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DVDs & Blu-rays: The Action Packed Edition

Sinners and Saints

stars Sean Patrick Flanery, Johnny Strong and Tom Berenger; William Kaufman directs.

The Setup: Sinners and Saints is filled with hard-faced men. And bullets. Lots and lots of bullets. Johnny Strong (The Fast and the Furious) is a post-Katrina New Orleans cop who finds himself in both mourning and trouble. He's lost his young son and while investigating a series of gruesome murders, he lands in the middle of a gangland war.

The Execution: Art Attack is an admitted cinephile, but we often go slumming. We thought Sinners was going to be a romp in Slum Park. We were wrong. Kinda. There are lots of flaws in the dialogue, overdramatic lines and some plot lines aren't completely wrapped up by the end. But look at this as a postmodernist commentary on the violence Americans too often and too quickly use to fight violence and suddenly these characters take on epic proportions. Johnny Strong becomes an Everyman desperate to protect what little he has left in life and maybe redeem himself in the process.

The beauty of Sinners and Saints is that no one is completely blameless, no one's hands are completely clean. It's the bad against the badder.

This is Strong's flick, but there are a few other actors worth mentioning. Method Man stars appears as a banger with a seriously messed-up face (think acid burn on top of an ugly sneer). Tom Berenger is also in the cast (also a messed-up face, but that just might be too much time in the sun). Both are sufficiently menacing.

Kudos to director William Kaufman for keeping everyone on track and making the sum of Sinners and Saints equal to much, much more than the total of its parts.

The Extras: Bonus scenes and a making-of featurette

Public Comment: One comment post on Amazon.com said the film "already has a cult following in the gun world." We have no doubt it does.

Killer Elite

stars Clive Owen, Robert De Niro and Jason Statham; Gary McKendry directs.

There's plenty of violence in Killer Elite, but it's the acting that is notable -- both for its good and bad parts. Clive Owen, Robert De Niro and Jason Statham are fine so long as they adhere to the "less is more" rule, but every time director Gary McKendry pushes them beyond their comfort zone, they falter.

The plot, supposedly based on a true story, follows a world-class killer and his mentor (Jason Statham and Robert De Niro, respectively) who cross paths with the leader of an off-the-books military group (Clive Owen). They're hunting him, then he's hunting them and then it's just balls-to-the-wall hard-core action.

There Be Dragons

stars Charlie Cox and Wes Bentley; Roland Joffé directs.

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There Be Dragons is told in two parallel stories, one of the priest Josemaría Escrivá during the Spanish Civil War when he was launching what eventually became the Opus Dei movement in the Catholic Church, and the other of a modern-day journalist who is writing a biography of now Saint Escrivá. The journalist seems the perfect person for the job; his father was a close childhood friend of Escrivá.

Among the bombs and gunshots of the war, Escrivá forms a core group of resistance fighters, who battle religious oppression by officials, among other repressive policies. In the present day, the journalist battles with his elderly father, who refuses to discuss Escrivá, putting a fine point on the broken relationship between them. Each man has his own war. It's up to the audience to decide which is not only more interesting but ultimately more important.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

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