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ReelBob: 2023 Holiday Gift Guide
A plethora of box sets, TV series, martial arts films, classic movies, feature films and books about movies are offered as suggestions in my annual holiday gift guide at ReelBob.
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The holidays are coming up quickly, which makes it time to begin searching for gifts for your favorite movie lover or film buff.
And 4K UHD, Blu-ray, DVD or CD releases are smart and convenient holiday options.
So, below are nice selections of titles that may bring a family member or friend some cheer. A variety of titles and television series that are old and more recent, are available.
As a guideline, I will provide the list prices for titles. Suggested retail prices will most likely be cheaper and vary at stores and various online sites, you will most likely save money by searching for those prices for products that interest you and to find the best deal you can.
As always, happy holidays.
“Kevin Smith: His Films and His Fans” compiled and edited by David Gaiti (Schiffer Publishing, $24.99)
Fans of filmmaker Kevin Smith will enjoy his coffee-table book that is not so much a biography as it is a journey that goes behind the scenes of Smith’s movies from 1994’s “Clerks” to 2022’s “Clerks III.”
What may interest fans the most is Smith going through the process of how his films were created, decisions he made about changes to the scripts, the titles and the casting.
You hear from collaborators, such as producer Scott Mosier, coworkers, friends such as Vincent Pereira, cast members such as Jeff Anderson, Brian O’Halloran, Jason Lee and, most of all, from Smith himself.
Smith explains why he chose to play Silent Bob, how he fought to keep Jason Mewes as Jay when he decided to film “Mallrats” and his other casting choices.
Smith takes readers on a step-by-step process through all his movies. It is very interesting to read his mind-set on some of his films.
Comments and drawings from fans are sprinkled throughout the book.
“Kevin Smith …” is an easy and entertaining read that will increase your appreciation of Smith and his movies.
“Mine’s Bigger Than Yours” by Christopher Lombardo and Jeff Kirschner (Schiffer Publishing, $29.99)
Lombardo and Kirschner are host of “The Really Awful Movies” podcast, which forewarns you about the content of this lively book.
Above the title on the cover is “The 100 Wackiest Action Movies.” Talk about truth in advertising.
Most of the movies were made by independent producers with limited budgets. Sone of the featured titles are familiar, “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace,” “Batman & Robin,” “Road House,” “Death Wish 3,” “Invasion USA” and “Hard to Kill.” They feature name actors such as Christopher Reeve, George Clooney, Patrick Swayze, Charles Bronson, Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal.
Others, though, are not so familiar. Many are direct-to-video releases featuring martial artists and performers from the worlds of MMA and kickboxing.
Titles such as “Psycho Kickboxer,” “Hard Ticket to Hawaii,” “Land of Doom” and “The Devil’s Sword” abound throughout the book.
Still, it is a nice examination that looks at the diversity of the action genre and how some of these movies borrow from their big-budget, major studio-backed productions.
If nothing else, the book serves as a wonderful reference guide if any of these films show up on streaming services or some movie channel.
“The Unofficial Horror Movie Coloring Book” by Vernieda Vergara, illustrated by Andy Price (Simon & Schuster, $14.99)
Do you know someone who likes horror movies and can color inside the lines? Then this book, that features drawings inspired by such films as “The Exorcist,” “Child’s Play,” “Halloween,” “Get Out,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and others will give them a few hours of enjoyment.
The book, which offers small explanations about the movies, will allow you to use your imagination to bring some black-and-white sketches to living — or dead — color.
“The Equalizer: 3-Movie Collection” (4K Ultra HD + digital) (2014-23, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, rated, R; LP, $95.99)
Denzel Washington and director Antoine Fuqua reunite for these three movies, based on the popular 1980s television series, about Robert McCall, a former government assassin, who is struggling to reconcile his violent past by helping people in need and serving justice.
In “The Equalizer” (2014), McCall battles Russian mobsters who have their fingers in various illegal operations. He confronts former covert operation allies gone rogue in “The Equalizer 2” (2018) and in the latest movie, “The Equalizer 3” (2023), McCall takes on the Italian Mafia.
“Equalizer 3” finds McCall living in southern Italy, discovers that his new friends are under the thumb of local crime bosses. McCall’s sense of right compels him to help.
All three movies are very violent, yet Washington’s calm, steady but menacing demeanor makes the movies palatable. The way Washington can quickly transform from peaceful to scary is exciting.
All three movies feature bonus materials.
“The Expendables 1-4: Steelbook” (4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + digital) (2010-23, Lionsgate Home Entertainment, Rated, PG-13, R; LP, $70, Walmart exclusive).
Consider these four movies as a greatest hits collection or an old-timers game for aging action film stars.
The movie relies on three things: violence, quips and nostalgia for stars such as Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews and Jet Li.
Plus, you get such guest stars as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Harrison Ford, Kurt Russell, Tony Jaa, Wesley Snipes and Mel Gibson.
The bad-guy body count in these four films probably could populate a small country.
These movies are pure adrenaline-rush action features that emphasize guns and explosions over dialogue and characterizations.
Yet, they are guilty pleasure features that allow you to kick back and enjoy all the pyrotechnics.
The eight-disc set features bonus materials.
“Indiana Jones 4-Movie Collection” (4K Ultra HD + digital) (1981-2008, Paramount Home Entertainment, rated, PG, PG-13; LP, $90.99)
With the home entertainment release of “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” set for Dec. 5, this five-disc set offers the opportunity to go back and check out the earlier adventures of the iconic whip-cracking archaeologist.
The movies are reminiscent of the action-adventure serials of the 1930s and ‘40s, featuring cliffhangers, hair-breath escapes suave and dastardly villains.
Harrison Ford is smart, resilient and, at times, tongue-in-cheek as Indy in all four movies — “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981, PG), “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984, PG), “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989, PG-13) and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008, PG-13).
Personally, I believe the first and third movies are the best, with “Last Crusade’s” most enjoyable moments coming between Indy and his father, Professor Henry Jones, played with a twinkle in his eye by Sean Connery.
The set features hours of extras, including behind-the-scenes and making of featurettes and cast and filmmaker interviews.
The upgraded 4K ultra high-definition transfers add to the enjoyment of the movies.
“The Police Academy Collection” (Blu-ray) (1984-1994, Shout! Select, rated, PG, PG-13, R; LP, $79.98)
The “Police Academy” franchise did not get much respect from critics — the highest rated film in the series was the first at 58 percent fresh at Rotten Tomatoes.
No matter, audiences enjoyed them as the seven films brought in just under $240 million at the box office. Not bad, considering the budgets for all of them totaled about $65 million.
This five-disc set features the original “Police Academy” (R, 1984), plus its six sequels — “Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment” (PG-13, 1985), “Police Academy 3: Back in Training” (PG, 1986), “Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol (PG, 1987), “Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach (PG, 1988), “Police Academy 6: City Under Siege” (PG, 1989) and “Police Academy: Mission to Moscow” (PG, 1994).
The characters in these films played basic types: Steve Guttenberg’s is the easy-going, wise guy; Kim Cattrall is the woman cadet-love interest; former football great Bubba Smith is the gentle giant; Michael Winslow is the human sound-effects machine; Andrew Rubin the ladies’ man; David Graf is the gun-obsessed former security guard and so on and so on.
A majority of cast members appeared in most, if not all, of the movies, so audiences came to know what to expect.
The set features bonus materials such as commentary tracks, interviews, additional scenes and behind-the-scenes featurettes.
“The Toxic Avenger Collection” (4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray) (1984-2000, Troma Entertainment, not rated; LP, $139.95)
Bad taste, political incorrectness and grossness are the hallmarks of the movies featuring the face of Troma, the titular character in this set — the Toxic Avenger.
These blood-soaked movies are for film buffs with a particular — and perhaps, peculiar — preference in movies. To be frank, they’re not art. But Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma Entertainment, never professed that they were.
They are simply far-out perverted fun that will make you laugh — and, at times, cringe — sometimes simultaneously. The movies are basically low-brow, black-comedy, superhero satires, featuring all manner of outlandish villains and inept henchmen.
The films in the eight-set, which features four 4K Ultra high definition and four Blu-ray discs, are “The Toxic Avenger” (1984), “The Toxic Avenger Part II” (1989), “The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie” (1989) and “Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV” (2000).
The set includes hours of bonus offerings, including introductions by Kaufman, commentary tracks and interviews.
A remake of “The Toxic Avenger,” starring Peter Dinklage as Toxie, was released a couple of months ago. Unfortunately, it is not included in this set.
“Wallace & Gromit: The Complete Cracking Collection” (Blu-ray) (1989-2008, Shout! Factory, not rated; LP, $24.98)
Four stop-motion short films and one feature from Aardman Animations are offered in this set, which follow the misadventures of Wallace, a good-natured inventor, who creates very elaborate contraptions that often do not work. Gromit is his loyal beagle and best friend, who often helps Wallace out of situations in which he has gotten over his head.
“A Grand Day Out” (1989), “The Wrong Trousers” (1993) “A Close Shave” (199 5)and “A Matter of Loaf and Death” (2008) are the main shorts, while “Cracking Contraptions” (2002) is a showcase of 10 short films about Wallace’s eccentric inventions to make life easier for everyone.
These productions are wonderfully comic highlighting the whimsical British sense of humor.
American Graffiti: 50th Anniversary Edition (4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + digital) (1973, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, PG; LP, $20.99)
Return to those early 1960s days of cruisin’ in your hot rod, making out at the drive-in and listening to rock ‘n’ roll and disc jockeys such as Wolfman Jack.
While the science fiction movie, “THX 1138,” placed writer-director George Lucas on the radar of some studio executives, it was the success — commercially and artistically — of “American Graffiti” that helped set his course to a galaxy far, far away and made him a household name.
The story, small in scope, takes place over one night as a group of teenagers cruise the streets on the last night before leaving for college.
The young cast included a group of actors including Richard Dreyfus, who would win a best actor Academy Award for “The Goodbye Girl”; Ron Howard, who would evolve from acting to Oscar-winning director for “A Beautiful Mind”; Cindy Williams, who would find fame as part of TV’s “Laverne & Shirley”; the late Suzanne Somers, who became not only a sitcom star, but an entrepreneur; and an actor who went from his wrecked hot-rod to a beat-up Millennium Falcon in Lucas’ next movie, “Star Wars.” I can’t seem to remember his name, Harrison something.
“American Graffiti” is a time-capsule movie that is as enjoyable today as it was when it first roared onto movie screens.
Screen tests, a making of featurette and a commentary track with Lucas are part of the bonus options.
Animal Crackers (Blu-ray) (1930, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, G; LP, $21.98)
Monkey Business (Blu-ray) (1931, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, not rated; LP, $21.98)
Horse Feathers (Blu-ray) (1932, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, not rated; LP, $21.98)
Duck Soup (Blu-ray) (1933, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, not rated; LP, $21.98)
Four features starring the four Marx Brothers — Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo — are available individually for your entertainment.
These were the early movies the brothers filmed while under contract to Paramount Pictures. They contain more anarchy and chaos than their later films produced at MGM, in which the three brothers — Zeppo retired from acting — were more sympathetic and less caustic than in their Paramount movies.
Personally, I prefer the antics in “Horse Features” and “Duck Soup” (my favorite Marx Brothers movie), to the more controlled features from MGM.
Still, if you are a fan of the brothers, than these movies will warm you with laughter not only during the holidays, but all year long.
All the movies contain extras and commentary tracks.
The Guns of Navarone: Steelbook (4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + digital) (1961, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, not rated; LP, $45.99)
This World War II adventure thriller about a group of Allied military specialists who must infiltrate a Nazi stronghold on the island of Navarone and destroy two long-range field guns so about 2,000 trapped British soldiers can be convoyed to safety.
The all-star cast features a trio of Academy Award-winning actors — Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn and David Niven. Other noted performers include Irene Papas, Anthony Quayle, Stanley Baker, James Darren and Gia Scala.
Another vital contribution is the memorable score by Dimitri Tiomkin. Producer Carl Foreman wrote the screenplay based on the novel by Alistair MacLean, with J. Lee Thompson offering sturdy direction.
The set is loaded with extras, including commentary tracks and making of and behind-the-scenes featurettes.
This is a movie that military-action film buffs never tire of watching.
Rock Around the Clock (Blu-ray) (1956, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, not rated; LP, $26.99)
With the explosive popularity of rock ‘n’ roll in the mid-1950s, especially upon young listeners, movie producers were not far behind with trying to cash in on the popularity.
Bill Haley and His Comets “Rock Around the Clock” was featured in “The Blackboard Jungle,” a popular 1955 movie and, the song later reached No. 1 on the pop charts.
“Rock Around the Clock’s” plot is rather thin: a big-band promoter and his musician friend, quit their jobs and hit the road. Staying overnight in a small town on their way to New York, they discover a group of kids grooving to a new kind of music they call rock ‘n’ roll.
It's the sound the agent and his pal have been looking for and they decide to do whatever it takes to introduce it to the rest of the world. The cast includes Haley ‘s group, The Platters and famed disc jockey Alan Freed, credited with helping spread the popularity of rock.
The movie’s soundtrack includes Haley and His Comets’ “See You Later Alligator” and “Razzle Dazzle” as well as The Platters “The Great Pretender” and “Only You.”
The Blu-ray features supplemental materials include a commentary track with writer-journalist Barry Forshaw and novelist-critic Kim Newman.
FAMILY, CHILDREN & HOLIDAY FARE
Elmo’s Holiday Spectacular: The Nutcracker and Other Tales (DVD) (2023, Shout! Kids-Sesame Workshop, not rated; LP, $16.98)
If you need to keep the little ones busy for about 2½ hours while you are preparing a holiday meal, than this DVD fills the bill nicely.
Elmo and his puppy, Tango, are featured in “The Nutcracker,” while guest stars appear in two other episodes: “Elmo’s Christmas Countdown with Sheryl Crow” and “Elmo Save Christmas with Maya Angelou.”
Some of Elmo’s Sesame Street friends, such as Cooke Monster and Abby Cadabby, join Elmo for the fun.
The shows are easy for youngsters to comprehend and are enjoyable to boot.
“Lifetime’s A Very Merry Movie Collection: Volume 5 (DVD) (2019-22, Lionsgate Home Entertainment, not rated; SRP, $24.98)
“Lifetime’s A Very Merry Movie Collection: Volume 6 (DVD) 2020-22, Lionsgate Home Entertainment, not rated; SRP, $24.98)
Lifetime has created a cottage industry of easy-viewing, feel-good and entertaining holiday-themed movies filled with good cheer, music and romance.
So, for the 12 days of Christmas, you have 24 movies to check out.
Volume 5 offers “Cloudy with a Chance of Christmas,” “Merry Textmas,” “A Country Christmas Harmony,” “A Show-Stopping Christmas,” “Serving Up the Holidays,” “Scentsational Christmas,” “The Holiday Dating Guide,” “Sweet Navidad,” “A New Orleans Noel,” “Well Suited for Christmas” and “Merry Liddle Christmas.”
The movies in Volume 6 are “Six Degrees of Santa,” “Steppin’ into the Holiday,” “Kirk Franklin’s The Night Before Christmas,” “Wrapped Up in Love,” “Single and Ready to Jingle,” “The Dog Days of Christmas,” “Christmas on Mistletoe Lake,” “Record Breaking Christmas,” “Baking All the Way,” “A Recipe for Joy,” “A Christmas to Treasure” and “Merry Liddle Christmas Wedding.”
These stories are simple entertainment, aimed at making your holidays merrier and brighter.
“The Office Complete Christmas Collection” (DVD) (2005-13, Universal Studios Home Entertainment, not rated; LP, $19.99)
A two-disc set that features seven holiday-themed episodes from this gem of a comedy series as the coworkers at Dunder Mifflin celebrate Christmas in their singular manner.
The series, which starred Steve Carrell, John Krasinski, Rainn Wilson, Jenna Fischer, Mindy Kaling, Ed Helms, Leslie David Baker and Brian Baumgartner, brought their own quirks and personalities to these episodes.
The set features “Christmas Party” from season two, “Benihana Christmas” from season three, “Moroccan Christmas” from season five, “Secret Santa” from season six, the two-episode “Classy Christmas” from season seven, “Christmas Wishes” from season eight and “Dwight Christmas” from season 9.
The set also features commentaries on three of the episodes and deleted scenes.
If you need some laughs over the holidays, these episodes could be the cure.
Violent Night (4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + digital) (2022, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, rated, R; LP, $21.99)
Technically, this IS a Christmas movie, just one that could be considered a mischievous pleasure for grown-ups. It definitely is neither a family feature nor a movie for children.
In this violent, action-comedy a team of mercenaries break into the compound of a wealthy family on Christmas Eve and take everyone inside hostage.
But what they don’t realize is that Santa Claus is on the grounds and he will definitely teach these baddies what it means to be naughty. Yes, the film is, like the title says, violent. It also is gory and offers some dark and edgy humor.
David Harbour as a cranky, ass-kicking Santa is the hit of the movie.
The set features extras such as a commentary track and deleted and extended scenes. If you are staying home alone for Christmas, you can take a gander and have some laughs without having to explain anything to any nosy children.
Bubba Ho-Tep (4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray) (2002, Scream Factory, rated, R; LP, $27.96)
Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis costar as, respectively, Elvis Presley and John F. Kennedy, both residing in a nursing home in Texas.
The pair unite to defend the other elderly residents of the home from Bubba Ho-Tep, a 3,000-year-old mummy who sucks the souls from of residents.
The film, based on a short story by John R. Lansdale, was adapted and directed by Don Coscarelli (“Phantasm).”
The movie is odd, funny, a bit scary and, at 93 minutes, fun to watch. Campbell and Davis go all in, acting like the cantankerous older men they have become. And, yes, it is explained how they are alive and how they wound up in the nursing home.
The two-disc set features extras such as commentary tracks, interviews with cast members and filmmakers and behind-the-scenes featurettes.
The Fugitive (4K Ultra HD + digital) (1993, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, rated, PG-13; LP, $33.99)
Harrison Ford portrays Dr. Richard Kimble, wrongly accused of the murder of his wife, in this re-imagining of the popular 1960s TV series that starred David Janssen.
Found guilty, Kimble is on his way to prison for execution when he escapes when the prison bus transporting him and a train collide.
Soon, U.S. deputy marshal Sam Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones, who received a best supporting actor Oscar for his portrayal) and his team are on Kimble’s trail.
Unlike the TV series, Ford’s Kimble did not travel all over the country seeking the one-armed man who actually killed his wife. Most of the movie is set in and around the Chicago area.
Even if you have seen the movie, it never grows tired. Ford’s quick-witted thinking and action as Kimble and Jones’ dogged, single-minded determination as his pursuer make for exciting viewing.
The set comes with bonus features.
Point Break: Collector’s Edition (4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray) (1991, Shout! Studios, rated, R, violence, language, brief nudity; LP, $39.98)
The premise of some movies are so preposterous that you simply sit back and enjoy them for what they are. “Point Break” is one such feature.
The story is simple; a group of extreme surfers and thrill junkies are believed to be the bank robbing crew known as the Ex-Presidents.
Rookie FBI agent Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) is assigned to infiltrate the crew, led by the charismatic Bodhi (Patrick Swayze), and get the needed evidence to arrest them.
The movie, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, is an adrenaline rush of action and stunts that, despite its absurd situations, holds your attention.
The two-disc set comes with bonus materials.
What’s Love Got to Do with It? (Blu-ray) (2022, Shout! Studios, rated, PG-13; LP, $22.98)
No, this is not the Tina Turner biopic. Rather, it is a rom-com about a documentary filmmaker-dating app addict, played by Lily James, whose luck is not good. Her swipes seem to continually land on losers.
Shazad Latif, plays the childhood friend of James’ character, who, following the example of his parents, agrees to an arranged marriage with a bride from Pakistan.
James’ filmmaker tags along as her friend travels Lahore for the wedding. The experience causes her to wonder if a different approach can help her find true love.
This is a pleasant film that you can watch in front of a warm fire while snuggling with a loved one.
The Blu-ray comes with a behind-the-scenes featurette.
“The Jackie Chan Collection: Volume 1 (1976-1982)” (Blu-ray) (1976-82, Shout! Factory, not rated; LP, $99.98)
“The Jackie Chan Collection: Volume 2 (1983-1993)” (Blu-ray) (1983-93, Shout! Factory, not rated; LP, $99.8)
Between them, these two sets offer 15 discs of breathtaking stunts, great action in various martial arts disciplines and physical comedy harkening back to the days of silent film comedians such as Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd.
The seven discs in the first collection of Shout! Select features focus on the early years of Chan’s career when he was working to forge an identity.
The movies in this set are “The Killer Meteors” (1976), “Shaolin Wooden Men” (1976), “To Kill With Intrigue” (1977), “Snake & Crane Art of Shaolin” (1978), “Dragon Fist” (1979), “Battle Creek Brawl” (1980) and “Dragon Lord” (1980).
The films all feature Cantonese, Mandarin and English dubbed audio tracks, with the exception of “Dragon Lord,” which features Cantonese and English dubbed tracks. All also have English subtitles.
“Dragon Lord” also offers a 96-minute Hong Kong cut and a 103-minute extended version.
The second set features eight movies as Chan’s name was becoming linked with his combination of martial arts artistry and comedy.
The titles in this set are “Winners and Sinners” (1983), “Wheels on Meals” (1984), The Protector” (1985), “Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Stars” (1985), “Armour of God” (1986), “Armour of God II: Operation Condor” (1991), “Crime Story” (1993) and “City Hunter” (1993).
“The Protector,” “Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Stars,” “Armour of God” and “Armour of God II: Operation Condor” feature two versions of these movies — the Hong Kong cut and extended and/or United States cuts.
“The Protector” is the only movie with an English-only audio track, the others feature Cantonese and English (dubbed) tracks. And all come with English subtitles.
Both sets also offer bonus materials such as commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes and interviews.
“Shaw Brothers Classics: Volume One” (Blu-ray) (1967-69, Shout! Factory, not rated; LP, $169.98)
“Shaw Brothers Classics: Volume Two” (Blu-ray) (1970-76, Shout! Factory, not rated; LP, $134.97)
“Shaw Brothers Classics: Volume Three (Blu-ray) (1976-80, Shout! Factory, not rated; LP $169.98)
A total of 34 discs and 34 movies equal hours of martial arts action that will satisfy any fan of Asian cinema. The casts feature such stars as Sammo Hung, Jimmy Wang Yu, Cheng Pei-Pei, Alexander Fu Sheng and David Chiang.
Volume one titles are “The Assassin” (1967), “The Thundering Sword” (1967), “The Golden Swallow” (1968), “The Jade Raksha” (1968), “The Bells of Death” (1968), “The Sword of Swords” (1968), “Killer Dart” (1968), “The Invincible Fist” (1969), “Dragon Swamp “(1969), “The Flying Dagger” (1969) and “The Golden Sword” (1969).
All contain Mandarin audio tracks with five movies — “The Assassin,” “The Golden Swallow,” “The Bells of Death,” “The Sword of Swords” and “The Flying Dagger’ — offering English dubbed tracks. And all have English subtitles.
Volume two contains 12 titles — “Lady of Steel” (1970), “Brothers Five” (1970), “The Crimson Charm” (1970), “The Shadow Whip” (1972), “The Delightful Forest” (1972), “The Devil’s Mirror” (1972), “Man of Iron” (1972), “The Water Margin” (1972), “The Bride From Hell” (1972), “Heroes Two” (1973), “The Flying Guillotine” (1975) and “The Dragon Missile” (1976).
The movies feature Mandarin audio tracks with five — “The Delightful Forest,” “Man of Iron,” “Heroes Two,” “The Flying Guillotine” and “The Dragon Missile” — offering English dubbed audio alternatives.
Volume three offers “Killer Clans” (1976), “The Shaolin Avengers” (1976), “The Web of Death” (1976), “The Vengeful Beauty” (1976), “Death Duel” (1977), “Life Gamble” (1978), “Soul of the Sword” (1978), “The Deadly Breaking Sword” (1979), “Clan of the White Lotus” (1980), “Shaolin Abbot” (1979) and “Shaolin Rescuers” (1979).
As in the other sets, the audio track is Mandarin. On this set, eight have English-dubbed audio tracks — “Killer Clans,” “The Shaolin Avengers,” “The Web of Death,” “Life Gamble,” “The Deadly Breaking Sword,” “Clan of the White Lotus,” “Shaolin Abbot” and “Shaolin Rescuers.”
All, of course, all contain English subtitles.
The sets come with extras, including commentary tracks and interviews with performers and filmmakers.
“The Sonny Chiba Collection: Volume 2” (Blu-ray) (1975-78, Shout! Factory, not rated; LP, $69.98)
A four-disc set showcasing legendary Japanese martial artist Sonny Chiba in seven action-packed movies. Many of Chiba’s movies were contemporary crime thrillers. Chiba, who died in 2021, is fondly remembered for his role in Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill: Vol. 1,” in which he played master swordsmith Hattori Hanzõ.
“The Defensive Power of Aikido” (1975), “13 Steps of Maki” (1975), “Karate Warriors” (1976), “The Great Okinawa Yakuza War” (1976), “Karate for Life” (1977), “Golgo 13: Assignment Kowloon” (1977) and “The Okinawa War of Ten Years” (1978).
All the movies are in Japanese with English subtitles.
The set’s main extras are commentary tracks on a couple of the movies.
ALF: The Complete Series: Deluxe Edition (DVD) (1986-90, Shout! Studios, not rated; LP, $89.98)
This TV series, despite its out-of-this-world premise about a cat-eating alien who crash lands into the garage of an American family, captured the fancy of audiences for the four years it ran on NBC.
ALF (an acronym for Alien Life Form), whose real name is Gordon Shumway, was performed by puppeteer Paul Fusco, one of the show’s creators.
ALF is from the planet Melmac who follows an amateur radio signal and winds up disrupting the San Fernando Valley area home of the middle-class Tanner family.
ALF hides with the Tanners until he can repair his craft, but later learns that his home planet was destroyed by nuclear war.
He becomes a member of the family, all the while hiding from the government and the Tanners nosy neighbors. Over the course of the series, his culture shock, survivor’s guilt, despair and loneliness cause problems for himself and his adopted family.
The 24-disc set includes 99 episodes; a 1996 movie, “Project: ALF”; and all 47 episodes of the Saturday morning “ALF: The Animated Series” and “ALF Tales!”
The set includes bonus materials as well.
Farscape: The Complete Series: 25th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray) (1999-2004, Shout! Studios, not rated; LP, $219.98)
A 22-disc set that offers all 88 episodes as well as the two-episode miniseries.
The main character is astronaut John Crichton who is thrown through a wormhole and lost in another galaxy. There, he finds himself in the middle of a prison break, surrounded by hostile aliens, fleeing in a living spaceship called Moya.
The escapees are hunted by relentless Peacekeepers. Crichton joins the aliens who, like him now are refugees, as he searches for a way home.
As the series progresses, we learn more about the various characters and how they learn to interact and cooperate with each other.
The series is a combination of live action, characters with prosthetic alien makeup and puppet characters.
The set features a few hours of bonus materials including new and retrospective featurettes, deleted scenes and interviews with cast members and the show’s creative team.
The Flash: The Complete Series (Blu-ray) (2014-23, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, not rated; LP, $149.99)
This CW series from the DC Arrowverse focuses on Barry Allen who, after a laboratory accident, is transformed into The Flash, with his super- and time-warping speed, that he uses to protect Central City as well as his friends and loved ones.
The 34-disc set features all 184 episodes over nine seasons. The Flash faces such foes as the Reverse Flash, Zoom, Savitar, Cicada and Red Death.
The Flash also must deal with various time-line alternations and issues, alternate universes as well as simple romantic complications in his personal life.
The series maintained a strong presence through its run, including various crossover stories with DC characters from other CW shows, such as Arrow and Supergirl.
The set includes hours of featurettes as well as deleted scenes, gag reels and other behind-the-scenes extras.
Fans of television’s DC Universe and Multiverse characters will be thoroughly entertained by this series.
For All Mankind: Season One (Blu-ray) (2019, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, not rated; LP, $49.99)
This is an interesting, what-if, alternative history series airing on Apple TV+ that postulates what would have happened if the space race had not ended after the Soviet Union beat the United States to the Moon.
The four-disc set contains all 10 first-season episodes, which details how after the Soviet landing, NASA, with its morale low, was forced to adapt and catch up by training women and minorities originally excluded from the space program.
The cast includes Joel Kinnaman, Michael Dorman, Sarah Jones, Shantel VanSanten, Jodi Balfour and Wrenn Schmidt.
The series is airing its fourth season on Apple TV+ so, if you have not had a chance to view it, this Blu-ray will help you begin to catch up.
Justified: City Primeval (Blu-ray) (2023, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, rated, TV-MA; LP, $40.99)
For five years, from 2010 to 2015, deputy U.S. marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) upheld the law and battled transgressors in the Appalachian mountains area of eastern Kentucky.
In this sequel, Givens, after a chance encounter on a desolate Florida road, heads to Detroit, where he crosses paths with Clement Mansell, aka The Oklahoma Wildman, a sociopathic criminal who has evaded Detroit police for a long time.
The two-disc set features all 372 minutes of the miniseries. Like its predecessor, this short series is based on a story by the late Elmore Leonard.
Fans of “Justified” will most likely enjoy the return of Givens, whom Olyphant personified in such memorable fashion.
Leave It to Beaver: The Complete Series (Blu-ray) (1957-63, Universal Studios Home Entertainment, not rated; LP, $129.98)
When family-based sitcoms of the 1950s and early ’60s come to mind, it is shows such as “Father Knows Best,” “Make Room for Daddy,” “The Donna Reed” show and this series about the Cleaver family — father Ward, mother June, big brother Wally and the youngest Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver.
This 30-disc set contains all 234 episodes dealing with the neighborhood mischief and misunderstandings, especially those of Beaver, Wally and their friends.
The episodes are simple, direct and fun. And they also are somewhat sweet, the only spice coming from Wally’s conniving friend, Eddie Haskell (Ken Osmond), who always seem to get the brothers in trouble while keeping his own hands clean.
The set is a cultural marker of simpler times when mothers only worked, cooked and cleaned around the house — usually wearing dresses and, sometimes, pearls — the family ate dinner together and parents were wise and understanding.
The set’s main extra is an unaired pilot episode. It would make a fine gift for baby boomers who want to recapture their childhoods or who would want to show their grandchildren how things used to be.
I am a founding member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. I review movies, 4K UHD, Blu-rays and DVDs for ReelBob (ReelBob.com), The Film Yap and other print and online publications. I can be reached by email at email@example.com. You also can follow me on Twitter @ReelBobBloom and on Facebook at ReelBob or the Indiana Film Journalists Association. My movie reviews also can be found at Rotten Tomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.