New Blu-ray Releases Ready or Not

Since this column is bi-weekly, I tend to piece together releases for both the week the column runs and the week following. This latest entry has the distinction of having two films that are out this week, and two that are out next week. In other words, I’m helping you plan ahead. You’re welcome. These are the new Blu-ray releases you should check out this week (and beyond)!

Ready or Not

This has been a good year for “eat the rich” films. Films that remind audiences that obscenely wealthy people are often, well…bad. There’s Parasite, Hustlers (see below!), the recently released Knives Out, and then there’s Ready or Not. A kind of ultra-violent riff on both Clue and The Most Dangerous Game, this Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett-directed movie is endlessly inventive, and composed in a lush style full of rich, smokey browns and shadowy darkness – and blood red, of course.
Samara Weaving delivers a star-making turn as Grace, a seemingly ordinary woman marrying into the obscenely rich Le Domas family. The Le Domas’ made their fortune selling board games, and as a result, they’re big fans of games overall.

But one of the games they play – hide and seek, to be specific – has a dark side. In playing the game, Grace unknowingly signs up to be hunted to the death by the Le Domas family. Grace’s new husband Alex (Mark O’Brien) doesn’t want to go along with this, and attempts to help Grace escape the huge, sprawling mansion – but getting out won’t be so easy. And soon, Grace has to start taking matters into her own hands. It’s dark and twisted, and often quite funny. It was also a big hit, although at the same time it feels like it didn’t get enough attention. As a result, Ready or Not is the perfect movie for audiences to discover on home media.

Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray:

I would’ve loved a 4K release of Ready or Not – it’s so visually striking that it would’ve looked wonderful. Alas, that didn’t happen. Still, the movie is so much fun that it’s a must-have. You can easily revisit this – it doesn’t wear out its welcome. The disc also comes with a feature commentary from the directors and Samara Weaving which is quite fun to listen to.

Special Features Include: 

  • Let the Games Begin: The Making of READY OR NOT
    • Part 1: A Devil’s Bargain
    • Part 2: The Le Domas Name — A Family Brand
    • Part 3: ’Til Death Do Us Part
  • Gag Reel
  • Audio Commentary by Radio Silence and Samara Weaving

 

Hustlers

One of 2019’s most wonderful surprises, Lorene Scafaria‘s Hustlers is slick, smart, sexy, and wildly entertaining. With some influence from the work of both Martin Scorsese and his frequent collaborator Paul Schrader, Scarfaria crafts a crime drama for the 21st century – a film that perfectly encapsulates the fallout of the 2008 financial crisis. Constance Wu is Destiny, a stripper who can’t quite cut it – until she meets Romona (Jennifer Lopez), the god damn Wonder Woman of strippers. Romona shows Destiny the ropes, and soon the ladies are raking in the cash. But the financial crisis, and Destiny’s unexpected pregnancy changes everything.

Cut to a few years later, Destiny ends up back stripping, but the game has changed considerably. All looks hopeless – until she reunites with Romona. What follows is a plan to rip-off Wall Street d-bags by meeting them at bars, drugging them, and running up their credit cards. It’s not exactly a victimless crime – in fact, there are many victims. But Hustlers does a marvelous job of putting us in the mindset of Destiny, Romona, and their fellow cohorts. We understand exactly what they’re doing, and why they’re doing it, and Scafaria’s script is adept at portraying them in a sympathetic light. Wu is fabulous as Destiny, who starts to feel uncertain about this crime spree. But the movie really belongs to Lopez, who turns in the best performance of her acting career, crafting an instantly iconic character that – just like Destiny – we can’t help but be drawn to. More often than not, the truly great performances and roles are those where we can’t imagine anyone else playing them. It’s 100% impossible to picture anyone else but Lopez as Romona. Give her the Oscar.

Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray:

It would’ve been wonderful if this release came with more special features, but even with such a featureless disc – we get a commentary, which is commendable, as many home media releases are abandoning them – Hustlers is a must-have. I could easily see this turning into the same type of movie as GoodFellas – that is, the type of movie you have to watch compulsively, no matter how many times you see it. It does such a sharp job of crafting its world and its characters that we’re fully engrossed. We want to spend as much time in this world, and with its inhabitants, as we possibly can.

Special Features Include: 

  • Feature Commentary with Director Lorene Scafaria

 

It Chapter Two

What a strange movie It Chapter Two turned out to be. The 2017 It was a nice surprise – a strong Stephen King adaptation that understood the key to King’s work isn’t just scares, it’s character building. That movie was such a success that it trigged a kind of King adaptation renaissance – one that we’re still in the middle of. A sequel to It was set-up with the film’s ending, and all the elements soon fell into place for something remarkable. Not only were we getting a big-budget horror sequel, but it was going to feature an impressive cast that included James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, and Bill Hader.

The end result seemed to catch everyone off-guard. Because for all its moments of killer clown mayhem, the 2017 It is very much a mainstream horror movie. It Chapter Two, however, strays way outside the mainstream. Given much more freedom (and money), director Andy Muschietti crafted a big, weird epic that takes a lot of risks. Do those risks result in rewards? Not always. There’s a clunkiness here that wasn’t present in the first film, and you really feel the 169-minute runtime. Yet, It Chapter Two, like its predecessor, understands that character is key. The story involves the adult Losers’ Club reuniting to battle Pennywise one final time, and while the adult cast has nowhere near the same chemistry as the younger players (who all return here as well), we do grow to appreciate them. Hader makes the biggest impression as the nervous Richie, while McAvoy is far too stiff and stilted as Bill. Chastain, one of the best actresses working today, is also oddly muted.

But here is a big horror film that dares to address the everlasting scars of childhood trauma. A horror film that deals with homophobia, racism, spousal abuse, and more. These are big, weighty topics, and the fact that we’re getting them in a big-budget horror flick pushed to the masses is remarkable. It may be the more palatable and watchable film, but It Chapter Two takes chances, and I wish we could have more movies like that.

Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray:

Andy Muschietti claims he’s working on a “super-cut” that combines both It and It Chapter Two, but we’re going to have to wait to see that. With that in mind, you might want to hold-off on purchasing It Chapter Two rather than double-dip. But if you can’t wait until that inevitable release, this is still worth scooping up. While there are apparently deleted scenes for this already lengthy film, they didn’t make it to this release. But we are graced with some not-so-in-depth featurettes that delve into the making of the film, along with a commentary track from Muschietti.

Special Features Include: 

  • Pennywise Lives Again!
  • This Meeting of the Losers Club Has Officially Begun
  • Finding the Deadlights
  • The Summers of IT: Chapter One, You’ll Float Too
  • The Summers of IT: Chapter Two, IT Ends
  • Commentary with Director Andy Muschietti

 

Big Trouble in Little China 

Like many John Carpenter classics, Big Trouble in Little China was a box office disappointment that eventually found a much-deserved cult following. This gloriously pulpy B-movie is a martial arts horror-comedy that likes of which they really don’t make anymore. Hell, they didn’t really even make them back in 1986, when Big Trouble was released.

Kurt Russell is at his hammy best as Jack Burton, a truck driver who gets mixed up in a story involving an ancient sorcerer and all sorts of fantastical elements. The brilliance of Big Trouble is the way it makes its “hero” into a bumbling buffoon, while his “sidekick” Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) is the one who does most of the heroics. More often than not, Jack will end up flat on his ass while Wang is fighting off enemies. It’s a cheeky subversion that works to perfection. I’ll freely admit that the plot of Big Trouble is almost nonsensical, but that doesn’t matter. Carpenter is so caught up dragging us into his neon-lit, effects-driven freakshow that we cannot help but have fun.

Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray:

Take a look at the special features listed below – it’s almost overwhelming. This is, without question, the most comprehensive home media release of Big Trouble in Little China – nothing even comes close. In addition to new features created by Scream! Factory, there are also features from previous releases ported over as well. It gives you everything you need in one convenient package.

Special Features Include: 

DISC ONE: THE FILM

  • NEW Audio Commentary With Producer Larry Franco
  • NEW Audio Commentary With Special Effects Artist Steve Johnson, Moderated By filmmaker Anthony C. Ferrante
  • Audio Commentary With Director John Carpenter And Actor Kurt Russell
  • Isolated Score
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • TV Spots
  • Vintage Audio Interview With John Carpenter
  • Electronic Press Kit – Interviews And Profiles
  • Gag Reel
  • Music Video
  • Deleted And Extended Scenes
  • Extended Ending
  • Photo Galleries – Movie Stills, Posters, Lobby cards, Publicity Photos, And Behind-the-scenes Photos

DISC TWO: BONUS FEATURES

  • NEW You’re The Hero – An Interview With Actor Dennis Dun
  • NEW The Soul Of Lo Pan – An Interview With Actor James Hong
  • NEW Able To Be Myself – An Interview With Actor Donald Li
  • NEW The Tao Of Thunder – An Interview With Actor Carter Wong
  • NEW The Tao Of Rain – An Interview With Actor Peter Kwong
  • NEW The Hatchet Man Speaks – An Interview With Actor Al Leong
  • NEW Damn Wiley Prescott – An Interview With Writer W.D. Richter
  • NEW It Was A Western Ghost Story – An Interview With Writer Gary Goldman
  • NEW The Poetry Of Motion – An Interview With Associate Producer/Martial Arts Choreographer James Lew
  • NEW Into The Mystic Night – An Interview With The Coupe De Ville’s Member Nick Castle
  • NEW Since We Were Kids – An Interview With Second Unit Director/The Coupe De Ville’s Member Tommy Lee Wallace
  • NEW Love And Art – A Conversation With Movie Poster Artist Drew Struzan
  • Return To Little China – An Interview With Director John Carpenter
  • Being Jack Burton – An Interview With Actor Kurt Russell
  • Carpenter And I – An Interview With Director Of Photography Dean Cundey
  • Producing Big Trouble – An Interview With Producer Larry Franco
  • Staging Big Trouble – An Interview With Stuntman Jeff Imada
  • Interview With Visual Effects Artist Richard Edlund
  • Vintage Featurette
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