- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 2, 2021

Here’s a look at a pair of crime thrillers packed with tough guys and available on home entertainment.

Coogan’s Bluff (Kino Lorber, rated R, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, 94 minutes, $29.95) — A pre-“Dirty Harry” collaboration in 1968 between budding matinee idol Clint Eastwood and director Don Siegel led to a violent crime thriller that now returns to the Blu-ray format with the most expansive collection of extras ever offered.

Mr. Eastwood’s starred as insubordinate Arizona Deputy Sheriff Walt Coogan who gets punished for his behavior by being sent to New York City and extraditing killer James Ringerman (a crazed Don Stroud).

After being treated like a rube by the Big Apple cops and getting stalled on his assignment, he bluffs his way into taking custody of the prisoner. Of course, Ringerman escapes and, rather than return to Arizona disgraced, Coogan hunts down the killer.

This gritty effort continued to shape Mr. Eastwood’s tough-guy image with a sense of humor to boot and his performance gets supplemented by feisty, wise-cracking Lee J. Cobb as a weary veteran cop Lt. McElroy and Susan Clark as the mesmerized love interest and probation officer, Julie Roth.

However, the head-shaking treatment of the female characters, such as taking a light-hearted approach to rape, prostitution, hippie nudity and Coogan’s assumption that every attractive female wants him tarnish this early example of the genre.

The high definition transfer could use a good cleanup with the appearance of some dirt specks, lines and mild blemishes, but the clarity is top-notch, and the mild amount of film grain remains true to the film source.

However, more impressive, the colors are vivid throughout (even the fake blood is an orangish-red) highlighted by an outdoor screen on a rooftop boasting a crisp blue sky set against Coogan’s burgundy suit and Roth’s yellow coat and red hair.

Best extras: Viewers get a pair of new optional solo commentary tracks.

First, director and author Alex Cox (“Sid and Nancy” and “Repo Man”), an aficionado of Spaghetti Westerns, offers an intermittent overview of the production, overexplaining and dissecting the plot, exploring the key actors and crew through trivia and touching on the similarities to Siegel’s crime drama “Madigan” and evolution of the 1960s crime film genre.

Next, writer Alan Spencer — known for the short-lived cop TV series spoof “Sledge Hammer!” — offers more of a light-hearted, lecture-style, nonstop commentary with a more detailed, trivia-rich deconstruction of the movie down to the font style of the credits, weapon types, acting styles, locations, and offers more on the career of Mr. Eastwood and his tropes.

Viewers also get a pair of worthy featurettes.

Start with an almost nine-minute current interview with Mr. Stroud (now in his 70s) that focuses on his role in the film as he discusses working with Mr. Eastwood and Mr. Cobb, navigating the motorcycle chase and the movie’s effect on his evolving career.

Next, a vintage, almost all black-and-white, segment from 1970 called “At Home with Clint Eastwood” has the star answering questions in and around his home in Carmel, California. In the classic, slightly forced interview, he explains why he had a pair of bathtub scenes with leading ladies, his love of animals and what makes him mad.

Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (Lionsgate Home Entertainment, rated R, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 100 minutes, $30.99) — Director Patrick Hughes reassembled the key cast of a 2017 blockbuster to deliver yet another violent action comedy thriller this summer.

Now available in ultra-high definition, the story picks up from the last film as disgraced elite bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) takes a therapist’s advice and goes on a relaxing sabbatical to reassess his life.

While on vacation, he gets pulled back into a rescue operation when Sonia (Selma Hayek), con woman and wife of assassin extraordinaire Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), demands help to spring her love who is being held by the mob.

However, the trio gets sucked into another crisis when captured by Interpol agent Bobby O’Neill (Frank Grillo). They must stop the evil plans of Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Papadopoulos (Antonio Banderas) who is threatening to hack Europe’s central data junction destroying the power grid and economy.

An enormous amount of screaming, F-bombs and head shot blood spurting greet viewers throughout the Tex Avery-style action as the stars chew up the scenery.

The cast really has too much fun, especially Mr. Reynolds, who often acts like a test dummy, abused and battered but still coming back for more.

The result is a fairly pointless but stupidly entertaining film, that tries too hard for laughs but offers its share of high-octane action moments. 

The gorgeous location all around Italy look stunning in the ultra-high definition format as viewers take quick trips to Capri, Rome, Portofino and Tuscany as well as a stop in Athens, Greece.

Equally impressive to admire are the obviously expensive, action scenes highlighted by a shoulder-rocket-wielding assassin aboard a helicopter shooting explosive rounds at the trio driving across a bridge.

Best extras: Viewers learn about how much fun it is to make an action movie via a collection of four featurettes offering roughly 30 minutes about the production.

The segments cover the cast members and their love for each other, especially Mr. Reynolds, some of the more difficult practical stunt work performed and a brief look at production design.

What’s needed is an optional commentary track with Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Jackson and Miss Hayek because I know it would be packed with silliness.

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