Three of the best hardboiled tales of two-fisted action to swagger across the screen recently have been released on DVD. If you missed any of them, here's your chance to get your mandatory dose of foot-to-ass cinema.
Frank Miller's Sin City-Virtuoso comic-book scribe Frank Miller's acclaimed series made the leap to the big screen in this balls-out thriller co-directed by Miller and Robert Rodriguez. Not only was this a major breakthrough in digital filmmaking-the movie was shot with real actors against green screen, and everything else was created via computer-Sin City was a gritty throwback to the pulp-fiction novels and noir films of generations past. The movie's divided into a series of short segments, the best starring Mickey Rourke as an ugly brute named Marv, who sets out on a corpse-riddled path of revenge when the only woman to show him affection is murdered. The sole drawback to this recent DVD release is that there's a surprising shortage of bonus material. Anyone familiar with Rodriguez knows his films are always loaded with extras, which means there will be another Sin City DVD release in the future. Rent this one for now.
Layer Cake-Daniel Craig gives an impressive performance as a nameless dope dealer in England who finds himself caught up in a world of double-dealing, deception and danger. Craig devises a plan for one final cocaine deal that will allow him to retire for good. But there are forces at work that don't want our antihero to straighten up and fly right, and soon Craig realizes his biggest challenge is not getting out of the drug business, but simply staying alive. The combined talents of director Matthew Vaughn, screenwriter J.J. Connolly, director of photography Ben Davis and editor Jon Harris fuse together into a beautifully stylish crime caper.
Oldboy-Not only is this one of the best action thrillers to come along in recent years, it ranks with the best blood-soaked tales of revenge ever told on the screen. Korean actor Choi Min-sik joins the ranks of Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson and Toshiro Mifune as one of film's best tough guys. He stars as Oh Dae-su, a hard-drinking loudmouth who, for reasons unknown, is locked in a mysterious prison for 15 years. When he finally gets out, with only a shred of his sanity intact, he embarks on a deadly quest to find out who had him imprisoned, and to make that person pay. The official American DVD release includes deleted and alternate scenes, an interview with director Chanwook Park and an audio commentary with Park and his director of photography. The most interesting fact revealed in the commentary: The incredible hammer fight sequence-one of the coolest things you'll ever see-was shot 17 times.