Video Verdict: New DVDs for June 30

John Cena plays New Orleans police officer Danny Fisher in the thriller “12 Rounds.”

John Cena plays New Orleans police officer Danny Fisher in the thriller “12 Rounds.”

This week’s DVD releases include two amped up action flicks and a concert movie featuring one of America’s top teen acts.

 

Jonas Brothers: The Concert Experience
2 stars (out of four)
Rated G
Disney
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

It’s official. I don’t get the Jonas Brothers.

While I’m not in Miley Cyrus’ demographic, I get the fact that she is an extremely talented singer and fairly decent young actress. The Jonases, on the other hand, have somehow propelled themselves to the top of the tween music scene without remarkable voices or even memorable songs. At least they play their own instruments, something too few young rock bands appear capable of.

Truth told, it doesn’t matter if I get the Jo Bros because they are a full-fledged pop music phenomenon, and their movie should appeal to anyone who does get them. The picture is a combination of concert footage and short bits designed to show what their life is like on tour. Some of the bits are obvious set ups, while others at least appear genuine. No matter, though, because the draw is the concert footage.

The Jo Bros roll through a steady stream of their tunes, including “BB Good,” “Burnin’ Up,” “Still in Love With You” and “Hold On.” “The Concert Experience” even contains a full-fledged music video for “Love Is On Its Way,” and the DVD and Blu-ray releases feature four songs that weren’t shown during the movie’s theatrical release.

In the grand scheme of concert movies, the film is slight — give me the Rolling Stones’ “Shine a Light” any day — but it should be embraced by the target audience.

The movie is available on a three-disc Blu-ray release (that also contains a standard DVD) as well as a standard DVD release. Both have extended versions of the film, but only the Blu-ray disc can be viewed in 3D like the movie was released in theaters. Although 3D hasn’t come of age in the home viewing environment, this set comes as close as any I’ve seen to reproducing the theatrical experience.

 

12 Rounds
2 stars
DVD contains rated and unrated versions of the film. The rated version received a PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action.
20th Century Fox
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

In “Die Hard With a Vengeance,” a nutso terrorist orders New York Police Lt. John McClane (Bruce Willis) to take part in a series of elaborate games or watch his city get torn to bits. That movie made more than $350 million worldwide, so screenwriter Daniel Kunka and director Renny Harlin clearly saw value in appropriating the concept for “12 Rounds.”

While Harlin’s and Kunka’s movie is not a remake of “Die Hard 3,” the similarities are worthy of mention. In “12 rounds,” New Orleans police officer Danny Fisher (John Cena) apprehends an international terrorist named Miles Jackson (Aidan Gillen) and becomes a hero in the process. Unfortunately, Jackson’s beloved girlfriend is killed during the arrest so, when he escapes prison a year later, he seeks revenge.

Jackson kidnaps Danny’s girlfriend (Ashley Scott), then sets up a metaphorical boxing match, played out in 12 rounds of elaborate and deadly tests that Danny must complete to get his girl back.

Cena, who gained fame as a professional wrestler, is acceptable in the lead role, but he’s not nearly as charismatic as Willis was in “Die Hard 3.”

That’s the problem with “12 Rounds.” It is not only derivative of “Die Hard With a Vengeance,” it’s inferior in every way. Gillen, whose version of Jackson is supposed to be Irish, regularly slips in and out of accent. Danny is aided by a couple FBI agents who are about as professional as Abbot and Costello. By contrast, Willis was partnered with the always great Samuel L. Jackson in “Die Hard 3.” Finally, the plotting frequently moves forward using jump cuts that leave important elements of the story unexplained.

About the only thing “12 Rounds” does have going for it is a steady dose of reasonably well presented action scenes. If that’s enough for you, then by all means rent the movie. Just don’t expect a knockout.

DVD extras include one audio commentary by Harlin and another by Cena and Kunka, a gag reel, alternate endings and a short on Cena’s stunt work.

 

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li
1 1/2 stars
DVD contains rated and unrated versions of the film. The rated version received a PG-13 for sequences of violence and martial arts action, and some sensuality.
20th Century Fox
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

In “Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li,” Kristin Kreuk plays the title character, a piano prodigy who becomes a vigilante warrior after her father is kidnapped by an evil businessman named Bison (Neal McDonough).

For roles like Chun-Li, there is a Hollywood hierarchy that goes something like this. One tries to hire Angelina Jolie, but when that doesn’t happen, they get Kate Beckinsale. When they can’t get Beckinsale, they get Milla Jovovich. And when they can’t get any of the first three, they get Kreuk.

No offense to Kreuk, as she’s plenty likable in the “Smallville” television series, but she has a long way to go when it comes to feature film. In “Street Fighter,” her acting is wooden even when doing voiceover, and her slight build and porcelain-doll looks don’t make her convincing as an action hero.

But enough about Kreuk. She’s hardly the defining flaw of this multi-layered failure. From the beginning, the details are off, starting with the casting of a young Chun-Li who looks distinctly more Chinese than Kreuk, who is of both European and Asian descent.

Move beyond the details and you’ll find characters that carry about as much depth and realism as those in the video game the film takes its name from. For instance, the affable Chris Klein plays an Interpol agent who spends most of his time ogling his beautiful Chinese partner and acting hip. Funny? Kind of. Believable as a law enforcement officer? Yeah right.

Just as in the Street Fighter video games, the plotting is secondary to the action, which might be OK if “Street Figher” director Andrzej Bartkowiak had more visual flair. Sadly, his fight sequences are best described as workmanlike, making them one more bland ingredient in a relentlessly dull action flick.

DVD extras include a filmmakers’ commentary, deleted scenes, video-game-to-movie comparisons, a storyboard gallery and making-of featurettes.

 

ALSO OUT THIS WEEK

“Princess Protection Program”: This Disney Channel original movie is coming out on DVD just four days after its June 26 television debut. The film stars Selena Gomez as princess of the tiny nation of Costa Luna. When a covert agent rescues her from a military takeover, he brings her to his home in Louisiana where she must try to fit in with his country-girl daughter (Demi Lovato) and other American teens.

“Eastbound & Down” — The Complete First Season: First six episodes of the HBO comedy about a boorish former Major League Baseball pitcher who returns to his hometown middle school to teach physical education. Danny McBride stars.

“Entourage” — The Complete Fifth Season: “Entourage” fans can get ready for season six by watching earlier adventures of movie star Vince Chase (Adrian Grenier) and his hometown buddies.

“The IT Crowd” — The Complete Second Season: More of the British sitcom about inept information technology workers in a large, London-based corporation.

“Secret Diary of a Callgirl” — Season Two: The continuing adventures of Hannah Baxter (Billie Piper), a high-end escort balancing “work” with her personal life. The show was a hit in England before going on to similar success as a Showtime drama.

“Two Lovers”: Romantic drama starring Joaquin Phoenix as a man coming off a bad breakup, Vinessa Shaw as the woman his parents hope he’ll spark to, and Gwyneth Paltrow as a needy woman working through her own set of emotional problems.

“The Lucille Ball Specials”: Two of Ball’s television specials — “Lucy Gets Lucky” and “Three for Two” — on one release. The latter show features three mini comedies and features Jackie Gleason as a co-star. “Lucy Gets Lucky” has Ball playing a star-struck woman who heads to Las Vegas to see her favorite entertainer, Dean Martin.

“Tokyo!”: Anthology film focused on Tokyo, Japan, with segments by directors Michel Gondry (“Enternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), Leos Carax (“The Lovers on the Bridge”) and Bong Joon-ho (“The Host).

“Nostradamus — 2012:” History special considering the prophet Nostradamus’ doomsday prediction for the year 2012.

“Jockeys”: Documentary detailing the personalities and extraordinary feats of seven high-profile jockeys. Originally shown as a reality series on Animal Planet, the action plays out over 14 episodes on two DVDs.

 

Forrest Hartman is an independent film critic whose byline has appeared in some of the nation’s largest publications. E-mail him at Forrest@ForrestHartman.com

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2 Comments

Filed under Video Verdict

2 responses to “Video Verdict: New DVDs for June 30

  1. Good review for 12 Rounds. I was kinda dissapointed in that movie. Not that I was expecting super greatness from it, haha.

    Like

  2. Forrest Hartman

    Thanks Eddy. I appreciate the feedback.

    Like

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