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June 15th, 2007

VIDEO STORE GUY

by Steven Anderson

backlash.jpgBACKLASH
** DVD
Directed by Dave Chameides Written by Caitlin McKenna Starring Danielle Burgio, Kevin Levrone, Bas Rutten, Lauren Kim Produced by G. Anthony Joseph Rated R Running time: 85 mins. 2006

Somewhere in the world, Andy Sidaris is laughing his ass off.

The man responsible for so many action-packed low-budget tittyfests–“Dallas Connection” and “Day of theWarrior” among them–would surely see this sucker coming from a mile off. CIA operative Skye Gold, who looks damn good in a bikini, is off to Trinidad to hide out after busting up a gunrunning outfit. Not surprisingly, everyone else knows where Skye is, much to the haughty amazement of the CIA. Thus, Skye ends up fighting for her life surrounded by other hot chicks in bikinis and loads of gunfire.

No one will ever mistake “Backlash” for serious art. It’s bullets, it’s babes, it’s awesome island scenery, it’s an unsettlingly inept CIA convinced it can do no wrong. There’s nothing new here, and frankly, all the old cliches are pretty threadbare and not all that brilliantly executed. If you’re prepared or even eager for a bout of Something Familiar, then “Backlash” is going to be just what you’re hungry for.

Everyone else, meanwhile, will be rolling their eyes and hitting their “eject” buttons long, LONG, before then.

final-move.jpgFINAL MOVE
*** DVD
Directed By Joey Travolta Written By David Shoshan, Richard Preston Jr. Starring Matt Schultze, Lochlyn Munro, Rachel Hunter, Amanda Detmer Produced By Richard Salvatore Rated R Running time: 92 mins. 2007

“Final Move,” a relatively new addition to our video store shelves, comes with one of the most interesting premises in quite some time. A serial killer who did all his killing according to chess pieces–even going so far as to set up a map of Los Angeles like a chess board with gridlines and alternating black and white squares–was executed, but not long after his execution, a similar set of killings began. So the question becomes, did they execute the wrong man? Or is there a copycat around? Though they stoop to the rather declasse move of using psychics to solve the murders–deus ex machina, aisle two!–there’s no denying that this is at least a somewhat inventive suspense piece. A little cookie-cutter, maybe, but the frosting’s new enough to make up for that. All in all, “Final Move” should be a joy for anyone who’s into crime fiction or suspense movies. If you liked “Seven” or “Along Came A Spider,” then “Final Move” should be one to enjoy.

colditz.jpgCOLDITZ
*** DVD
Directed by Stuart Orme Written by Peter Morgan, Richard Cottan Starring Damian Lewis, Sophia Myles, Tom Hardy, Jason Priestley Produced by Stephen Smallwood Rated R Running time: 184 mins. 2006

The Germans say it’s escape-proof, but will you care? Join me as we take apart the great maximum-security death camp in the two part miniseries “Colditz,” now available on video store shelves.

First off, “Colditz” is beautiful. From the stark nightscapes of Germany to the intermingling of pastoral beauty and urban austerity of England (with dirigibles overhead, no less!) it’s hard not to be enamored with the film’s vivid scenery.

Yet “Colditz” also has an annoying tendency to the melodramatic, occasionally stretching itself out with pointlessnesses. Which is probably necessary given “Colditz”s three-hour-plus run time, but it is occasionally slow.

All told, “Colditz” is a deep and sweeping epic. If you’re in a hurry, this is not for you, but if you can commit three hours to a really enjoyable yarn, then “Colditz” should be everything you could want.

shadow-of-the-sword.jpgSHADOW OF THE SWORD
*** DVD
Directed by Simon Aeby Written by Susanne Freund, Steve Attridge Starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter McDonald, Anastasia Griffith, Steven Berkoff Produced by Helmut Grasse Rated R Running time:104 mins.

“Shadow of the Sword” is the huge, epic story of two childhood friends in the era of the Reformation of the Catholic Church–the early 1500s–who grow up in the same place but take two very different paths in life. One grows up a servant of the Church, becoming head of the local monastery. The other, following an illustrious career in the Imperial Army, eventually becomes an executioner and kills in the name of the Church.

The monastery head will face down intrigues from within his own monastery as well as edicts from above, while the executioner fends off his own as others try for his position. So with a mix like that, you know there’s going to be lots of friction between the two, and outside them as well. You can expect this story to be packed to the gills with drama. And indeed, expectations are met—there’s lots of drama in here. It can be slow at times, and with a slightly longer than usual run time, it may not be for the impatient.

But all in all, if medievalist drama is your thing, you’ll definitely enjoy this.

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | New York

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