A grounded police procedural and a hard-to-believe documentary lead these new movies on DVD and Blu-ray this week.
“End of Watch” (Universal/Blu-ray, 2012; R for violence, language, drugs; two discs, $34.98, DVD and digital versions, deleted scenes, featurettes, trailers). Here’s a solid character study of police work on the streets of South Central Los Angeles, with many moments that ring true and excellent performances by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena as partners on the beat. Unfortunately, however, much of this is undermined by shaky-cam techniques that become more distracting and annoying as the film progresses. (Also on DVD, $24.98)
“The Imposter” (Vivendi, 2012; R for language; $19.97, featurette, trailers). Astonishing tale of a 13-year-old Texas boy who disappeared in 1994 suddenly being found three years later in Spain, telling a story of kidnapping and torture. While his family is thrilled to have him return, there seems to be something off. Is he really the same boy? First-rate documentary unfolds as a mystery and was understandably a hit at Sundance last year.
“Abel’s Field” (Sony, 2012, PG, $22.99, featurette, trailers). Kevin Sorbo stars in this Christian film as a high school janitor with a secret past reluctantly becoming a mentor to an orphaned senior who is trying to raise his twin sisters alone. Soft and fairly predictable most of the way but well constructed with sincere performances.
“Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning” (Sony/Blu-ray, 2012; R for violence, sex, nudity, language; $30.99, audio commentary, featurettes, trailers). Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren are reunited for this sixth film in the franchise about genetically enhanced soldiers (counting two barely related straight-to-DVD titles). So violent that it initially received an NC-17 and was re-rated after some editing. (Also on DVD, $26.99)
“Tai Chi Zero” (Well Go, 2012, PG-13, $24.98, in Mandarin with English subtitles, featurette, music videos, trailers). Olympic gold medal martial arts champ Jayden Yuan stars in this tale of a 19th century Chinese village — where everyone seems to be a tai chi master — threatened by railroad construction. First of a proposed trilogy. (Also on Blu-ray, $29.98)
“Hansel and Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft” (Lionsgate, 2013, PG-13, $26.98, audio commentary, photo gallery, trailers). Just in time to piggyback on the big screen’s “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” comes this very cheap tale of two teens (played by real-life siblings Booboo and Fivel Stewart) who attend a school founded by witches and discover they are descendants of witch-slayers Hansel and Gretel. Right.
“Death Race 3: Inferno” (Universal/Blu-ray, 2013, not rated, two discs, $34.93, DVD and digital versions, alternate opening, featurettes, trailers). The incarcerated demolition-derby driver nicknamed “Frankenstein” (Luke Goss) returns in this straight-to-video sequel, this time taking on new villains in a new racing competition. (Also on DVD, $29.98)
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