Here at CHUD, we get a lot of DVDs to review. Like, A LOT. We handle as many as we can, but sometimes, the discs pile up in the Sewer and with all the toxic waste down here, they can start to get a little…well…hot. When that happens, we gotta hit the purge button and clear them out before the whole joint melts down.
ID:A (Buy It Here)
The set up for this Danish thriller from director Christian E. Christiansen is exactly Bourne-ian: a woman (Tuva Novotny) wakes up in a river in France with no memory, a stitched up gash in her side torso, another gash on her head and a dufflebag that she later discovers to contain a couple million in Euros. From there, it’s a struggle to try to regain her memory and also to discover the identities of some men who are after her. Her journey of re-discovery takes her from France to Denmark and back to her estranged husband, Just Ore, (Flemming Enevold), a prominent Danish opera singer. But as she discovers more about the situation that led her to that river, which is also tied to the murder of a prominent politician, she gets closer to a deadly truth about her prior life.
It’s always tough to pull off the whole amnesia thing of course without being cliche. But ID:A (the title is short for identity: anonymous and a play on Novotny’s character’s name, Ida) uses a good tactic. Rather than peppering the narrative with flashback after flashback that reveal the secrets piecemeal, Christiansen cuts the movie at about the 60% mark, then dumps the latter chunk in front of the film and just lets it go. It’s nonlinear to be sure, but having the movie cut really only once in one big chunk evades some of the pitfalls of confusion that tend to emerge when a movie is diced and reordered. Novotny is good as Ida, and the story serves her character well. Whatever you’re thinking her secret is going to be you’re probably wrong, but Christiansen sets up some key peripheral details in the opening minutes. It’s a suspenseful film with some good action and is also the third good film coming out of Denmark I’ve seen this year after A Hijacking and The Hunt.
How Hot Is It?
Pretty hot, like Novotny. The disc though only has a trailer and nothing else, which was a disappointment. But considering it’s a foreign language indie, expectations in that area should be tempered. This is a pretty obscure disc, but for the price, it’s a great deal.
[Rating: 3.5 Stars]
George Lopez: It’s Not Me, It’s You (Buy It Here)
George Lopez is a comic that I tend to tolerate more than really enjoy. He has some material here and there that I like, but rarely anything that makes me laugh out loud. With Lopez you know exactly what you’re going to get: base Hispanic POV humor from start to finish, 30% of which you’re probably not going to get if you don’t speak Spanish. This was an HBO special he did last year in L.A., and this disc has been sitting in the Sewer for months. Topics Lopez hits upon includes how Hispanics raise their kids according to the parent’s needs and wants rather than the kids’, old school values, visiting the White House and snatching some stuff, Latino trick-or-treating, the Latino vote, Latinos needing to have kids with Black people, and some other, fairly obvious things.
How Hot Is It?
Mild chili pepper, vatos. There’s a 13 minute behind the scenes on the making of the special, and the set itself runs just under an hour. I would never buy a George Lopez HBO special disc, but if I had HBO (currently don’t), and it were on, might catch it…unless Aries Spears or Kevin Hart were on opposite.
[Rating: 2 Stars]
The Hunt (Buy It Here)
Disturbing and gory, but well-made French indie from director Thomas Sczcepanski that’s a straight mix of The Most Dangerous Game and Hostel. It centers on Alex (Jelalli Mouina), a young reporter for a sleazy French tabloid whose back is up against the wall from his editor to come up with a juicy story or be let go. He hits up his occasional side piece, Sarah (Sarah Lucide), a prostitute / dominatrix, for a lead. She puts him onto one of her clients, who, as Alex later discovers, is part of a cabal of men who gather to hunt other men for sport. Unfortunately, Alex doesn’t find this out until he’s neck deep in an actual hunt, where all of the participants wear hoods to conceal their identity. He then has to kill or be killed in order to survive.
I really liked this. Sczcepanski has a knack for portraying the grittiness of the sordid situations and seedy underworld in which Alex finds himself. The perpetrators of the hunt are shockingly thorough in their preparation, snatching randoms slobs off the street and cutting out their tongues so they can’t scream while they’re on the run. The hunters are clients who bet large sums of Euros that are handcuffed to their quarry. But once everyone’s out in the field, anything goes, and even hunters can be hunted by each other. I’m torn on the ending though. I can say no more in case someone is interested in seeing it, but I’m torn on it.
How Hot Is It?
Pretty hot. The copy I got was only a screener, so I don’t know what specials are on the disc if any. If this piques your interest, I’d do the $3.95 stream on Amazon first, then check out the disc if you like it. The Hunt is an economical 74 minutes, but there’s some good suspense and impalings encased therein.
[Rating: 3 Stars]
House Party: Tonight’s the Night (Buy It Here)
Ten minutes into this thing I thought I was in for another lame direct-to-DVD exhumation of a long dead franchise. One of the stars, Zac Goodspeed’s Dylan, is a Justin Bieber uber-wigger knockoff and there was a even a battle rap in a school yard (has that ever legitimately happened?). Hell, the original House Party came out when I was a senior in high school for chrissakes. The last one featuring Kid N’ Play as the leads was 19 years ago and by then the concept had already run out of steam. Kid and Sydney didn’t even end up together after all they had been through in the first two flicks. And the most recent installment was a dozen years ago, a direct-to-DVD offering featuring Marques Houston, late of the ’90s kid group Immature / iMX. I somehow missed that one (not really somehow, I just never wanted to see it). So my hopes for this weren’t too high.
But then you know what? The movie got the party going early, found its groove, started bringing back some memories of the original, and ended up being pretty good for what it is. Tequan Richmond has an easy likability as Chris, a kid bound for college who has mad rap skills, but is not actively pursuing it because of his parents’ wishes. Dylan is the aforementioned sidekick, who orchestrates a demo for a record exec, and puts together a kickin’ house party at Chris’ place in which to showcase. Chris goes along because the object of his desires, Autumn (Tristin Mays, who I swear is a younger Cadmus clone of Nicole Scherzinger), is planning to be there.
All the requisite things you expect – and actually are mandatory for a House Party movie – occur. The party gets out of hand, there’s assloads of dancing and music, DJs battling, some fisticuffs with Autumn’s cheating jock douchebag boyfriend, Quentin (Keith Powers), some boning, some way uncomfortable cougar mackin’, the house gets trashed, then Dylan and Chris rap, then fight, then make up. And of course they get the record deal. It’s all so predictable, but that’s just because director Darin Scott (producer on Menace II Society, Tales From the Hood) and writer Don D. Scott (Barbershop, Barbershop 2) know the formula they need to work within and pull off a surprisingly fun movie.
How Hot Is It?
Almost as hot as Tristin Mays (yes, dirty old man here). But definitely hotter than it had any right being. In terms of special features, there’s a 17-minute making-of doco and four minutes of deleted scenes.
[Rating: 2.5 Stars]
Femme Fatales: Season 2 (Buy It Here)
The Bin did Season 1 of this show a while back. There are additional links in that article that give a lot more background on the show than I could fit here. Season 2 is more of the same, this sexy, pulpy noir show that falls in some of the same neighborhoods as The Outer Limits and Tales From the Crypt, and gives it a decidedly Skinemax touch. Tanit Phoenix is the modern day Elvira, dishing out tales of women gone naughty. Season 2 ranges in stories from a woman who visits a parallel universe and finds her doppelganger is a lot of trouble, to a sexy government assassin who is tortured for info, to a sexy, avenging vigilante named Libra, to a Big Brother-like reality show that has the players screwing each other over, literally, until they start dropping like flies via serial killer. Some of the shows also connect to previous installments. And guest stars in Season 2 include Eric Roberts, Antonio Sabato, Jr., Jeffrey Combs (in voiceover), Robert Picardo, Vivica Fox, Steve Railsback, and Jeff Fahey among others.
If you ever caught soft core or Skinemax and wished the the story was as nice as the naked bodies, Femme Fatales should fill the bill for you.
How Hot Is It?
Smokin’ hot. This set is loaded when it comes to special features. There are commentaries for all of the 12 episodes, as well as a special international cut of the episode, “Libra”, with more footage added in. There are behind-the-scenes documentaries on the making of the episodes “Family Business” and “Libra”, another titled “Defining Femme Fatales” and one titled “Lilith: Daughter of Darkness”. There are the bumps (the quickie intros featuring Lilith’s VO) for every episode, footage of the Season 2 premiere, the 2012 San Diego Comic Con panel, and lots of deleted scenes.
[Rating: 3 Stars]