Lionsgate Heroes Get Dads Into Action for Father’s Day

Lionsgate has an army of heroes ready to ramp up the action for dads on Father’s Day, June 21. The studio’s catalog is filled with classics that feature iconic characters, including Rambo, John Wick and the Highlander; the genre’s top directors, including James Cameron, Paul Verhoeven and Roland Emmerich; and the genre’s biggest stars, including Sylvester Stallone, Keanu Reeves, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis and many more.

All five installments in the saga of Sylvester Stallone’s John Rambo are available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital from Lionsgate. In First Blood (1982), Stallone originates the role of the war hero, an ex-Green Beret haunted by memories of Vietnam. In Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), with a screenplay by Stallone and James Cameron (Titanic), Rambo’s survival skills are tested on a top-secret mission that takes him back to the jungles of Vietnam in search of American POWs. In Rambo III (1988), the veteran has finally begun to find inner peace inside a monastery — until his friend and men-tor Col. Sam Trautman (Richard Crenna) shows up to ask for his help on a top-secret mission in Afghanistan. Rambo (2008) finds the hero leading a group of battle-scarred, combat-hardened mercenaries on a mission to rescue aid workers in war-torn Burma. Finally, Rambo: Last Blood, billed as the last chapter of Rambo’s story, finds Stallone’s tortured warrior in a brief moment of relative peace before he must unearth his ruthless combat skills to exact revenge in a final mission.

Lionsgate’s catalog also includes the saga of another hero driven by vengeance, John Wick. Keanu Reeves stars as Wick in three chapters available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital. In John Wick (2014), the ex-hitman comes out of retirement to hunt down the gangsters that killed his dog and took everything from him. The sequel John Wick: Chapter 2 finds Wick returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt with a large bounty on his life. In John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, Wick has a $14 million price tag on his head after killing a member of the High Table, the shadowy international assassins’ guild.

No action catalog is complete without Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Lionsgate has two of his iconic movies, Terminator 2, available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital, and Total Recall, available on Blu-ray plus Digital HD, DVD and Digital. In the science-fiction classic Total Recall (1990), directed by Paul Verhoeven, Schwarzenegger plays a mild-mannered construction worker who takes a virtual vacation and finds himself embroiled in espionage on Mars unable to determine if the experiences are real. Director James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) has the action star in another sci-fi classic, reprising his role as a robotic killing machine — this time on the side of humans Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and her son John (Edward Furlong).

Another classic 1990s action film, Universal Soldier, is available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital from Lionsgate. The Roland Emmerich-directed science-fiction actioner (1992) pits Jean-Claude Van Damme against Dolph Lundgren in a story of military experiments gone wrong.

Lionsgate has two star-studded ensembles in 2010’s RED and The Expendables. RED, on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital, stars Bruce Willis as a former black-ops agent who reassembles his old team to battle an assassin. It also stars Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman and Mary-Louise Parker. Boasting a who’s who of action stars, The Expendables features Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren and many more in the story of a CIA operative who hires a team of mercenaries to eliminate a Latin dictator and a renegade CIA agent. It features an appearance by Schwarzenegger and is also available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital.

Government intrigue also figures into Sicario, about an idealistic FBI agent enlisted by a task force to aid in a drug war at the border. Available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital, the 2015 dramatic action film stars Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro.

Finally, Lionsgate’s catalog features action-filled adventures Cutthroat Island (1995) and Highlander (1986). Directed by Renny Harlin, Cutthroat Island, available on Blu-ray and DVD, stars Geena Davis as a pirate racing against rivals to find a hidden island harboring treasure. Highlander, also available on Blu-ray and DVD, stars Christopher Lambert as an immortal Scottish swordsman battling through time.

Actioner ‘Universal Soldier’ Shooting to 4K Nov. 5 From Lionsgate

The 1992 actioner Universal Soldier will come out on 4K Ultra HD combo pack (plus Blu-ray and digital) and digital 4K Nov. 5 from Lionsgate.

Directed by Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, upcoming World War II epic Midway), Universal Soldier stars Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren, alongside Ally Walker and Ed O’Ross. The film follows soldiers Luc Deveraux (Van Damme) and Sgt. Andrew Scott (Lundgren), who killed each other in Vietnam. But their demise proves to be just the beginning for the U.S. government, which brings both men back to life decades later for a secret anti-terrorism program.

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Special features include:

  • audio commentary by Roland Emmerich, Dean Devlin, Van Damme and Lundgren
  • audio commentary by Emmerich and Devlin
  • the “A Tale of Two Titans” Featurette
  • the “Guns, Genes, and Fighting Machines” Featurette
  • an alternate Ending
  • the “Behind the Scenes” Featurette and
  • a trailer.

Dolph Lundgren’s ‘The Tracker’ Hits DVD, Blu-ray Disc, Digital on Sept. 24

Lionsgate Sept. 24 will release the Dolph Lundgren action film The Tracker on Blu-ray Disc (with digital copy), DVD and digitally.

The revenge thriller is currently available on demand.

Lundgren stars as a troubled warrior who returns home to solve the mystery of his family’s murder — and punish those he finds guilty. The Tracker will be available for the suggested retail price of $21.99 (Blu-ray) and $19.98 (DVD).

Lundgren portrays Aiden, whose wife and daughter  were abducted and killed during a vacation. A decade later, a detective with new evidence calls Aiden to the scene of the crime — but Aiden arrives to find the cop murdered and the police refusing to help. Now, Aiden must use his skills as a sniper and warrior to unravel the vast conspiracy behind his loved ones’ murders.

Aquaman

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 3/26/19;
Warner;
Action;
Box Office $334.52 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for language.
Stars Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Ludi Lin, Nicole Kidman, Temuera Morrison.

It’s a bit amazing to think that the Justice League member so often derided as “the one who talks to fish and is useless on land” is now the subject of the highest-grossing movie based on a DC Comics character at the worldwide box office.

Already a regular target of parody shows such as “Robot Chicken,” the Aquaman character was famously used as the centerpiece of a storyline on HBO’s “Entourage” involving a blockbuster movie version directed by James Cameron — poking fun at both Cameron’s penchant for water movies and the idea that anyone would ever make an Aquaman movie.

Well, the real film, directed by James Wan, certainly dispels any notion that Aquaman isn’t suited for the big screen. Coincidentally, with this film and Furious 7, Wan became the only director other than Cameron (with Avatar and Titanic) to guide two films from separate franchises into the global box office’s billion-dollar club.

Jason Momoa takes on the title role, his third film appearing as the character, after a cameo in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and an expanded presence in Justice League. His larger-than-life persona and carefree attitude serve the film well by helping the audience accept the bizarreness of the worlds being created without the need to take it too seriously.

Arthur Curry (Momoa) is the product of the unexpected love of a lighthouse keeper (Temuera Morrison) and the Queen of Atlantis (Nicole Kidman) who ends up at his shore when she escapes an arranged marriage. Arthur’s unique heritage gives him superhuman abilities, such as strength, invulnerability, the ability to swim fast and a telepathic bond with sea creatures.

With his reputation as a hero established in Justice League, Arthur is sought out by the princess Mera (Amber Heard) to claim the throne of Atlantis from his half-brother (Patrick Wilson), who wants to destroy the surface world.

To do that, he and Mera must embark on a quest to locate a mythical weapon that will allow him to assert his claim as the rightful king of Atlantis.

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The story will draw a lot of comparisons with Black Panther in that both deal with heroes introduced in earlier films, with their own films focused on tying their origins into storylines involving taking control of their hidden kingdoms away from maniacal family members who want to conquer the outside world. Tonally, the film is more like Thor: Ragnarok, which also deals with a battle for the throne of a powerful kingdom. These recent superhero movies have certainly embraced that Shakespearean power dynamics motif lately (which may just speak to how most comic books can be reduced to a few fundamental tropes before all the personality and detail that makes them popular are added).

Aquaman

Between the “Game of Thrones”-esque political intrigue and “Indiana Jones”-style adventure subplot, much of the film’s success owes to its sense of fun and its willingness to depict absolutely anything on screen despite how absurd it is while treating it as epic. Wan fills almost every frame with fantastic imagery awash in vibrant color that really shines through in its high-definition Blu-ray presentation. Many of the scenes look as if Wan pulled them directly from a comic book, and even makes Aquaman’s traditional orange and green costume look cool, which should no doubt please fans of the character.

The Blu-ray includes more than an hour-and-a-half of featurettes detailing all the aspects of the production, from Momoa’s casting, to the stunt work, to the development of the depictions of the undersea kingdoms that comprise the Atlantean realms.

One of the more interesting videos in this regard is the “Kingdoms of the Seven Seas,” a profile of underwater politics hosted by Dolph Lundgren, who plays the ruler of one of them. Between this and his recent turn in a “Rocky” retrospective on the Creed II Blu-ray, Lundgren has been pretty busy on the Warner lot hosting bonus videos.

Another interesting tidbit comes during an analysis of the film’s memorable sequence involving the devolved creatures of the Trench, which plays to Wan’s horror roots. At one point, an excited Wan suggests the Trench should be the basis of its own movie. Unsurprisingly, a Trench spinoff has already been announced.

Finally, the disc includes a three-minute scene from the upcoming Shazam! movie.

Creed II

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 3/5/19;
Warner/MGM;
Drama;
Box Office $115.7 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sports action violence, language, and a scene of sensuality.
Stars Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Wood Harris, Andre Ward, Russell Hornsby, Florian Munteanu, Dolph Lundgren.

Given the premise used in 2015’s Creed to restart the “Rocky” franchise, this sequel is more or less exactly the movie the series’ fans were waiting for.

The eighth film in the “Rocky” franchise continues the story of Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), the young boxer who is still haunted by the legacy of his father, Apollo. Adonis faces a new challenge in the form of Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), son of former Russian champion Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), who Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) famously defeated in 1985’s Rocky IV.

The fact Apollo died as a result of an exhibition match against Ivan Drago gives Adonis added motivation, as he seeks retribution for his family name. But Rocky doesn’t think the match is worth it, pointing out Adonis has bigger priorities in his life now, such as starting a family with Bianca (Tessa Thompson).

Creed II

While the film serves as a natural sequel to both Rocky IV and Creed, it borrows a lot from Rocky III in terms of story structure. While much of the plotting fits in well with the “what happens next” soap opera flow of the “Rocky” movies in general, the film is bound together by the motif of legacy, in particular the influence parents and children can have on each other that transcends generations.

In fact, two of the featurettes included with the Blu-ray are built upon this idea. The first is “The Rocky Legacy,” a 15-minute history of the “Rocky” films hosted by Lundgren that examines why the franchise has endured. The second is the seven-minute “Fathers and Sons” featurette, which takes a deeper look at how the desire to build a legacy impacts the characters involved.

Interestingly, the film adds depth to the Drago character beyond his role as the cookie-cutter villain from Rocky IV. He blames Rocky for his loss of stature following their match, and through his son he seeks a measure of revenge as well, against the fighter now seen as Rocky’s protégé.

There’s a six-minute featurette devoted to the casting of amateur boxer Munteanu as the younger Drago, and he certainly casts an intimidating shadow when standing next to Jordan’s Creed (not unlike seeing Lundgren’s towering frame over Stallone 33 years prior).

The six-minute “The Women of Creed II” focuses on the other side of the equation, Thompson as Bianca and Phylicia Rashad as Adonis’ mother representing the impact his professional struggles have on his personal life.

Finally, there are four deleted scenes running a total of 10 minutes, and a couple of them will be of particular interest to longtime “Rocky” fans.

One features the funeral of Spider Rico, who was the first boxer Rocky was seen fighting during a sparring session in the first film back in 1976. This scene adds a bit of context to one of the film’s plot developments.

Another scene serves as an epilogue to the main story, as the characters encounter each other in the locker room after the climactic fight.

While the business of Hollywood is such that it would be unwise to rule out another sequel, the conclusion of Creed II leaves the characters and viewers in a place where it would be a satisfying conclusion to the series if the particulars involved chose to leave it at that.

At least, until 2045, when the next entry sees Mickey’s great-great-grandson challenge the grandson of Clubber Lang to an MMA fight. Stay tuned, fight fans.