Yazuka Weapon on Blu-ray

“Yakuza Weapon” is one of those extravagant Japanese movies that feature larger than life characters, masses of over-the-top violence and a healthy dose of slapstick humour. It is based on a manga strip by Ken Ishikawa, and comes from the team that brought us the cult zombie flick “Versus”. Tak Sakaguchi stars as Shozo, the son of a murdered Yakuza boss who returns home to wreak vengeance against his father’s killers.

Shozo and his two sidekicks’ mission is to overthrow Kurawaki (Shingo Tsurumi), the self-proclaimed new underworld boss bent on taking over the whole of Japan. To succeed they must face off against countless foot soldiers and deadly henchmen before entering Kurawaki’s monolithic lair. Thrown into the mix is Shozo’s feisty ex-girlfriend Nayoko (Mei Kurokawa), who also happens to be the object of Kurawaki’s unreciprocated desires.

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Lifeboat on Blu-ray & DVD

Shot and set during World War II, Hitchcock’s “Lifeboat” follows the fortunes of ten or so survivors of a Nazi U-boat attack on an ocean liner. As the film opens, the still-smoking funnel of the doomed vessel sinks beneath the waves. One by one, bedraggled survivors clamber onboard the lifeboat, happy to still be alive but slowly coming to terms with their predicament. The boat is damaged and emergency supplies are low. No-one knows how long it will be until help arrives or which side of the conflict it will come from.

Matters are complicated by the arrival of a sailor from the German craft. Do they toss him straight back into the water, condemning him to almost certain death, or do they allow him to stay onboard, using up precious rations and risking sabotage? This and many other moral, psychological and physical challenges await the stricken survivors. They strike out for nearby Bermuda, but the chances of capture by a German ship are high.

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Life is Beautiful: on Blu-ray

As one of the crew mentions in this disc’s extras, “Life is Beautiful” is a bit of an oxymoron, not least the juxtaposition of the title’s sentiment with the Nazi concentration camp setting of the second half of the movie. Despite this it is in many ways a joyful film to behold, due in no small part to the hugely energetic and lively contribution of Roberto Benigni who directed, co-wrote and stars in it. Massive critical acclaim including three Oscars in 1999 is richly deserved.

In 1939, Guido Orefice (Benigni) travels to Rome with a friend to wait in his uncle’s glamourous restaurant. On the way there he miraculously saves a beautiful woman called Dora (Nicoletta Braschi), and immediately falls in love with her. Over the course of several daring and slapstick encounters he wins her heart. They marry and have a son, Giosué (Giorgio Cantarini – “Gladiator”), but Fascism and prejudice are on the rise, and like many Jews across the world they ultimately find themselves incarcerated and separated in a terrible prison where the threat of death is ever-present.

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Griff The Invisible on Blu-ray

Ryan Kwanten (True Blood) is Griff, a cripplingly-shy, socially inept office worker by day, and a fearless, PVC-wearing street avenger by night. His house is tooled-up with banks of computer monitors scanning Sydney’s streets for thugs and street gangs. When the alarm signal sounds, Griff leaps into action to take the offending scum down. You might think it sounds a bit like “Kick-Ass”, but there is more to “Griff” than initially meets the eye.

Griff’s brother Tim (Patrick Brammall – Home and Away) keeps an eye on his younger sibling; 28-year-old Griff has a history of being bullied ever since his school days, and Tim is concerned that he might be having fresh trouble at work. This in turn encourages his extra-curricular activities at night, as donning his superhero outfit helps Griff take on a completely new persona and leave his workplace troubles far behind. Then Tim’s new girlfriend Melody (Maeve Dermody – “Beautiful Kate”) enters the picture, and both of their lives get turned upside down.

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Repo Man comes to Blu-ray

“Repo Man” is a whacky B-movie about the workers at a car repossession company who get mixed up in a shady government cover-up of alien visitors from outer space. The film’s MacGuffin is a Chevy Malibu with deadly stolen evidence from a top secret air force base. UFO believers are trying to expose the existence of aliens before the authorities can reclaim their property and silence the rebellious elements permanently.

Otto (Emilio Estevez – “Young Guns”, “The Breakfast Club”) is a young white punk who jacks in his dead-end job at a supermarket and unwittingly takes on the role of a repo man when Bud (Harry Dean Stanton – “Alien”, Big Love) dupes him into repossessing a car. Although he initially resists taking on the job permanently, Otto realises he has no other choice and so he joins the firm and embarks on a series of increasingly dangerous escapades with Bud and his offbeat colleagues. The more valuable the vehicle they are assigned to collect, the larger the commission but also the greater the risk.

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