Editor’s Notes: Creed, Intruders, Weaponized, & Lost in Hong Kongwill be released on their respective formats on March 1st.
Creed (Warner Home Video) features the character of Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) coaching Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), the son of one of his more formidable rivals. Adonis never met his father, champion boxer Apollo Creed, and refuses to take his surname, even after being adopted by Apollo’s widow (Phylicia Rashad) and raised in Los Angeles with a first-class education. But, a boxer at heart, he can’t resist the urge to fight, winding up in barroom brawls and heading down a self-destructive path.
In Philadelphia to reconnect with his roots, Adonis meets Rocky and asks if he will teach him a few tricks to further his career. Rocky, however, is dealing with issues of his own. Their collaboration involves each man encouraging the other. The growing relationship between Rocky and Adonis is beautifully scripted and acted. After the last two disappointing Rocky films, it’s great to see the character back in an age-appropriate story about confronting old demons, taking risks, and seeking happiness.
Stallone has never been given adequate credit for his acting, mostly because his choice of films — especially in recent years — has seemed a quick, painless way to a large paycheck. Rarely were his on-screen characters more than variations of Rocky Balboa or Rambo or a combination of the two. Here, he conveys emotional depth and turns in a touching performance that never becomes maudlin. Stallone hits just the right notes as a man not merely passing the torch to a younger generation, but reflecting on his own disappointments and shortcomings. His Rocky genuinely wants to steer Adonis in a better direction by drawing on his own experience and Adonis’ natural talent.Special features on the Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack include the featurettes “Know the Past, Own the Future” and “Becoming Adonis,” and deleted scenes. A digital HD ultraviolet copy is included.
Intruders (Entertainment One) is a home-invasion thriller. The victim, Anna (Beth Reisgraf), is an agoraphobe, a person with an abnormal fear of being in public places or open areas. She’s been afflicted with this condition since the death of her father, ten years earlier, and can’t even step onto her front porch without suffering a debilitating panic attack.
On the day of her brother’s funeral, three thieves break into her house, looking for a large cache of money. Not the brightest bulbs, they are good at posturing but short on advance planning. After they tie Anna up and start looking for the cash, they encounter a series of hidden rooms and booby traps. What at first appears to be a movie about a helpless young woman victimized by frightening criminals turns out to be much more, with Anna not nearly as helpless as she seemed. The house, in a way, becomes a character as it transforms from a typical residence into a virtual chamber of horrors. Revelations about Anna’s family history explain this unlikely metamorphosis.
Though Intruders has a promising premise and starts well, it turns out to be a hybrid of the Saw movies with a touch of Wait Until Dark tossed in. Director Adam Schindler makes his feature-film debut with Intruders and manages to craft a gripping 90 minutes, despite the film’s limited budget. Intruders could easily be the dark flip side of Home Alone.
Martin Starr (Superbad, Knocked Up), generally known for comedies, conveys real menace as one of the home invaders and manages some darkly humorous observations as events take consistently unplanned turns. Anna is a complex character, and Ms. Reisgraf conveys the character’s disabled vulnerability, later revealing her ingenious, gruesome ways of compensating.
Bonus extras on the DVD release include a behind-the-scenes making-of featurette and audio commentary with cast and crew.
Weaponized (Cinedigm) is a thriller about a race to prevent the release of a robotic virus. After an attack on the Pentagon, private military contractor Kyle Norris (Tom Sizemore) facilitates the development of a bio-mechanical weapons program by Prof. Clarence Peterson (Mickey Rourke) that allows soldiers to exchange consciousness with a target, giving them temporary complete control. Intended only to combat terrorists and safeguard American soldiers, the program has become widely abused. Detective Walker (Johnny Messner) unwittingly stumbles upon the program and is forced to both shut it down and protect his young family from those who will resort to extreme means to keep it going.
Since Weaponized is set in the future, the screenplay has more wiggle room than if it were set in the present day. Still, as with any science-fiction film, it’s necessary for the director and cast to induce the viewer to suspend disbelief and buy into the story. Unfortunately, this never happens. Though it offers interesting variations on a typical movie about terrorism, Weaponized falls back on action pic cliches and stock characters, more concerned with razzle-dazzle pyrotechnic sequences than with characters that ring true. Neither Norris nor Peters is developed adequately and they come off as merely minor ingredients in a low-budget replication of better-scripted movies.
The film has a terrorist attack, gunfights, martial arts combat, car crashes, and explosions — the ideal recipe for an action flick. What it lacks is originality and a story that can sustain interest for its 91-minute running time.
Bonus features on the Blu-ray release include five deleted scenes and the theatrical trailer.
Lost in Hong Kong
Lost in Hong Kong (Well Go USA) takes place in the mid-1990s. University art majors Xu Lai (Xu Zheng) and Yang Yi (Du Juan) fall in love, but Yang is transferred to the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Xu hasn’t seen her since. Nearly twenty years later, Xu — now a brassiere designer — has long forgotten his dreams of becoming an artist, but he can never forget Yang even though he enjoys a comfortable life with his wife Cai Bo (Zhao Wei). Their only problem is their repeated failure to conceive a child. During a vacation in Hong Kong with Cai’s family, Xu plans to secretly visit Yang, but Xu’s aspiring documentarian brother-in-law — always carrying a camera for his documentary project — tags along, ruining the rendezvous.
This is an odd hybrid of a movie. With elaborate stunt work, slapstick, picturesque photography of Hong Kong, and romance, it tries to be an all-purpose flick geared to attract the widest possible audience. As a result, there’s a scattershot feel to the movie, with plot tendrils in too many directions. With Xu Zheng credited as writer, director, producer, and star, Lost in Hong Kong is largely a one-man effort.
The movie has an often frenetic, desperate pace. A cartoonish performance by Bao Bei’er as the wannabe documentary filmmaker is so broad, it’s reminiscent of silent screen comedy when actors had to exaggerate body and facial expression to put a point across or get a laugh.
The movie contains a lot of in-jokes that fans of Hong Kong filmmaking will get. Others may react blankly to these references. The soundtrack consists of upbeat pop songs from Hong Kong cinema’s heyday of the 1980s and 1990s. The film is in Mandarin, with English subtitles.
Bonus extras on the Blu-ray release include a making-of featurette, blooper reel, and trailer.