RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: The Mechanic and ESPN's 30 for 30

Plus, some mediocre thrillers, another Natalie Portman film, and a classic kung fu flick.

by | May 17, 2011 | Comments

This week on home video, we’ve got a decent number of new releases, as well as some noteworthy reissues, which is a nice change from what we’ve been seeing as of late. The flip side of that is there are a few new selections this week that didn’t really do so well from a critical standpoint. With that in mind, we do have some good stuff, including ESPN’s documentary film series in its entirety, a kung fu cult favorite and a Paul Newman classic on Blu-Ray, and a new Criterion. Have at it, folks!

The Mechanic (2011)


Who knew when Jason Statham got his big break in Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels that he would become such a bankable action star? Statham has emerged as one of this generation’s most reliable rock’em, sock’em actors, and even if his films weren’t always critically lauded, they always delivered the action in spades. While the original Charles Bronson-powered 1972 The Mechanic was slightly more pensive, this year’s remake opted to go with more high-octane action, starring Statham as hitman Arthur Bishop and Ben Foster as Bishop’s apprentice, Steve McKenna. Unbeknownst to Steve, Arthur has murdered his father Harry (Donald Sutherland) by order of the organization of killers that employs Arthur. When Steve is less than discreet on his first job, the organization takes notice, and a web of intrigue unravels as loyalties are tested and double-crosses exposed. Critics felt that the two lead actors were well cast and enjoyable to watch, but they were also disappointed by the mind-numbing violence and action thriller clichés, earning this movie a squarely middling 53% Tomatometer. If the negatives mentioned above don’t deter you, and you’re a fan of the actors, this may be a satisfying romp for a Friday night.

The Rite


Sir Anthony Hopkins has made a LOT of movies, and even now, in his mid-70s, he continues to be a prolific actor, lending an air of gravitas even to superhero flicks like Thor. But earlier this year, Hopkins headlined a supernatural thriller that, by most accounts, just wasn’t that thrilling. Inspired by true events, The Rite centers on a young, skeptical priest named Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue) who is sent to apprentice under the mysterious Father Lucas (Hopkins), whose experience in conducting exorcisms leads Kovak to reexamine his own faith. Critics felt that Hopkins was solid, as usual, but also that the script itself lacked any immediacy, dawdling along at a snail’s pace without many chills to satisfy true horror fans. They also felt that O’Donoghue’s performance in the leading role left something to be desired. The end result was an unfortunate 19% Tomatometer score, a small box office return, and a transition to the home video market less than four months after its theatrical release. It might be worth checking out for Hopkins’s creepy performance, but then again, you might just be better off renting The Silence of the Lambs for that.

The Other Woman


Natalie Portman is so hot right now. Wait… That’s how we begun last week’s writeup for No Strings Attached. Well, to further reiterate, the Black Swan star has already been in five movies this year, and only Thor has been Fresh. Unfortunately, The Other Woman received an even lower Tomatometer score than No Strings Attached, so don’t look to this film to be one of Portman’s big resume-builders. Based on the Ayelet Waldman novel Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, The Other Woman stars Portman as Emilia Greenleaf, a recent Harvard Law grad who becomes the second wife of an older, high-powered attorney (Scott Cohen) and must learn to deal with her new husband’s ex-wife (Lisa Kudrow), as well as her new stepson (Charlie Tahan), after she and her husband lose their infant daughter. While critics praised Portman’s performance in the film, they unfortunately found little else to like, calling Don Roos’s direction clumsy and his script cluttered and overly melodramatic. If you’re on a Black Swan high, and you just want to watch Portman emote, then this will be a great pickup for you. Otherwise, probably not so much.

The Roommate


There’s been a little bit of grumbling going on about the recent tendency of studios to water down horror films and thrillers to a PG-13 rating, specifically in order to draw in younger — and therefore, much broader — audiences. When the film is good, however, the practice has little bearing on the outcome, and when the film is panned, some wonder whether or not it might have benefited from a bit more grit. According to critics, however, there’s very little that could have saved The Roommate, which was so devoid of chills, thrills, or even cheap titillation that it didn’t even fall into “so bad, it’s good” territory. With echoes of the early ’90s thriller Single White Female, the story centers on college freshman Sara Matthews (Minka Kelly) and her new roommate Rebecca (Leighton Meester), who, it turns out, is emotionally unstable and obsesses over Sara so much that she begins interfering in Sar’?s life, with drastic consequences. Despite featuring a handful of perennial “hottest girls of the year” in the cast and sporting a relatively broad premise with some potential, The Roommate fails to deliver on any level. But if you’re just interested in watching Minka Kelly and Leighton Meester on screen for an hour and a half, by all means, pick this up.

Vanishing on 7th Street


Director Brad Anderson proved his mettle with indie hits like Session 9 and The Machinist, as well as the critically acclaimed thriller Transsiberian, demonstrating he can craft a dark and effective psychodrama. So what went wrong with Vanishing on 7th Street? Critics felt that the film’s Twilight Zone-esque story was effective at times, but that it also lost its novelty ? and narrative thrust ? as the plot progressed. Hayden Christensen, Thandie Newton, John Leguizamo, and Jacob Latimore play survivors of a rapture-like citywide blackout that seemingly evaporates all of Detroit’s citizens, leaving only their clothes behind. As the four stragglers unite at a bar to plan their next course of action, they discover that the darkness itself is the culprit of all the supernatural goings on. While Anderson does an admirable job setting the mood and basking in the atmosphere of the movie, critics felt that too many questions went unanswered, leading only to an unsatisfying conclusion to a film they felt was more style than story. If you’re a fan of the director’s previous movies, this one may work for you, but at 51% on theTomatometer, it’s not going to please everyone.

ESPN Films: 30 for 30 Limited Edition Collector Set

For fans of both sports and cinema, ESPN’s 30 for 30 series is a godsend. To celebrate the network’s 30th anniversary, the Worldwide Leader commissioned 30 prominent filmmakers to each direct a one hour film about a particular sports-related subject. The result is a remarkable collection that should appeal to both sports fans and cineastes (a few of the movies played at prominent festivals). The series’ killer lineup includes new movies from Barry Levinson, John Singleton, Barbara Kopple, and even Phoenix Suns star Steve Nash; the films cover such fascinating subjects as Muhammad Ali’s late career, the rise of fantasy sports, and the colorful history of the United States Football League. ESPN Films: 30 for 30 Limited Edition Collector Set contains all 30 films, plus deleted scenes, introductions from the filmmakers, and extended interviews.

Five Deadly Venoms – Blu-Ray

If you’re either a kung fu or hip-hop enthusiast, then you’re already familiar with the film that spawned a thousand Wu-Tang Clan references. Five Deadly Venoms is one of the classic Shaw Brothers martial arts films sampled in various places on the Staten Island rap supergroup’s iconic debut album, and for good reason: Five Deadly Venoms‘s focus on various kung fu styles fit perfectly with the Wu-Tang’s collection of eccentric personalities. The story is relatively straightforward: the master of the “Poison Clan” is dying, and he suspects that some of his former pupils, each one a specialist in a specific animal-based kung fu style, are planning to lay claim to the fortune the clan has amassed. To stop them, the master sends his last pupil to seek out the others and stop the masterminds behind the scheme. Now, did Five Deadly Venoms have to be put on Blu-Ray? Probably not, as part of the movie’s charm is its old-school feel. On top of that, there’s very little information on what special features, if any, are included. But if you simply want to own the movie in high definition, well, this would be the time to pick it up.

Diabolique – Criterion Collection


The work of Henri-Georges Clouzot is often compared to that of Alfred Hitchcock — a flattering association, to be sure, but one that doesn’t quite do this legendary Frenchman’s pitch-black, politically-minded thrillers justice. Quentin Tarantino name-checked Clouzot’s paranoid classic Le Corbeau in Inglourious Basterds, and The Wages of Fear remains one of the best slow-burn action flicks ever. However, Clouzot’s rep as a master of suspense was solidified with Diabolique, which featured a twist ending that scared the pants off international audiences six years before Psycho. In Diabolique, the wife and mistress of an autocratic boarding school headmaster team up to murder him ? but their plan quickly goes awry when they can’t find his body. The new Criterion Collction edition features a sparkling transfer of the film, plus interviews and commentary with Clouzot scholars and the movie’s original theatrical trailer.

The Hustler – 50th Anniversary Blu-Ray


Paul Newman won his one and only Best Actor Academy Award for his portrayal of Fast Eddie Felson in Martin Scorsese’s 1986 film The Color of Money, but the roots of the character were sown decades prior in Robert Rossen’s 1961 classic The Huslter, for which, ironically enough, Newman was also nominated for the same award. Based on the Walter Tevis novel of the same name, The Hustler, which co-starred Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie, and George C. Scott, was a commercial and critical success, and found its place among the most celebrated American films to date. For those unfamiliar, the story revolves around an ambitious pool shark (Newman) who challenges an old pro (Gleason) and loses everything he’s got, forcing him to strike out on his own, compromise his ideals, and learn some hard lessons about life in the process. It’s a darker role for Newman than many were used to seeing, but his nuanced performance in The Hustler displayed the kind of range that would make Newman a leading man for decades to come. The brand new 50th Anniversary Blu-Ray features many of the same extras found on the DVD Special Edition, but also includes Fox career retrospectives for Newman and Gleason, as well as a radio interview with Walter Tevis.

Tag Cloud

Image Comics Amazon Studios American Society of Cinematographers singing competition HBO Interview Anna Paquin Trailer TCA Awards posters Disney+ Disney Plus Writers Guild of America young adult nature indiana jones Elton John Rocky sag awards Rock video batman 90s 1990s SXSW 2022 target cartoon australia ghosts witnail lord of the rings Star Wars Brie Larson Oscars 21st Century Fox dceu Red Carpet Hulu critic resources Grammys Superheroe summer TV preview crime chucky A&E stand-up comedy E! TCA dreamworks Wes Anderson Baby Yoda Britbox mcc james bond Box Office Television Academy OWN adaptation Paramount FOX die hard Black History Month Star Wars Celebration razzies GoT Captain marvel boxing casting Tags: Comedy Showtime based on movie X-Men Winter TV spider-verse spain slashers The CW Character Guide romance Sundance rom-coms suspense AMC HBO Max Thanksgiving Cosplay prank zero dark thirty theme song Film discovery MCU El Rey Stephen King all-time canceled TV shows screenings biography Awards feel good Christmas stoner television FX on Hulu CBS All Access Logo indie GIFs 79th Golden Globes Awards Set visit VICE science fiction romantic comedy Star Trek jamie lee curtis sequels IMDb TV versus nbcuniversal DC Universe Apple TV+ marvel cinematic universe space tv talk Music name the review Best Director Mary poppins trailers BAFTA TV true crime Walt Disney Pictures serial killer quibi CNN halloween tv historical drama Superheroes Warner Bros. Native 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Fall TV hispanic heritage month heist movie TBS Mindy Kaling vampires films independent cinemax Hallmark Christmas movies obituary Best Actress spy thriller reviews 71st Emmy Awards VH1 Avengers 20th Century Fox remakes psycho directors 72 Emmy Awards Musicals Universal Pictures DC streaming service Best Actor trophy Horror rotten HFPA king kong target scene in color Arrowverse Action Legendary Turner Classic Movies Heroines adventure BBC America 2016 Esquire green book Cartoon Network Certified Fresh book Travel Channel twilight wonder woman Sony hollywood movie scorecard debate ABC Signature Watching Series crime drama Martial Arts talk show Sundance Now nfl universal monsters thriller Tarantino action-comedy Sony Pictures dexter italian olympics adenture social media Sundance TV rotten movies we love laika free movies YouTube cats natural history TruTV scene in color HBO Go Extras RT21 Masterpiece Polls and Games japanese Song of Ice and Fire SXSW Hollywood Foreign Press Association football finale documentary Sci-Fi San Diego Comic-Con Vudu broadcast Syfy Reality Competition Television Critics Association NYCC golden globes diversity Paramount Network Awards Tour Adult Swim Year in Review Podcast superhero Election travel Lucasfilm reboot zombie festival cancelled television war TCM Drama Broadway Apple TV Plus anthology psychological thriller streamig Holidays PBS Summer new zealand deadpool CMT Crunchyroll comics Disney streaming service rt archives know your critic disaster comedies Comic Book aapi Lifetime kaiju legend Focus Features OneApp dramedy miniseries what to watch fast and furious aliens Best Picture ID Ghostbusters IFC Films ratings popular teaser kong Marvel Television E3 doctor who TLC supernatural YouTube Red french Emmy Nominations BET Mystery godzilla Discovery Channel PaleyFest WarnerMedia Nickelodeon political drama dogs FX werewolf game of thrones MTV comic books mob joker art house 24 frames cancelled TV series Endgame Schedule new york Fox News foreign canceled japan Classic Film 2018 Toys spanish cancelled TV shows Spring TV strong female leads TV movies Food Network Geeked Week DGA Trophy Talk Pet Sematary Black Mirror dragons The Purge docuseries a nightmare on elm street Tumblr Starz south america movies Countdown hidden camera scary movies The Witch A24 spider-man Bravo leaderboard Biopics screen actors guild medical drama Ellie Kemper mutant transformers Musical summer TV scary franchise animated Disney Plus Pirates FXX Comic-Con@Home 2021 royal family USA Network sports boxoffice ABC Prime Video Marvel Crackle concert latino Hallmark gangster scene in color film series Nominations Funimation monster movies Winners news sequel 45 crossover Pop high school telelvision Universal international VOD Hear Us Out LGBTQ mockumentary Disney criterion NBC Fargo TV One Pop TV pirates of the caribbean Dark Horse Comics award winner Emmys spinoff The Academy elevated horror Columbia Pictures cooking TNT obi wan cults Mary Poppins Returns game show satire richard e. Grant period drama Film Festival harry potter cancelled 2015 rt labs dc The Walt Disney Company Fox Searchlight History live action Amazon Apple comic golden globe awards Spectrum Originals SundanceTV Reality ESPN Quiz Exclusive Video Freeform comiccon PlayStation Pixar Creative Arts Emmys archives First Look Fantasy hist The Walking Dead Photos Oscar Amazon Prime Video NBA Alien asian-american ITV emmy awards TV Land USA streaming BBC One See It Skip It politics composers Western Neflix Video Games RT History christmas movies stop motion ABC Family sopranos MGM dark Comedy Chernobyl 93rd Oscars crime thriller Rom-Com revenge DirecTV docudrama TCA 2017 justice league Teen kids cars biopic Tomatazos Premiere Dates Family classics blockbusters mission: impossible Instagram Live blaxploitation Binge Guide Turner Amazon Prime 94th Oscars 2019 SDCC National Geographic documentaries Marathons 73rd Emmy Awards Lifetime Christmas movies DC Comics series genre Tokyo Olympics black comedy jurassic park Best and Worst basketball WGN new star wars movies Infographic CBS video on demand Epix toy story summer preview parents renewed TV shows sitcom children's TV live event 2017 Marvel Studios YA APB superman fresh TCA Winter 2020 CW Seed BBC Cannes Chilling Adventures of Sabrina MSNBC breaking bad Tubi streaming movies hispanic 4/20 police drama slasher black 007 Netflix Christmas movies Indigenous Shondaland LGBT book adaptation Valentine's Day worst Netflix President ViacomCBS Super Bowl facebook YouTube Premium Mary Tyler Moore AMC Plus marvel comics Lionsgate 2021 robots Rocketman TV renewals Animation New York Comic Con Acorn TV Kids & Family Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt zombies Disney Channel Peacock Spike Ovation Sneak Peek technology interviews South by Southwest Film Festival 2020 IFC 99% Pacific Islander saw venice worst movies Mudbound The Arrangement Academy Awards Opinion First Reviews Paramount Plus Comics on TV Comedy Central vs. scene in color series Trivia Paramount Pictures king arthur Women's History Month best festivals spanish language comic book movies Holiday Nat Geo Pride Month rt labs critics edition child's play blockbuster cops halloween comic book movie GLAAD Calendar BET Awards TIFF anime unscripted critics Country Shudder toronto women binge