You would think it was my birthday this week, as three of my favorite movies arrived on DVD, each in a two-disc special edition. Sure, I already own Enter the Dragon, The Great Escape and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, but with the amazing bonus features found on all three of these must-have movies, I'd be more than happy to forgo groceries for a week or so. And if you don't already own these films, now is the time to buy them (or send Santa Claus an early letter).
Bruce Lee's film Enter the Dragon is one of "25 Most Important Films Ever Made that Everyone Should See," and if you haven't seen it, your life is sadly lacking. Rest assured it's the greatest kung-fu flick ever made. Lee stars as a martial-arts expert recruited by the government to help break up a criminal organization run by the nefarious Mr. Han (Shih Kien).
Loaded with bonus features, the special edition of Enter the Dragon is required for Bruce Lee fans, and the perfect introduction to the world-renowned martial artist and philosopher. The second disc has two feature-length documentaries, Bruce Lee: The Curse of the Dragon and Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey--which assembles footage from the never-finished Game of Death, based on Lee's original production notes--and are worth owning on their own. Add in the other bonus material, and you've got a phenomenal movie given the deluxe DVD treatment it richly deserves.
Speaking of phenomenal movies getting the deluxe treatment on DVD, director Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is back on DVD, this time in a restored version that contains nearly 20 minutes of footage that had been cut from the Italian version. The added footage enhances this epic tale of three men (Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach) searching for a cache of hidden gold, but what's really going to get your palms moist are the documentary featurettes, including Leone's West, a wonderful "making of" look at the film; The Leone Style, which examines the filmmaker's career; and a look at how the film was restored.
Director John Sturges' 1963 film The Great Escape remains one of the greatest, most rousing action-adventure films of all time. Clocking in at just under three hours, it's a character-driven ensemble effort that follows the World War II exploits of Allied prisoners as they attempt to bust out of an escape-proof camp. Filled with an all-star cast that includes Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson and James Coburn, the film was based on the real-life escape of Allied POWs from Germany's Stalag Luft 3. Bonus documentaries on the DVD cover the making of the film and detail the real Great Escape.
The Great Escape is a staple of Channel 12's Sunday-afternoon movie slot, but unless you've seen it in its full, widescreen glory--as it's been restored for this disc--then you ain't seen this movie.