Editor’s Notes: Sisters, Rage of Honor, & CHiPs: The Complete Fourth Season will be released on their respective formats on March 15th.
Sisters (Universal Home Entertainment) combines the exceptional talents of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, partners in comic crime from Baby Mama and recent awards show hosting gigs. There is unquestionably considerable charisma between these two women, who effortlessly spar with each other, spewing one-liners with the efficiency of an AK-47.
In Sisters, Fey and Poehler play Kate and Maura Ellis, siblings summoned to Florida by their parents (Dianne Wiest and James Brolin), who have decided to sell the girls’ childhood home. The cluttered room they shared is the only obstacle to Mom and Pop’s downsizing. Reveling in nostalgia as they peruse adolescent artifacts and reminisce about their youthful escapades, they decide to assemble the old high school gang via Facebook for one last bash at the old homestead.
The script by Paula Pell is unfortunately light on laughs, despite a premise that would suggest endless opportunities for witty repartee. Fey and Poehler are far better than their material and try vigorously to get laughs which simply aren’t there. There’s nothing less funny than comic actors fighting an uphill battle to squeeze chuckles from a flat script. That’s not to say the movie doesn’t have its funny moments, but they’re derivative of other films — mostly teen flicks. The underlying gag that a pair of 40-somethings are acting like teenagers goes just so far before we expect sharp jokes and comic situations.
Happily, Maya Rudolph is on hand playing Brinda, the sisters’ snooty frenemy from the past. Underplaying and using her expressive face, Ms. Rudolph gets real laughs in her limited screen time.
The movie is especially disappointing when it does an about-face and transforms from edgy adult language and R-rated sight gags to a sappy, moralistic conclusion. The finale seems tacked on from another picture.
Bonus extras on the unrated 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack include the featurettes “How to Throw a Party,” “Grown-up Parties Suck,” “The Alex Chronicles,” “The Kate and Pazuzu Chronicles,” “A Teen Movie… for Adults,” “The Original Sister,” and “Pool Collapse Visual Effects;” deleted and extended scenes; gag reel; and feature commentary with Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, director Jason Moore, and writer Paula Pell.
Rage of Honor
Rage of Honor (Arrow Video) is a martial arts movie starring Sho Kosugi (Enter the Ninja, Revenge of the Ninja). Federal agent Shiro Tanaka (Kosugi) is a cop in Phoenix, Arizona, working for the Drug Investigation Bureau. He and partner Ray (Richard Wiley) always get results but take shortcuts to avoid red tape. After Ray is killed during a bungled drug bust, Shiro throws away his badge and, arming himself with an arsenal of deadly weaponry including nunchucks, blades, and ninja stars, sets out to Buenos Aires to settle the score with his partner’s murderers.
Sho Kosugi’s English is heavily accented and tough to understand, but director Gordon Hessler (The Golden Voyage of Sinbad) compensates by keeping his dialogue to a minimum and letting action and elaborate stunt work drive the film. Made in 1988 during the height of the public’s fascination with martial arts flicks, Rage of Honor isn’t the best movie to come along, but it sure is a lot of fun.
Benefiting from a brief running time and practically non-stop action, the movie delivers in both intended and unintended ways. The stunt work is exceptional and ranks among the best of the genre. A scene toward the end of the picture is a standout. Tanaka is trapped in an abandoned factory and must improvise with whatever he can find to defend himself. The scene is cleverly constructed and exciting to watch. Performances, in contrast, aren’t exactly Oscar caliber, with grimaces, sidelong glances, and reaction shots standing in for more solid acting, so scenes intended to be serious often come off as comical.
Bonus extras on the high-definition Blu-ray release include a new interview with star Sho Kosugi, who discusses the later stages of his career; reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork; and Sho Kosugi trailer gallery.
CHiPs: The Complete Fourth Season
CHiPs: The Complete Fourth Season (Warner Home Video) finds “Ponch” Poncherello (Erik Estrada) and Jon Baker (Larry Wilcox) back to fighting crime on the highways of California. In Season 4, their adventures continue as the motorcycle patrolmen keep the busy freeways of California safe from crime. Both young bachelors, the partners’ active social lives are woven into stories of assisting citizens and combating crime. Whether making routine stops for speeding or nabbing criminals on the run, they are on the job to protect and serve.
Each episode contains four or five incidents, both on the job and off, with violence downplayed in favor of human interest and the humorous aspects of their work. Jon is pretty straightforward and serious, while Ponch is the romantic with a happy-go-lucky attitude that is not always appreciated by their superior, Sgt. Getraer (Robert Pine).
The 5-DVD box set contains all 21 episodes from the 1980-1981 season. Individual episodes involve Ponch and Jon getting assistance from Native Americans, a problematic boulder, a kidnapping by a biker gang, arsonists burning down mobile homes, the training of a female motorcycle officer, and a hitman targeting Sgt. Getraer. The series ran from September, 1977 through July, 1983.