The Japanese action epic Crazy Samurai: 400 vs. 1 will debut exclusively on the martial arts streaming service Hi-Yah! Feb. 12, before hitting digital, Blu-ray and DVD March 2 from Well Go USA Entertainment.
Director Yuji Shimomura (Death Trance, Re: Born) crafts action choreography around leading Japanese martial arts icon Tak Sakaguchi (Versus, Rise of the Machine Girl) who plays Japan’s most legendary swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645), a warrior undefeated in at least 60 documented duels. When the master samurai arrives to duel the disgraced Yoshioka dojo, he walks into an ambush.
The film includes a 77-minute action sequence shot in one continuous take in which Musashi (Sakaguchi) fights for his life against 400 warriors, earning a place in history as the Crazy Samurai Musashi.
$49.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R.’ Stars Philippe Noiret, Enzo Cannavale, Antonella Attili, Marco Leonardi, Salvatore Cascio, Jacques Perrin, Agnese Nano.
With movie theaters facing an existential threat, there is perhaps no better time to revisit this 1989 Best Foreign Film Oscar winner about the magic of cinema, available in 4K for the first time.
Through extended flashbacks, the Italian film traces one man’s love affair with the movies beginning as a boy in war torn Sicily in the pre-television era. The boy Toto is fascinated by his small town’s movie theater and the projectionist, Alfredo, who creates magic on the screen from his small booth above the balcony. The booth also houses treasure, stolen kiss clips from various films that the local priest has had the projectionist excise from reels shown in the theater. Through his special relationship with the projectionist and the theater, the fatherless boy grows to cherish the magic of cinematic storytelling. Revisiting the town as an accomplished filmmaker, he reminisces about love, movies and loss.
Director Giuseppe Tornatore’s loving homage to the cinema also earned five BAFTA Awards, the Grand Prize of the Jury at the Cannes Film Festival and many more plaudits.
The original award-winning theatrical version of Tornatore’s classic is presented here for the first time on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray with DolbyVision. Special features include audio commentary with Tornatore and Italian cinema expert critic Millicent Marcus; “A Dream of Sicily,” a 52-minute documentary profile of Tornatore featuring interviews with the director and extracts from his early home movies and interviews with director Francesco Rosi and painter Peppino Ducato, set to music by Ennio Morricone; “A Bear and a Mouse in Paradise,” a 27-minute documentary on the making of Cinema Paradiso and the characters of Toto and Alfredo, featuring interviews with the actors who play them, Philippe Noiret and Salvatore Cascio, as well as Tornatore; “The Kissing Sequence,” in which Tornatore discusses the origins of the kissing scenes with clips identifying each scene; and the original director’s cut theatrical trailer and 25th anniversary re-release trailer. This 4K combo pack also includes the expanded director’s cut on Blu-ray, which delves deeper into Salvatore’s backstory.
While the extras provide interesting backstory information, especially about the climactic and affecting “Kissing Sequence,” the real star here is the film itself polished for 4K. I saw the film when it first came out, and it has lost none of its power. As we move into the digital age, and physical media and theatergoing are increasingly labeled passé, Cinema Paradiso is a loving look back at moviegoing in a time when moving pictures were projected on a film strip of successive photos, capturing moments of magic.
The Korean action film The Swordsman will swing to digital, Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 16 from Well Go USA Entertainment.
In the hybrid of mainstream historical drama and traditional martial arts action, after failing to protect and prevent the downfall of the King, the best swordsman in Joseon leaves and lives in seclusion with his daughter in the mountains. As his eyesight begins to fail due to an old injury, his daughter seeks to find a treatment for him. When she is captured and taken away by a slave trader, the swordsman is forced to raise his sword again in order to save her.
The Swordsman was directed by Choi Jae-hoon and stars Jang Hyuk as the main character.
The film was released theatrically in South Korea in September. The Swordsman was invited to the 40th annual Hawaii International Film Festival and was picked as the opening film in the 2020 Korean Indonesian Film Festival.
Well Go USA Entertainment on Dec. 15 will release the Ip Man Complete Collection, including all four titles available for the first time in 4K Ultra HD.
The Chinese action films — Ip Man (2008), Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster (2010), Ip Man 3 (2015) and Ip Man 4: The Finale (2019) — are directed by Wilson Yip and feature martial arts superstar Donnie Yen as Ip Man, legendary Wing Chun grandmaster and mentor to several martial arts masters, including kung fu superstar Bruce Lee.
The eight-disc set includes Dolby Atmos surround sound. Each film comes in a two-disc amaray case featuring the 4K disc along with the Bu-ray disc. The limited-edition box set also contains an “Ip Man” movie franchise compendium book and a double-sided “Ip Man” poster.
Well Go USA Entertainment has acquired North American rights to the Korean film Deliver Us From Evil and will release it in March 2021.
The action thriller debuted at No. 1 at the Korean box office, with total admissions topping 1.3 million in its first four days, according to Well Go.
The film stars Hwang Jung Min (The Wailing), Lee Jung Jae (Svaha: The Sixth Finger) and Park Jeong Min (Tazza: One-Eyed Jack) and is directed by Hong Won Chan, who previously earned a Best Director award from the Busan Film Critics Association for his mystery thriller Office.
In the film, after the shocking kidnapping of a little girl in Thailand, a mercenary with a murky past as a government black ops agent is forced to re-emerge from the shadows when he learns the incident is closely connected to him. With the help of expat Yui, he flies to Thailand and begins tracking the girl’s whereabouts, moving ever closer to the notorious child trafficking ring responsible for her abduction. However, when an infamous gangster nicknamed The Butcher learns just who has entered the country and is finally within his grasp, he goes on a bloody rampage to thwart the ex-agent’s rescue mission as retaliation for a killing.
“Deliver Us From Evil is an action-packed thrill ride from start to finish, which is no surprise thanks to its veteran cast that includes Hwang Jung Min and Lee Jung Jae,” Doris Pfardrescher, president and CEO at Well Go USA Entertainment, said in a statement. “With its stunning action sequences and nonstop suspense to some beautifully executed tender moments, Deliver Us From Evil is a poignant, tough-as-nails thriller that will keep viewers rooting for the good guys to the very end.”
The deal was negotiated by Doris Pfardrescher on behalf of Well Go USA Entertainment and Jerry Kyoungboum KO on behalf of CJ Entertainment.
Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula, the follow-up to the South Korean zombie thriller Train to Busan, will come out on digital Oct. 27, in time for Halloween, from Well Go USA Entertainment.
The film will subsequently be released in a 4K Ultra Combo Pack and a Blu-ray Disc combo pack, as well as on standard DVD, on Nov. 24.
In director Yeon Sang-ho’s sequel, a former soldier, who previously escaped the diseased wasteland, relives the horror when assigned to a covert operation, returning to the Peninsula on a secret mission. When his team encounters survivors, their lives will depend on whether the best — or worst — of human nature prevails.
The film stars Gang Dong-won, Lee Jung-hyun, Kwon Hae-hyo, Kim Min-je, Koo Gyo-hwan, Kim Do-yoon, Lee Re and Lee Ye-won.
Bonus content includes a making-of featurette, interviews with cast and crew, and an all-new English dub.
The film will debut on the subscription service Shudder in 2021.
The Israeli film Broken Mirrors will premiere on digital and VOD Sept. 22 from Level 33 Entertainment.
In the dramatic thriller, Shira Haas (Emmy Nominee, Netflix’s “Unorthodox”) plays 17-year-old Ariella, who is shadowed by a strict, military father who inflicts severe methods of punishment as a form of discipline. When she commits a grave error that her father isn’t willing to punish her for, seeking a punishment of her own, Ariella embarks on a dark quest where she will discover a secret to her father’s past that will lead them to confront one another.
The film also stars Yiftach Klein, Renana Raz, Yoav Rotman, Liora Rivlin, Manuel Elkaslassy, Yaakov Zada Daniel and Michaela Elkin.
It won the Jury Prize for Best Actress at the Festival du Cinéma Israélien de Montréal and Schlingel Best Feature Film at the Film Festival for Children & Young Audience Schlingel. It was nominated for the Jury Award Narrative Feature at the Berkshire International Film Festival (BIFF); the Grand Prix at the Zlin Film Festival; the Award of the Israeli Film Academy; Best Actress, Best Casting and Best Screenplay from the Awards of the Israeli Film Academy; the Golden Zenith First Fiction Films Competition at the Montréal World Film Festival; and Alice in the City Prize Young Adult at the Rome Film Fest.
The epic Kazakhstan drama The Legend of Tomiris, based on one of the world’s first female warlords, will debut on digital, Blu-ray and DVD Sept. 29 from Well Go USA Entertainment.
Directed by Akan Satayev (The Liquidator), it follows the story of the life of the great queen of the steppe — the legendary Tomiris, a woman destined to become a skillful warrior and strategist, unite the Scythian/Saka tribes under her authority, and slay the founder and first king of the Persian empire. Based on historical heroine Queen Tomiris of Massagetae and her cadre of female warriors (the real-life 6th century BCE Amazonians), The Legend of Tomiris recounts the tale of the nomadic ruler who overcame great personal tragedy to repel the powerful Persian empire and unite the Great Steppe.
The Legend of Tomiris, the highest-grossing action film in Kazakhstan, stars Almira Tursyn, Adil Akhmetov, Yerkebulan Daiyrov, Berik Aitzhanov, Azamat Satybaldy, Aizhan Lighg and Ghassan Massoud (Kingdom of Heaven).
“We have a passion for incredible stories, and few are more compelling than the almost unfathomable life story of the first historical ‘Queen of the Amazons,’” said Doris Pfardrescher, president and CEO of Well Go USA Entertainment, in a statement. “Tomiris viewers will be left awe-struck by this fierce young warrior, who embodied such strength and unwavering love for her people that she overcame great tragedy to protect them at all costs, even when it meant waging war against the most powerful empire the world had ever seen.”
While Queen Tomiris lived 2,500 years ago, her legacy continues to thrive today. Indeed, Tomiris’ influence was such that her life was described in detail by famed Greek historian Herodotus, her beauty was depicted on many European works of art and her legacy has endured for millennia to inspire people throughout Central Asia.
Well Go picked up North American rights from Arclight Films.
“There is a strong appetite for real life stories of powerful women, stories that deserve to be told,” Gary Hamilton, chairman of Arclight Films, said in a statement. “Tomiristells one such story, and coupled with its exquisite landscapes and exceptional production values, it is an epic film that will enthrall audiences. When Kazakh-American film producer Gia Noortas (and head of the Honorary Consulate of Kazakhstan in Los Angeles) introduced us to this special project, we immediately recognized the extraordinary potential of this film. We are thrilled that our friends at Well Go USA are on board to bring the inspiring story of Queen Tomiris to U.S. audiences.”
Hailed by Oscar winner Bong Joon Ho (Parasite) as one of 20 directors who will shape the cinema to come, Guatemalan filmmaker Jayro Bustamante continues his stellar career trajectory with La Llorona (The Weeping Woman), the third installment of a trilogy that kicked off with his 2015 Berlinale Silver Bear winner, Ixcanul (Volcano).
Winner of Best Film at the 2019 Venice Film Festival sidebar, Venice Days, La Llorona turnson the household of a retired general accused of spearheading the genocide of Mayan peasants decades ago, a clear reference to a similar case in Guatemala. As his wife, daughter and granddaughter take refuge with him, the house is besieged by protesters and his spooked domestic staff flees, with the exception of his devoted housekeeper. The arrival of a mysterious indigenous woman, who has answered the call for hired help, further spikes the atmosphere of dread.
La Llorona is Bustamante’s first foray into the horror genre. “Our decision to explore this genre was not so much artistic, as strategic,” said Bustamante who notes that Guatemalans are still in denial of the massacre of Mayan peasants during the government’s counterinsurgency operations in the early 1980s.
“A study revealed that Guatemalans consumed mostly horror and superhero movies, so we saw the genre as a way to bring the realities of our dark past to them,” he said. Bustamante drew on such references as Dracula, and the psychological suspense of Robert Eggers’ The Witch as well as Alejandro Amenabar’s The Others and M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense. “I wanted the mythical figure of La Llorona to be elegant, like Dracula,” he said.
He reimagined the Latin American fable of a grieving mother seeking revenge for the death of her children to symbolize the victims of the genocide.
“My three films represent what Guatemalans consider the three biggest insults,” said Bustamante who sees Ixcanul, which centers on a Mayan teen trying to own her sexuality and her pregnancy, embody the biggest insult you can hurl at a Guatemalan: “Indio!” Calling a Guatemalan “Indio,” despite the country’s overwhelming indigenous population, is considered a massive insult. “It just shows how we discriminate against ourselves, how low our self-esteem is,” he mused.
His second film, Temblores (Tremors) epitomizes the slur ‘Hueco,’ which is a local derogatory term for gay. Temblores delves into the homophobia prevalent in conservative Guatemalan society as a well-to-do family seeks conversion therapy for its gay patriarch.
La Llorona embodies the third insult, “Communist,” which is a carryover of the 1950s sentiment against communism, which later devolved into accusing those advocating for human rights and for reducing Guatemala’s vast wealth gap as communists, said Bustamante.
All three films touch on social inequality, racism and the lack of opportunity in Guatemala.
La Llorona stars María Mercedes Coroy, Margarita Kénefic, Sabrina de la Hoz and Julio Díaz.
The film will be available Aug. 6 on Shudder in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
The Russian supernatural horror film Evil Boy will be released on digital and DVD Sept. 8 by Well Go USA Entertainment.
In the film, several years after their son disappears, grieving parents adopt a feral boy who begins to eerily resemble their missing child. While the wife believes they’ve found their son, her husband is certain he died. As strange accidents begin happening around the boy, he suspects they’ve adopted something not entirely human.
Directed by first-time feature filmmaker Olga Gorodetskaya, the film stars Elena Lyadova (Leviathan), Vladimir Vdovichenkov (Leviathan), newcomer Sevastian Bugaev, Evgeniy Tsyganov (The Man Who Surprised Everyone), Anna Ukolova (Leviathan), Konstantin Topolaga (Steel Butterfly) and Roza Khayrullina (The Horde).