; Jim Cavaziel is suitably antagonistic as the sharply dressed warden, whilst a subplot involving a Muslim prisoner manages to be surprisingly effective largely due to a well-acted turn from Iron Man alumni Faran Tahir.
Escape Plan doesn’t reinvent the wheel – indeed, Stallone has broken out of prison four times in his previous movies – but thanks to the likeability of its two leads it’s a thoroughly enjoyable slice of action cinema. It’s a shame it took these guys 30 years to team-up. Better late than never though.