Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Celebrate the New Year with Martial Arts, Lovecraft Horror & More from ARROW

The Executioner Collection limited edition Blu-ray box set
Arrow begins 2023 on January 10 with not one but two Sonny Chiba martial arts masterpieces in The Executioner Collection. This limited-edition box set features two films with Chiba at his badass best. Fans of Street Fighter will revel in delight as the legend immerses himself into a succession of freewheeling action and feisty fight scenes in this double dish of martial arts mayhem. The Executioner Collection features an illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the films by Mark Schilling, new audio commentaries featuring Chris Poggiali and Marc Walkow, a thirty-minute featurette on Chiba, original trailers, image galleries and much more.

In The Executioner, legendary cult director Teruo Ishii joins forces with action superstar Sonny Chiba in this bone-crunching tale of classic karate exploitation from Toei. Ryuichi Koga (Chiba) is a descendent of the Koga Ninja school, now earning his living through more nefarious means as a gun for hire. When he is enlisted to take down a drug cartel alongside Hayabusa (Makoto Sato), a disgraced former narcotics detective now operating within the criminal underworld, and renegade Aikido master Sakura (Eiji Gō), tensions grow and you just know there’s going to be a beat-down! Koga returns in The Executioner II: Karate Inferno – an even more gung-ho follow-up, as the ringmaster of a gang of thieves plotting to steal a priceless jewel from a master criminal.

Also on January 10 comes American International Pictures' and Roger Corman’s frightening foray into the world of H.P. Lovecraft with The Dunwich Horror. Directed by Daniel Haller, this was also the first screenwriting credit for Curtis Hanson, who would later direct the multi award-winning L.A. Confidential. Newly restored by Arrow Films from the original 35mm camera negative, The Dunwich Horror is among the most successful Lovecraft adaptations ever committed to film. Featuring an illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing by film critics Johnny Mains and Jack Sargeant, along with new audio commentary by Guy Adams and Alexandra Benedict, new interviews with film historian Stephen R. Bissette and horror author Stephen Laws, science fiction and fantasy writer Ruthanna Emrys, and music historian David Huckvale, the original trailer, image galleries and more. 

Dean Stockwell stars as Wilbur Whateley, a mysterious young man who travels from the small town of Dunwich to the library of Miskatonic University intent on returning with the legendary book of occult lore, the Necronomicon. Graduate student Nancy Wagner (Sandra Dee, in her final film role) falls under Wilbur’s malignant influence and travels back home with him – oblivious to her sacrificial role in a ritual to summon Cthuloid beasts from another dimension. But who, or what, is in the locked room at the top of the stairs? And what will happen if they get out?

Then on January 17, Arrow heads back into the world of martial arts with the Angela Mao double

Lady Whirlwind & Hapkido blu-ray from Arrow
feature Lady Whirlwind & Hapkido. Enter the Dragon producer Raymond Chow discovered the Taiwanese ingenue when she was barely out of the Beijing Opera School. Despite her fresh-faced femininity she became one of Hong Kong's toughest action icons of the 1970s – due in large part to this one-two punch of martial arts action. The two-disc set features brand new 2K restorations for both films, an illustrated collectors' booklet featuring new writing on the films by critic James Oliver, commentaries on both films by Frank Djeng, Robert “Bobby” Samuels and Michael Worth, a two-part all-new interview with star Angela Mao, archival interviews with Mao, Carter Wong, Sammo Hung, and Yuen Biao, Alternate Opening Credits, Trailers, Image Galleries and more.

Lady Whirlwind stars Mao as a young woman dead set on avenging the death of her sister, only to find herself fighting a common enemy alongside the man she wants revenge on. Hapkido, made in the same year as Lady Whirlwind, finds Mao once more pitted against a gang of thugs, alongside soon-to-be kung fu legends Sammo Hung and Carter Wong as disciples of Hapkido, a Korean fighting style, studying under real-life Hapkido grandmasters Ji Han-jae and Hwang In-shik. 

Arrow closes out the month with The Lukas Moodysson Collection. The January 31 release is a limited-edition box set featuring all 7 narrative films from the director hailed as "a young master" by Ingmar Bergman. Available together for the first time, Moodysson's eclectic filmography can now be appreciated as the work of a singular filmmaking voice, as avowedly uncompromising and unabashedly political as it is keenly observed, deeply felt and frequently hilarious. The six-disc set includes a 200-page hardback book featuring new writing by Peter Walsh, excerpts from the original press kits for each film and essays on Moodysson’s films from a 2014 special issue of the Nordic culture journal Scandinavica. There are new interviews with Lukas Moodysson, actor Alexandra Dahlström, producer Lars Jönsson, editor Michal Leszczylowski, costume designer Denise Östholm, line producer Malte Forssell, script supervisor Malin Fornander, and cinematographer Ulf Brantås. Moodyson’s Short Films are included, as are the London Film Festival Q&As for Lilya 4-ever and We Are The Best, with Trailers, Image Galleries and more. 

Moodysson's first film, Fucking Åmål (released internationally as Show Me Love), was quickly heralded as a new Queer cinema touchstone and one of the most authentic portrayals of youthful relationships on film. He swiftly followed this with the bittersweet, satirical 1970s-set Together, in which the inhabitants of a commune try to reconcile their ideals with their hearts' desires. Having made a name for himself as the new master of tragicomic, feel-good humanism, Moodysson suddenly switched gears with a trio of startlingly confrontational works: the hauntingly bleak Lilya 4-ever, the abrasive and semi-improvised A Hole in My Heart and the avant-garde Container, narrated in its English version by Jena Malone. After making his mainstream English-language debut with the expansive Mammoth, starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Michelle Williams, Moodysson returned to his roots with We Are The Best!, the charming and funny tale of three schoolgirls starting a punk band in early-1980s Stockholm.

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