- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Director Rokuro Mochizuki emphasizes mood over action in his flavorful yakuza yarn Another Lonely Hitman ($24.95), new from the Asian film specialists at Artsmagic DVD (artsmagicdvd.com). It’s our …

DVD pick of the week

Ryo Ishibashi turns in a strong central performance as titular hit man Tachibana. Back in circulation following a 10-year prison stretch, Tachibana quickly learns that his codebound approach has become seriously outmoded in modern-day Osaka’s vicious crime milieu.

Determined to make a positive impact, partly to expiate his lingering guilt over an innocent woman he’d wounded during the hit that sent him to jail a decade earlier, our antihero develops a protective romance with a much younger prostitute (Asami Sawaki), vowing to free her from her growing heroin habit and grant her a second chance at life.

Tachibana also chooses to eschew further gunplay, using a video camera as a weapon to get the goods on rival hoods he feels have violated old-school yakuza “ethics.”

Though somewhat similar in tone to such better-known Takeshi Kitano yakuza capers as “Sonatine” and “Fireworks,” 1995’s “Another Lonely Hitman,” based on Yukio Yamanouchi’s novel, actually predates those efforts.

Artsmagic’s disc includes an informative commentary by leading Japanese cinema scholar Tom Mes, a lengthy, thoughtful interview with director Mr. Mochizuki, and cast and director filmographies.

Noir fans looking for a fresh take on a venerable genre should deem “Another Lonely Hitman” good company indeed.

Collectors’ corner

Warner Home Video celebrates a pair of American icons who epitomized celluloid cool with a brace of new DVD sets:

• The Essential Steve McQueen Collection assembles a half-dozen films — his major-movie debut in the 1959 combat drama Never So Few, toplining Frank Sinatra; 1965’s The Cincinnati Kid, co-starring Ann-Margret and Edward G. Robinson; the edgy 1968 cop caper Bullitt (in a double-disc edition with two feature-length documentaries); Sam Peckinpah’s 1972 heist classic The Getaway; the 1973 prison escape epic Papillon, with Dustin Hoffman; and the loosely fact-based 1980 Western Tom Horn. Select audio commentaries, featurettes and trailers augment this exemplary set.

• James Dean receives his due in The Complete James Dean Collection, containing special editions of the doomed star’s three-film oeuvre — 1954’s East of Eden, 1955’s Rebel Without a Cause and 1956’s Giant. The double discs come complete with film critics’ audio commentaries, new and vintage documentaries, featurettes, screen tests, rare television appearances and more. The set is tagged at $68.92.

More for collectors

Paramount Home Entertainment spotlights a still-thriving thesp, Al Pacino, with its new special editions of The Godfather Part II and The Godfather Part III ($19.99 each), both featuring audio commentaries by director Francis Ford Coppola.

Walt Disney Home Entertainment satisfies those with a Lindsay Lohan jones, issuing a bonus-packed edition of 1998’s The Parent Trap and the 2005 teen mystery Get a Clue ($19.99 each).


In fresh TV-on-DVD developments, recently elusive comic Dave Chappelle surfaces in Chappelle’s Show Season 2 Uncensored (three-disc, $36.99, Paramount Home Entertainment), complemented by bonus stand-up material, bloopers, deleted scenes and audio commentary by Mr. Chappelle and series co-creator Neal Brennan.

Comedy likewise rules in two sets from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment: Newsradio: The Complete First and Second Seasons (three-disc, $39.95) gathers 29 episodes, along with select cast and creator commentaries, gag reel, featurette and more, while the Redd Foxx showcase Sanford and Son: The Sixth Season (three-disc, $29.95) includes a separate souvenir scrapbook.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment takes a more earnest tack with Law & Order: The Third Year (1992-1993 Season) (three-disc, $59.98), collecting all 22 Season Three episodes, plus deleted scenes and a new tribute to late cast member Jerry Orbach.

MPI Home Video journeys back to the Wild West with The Rifleman: Boxed Set Collection 4 (four-disc, $49.98), rounding up 20 episodes from the sagebrush series starring Chuck Connors and Johnny Crawford as a frontier father-and-son team.

The ‘A’ list

Two recent terror titles join the digital ranks, Barry Watson and Emily Deschanel in Boogeyman (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, $28.95) and the medical-themed Japanese import Infection (Lions Gate Home Entertainment, $26.98).

Elsewhere, Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis star in the fact-based Olympics tale Swimming Upstream (MGM Home Entertainment, $26.98), while Barry Pepper plays a pilot stranded in the frozen far North in the gripping wilderness adventure The Snow Walker (First Look Home Entertainment, $24.98).

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: I’ve noticed that many John Wayne films have been coming out on DVD, but The High and the Mighty still isn’t out in any format.

—Steven Harris, via e-mail

Good news: Paramount plans to release that long-elusive film in a double-disc set ($19.99) Aug. 2.

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