Culture » Film



Driven to Kill (NR)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Steven Seagal is a former Russian mafioso turned crime novelist, the first two reasons Driven to Kill is so damn entertaining. Not only do you see Seagal, who struggles with English, wrestle around with a husky Russian accent, but you also see his take on the life of a writer. And yes, it does include slamming faces into walls, bookcases, drinking glasses ... you get the point. Of course Seagal's dragged back into mafia life when his daughter is assaulted on her wedding day, which forces him to take down the wrongdoers one-by-one, in the doughiest way possible. Sure, action fans have seen it all before, but, c'mon, how can you not find this stuff fun? Driven is a straight-to-video must-rent, for action fans and cheese fans alike. — Louis Fowler Purchase the DVD: Driven to Kill

Silent Venom (NR)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment / Release: June 2

Less than one minute into Silent Venom, you learn everything you need to know about this flick: On a remote island, giant, angry mutated (and wonderfully CGI-ed) snakes are being bred for the military by pin-up-girl scientist Krista Allen. You know from that info alone that soon, all hell will break loose, and break loose it does! The giant snakes are set free on a decommissioned submarine during an attack by the Chinese — Snakes on a Sub, anyone? — and only military man James O'Neill (Luke Perry, wonderfully slumming here) can bring them down! Directed by hack-meister extraordinaire Fred Olen Ray, Silent is low-budget, SciFi Channel, nature-gone-amok goodness, the kind of goofy movie you watch on a lazy Saturday afternoon while scarfing Pringles and Dr Pepper. Just like I did. — Louis FowlerPurchase the DVD: Silent Venom

Fanboys (PG-13)

Weinstein Co.

In 1998, a few aimless, 20-something Star Wars fanatics make a cross-country pilgrimage from Ohio to George Lucas HQ, determined to sneak a pre-release peek at Episode I: The Phantom Menace before one of them dies of cancer. Wackiness ensues, but most of what should be funny seems tired and limp, as occasional swerves into Serious Acting become painfully funny. The cast includes alumni of Cavemen, Freddy vs. Jason, Balls of Fury and Gossip Girl, plus a shameless cameo parade. With the movie already a hodgepodge of rambling commentary and extraneous scenes, the DVD offers more of the same. — Jonathan KieferPurchase the DVD: Fanboys

Wandering Ginza Butterfly (NR)

Synapse Films

When it comes to classic '70s Japanese cinema, no actress epitomizes coolness like cult actress Meiko Kaji. While she may look like a demure beauty, she becomes a deadly black widow when she's crossed, wielding a samurai sword like she was born with it in her hand. In this classic, she's an ex-con who runs afoul of the Yakuza (a crew of pimps and hustlers in the seedy part of Tokyo). Using her supernatural skills as a gambler and a pool shark, she fights the mob, leading to a bloody finale in which she slashes her sword across the chests and into the backs of the underworld. Wandering Ginza Butterfly is part of the very popular "Pinky Violence" sub-genre, and while the film eschews the sex of other films of this ilk, it's full throttle with the action and suspense. This is vengeance cinema at its finest. — Louis FowlerPurchase the DVD: Wandering Ginza Butterfly

Wandering Ginza Butterfly 2: She-Cat Gambler (NR)

Synapse Films

If Meiko Kaji was the coolest Japanese actress of the '70s, then superstar Sonny Chiba is Japan's Steve McQueen. So it was only logical that Toei Studios would team its two most bankable stars for an even more rousing, over-the-top Wandering Ginza Butterfly sequel. This one finds Kaji trying to track down the killer of her father, taking her again into sleazy gambling parlors where she mixes it up with unsavory characters to find the culprit, with Chiba tagging along. As in the first Butterfly, the showpiece is the explosive finale, with Kaji and Chiba, back-to-back with sword and gun, taking on a houseful of well-dressed gangsters. (Just pick 'n choose the scenes Tarantino "homaged" for Kill Bill.) They don't hold back, and when she gets her revenge, look out, because she's as badass as it gets! — Louis FowlerPurchase the DVD: Wandering Ginza Butterfly 2: She-Cat Gambler

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