DVD Event of the Week: Is it Ergo Media's release of Hill 24 Doesn't Answer, the first (1955) international hit film produced in Israel? Is it the Criterion Collection's restored version of Mon Oncle Antoine, Claude Jutra's 1971 film about a boy growing up in the rural Quebec of the 40s? Or is MGM/UA's new box set of Stargate Atlantis: The Complete Fourth Season, the Sci-Fi Channel series that's currently my favorite thing on the tube? Could be, could be, but since none of them showed up for review at Casa Simels, I really shouldn't say. (Although I must admit that Hill 24 -- an extremely dark war flick featuring future Ben-Hur babe Haya Harareet which I saw as a kid in Hebrew School(!) -- sounds interesting.)
Which means that my vote goes instead to Kino International's new edition of Eagle Shooting Heroes, director Jeffrey Lau's totally over the top 1993 costume martial arts extravaganza starring Leslie Cheung and Brigitte Lin, which did.
From the Kino box:
Loosely plotted, Eagle Shooting Heroes mixes court intrigue with the story of the plucky, martial arts-challenged Third Princess, who runs a no-holds-barred race against two ruthless Taiwanese magicians to obtain both the Princess' imperial jade seal and the secrets of a mystical book of combat. When things go wrong, Third Princess gathers an alliance of wacky characters with names like East Evil, South Emperor and North Beggar to win her throne back. Any further synopsis is futile, but a dinosaur and a gorilla do fit in to the mix [emphasis mine].
Obviously there's not much I can add after that except to say that ESH is pretty much the damndest thing you're likely to see for a while (think The Matrix remade by a community theater troupe on acid), and that Kino's widescreen transfer is absolutely first-rate. Oh, and there aren't any extras besides a negligible trailer and a stills gallery (for my money, much else would have been overkill) and the optional English subtitles appear to have been written by somebody with an actual working acquaintance with vernacular English, which isn't always the case.
Okay, that said, and because things will be relatively quiet around here till Monday, here's an obviously relevant little project for us all:
Funniest Swashbuckler/Action Flick Ever!!!
And my totally top of my head Top Five is:
5. The Last Legion (Doug Lefler, 2007) Low budget Romans Versus Everybody mishegass that's essentially the best episode of Xena, Warrior Princess ever made. Featuring Sir Ben Kingsley as a wizard in a pointy hat and Colin Firth in a skirt, so obviously there are laughs galore.
4. The Prisoner of Zenda (John Cromwell, 1937) Ronald Colman and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. wisecrack their way through a couple of the most entertaining fight scenes and duels ever staged in this definitive version of the oft-filmed schoolboy adventure story.
3. 48 Hours (Walter Hill, 1982) Ultra-violent, profane, and a hoot from start to finish. Eddie Murphy became an international superstar merely by yowling "Roxanne" along with his Walkman in an early scene.
2. The Three Musketeers/The Four Musketeers (Richard Lester, 1973 & 1974) In truth, one long film cut in half for dual release by a scheming producer, these are Lester's masterpieces -- like his Beatle films, but with more derring do and even funnier sight gags.
And the most hilarious action epic ever, with or without swordplay, it's not even close so gimme a break already, obviously is --
1. Cartouche (Phillipe de Broca, 1962) Jean-Paul Belmondo and Claudia Cardinale (woo hoo!) run a mysterious gang that steals from the rich and gives to the poor (except what they keep for expenses) in 18th century Paris. Until it gets all dark and tragic at the end, perhaps the most exhilirating swashbuckler of them all.
Awrighty now -- what would your choices be?