- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Director/co-writer Prachya Pinkaew and star Tony Jaa re-energize the old-school martial-arts genre with the action-packed import Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior ($27.98) from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. It’s our …

DVD pick of the week

When a desperate criminal steals the head of the eponymous stone idol Ong-Bak from its remote village home, normally peaceful young martial-arts ace Ting (Jaa) heads to the big, bad city in a bid to reclaim the treasured totem. Once in Bangkok, the innocent Ting hooks up with his streetwise petty hustler cousin Humlae (Perttary Wongkamlao). Humlae agrees to help if Ting will take on some particularly tough fighters in gambling-driven club matches so he can pay off some outstanding debts to a sinister local crime lord.

The bouts serve as an able excuse for Jaa (birth name Panom Yeerum) to strut his impressive “Muay Thai” martial-arts stuff against a series of colorful opponents. But Mr. Jaa, working sans the benefit of wires, stunt doubles or CGI enhancements, saves some of his most spectacular moves for the film’s many breathless outdoor action sequences, highlighted by a wild taxi chase and a “legs ablaze” scene wherein our hero’s lower limbs are literally set afire.

While the extras are fairly thin, they do include a fascinating behind-the-scenes featurette proving the authenticity of Mr. Jaa’s nearly unbelievable abilities, along with a live Muay Thai demonstration conducted before an “Ong-Bak” screening in Paris. Martial-arts fans and action aficionados of all stripes will want to pounce on this one.

Tele-video

Comedy dominates the latest wave of TV on DVD sets. Cathode curmudgeon Larry David returns in HBO Video’s 10-episode Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Fourth Season, while the same label introduces The Mind of the Married Man: The Complete First Season (two-disc, $39.98 each), arriving with audio commentaries by creator Mike Binder and actress Sonya Walger, along with deleted scenes.

The above institution receives equally irreverent scrutiny in Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s 23-episode Married … With Children: The Complete Fourth Season (three-disc, $39.95). Buena Vista Home Entertainment revisits vintage high-school angst in Boy Meets World: The Complete Third Season (three-disc, $39.99).

MPI Home Video time-trips back to the ‘60s with Petticoat Junction: Ultimate Collection (three-disc, $29.98), assembling 20 restored episodes and a slew of down-home extras, including cast interviews, a retrospective documentary and more. A&E Home Video reaches across the pond for a pair of Monty Python comic compilation discs, Eric Idle’s Personal Best and Michael Palin’s Personal Best ($19.98 each), wherein the erstwhile Pythonites present their fave skits. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment goes the animated route with the misadventures of fat-cat Garfield and Friends: Volume Four (three-disc, $39.98).

In a more earnest vein, Universal Studios Home Entertainment presents the medical mystery series House M.D.: The Complete First Season (three-disc, $59.98), starring Hugh Laurie, and David Carradine returns as wanderer Caine in Kung Fu: The Complete Third Season (four-disc, $39.98), replete with a new featurette and select David Carradine audio commentary.

Collectors’ corner

Several backdate hits received new digital polishes this week. The Blues Brothers: 25th Anniversary Edition (Universal, $22.98) rocks on in a double-disc edition with new featurettes, interviews and BB concert footage. The Alicia Silverstone showcase Clueless celebrates its 10th with an equally loaded single-disc reissue, as does the 1995 Chris Farley/David Spade team-up Tommy Boy (both Paramount Home Entertainment, $19.99 each).

The Richard Gere/Julia Roberts romantic romp Pretty Woman (Touchstone Home Entertainment, $19.99) marks its 15th anniversary with a mix of new and vintage extras, plus audio commentary by producer Garry Marshall.

Two less well-known but equally worthy titles also surface this week — Gillian Armstrong’s 1982 Australian cult musical Starstruck, in a double-disc, extras-enhanced edition via Blue Underground ($29.95), and Arnold Laven’s ahead-of-its-time 1952 serial-killer noir Without Warning (MPI Home Video, $14.98).

The A-List

Among recent theatrical releases making their DVD bows, Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda go toe-to-toe in the high-decibel farce Monster-in-Law, storming into vidstores in a double-disc edition (New Line Home Entertainment, $28.98), packed with bonuses ranging from featurettes to a blooper reel.

Matthew McConaughey, Steve Zahn and Penelope Cruz find adventure in the Clive Cussler-based Sahara (Paramount Home Entertainment, $29.95); extras include audio commentaries and deleted scenes.

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: I’ve been waiting for a DVD release of the 1973 Roy Scheider film The Seven-Ups. Any chance of this film, released on VHS years ago, coming out on DVD any time soon?

Stephen Jones, Rockville

No word as yet, but it would be a natural for 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment to add to one of its vintage DVD lines.

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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