- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Fresh from the festival circuit and a limited theatrical release, Secuestro Express roars into area vidstores via Miramax Home Entertainment ($29.99) as a frenetically paced nightmare ride, the most harrowing South American crime movie since Fernando Meirelles’ “City of God.” It’s our…

DVD pick of the week

Three hard-boiled hoods (convincingly played by members of a popular Venezuelan rap group) snatch a rich couple, the ultimately resilient Carla (Mia Maestro) and her less hardy beau Martin (Jean Paul Leroux) on their way home after a night of hearty partying at a Caracas club.

The trio plots a “secuestro express,” a quickie kidnap-and-ransom scheme of a sort frighteningly common in South American cities. That seemingly simple plan soon goes awry, however, taking more high-speed twists and turns than the abducted couple’s stolen car.

Along the way, debuting feature-film director Jonathan Jakubowicz employs a brutal sense of irony to paint a dismaying portrait of a treacherous terrain where both captors and captives are forced to deal with a random succession of rival criminals, corrupt cops and even each other. As one of the film’s producers notes in a bonus documentary, “You have good, bad, ugly, in all forms, in one car.”

The at-once intense and naturalistic acting is first-rate throughout, with Miss Maestro, an Argentine native, turning in especially strenuous yet nuanced work as the embattled Carla, while Ruben Blades registers well in an extended cameo as her father, continually frustrated by the frantic kidnappers’ often conflicting demands.

Extras include a director’s commentary, a second, Spanish-language audio track with director and cast, two informative behind-the-scenes featurettes, deleted scenes, a music video and more, all with optional English subtitles.

For a high-speed tour of a steamy urban hell, leavened by unswerving insight and dark wit, “Secuestro Express” is the film to see.

Tele-video superheroes

In new TV-on-DVD developments, Warner Home Video celebrates three vintage comic-book superheroes:

• George Reeves in Adventures of Superman: The Complete Second Season (five-disc, $39.98), accompanied by a new documentary and select commentary by Noel (Lois Lane) Neill and Jack (Jimmy Olsen) Larson;

• Lois & Clark — The New Adventures of Superman: The Complete Second Season (six-disc, $59.98), with all 22 Season Two episodes, select commentary by star Dean Cain, and featurettes;

• The 21-episode Flash: The Complete Series (six-disc, $59.98).

More TV on DVD

Mary Tyler Moore and newsroom friends return in The Mary Tyler Moore Show: The Complete Third Season (three-disc, $29.98), containing all 24 Season Three episodes.

HBO Video rolls out the red carpet for an irreverent 1990s series with Mr. Show: The Complete Collection (three-disc, $79.95), assembling seasons One through Four, along with commentaries, a blooper reel, original TV spots and more.

Koch Entertainment introduces its British DVD Collection with a trio of TV mysteries: John Hannah stars as the eponymous detective in the three-disc, four-movie set, Rebus ($39.98), while Arthur Conan Doyle is represented by the Sherlock Holmes title Hands of a Murderer, starring Edward Woodward as the famous shamus, and Agatha Christie weighs in with The Pale Horse ($19.98 each).

Anchor Bay Entertainment continues the seriocomic adventures of teen medico Neil Patrick Harris in the 22-episode Doogie Howser, M.D.: Season 3 (three-disc, $39.98).

The ‘A’ list

Among recent theatrical releases making their digital debuts, Lions Gate Home Entertainment unleashes Andrew Niccol’s international arms-dealing expose Lord of War, starring Nicolas Cage, in a single-disc version ($28.98) and a double-disc special edition ($30.98) equipped with audio commentaries, documentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes and more.

Samuel L. Jackson and Eugene Levy play mismatched partners in the action comedy The Man (New Line Home Entertainment, $27.98), complete with deleted scenes and a gag reel, while Al Pacino and Matthew McConaughey look to beat the system in the bonus-packed sports-betting drama Two for the Money (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, $29.98).

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment welcomes two indies: Embeth Davidtz in the comedy-drama Junebug ($26.96), and Sueno ($24.96), showcasing John Leguizamo as an aspiring musician — while teens encounter supernatural trouble in the Louisiana swamps in the chiller Venom (Dimension Home Video, $29.99), arriving with a featurette and audition tapes.

Foreign fare

Among new imports, Koch Entertainment issues veteran French auteur Eric Rohmer’s ambitious 2004 espionage drama Triple Agent ($29.98), while HBO Video introduces the 2004 Oscar-nominated South African film Yesterday ($26.98).

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: “Fire Sale,” an excellent comedy (in my opinion) of some years back with Alan Arkin and Rob Reiner, among others — any chance of release on DVD?

D. Johnston, via e-mail

No word as yet, but that outrageous 1979 black comedy would seem a natural for 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment’s expanding vintage DVD roster.

Send your video comments and queries to Phantom of the Movies, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002, or e-mail us at phanmedia @aol.com. Check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag .com.

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