- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Though clearly in debt to Martin Scorsese’s “Mean Streets,” writer-director Robert Moresco puts a fresh spin on familiar material in his solid crime drama One Eyed King, new this week from Velocity Home Entertainment ($24.98). It’s our …

DVD pick of the week

Set in contemporary New York’s Hell’s Kitchen, “One Eyed King” follows a quintet of tough tenement kids, most Irish American, who take a vow of “five against the world,” only to see that solemn pledge challenged by the vagaries of adulthood and its attendant treacheries.

William Baldwin gives a convincing performance as the brightest member of the band, who stubbornly clings to his dead-end Manhattan ‘hood out of a misguided mix of loyalty and inertia.

Mr. Moresco employs his earnest old-school approach to surprisingly deft advantage, drawing us into a xenophobic petty-criminal milieu that seems to have skipped the past few decades. (Even the jukebox at the guys’ favorite hangout is stocked with 1950s rock records.) Mr. Moresco also makes excellent use of his authentic locations and keeps his archetypal tale of brotherhood and betrayal moving at a crisp but textured clip.

The movie’s strongest suit, though, is its ace lineup of veteran character actors. Armand Assante adds depth to his role as a smoothly cruel local crime boss, Chazz Palminteri rings true as a long-compromised cop, Leo Rossi scores as an embattled honest citizen, and Bruno Kirby is terrific as Mr. Assante’s victimized flunky.

While Velocity’s DVD is light on extras, “One Eyed King” is worth a look for its own cinematic merits.

Collectors’ corner

A veritable wave of vintage titles hits area video stores. Warner Home Video channels the 1980s, according royal treatment to a trio of Prince vehicles, leading with the mono-monikered rocker’s signature celluloid achievement, 1984’s Purple Rain ($26.99). The film arrives in a widescreen double-disc edition replete with red-carpet extras ranging from filmmaker audio commentary to featurettes to bonus music videos.

Music videos also accompany 1986’s Under the Cherry Moon and 1990’s Graffiti Bridge ($19.95 each).

MGM Home Entertainment counters with a pair of disco musicals — 1980’s futuristic fable The Apple and the previous year’s Roller Boogie, starring former little devil Linda Blair — along with the 1969 road-trip time capsule Chastity ($14.95 each). “Chastity,” showcasing a very young Cher, was written and produced by longtime beau Sonny Bono.

Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment offers a brace of literary adaptations — Warren Beatty and Jean Seberg in Robert Rossen’s still powerful, highly recommended 1964 asylum-set drama Lilith, based on J.R. Salamanca’s novel, and Richard Brooks’ 1965 screen translation of Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim ($24.96 each), starring Peter O’Toole and James Mason.


“Highlander” fans can plan on putting aside a week or so to venture into Highlander: Season 5 ($89.98). Anchor Bay Entertainment’s nine-disc set incorporates 18 sword-swinging episodes and more than 11 hours of extras, from multiple commentaries to featurettes, convention footage, CD-ROM content and more.

Ditto for “Dallas” devotees — Warner Home Video’s five-disc Dallas: The Complete First and Second Seasons ($49.98) offers more than 23 hours of Texas intrigue via 29 original episodes, a cast reunion special, select commentary by Larry Hagman (J.R.) and other show personnel, and more.

The same label’s Babylon 5: The Movie Collection ($59.98, five-disc set) assembles five feature-length “B5” films, plus commentaries by series creator J. Michael Straczynski and other extras.

From Buena Vista Home Entertainment comes 1994’s Boy Meets World: The Complete First Season ($49.98, three-disc set), with 22 original episodes, a bonus episode, and a cast-and-crew audio commentary.

The ‘A’ list

In fresh theatrical-to-disc titles, Miramax Home Entertainment debuts the romantic modern fairy tale Ella Enchanted in a bonus-laden edition, along with Hong Kong comic Steven Chow’s spirited sports romp Shaolin Soccer ($29.99 each) in a disc containing both the original Chinese version and the re-edited American release.

Ashley Judd stars as a troubled police officer in the serial-killer thriller Twisted (Paramount Home Entertainment, $29.99) in an extras-enriched edition.

Also this week, Mel Gibson’s megahit The Passion of the Christ (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, $29.98) is available in a frills-free edition.

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: I am a huge fan of the late Charles Bronson. He had one of his best roles in the mystery-thriller Rider on the Rain. Any chance of this long out-of-print video making it to DVD anytime soon?

Randy Bodine, Frederick, Md.

Have not heard any word, but that sharp Rene Clement-directed suspenser, formerly available on VHS via Monterey Home Video, would be a welcome addition to the digital ranks.

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 [email protected] For more information, click on www.videoscopemag.com.

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