RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Hobo with a Shotgun and 13 Assassins

Plus, just two more choices: an underseen French drama, and a Wolfgang Petersen classic.

by | July 6, 2011 | Comments

Though we here in the US are celebrating Independence Day today, it seems the home video divisions of the various Hollywood studios decided not to give us much to be excited about this week. There is a shocking dearth of worthwhile releases coming out tomorrow, unless you’re into 1980s soap operas (Dynasty), random Blu-ray reissues (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Overboard), or straight-to-video shlock (Bloodrayne: The Third Reich, Ferocious Planet). Thankfully, there are still some decent choices to be had, from Takashi Miike’s recent foray into period samurai action to a Blu-ray version of a Wolfgang Peterson classic, so all is not lost. Thankfully, all four of this week’s choices are quite highly rated, so here’s hoping you’ll find one of these worth watching.

Hobo with a Shotgun


Remember those fake movie trailers that played during the intermission of Grindhouse, between Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror and Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof? Well, the filmmakers held an international competition, asking fans to submit their own fake, homemade grindhouse-styled trailers, and one particular trailer not only won the competition, but also succeeded in becoming a real movie. No, we’re not talking about Machete, Rodriguez’s own fake trailer-turned-actual film, but Hobo with a Shotgun, a gleefully gory exploitation film that became a reality, with Rutger Hauer in the title role, no less. The story is simple enough: a wandering homeless man jumps off a train in a new town, hoping for a fresh start, only to discover the town is a cesspool teeming with evil, unsavory types. Of course, the hobo goes straight to work cleaning up the town, and there you have it. If you’re a fan of the recent revival of old school exploitation fare, then this will be right up your alley, and at 70% on the Tomatometer, Hobo with a Shotgun is likely to entertain you.

13 Assassins


Controversial Japanese cult director Takashi Miike is probably best known for his intense, graphic thrillers (Audition) and over-the-top action films (Ichi the Killer, Gozu). Every once in a while, though, he does something a little different and unexpected, like a haunted house/zombie/romance musical (The Happiness of the Katakuris) or a Western starring an all-Japanese cast speaking in phonetic English (Sukiyaki Western Django). Earlier this year, Miike went the latter route, somewhat, remaking a 1963 samurai film called 13 Assassins. The story centers on an honorable samurai, Shinzaemon, who is hired to assassinate an evil lord who is preparing to move up the political ladder. Shinzaemon gathers a handful of capable warriors and plots an elaborate ambush in an isolated town, leading to an epic climactic battle. Critics praised the film to the tune of a Certified Fresh 96%, calling the film stylish and effective, and it serves as a reminder of Miike’s incredible range as a director, even if not all of his work is universally appealing. Watch it for the final battle alone, and you will not be disappointed.

Of Gods and Men


In March of 1996, smack dab in the thick of the Algerian Civil War, seven Roman Catholic monks of French nationality were kidnapped from an Algerian monastery, held for two months, and discovered dead in May. This story forms the backdrop of Of Gods and Men, a quiet drama loosely based on those events that focuses on the monks themselves, their day-to-day activities as they lived peacefully alongside their Muslim brothers, and the political pressures that led to the tragic kidnapping. Critics found the film patient and restrained (a bit too restrained for some), and felt that it asked some profound questions sure to linger with audiences; as a result, it received a Certified Fresh 92% on the Tomatometer and even won the Grand Prix at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. This film may be a bit challenging for some, due to its deliberate pacing, but it should also likely prove highly rewarding if subdued political drama is your thing.

Das Boot – Two-Disc Collector’s Set Blu-Ray


German director Wolfgang Petersen has amassed an eclectic filmography that includes children’s movies (the ’80s fantasy classic The Neverending Story), political thrillers (In the Line of Fire), and sword-and-sandal epics (Troy). It’s sometimes easy to forget that he got his big break when one of his earliest German films, 1982’s Das Boot, was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Director. Now, Das Boot is regarded as a classic, not only as one of the best German films ever made, but one of the most gripping war movies, period. The film, based on a fictional novel of the same name, chronicles life aboard a German U-Boat, both through intense battle sequences and through scenes of the crew making the most of their downtime. At 100% on the Tomatometer, it’s a pretty sure bet for anyone interested in wartime stories, but it’s a great film all-around, and it’s available on Blu-ray this week for the first time, complete with a hefty stack of extras.

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