Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.
Even 40(!) years after his untimely (and still mysterious) death, martial arts legend Bruce Lee has an unmatched post-mortem career. The new documentary I Am Bruce Lee explores the man’s life, from his post-WWII child-star career in Hong Kong to his rise to the top of the American box-office in the early ’70s. There are scads of interviews from numerous martial arts figures, actors and even some guy from the Black Eyed Peas, for some reason. Loaded with rare clips and footage of Lee in action, I Am Bruce Lee might not tell the whole story, but it does tell the most entertaining one. And if you’re still looking for more martial arts mayhem, Shout! Factory is also releasing a double-feature DVD of Crime Story and The Protector, two classic crime capers from Bruce Lee’s heir apparent, Jackie Chan, both made when he was in his prime and still doing work he could be proud of.
The Hittites. They dress like the Amish, they reject technology like the Amish, and they churn their butter like the Amish, but these guys sure don’t worship like the Amish! No, they’re a pure fire-and-brimstone cult that preaches against the dangers of seductive incubuses — female demons who sexually contaminate men in their sleep — and will do anything to stop anyone who might bring them to their happy home. Even if it’s the friendly next door newlyweds or the cougar waitress and her creepy daughter who live down the street. As the bodies start to pile up in one bizarre accident after another, Martha and her giggly gal-pals try to survive as a masked killer slashes his way to unholy revenge. Directed by Wes Craven, 1981’s Deadly Blessing is a pretty rote thriller that most people would ultimately write off … until the utterly bat-shit final 20 minutes, filled with the most insane plot twists ever, totally redeems it, Hittites be damned.
While most critics were gushing over the overblown (and allegedly deceptive) rockumentary Searching for Sugar Man, the far more moving, far more personal Paul Williams: Still Alive was quietly hiding under the radar, just waiting to be discovered. Which, when you think about it, pretty much fits the bill for singer-songwriter Williams. The diminutive poster made a name for himself writing incredible songs for the Monkees, Three Dog Night, and Barbra Streisand, as well as for movies like The Phantom of the Paradise and The Muppet Movie. All the while, he made noise as a raconteur on various ’70s talk shows. But, as various addictions took all of that away from him in the ’80s, he’s quietly lived a life, doing nostalgia shows as far as the Philippines. Still Alive chronicles his rise out of drug-induced obscurity and back into the spotlight, warts and all. Far from a Behind the Music casualty, Williams’ story is inspiring and touching and should have been lauded from here to Manila.