Thursday, January 22, 2009

BCI Eclipse, not quite dead, releases Hard Gun and more Thai action

Despite news last month that cult-film DVD purveyors BCI Eclipse would be closing, apparently some titles that were in the pipeline for release will still be issued.

Among the new DVDs is Hard Gun, a 1996 crime drama starring Panna Rittikrai and Tony Jaa. The DVD and the Blu-ray are available from HK Flix as well as Amazon (Blu-ray).

The Thai title is Mue Prab Puen Hode (literally, "the cop with [the] hard gun”). The forum has more details:

Tony Jaa plays Panna Rittikrai's right-hand man in this and they are both criminals looking to avenge the death of Panna's brother. The movie is pretty boring until the last 15 minutes when Jaa gets to show off his skills. Panna doesn't have a single fight scene, instead he runs around shooting guns all the time.

The disc offers an English dub or the original Thai soundtrack, with English subs. There's a clip of Tony Jaa working the staff at YouTube.

Also in the BCI Eclipse pipeline is a three-film Thai Action Pack set for release on January 27. It's available for order from HK Flix and Amazon. The set bundles Tony Jaa's Spirited Killer, the 1986 version of Born to Fight and another Panna crime drama, Thai Police Story.

Spirited Killer, first released by BCI Eclipse in 2006, is about a forest dweller who kills anyone who steps into his jungle. "Leading the pack to help stop this madman is Tony Jaa, making his film debut."

The Amazon page for the Thai Action Pack lists the synopsis for the 2003 version of Born to Fight starring Dan Chupong. Not at all a remake of the '86 version, it is a completely different film, with an entirely different story, and the rights for it were acquired by The Weinstein Company, which released it on the Dragon Dynasty label.

BCI Eclipse has the rights to the 1986 version of Born to Fight starring Panna Rittikrai, and first released it in 2007. So that's got to be what's in the Thai Action Pack. Panna plays a policeman hired to find a lawyer who is in trouble. Amazon reviewer Morgoth further comments:

The only reason to watch this movie is for the amazing stunts and full contact fights. Maybe Panna was just mad at these guys in real life, but he seriously beats them down hard in the movie. And look out for one of the craziest motorcycle stunts you will ever see."

Thai Police Story stars Panna "as a man caught between corrupt police officers and vicious drug gangs [and] features non-stop action and crazy stunts including a fight with Panna taking on four guys on top of a moving truck."

It was initially released last year in a twin-pack with the 1986 version of Born to Fight. The multiple issues and confusing litany of packaging is typical of BCI Eclipse. I can't find just Thai Police Story as a single disc, so if you really really want it, you'll have to either get the new three-pack or last year's two-pack.

Also, a couple of the Shaw Brothers' titles that BCI Eclipse acquired from Miramax are leaking out. There's Life Gamble with Alexander Fu Sheng and Opium and Kung Fu Master with Ti Lung.

Plans to shutter BCI Eclipse are still under way as the label's parent company, Navarre Corporation undergoes restructuring. Recently, Navarre laid off 50 employees including its chief operations officer. Among them are 20 workers in the Funimation anime division, according to Home Media Magazine.


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