A weekly round-up of the latest DVD releases.
By Damon Smith.
New to rent on DVD/Blu-Ray.
The Guard (Cert 15, 92 mins, Studio Canal, Comedy/Thriller/Action, also available to buy DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £22.99).
Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Liam Cunningham, Mark Strong, David Wilmot, Katarina Cas, Rory Keenan.
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and they don't come in a more unlikely shape than small-town Irish police sergeant Gerry Boyle. Overweight, cantankerous, foul-mouthed and partial to a dalliance with the local prostitutes, he's a directionless man you would expect to break the law rather than uphold it - which makes Gerry the perfect, unlikely hero for John Michael McDonagh's hilarious black comedy. Gerry (Brendan Gleeson) is king of his windswept strip of the West Coast of Ireland and he's more interested in booze than solving crime. However, when newly arrived deputy Aidan McBride (Rory Keenan) goes missing and the officer's wife Gabriela (Katarina Cas) begs for help, Gerry starts asking difficult questions. Consequently, he is drawn into an international drugs ring controlled by Francis Sheehy (Liam Cunningham), Clive Cornell (Mark Strong) and Liam O'Leary (David Wilmot). Straight-laced FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) turns up unexpectedly on Gerry's patch to crack the ring and the two cops from opposite sides of the world forge a fragile alliance in the name of justice. The Guard mercilessly lampoons the conventions of buddy cop movies and has great fun laughing with and at Gerry as his unorthodox approach reaps surprising results. Gleeson savours every potty-mouthed tirade and there are some wonderful verbal exchanges with Cheadle as the man with the badge who takes one look at the finest that Ireland has to offer and wonders aloud, "I can't tell if you're really dumb or really smart." He's very smart, just like McDonagh's film.
Rating: **** The Killer Elite (Cert 15, 111 mins, Entertainment In Video, Action/Thriller, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99) Starring: Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Robert De Niro, Dominic Purcell, Aden Young, Yvonne Strahovski.
Ex-Special Ops agent Danny (Jason Statham) and his longtime mentor Hunter (Robert De Niro) are two of the most dangerous men in the world, capable of killing a target from hundreds of yards with a single pull of the trigger. When a renegade oil sheikh takes Hunter captive for refusing to assassinate the SAS soldiers responsible for killing his beloved three sons during the secret Oman war, Danny sprints to the rescue, only to find he has been set up to carry out the hit list to secure his friend's release. Danny travels around the world in the company of ex-paratrooper and ladies' man Davies (Dominic Purcell) and American gadget geek Meier (Aden Young). En route, the assassins are caught in the crosshairs of Spike (Clive Owen), leader of a secret society of ex-SAS officers sworn to protect their fellow soldiers from harm. Based on Sir Ranulph Fiennes's controversial novel The Feather Men, Killer Elite is a hare-brained action-thriller that would be considerably more entertaining if everyone involved had played the preposterous set-up for laughs. Owen's impressive moustache is more expressive than half of the cast and director Gary McKendry happily reduces the screenplay to a series of car chases and fights over rooftops and in a hospital. Screenwriter Matt Sherring raids his tattered handbook of hoary cliches for dialogue, including gems such as, "You can't run away from who you are Danny!" When the hero's blonde Australian girlfriend (Yvonne Strahovski) coos, "When will this be over?" clad in just a bed sheet, we know exactly how she feels.
Rating: ** Also released Cane Toads: The Conquest (Cert PG, 84 mins, Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment, Documentary, also available to buy DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99 - see below) The Whistleblower (Cert 15, 107 mins, High Fliers Video Distribution, Thriller/Action, also available to buy DVD/Blu-ray £15.99 - see below) New to buy on DVD/Blu-Ray Doctor Who: The Doctor, The Widow And The Wardrobe (Cert PG, 50 mins, BBC DVD, DVD £9.99/Blu-ray £12.99, Sci-Fi/Drama) For last year's festive offering, which was one of the most watched programmes on Christmas Day, Doctor Who draws inspiration from CS Lewis's Narnia chronicles. Madge Arwell (Claire Skinner) and her children Cyril (Maurice Cole) and Lily (Holly Earl) are evacuated from London to Dorset during the Second World War, where the mysterious and eccentric caretaker of their temporary lodgings transports them to a magical snow-filled dimension. The Time Lord (Matt Smith) and his companions Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) give chase, determined to bring the Arwells safely back to harsh reality.
Without You (Cert 12, 139 mins, Fremantle Home Entertainment, DVD £14.99, Thriller/Drama) Based on the novel What To Do When Someone Dies by Nicci French, Without You is a serpentine three-part thriller, which was originally broadcast on ITV1. Ellie Manning (Anna Friel) is consumed by grief when her accountant husband Greg (Marc Warren) dies in a car accident. Police reveal that a mystery woman was in the car with Greg, planting the seed of doubt in her mind about his fidelity. As Ellie investigates the crash on her own time, she becomes convinced that Greg's demise wasn't an accident at all but the result of foul play. Her state of mind crumbles and the grieving wife must exorcise the ghosts of the past to forge a brighter future.
Hidden (Cert 15, 234 mins, Fremantle Home Entertainment, DVD £14.99, Thriller/Drama) Broadcast on BBC One, this four-part conspiracy thriller centres on a lawyer who is drawn into a web of intrigue and deception. Top legal mind Harry Venn (Philip Glenister) agrees to help his colleague Gina Hawkes (Thekla Reuten) find a witness to corroborate the flimsy alibi of her latest client. As he sifts through the evidence, Harry stumbles upon upsetting new information regarding the death of his brother 20 years ago. Digging deeper, the lawyer unearths a major conspiracy reaching to the blackened heart of the British establishment.
Midsomer Murders - Series 14: The Night Of The Stag/A Sacred Trust/The Sleeper Under The Hill (Cert 12, 88 mins each, Acorn Media, DVD £17.99 each, Drama/Thriller) DCI John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) and his trusty assistant DS Ben Jones (Jason Hughes) solve three more perplexing mysteries in this trio of DVDs. In The Night Of The Stag, a dead man is discovered floating in a vat of cider, while in A Sacred Trust, Barnaby prays for divine intervention when a nun perishes in suspicious circumstances at Midsomer Priory. Finally in A Sleeper Under The Hill, a farmer is found disembowelled on an ancient stone at the Crowcall Circle, spooking the superstitious locals.
Cane Toads: The Conquest (Cert PG, 84 mins, Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment, DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99, Documentary) In 1935, greyback cane beetles were steadily decimating Australia's valuable sugar cane crops. To control the insects, cane toads from Hawaii were introduced to the continent in the hope that the predatory amphibians would lay siege to the cane fields and eat the beetles. Unfortunately, the toads were ineffectual and simply multiplied. Seventy-five years later, Australia is facing a new infestation of the toads, which have overcome all physical boundaries and scientific mutations. Documentary film-maker Mark Lewis chronicles this unfortunate episode in Australian history in typically irreverent fashion, crafting a cautionary tale about the dangers of meddling with Mother Nature. The Blu-ray also includes the 3D version of the film.
A Very British Gangster 2: Sins Of The Fathers (Cert 15, 77 mins, High Fliers Video Distribution, DVD £12.99, Documentary) In 2007, investigative journalist Donal MacIntyre ventured behind the camera for the award-winning documentary A Very British Gangster, which painted a vivid and chilling portrait of Manchester hard man Dominic Noonan. Following Noonan's release from prison, MacIntyre returns with his crew in tow to develop his personal relationship with the dangerous figure as Noonan re-adjusts to life on the outside and tries to rebuild his empire without any money or a gang behind him. The film also focuses on Noonan's son, Bugsy, who must decide whether his future lies in the criminal underworld or on the right side of the law.
The Whistleblower (Cert 15, 107 mins, High Fliers Video Distribution, DVD/Blu-ray £15.99, Thriller/Action) Nebraska police officer Kathryn Bolkovac (Rachel Weisz) contends with a failed marriage by accepting a post on the other side of the world as a UN peacekeeper in Bosnia. She quickly impresses her boss, Madeleine Rees (Vanessa Redgrave), who promotes her to the department for the Gender Affairs where she stumbles upon a sex-trafficking operation with links to the upper echelons of power. Influential organisations turn a blind eye to the trade of innocent souls, and bureaucrats such as Laura Leviani (Monica Bellucci) are unmoved by Kathryn's cries for help. As the peacekeeper risks everything to expose the traffickers, she clashes with dangerous men, who are unafraid to secure her lasting silence by signing her death warrant.
Delhi Belly (Cert 15, 130 mins, IG Interactive Entertainment Limited, DVD £14.99, Comedy) Abhinay Deo directs a Bollywood comedy written by Akshat Verma about three friends who discover that life can deal you some really bad cards. Tashi (Imran Khan), Nitin (Kunaal Roy Kapur) and Arup (Vir Das) are best friends and flatmates facing moral quandaries. Journalist Tashi is about to get married but he's not entirely sure that the woman who will be walking up the aisle is his soul mate... especially not with fellow journalist Menaka (Poorna Jagannathan) to distract him. Arup has just been dumped by his girlfriend and he is bruising for a fight with her and with his eccentric boss. Meanwhile, Nitin takes his life into his hands by consuming tandoori chicken from a street vendor. He is crippled by the worst case of Delhi Belly, but that's nothing compared to the pain to come when all three friends become the unlikely targets of a deadly crime syndicate.
The Hairy Bikers: Mums Know Best! - Complete Series Two (Cert E, 540 mins, Acorn Media, DVD £25.99/Complete Series DVD Box Set £52.99, Special Interest) Dave Myers and Si King serve up another eight episodes of their cookery series which celebrates the very best in family cuisine by enjoying recipes that have been handed down from one generation to the next. The instalments are entitled Comforting Food, A Taste Of Home, Alfresco, Lazy Weekends, Distant Shores, High Tea, Posh Food and Family Classics. A six-disc box set comprising both series is also available.