- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 24, 2005

One of the most highly anticipated titles from Korea’s thriving film industry, Park Chanwook’s intense thriller Oldboy, makes its Stateside digital debut this week in a lavish special edition from Tartan Video ($24.99). It’s our …

DVD pick of the week

Actor Choi Min-sik turns in rigorous work as Dae-su, a seemingly average, if a bit obstreperous, citizen who’s suddenly kidnapped and imprisoned in an apartment by mysterious captors for reasons unknown.

Upon his release some 15 years later, the now half-mad ex-inmate seeks answers and revenge. In his quest for same, he hooks up with a much younger woman (Gang Hye-jung) who offers Dae-su some respite from his inner torments, though ultimately at a terrible price.

A recent film-festival fave, “Oldboy” rates as a prime example of the new breed of extreme Asian cinema. Teeth-gritting tableaux include Dae-su’s hammer-driven rampage at the expense of a small army of hapless goons and a dental torture sequence that makes “Marathon Man” look like a day at the beach. But the film is equally rife with meditative moments as it earnestly explores the themes of guilt and justice.



Tartan Video’s edition includes audio commentary by director Park Chanwook and cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon, deleted scenes, a Cannes Film Festival Q&A and more.

For a double helping of cutting-edge Asian cinema, check out Japanese auteur Takashi Miike’s audacious, extras-packed Audition: Uncut Special Edition (Lions Gate Home Entertainment, $19.98).

Tele-video

In fresh TV-on-DVD developments, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment resurrects a trio of vintage sitcoms: the J.J. Walker showcase Good Times: The Complete Fifth Season (two-disc), That’s My Mama: The Complete First Season (three-disc) and The Complete Second Season (two-disc), and What’s Happening!: The Complete Third Season (two-disc). The sets are tagged at $29.95 each.

Lions Gate Home Entertainment likewise looks for laughs with ALF: Season Two (four-disc, $39.98) and Will & Grace: Season Four (four-disc, $44.98); the latter set includes an outtakes reel and featurettes.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment contributes the teen-oriented Life As We Know It: The Complete Series (three-disc, $39.99), replete with audio commentaries, two unaired episodes, outtakes and more; and the family-focused Once and Again: The Complete Second Season (five-disc, $59.99).

Universal Studios Home Entertainment goes the rescue route with Adam 12: Season One (26 episodes), starring Martin Milner and Kent McCord as indefatigable cops, and Emergency: Season One (11 episodes, two-disc, $39.98 each), with Kevin Tighe and Randolph Mantooth as tireless paramedics.

HBO Video continues its examination of life at the Fisher & Diaz funeral home with Six Feet Under: The Complete Fourth Season (12 episodes, five-disc, $99.98), complemented by creator commentaries, deleted scenes and featurettes. The label likewise introduces Lackawanna Blues, the acclaimed urban drama set in the 1950s ($26.98).

Warner Home Video sets its sights on contemporary family life with The O.C.: The Complete Second Season (24 episodes, seven-disc, $69.98), arriving with select commentaries, a featurette and outtakes.

The ‘A’ list

Among recent theatrical releases making their digital debuts, Queen Latifah stars in the bonus-accessorized Beauty Shop (MGM Home Entertainment, $28.95). Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet meet cute (repeatedly) in the romantic comedy A Lot Like Love (Touchstone Home Entertainment, $29.99), in an extras-enhanced edition. Daniel Craig headlines in the British gangster caper “Layer Cake” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, $26.96), also with extras to spare.

Returning to Asian themes, Naomi Watts finds chills galore in Hideo Nakata’s Americanized remake The Ring Two, available in separate original theatrical and unrated editions via Dreamworks Home Entertainment ($29.99 each).

Collectors’ corner

Several trendsetting films revisit video racks in gala new editions this week. Paramount Home Entertainment offers bonus-enriched reissues of Peter Weir’s 1998 media meditation The Truman Show, starring Jim Carrey, and the 1985 Harrison Ford-meets-the-Amish thriller Witness ($19.99 each). Both include multiple documentaries, deleted scenes and more.

Warner Home Video lavishes much digital TLC on Mario Van Peebles’ breakthrough 1991 gangsta caper New Jack City: Special Edition (two-disc, $26.99).

Old-school cool

MGM Home Entertainment aims to satisfy viewers suffering from advanced 1980s nostalgia via The Breakin’ DVD Collection (four-disc, $39.96). The set contains three influential hip-hop flicks — Beat Street, Breakin’ and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo — plus a bonus disc covering rap music and hip-hop culture from virtually every real and reel angle.

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: I would like to see a comedy series called “Mr. Smith” about a talking ape political adviser. Is it on DVD?

Robert Edwards, via e-mail

That short-lived but fun 1983 series has yet to land a homevideo release, but should be a good future bet for Paramount’s TV on DVD line.

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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