Bruce Lee Documentary Worth The Watch For Fans

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory released a little more than a year ago, a new documentary centered on martial arts legend Bruce Lee titled I Am Bruce Lee.  Lee’s career was not the longest of any star foreign or American.  But as audiences will see in this latest documentary, the short time that he spent on screen was only part of the reason that he was so revered.  He remains today one of the most influential figures in martial arts whether it be on television, in movies or in general.  That information shared through the course of the documentary’s ninety-four minute run time is one part of what makes the documentary well worth the watch for anyone that is a fan of martial arts in all of its avenues.  Also to be taken into consideration in this documentary is the editing.  Editor Tony Kent expertly assembled the different bits and pieces of the documentary in such fashion as to keep viewers completely engaged throughout the program.  The editing and information shared throughout the program are accompanied by additional footage that didn’t make the primary program.  That bonus footage of Lee’s “Backyard Training” and deeper discussions on Lee’s continued influence on the world make I Am Bruce Lee complete.  That bonus material partners with the primary program and its editing to once again make this documentary one that any of Bruce Lee’s legions of fans will appreciate.

I Am Bruce Lee is not the first documentary to focus on the legendary star of film and television.  Warner Home Video released Bruce LeeA Warrior’s Journey in 2001.  That documentary was followed up in 2009 with History Channel’s How Bruce Lee Changed The World in 2009.  The amount of time that has passed since each documentary was released means that chances are great that both are going to be very difficult to find.  That being the case, I Am Bruce Lee becomes an even more valuable piece for any martial arts enthusiast and fan of Bruce Lee.  That’s because so little time has passed since this documentary was released early last year.  The information shared throughout the course of the program is quite similar to that of both of the aforementioned documentaries. Audiences will appreciate learning that as much of a star as Lee became in his life, he apparently wasn’t always fond of his stardom.  His wife notes in her interview that he actually got to the point that he hated going out because he was followed so much.  On another note, audiences not so familiar with Lee’s life will find just as interesting how little stigma Lee and his wife experienced despite the views on inter-racial marriage at the time that they were wed.  Even more interesting to learn, is the contrast of Lee’s own view of his success versus its reality.  The comparison to Jimi Hendrix having to go to London to become famous is an excellent illustrator of what Lee ended up having to face, despite his early beliefs of how successful he would become in America.  This and so much more shared throughout the program makes for a solid foundation on which the documentary rests.

The information shared throughout the course of I Am Bruce Lee is the foundation for the success of this latest Bruce lee documentary.  Just as important to the program’s success is the editing.  Editor Tony Kent expertly and seamlessly assembled the entire feature.  The skill that Kent exhibited in this piece keeps viewers fully engaged from start to finish.  Most notable of his editing is his ability to use vintage clips from Lee’s movies to semi-playfully add to certain discussions. Such technique is not necessarily anything new for any documentary. But Kent uses the technique sparingly whereas other editors might have taken it over the top and overdone it. So for that, Kent is more than deserving of his due credit. Kent is also to be applauded for his seamless editing in terms of the discussions by the features celebrity guests on how Lee influenced them. The guests, which include some of the biggest names in MMA, acting, and even sports discuss what makes Lee so influential to this very day. They use very specific examples of what continues to make him the iconic figure that he remains today. Kent cuts directly to the vintage footage of Lee both from his film career and from personal interviews that he conducted to illustrate those discussions. His editing makes the discussion perfectly clear. Audiences will see that for themselves and more when they purchase the documentary for themselves.

The editing and overall content that collectively make up I Am Bruce Lee are both important factors in the overall success of the feature. The finishing touch to the whole thing is the additional material included as bonus features. The vintage footage of Lee’s “Backyard Training” is the best of the bonus features. It is the best of the bonus material because it completes the material shown in the main feature. Audiences get a glimpse into Lee’s own home training setup in the main feature. This bonus material expands on the glimpse given into that training. It is essentially material that likely ended up on the cutting room floor as it might have made the main feature too long in the eyes of those at the film’s helm.

The second feature, “Inspiration – Bruce Lee’s Global Impact,” is a bonus in that it expands on the snippets of the interviews used in the presentation’s main feature. As with the bonus “Backyard Training” featurette, odds are that these snippets were material that ended up on the cutting room floor for time’s sake. As audiences will see and hear for themselves in the expanded interview footage, Lee’s influence on the world today is as strong as it has ever been. It will be even stronger when audiences take in this material and everything else presented in I Am Brice Lee for themselves. Audiences will agree in watching everything included in this documentary that I Am Bruce Lee is a welcome addition to the home library of any martial arts enthusiast and Bruce Lee devotee.

I Am Bruce Lee is available in stores and online now. It can be ordered via Shout! Factory’s online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/product/i-am-bruce-lee. More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online at http://www.shoutfactory.com and http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Modern Family A Modern Television Hit

Courtesy:  20th Century Fox

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox

ABC’s Modern Family is one of the funniest sitcoms in television today, if not the funniest.  It goes without saying that it is a modern day classic  It will make audiences who have yet to see it laugh out loud.  The show’s first three seasons are available now on DVD and Blu-ray.  Part of what has made this show such a hit is that unlike so many shows on television today, it isn’t a serial.  Its episodes are largely stand-alone episodes.  And while the humor may not be entirely family friendly, it’s not as bad as so much of what’s out there today.  That has been evident from the show’s first two seasons.

A big part of the success of Modern Family in its first two seasons is its casting.  The casting expertly mirrors modern society in that it shows how much the family dynamic has changed today.  It takes the sociological studies on the changing nuclear family and puts an entirely hilarious spin on it with the combination of the Pritchett and Dunphy families.  The Pritchett family by itself is beyond hilarious.  On the surface, it’s a multi-racial family, with Jay (Ed O’Neill) and his wife Gloria (Sofia Vergara) as the heads of the households.  Their relationship in itself puts the entire husband/wife/mother/father dynamic used in previous sitcoms completely on its ear.  Add in their son, Manny (Rico Rodriguez II) who is advanced far beyond his years, and a younger sister, and audiences get a family that more than offers its share of laughs.

Courtesy:  20th Century Fox

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox

The Pritchett family is a laugh riot in itself.  The addition of the Dunphy family, which is related to the Pritchett family through marriage, gives the Pritchett family plenty of comedic relief.  The attempts by Claire and Phil to balance their relationship with raising three kids are something to which so many parents today can relate.   Add in the interactions with the Pritchett’s and audiences get even more laughs.  The two families’ interactions within themselves and with each other make up another positive to not just the show’s third season, but its first two seasons, too.  That positive is the show’s writing.  The show’s writers have crafted a show that stands above every other sitcom on the air today.  Not since Fox’s Malcolm in the Middle have audiences been presented with such a hilarious family based sitcom.

Those who have yet to see this show might be asking at this point, it’s really that funny?  Yes it is.  Season One both on DVD and Blu-ray offer audiences a glimpse at the cast sitting down for a read through of one episode’s script.  The entire cast is cracking up throughout the read.  There is no doubt that there is chemistry both on screen and off through this.  It goes to show how close knit the family is.  Yet again, this goes to exhibit the expert level of writing behind Modern Family. Of course, the chemistry between the cast is also exhibited through the bonus cast interviews.

The cast interviews and read through are just a pair of the bonuses that make Modern Family Season One and Two so much fun.  Fans also get the standard deleted and extended scenes.  There is even a fun flash mob video led by Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) included as a bonus feature, too.  It shows just who zany Mitch is as a character, and makes his character that much funnier to watch.   There is so much more that could be discussed.  But doing so would lead to aimless rambling.  But it goes without saying that this feature and the others combined with the cast’s expert comedic timing and the writers’ equally expert scripting are solid evidence of why Modern Family is one of the best sitcoms on television today, if not the best.  The show’s first two seasons are available now in stores and online on DVD and Blu-ray.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Modern Family Season Three Keeps The “Fun” in Dysfunctional

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment/20th Century Fox Television

ABC’s Modern Family is one of the funniest shows on television today.  At a time when so much programming has leaned more toward serials, this laugh riot sitcom doesn’t require audiences to watch every single episode in order to enjoy it.  And now with the release of the show’s third full season to DVD and Blu-ray, audiences can watch even more episodes of this outrageously hilarious comedy any time they want.  Whether one is new to the show or an old hand, Modern Family Season Three continues to keep audiences laughing.  This season’s episodes are just a piece of the puzzle that makes Season Three so enjoyable.  From the episodes themselves to the set’s packaging, to something as minute as the episode menus, so much has gone into this set to make it a must have for any Modern Family fan in any family. 

Season three kicks off as the entire Pritchett and Dunphy family takes a trip to Wyoming.  The family ends up in yet another bizarre situation after a marriage proposal doesn’t exactly go as planned.  At the same time, Gloria has to fend off guest star Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother Where Art Thou?) as the cowboy Hank.  There are also the storylines involving Cam and Mitch revealing that they want to adopt a little boy, so Mitchell tries to essentially train himself in the ways of boys in order to prepare for being a father to a boy.  And of course, there is another romance, this one between young Alex and a boy named Jimmy.  What’s so amazing about this episode is that it’s one more example of the show’s ability to interweave its separate storylines without getting bogged down in itself.  This is just as much the case in the episode, ‘Express Christmas.’

 

‘Express Christmas’ sees the families get together for an early Christmas after finding out that they won’t be able to spend the big day together.  From troubles at the tree lot (including having a Christmas tree run over) to general family discord, this is one more episode that will leave audiences in tears from laughing so hard.

And what better time to release Season Three than during election season?  Season Three sees Claire Dunphy running for city council.  Both the Dunphy family and the Pritchett family do their part.  Cam and Mitchell have even decked out a car in its campaign finest.  There’s just one problem.  What started out as an attempt to help campaign for Claire turns into a power trip for the pair after Cam tells a litterbug to pick up his trash.  On the other side, Claire’s husband faces his own odds when he tries to take an elderly voter to the polls in hopes of having him vote for Claire.  Everything that goes on in this episode is a breath of fresh air, especially in a year when politics has become so divisive.  It’s nice to see something that makes light of how politicians and their constituents operate.  It helps audiences to vote in a time when politicians and voters alike have constantly been at one another’s necks, even after the election has ended.

The writing throughout Season Three is just a part of what makes this season so successful.  The menus in Season Three are just as impressive as the episodes themselves.  The menus offer viewers a quick synopsis with each episode.  It’s just enough to get audiences interested on the surface.  On a deeper level, it’s a way to save money.  Instead of having to print up an episode guide, audiences get just enough of a synopsis on screen, allowing just as much choice of episodes.  This combined with the set’s slim-line packaging makes Season Three ergonomically sound.  All three discs in the Blu-ray set have their own spot inside the case, allowing the case to be smaller.  It also protects the discs from rubbing and scratching against one another.  This in turn makes the discs viewable much longer, too.  Add that in to the outstanding writing and equally impressive cinematography and audiences get another full season of laughs from a show that truly does put the “Fun” in dysfunctional.  Modern Family Season Three is available in stores and online now.  It can be ordered direct via the 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment online store at http://www.foxconnect.com/modern-family-season-3-blu-ray.html.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Home Run Showdown A “Hit” For Families

Courtesy: Image Entertainment

Home Run Showdown is a “hit” for families.  But it is in itself not a home run.  One part Bad News Bears (the 1976 original, not the most recent remake), one part Mighty Ducks, and one part Little Giants (just on a baseball field), this story mixes the standard underdog sports story with the family split plotline that’s seen in Little Giants(1994).  On the surface, the comparisons to The Bad News Bears (1976) are far too obvious.  Just as in that original baseball flick, a young ragtag group of baseball players is led by a washed up ex-minor leaguer to great heights.  Matthew Lillard (Scooby Doo, Scooby Doo 2) fills the shoes of the late great Walter Matthau this time out. 

The Bad News Bears isn’t the only movie from which this movie very liberally lifts.  Just as Rick Moranis and Ed O’Neill went toe to toe in the pee-wee football movie, Little Giants (1994), so do Lillard and co-star Dean Cain (Lois & Clark:  The Adventures of Superman) here.  To their credit, the feud between Joey and Rico is very believable.  The sibling rivalry between these brothers is very real.  There are so many families out there today who still suffer great rifts because of something that happened many years ago.  And as angry as Joey gets at Rico at some points, some older audiences may just be waiting for Joey to punch out Rico.

Audiences will love to hate Rico.  And that audiences will so love to hate him shows that Cain did his job.  At the same time, watching Joey (Lillard) grow from not caring what he was doing to really caring about the whole team will make older audiences cheer for him that much more.  At the same time, his lack of drive early on will make audiences want to hit him on the head and tell him to get up just as much as the kids on his team wanted.  Just as Rico made audiences hate him, Lillard’s ability to garner an emotional response from viewers means that he did his job, too.  In the same vein, Barry Bostwick (Spin City) is just as believable as the brothers’ frustrated father.

Lillard, Cain, and Bostwick did a wonderful job in this movie.  The trio carried it on its own.  But they weren’t the only cast to make the movie worth a watch.  Supporting actor Wayne Duvall was just as despicable as Commissioner Simpson.  In Simpson, audiences see a man who was stuck in his old ways, doing everything he could to keep a girl off of a baseball team, and basically keep the Cubs down for his own personal biases.  While he wasn’t a major player in the cast, Duvall’s portrayal of Simpson added that much more enjoyment to the story, as there are sadly still people like Simpson out there, too.
Home Run Showdown may not be the most original sports movie ever written.  But it does boast a cast that makes for a lot of heart.  It makes for enough heart that it’s worth at least one watch.  Home Run Showdown is available in stores and online now on DVD and blu-ray.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.