Mexican Genre Film ‘Batwoman’ and ‘The Panther Women’ Double Feature Due on Disc Jan. 19 From MVD

The 1960s Mexican genre films Batwoman and The Panther Women will be available in a double feature in English on Blu-ray and DVD Jan. 19 from MVD Entertainment Group and VCI Entertainment.

In Batwoman, after the body of a professional wrestler is found off Acapulco’s coastline, the victim, by all appearances, is believed to have drowned. However, the autopsy reveals a very perplexing and disturbing prognosis, when it’s discovered the victim’s pineal gland has been surgically drained of all fluid. With this prognosis eerily imitating the findings in the autopsies of murdered victims in Hong Kong and Macao, the police turn the investigation over to Mario Roble, who enlists the help of a beautiful crime fighting luchador known as Batwoman. Their thorough investigation leads them to an evil neurosurgeon who is using the fluid in his endeavors to genetically engineer a half fish, half man hybrid.

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In The Panther Women, in an effort to resurrect the dead leader of their satanic cult, the Panther Women must perform blood sacrifices in order for him to arise from his cold grave. Using the wrestling ring as their sepulcher and their unsuspecting opponents as their blood sacrifice’s, these beautiful sirens of Satan perform their life-resurrecting rituals, shedding much innocent blood. However, the accomplishment of their goal is thwarted, after Captain Diaz becomes wise to their evil dealings and quest.

Director Rene Cardona was later known for his luchador (masked wrestler) adventure movies such as Santo vs. the Riders of Terror (1970) and Night of the Bloody Apes (1969).

Cinema Paradiso

4K ULTRA HD REVIEW:

MVD/Arrow;
Drama;
$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.

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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.

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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.

‘All Creatures Great and Small,’ ‘Miss Scarlet & the Duke’ Among Titles Available on PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel in January

Four new “Masterpiece” programs and several international series will be streaming on the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel in January.

“Masterpiece” titles include a new adaptation of “All Creatures Great and Small,” starring Dame Diana Rigg in one of her last appearances, the newest “Masterpiece Mystery” installment “Miss Scarlet & the Duke,” “Elizabeth Is Missing” based on the acclaimed novel starring Oscar-winner Glenda Jackson, and “The Long Song” based on the award-winning novel.

The subscription rate for the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel is $5.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription.

“Elizabeth Is Missing”

“Elizabeth Is Missing,” debuting Jan. 3, stars Jackson as the feisty grandmother Maud Horsham, a woman desperately trying to solve two mysteries as she declines ever deeper into dementia. Maud’s only friend, Elizabeth, ominously goes missing, leaving Maud determined to find her. The other mystery in Maud’s mind is a puzzle from her past, kindled when she unearths the top of an old cosmetics compact while gardening with Elizabeth. The discovery takes Maud back to her teenaged self and like many younger siblings, Maud looked up to her big sister, Sukey, considering her the height of glamour. This childhood idyll ended with Sukey’s failure to come home one night in 1949, never to be seen again. As Maud thinks back on it, she wonders if the family’s lodger at the time, Douglas, had anything to do with Sukey’s vanishing. And the cryptic warnings from the long-ago mad woman with the umbrella only deepens the riddle. In her increasingly disoriented perception, the disappearances of Sukey and now Elizabeth get mixed up. She attacks the problem with a system she uses around the house: sticky notes, posted everywhere, documenting daily reminders to herself — mostly about locking the door or turning off the stove, but also recording her meetings with Elizabeth and chance observations. Maud’s granddaughter, Katy, helps her arrange the notes. As memories, clues, and deductions pile up, viewers come to see the world as Maud does, and solve the mystery as this tenacious, vision-haunted sleuth does.

“All Creatures Great and Small,” debuting Jan. 10, is based on the autobiographical books by James Herriot and tells the adventures of a veterinarian in 1930s Yorkshire. The series takes place in 1937, when James Herriot, fresh out of Glasgow Veterinary College, follows his dream to become a vet in the magnificent Yorkshire Dales, one of England’s most beloved and beautiful landscapes. He soon discovers that treating the animals is as much about treating their owners, and the Dales’ farmers are a tough crowd to please. At Skeldale House, James gets to know his newly formed dysfunctional family: his chaotic and erratic boss Siegfried Farnon, his wayward brother Tristan and the shrewd Mrs. Hall, who is endlessly steering the ship. When local beauty Helen Alderson attracts James’s attention, he finds another, more enduring reason to stay in the Dales. The late Dame Diana Rigg plays Mrs. Pumphrey, the delightfully eccentric owner of the overly indulged Pekingese Tricki Woo.

“Miss Scarlet & the Duke”

“Miss Scarlet & the Duke,” coming Jan. 17, is set in the same 1850s London society that gave rise to Jack the Ripper. The Victorian detective drama features a fearless, independent heroine played by Kate Phillips (“Peaky Blinders”). With her inquisitive mind, Miss Eliza Scarlet has always been more interested in running her late father’s detective agency than behaving like a proper lady, much to the chagrin of family friend Inspector William Wellington of Scotland Yard (Stuart Martin, “Jamestown”). But nothing has prepared her for the dangers she is about to face as a woman in the murder investigation trade.

“The Long Song”

“The Long Song,” due Jan. 31, is an adaptation of the award-winning novel by Andrea Levy set during the final days of slavery in 19th century Jamaica. The story follows the strong-willed, young slave July on a sugar plantation owned by her odious mistress Caroline Mortimer. When a charming new arrival to the island, Robert Goodwin, becomes the new overseer, July and Caroline are both intrigued by his seemingly revolutionary determination to improve the plantation for the slaves and mistress alike.

“As Time Goes By: Reunion Specials,” available Jan 26, is the continuation to the long running series “As Time Goes By.” “Reunion Specials” follows up as Jean Pargetter’s (Dame Judi Dench) great anticipation for grandchildren is revealed much to husband Lionel’s (Geoffrey Palmer) dismay. With son-in-law Alistair and daughter Judy having problems things don’t look too promising. But will Jean’s dream of becoming a grandmother come true when their other daughter Sandy and her husband Harry return from Canada?

Also due in January are five “Walter Presents” series.

The French series “Walter Presents: Due North” is streaming starting Jan. 1. Set on the verge of the 20th century, “True North” is the untold story of the colonization of the Laurentian mountain rage in Quebec known as the “Wild West.” The series explores the turbulent period of the settlement and development of this northern region of Canada as the territory wreaks havoc on the new colony and an array of colorful characters try to make their mark

The German series “Walter Presents: The Nordic Murders” is coming Jan. 8. On the secluded island of Usedom off the north shore of Germany, former district attorney Karin Lossow has just been released from prison after serving a six-year sentence for shooting her husband. Her daughter Julia is the Detective Chief Inspector and their fragile relationship is put to the test as they team up to investigate criminal cases on the island.

The French-language series “Walter Presents: The Wall” is coming Jan. 15. In the remote Canadian mining colony Fremote, in the endless frozen hell that is the far North, the body of a young exotic dancer is found. The Quebec City police sends one of their toughest, most experienced detectives, Céline, to the colony to investigate. She is always up for a challenge. Being cooped up in the massive structure that is the colony which the inhabitants call “The Wall,” soon presents her with some challenges that exceed her investigative efforts. Not only does everyone here seem to have a secret and a connection to the victim, Céline’s own past has a way of catching up with her. Her estranged daughter Sophie has built a life of her own in the very same icy middle of nowhere where Céline is currently working. As Céline comes under increased pressure to find the killer of the dancer, she has to connect the dots to the suspicious death of a young boy three years ago. The inhabitants of the mine each think they know exactly who the culprit is, creating a sense of distrust and alarm among the community, but one fear is always present: will the murderer strike again soon?

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Season three of the Italian series “Walter Presents: Rocco Schiavone” starts streaming Jan. 22. Deputy Police Commissioner Rocco Schiavone finds himself more and more alone, in the increasingly colder and inhospitable city of Aosta, forced to come to terms with everything that has happened. His best friend, Sebastiano, is under house arrest and refuses to speak to him as he’s convinced that Rocco had him arrested before he could kill Enzo Baiocchi, the man who murdered his wife. Rocco’s future doesn’t look great after Sebastiano escapes house arrest and everything in Rocco’s life starts to fall apart. It appears that he has no choice but to escape, leaving no trace of his whereabouts.

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From the acclaimed novel by Louise Edrich comes the adapted historical German drama “Walter Presents: The Master Butcher,” due Jan. 29. After the social and financial destruction caused by World War I in Germany, a German butcher, and former military sniper, attempts to create a better life for himself and his family by moving to the United States. As the family struggles to acclimate to their new surroundings, many unexpected events occur, necessitating their plans and their lives to drastically adapt.

Korean Epic ‘The Swordsman’ Bows on Digital and Disc Feb. 16

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.

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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.

 

‘Ip Man Complete Collection’ 4K Boxed Set Due Dec. 15 From Well Go

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.

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Season Six of ‘Seaside Hotel’ Debuts Nov. 20 on PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel

Season six of the Danish drama “Seaside Hotel” will debut Nov. 20 on the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video channel.

Six years have passed and it is now the summer of 1939. Dark clouds hover over Europe as World War II looms in the near distance, but the regular guests of the Seaside Hotel have again gone on holiday. Amanda struggles to keep her small commercial film company alive, but does not find much help from her sister, Vera, a young lady with strong opinions. Mrs. Frigh has become the manager of the tobacco factory and has big plans for her son, Leslie, but she has forgotten the new maid, Nana, who he is having a summer fling with. The actor Weyse is trying to cure an embarrassing case of stage fright that took place this spring. Wholesaler Madsen hopes to be allowed to build in Nazi Germany, while Mrs. Fjelds tries to help her daughter-in-law’s brother, the Austrian Jew Robert, who is on the run from the Nazis after escaping from a concentration camp.

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Well Go Acquires Rights to Korea’s ‘Deliver Us From Evil’

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.

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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’ Due on Digital Oct. 27, Disc Nov. 24 From Well Go

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.

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Starzplay Available Through Apple TV in Middle East, North Africa

Starzplay, Starz’s video-on-demand streaming service, is now available to customers across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region through Apple TV channels on the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch, Mac, and select Samsung and LG smart TVs.

The service offers Hollywood and Arabic movies, TV shows, documentaries, kids’ entertainment and original content. Customers in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt can sign up for a seven-day free trial and subscribe directly to Starzplay on the Apple TV app for $11 per month (prices vary by region).

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“Online streaming in the region is growing faster than ever,” Danny Bates, CCO and co-founder at Starzplay, said in a statement. “As the region’s leading video streaming service, we constantly look for innovative avenues to offer quality content to hungry audiences. Offering Starzplay through Apple TV channels will open up a whole new customer base and further drive the growth of the video streaming market in MENA. We are proud to be the first major content partner for Apple TV channels in the MENA region and look forward to unveiling more compelling content on the platform.”

Subscribers through Apple TV channels can watch online on demand or watch offline downloads of on the Apple TV app. With Family Sharing, up to six friends or family members can share subscriptions to Apple TV channels using just their Apple ID and password.

Israeli Drama ‘Broken Mirrors’ Due on Digital and VOD Sept. 22 From Level 33

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.

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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.