Outlaw King (2018)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

After the death of Braveheart’s William Wallace, came Robert the Bruce. This film is based on the true story of the 14th century Scottish hero. It’s an entertaining but imperfect action / biopic. Any flaws are made up for with the battle sequence at the end. Outlaw King manages to touch on the good parts of historical war films like Mel Gibson made, without spoiling things with their Hollywood cheese. This was directed by the man behind the excellent Hell or High Water, which also starred Chris Pine. He does a damn good job in the lead role too.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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Jallikattu (2019)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

I am happy to share another excellent movie out of India (you may recall that I recommended Tumbaad not long ago). This story revolves around a rampaging Water Buffalo, but it’s a lot more interesting than that might make you think. Human folly is on full display, with scenes ranging from hilarious to quite dark. There are a few slow moments, but overall this film is awesome, and beautifully shot. The soundtrack is damn good too. Jallikattu is available on Prime, in 4k no less.

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

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Hotel Mumbai (2018)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer

This is a surprisingly well-constructed dramatization of the 2008 terror attacks. It does not pull any punches, so be prepared for a lot of graphic violence. The bloodshed is balanced with mostly-believable human stories. Hotel Mumbai manages to shine some light on a story that I didn’t know nearly enough about before watching.

Available on Blu-ray from Universal.

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13 Assassins (2010)

Streaming on Amazon Prime and Hulu | imdb | trailer

This is easily the best recent samurai film, and it’s also one of my top choices among Takashi Miike’s output. 13 Assassins is fast-paced, well made, and features awesome performances. No, it doesn’t have many of the transgressive aspects that this director is known for, but I barely noticed. This film kicks major ass from start to finish.

Available on Blu-ray from Magnolia.

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Avengement (2019)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

There are a ton of awful action movies on Netflix. This movie should have been one of them, but I loved it. It features English gangsters, almost non-stop fighting, a good story, and solid production values. You might need to turn on the subtitles as the accents and jargon are very thick for the duration. Really that’s a minor quibble, as this movie is a blast.

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

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No Tears for the Dead (2014)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

Here’s another very good South Korean crime film. It’s got all the elements that you’d expect: tons of action, a very complicated story, extremely bad bad guys, and slick production values. This one leans a lot on drama, but that’s fine. It kept reminding me of Léon: The Professional, which is a good thing. Like Luc Besson’s film, the drama serves a purpose, and the action is impressive.

Blu-ray available from CJ Entertainment.

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Dirty Harry (1971)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

This is such a well known movie I hesitated recommending it. I’m going to go ahead and tell you about Dirty Harry because I seriously love this film, and I think there’s many younger people that have never seen it.

Here’s two fun facts: this film was a major influence on all the Italian police action (Poliziotteschi) films after it, and was inspired by the Zodiac murders which were still ongoing at the time of it’s release. This killer is called The Scorpio, and is flawlessly played by Andrew Robinson (Hellraiser 1 & 2, Star Trek DS9). Robinson is so unhinged and despicable in this film it still blows my mind. Get ready for a grim, violent, blast of a movie, with beautiful cinematography and kick ass music by Lalo Schifrin. I’m green with envy for any of you that will be seeing this for the first time.

Available on Blu-ray from Warner Home Video.

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Blade of the Immortal (2017)

Streaming on Hulu and Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

This marks Takashi Miike’s 100th film. Crazy. I certainly hope he makes much more of his unique brand of cinema. Here we have an enjoyable samurai action movie that is based on a manga series. It’s comic origins show, as the movie is even less realistic than the director’s 13 Assassins. That’s all right though. Blade of the Immortal is a lot of fun to watch.

Available on Blu-ray from Magnolia.

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Starsky and Hutch – Pilot (1975)

Streaming FREE on YouTube | imdb | no trailer available

If you are not interested in ‘70s TV cop shows you will want to skip this recommendation. I don’t normally talk about television series here, but the feature-length pilot of the this gritty old cop drama was too irresistible. Please note the following important features: Dirty old LA, Richard Lynch as an uncredited hitman, a scene in a porno movie theatre, an appearance by a young Gordon Jump from WKRP, music by Lalo Schrifin (Mission Impossible, Enter the Dragon, Dirty Harry) and Hutch / David Soul’s sweet-ass leather jacket. I was impressed by the quality of the film-making too. That probably has a lot to do with the fact that it was helmed by Barry Shear, who also directed Across 110th Street.

I used to watch this show as a kid and had never seen this pilot. Obviously it was a lot of fun for me. I think anyone not into ‘70s TV crime shows would think it was just an old police action movie with all the blood and nudity cut out. I understand but I still can’t believe this was broadcast to every home from coast to coast. Starsky and Hutch seems to have begun with the idea that they would push the limit of what network censors would tolerate as much as possible. It really was a different world back then.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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Coffy (1973)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

My girlfriend and I have an expression we use a lot – “Ten Times Pam Grier” (emphasis on ten times with pauses between the words). It works for many purposes. This comes from the time we saw a 35mm print of Coffy with a Pam Grier Q&A after. A very enthusiastic fan said the above words to Ms. Grier and followed by “I’ve seen this movie ten times,” and many kind words about the actress. Pam loved it, and I love this movie. It’s easily my favorite blaxploitation film, and you can watch a nicely restored version on Amazon Prime.

Available on Blu-ray from Olive Films.

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