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Kevin H. Dudley RSS Feed (Roanoke, VA (USA))

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The Raid 2 [Blu-ray]
The Raid 2 [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Iko Uwais
Price: $24.99
10 used & new from $23.89

17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't let the lack of an unrated cut deter you from watching this truly amazing film!, July 7, 2014
This review is from: The Raid 2 [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
There has been quite an uproar regarding the fact that the U.S. is getting the R rated theatrical cut of "The Raid 2" rather than the unrated director's cut on blu-ray as some cuts had to be made to avoid an NC-17 rating by the MPAA. While normally I would also be protesting this decision by Sony, it has to be noted that the director & writer Gareth Evans stated he only had to cut a small amount of frames totalling only 4 seconds of footage. People who have seen both cuts have said that the trims are not noticeable at all. I'm not sure why Sony decided against an unrated cut but if something like 2 minutes had been cut out of the film instead, I would be furious. Considering the director was worried that the MPAA would have a heart attack watching the movie and butcher it, only 4 seconds of trims for the R rating should be considered a victory for the filmmakers. However, I would like to ask the MPAA how only 4 seconds of trims is the difference between an R rating and a NC-17 but whatever.....regardless, this is the most violent R rated film to date.

As for the the film itself, much like the original, The Raid 2 is an action fan's wet dream. Brutal, epic and jaw droppingly violent, it is that rare sequel that expands on but also improves on the original. Everything in this film is bigger and at 2 hours 30 minutes, it somehow manages to never drag and keeps escalating in terms of the action set pieces. The acting is rock solid and this film much like the original makes almost every other action film of the last decade look positively anemic and G rated by comparison. It's truly a pure shot of cinematic adrenaline!
The blu-ray is loaded with all kinds of cool extras and the picture and audio quality is off the charts. Like I mentioned, don't let the lack of an unrated cut keep you from watching this incredible action film!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 10, 2014 11:03 PM PDT

Definitive Groove
Definitive Groove
Price: $14.55
32 used & new from $9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The best Slave compilation on the market., April 15, 2014
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This review is from: Definitive Groove (Audio CD)
Slave were a cool and somewhat under appreciated funk band from Dayton, Ohio that had some success during the late 70's and early 80's but never reached the level of success of some their other funk peers. Their best known track was "Slide" and their overall sound was like what would have happened if you put Parliament and Kool & The Gang in a blender.
There have been some nice single disc compilations over the years but never a well done 2 disc anthology of any sort. Rhino's 2 disc set that's part of their "Definitive Groove Collection" series is perfect for people wanting Slave's better known hits as well as some lesser known tracks that are equally good in their own right.
Disc one is almost 79 minutes in length and disc two is a little over 72 minutes in length. In addition to classic Slave material, disc 2 has some choice cuts from vocalist Steven Warrington's follow up group called "Steve Warrington's All Stars" as well as a little solo output from him outside of that. The sound quality is amazing with the remastering bring out little nuances I had never picked up before. The remastering also isn't brickwalled like so many modern CD's are and the music has room to breathe.
The liner notes feature a brief but very informative essay on the history of the band as well as well done annotations of which albums each song pulls from in addition to chart positions.
One thing that I greatly appreciated is Rhino chose to put the original album length versions of the hits on this collection instead of the edited single versions which is a very wise choice.
Anybody looking for some classic funk that often gets overlooked in favor of more famous funk acts from the same era would be wise to pick this fine Slave collection up!

To Hellion and Back
To Hellion and Back
Price: $15.60
3 used & new from $14.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well done anthology for an often overlooked 80's metal band., April 9, 2014
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This review is from: To Hellion and Back (Audio CD)
Growing up as a child in the 80's, I quickly became a huge fan of heavy metal as a whole in particular the subgenres called thrash metal and power metal in particular. While you had your heavy hitters like Iron Maiden, Metallica, Judas Priest, Dio, Mercyful Fate, Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer and Exodus for instance, there were many other great metal bands that had some great music but for one reason or another never really reached anywhere near the level of success and acclaim that these aforementioned bands did.
One thing you didn't see much up to about the length but80's were metal bands fronted by a female lead singer. That would change with the German band Warlock which was fronted by the talented and beautiful Doro Pesch. Warlock would have some commercial success particularly in Europe before eventually splitting up with Doro striking out on a successfull solo career that still continues to this day.
The other metal band featuring a female leader singer around that same time was the lesser known Hellion featuring Ann Boleyn on lead vocals. They released a well received self titled e.p. in 1983 before eventaully releasing their first full length album a full 4 years later. Hellion's recorded output varied in quality but each release did feature some quality material that while not reaching the heights that Warlock obtained around the same time, was still a nice diversion from the other more mainstream metal bands around that point and time.
Hellion would change members never maintaining a stable linupe with Ann being the only consistent member even until this day. Hellion has also disbanded multiple times over the years but have seen a recent resurgence of interest resulting in Ann putting together a new lineup that is currently touring and planning on recording new material.
This resurgence in interest has also resulted in this excellent 2 disc anthology covering the band's entire discography from 1983 to the present hitting the majority of the highlights on both the album and E.P. releases. It also features some cool rarities like a couple of great 1984 demos that were produced by none other than Ronnie James Dio himself (who also managed the band throughout most of the 80's too).
Disc one is almost 55 minutes in length whereas disc two is a little over 67 minutes so at the budget price of only 12 dollars that this collection is fetching at most placers, you get a great deal on some fine traditional metal music. The remastering sounds great and thankfully isn't brickwalled so that the music has room to breathe. The booklet contains a great history of the band as well as some nice photos too. What's cool is that I hadn't really thought about this band any since the early 80's when I had obtained their 1983 e.p. through a tape trading dealer in a metal magazine. It's always cool to be able to go back and catch up with a band like Hellion that I really didn't keep up with after that initial great self titled e.p. Some of this is due to the band just never really getting into a groove of releasing truly consistent quality work as well as the constant lineup changes.
Ann Boleyn might not have quite the range or power as a vocalist compared to Doro Pesch, but one thing I do respect is that she never used her sex appeal to help gain fame like Warlock did with the admittedly gorgeous Doro Pesch. Hey, sex sells, but integrity and principles are always much more important in my eyes. I can't recommend this collection enough. Hellion delivers some very fine traditional metal on this well done anthology that shows with maybe a few more luck changes and opportunities during their heyday, maybe could have reached the level of success that Ann always strived to achieve. Highly recommended!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 17, 2014 6:43 AM PDT

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)
DVD ~ Will Ferrell
Price: $9.96
127 used & new from $2.96

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anchorman 2 is as hilarious as the first film!, April 1, 2014
In these days of quick sequels to cash in on the success of an original film, waiting almost 10 years to do the follow up is pretty much unheard of. But that is what happened with the sequel to 2004 comedy cult classic "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy". The thing to keep in mind is that the first film wasn't what many would call a smash success box office wise even though it grossed approximately 90 million worldwide on a budget of only 26 million. The original film instead grew in stature until a sequel was finally all but inevitable. I personally found the first film to be extremely funny and one of the most quoteable movies of all time. Not all of my friends shared my enthusiasm for the film. In its own way it did prove to be quite an acquired taste. The style of humor wasn't for everybody which added to its mystique.The sequel had twice the budget and grossed almost twice as much worldwide but was perceived as kind of a lackluster release money wise which I do really disagree with.
The sequel builds on the original film but doesn't just do a pointless retread of the plot and most especially the jokes from the first film. Whereas the first dealt with gender equality, the sequel deals with race relations as well as the birth of the 24 hour news channel. Everybody from the first film returns and are clearly having a blast. The humor is a continuation of the first so if you didn't like the original, you are going to probably hate the sequel. I found it to be just as hilarious as the first film was. Sure maybe it's a bit long at 2 hours, but the jokes always hit hard and furious as well as landing with comedic perfection.
The blu-ray comes with 3(!) cuts of the film. You get the PG-13 theatrical cut, an unrated version that runs about 4 minutes longer with more off color language and finally an "R rated super sized" edition that runs about 20 minutes longer than the unrated version as well as featuring 763 new jokes. It's an alternate cut of the film with much more R rated humor. It's also just as funny! Tons of deleted scenes along with an extensive gag reel and the such round out one of the most loaded blu ray releases of all time. You also get the PG-13 on a regular DVD too. Picture quality is amazing and the audio is punchy and perfectly defined. Highly recommended!

RoboCop (Unrated Director's Cut) [Blu-ray]
RoboCop (Unrated Director's Cut) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Peter Weller
Price: $12.74
15 used & new from $7.74

119 of 123 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This review pertains to the 4K remastered edition blu-ray. (5 stars for the blu-ray, 5 stars for the film), January 21, 2014
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The 1987 classic "Robocop" is one of my top ten favorite films of all time as well as my favorite Paul Verhoeven film to date as well. I can't say much more about this excellent film that hasn't already been said but if you are one of the very few that hasn't checked out this amazing film yet that has aged like a fine wine, then the new remastered blu-ray is the perfect way to do just that.

MGM originally released Robocop as a bare bones blu-ray all the way back in 2007 in the unrated director's cut form. There had been a previous blu-ray prepared by Sony I believe that actually got released to some DVD/blu-ray review sites but the picture quality was horrible and that led to MGM releasing their own blu-ray with better picture quality. While that 2007 blu-ray did look better than the last DVD, it was lacking in a lot of areas not the least being that it had none of the extras from any of the prior DVD special editions. They eventually released Robocop 2 & 3 in a trilogy box set along with the original film but that set also featured that original MGM blu-ray while Robocop 2 & 3 looked considerably better as they were much newer HD masters done at that point and time. A year or two ago, it was announced that a new fully restored & remastered at 4K resolution print had been prepared under direct supervision of director Paul Verhoeven and the original cinematographer. This new print of the unrated director's cut made the rounds to various major cities in which cast & crew Q&A's occured after the film was shown. It is this same restored print that made its way to this new blu-ray.

How does it compare to the older blu-ray? In a nutshell, it blows it away without even trying. I saw Robocop in theaters back in 1987 and even though my memory might not be the best it used to be, I don't remember this movie looking this amazing during its original theatrical run. It's very obvious that a lot of care and attention went into this new HD remaster and restoration of this classic film. The film retains a very nice filmic grain structure and I saw no instances of any digital noise reduction (also referred to as grain scrubbing) done to the film. The flesh tones in particular are much warmer and the colors (in particular the copius amounts of blood) have greatly improved as well. The film is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This might upset purists a bit as director Paul Verhoeven has stated that his preferred aspect ratio for the film is 1.66:1. The old non-anamorphic Criterion DVD is the only release so far to present the film in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio. In Europe back at that time, 1.66:1 was considered the normal matted theatrical exhibition aspect ratio while in the U.S., 1.85:1 was the norm. Even though the 1.85:1 matting is just a wee bit tighter, at no point did I notice any information on the top or bottom seeming cramped or cut off. Essentially, the film looks absolutely breathtaking on this new blu-ray and I doubt that we'll ever see it look any better than it does here. One thing though that I do need to mention is that some of the additional unrated violence footage does look a bit softer and more washed out compared to the rest of the film but this has always plagued the unrated version even going back as far as the non-anamorphic Criterion DVD. I'm not sure if the original negative elements were lost for these additional shots that the MPAA forced them to trim out to avoid an X rating at the time but while the change in quality is noticeable, it isn't drastic enough to pull you out of the film and only amounts to less than a minute of footage.

I compared it to the older blu-ray (as well as the even older 2 disc special edition DVD) and in my eyes, it was like night and day. The audio is presented in multi-channel lossless HD audio too and will really shake your housing foundation if you have a great sound setup.

MGM this time saw fit to port almost every single extra from the previous DVD sets with the only exception being a photo gallery that I could notice. That means you get the commentary from the 2 disc MGM DVD special edition, all of the excellent making of documentaries and some deleted scenes. There is a great new extra that was added to this release in the form of a cast & crew Q&A from 2012 that runs a little over 42 minutes. There's a ton of great information contained in this new extra and it's great that MGM saw fit to add something of great value to this release in addition to porting over the majority of the prior extras from the DVD sets.

At the time I am writing this review, Amazon and retailers like Best Buy are selling this new blu-ray for only 7.99. That is a steal as I would have happily paid 15 bucks for it. This is easily one of the best HD restorations of a classic film done to date and is the best that Robocop has ever looked or sounded. I can't recommend it enough. I'd buy that for a dollar!
Comment Comments (14) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 1, 2014 11:01 PM PDT

Wicker Man [Blu-ray]
Wicker Man [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Edward Woodward
Price: $16.99
19 used & new from $14.00

47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lionsgate drops the ball on the North American blu-ray for The Wicker Man (3 stars for the blu-ray, 5 stars for the film), January 10, 2014
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This review is from: Wicker Man [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
The legendary & brilliant 1973 British thriller "The Wicker Man" has unfortunately had one of the most storied release histories of almost any other film in existance. The initial director's cut of the film was 102 minutes. When the studio felt that the movie was too slow and hard to grasp at times, they cut the film down to 88 minutes for its theatrical release. Some scenes especially in the North American version got shuffeled around and the plot became kind of tough to follow in the early going. For a long time, this was the only version that was available on video until Anchor Bay about a decade ago released a 2 disc DVD special edition that contained both the heavily truncated 88 minute theatrical release as well as an almost 100 minute version that to date is the closest any release has come to the heavily sought after 102 minute director's cut. Since the original negative was lost quite some time ago for the long version, Studio Canal (who Anchor Bay licensed the rights from for the North American DVD release) had to splice in the missing scenes from a lesser quality version but the audio stayed the same. It was highly watchable and most importantly restored all of the missing prologue sequences showing police seargent Howie on the mainland prior to flying to a remote island to investigate a missing little girl.

Earlier in 2013, it was announced that a print of a 94 minute version of the film was found and that this version had actually been prepared by the director for release in North American in the late 70's. While this version only keeps the bit of Howie going to church prior to his flight to the island in question, all of the events of the movie are in their proper order though there are bits here and there still missing out of this version. A full HD restoration of the 94 minute cut was prepared and released in a limited theatrical run as well as in a 3 disc deluxe British edition containing the 94 minute and 88 minute cuts in full HD as well as the 100 minute version in standard definition only. A huge documentary was included in addition to some nice interview extras on the main disc as well as a restoration comparison.

Lionsgate though for some reason decided in their infinite wisdom for the North American release to leave out the 2nd and 3rd discs from the Britsh set and only include the 1st "Final Cut" disc of the film containing the restored in HD 94 minute cut. So, if you were one of the lucky ones like me to get the Anchor Bay 2 disc set as it was limited to a run of only 50,000, make sure to hold onto that version due to Lionsgate deciding to not port the full UK edition to American shores.

How does the 94 minute cut work? Since I'm so familiar with the almost 100 minute extended version, I do sorely miss those extra scenes. However, the information contained in the mainland prologue section concerning Sgt. Howie is given throughout the main plot of the film but it does help set up his character a lot better. The other bits missing throughout the film don't really detract from the plot but once again, being so used to the long version, I realized when every little trim was not there. The movie though still works like gangbusters even in the 94 minute cut and since the scenes are in their proper order unlike the 88 minute original theatrical release, it's easy to follow what is going on with Sgt. Howie's strange interactions with the island's inhabitants during his search for the missing girl.

The picture quality overall is stupendous though some of the extra scenes included are of a rougher quality than the rest of the film (The "Gently, Johnny" sequence comes to mind). But this is the best that the film has ever looked and fans will be pleased with how much of a huge upgrade in picture quality the film has received for its HD debut. The audio is presented in the film's original 1 track mono in lossless audio. Extras contain interviews with various people talking about how much they love the film as well as the film's writer, a focus on the film's famous musical score and also a restoration comparison too.

If you have a region free blu-ray player, go ahead and import in the 3 disc British set as it's the truly definitive set for this amazing film that seems to keep getting better with age over 40 years since its original release. If you don't have access to a region free blu-ray player, then go ahead and get this set but also see if you can get one of the limited edition 2 disc Anchor Bay DVD sets so you can have both the 88 minute theatrical cut and almost 100 minute extended cut too. I have no idea why Lionsgate decided to do this with the North American blu-ray release and it's also a shame that the complete 102 minute version has still not been found and possibly at this point is unlikely that it will ever be. At least the film has been preserved in some digital fashion in both its DVD and new blu-ray releases so that future generations will be able to discover this film and get to see one of the greatest and most original films ever released.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 19, 2014 11:17 AM PDT

Dream Theater
Dream Theater
Price: $15.55
72 used & new from $10.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a weak moment on the entire album. One of Dream Theater's best to date!, September 25, 2013
This review is from: Dream Theater (Audio CD)
I've been a hardcore Dream Theater fan since shortly after the release of their landmark 1992 release "Images & Words". I greatly enjoyed the 1994 followup "Awake", didn't care all that much for the "A Change of Seasons" pesudo e.p., greatly enjoyed 1997's "Falling into Infinity" (a very underrated release in my opinion) and also thought that 1999's "Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory" was a very strong and focused released with only a few weak moments near the end.

After that point starting with 2002's "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence", the band began to lose me as a fan. I thought that release was bloated and with the exception of the first couple of tracks on disc one, uninteresting and boring. 2003's "Train of Thought" was a bit of an improvement but I still found it lacking in any sort of general songwriting prowess. 2005's "Octavarium" was much more commercial and streamlined and I found it to be a most pleasing release. However, 2007's "Systematic Chaos" would repeat a lot of the same mistakes that I felt that band had made on TOT and SDOIT. Finally, 2011's "Black Clouds & Silver Linings" which would be drummer and co-founder Mike Portnoy's final release before quitting the band had some strong moments but was bloated beyond belief and consisted of nothing but self indulgent wankery and laughable lyrics in my opinion.

If appears though with 2011's "A Dramatic Turn of Events", that Portnoy leaving the band being replaced by the wonderful Mike Mangini was the creative shot in the arm that Dream Theater needed. Gone were the annoying mall core backing vocals that Portney seemed to try to throw into every song and that attempts at trying to be heavier than they should be and intead it was replaced by a renewed sense of songcraft, melody and purpose. It was my favorite release since 1999's Scenes from a Memory. The band though didn't include Mangini in the writing process for the album as they wanted to prove to the world that they could do it on their own without Portnoy in my eyes.

Now, with the release of 2013's self titled release, Dream Theater have clearly completely gotten their mojo and creative sense of purpose back with a vengeance. Mangini was included in the songwriting on this album and it shows. Like ADTOE, the band has a sense of melody once again that had been lacking for a while. Also, with the exception of the epic 22 minute closer "Illumination Theory", most songs fall around 5 minutes to a little under 7 minutes in length. In fact, the opening symphonic opening track "False Awakening Suite" is under 3 minutes! The album also features a fantastic instrumentel as track 4 "Enigma Machine". But even the multi-part epic closing track on the album is well written, arranged and just well though out. Lyrically, it's also one of their best to date as well.

Vocalist James Labrie turns in another fantastic performance on this release as with ADTOE, he just seems comfortable in his own musical skin again and is playing to his strengths at this stage in his long career. Guitarist John Petrucci and keyboard Jordan Rudess reign in a bit the overly complex and jarring dual lead breaks and instead use them to spice up a particular track at the right moment. Bassist John Myung has a crisp and very commanding tone throughout and gets several moments to shine. Mike Mangini also turns in a fantastic drum performance showing once again why he was the perfect replacement for Mike Portnoy.

The mix on the self titled release is better than ADTOE and in particular the drums sound greatly improved. The album also wasn't brickwalled during the mastering process so the music is allowed to breathe so actual dynamics in all of the tracks are easily discernible.

Overall, I would say that this new release stands as one of their overall best releases and completes their return to form that began with their previous studio release. This is a perfect album that shows why Dream Theater is the acclaimed band that they are and also works as a perfect entry point to somebody just getting into the band. It stands proud amongst their greatest classic releases and shows that they are still discovering new tricks over 2 decades into their career.

Highly recommended!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 26, 2013 7:02 PM PDT

Halloween (35th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray]
Halloween (35th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Jamie Lee Curtis
Offered by American_Standard
Price: $19.36
49 used & new from $8.17

58 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This review pertains to the 35th anniversary blu-ray., September 24, 2013
Anchor Bay has re-released John Carpenter's 1978 masterpiece "Halloween" about as many times as they have the Evil Dead trilogy. It's been almost impossible to know which one to pick up over the years there are so many versions. Halloween was originally released on DVD by Anchor Bay featuring a bad transfer that didn't do the film any justice at all. They then re-released it again on DVD with a transfer approved by the original director of photography Dean Cundey. The transfer was greatly improved but it was lacking in extras for a film of such great importance. Then they released another cut of the film in which the extra scenes filmed for the TV airings of the film (filmed during the making of the sequel oddly enough) were cut into the film. A 4th DVD release then occured as part of their "divimax" line which was a 2 disc set with plentiful extras and a brand new remastered transfer.

That 4th DVD release proved to be the most problematic. While the quality of detail was greatly improved, somebody made a huge error in that they completely stripped away the blue tint from the film that made it appear that it was set in the fall. It just didn't look how Halloween was meant to look. A backlash ensued and Anchor Bay claimed to have taken those complaints into consideration with Halloween's blu-ray debut.

While the initial blu-ray release did correct some of the color timing errors of the divimax DVD release, it still just didn't look right and it was obvious that they didn't film the movie actually in the fall as the grass was too green and the night time scenes lacked that famous blue tint that gave the film such a great atmosphere.

Anchor Bay though have FINALLY righted their previous wrongs and brought director of photography Dean Cundey on board again to supervise the transfer for the film's 35th (has it really been that long?!) anniversary blu-ray re-release. After directly comparing the new blu-ray to the old blu-ray, I can say that they have FINALLY gotten it right and Halloween looks as it was meant to be seen again.

The colors in the new transfer are a bit more muted and natural looking than the first HD go around. The blue textures in the night scenes are back in full force and the film looks like it is set in the fall season once again! Not only that, but detail has taken a considerable boost with the new HD transfer compared to the first one. This is apparently due to the higher bit rate on the new release in addition to I believe they actually did a 4K scan this time of the original camera negative. It's truly like seeing the film again for the first time. No digital noise reduction was used so the film retains its filmlike grain texture. A truly amazing HD transfer of one of the greatest films ever made.

The sound is provided in a new 7.1 surround mix but the original mono mix is also included. Both are in lossless HD audio. Extras include a brand new commentary track featuring star Jamie Lee Curtis and director/co-writer/composer John Carpenter. Sadly though, the commentary tracks on the prior releases are missing in action. Most extras were ported over but not all from prior releases as well. This is a bit frustrating and keeps this from being as definitive of a release as it could have been. What is here though is nice and the best is a nearly one hour documentary of Jamie Lee Curtis doing her one and only horror convention to help raise money for a children's hospital charity that she supports.

The initial pressing of the new blu-ray also is included in a nice & classy digi-book featuring essays and lots of cool production photos. Apparently once this initial run is depleted, it will only be available in a standard blu-ray case so get the digi-pack while you can.

So, I highly recommend this new blu-ray to fans of the film as they finally got the film looking like it was supposed to look again and the new HD transfer is truly a marvel to the eyes. Why they chose not to include all previous extras too on this release is a bit frustrating but shouldn't keep somebody from not getting this new release. It blows the original bu-ray away picture quality wise and comes highly recommended!
Comment Comments (10) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 21, 2014 11:48 AM PST

Ninja III: The Domination [Blu-ray/DVD Combo]
Ninja III: The Domination [Blu-ray/DVD Combo]
DVD ~ Sho Kosugi
Price: $14.22
19 used & new from $13.22

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ninja on a golf course! (and in glorious HD too finally!), September 10, 2013
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Ninja III: The Domination is one of the greatest so-bad-it's-great movies of all time. It's one of those films that will cause you to wonder (often out loud) to yourself how something this crazy and completely insane could get made. Well, thank the 80's for that!

Technically the 3rd film in the Ninja series (following Enter the Ninja & Revenge of the Ninja), it actually has nothing at all to do with the 2 prior films other than featuring a ninja. The difference in this one is that the lead is a female played by the cute & very fit Lucinda Dickey (Breakin', Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo). Through a bunch of nonsensical plot events, she gets possessed and taken over by a rogue ninja after he is shot up by what seems to be the entire police department in the area that the movie takes place. The first act of the film in particular features one of my favorite sequences ever in a film in which the evil ninja attacks a bunch of people in broad daylight on a golf course. Hilarity ensues! Also, there's a notorious scene in which the lead actress who is a fitness guru pours V8 all over her neck & chest for her new male squeeze to lick off of her. You'll never look at vegetable juice again the same way!

Unlike a lot of bad movies, this movie doesn't feature only one or two scenes to show people but much like other legendary bad movie fare like Troll 2, Samurai Cop, Megaforce, The Apple and Showgirls, Ninja III somehow manages to up the ante and craziness with each subsequent scene. The exorcism scene in particular makes me laugh out loud every time!

The amazing folk at Shout Factory have rescued this title from VHS hell and given it a truly amazing HD makeover that is easily the best the film has looked since it was originally in theaters (in fact it might look even better than that). The film is showing in a 1.78:1 ratio (opened up a bit from its theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1) and fills up your entire HD TV screen without having to utilize the 16:9 option. Detail is truly extraordinary and none of the film grain has been stripped away so it retains a very nice filmic texture throughout. There's a tiny bit of black crush in some night/dark scenes but overall, Ninja III has never looked better. Prior to this blu-ray release, it was available on DVD only in a VHS transfer with burned in subtitles. I promise you that seeing this new blu-ray from Shout Factory is truly like seeing the film again for the very first time!

The audio is presented in a 24 bit DTS-HD Master Audio stereo track and sounded great with audio being heard easily during some of the busier action scenes. There are no dubbed audio tracks and also no sub titles or closed captioning for the hearing impaired.

There's only two extras on the blu-ray but they're a great ones. First, Director Sam Firstenberg and stun coordinator Steve Lambert through the assistance of a skilled moderator do a great job of talking about how they made this film as well as what it was like making low budget movies in the early to mid 80's. They realize how ridiculous the movie is but also take a great deal in pride in making such a great cult classic of B-movie cinema. The second extra is an extensive photo gallery showing Ninja III movie posters from all over the world in addition to production stills too.

Finally, you also get a DVD copy too along with the blu-ray in case your kids want to get their Ninja III fix on the go in your van or something during the next family trip. ;)

This blu-ray is a no brainer for fans of B-movies and 80's action cinema in particular. Shout Factory have once again knocked this one out of the park and have quickly turned into an even better version of what Anchor Bay used to be. Highly recommended!

Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate - PS3
Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate - PS3
Offered by MOST WANTED
Price: $32.99
33 used & new from $28.98

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthwhile update to a criminally underrated fighting game., September 6, 2013
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
The long running Dead or Alive fighting game series has always been called by most people as "that fighting game with boobs". While the female combatants in the game are drop dead gorgeous with ample curves usually shown in skimpy attire, there has always been much more to the game than that. The original title was released on the original Playstation. The sequel was released on the Sega Dreamcast and then eventually on the PS2 and original Xbox. The 3rd and 4th entries would only be released as Xbox exclusives. When the original version of Dead or Alive 5 was released on both the PS3 and Xbox 360 about a year ago, it was the first true sequel in the series in 7 years. (There had been a volleyball game or two in the series released during the interim).

When I picked up part 5 on the PS3 when it was originally released, I found it to be an extremely fun and polished title that featured a nice variety of fighting styles and some of the best & most polished graphics that I had seen in a fighting game on either the PS3 or 360 up to that point. The game featured a deep and fun story mode and also allowed you to fight either the CPU or other players via couch co-op or online in solo matches or tag matches where you would each pick 2 players and then swap them out throughout the fight. The developers would then released an expanded version of the game a few months later on the PS Vita as "Dead or Alive 5 plus" and now almost a year later from the original release "Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate" on the current gen systems.

Initially, there was a bit of an uproar from fans that the devlopers chose to release this update as a stand alone disc instead of as DLC for people who had bought the original game. They stated that there was simply too much additional content that they wound up adding to do it as a simple patch and DLC. They did however release this new version at a discounted price point of 39.99 which was cool.

If you haven't tried out Dead or Alive 5 yet (or haven't played a Dead or Alive game at all for that matter), the Ultimate edition is the best option by far. First of all, they have brought 5 new characters to the mix in addition to all of the returning characters too. With the main boss of the game being unlocked too from the outset, you get a great 29 characters to choose from. They also have added 5 new stages to this game too and the beach/island stage released for free with the original release as a patch/DLC is included too.

If you already had a save file from the original release, the game will ask if you want to import that save date to retain everything you unlocked originally to the Ultimate edition. While most of the pre-order DLC for the original vanilla release is included on this disc in the form of extra costumes, the other paid DLC isn't but the game will also recognize all of the DLC that you purchased for the original release so fans aren't out more money. I would have been very upset if they had put all of the paid DLC on the disc for free on the ultimate edition but thankfully they didn't go that route to make fans feel completely ripped off.

There are also new costumes exclusive to this Ultimate edition too for all characters. As before, the lovely and curvy female cast get the best outfits that are so revealing, that they're almost nude in some cases which is why the game deservedly earned it's M rating. But all of the fighters feature very deep fighting mechanics and the game is very deep too particularly in its usage of reversals and tag mechanics that are still the best in any fighting game to date. What's wrong with some female eye candy to go along with the proceedings anyway? While it could be viewed as sexist by female gamers, I think that if the gameplay was lacking in any way and not as deep and varied as it is, that they would be right. But in this case they aren't in my honest opinion.

All of the returning modes like the aforementioned story mode are accounted for like the survival mode. A tweaked arcade mode is offered too in addition to a new tutorial mode that walks you through all of the Dead or Alive 5 fighting mechanics to help you get up to speed and fight well in the game. The arcade mode also gives you a high score too that you can try to improve on and also post out online to compare to other player's as well. Multiple difficulty settings will assure that any player will find the challenge that they're looking for when playing arcade mode. The story mode, while cheesy a times, is as deep and well done as the Mortal Kombat reboot story mode too and gives a nice diversion and insight into all of the characters as well as being a nice way to unlock extras should this be your first time playing Dead or Alive 5 in any way.

The graphics have been tweaked a bit it seems and everything seems to just be a bit more crisp, defined and smooth then the original outing. I noticed no frame rate drops on the PS3 when things got particularly hectic and the returning and new stages look breathtaking too. There are multiple times when the game is just simply so gorgeous to look at that you want to stop fighting and just soak in the scenery female and otherwise.

The load times aren't bad when playing off the disc, but you get the option to install game data to your HDD which comes in just under 3 gigabytes. This greatly reduces load times and makes for a much more fluid and fast gaming experience versus playing the game off of the disc.

The title also features all patches and improvements for the original edition included in this one and as of this writing, they already have released a 1.01 patch on the PS3 to already tweak some things further so no glitches should be encountered thankfully.

I guess the big question is this; if somebody already owns the original vanilla edition, is it worth picking up the Ultimate edition for another 40 bucks? If you are a fan and/or love deep and extremely well done 3D fighting games, that answer is a resounding yes. If you bought the original version and it either lost your interest or you just didn't care for it, there's nothing really radically different about the Ultimate edition that's going to change your mind as it's what came before with just much more added to it now in the form of new characters, stages and modes. I feel that it is worth picking up for people who already got the original vanilla version. There's much more new stuff than first appears and it's just so much fun to play and each character has so much depth that you could pick just one character to master to the best of your ability and never get bored. Well worth picking up and enjoy those swimsuit outfits for the female cast while you're at it! ;)
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