PRIDE AND GLORY (Warner Home Video): Director Gavin O’Connor’s gritty street drama harkens back to the cop films of the 1970s, concentrating more on content and character than blazing action. Small wonder, then, that it did little business upon its theatrical release last year. (The collapse of its distributor, New Line Cinema, probably didn’t help matters either.) Set during the Christmas holidays, the film opens with the shooting of four New York City cops in a drug-infested tenement in Washington Heights. Was it a bust gone bad or an inside job? Determining the answer falls to disillusioned detective Ray Tierney (Edward Norton), whose father Francis (Jon Voight) happens also to be the chief of detectives. But as Ray pushes closer to the truth, he uncovers a Byzantine web of police corruption that zeroes in on his older brother Francis Jr. (Noah Emmerich), himself a police officer — albeit one with political aspirations — and their brother in-law Jimmy (Colin Farrell), a patrolman teetering dangerously close to self-immolation. It’s not long before the entire Tierney family is jeopardized — both from within and from without.
Although a little too long in its telling, this is a well-acted and absorbing yarn about moral conflict, and deserved a better fate at the box-office. Then again, home video’s always been about second chances. Rated R. ***
ALSO ON DVD
10 DEAD MEN (MTI Home Video): Brendan Carr (also an associate producer) plays a vengeful thug who embarks on a violent, one-man vendetta against the 10 men who ruined his life. Editor/story writer/director Ross Boyask’s low-budget, flashback-happy “Brit noir” takes its inspiration from any number of sources (Get Carter, Point Blank, the films of Guy Ritchie) but has attitude and verve to spare — along with some extremely amusing hairstyles. Doug Bradley provides suitably cheeky narration. Rated R. **’½
ANAMORPH (Genius Products): Willem Dafoe plays a troubled detective tracking a serial killer who emulates famous paintings in this thriller, which is moody and well-shot but ponderously paced and in dire need of tightening. A good cast also includes Scott Speedman, Clea DuVall, Amy Carlson, James Rebhorn, Peter Stormare and Deborah Harry. Rated R. **
DEAR TALULA (First Run Features): Filmmaker Lori Benson’s awardwinning debut film is a touching, first-person documentary that traces her battle with breast cancer and is meant as a record for her infant daughter Talula. This could have been an absolute downer but is instead an uplifting and appealing chronicle. ***
DEATH RACE (Universal Studios Home Entertainment): Paul WS Anderson’s bloodthirsty remake of the 1975 cult smash Death Race 2000 sees Jason Statham as a convict who participates in the title competition in order to earn his freedom. Less concerned with satire than the original film, but absolutely loaded with action. It’s also a hoot to see classy Joan Allen (!) playing the ruthless overseer of the race. Rated R (also available in an unrated edition). **’½
DISASTER MOVIE (LionsGate Home Entertainment): It’s the end of the world as we know it — more or less — in this aptly-named spoof that represents the latest cinematic endeavor from the writing/producing/directing duo of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, who have already foisted such equally insipid comedies as Epic Movie, Date Movie and Meet the Spartans on an unsuspecting public. Enough’s enough. Rated PG-13 (also available in an unrated version). *
EULOGY (LionsGate Home Entertainment): Writer/director Michael Clancy’s debut feature focuses on the eventful reunion of a (very) dysfunctional family when the patriarch (Rip Torn) passes away. The combination of black comedy and sweetness doesn’t always connect, but the ensemble cast is terrific: Ray Romano (particularly good), Hank Azaria, Debra Winger, Zooey Deschanel, Piper Laurie, Kelly Preston, Famke Janssen, Jesse Bradford, Glenne Headly and Rene Auberjonois (as the clueless minister). Rated R. **’½
FORFEIT (MTI Home Video): Off-kilter and unsatisfying heist melodrama with Billy Burke as a religious paranoid who plots an elaborate armored-car robbery. Sherry Stringfield and Wayne Knight also appear in this film, which won some awards at film festivals. Rated R. **
“KYLE XY: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON — REVELATIONS” (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment): All 23 episodes from the 2007-’09 season of the prime-time ABC Family science-fiction series focusing on a young man (Matt Dallas) who is actually the living, breathing result of a top-secret government project to produce genetically superior human beings… and the government’s been looking for him. This boxed set retails for $39.99.
THE MAN WHO CAME BACK (LionsGate Home Entertainment): Eric Braeden (also an executive producer) plays a Civil War hero determined to exact vengeance upon those who murdered his family and railroaded him into prison. Loosely based on actual events, and earnestly played by a star-studded cast: Armand Assante, George Kennedy, Billy Zane, Sean Young, Peter Jason, Carol Alt and former boxing champ Ken Norton. Not bad but slow-moving. Rated R. **
“MOONLIGHT” — THE COMPLETE SERIES (Warner Home Video): Even a fervent fan base couldn’t save this award-winning, prime-time CBS-TV supernatural drama from cancellation. It’s about a brooding Los Angeles private eye (Alex O’Loughlin) with a secret: He’s a vampire. This boxed set, which contains all 16 episodes from the show’s 2007-’08 run, retails for $39.98.
THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR (Universal Studios Home Entertainment): Rob Cohen replaces Stephen Sommers (still an executive producer) and Maria Bello replaces Rachel Weisz, but otherwise it’s full steam (and full silliness) ahead in the third installment of the popular fantasy franchise — this time combining the supernatural perils of the previous movies with medieval mysticism of the Far East. It doesn’t make much sense, and the friendly Yeti are ridiculous, but fans of the series came back for more… and so does light-hearted and ever-likable leading man Brendan Fraser, still giving his all in the pursuit of bigger box-office. John Hannah is also back, joined this time around by newcomers Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh (unfortunately wasted). Available in various editions ranging in retail price from $29.98 to $94.98. Rated PG-13. **’½
MY BLOODY VALENTINE (LionsGate Home Entertainment): A “special-edition” re-release of the 1981 slasher film (recently remade in 3-D) in which the residents of a mining town fall prey to an axe-wielding maniac dressed as a miner. All things considered, this is hardly the worst of its ilk — and this version includes scenes deemed too gory for its original release. Rated R. **
SAW V (LionsGate Home Entertainment): The saga continues in this expectedly gory outing that sees a police pathologist (Costas Mandylor) assuming the grisly mantle of the deceased serial killer “Jigsaw” (topbilled Tobin Bell, seen in flashback). It made enough money to ensure that another installment is on the way. (Oh, joy…) Available as a single widescreen or fullscreen DVD ($29.95 retail), as a Blu-ray disc ($39.99 retail), or in a collector’s boxed set ($39.95). Rated R (also available in an unrated edition). *
“SECRET DIARY OF A CALL GIRL: SEASON ONE” (LionsGate Home Entertainment): All 16 episodes from the 2007-’08 season of the popular British drama — carried by Showtime here in the US — starring beauteous Billie Piper as a young woman who leads a double life as a high-priced escort. This boxed set retails for $29.98.
TYLER PERRY’S THE MARRIAGE COUNSELOR: THE PLAY (LionsGate Home Entertainment): A filmed rendition of writer/producer/director Tyler Perry’s popular touring musical play, which focuses on a married couple contending with contemporary issues. This special-edition DVD, which includes cast interviews, retails for $19.98.
WALT DISNEY TREASURES: THE COMPLETE GOOFY (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment): A special- and limited-edition collection of more than 40 animated Disney shorts (dating from 1939-’61) showcasing the “greatest misadventures” of the bumbling but lovable Goofy. This two-disc set, which retails for $32.99, includes retrospective documentaries, rare behind-the-scenes footage, and plenty of goodies for the Goofy (and Disney) faithful.
WARNER BROS. HORROR DOUBLE FEATURES (Warner Home Video): It’s back to the “scary ’60s” with this pair of DVD twin bills: Carol Lynley and Gig Young (executing some fairly ridiculous judo moves) join Oliver Reed and Flora Robson in the loose 1967 HP Lovecraft adaptation of the The Shuttered Room (**), while a deliriously hammy Roddy McDowall resurrects the indestructible creature known as the Golem in 1966’s laughable It! (**); Patrick O’Neal plays a one-armed maniac at large in 19 th -century Baltimore in 1966’s Chamber of Horrors (**’½), which was originally intended for TV but deemed too violent, while the legendary Christopher Lee reprises one of his most popular roles, that of Sax Rohmer’s Asian criminal mastermind, in 1966’s The Brides of Fu Manchu (**’½), the second in a five-film Fu Manchu series produced by Harry Alan Towers. Each double-feature DVD retails for $19.98.
Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. Copyright 2009, Mark Burger