In our weekly column, we give you the lowdown on the weekly top three essential DVDs and Blu-ray releases.
It's a battle to the death in this week's DVD 123! From the twisted mind of Quentin Tarantino, we have eight films that set a new standard in violence, mayhem and destruction. "The Expendables 2" comes from some of the biggest action stars around, including Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone, and outshines the first film exponentially. Bringing up the rear is the unique anti-Western featuring a war of hearts and a battle of rich against poor, "Heaven's Gate."
1. "Tarantino XX" 8-Film Collection
Starring: Quentin Tarantino, Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Michael Madsen, Harvey Keitel and Tim Roth
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Running Time: Varies
This 10-disc Quentin Tarantino box set is being released at the perfect time, just when we've all got "Django Unchained" on the brain. This collection includes the following eight films: "Reservoir Dogs," "True Romance," "Pulp Fiction," "Jackie Brown," "Kill Bill Vol. 1," "Kill Bill Vol. 2," "Death Proof" and "Inglourious Basterds."
The two extra discs have hours of extras, from commentaries to interviews, BTS features and an overview of Tarantino's career. There's also a critics' panel moderated by Elvis Mitchell that includes our own Stephanie Zacharek, and a tribute to Tarantino's beloved editor, Sally Menke. The eight films collected here are presented on stunning Blu-ray, making this one unique collector's item!
2. "The Expendables 2"
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Terry Crews and Jet Li
Director: Simon West
Studio: Lionsgate Films
Running Time: 103 min.
The Expendables are back in action, proving that age and wisdom can kick just as much ass as youth and beauty. Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) gathers together the gritty team of action mercenaries for what should be an easy job, but when one of their very own is murdered on the job, the crew must band together and go deep into enemy territory. What follows is one non-stop thrill after another as guns blaze and the team find themselves up against a truly difficult bad guy.
Special features on this heart-pounding release include a commentary, featurettes on casting and action movie history, deleted scenes, a gag reel and more. "The Expendables 2" Blu-ray comes with a DVD and an UltraViolet digital copy.
3. "Heaven's Gate"
Starring: Kris Kristofferson, Christopher Walken, John Hurt, Sam Waterston, Brad Dourif and Isabelle Huppert
Director: Michael Cimino
Studio: The Criterion Collection
Running Time: 217 min.
A battle of wills in the old West leads to a bloody battle unlike any other in this controversial Criterion Collection release. Director Michael Cimino presents a dark anti-Western based on real events that took place in 1890s Wyoming as immigrant farmers find themselves up against wealthy cattle barons. Sheriff James Averill (Kristofferson) is in direct opposition to a hired gun (Walken) when the pair find themselves in love with the same woman (Huppert). When a war begins between the two factions of immigrants and landowners, the men become embroiled in a greater battle.
The special features on this release include a restoration demonstration, a new interview with Kris Kristofferson, an interview with Cimino exploring how "Heaven's Gate" came to exist, essays, photos and more. This Criterion release is available on Blu-ray and DVD.
Want more awesome DVD picks? Check in with Queue it Up over at NextMovie!