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59 of 65 people found the following review helpful
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
Cinemax, my guilty pleasure. I don't know that Cinemax is even trying to veer away from its "skinemax" rep but it IS trying to flirt with a more legitimate identity as a series provider. STRIKE BACK and HUNTED are addictive shows, but they may not be as huge a guilty pleasure as BANSHEE which is, for my money, even more lurid and gratuitously violent.

For most of its debut episode we don't even know the lead character's name. BANSHEE introduces us to a master thief (Antony Starr) who'd just got done serving fifteen years of hard time. But the thief is anything but rehabilitated. Fueled by rage and longing he tracks down his ex-flame and partner-in-crime to a town in Pennsylvania named Banshee. In a bar on the outskirts of town, he witnesses the brutal death of Banshee's incoming sheriff, Lucas Hood. While burying the sheriff, the thief arrives at one of those last-moment epiphanies. He desperately needs to disappear. No one knows what the new sheriff looks like. It's easy math.

While STRIKE BACK and HUNTED deal more with international intrigue, BANSHEE is very much American Gothic noir. It's a pretty wacky premise that is immediately addictive even though it's got a glaring flaw because for a guy desperate to fall off the grid, there are surely more low-keyed options. But never mind. It's gradually dawned on me that part of the show's appeal is how preposterous it is.

"Lucas Hood" is one of those laconic, hard-boiled characters. Antony Starr brings a super-charged presence to the screen. He's a good-looking bloke and he's got this amazing physicality, but what really sells him is that he's able to channel this immeasurable pain and sadness in his eyes. This is still Cinemax so the show doesn't shy away from a sexual tone. Hood remains single-minded in his mission to win back his ex-girlfriend (and ex-thief) Anna, never mind that, in Banshee, Anna (Ivana Milicevic) had long ago assumed a new identity as "Carrie Hopewell" and become wife to the district attorney and mother to two children. Milicevic and Starr create serious heat together.

Obviously BANSHEE trots out a larger-than-life cast. And because the show gleefully embraces its over-the-top storytelling, we get not one but two malevolent crime lords: the local kingpin (Ulrich Thomsen) with ties to Banshee's Amish community and the deeper-pocketed Ukrainian mob boss (Ben Cross) who is looking real hard for our master thief. Adding tremendous color are Hood's new partners-in-crime: the pragmatic bartender and ex-con Sugar (Frankie Faison) and the foul-mouthed, crossdressing computer hacker Job (Hoon Lee). Don't be too surprised if Job proves to be the show's breakaway character.

Hood's inclination may fall with the other side of the law, but he proves to be a tough and effective sheriff even if he frequently leaves his deputies scratching their heads. When required, Hood doesn't shirk from applying questionable methods to get the job done. He sucks at paperwork. You wonder how much longer he can get away with his impersonation.

Even as the narrative got more absurd as the season progressed - and the presence of Pennsylvania Dutch farmers lends the show a unique flavor - I'm impressed with how good the cast is and even more impressed with the visceral nature of the action sequences. A lot of episodes feature Hood's engaging baddies in brutal fights, and none more rough or more extended than Hood's breathtaking brawl with a sadistic MMA champion in the third episode's climactic sequence. I think that fight - and Starr's committment to that sequence - is what sold me on the show. A brooding figure of authority, cloaked in a badge's respectability, Hood would give all that up in a hearbeat if only he could get the girl. Because it's always been about the girl. Oh, Cinemax, you soft touch, you bastion of lost loves and sweeping romances. But old-schoolers shouldn't fret. Cinemax is also still the bastion of rampant nudity (that's here, too).

BANSHEE - THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON presents the ten episodes on 4 discs. Bonus stuff are:

- Audio Commentaries for 6 episodes: "Pilot" (with actor Antony Starr, creator/exec. producer Jonathan Tropper, director/exec. producer Greg Yaitanes), Episode 3 "Meet the New Boss" (with post production producer Allen Marshall Palmer and editor Mike O'Halloran), Episode 5 "The Kindred" (actors Ivana Milicevic, Lili Simmons, Trieste Kelly Dunn, Matt Servitto, director SJ Clarkson), Episode 6 "Wicks" (director OC Madsen and casting director Alexa Fogel), Episode 7 "Behold a Pale Rider (creator/exec. producer David Shickler and director Dean White), Episode 8 "We Shall Live Forever" (creator/exec. producer Jonathan Tropper, director/exec. producer Greg Yaitanes, stunt coordinator Marcus Young)

- "NYC Bus Crash - A look inside the f/x process of one of the series' most explosive scenes," the New York City bus crash in the pilot episode (00:02:26 minutes)

- "Town of Secrets - BANSHEE's creators give you the insider's guide to the town's darkest and most twisted secrets" (00:03:52 minutes)

- "BANSHEE Origins" - This is cool. Get immersed in the backstory with over 13 prequel videos featuring the cast of BANSHEE (totaling 00:33:49 minutes)

- "Zooming In: Episodes 7 & 8 - Go on the set with the cast to see how key, adrenaline-filled scenes were created" (00:03:26)

- 4 Deleted Scenes from Episodes 6, 9, 10 (totaling 00:09:21minutes)

- Season 2 Teaser Trailer

- Bonus disc containing the first two episodes of STRIKEBACK Season 1
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2013
Format: Blu-ray
Prepare to be entertained! This show has everything. Every episode better than the last, you will love this show. I watch shows like Justified, The Walking Dead, True Blood, Game of Thrones. Those shows are great but sometimes the plot filler episodes leave you wanting. Not so with Banshee, every episode brings it! Enjoy and spread the word.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2013
Format: DVD
This show is like the very best of early 90's action flicks all rolled up into one package. Seagal and VanDamme wish they could have been in a show like this! It has kung fu fights, car chases, gun play, snappy dialogue, gratuitous nudity, comedy, drama, and even can be weird at times. I wouldn't have ever imagined Alan Ball being attached to something like this, but with True Blood becoming increasingly worse each season he had to find a new home, and this is a very good one. Each episode is like it's own action movie. The characters are well developed, and the fights are awesomely choreographed. I can't imagine Cinemax sunk a ton of money into the production of this show but what they did invest all shows up on the screen. If you are a fan of 80's and nineties action flicks in the vein of ROADHOUSE, Elmore Leonard stories, or just like a lot of action to numb a bad day at work this show will do that and probably more.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon May 7, 2013
Format: Blu-ray
Seriously, this show has everything. I've already watched Season 1 three times, its
that good.

I'm a sucker for the Russian Mafia, and we get plenty of diabolical doses here, including
the history of our convict hero turned Sheriff, his estranged girlfriend now married to
the local DA, and the twisted narrative of all the above woven into a small Pennsylvania
town named Banshee that is influenced heavily by a Native American casino, and totally
run by a psychotic genius Amish Mafia chieftain. Its nonstop crazy, and brilliant.

I cant get enough of this show and cant wait for Season 2. Check it out. this is my highest
5 Star recommendation of all time.
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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
VERY MINOR SPOILERS:

An adrenaline rush from the first scene. There is no synopsis on Amazon, so I am offering some ad hoc cut/paste from external sources, with some of my own color worked in.

Premise:

"Banshee takes place in the fictional small town of Banshee, Pennsylvania in the an area settled by the Amish. After serving 15 years in prison for stealing diamonds from a Ukrainian gangster called Mr. Rabbit (Ben Cross), with a partner who is also Mr. Rabbit's daughter. The unnamed protagonist travels to Banshee to find his heist accomplice and former lover, Anastasia. When he finds her, the protagonist learns that she is now a married to the local DA, a mother of two and living under the assumed identity of Carrie Hopewell. Later, when the incoming Sheriff is killed (hired by the local mayor sight un-seen), the protagonist takes on his identity as Lucas Hood, becoming the town's new Sheriff. Banshee sees Hood struggle with adapting to his new identity while dealing with the machinations of local crime lord Kai Proctor (shunned former Amish), and remaining hidden from Rabbit"

Without giving away too much of the plot. Hoods allies are a former boxer that both serves as his landlord and runs the local drinking establishment and an Asian cross-dresser that is an elite computer hacker.

There are scenes involving, a motorcycle gang, white supremacists, prison battle between Hood and a giant Albino, run of the mill local white trash bad guys, a fight scene at an Indian casino between Hood & an MMA fighter and less not forget, enough sex scenes to make a porn star blush!

Banshee is high octane in the "Strike Back" mode. If you like Shrike Back, I can't imagine that you would not like Banshee.

Already renewed for a 2nd season, I was also excited to see smoking hot/bucket list candidate Odette Annabel added to the cast late in the season, as one of the heirs to the local Indian casino (not to mention pretty good with a gun and hatchet).

My highest recco for an MA action series!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2013
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
OK, I went into this not knowing anything about the show at all. I saw a teaser which featured a police car coming down the road and I think a prison shirt being thrown out (but that's it) at one point and I was totally interested (I like equal parts cake and circus and I took a mental leap - something with cops and bad guys by the dudes behind True Blood named Banshee so add 'supernatural') so I pre-ordered the show. What did I think the supernatural plot device would be... I don't know, maybe a BANSHEE?

Little did I know I would be drawn into a world of stolen loot, hidden identities, Ukrainian mobsters and... the Amish. Wait, the Amish? Really? I guess there was that Amish Mafia show but wasn't that on TLC so you know TLC only supports the best in "Learning" (you know the L part) so it must be true... anyway, I digress :]

I found the characters to be very interesting. My favorite among a cast of favorites was probably Job, due to the fact the character was full of spirit and kept the laughter going through this very dark and violent story. The relationship between the two "main" characters, Lucas and Ana, was also very interesting. The interplay between them went to places I just did not expect.

I also found Kai Proctor and his niece Rebecca fascinating. Kai is one of those that is, well, evil by circumstance? And Rebecca. She tries to fit into the role that was established for her even before her birth, but some people, well, they are just born into the WRONG circumstances. Rebecca is genuinely beautiful.

The action scenes in this season were amazing. Not just flying buses and flipping police cars, but the actual fight scenes were enough to keep me on the edge of my seat. The fight between Ana and Olec was possibly one of the most violent physical fight scenes, that went on for so long, at the end I felt like someone had been punching me. The actors' physical capabilities have been very well showcased in the choreography of these fight scenes.

There was definitely a lot of sex in this series. This is not safe for anyone under 18, and probably for their own good, anyone under 25 or say, people with a weak ticker - you know who you are - act accordingly. But honestly, this is an ADULT show. It baffles me how so many of the reviewers have been offended by the sexual content but not by the violence... I guess we don't like the things which bring people in the world, only the things which take them out - I can dig the duality factor which brings the balance and the understanding that they are two sides of the same coin but don't get me started philosophizing here.

My only complaint was that I believed that in the 10 episodes of this season, they were not able to explore some of the other characters more in depth. I wanted to know more about all of the deputies. I wanted to know more about Job and Sugar. Dude, I just wanted MORE :]

I am really looking forward to watching Season 2.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2013
Verified Purchase
I'm almost embarrassed to say how much I loved this series. It has ridiculous amounts of both explicit violent gore and sex. And if that is all this series was about-or if both of those aspects weren't flawlessly integrated into making the story--then I wouldn't be here at all. However, here--it all just makes sense.

I think the biggest thing that separates "Banshee" from similar tv shows that go for the "HBO" content--is that they realized that character development is foundation to all. The violence and sex would quite frankly have been awful if that was the star of the show. Instead, the characters are well drawn out and incredibly sympathetic, making the violence and sex just a part of who these characters are and just part of their intense stories.

And the plot really is intense. Man gets out of prison, kills some people, then impersonates a sheriff all the while trying to stay hidden from a Russian mafia boss who wants him dead as well as maybe win back his ex-girlfriend. I realize that sounds absurd and rather dumb on paper--but again--it just works. In fact, everything would quite frankly either seem voyeuristic or just plain stupid if it wasn't for the amazing cast. The acting here is top quality and this is what gives the far fetching plot and gratuitousness weight and a natural impact.

Kiwi Antony Starr has a remarkable talent for being able to mete out extreme violence and yet look sad and regretful the entire time. Hoon Lee as Starr's sidekick could have been a very camp role as Lee's character is frequently in drag and spewing catchy one liners--and yet Lee's character "Job" is one of the most hardcore and rock like characters in the whole cast. Ivana Milicevic plays Starr's ex, and her physicality in this role is astonishing. She's believable as both a warm and loving mother as well as the type of person who you would want by your side to face an angry horde of zombies with. Ulrich Thomsen rounds out the fantastic cast as the local ex-Amish mafia lord who is emotionally caught in two worlds thus slightly sympathetic yet capable of horrible violence.

The production value wasn't something that I particularly noticed--which actually speaks volumes to the quality of the CGI as I was never once pulled out of the story by too "fake" looking gore. Although, I also tend to shut my eyes when body parts get torn off so maybe I'm not the best judge of that. However, the set was really nicely done. They focused on just doing a small town and a few key locations really well--which works much better than if they had tried to spread out their budget.

Again--if gratuitousness in any way isn't your thing--don't even try attempting to watch the first episode. I think within the first 10 minutes there was three people killed and a sex scene. However, if you can possibly see past that, or are coming here for that--know that you're in for a fantastic thrilling story. Can't wait for season 2!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 7, 2013
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
I don't subscribe to Cinemax and I pretty much stumbled upon this show by accident while taking advantage of a free sneak preview weekend of several premium cable channels. Wow, what a show! You want violence? it's got violence; sex? check; nudity? plenty of it. But what really makes this show stand out from the pack, and not be just another mediocre series, is the clever writing and great acting by the cast. Every episode is just so much fun to watch. That's why I had to order the season on Blu-ray to catch up on all the previous episodes. I'm not sure what other shows to compare Banshee to but, if you like Tarantino movies, you'll probably enjoy Banshee as well. For certain, you'll never look at the Amish countryside in quite the same way again!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VERY MINOR SPOILERS:

An adrenaline rush from the first scene. There is no synopsis on Amazon, so I am offering some ad hoc cut/paste from external sources, with some of my own color worked in.

Premise:

"Banshee takes place in the fictional small town of Banshee, Pennsylvania in the an area settled by the Amish. After serving 15 years in prison for stealing diamonds from a Ukrainian gangster called Mr. Rabbit (Ben Cross), with a partner who is also Mr. Rabbit's daughter. The unnamed protagonist travels to Banshee to find his heist accomplice and former lover, Anastasia. When he finds her, the protagonist learns that she is now a married to the local DA, a mother of two and living under the assumed identity of Carrie Hopewell. Later, when the incoming Sheriff is killed (hired by the local mayor sight un-seen), the protagonist takes on his identity as Lucas Hood, becoming the town's new Sheriff. Banshee sees Hood struggle with adapting to his new identity while dealing with the machinations of local crime lord Kai Proctor (shunned former Amish), and remaining hidden from Rabbit"

Without giving away too much of the plot. Hoods allies are a former boxer that both serves as his landlord and runs the local drinking establishment and an Asian cross-dresser that is an elite computer hacker.

There are scenes involving, a motorcycle gang, white supremacists, prison battle between Hood and a giant Albino, run of the mill local white trash bad guys, a fight scene at an Indian casino between Hood & an MMA fighter and less not forget, enough sex scenes to make a porn star blush!

Banshee is high octane in the "Strike Back" mode. If you like Shrike Back, I can't imagine that you would not like Banshee.

Already renewed for a 2nd season, I was also excited to see smoking hot/bucket list candidate Odette Annabel added to the cast late in the season, as one of the heirs to the local Indian casino (not to mention pretty good with a gun and hatchet).

My highest recco for an MA action series!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2013
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
I bought Banshee, sight unseen, based solely off a recommendation of a friend whose taste I trust. After having finished the season, I'm glad to say I now know for sure said friend has excellent taste. Banshee is a fast, fun, adult show that doesn't pull any of its many, many punches. The fights are bonebreakingly, blood gushingly brutal. The sex scenes are steamy, sticky, and frequent. The characters are layered, dynamic, and always fun. Banshee is a very high quality show.

The story follows an unnamed protagonist who after being released from prison, tracks down his old partner to the town of Banshee, and because of a ill fated bar fight, finds himself impersonating the soon to be sheriff of the small town. The characters are varied and interesting, and rarely come off as cliched. Because this is a Cinemax show, as previously stated, violence, cursing, sex, and brutality abound. But, and this is important, none of these things, in my opinion, are as gratuitous as many would have you believe.

When people fight, they bleed. We have become used to the overly stylized form of violence that has overtaken our entertainment. People have knock down, drag out fights, yet walk away with nothing more than ruffled hair and a cut lip. In Banshee, the consequences of combat are far more realistic.

What it comes down to, if you're looking for a fast moving, action packed, well written show, and aren't offended by sex and violence, you aren't going to do better than Banshee. An excellent show and a definite buy.
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