Batman: Soul of the Dragon

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 1/26/21;
Warner;
Animated;
$29.98 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD;
Rated ‘R’ for some violence.
Voices of David Giuntoli, Mark Dacascos, Kelly Hu, Michael Jai White, James Hong, Josh Keaton.

The latest DC Comics animated movie offers a rollicking throwback to the action movies of the 1970s, with a touch of James Bond for good measure, and a supernatural storyline that harkens back to Bruce Wayne’s training before he became Batman.

While it’s billed as a Batman movie, Soul of the Dragon puts less of a focus on the Dark Knight and puts him among an ensemble of DC action stars, primarily Richard Dragon (voiced by Mark Dacascos), a secret agent who seems to have been deliberately drawn to resemble Bruce Lee.

Dragon uncovers a plot by a cult called Kobra to open a doorway to a demon dimension. To do so, they have acquired a mysterious doorway once possessed by Dragon’s old mentor, O Sensei (James Hong), who sacrificed himself years earlier to keep it sealed.

To aid him in stopping Kobra, Dragon recruits other students he trained with, including Bruce Wayne (David Gluntoli), Shiva (Kelly Hu) and Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White, who previously played a live-action version of the character on “Arrow.”)

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The movie weaves in some of the more bizarre characters from DC Comics and serves as a nice reminder of how wacky Batman comics from the 1970s could get. The core cast brings some nice chemistry to the proceedings and their mission results in some entertaining, if bloody, cartoon violence that should leave comic book movie fans satisfied.

The only real drawback might be an animation style that seems a bit stilted and modern for the subject matter.

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The Blu-ray includes a great half-hour featurette called “Batman: Raw Groove” — a retrospective about the pop culture of the 1970s that inspired Soul of the Dragon, particularly kung fu and blacksploitation movies.

The making of the film is covered more in the 18-minute “Producer Jim Krieg’s Far-Out Highlights,” which offers several filmmaker interviews, with special emphasis on Krieg, who is known for appearing in costumes appropriate to the movie he is promoting.

Rounding out the Blu-ray package are a pair of “Batman: The Animated Series” episodes — “Day of the Samurai” and “Night of the Ninja” — plus several previews for other DC Universe animated movies, including an eight-minute preview of the upcoming Justice Society: World War II.

In the 4K combo pack, all the extras are on the standard Blu-ray Disc. The 4K disc contains just the movie and its spectacular color palette.

‘Crazy Samurai: 400 vs. 1’ Coming to Hi-Yah! Streaming Service Feb. 12, Digital and Disc March 2 From Well Go

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 TranceRe: Born) crafts action choreography around leading Japanese martial arts icon Tak Sakaguchi (VersusRise 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.

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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.

 

Animated Movie ‘Batman: Soul of the Dragon’ Arriving on Blu-ray and Digital in January

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the animated movie Batman: Soul of the Dragon through digital sellthrough Jan. 12, and on Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD Jan. 26.

The Elseworlds tale is set in the 1970s and finds Bruce Wayne in martial arts training alongside other students under a master sensei must confront a deadly menace. Batman, joins forces with Richard Dragon, Ben Turner and Lady Shiva, and their mentor O-Sensei, to battle the monsters of this world and beyond.

The primary voice cast includes David Giuntoli as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Mark Dacascos as Richard Dragon, Kelly Hu as Lady Shiva, James Hong as O-Sensei, and Michael Jai White as Ben Turner/Bronze Tiger, reprising his live-action role from “Arrow.” The cast also includes Josh Keaton, Grey Griffin, Chris Cox, Erica Luttrell, Robin Atkin Downes, Patrick Seitz, Jamie Chung and Eric Bauza.

The 41st entry in the DC Universe series of animated superhero movies, Batman: Soul of the Dragon is rated ‘R’ for some violence. The film is produced by animation veteran Bruce Timm and is dedicated to longtime DC writer Dennis O’Neil, who co-created the characters Richard Dragon, O-Sensei, Bronze Tiger and Lady Shiva. O’Neil passed away June 11, 2020.

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The Blu-ray combo pack will include the film on a high-definition disc and a digital copy. The 4K combo pack includes the film on 4K with HDR and regular Blu-ray discs, and a digital copy.

Extras include:

  • “Batman: Raw Groove” — a featurette that looks at how martial arts cinema of the 1970s influenced Batman: Soul of the Dragon.
  • “Producer Jim Krieg’s Far Out Highlights” — a supercut of one of Krieg’s funniest in-character appearances.
  • A sneak peek at the next DC Universe movie, Justice Society: World War II, plus featurettes about earlier Elseworlds movies Superman: Red Son and Batman: Gotham By Gaslight.
  • From the DC Vault: “Batman: The Animated Series” episodes “Day of the Samurai” and “Night of the Ninja.”

 

‘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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‘Invincible Dragon’ Due on Disc and Digital Oct. 6 From Well Go

The Chinese action-adventure Invincible Dragon will debut on digital, Blu-ray and DVD Oct. 6 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Featuring action superstar Max Zhang (Ip Man 3Master Z: Ip Man Legacy), the film is directed by Fruit Chan (The Midnight After) with a supporting cast that includes champion UFC fighter Anderson Silva (Never SurrenderTapped Out), Kevin Cheng (Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy) and Stephy Tang (The Empty Hands).

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In the film, when a brilliant but trigger-happy detective (Zhang) is outsmarted by a serial killer, he pays a high price for his momentary lapse in judgment. Robbed of both his fiancée and his job, he soon spirals out of control and goes back to what he knows best: fighting. Unbeknownst to him, a serendipitous reunion with an old rival (Silva) may be the key to unlocking the truth about his fiancée’s disappearance — and to apprehending the killer.

Well Go Releasing ‘Enter the Fat Dragon’ on Disc and Digital July 14

Well Go USA Entertainment will release the Chinese action-comedy Enter the Fat Dragon on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and digitally July 14.

The film stars international martial arts icon Donnie Yen (Ip Man, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as super-fit super-cop Fallon Zhu, who is transformed into a records clerk with a major snack cake habit — and one shot to regain his job and his fiancée.

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Enter the Fat Dragon is a parody of Bruce Lee’s 1972 film Way of the Dragon and a reimagining of the popular comedy martial arts film starring Sammo Hung.

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Criterion Releasing Bruce Lee ‘Greatest Hits’ Boxed Set    

The Criterion Collection July 14 will release a seven-disc Blu-ray boxed set containing five of kung-fu action star Bruce Lee’s greatest films.

Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits brings together five films that define the Lee legend: furiously exciting fist-fliers propelled by his innovative choreography, unique martial-arts philosophy and whirlwind fighting style. Though Lee completed only a handful of films while at the peak of his stardom before his untimely death in 1973 at age 32, he left behind a monumental legacy as both a consummate entertainer and a supremely disciplined artist who made Hong Kong action cinema a sensation the world over.

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Game of Death

The set will include 4K digital restorations of The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, Game of Death and The Way of the Dragon, with uncompressed original monaural soundtracks. The set will also include two versions of Enter the Dragon digitally restored in 2K: the 99-minute 1973 theatrical version with uncompressed original monaural soundtrack, and the 102-minute special edition version.

The Blu-rays will include audio soundtracks for the films, including original English-dubbed tracks and a 5.1 surround soundtrack for the special-edition version of Enter the Dragon.

The set will include six audio commentaries. The Big Boss comes with a voiceover by Bruce Lee expert Brandon Bentley; producer Paul Heller provides one for the extended cut of Enter the Dragon; and Hong Kong-film expert Mike Leeder offers his thoughts on The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, Game of Death and The Way of the Dragon.

Game of Death will include “Game of Death Redux,” a new presentation of Lee’s original Game of Death footage produced by Alan Canvan, and a high-definition presentation of the 1981 sequel Game of Death II.

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Other extras include:

  • New interviews on all five films with Lee biographer Matthew Polly;
  • A new interview with producer Andre Morgan about Golden Harvest, the company behind Hong Kong’s top martial-arts stars, including Lee;
  • A new program about English-language dubbing with voice performers Michael Kaye (the English-speaking voice of Lee’s Chen Zhen in Fist of Fury) and Vaughan Savidge;
  • A new interview with author Grady Hendrix about the “Bruceploitation” subgenre that followed Lee’s death, and a selection of Bruceploitation trailers;
  • Blood and Steel, a 2004 documentary about the making of Enter the Dragon;
  • Multiple programs and documentaries about Lee’s life and philosophies, including Bruce Lee: The Man and the Legend (1973) and Bruce Lee: In His Own Words (1998);
  • Interviews with Linda Lee Cadwell, Lee’s widow, and many of Lee’s collaborators and admirers, including actors Jon T. Benn, Riki Hashimoto, Nora Miao, Robert Wall, Yuen Wah and Simon Yam, and directors Clarence Fok, Sammo Hung and Wong Jing;
  • Promotional materials;
  • New English subtitle translations and subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing;
  • An essay by critic Jeff Chang.

‘Mirror, Mirror,’ ‘Point Doom,’ ‘Freeway 2’ Among Titles Traveling to Blu-ray March 17 From MVD

Mirror, Mirror and its sequel, Freeway 2, Point Doom, and a grindhouse double feature are coming out on Blu-ray March 17 from MVD Entertainment Group and Dark Force Entertainment.

Mirror, Mirror (1990) starts with a flashback of the bloody murder of a woman by her identical twin sister that has something to do with the odd, whispering mirror in the room. Later, Emelin (Yvonne De Carlo, “The Munsters”) runs across the dreaded mirror while cleaning out the house for sale. She has it moved to her antique shop. Enter Susan Gordon (Karen Black, Five Easy Pieces) and her daughter Megan (Rainbow Harvest), the new owners of the house, and the mirror, which has mysteriously returned. When their dog is found dead in front of the mirror, Susan and Megan have no idea what lies ahead for them. The film also stars William Sanderson (Blade Runner) and Stephen Tobolowsky (Groundhog Day). Bonus features include the “Reflections in the Mirror Mirror” featurette with interviews from producers Virginia Perfili and Jimmy Lifton.

In the sequel Mirror, Mirror 2 (1994), on Blu-ray for the first time, an evil mirror that caused many deaths inside an orphanage has been hidden for years. When a rock band puts on a show nearby and uncovers the deadly mirror, the band members are tortured by the device’s demonic powers. Teenage orphan Marlee (Tracy Wells) is glad, because the men were tormenting her brother Jeffrey (Carlton Beener). Now in complete control of the mirror, Marlee decides to use it on her nasty stepsister Roslyn (Sally Kellerman). The cast also includes Roddy McDowall (Fright Night), Sally Kellerman (Back to School), Veronica Cartwright (Alien), Mark Ruffalo (Avengers: Endgame), Sanderson, Sarah Douglas (Superman II) and Tracy Wells (Gremlins).

Freeway 2: Confessions of a Trick Baby (1999) follows teen drug dealer/car thief Crystal (Natasha Lyonne) who, despite the efforts of her sleazy attorney Mr. Butz (David Alan Grier), is sentenced to a 25-year prison term, the first segment of which will be served in a youth correctional facility where she will be treated for her rampant bulimia. There, in-between binge/purge marathons with her fellow eating-disordered inmates and relentless harassment of the hapless authorities, she fends off the lesbian advances of her psychotic cellmate Cyclona (Maria Celedonio), a serial killer who’s just received a life sentence. The two escape together and embark on a cross-country road trip in search of Sister Gomez (Vincent Gallo), the beneficent nun who protected Cyclona from the sexual predations of her family during her troubled childhood south of the border. The original Freeway was a modern retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood,” while Freeway 2 riffs on “Hansel and Gretel.” Bonus features includes all new interviews with director Matthew Bright and producer Chris Hanley and a behind-the-scenes featurette with director John Landis, who makes a cameo in the film.

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Point Doom (1999) stars Richard Grieco (“21 Jump Street”) as Rick Hansen, a double-crossing drug dealer in a dangerous relationship. When his girlfriend, Stephanie (Jennifer O’Dell), eventually finds love with another man, the young couple is forced to risk their own lives in hopes of facing the dangers threatening to bind them to street life forever. The cast also includes Andrew Dice Clay, Ice-T, Angie Everhart, Zach Galligan, John Enos and Skid Row’s Sebastian Bach. Bonus features include interviews with cast and producers and a behind-the-scenes featurette. The soundtrack includes music by Mötley Crüe, White Zombie, Ice-T and Motörhead.

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The grindhouse drive-in classic double feature includes The LonersDragon Vs Needles of Death. In The Loners (1972), motorcycle rider Stein (Dean Stockwell), a half-blood Indian, tries to stay out of the hands of the police, who are chasing him for accidentally killing a cop. Together with his friend Alan (Todd Susman) and a beautiful but desperate girl (Patricia Stich), Stein will get involved in a robbery and more death. In the martial arts film Dragon Vs. Needles of Death, a young man joins a kung-fu academy but fails to fit in. He soon runs off with the master’s daughter and becomes a salt smuggler. He ends up joining with the school’s top fighter — his former rival — against a local mob leader. The needles in the title are murderously effective projectiles shot from the wristbands of opponents.

 

‘Ip Man 4: The Finale’ Due on Digital April 7, Disc — Including 4K — April 21 From Well Go

Martial arts superstar Donnie Yen (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) reprises his role as the legendary Wing Chun master for Director Wilson Yip (“Ip Man” franchise) in the grand finale of the saga Ip Man 4: The Finale, due on digital April 7 and DVD, Blu-ray combo and 4K Ultra Blu-ray combo pack April 21 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

The “Ip Man Complete Collection” will be available exclusively on digital April 7.

In this final chapter, Ip Man (Yen) travels to San Francisco following the death of his wife, in order to ease tensions between the local kung fu masters and his star student, Bruce Lee, while searching for a better future for his son.  Also returning for the final installment of the franchise are Scott Adkins (Wolf WarriorDoctor Strange) and Kwok-Kwan Chan (Kung Fu League) as Bruce Lee.

Bonus features include an English language dub and a making-of featurette.

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