Have a Safe and Sane Fourth of July
From the Big Screen:
This Week’s Highlights:
There’s slim pickings on the home video shelves this week as the studios expect that most people will be in their backyards barbecuing hot dogs and hamburgers and setting off fireworks instead of parking in front of their DVD players. Still, there’s one important release this week: “Doberman Cop” (1977 — Japan) was released just as the popularity of yakuza movies was waning in Japan, and as the country’s film industry was undergoing some fundamental shifts. The film is a unique entry in the career of director Kinji Fukasaku (“Battles Without Honor and Humanity,” “Cops vs Thugs”), and reunited him with star Shinichi “Sonny” Chiba in an American-style crime movie that mixes gunplay and pulp fiction with martial arts and lowbrow comedy. Based on a popular manga by “Buronson” (creator of “Fist of the North Star”), “Doberman Cop” follows the fish-out-of-water adventures of Joji Kano (Chiba), a tough-as-nails police officer from Okinawa who arrives in Tokyo’s Kabuki-cho nightlife district to investigate the savage murder and mutilation of an island girl who had been working as a prostitute. Initially dismissed as a country bumpkin (complete with straw hat and live pig in tow!), Kano soon proves himself a more savvy detective than the local cops, and a tougher customer than anyone expected. As he probes deeper into the sleazy world of flesh-peddling, talent agency corruption and mob influence, Kano uncovers the shocking truth about the girl, her connection to a yakuza-turned-music manager (Hiroki Matsukata), and a savage serial killer who is burning women alive. Made to appeal both to the youth market with its biker gangs and popular music, as well as to old-time yakuza movie fans, “Doberman Cop” is an surprising oddity in Fukasaku’s career, his sole film adapted directly from a manga and never before released on video outside of Japan. Featuring Chiba at his charismatic best — channeling a Japanese Dirty Harry while doing all his own stunts — and Fukasaku at his most fun, deftly showcasing the combined talents of his “Piranha Army” stock company of actors and other regular players — “Doberman Cop” is a classic action comedy and a missing link in 1970’s Japanese cinema deserving of rediscovery. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo with high definition digital transfer and original uncompressed mono audio. From Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment.
From TV to DVD:
“Homicide: Life On The Street” (1993-1999) is a 35-disc box set with all 122 episodes. A critical smash and a three-time Peabody Award winner, the series presented viewers with a gritty and realistic examination of detectives working the homicide division in Baltimore and remains one of television’s finest hours about one of America’s toughest jobs. Based on the book “Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets” by David Simon, the critically acclaimed series became one of the most seminal drama series of all time by virtue of its powerful writing, gritty realism, emotionally charged storylines and outstanding ensemble cast, including Richard Belzer, Andre Braugher, Yaphet Kotto, Melissa Leo and Ned Beatty. From Shout! Factory … “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: Johnny and Friends Featuring Steve Martin, Robin Williams & Eddie Murphy” contains nine new-to retail shows from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s featuring three of the most loved guests from “The Tonight Show” — Steve Martin, Robin Williams and Eddie Murphy. Each DVD contains complete, unedited shows — including vintage commercials — highlighting some of the most cherished moments from 30 years of “The Tonight Show.” Disc 1: Steve Martin (original air dates: July 21, 1976: Steve Martin, Jimmy Stewart, Karen Black, and more; May 21, 1982: Steve Martin, Sylvester Stallone; December 19, 1991: Steve Martin, Cathy Ladman, Leon Redbone). Disc 2: Robin Williams (original air dates: April 3, 1984: Robin Williams, Phyllis Newman; January 10, 1991: Robin Williams, Steve Lawrence; September 19, 1991: Robin Williams, Jonathan Winters, Park Overall). Disc 3: Eddie Murphy (original air dates: January 1, 1982: Eddie Murphy, McLean Stevenson; February 10, 1982: Eddie Murphy, Wayne Rogers, Albert Hague; July 30, 1982: Eddie Murphy, Randall “Tex” Cobb, Angela Bofill. From Time Life.