News Column

DVD reviews: 'Journey to the West' and 'Endless Love'

May 29, 2014

By Garrett Conti, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

May 29--"Journey to the West" (2013, PG-13, 110 min., $26.98) After a decade or so of acting, China'sStephen Chow broke through as a filmmaker with "Shaolin Soccer" (2001) and "Kung Fu Hustle" (2004). His latest, "Journey to the West" is another lively picture that uses elements from different genres to build something original. A loose adaptation of the Chinese literary classic of the same name, "Journey to the West" has a peaceful monk traveling across an ancient world trying to rid it of demons. In his travels, Xuanzhang crosses paths with several different demon hunters, including the lovely Duan, who has feelings for the monk. The demon hunters are all going after the pig demon, an evil and elusive force. To find answers, Xuanzhang takes a long trek to visit the Monkey King, another demon. When the Monkey King fools Xuanzhang into releasing him from his prison, the monk stands by his beliefs in surviving the demon onslaught. Boosted by Chow's imagination, which leaks into this plot and its characters, "Journey to the West" is a tremendously fun ride. Standard DVD and Blu-ray packages carry lots of extras. Featurettes on stunts, special effects, production design and choreography are available. 3 Stars.

"Endless Love" (2014, PG-13, 104 min., $29.98) This version of "Endless Love," directed by Shana Feste, marks the second time Scott Spencer's 1979 novel has been turned into a movie. Italian director Franco Zeffirelli took a shot in 1981. Feste's adaptation is not a good one, as it bounces from cliche to cliche. Although the film does have nice performances from Gabriella Wilde and Alex Pettyfer, it flounders into Lifetime territory behind a boring screenplay. "Endless Love" follows a girl named Jade (Wilde), the daughter of wealthy parents who spent high school recovering from the unexpected death of her brother and focusing on her studies. After graduating from high school, Jade falls for Dave (Pettyfer), a bad-boy figure from high school. They quickly fall in love. Jade's father sees Dave as a bad influence, though, and he goes out of his way to end the relationship for the sake of his daughter's future. That disapproval puts the relationship to the ultimate test. Blu-ray and standard DVD packages carry a decent making-of featurette with interviews and insights into the film. Deleted scenes and an extended ending are exclusive to Blu-ray. 1.5 Stars.

"American Made Movie" (2013, G, 82 min., $19.99) American manufacturing is the central focus of "American Made Movie," a documentary from Nathaniel Thomas McGill and Vincent Vittorio. It provides a detailed look at those domestic companies thriving against tough international competition, and how they've managed to survive the onslaught.

"Eastern Bandits" (2012, NR, 105 min., $24.98) A resistance fighter joins up with a gang of skilled bandits during World War II in an attempt to take out a Japanese prince. When the plan fails, the bandits retreat to take another approach that will be even more dangerous to all involved. The action-packed thriller is directed by Yang Shu-peng.

"Independence Daysaster" (2013, PG-13, 90 min., $19.98) Another original feature film from Syfy, "Independence Daysaster" brings together a small-town fireman, a scientist, a couple of hackers, a teen and the president of the United States in an attempt to fight off a high-powered attack from invading extraterrestrials on the 4th of July.


"How to Train Your Dragon" (2010, PG, 98 min., $29.99)

"The Color of Lies" (1999, NR, 113 min., $29.98)


"Cimarron Strip: The Complete Series" (eight discs, 23 episodes, $79.98)

"The Universe: Season 7, Ancient Mysteries Solved" (one disc, five episodes, $19.98)


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