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'Crank: High Voltage'; 'Fringe'; 'Homicide'; 'The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency'

NEW ON DVD

September 06, 2009|Noel Murray

Crank: High Voltage

Lionsgate, $29.95/$34.98; Blu-ray, $39.99

"Crank: High Voltage" has Jason Statham reprising his role as Chev Chelios, a resourceful hitman who'll do anything to keep his faulty heart pumping. In the first movie Chelios needed to make sure his adrenaline never stopped racing to stay alive; in the sequel he's stuck with an artificial heart that requires frequent jolts of electricity, via jumper cables, shock-collars, tasers or whatever else is handy. Like its predecessor, "Crank: High Voltage" is a big, gross cartoon, full of broad stereotypes and slapstick violence. (This is the kind of movie where a stripper gets shot in the chest and bleeds silicone.) It's a wild ride -- the kind that will thrill some and leave others nauseated. The DVD and Blu-ray include a making-of featurette and a commentary track from writer-directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor.

Fringe

The Complete First Season

Warner, $59.98; Blu-ray, $79.98

After a shaky start, the Fox sci-fi/mystery series "Fringe" evolved into one of the most entertaining shows on the air last season, mixing mind-blowing metaphysical concepts with pulse-pounding cops-and-monsters action. Anna Torv plays an FBI agent assigned to assist a mad scientist (John Noble) and his con artist son (Joshua Jackson) as they investigate a pattern of bizarre supernatural events. "Fringe" is more than a little derivative of "The X-Files," but creators J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (the team behind this summer's blockbuster "Star Trek") add their own distinctive vision, turning the show into a creepy look at where technology and biology intersect. The DVD and Blu-ray add commentaries, featurettes and unaired scenes.

Homicide

Criterion, $39.98

In David Mamet's 1991 mystery-suspense film "Homicide," Joe Mantegna plays a Jewish policeman who gets involved in an investigation into anti-Semitic acts and finds himself questioning his own identity. In between the crackling cop-speak and the twisty, surprising plot, Mamet lays out a complicated inquiry into prejudice and political idealism. Criterion's typically sterling DVD edition of "Homicide" comes with a blooper reel, a collegial commentary track featuring Mamet and William H. Macy (who plays Mantegna's partner) and incisive interviews with some of Mamet's regular actors.

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency

The Complete First Season

HBO, $59.99

Alexander McCall Smith's popular "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" series of mystery novels has made a fine transition to television, with Jill Scott playing an unconventional African gumshoe whose cases reveal intimate details about the people in her Botswana village. Scott's a charmer and the location footage is gorgeous and exotic, adding up to a TV detective series with its own unique flavor -- at once mild and earthy. The first season arrives on DVD with a few behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Parks and Recreation

Season One

Universal, $29.98

The NBC sitcom "Parks and Recreation" resembles the network's hit "The Office" in that both are "mockumentaries" about the culture of slackers, weirdos and go-getters that springs up in any office. What sets "Parks and Recreation" apart is that it's set in a government office, which makes the show as much about civic pride and wasted tax money as it is about how to kill eight hours a day. In the early going, star Amy Poehler played her ambitious, chipper park-planner character as a touch too dim, but by the end of the show's six-episode first-season run, she had struck a nice balance between hopelessly geeky and genuinely nice, and the show found its heart. The Season 1 DVD contains jovial cast and crew commentary tracks and 30 minutes of funny deleted scenes.

And...

The Human Condition

Criterion, $79.95

Important Things

With Demetri Martin

Season One

Comedy Central, $19.99

Sleep Dealer

Maya, $19.99; Blu-ray, $20.98

Valentino: The Last Emperor

Phase 4, $29.99

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