DURHAM – The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival is a four day festival that can leave you emotionally drained like a ten day festival. The ticket takers ought to be passing out Kleenex along with audience award ballots. There’s no shame in crying during a screening because these are real stories about real people. This isn’t merely an actor doing their best to make you sob to win an Oscar. These are real people that sometimes you befriend in the course of 80 minutes. When they hurt, you hurt. When they smile, you smile. And when something goes really good or bad for them, you feel it deep inside yourself.
Once again the festivals selection committee put together a program of the quality non-fiction films from recent festivals and world premieres. This was four days to indulge. From my talk with filmmakers, people are thrilled to get to take part in Full Frame. Quite a few were recovering from SXSW. There were horror stories of being unable to get into screenings and concerts down in Austin. The good part about Full Frame was that even if a movie sells out and you can’t get in with the Last Minute line, you’re a quick dash to the last minute line for another film. Plus Durham has better BBQ.
Here’s a rundown on the films I caught over the four days and few interviews:
Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart recounts how the school teacher in New Hampshire became a national sensation when she was charged for having students kill her husband. This will be worth watching on HBO in the near future. Most of the people involved in the first trial to go gavel to gavel on TV investigates how media played a role in blowing things out of proportion. There are quite a few revelations including how one of the killers would get coked up in prison before being taken to the courtroom to testify. This allowed him to cry better when recounting. The biggest revelation is how Smart can’t get a fair appeal since everyone views her by the two Oscar winning actresses that played her on TV and on the big screen. This woman isn’t Helen Hunt or Nicole Kidman. The documentary has a few key players recounting fictional scenes from the Hollywood adaptations as fact.
The Notorious Mr. Bout is also the case of a man not getting a fair trial thanks to an Oscar winner. Viktor Bout is a Russian citizen who made a fortune with is air cargo fleet in Africa. He quickly was declared “The Merchant of Death” because his business was linked to selling guns to various militias. Lord of War starring Nic Cage was a fictional version of his life. He was finally arrested by the DEA in a sting operation. But was this guy really the monster portrayed by Nic Cage. Filmmakers Tony Gerber & Maxim Pozdorovkin tap into Bout’s home videos to show a man who was more Paul Blart than Lord of War. Was he selling tons of weapons in Africa? Or merely a businessman who didn’t care what his clients wanted to load in the back of his planes? It’s hard to tell. Bout doesn’t come off as a cold blooded Russian mobster. Although if you want to be able to truly get a fair trial and appeal, avoid letting an Oscar winner play you in a film. I sat down with Gerber to discuss how he hooked up with Bout, his wife and the director of Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer. Here’s a chat with Gerber.
Watchers of the Sky delves into the area of Mr. Bout with people who are concerned with genocide. There are too many people who think genocide was just a one time thing that happened during World War II. But it turns out that there’s been a lot of politically and culturally motivated mass killings over the decades. It’s still going on in Sudan. But since nobody wants to get truly involved in “national issues,” major countries do their best to avoid using the “G” word. Why exactly is the head of Sudan treated so well by the Chinese and Bout made a target by the United Nations? Perhaps because his gun running didn’t feature any debt beyond the price for services rendered? Rafeal Lemkin coined the word genocide and did his best with the United Nations to make it a real crime. The movie follows four people doing their best to stop it. Lawyer Benjamin Ferencz took the Nazis to task for their actions and now he lobbies United Nations representatives. It is a tough film, but enlightening. While I didn’t get to see E-Team, there was a lot of praise about the portrayal of Human Rights Watch members that enter warzones to document the crimes against humanity.
Our Man in Tehran is Canada’s setting the record straight when it comes to the events covered in Argo. This is a very even handed approach to the events that led to six American embassy workers hiding out at the Canadian embassy in 1980. Unlike Ben Affleck’s version of events, Our Man sets the stage as to why the Iranian Revolution took place. When the Shah requests to come to America for medical treatment, Jimmy Carter knew there would be a hostage situation. The president was pressured by his advisors to not abandon the royal ally. This eventually led to students taking control of the embassy and ultimately Carter losing reelection. Unlike Argo, the Canadians were more than background extras in getting the Americans smuggled out of the country. Ambassador Ken Taylor and his staff gets to tell the full story. The big ending of Argo was a Hollywood vision. I had a chance to talk with directors Drew Taylor & Larry Weinstein along with executive producer Elena Semikina. There’s a great little story about how Ben Affleck wanted to narrate the movie for them.
Supermensch allows Mike Myers a chance to reclaim his cinematic soul with a documentary about a man who emotionally rescued him. Shep Gordon’s story starts when he bails on a career helping troubled teens after a few hours. He hops in his car, checks into Los Angeles motel and gets knocked out by a woman he tried to help. A few days later, he’s in his hotel room smoking dope with Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison. That it turns out is not the greatest story of his life. Jimi would get Shep to manage Alice Cooper. The shock rocker and Shep have been together ever since. Shep understood how to outrage the world through Alice’s antics. He’s the one who brought the chicken on stage in Toronto. Shep put panties on a vinyl record. Shep wasn’t always so dirty. He launched the career of Anne Murray. He revolutionized the way soul singers get treated on tour. He invented the celebrity chef. He managed Groucho Marx to straighten up the legend’s money issues. Even though Shep has done so much and helped so many, he really wishes he had a kid. Shep spoke after the film. Mostly he hates that today’s kids merely want to win a TV contest so they can become superstars overnight. Nobody wants to get experience. Shep came off as such a great guy. I do hope he can find a woman that wants to have his baby. Myers didn’t make the screening because his wife was due to deliver.
Summer 82 When Zappa Came to Sicily is a heartwarming version of the Rolling Stones’ Gimme Shelter. Filmmaker Salvo Cuccia recounts how astonished he was when it was announced that Frank Zappa was going to play a concert in his hometown of Palermo, Sicily in 1982. Except at the time, he was in the military stationed in Germany. His dad of all people wanted him to see the concert so they drove back. But this isn’t merely about a father and son road trip. The key is that Zappa was videotaping everything on his Italian tour. This footage is amazing with the band getting the grand tour from Massimo Bassoli, a fan who became a tight friend with Zappa. What neither Frank, Massimo or Salvo knew was that the concert was going to turn out to be an Altmont level disaster minus a body count. There was a reason why bands didn’t play Sicily. But this film isn’t merely a recounting of the night of police going nuts. There’s the tale of Frank Zappa visiting his father’s home in a nearby fishing village. His parents appeared to have so little when the left for the promise of America. His widow and children return to the town to see Frank honored. It is a masterful weaving of music, culture and family. Dweezil is brought to tears by the experience. The best news is that the movie represents the family finally opening up the vault to let people see Frank’s shows. I spoke with Massimo Bassoli about his time with Frank and the fact that more footage of the tour should be released when Summer 82 comes out on home video.
20,000 Days on Earth is an unconventional semi-autobiography of musician Nick Cave. The man who set the screen on fire in Wings of Desire gets to play a bit of an angel as an imaginary day in his life explores his entire life. Director’s Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard channel Ken Russell as Nick works with the Bad Seeds on a few new songs that get turned into major numbers at the end of the film. Nick also drops by his personal archive to remember his time with the Birthday Party. Blixa Bargeld pops up in a car to explain why he had to exit from the Bad Seeds. Bandmate Warren Ellis becomes a key figure for Nick in collaborations. The movie isn’t that informative informationally, but gives us a sense of what propels Cave to be a creative force.
The Case of the Three Sided Dream delves into the music and life of Rahsaan Roland Kirk. To a certain degree, Kirk gets reduced to a blind musician who had the ability to play three instruments at once. But he wasn’t merely a one-man band gimmick. He had a true purpose of blending so many instruments at once on stage. Director Adam Kahan places Kirk’s music front and center with so many musical performance. The beauty that Kirk could create flourishes between tales from those who knew him. Kirk’s big moment comes when he comes up with a protest to get more jazz on TV that leads to a spot on The Ed Sullivan Show with Charlie Mingus. I had a chance to talk with Kahan after the screening. At the moment he can only afford the music rights to run the film at festivals so don’t sit around waiting for a home video release. There are quite a few upcoming screenings for those around the country.
Evolution of a Criminal is an extremely personal film for Darius Monroe. He breaks down what drove him to rob a band with two high school classmates. He apologizes to his victims. He really opens up with self examination. He also gets an idea of who snitched him out to the cops, but there’s no retribution in the finale. Spike Lee is associated with the film which should get it a wider release.
The Great Invisible is a reflection on the Deepwater Horizon disaster off the coast of Louisiana. It’s the reason why BP keeps running those annoying ads about how great things are on the Gulf Coast. Well it turns out things aren’t great for everybody. Besides breaking down what went wrong on the floating oil well, we see the effect on people whose lives depended on oil and seafood. The film looks great (classmate Adam Stone was part of the cinematographers), but David Wingo’s slow score did lull me to sleep a few times. Can filmmakers pick up the musical pace? When you are seeing a bunch of films at a festival, there are times when your body wants to take advantage of being in a dark room and grab a nap. Please don’t give us a reason to lull our eyes shut.
Butterfly Girl proved to be the big surprise of the festival for the inspirational and heartbreaking beauty found in a Texas teenager. The movie stood out immediately with its opening song being a rockin’ honky tonk number. A father and his daughter speed down a lonely highway. Dad has a bar band. His daughter Abbie Evans sells concessions. She seems like a normal teenager, but has a major issue. Abbie Evans’ skin can be easily rubbed off. This condition has made her quite delicate. She desires of going off to college. She wants to be held by a boy. But can she handle it? She debates the physical and emotional toll of having reconstructive surgery to restore her hand. It’s all so much for her, but she wants to grow up.
They have been plenty of documentaries over the years that seemed aimed toward teenagers. Butterfly Girl is the first that should truly appeal to teenage girls. There aren’t any talking heads or authoritative asides. The camera follows Abbie as she deals with her life and dreams. This is a young adult novel with a real young adult at its core. A generation that grew up watching MTV documentaries is ready for Butterfly Girl. Abbie’s charm shines through out the 75 minutes. She’s irresistible. I spent quite a bit of time with director Cary Bell and producer/editor Jessica Miller, but didn’t have a chance to interview them on camera. We would have been in tears the entire time so it’s best you just see Butterfly Girl and experience its beauty in person.
Once again the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival delivered the best of documentaries and fine Carolina BBQ.
Lust for Freedom is the classic ’80s tale of a female undercover cop (Melanie Coll) who gets the blame when a sting operation goes bad. She quits the force after the death of her fellow officer and lover. During her sabbatical, she picks up a panicked hitchhiker. Turns out the mysterious woman has broken out of prison. Coll gets taken back to the prison to fill out some paperwork. Turns out that the place is being run for wicked purposes by the sheriff. The ladies are being turned into hookers among other things. Coll gets drugged and put behind bars. They want to send her down to Mexico as a sex slave. Can she escape her plight or will she have to wait until she showers with the other female inmates? Lust for Freedom is as hilarious as an episode of Sledge Hammer although it’s hard to believe director Eric Louzil was going for a comedy at the time. The heavy metal band doing the theme song were robbed of Oscar glory. Among the inmates is GLOW wrestling’s Matlida the Hun! She has a chance to shine in the ring. The bonus features include Louzil’s commentary track. He swears it was a fun film that had a sense of humor. Troma’s Lloyd Kaufman talks on camera about how Eric Louzil did amazing work with Kevin Costner on Sizzle Beach. Troma redid the film in post to make it feature a female lead. Lust for Freedom marks the first time Troma has hooked up with Vinegar Syndrome. Does this mean we’ll be seeing restored and remastered Toxic Avenger Blu-rays?
Drive-In Collection: The Jekyll and Hyde Portfolio plus A Clockwork Blue is a double dose of historical adult action from director Jeffrey Haims. The two films from the early ’70s exhibit the tried and true way of making X-rated films that cash in on the popularity of big studio productions. The Jekyll and Hyde Portfolio brings the kind doctor and his chemically induced alter ego to a countryside sanitarium. How long can his madness stay contained to the staff and patients? The film is like a community theater production with a lack of wardrobe budget. It’s hard to think of an audience eager to see a dissected frog with their ribald tale. A Clockwork Blue has nothing to do with Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. But there had to be a few guys who snuck into the theater hoping it was a sequel since A Clockwork Orange was given an X rating originally. Nothing in Blue references Orange. This movie is about a time travelling Homer witnessing sexual perversity throughout history. The American Revolutionary war gets a laugh from “The British are coming!” moment. It’s a dirty living history exhibit. Oddly enough the film seems R-rated in its carnality. There’s also a limited 1,000 Blu-rays of the double feature which is good since both films have a fine restoration work to the image.
Marilyn and the Senator reminds us that no matter what year, there’s always horny politicians in Washington D.C. What’s amazing is that the movie is 128 minutes long. But leave it to a politician to keep things going beyond the normal time limit. There’s actual location footage shot in Washington D.C. The action however takes place in low rent rooms with clunky early ’70s furniture. There’s plenty of fur on the beds. Director Carlos Tobalina does his best to make this look as large of a budget as any bloated government project. The plot is worthy of a senate investigation. A sitting senator agrees to knock up a female CIA agent for the sake of national security. Why hasn’t any sex scandal senator used that defense for their actions? The women look rather good for the budget. The Political creepy guys look like they were taking a coffee break from their Congressional gigs. There’s a commentary track from star and co-writer William Margold. He has quite a few amazing memories of the film. He doesn’t think much of Tobalina as a director, but he was a nice guy. There’s talk of glory holes. He also talks nasty about his neighbor. He complains that one actress only got the part because she was the director’s talentless mistress. Margold’s commentary is pure gold and the real reason to buy this DVD.
Sophie’s Choice is remains the most heartbreaking of Meryl Streep’s performances. She’s Sophie Zawistowska, the girlfriend of Nathan (Kevin Kline) in post-World War II New York City. Stingo (Peter MacNicol) is a writer pal who ponders why she does thing. Little does he know about the horrors she went through while in a Nazi concentration camp. It’s an emotionally draining film based on William Styron’s novel. This an essential movies to watch. The Blu-ray brings all the details to her past. There’s a new roundtable talk that includes Kline and Streep discussing the film. Director Alan Pakula has a director’s commentary that covers so many aspects of the film. He passed away in 1998 so it’s good that he can testify to this powerful film. The special edition also includes a DVD of the movie.
Hill Street Blues: The Complete Series is Christmas at the end of April. This was the drama that changed how TV cop shows portrayed police work when it debuted in 1981. Steven Bochco and Michael Kozoll allowed the police to be more than just authority figures. The people wearing the badges had their own issues. They didn’t get along all the time. They didn’t mind playing a little dirty if it mean surviving their patrol. They liked to get laid. The show was revolutionary when it first aired. It also proved to be a ratings loser. Luckily NBC believed in it. After winning a ton of Emmys, viewers gave the show a chance. It lasted seven seasons as part of NBC’s Must See TV lineup. Rewatching it 30 years later, HSB remains an elite show. There’s a richness to the characters and actors that has only been matched by The Wire. The storylines of the officers could be self-contained to an episode or last weeks gives the show a special quality. Captain Frank Furillo (Daniel J. Travanti) seems to have everything under control, but he can’t keep his ex-wife Fay (Barbara Bosson) off his case when he fall behind on child support payments. At least he has the semi-comfort of attorney Joyce Davenpot (Veronica Hamel) as his girlfriend. Sgt. Phil Esterhaus (Michael Conrad) is the calm force inside the station as he wraps up roll call with “Let’s be careful out there.” Detective Belker (Bruce Weitz) is the plainclothes madman who might bite suspects. Lt. Howard Hunter (James B. Sikking) is the know it all head of the SWAT unit who even at his most superficial moment has more depth than S.W.A.T. The glue of the show are officers Renko (Charles Haid) and Hill (Michael Warren). Their hot and cold relationship rewrote TV rules for buddy cops. How good is the show? Jeffrey Tambor had a recurring role as a judge.
It’s been rather difficult over the years to enjoy Hill Street Blues. Even with 100 plus cable channels, it hasn’t been a hot property to run with Scrubs and Family Guy. Home video wasn’t a solution. Nearly a decade ago, Fox abandoned putting out the DVDs after the second season. Shout! Factory has given all seven seasons to us. Now viewers can appreciate the entire life of the Hill Street station unfold. The bonus features include a great documentary that allows Bochco and others explain how the show evolved. Two big facts revealed is that Fred Silverman was the executive who wanted the show in production and it’s based on a police station in Pittsburgh. There’s an early interview with many of the cast members plus a gag reel. Four episodes have commentary tracks. The only element missing from the set is a DVD with all 13 BeverlyHills Buntz episodes. Oh well. Although most people would rather be arrested than re-experience the sitcom version of Buntz. Hill Street Blues: The Complete Series represents when a network wanted to make a police show that wasn’t routine protocol.
Newhart: The Complete Third Season shifts the focus on the show from Stradford Inn to a local TV station. Dick Loudon (Bob Newhart) has gone full time hosting “Vermont Today” while still squeezing in time to write books and run his historic bed and breakfast with his wife Joanna (Mary Frann). The first major change is that Kirk has fled the town and wants Dick to sell the Minuteman Cafe in “Tell a Lie, Get a Check.” Can he really unload the dump on Mr. Hand (Ray Walston) from Fast Times At Ridgemont High? Michael (Girls’s Peter Scolari) puts his best television producer attitude to work for making the place sound great. The love affair between Michael and Stephanie (Julia Duffy) grows with the proper level of red hot vapidity. Larry, Darryl and Darryl get more appearances as they get closer to Dick. “Dick Gets Larry’s Goat” puts them all at odds when livestock gets loose and eats Dick’s latest book. Things get nasty. “The Fan” has Dick get his own superfan. But can he handle the attention? Will Joanna lose her cool? The glue of the show remains George (Tom Poston). His caretaker antics are an ever giving well of comic love. Rediscovering Newhart is almost like being able to sneak away for a weekend at the Stradford Inn. Keep in mind that Shout! Factory releases The Bob Newhart Show: The Complete Series on May 27 and Newhart: The Complete Fourth Season on August 19.
Dynasty: The Eighth Season, Volume One & Two brings us back to a time when rich people were so much more entertaining since they didn’t feel the need to spend millions on depressing political ads to prove their worth. “The Siege” opens the season with Bo Hopkins (the Guy Who Isn’t Jerry Reed) holding the Carringtons hostage. Can they escape his insane desires? He takes them to an oil rig. Things get weird for the family in “The Aftermath” when Fallon (Emma Samms) talks of her UFO experience. Is this a hint that Linda Evans was really from Outer Space? “The Announcement” has what any billionaire would do after his family has been in an intense hostage situation: Run for governor of Colorado. What was Blake Carrington (John Forsythe) smoking? Alexis (Joan Collins) decides to ruin his campaign in “The Surrogate.” She’s such a party pooper. Dana Carrington (Leann Hunley) wants a baby by a surrogate. Don’t go asking Alexis to carry a baby. Later in the season Alexis finds a video showing Blake at a brothel. Sadly it is not a Dennis Hof owned cathouse. Otherwise he could just say he was visiting an HBO superstar at work. I’m not going to mention anything that is in “The Spoiler.” Hate to ruin that episode for you. The second half of the season has more campaign intrigue. Do you think Donald Trump uses these episodes as “research” for his lame attempts at being a political candidate? There’s 22 episodes spread over the 6 DVDs.
Laverne & Shirley: The Final Season has very little Shirley content. Seems that off screen, Cindy Williams was pregnant. Instead of writing this into the script, Shirley was written out of the show. “The Mummy’s Bride” has her marry an army doctor named Walter. It’s a comical wedding since Walter has a minor accident so the nuptials are held in a hospital room. How will she let Carmine (Eddie Mekka) know that their romance is over? “Window on Main Street” puts the girls on display at their store. But can they handle the attention? The answer is found in “The Note” when Laverne comes home and finds Shirley’s stuff is gone from their apartment. Where has her pregnant pal gone? Overseas with her new husband. This leads to the new opening with just Laverne. It’s weird to see the non-Shirley moments. At least there’s “The Playboy Show” with a not-so-elderly Hugh Hefner in his pajamas. Star Wars fans will enjoy seeing Carrie Fisher in a Playboy bunny outfit. “Death Row” almost gets Laverne in the electric chair. Lenny (Micheal McKean) and Squiggy (David L. Lander) are her only hope at freedom. Adam West (Batman) sticks his landing in “The Gymnast Show.” Jay Leno yucks it up on “Do The Carmine.” Carmine does get a farewell before the final episode on “Here Today Hair Tomorrow.” He’s heading to New York City. It’s interesting to see the show without Shirley. She did add a bit to the fun. The bonus features include a gag reel and the promos for when they went into syndication.
Nurse will make you want to take a warm sponge bath after viewing. Everyone’s favorite Boardwalk Empire trainwreck Paz de la Huerta wears sensible shoes as she walks the hallways of All Saints Hospital. But she’s not a nice nurse. She’s got plans to heal one of her fellow nurses. This film combines the creepy feeling of an Argento film with a Roger Corman produced Nurse flick. Paz is amazing in the role of the psycho sister of mercy. This is a perfect movie to watch when you’re contemplating out patient surgery. There’s a director’s commentary and a video diary. You’ll get to hear a few tales about Paz. You can also enjoy the film on your next visit to the waiting room thanks to a Digital Ultraviolet copy of the film. DId I mention that I’d be nervous about Paz taking my temperature rectally? Cause she might go there.
Date and Switch is an intriguing tale of sexual confusion. The movie starts with the common plot of two high school seniors promising to help each other lose their virginity before they graduate. But there’s a major twist when one of the two comes out as gay. Even worse, the other guy has the hots for the gay pal’s girlfriend. Can they really follow through with the pact? There’s plenty of great supporting cast appeal including Gary Cole, Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman. No hints if Nick Offerman is involved in the big getting laid solution. But wouldn’t he do that in real life? Dakota Johnson is the real stand out in the comedy. Bonus features include a commentary from director Chris Nelson and writer Alan Yang and a featurette about proms. There’s also a Digital Ultraviolet version of the film.
Mr. Magoo: The Theatrical Collection 1949 - 1959 is a long awaited joy. Over the years, Mr. Magoo has become an outlaw cartoon thanks to critics complaining that the movie mocks blind people. Magoo isn’t blind. He’s a rich guy who refuses to wear his glasses to correct his nearsighted eyes. The collection has all 53 of the UPA shorts including the two that won the Oscar. It’s amazing how his character design changed. In “Ragtime Bear,” Magoo is a major jerk and looks it. He’s overbearing and demands everything happens as he can’t quite see it. The transfers look restored to give a luster to his bumbling adventures. Magoo’s voice (Jim Backus, best known as Mr. Howell on Gilligan’s Island) sounds crystal clear on the audio tracks. Along with the shorts is the theatrical feature 1001 Arabian Nights. This version of Aladdin has Magoo playing Aladdin’s uncle. He merely wants Aladdin (The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis‘ Dwayne Hickman) to stop being a punk kid. He wants to marry the princess, but she’s promised to Wicked Wazir (Fracture Fairytale’s Hans Conried). Can a nice lamp solve all his problems? The bonus features includes a documentary of Magoo. It delves into UPA Pictures too. Leonard Maltin gets his own time to discuss the cartoon series. “A Princess For Magoo” is a vintage featurette about how UPA Pictures made the feature film. This should please cartoon fanatics with the live action footage from the studio.
Moonshiners: Season 2 is all about keeping the legacy of Otis Campbell alive in the Southern wilderness. This reality show follows the good old boys that don’t hanker for none of that store bought liquor. They want their white lightning produced the way their pappy squeezed it out of the sour mash. It’s rather nice that these folks have stuck with making liquor instead of going into the world of Meth. Although sometimes they come up with plans that remind you why they haven’t been able to turn their operations into legit moonshine operations . You’d be amazed how many moonshines are being sold at liquor stores these days. But those drinks supposedly have a zero chance of making you go blind. Where’s the fun in safe moonshine? Break out the Mason jar for 14 episodes of outlaw sippin’ and backwoods wisdom.
Prince Killian and the Holy Grail brings the best selling Spanish graphic novel to the screen. Killian (The Borgias‘ Sergio Peris-Mencheta) gets a major duty during the third crusade into the Holy Land. He must retrieve the Holy Grail from the clutches of a wicked lord. He’s not going to do the mission alone. Along with two pals, he has a hot Viking princess on the team. This Spanish production has a lavish feel to the knightly action. The movie can be heard in Spanish and English. There’s English subtitles. The Spanish track has the better mix.
Martial Arts Double Feature: Hapkido & Lady Whirlwind is a double dose of Angela Mao Ying (Enter the Dragon). She has a charming presence on the screen as well as swift moves. Lady Whirlwind is a tale of double revenge. Chang Yi gets beaten up by his former gang members who think he’s dead. But he’s able to recover so he can get back at them. Before he starts his pain tour, Angela arrives looking to kick Chang’s ass for what he did to her sister. Is she going to give him time to get his revenge before she gets her revenge on him? There’s enough butts to be kicked all over the Dyali Scope screen. Hapkido is an international buttkicking. Angela, Carter Wong and Sammo Hung are Chinese students studying Hapkido in Japanese occupied Korea. There’s a severe culture clashes taking place. The trio get into trouble with a Japanese martial arts school. They are a peaceful folks so the don’t want trouble. But trouble comes for them with furious fists. When Angela finally has to take on the Japanese teacher, the guy fights dirty with a sword. Can she win? She does look good battling it out. Lady Whirlwind The bonus features include interviews with Angela, Carter Wong, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao. They have the original English openings to both films along with the trailers. Shout! Factory is going to release The Angela Mao Ying Collection with six more of her films on June 17.
Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac - Sanctuary finally brings the popular anime series to home video in America. The Japanese series is about a group of young boys that get assigned to protect the goddess Athena. Well first they have to survive the extremely difficult training process. Over a 100 enter, but only handful attain the goal. They become the Saints of Athena. Things get even messier when those at the top must battle each other for the “Gold Cloth.” The 1986 series was a massive hit in Japan. The 73 episodes are spread over 11 DVDs. The episodes are in the original Japanese with English subtitles so expect to multitask while watching the adventure unfold. The series has been converted into a popular video game series. Here’s a clip from that.
Wolverine: Weapon X - Tomorrow Dies Today is another series of comics brought to motion thank to Marvel Knights Animation. Things get weird when cybernetic robots arrive in the city killing superheroes on their first day and the parents of heroes not yet born. Who is behind this carnage? Wolverine doesn’t care since he’s flying around the globe getting drunk with Captain America. Eventually the duo must team up with other superheroes to confront this menace that appears to be coming back in time from the future. The animation takes full use of the original six comics written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Ron Garney. Another great way to catch on Wolverine without worrying about smudging the pages of your friend’s comic books.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - A Dash of Awesome has five episodes focusing on the rainbow maned pony with wings Rainbow Dash. Being the father of a five year old daughter, My Little Pony is now her life. God help me if I approach a checkout lane that has MLP toys or dolls. And yet, I’m often entertained when she put in the DVD and sits next to me. It’s addictive to older viewers. Although she swears I’m a Rarity. But I know I’m a Pinkie Pie. This collection contains “May the Best Pet Win!,” “The Mysterious Mare Do Well,” “Read It and Weep,” “Daring Don’t” and “Rainbow Falls.” The bonus is a Sing-Along. And your child will sing-along.
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