- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 27, 2002

Action fans will receive a double-barreled treat early next month with two fresh entries in the Andy Sidaris collection, Savage Beach and Guns, new from Ventura Distribution ($14.98 each DVD). They're our Video picks of the week.
"Savage Beach" is arguably the most elaborate film in the Sidaris canon. The 1989 movie stars Dona Speir and Hope Marie Carlton as foxy federal agents Donna and Taryn. The gun-wielding gal pals find themselves caught in the middle of a three-way scramble for a gold fortune buried on a remote Pacific atoll by Japanese soldiers during World War II and still guarded by a semisenile self-styled samurai. Fiercely competing for the cache are good-guy naval officers (John Aprea, Bruce Penhall), a gang of ruthless mercenaries, and hot-blooded revolutionaries led by Colombian actor Rodrigo Obregon. In addition to the expected explosions, "Savage Beach" delivers its share of suspense.
In 1990's "Guns," writer-director Andy Sidaris and producer Arlene Sidaris bottle another heady brew of brave bimbos, two-fisted hunks and campy high jinks as Miss Speir returns, accompanied by new partner Roberta Vasquez. They take on high-strung international gun-runner Erik Estrada (who supplies mucho fun here) and his evil minions. As in other Sidaris outings, the plethora of James Bondian gadgetry and colorful location shooting (in this case, in Las Vegas and Hawaii) endow the film with a cinematic sweep that belies its modest budget.
Both handsomely packaged and affordably priced Director's Cut Special Edition DVDs offer lively, candid audio commentary by Andy and Arlene Sidaris, a host segment with Mr. Sidaris and Amazonian actress Julie Strain, cast and crew interviews and an instructive "Andy Sidaris Film School" featurette. These dynamite discs offer lots of figurative bang for the buck.


Action update
In other action developments, look for Sean Patrick Flannery in both Con Express (Artisan), co-starring Arnold Vosloo (of "The Mummy"), and the biker bashfest Lone Hero (First Look), with Robert Forster and Lou Diamond Phillips. Keep an eye out, too, for Ron Perlman in Shakedown (New Concorde) and Seidy Lopez in Urban Jungle (Artisan).
Steve Oedekerk (of "Blair Thumb"), meanwhile, tears a sizable page from Woody Allen's "What's Up, Tiger Lily?" with his kung-fu sendup Kung Pow: Enter the Fist (20th Century Fox). All of the above will be priced for rental VHS and also available on DVD.
Warner Home Video goes the sell-through route with action specialist Andrew ("The Fugitive") Davis' Arnold Schwarzenegger showcase Collateral Damage ($22.98 VHS/$26.98 DVD), an initially poorly timed film with a terrorist theme that co-stars Elias Koteas, Francesca Neri, John Leguizamo and John Turturro.


Blasts from the past

Anchor Bay Entertainment chimes in with a quintet of old-school action titles. Helmut Berger and Marisa Mell star in the Euro crime spree Beast with a Gun. Robert Shaw joins Shelley Winters, Richard Roundtree and Barbara Hershey in the heist caper Diamonds. Sally Kirkland, Robert Forster and Wings Hauser headline in the mystery thriller Guns and Lipstick. Stuart Whitman encounters martial-arts mayhem in Shatter. Jason Miller, Cleavon Little and a young Tim Robbins outwit terrorists in Toy Soldiers. The DVDs are tagged at $19.98 each.


Tele-video

Alan Alda, Loretta Swit, Gary Burghof and the entire "M*A*S*H" gang return to the home screen with 20th Century Fox's M*A*S*H season-two gift set, containing all 24 episodes from the television series' second season ($39.98 DVD, $26.98 VHS). The shows also are available in three eight-episode cassettes ($9.98 VHS each).
For Trekkies, Paramount presents Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Episodes 117 through 120 ($14.95 VHS). Artisan Entertainment weighs in with the made-for-TV movie Dinotopia ($14.98 VHS/$19.98 DVD). Eclectic DVD offers Milton Berle An All-Star Tribute to Mr. Television ($19.95 DVD).


Phan mail

Dear Phantom: I was reading your column in the Weekend section of The Washington Times and had a couple of questions. For some years, I have been looking for a couple of movies on DVD/VHS but have been unsuccessful in finding them. The first is a Korean air film that I believe is titled The Hunters. It stars Robert Mitchum and Robert Wagner. The second stars Errol Flynn, Trevor Howard and Eddie Albert and is titled The Roots of Heaven. Can you tell me if either of these has been released?
John Ehrlich, via e-mail
Not as yet, but both 1958 films Dick Powell's "The Hunters" and John Huston's "The Roots of Heaven" hail from 20th Century Fox and, we hope, will secure home-video releases via that label.
Send your video comments and queries to Phantom of the Movies, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002 or e-mail us at: [email protected] And check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag.com.


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