Sunday, 31 January 2016

She Killed in Ecstasy (1971)

"Gateway Franco"

          Those of us who appreciate the works of Jess Franco know that it is a love not easily earned. You have to work at it. While there is genius and creativity and bewitching obsession in his movies, there can also be incompetence, incoherence, and mind-numbing tedium. Sometimes you even think he’s trying his best to put you off watching the film in question. 

There are, however, a few Franco films that can ease you into an appreciation of this quirky, eclectic, and sometimes fascinating  film-maker. Gateway drugs, if you will, that will allow you to move on to the harder stuff with at least some understanding of what he might be trying to say. Movies like THE AWFUL DR ORLOFF (1962), EUGENIE (1970), or THE FEMALE VAMPIRE (1973) give you an insight into his obsessions without too much in the way of somnolence, incoherence, or outright offence.

SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY is a gateway Franco film, now finally given an absolutely gorgeous Blu-ray release in the UK courtesy of Severin Films. Don’t get me wrong - if you’re new to Franco it’s still not going to be quite like any other film you’ve seen. But then those of us who love his work find that part of his appeal.
The film kicks off with jazz music over images of foetuses in jars. They belong to Dr Johnson (Fred Williams) who is looking forward to the medical council approving the research he’s been doing. Unfortunately the four members of the group don’t approve of what he’s been doing at all, labelling it inhuman and striking him off the medical register. Distraught and depressed, Johnson kills himself, leaving his wife (Soledad Miranda) swearing revenge on the individuals responsible for her husband’s death.

The rest of SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY consists of her seducing and bumping off the members of the medical council, played by Franco regulars Howard Vernon, Paul Muller, Ewa Stromberg and Franco himself, before the movie ends in an appropriately downbeat manner.
SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY can safely be shown to someone who has never seen a Franco film before. It has a straightforward plot, and while the film-making is a little bit rough around the edges, there is much here to bewitch and entice the casual viewer. Franco’s eye for curious architecture means the Johnson’s island retreat is a curious construct, and the Alicante locations look beautiful, especially on Blu-ray. Most bewitching of all, of course, is the film’s star. Soledad Miranda. Described by another reviewer as ‘someone who could eat you with her eyes’ she is the perfect actress for this and other Franco works. Beautiful, but with a perpetually haunted look that suggests there’s so much going on behind those eyes, she is, besides Franco’s direction, the main reason why the non-Francophile won’t be hitting you over the head with the Blu-ray box if you show them this one.

Severin’s Blu-ray provides an excellent transfer and comes with about an hour of extra features, including a cosy chat with Franco, Stephen Thrower talking about the making of the movie, Soledad Miranda historian Amy Brown giving a potted history of the actress’ life and career, and a short interview with Franco star Paul Muller. All excellent stuff and a very fine Franco package from Severin. Which you can also show to non-Franco-loving friends without losing them for life. 

Severin's UK Blu-ray and DVD of Jess Franco's 
SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY is available now.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Dr Goldfoot & the Girl Bombs (1966)

“Like the Chuckle Brothers tried to make a Bond film”

Another dose of kiddie-orientated comedy (at least I hope for all concerned that was the intention) arrives on UK DVD and Blu-ray courtesy of 101 Films in the form of this sequel to DR GOLDFOOT & THE BIKINI MACHINE. 

Vincent Price about to explain the plot of this one to the camera
         This time the dastardly super villain (Vincent Price once again, thank goodness) is blowing up NATO generals using girls in gold bikinis who explode when they’re kissed. Despatched to stop him is SIC agent Bill Dexter (1960s pop idol - it says here - Fabian - no, me neither). Helping, or rather ‘comedy hindering’ Bill are two Italian agents who respectively resemble Ron Perlman’s dad and Freddie ‘Parrot-Face’ Davies, whom nobody but the most obsessive of fans of 1970s British TV comedians will probably remember. Neither of them is as good an actor or as funny as Freddie, who was never that great in the first place, but he was much better than what we have to put up with here. 

Parrot face, Ron Perlman's dad, and two other people
         The exploding girl plotline is really the excuse on which to hang a series of increasingly poor comedy routines and chase sequences, culminating in a great long run around a park where Vincent Price gives up and disappears, only to pop up briefly again in the very end bit on a plane. It’s all supremely painful stuff, with the only reason to watch this being Price himself, who appears once again to be having a whale of a time. Although, when the highlight of a movie is seeing Vincent dress up as a nun, you know this is a film in trouble. 

Possibly the ONLY reason to watch this one
         Otherwise DR GOLDFOOT & THE GIRL BOMBS is unremittingly dire. Nobody else in the cast can act, there are lots of comedy effect boing noises, and the music by Les Baxter is reminiscent of the very worst of Max Harris or Ed Welch and wouldn't be out of place in ON THE BUSES or CONFESSIONS FROM A HOLIDAY CAMP.

More inspiration for Mike Myers
         DR GOLDFOOT & THE GIRL BOMBS was directed by Mario Bava when he was apparently having an off week. Certainly the only reasons to watch this are if you’re a Vincent Price completist (like me), a Mario Bava completist (like me) or if you’re a very undemanding seven year old (not me anymore). 101 Films offers a pretty good-looking transfer for the Blu-ray in 1:1.85 aspect. There are no extras and the film doesn’t really deserve any. Not the film to ever show to someone who wants to know what a Mario Bava film is like. 

DR GOLDFOOT & THE GIRL BOMBS is out now on DVD & Blu-ray from 101 Films

Friday, 29 January 2016

The House on Pine Street (2015)

"Unsettling, disturbing, scary and just plain weird - full marks"

Yes indeed! Ignore that crappy generic box art - this one’s actually worth watching!
Jennifer and her husband Luke move from Chicago back to Jennifer’s quiet hometown with the intention of it providing a calm environment for Jennifer’s pregnancy and the forthcoming baby. As soon as they get there, however, it quickly becomes obvious that all is not well. Aside from being hostile to her mother, it turns out Jennifer would rather be back in Chicago, and wants to get back there as soon as possible. It also transpires that Jennifer has a history of psychiatric illness and tried to perform an abortion on herself when she learned she was pregnant.

And then there’s the house - nice and big but a bit crumbly, with flaking paint and doors that open and close by themselves. Oh, and all the banging and knocking and hints of weird shadowy figures that only appear when Jennifer’s alone in the house. Why do the neighbours keep looking at her in a funny way? Why does psychic chiropractor Walter think the house has a strange ‘energy’? Is Jennifer going mad or is there really something weird going on in the house? Or possibly both?

Don’t try to guess because THE HOUSE ON PINE STREET is that gorgeous rarity - a film that keeps you guessing right till the end - and beyond. It’s also refreshingly free of cliche, by which I mean this is anything but a straightforward haunted house tale, or even a mentally unstable young mother tale. 

It’s directed by brothers Aaron and Austin Keeling, and their style and feel here is very reminiscent of Mike Flanagan’s pictures ABSENTIA and OCULUS. Nothing is quite what you presume it to be, and there are no easy answers. There is, however, a very pleasing sense of the weird that permeates the whole film, whether it’s the washed out look of the crumbling suburban area where Jennifer and her husband have come to live, deliciously odd touches like the mother next door who has two daughters who never speak, or the gradually building sense of oddness. Another directorial comparison might be the best of Lucio Fulci, but with all the gore and shock taken out leaving just the general sense of weirdness. 

Second Sight’s DVD contains no extras but don’t let that put you off. If you’re looking for something disturbing, unsettling, weird and scary, THE HOUSE ON PINE STREET is the first release this year to get it ever so right. 

Second Sight are releasing THE HOUSE ON PINE STREET on Region 2 DVD on 1st February 2016

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Dr Goldfoot & the Bikini Machine

"Exactly what you'd expect from a title like that"

Just after GOLDFINGER (1964) but way before AUSTIN POWERS: GOLDMEMBER there was this cheerful children’s adventure picture from the AIP stable, now given a new UK Blu-ray release courtesy of 101 Films.

Naughty Dr Goldfoot and his creations
The villainous Dr Goldfoot (Vincent Price - hooray!) plans to become incredibly rich through a fiendish plan only possible in 1960s spy spoofs. He has created an army of beautiful, golden bikini-clad robots whom he intends to marry off to the world’s richest men. On his case quite by accident are the men from SIC (the Security Intelligence Council). Or at least Craig Gamble (Frankie Avalon) is. His boss and father (Fred Clark) doesn’t believe him and is too busy banging his head on lampshades and falling out of the window because it’s that kind of film.

A face we all love
Robot Diane (Susan Hart) seduces millionaire Todd Armstrong (Dwayne Hickman) and together Craig and Todd track the shenanigans to Dr Goldfoot’s mansion. Imprisoned and taken to the dungeons, they encounter a number of ‘star’ cameos whom nobody these days is likely to recognise, before Todd ends up in the climax to AIP’s PIT & THE PENDULUM - complete with recycled stock footage! You’d expect it to end there but instead we get a jolly good natured car / trolleycar / motorcycle / etc etc chase through the streets of San Francisco, with Price dressed splendidly in a big floppy hat, before we get to the end, which was probably funny at the time but reminded me of Mario Bava’s LISA & THE DEVIL.

Widescreen distraction
DR GOLDFOOT & THE BIKINI MACHINE is very much of its time, and is mainly going to be of interest to Vincent Price fans (and he’s simply marvellous in it) and AIP scholars, who will relish the bits of stock footage that pop up, and the production design of Price’s castle (from Corman/Poe regular Daniel Haller). That said, it’s actually rather charming in a kids’ TV kind of way. The entire thing is daft and the comedy never gets above RENTAGHOST level, but the ninety minutes breeze past more quickly than you might expect.

If this still doesn't make you want to watch this film it's probably not for you
101’s transfer offers the film in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio despite what it says on the back. The image does look slightly stretched (as does the Kino Lorber Region A release of this) but it’s not really bad enough to impair your viewing pleasure. There are no extras, which is a shame because the Kino release has a David del Valle commentary track that presumably couldn’t be licensed.

Add music to make this scene come alive!
Undoubtedly a strong influence on the Mike Myers AUSTIN POWERS movies, if you’re a fan of 1960s US drive-in pictures, or just love Vincent Price (and who doesn’t?) DR GOLDFOOT & THE BIKINI MACHINE is worth a look to see a different side of the master of horror. 

AIP's DR GOLDFOOT & THE BIKINI MACHINE was released on UK Blu-ray and DVD by 101 Films on 25th January 2016

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Bloody Moon (1981)

Jess Franco’s 1981 slasher movie makes it to UK Blu-ray with a gorgeous print that’s so pristine it almost feels wrong watching it. But I did anyway. People exhibit widely mixed feelings about Mr Franco’s work, and I have to say I’m firmly on the side of people who love him, except on the days when his not-so-great stuff becomes an utter trial to watch. Thankfully that’s not the case with BLOODY MOON, which is a thoroughly competent slasher picture. This being Franco, however, it’s not without its quirky moments.

A rare slightly tasteful moment. Oh hang on it's brother & sister. Sorry.
We begin with scar-faced Miguel’s sister telling him he must leave her alone. Oh yes, you have hand it to Franco, we’re not even a minute in and we’ve already got potential incest involving the disfigured. Well done on the distaste-ometer that man. Not content with leaving things at that, Miguel pinches a Mickey Mouse mask and heads off to a nearby party, where his Disney-masked charm succeeds in him picking up a girl and taking her back to ‘Chalet 13’. They’re well into the heavy petting and the mouse mask has yet to come off, so presumably she doesn’t work for the Disney legal department. When it does, however, there’s lots of screaming and Miguel stabs her to death.

Does Disney know about this? 
We’re in Spain for this film, by the way. I have no idea quite how the legal system works there but it must be jolly lenient if all you get for your crimes is five years in the psychiatric clinic of Dr Franco (yes it’s him on screen). All the therapy seems to have done is make his facial scarring worse (perhaps they missed with the ECT applicator pads). Still, he’s happy to see his sister again (so the treatment probably hasn’t solved that little problem either) and they return to the school where Miguel committed his crime.

BLOODY MOON does have its unsubtle moments. About 90 of them.
It’s now the hastily (and cheaply) labelled School For Attractive Young Ladies To Study Languages. Or something like that. Pretty soon, conjugating the Spanish verb for to be is the least of their problems as the girls start being murdered in a variety of gruesome ways. Best, and certainly most ludicrous of these, is the old ‘head taken off with a rotary saw’ trick that was one of several scenes that caused this to be banned by the BBFC back in the day, presumably in case it caused the uncontrollable youth of Britain to go around sawing the heads off mannikins. It all gets very, very giallo as the film goes on, with a suitably daft ending that really doesn’t provide a good excuse for all the murders at all (one would have been sufficient, surely?).

This bit happens before the picture above. Obviously
BLOODY MOON actually isn’t bad for Jess Franco. Everyone else in the entire world may have a bit of trouble sticking with it because of a few shortcomings, not the least of which is the music, which often sounds like the demented bowel rumblings of someone who’s eaten an especially dangerous curry. The dubbing is indifferent but the locations are interesting. Best of all is the print itself. As I’ve said above, BLOODY MOON really doesn’t deserve to look this good. The print is pretty much pristine, with the odd scratch here and there and a few tiny lapses into poorer quality for the gory bits, but I have to admit I was surprised at how good this looked.

Bloody hell.
Severin’s Blu-ray comes with a short featurette interview with Franco which is charmingly cosy - a bit like sitting down to talk with your chain-smoking grandad about his career in the world of filth for fifteen minutes. I certainly chuckled a lot, both during BLOODY MOON and the featurette, and if you’re kindly disposed to Jess Franco, you will too.

Severin's Blu-ray release of Jess Franco's BLOODY MOON is out now.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Deep Red / Profondo Rosso (1975)

One of the best horror films ever made gets its best quality Blu-ray release ever in this stunning 4k restoration limited edition three disc set.
When jazz composer Marc Daly (David Hemmings) witnesses the brutal murder of a medium (Macha Meril) he gets catapulted into Dario Argento land, where it turns out he’s seen something terribly important but doesn’t know what it is, has a black-gloved killer after him who could be male or female, and is followed everywhere by a prog rock Goblin score. Eventually Marc realises what he saw and discovers the identity of the killer, but not before being enmeshed in one of the most delirious and revolutionary pieces of cinema ever constructed.

PROFONDO ROSSO (it just sounds better than DEEP RED doesn’t it)? is a masterpiece and if you’ve never seen it I envy you, because you are in for a treat. You don’t need to know anything about Italian or genre cinema before or after to be surprised and delighted by its plot twists and turns, its daring camerawork and its outrageously stylish murders. 
You don’t need to know anything about director Dario Argento, either. One of the most influential and stylish directors ever, PROFONDO ROSSO is the film that, more than any other, made him a force to be reckoned with. Just put the disc in the player and allow yourself to be overwhelmed with stylish visuals.

For everyone else who has already seen PROFONDO ROSSO a thousand times, you still need to get this release because it really is the best looking this film has ever been. Direct comparison reveals the image to be clearer, richer, and with far less grain than the previous Blue Underground Region A Locked release, which itself was better than Arrow’s previous Region B release. Previous speckles and scratches on those versions have been cleared up, but the real difference is in the colour. Instead of just looking as if they’ve turned up the brightness too much, Arrow’s new PROFONDO ROSSO positively glows - you’d swear you could warm your hands on the screen during the theatre scene at the beginning.

Extras on Disc One (which contains the full director’s cut 4k restoration) include a brief introduction by composer Claudio Simonetti, a commentary track by Thomas Rostock and a brand new visual essay by Michael Mackenzie. Mackenzie’s essays are always good value and this one doesn’t disappoint, providing plenty of useful information for the newcomer while pointing out a few things even seasoned old hacks might have missed.
Other extras are archival and include Dario Argento on DEEP RED, Daria Nicolodi reminiscing, Simonetti on the score, the trailer, and a look round Dario’s shop with Luigi Cozzi. 

           Disc Two contains the shortened 105 minute version of PROFONDO ROSSO in a new 4k restoration, along with the US trailer. Finally, Disc Three is a 28-track CD featuring the entire movie score by Goblin and Giorgio Gaslini. This is a fantastic package and highly recommended, which is why it’s all the more disappointing to point out that as of the release date of 25th January this release is already sold out. Good news for Arrow, I guess but bad news for anyone who didn’t get their pre-order in. Let’s hope Arrow does a no-frills release of the 4k restoration soon. Even if you’ve got all the other versions of PROFONDO ROSSO that are out there this is the one you need. 

Arrow Films are releasing their limited edition three disc set of Dario Argento's DEEP RED aka PROFONDO ROSSO on 25th January 2016

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)

"More decadence than you can swing a large pair of breasts at"

What do you get if you cross the film-making skills of breast-obsessed cult auteur Russ Meyer with all the most ludicrous, decadent soap opera elements to be found in the once-popular potboiler novels of Jacqueline Susann, Harold Robbins, and others? Twentieth Century-Fox obviously couldn’t wait to find out because they gave him a load of money and carte blanche to do pretty much what he liked. The result has been given a new Blu-ray release from Arrow and if you’ve ever fancied having your brain fried by some of the most peculiarly demented trash to be seen outside a John Waters film, now’s your chance.

Busty (of course) pop trio The Carrie Nations travel to Los Angeles in search of fame but instead find themselves in the most outlandish soap opera ever. Lead singer Kelly (Bristol-born Dolly Read from Hammer’s KISS OF THE VAMPIRE) betrays her boyfriend and sees him end up paralysed after a failed suicide plunge onto the stage of one of the band’s performances; guitarist Casey (Cynthia Meyers) ends up in a prolonged lesbian scene with fashion designer Roxanne (Meyer regular Erica Gavin) and drummer Petronella (Marcia McBloom) gets herself into all kinds of trouble with a heavyweight boxer. 

Watching from the sidelines (and waiting to jump into the ever-present cesspool that is Hollywood in this film) are porn star Ashley St Ives (Edy Williams, another Meyer regular doing her best sexy Mary Woronov impersonation in this), movie star-cum-gigolo Lance Rocke (Michael Blodgett from THE VELVET VAMPIRE and Fritz Leiber’s Dead Man episode of NIGHT GALLERY) and most of all, raving mad decadent agent supremo Ronnie ‘Z-Man’ Barzell (John Lazar). Or is he actually Superwoman? Don’t ask me. 

Something for the ladies. And some of the guys, too, I don't doubt
BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS isn’t really a film about plot elements but about noise, colour, culture, craziness, and above all huge, huge breasts, as anyone familiar with Russ Meyer’s oeuvre might expect. It’s raving mad, it’s over the top, and it’s exhausting. It’s not difficult to see why it bombed at the box office on its initial release as it’s deliciously and deliriously all over the place, such that selling it must have been a nightmare.

But is it art?
Once again Arrow are to be highly commended for coming up with such a decadent package for this supremely decadent film. The transfer itself is spotless and an utter delight. The colours are so bright and so rich at times you want to put on sunglasses. There are so many extras it’s difficult to list them all, but you get two commentary tracks, a David Del Valle interview (always good value) with Meyer & Yvette Vickers, an introduction by John LaZar, a making of documentary, a featurette with composer Stu Phillips, short pieces on 1960s culture, Casey & Roxanne’s love scene, screen tests, photo galleries and more. 

This scene goes on for a bit, in case you need warning
The limited edition also comes with a second disc that features Russ Meyer’s other Hollywood picture THE SEVEN MINUTES which was not available for review. Finally, as well as a reversible sleeve you get a booklet with new writing on the film by Kat Ellinger, plus an interview with Meyer by Anne Billson and a piece by David del Valle. 

Russ Meyer's BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS is out now from Arrow Films on Region B Blu-ray and Region 2 DVD

Thursday, 21 January 2016

A Touch of Zen (1971)

King Hu’s remarkable, epic martial arts movie that influenced Ang Lee’s  CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON (2000) and Zhang Yimou’s HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS (2004) amongst others gets a UK Blu-ray and DVD release courtesy of Eureka.

Ku (Shih-Jun, coming across a bit like a Taiwanese Kevin Eldon) is an unambitious painter who lives in a remote village. A stranger arrives in town and wants his portrait painted, but actually he’s there looking for Yang (Hsu Feng) a female fugitive whose entire family have been given a death sentence because her father offended the corrupt Eunuch Wei. Yang has taken up residence in a crumbling mansion reputed to be haunted. 

Ku befriends Yang and ends up sleeping with her. Deciding to help her in fighting Eunuch Wei’s forces, he helps design a complicated ghost trap for her pursuers. Delayed for a time, they continue the chase and eventually the film ends in that very weird and trippy way that only movies of this period do.

A TOUCH OF ZEN is an epic film. It’s not an epic plot, mind, in fact there’s not much more to the story than what I’ve described above (although there is a bit). It is, however epic in terms of its look and feel. This has to be one of the most beautifully and carefully directed films of the period. King Hu has an eye for landscape compositions that make him the Ridley Scott of his day. The opening forty minutes, with the mostly deserted village and ghost house where the wind never stops blowing feels like top notch martial arts Hammer. Later the scope opens out, with some absolutely breathtaking scenery used to its full advantage.

Originally released in two parts, it’s probably the bamboo tree fight approximately ninety minutes in that A TOUCH OF ZEN is most famous for. In fact it was repeated at the start of the second movie. Anyone thinking they’re going to get a 180 minute martial arts action film should be warned, however. There are some excellent fight sequences in this, but most of the movie isn’t like that at all. If you’re more predisposed to action, just sit back and let Hu’s gorgeous compositions drench you in gloriousness until the next jumping around bit.

Eureka’s three disc Blu-ray and DVD set contains the newly restored Taiwanese print, and very lovely it looks too in this complete 180 minute version. Extras include a booklet with archival material on the film and its director. The third disc was not made available for review but apparently contains the documentary King Hu 1932 - 1997, a new video essay by critic David Cairns, and more. 

Eureka's three disc Region B / 2 Blu-ray and DVD set of King Hu's A TOUCH OF ZEN is out on 25th January 2016

Sunday, 17 January 2016

The Fear of 13 (2015)

"Original and really rather excellent"

Now here’s something a bit different, as British director David Sington’s impressive docu-drama comes to DVD courtesy of the Dogwoof label.
The opening caption tells us that after twenty years on death row, convicted murderer Nick Yarris made a final appeal, not for freedom, but to finally be executed. We are then introduced to Nick in what we assume to be his prison cell. Over the course of the next ninety minutes, Nick tells us his story, and it doesn’t go quite the way you might think.

It would be very unfair of me indeed to tell you anything else about this, but I will tell you that THE FEAR of 13 is absolutely worth watching. Essentially a one-man show, the clever direction, editing, and use of sound effects make it something a little more complex, and a lot more ambitious, than something you might see on the stage, but the essence of this piece is still one man telling his life story to the camera. That’s not to say the story isn’t full of characters, we just don’t get to see any of them, except through Nick’s eyes. In fact, he’s such a good storyteller if I had to liken this to anything it would be the prison stories of Stephen King like THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION or THE GREEN MILE. 

Dogwoof’s DVD comes with a forty minute Q&A with the director, and an interview with director and lead, as well as a booklet. Leave them all until you’ve watched the film or you’ll spoil it for yourself. 

The press release THE FEAR OF 13 it ‘a stylistically daring in experiment in storytelling... a monologue that is part confessional and part performance...with all the twists and turns of classic crime drama’. I’ll admit I was hugely wary when I read that, in this age of low-rent home-made found footage tat, but this film is anything but. A story well made and well told, by the time THE FEAR OF 13 had finished I was delighted that I had taken a gamble on it. You will be too.

David Sington's THE FEAR OF 13 gets its UK DVD release on the Dogwoof label on 25th January 2015

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Momentum (2015)

Do you remember what it was like watching movies in the 1980s? When you'd go to the video shop and rent something you knew practically nothing about? Something with a swishy title and a cover that promised action? You'd take it home and pop it in the player. "This is a bit shit," you'd think. "But actually that girl's quite sexy, and don't I know that bloke playing the villain from somewhere? Ooooo look a car crash!" By the time you ejected the cassette you realised that, while it wasn't terribly original and possibly didn't make too much sense, you'd actually had more fun for 90 minutes than you'd been expecting.

Now you can relive those days once more, or experience them for the first time, but in widescreen and high definition, with Signature's new Blu-ray release of MOMENTUM, a film that ticks all the above boxes. Three villains dressed as Cylons from the original BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, or possibly TRON, rob a bank. Among the diamonds they pinch is a memory stick type thing that's got all of evil politician Morgan Freeman's plans on it.

Freeman despatches evil (and slightly trying a bit too hard it has to be said) villain James Purefoy to get it back. One of the robbers is Olga Kurylenko, who manages to escape her hotel room clad in very little. She gradually accrues some clothes, but not before a pretty good car chase (see? Sounds just like a Cannon picture or something from Empire doesn't it? Only without the big hair, lycra and pan and scan impossibility to work out what's going on).

The rest of the film is Olga getting chased, getting caught, getting tortured and getting chased again. Throughout this she (or rather her character) remains steely of eye and fixed of expression. We get the inevitable climax, and then an ending that confused me.

MOMENTUM isn't bad. The direction and editing are a bit too flashy at times, interfering with what are perfectly good action scenes and making you wish they would stop trying to be clever. I'm kindly disposed to it because it really did remind me of the kind of random, rainy day video shop rentals that actually brightened up such afternoons considerably. I also think it deserves some love because it was the subject of an unfair headline last year claiming it was the poorest earning cinema release of the year, despite it getting the kind of big screen distribution mistreatment IRON SKY got a couple of years back.
              Signature's Blu-ray contains no extras. MOMENTUM is quite fun if you're an undemanding action fan. Those with a hankering of as much of Ms Kurylenko as possible should probably be warned that all they will be treated to is a bit of her bottom, although they may well find that sufficient to brighten up their own personal rainy afternoon.

MOMENTUM is out on Blu-ray and DVD from Signature Entertainment from 18th January 2016