A weekly round-up of the latest DVD releases.

By Damon Smith

New to rent on DVD/Blu-ray

DVD of the week

Dead Man Down (Cert 15, 112 mins, Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment, Thriller/Romance/Action, also available to buy DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £19.99)

Starring: Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Dominic Cooper, Terrence Howard, Isabelle Huppert, James Biberi.

Sharp shooter Victor (Colin Farrell) is a henchman for crimelord Alphonse Hoyt (Terrence Howard), working alongside his good friend Darcy (Dominic Cooper), to keep the kingpin safe from a madman who is targeting Hoyt's criminal operation. Victor returns home to his apartment, stares into a neighbouring block and makes eye contact with a young woman, Beatrice (Noomi Rapace), who lives with her mother Valentine (Isabelle Huppert). Beatrice engineers a meeting with Victor and they embark on a nervous first date. At the end of the evening, she tells Victor that she has video footage of him killing a man and will withhold the evidence from police if Victor agrees to kill a drunk driver who badly disfigured her. Dead Man Down is a slow-burning revenge thriller punctuated by explosions of outlandish violence, which reunites director Niels Arden Oplev with his fearless leading lady from the original Scandinavian version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Sexual chemistry between the leads simmers thanks to a spirited performance from Rapace, tinged with dry humour, exemplified when Beatrice brings over a plastic container of food for Victor, takes one look into his fridge and quips, "I'll wedge it in between the mustard and those plastic explosives!". There are gaping holes in JH Wyman's script that are never plugged and the tightly coiled tension of the opening hour isn't unleashed with the devastating force we anticipate. However, Oplev's cool direction and some strong performances paper over the cracks, adding lustre to a satisfyingly serpentine genre piece.

Rating: ***


Byzantium (Cert 15, 113 mins, Studio Canal, Horror/Drama/Romance, also available to buy DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £22.99)

Starring: Gemma Arterton, Saoirse Ronan, Caleb Landry Jones, Daniel Mays, Tom Hollander, Sam Riley, Jonny Lee Miller.

Sexy vampire Clara (Gemma Arterton) arrives in a rundown seaside resort with her fanged daughter Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan). They hit the jackpot when they encounter a lonely misfit (Daniel Mays), who lives in the decrepit Byzantium guesthouse, which would make a perfect base of operations for Clara's prostitution business. So while the older bloodsucker recruits local girls from the streets, Eleanor drifts around the resort, catching the eye of a young waiter, Frank (Caleb Landry Jones), who is waging a protracted battle against leukaemia. When Darvell (Sam Riley), a Machiavellian face from Clara's past, turns up at the guesthouse, battle lines are drawn with tragic consequences.

Byzantium is an intelligent and moody thriller adapted by Moira Buffini from her own stage play, which largely avoids the campy conventions we have come to expect from the creatures of the night. Ronan is spellbinding, conveying most of her emotions through her eyes, while Arterton takes the flashier, brassier role as vengeful protector. Neil Jordan's film is a slow burn and the pacing sags noticeably in the middle act. The fractured chronology hampers dramatic momentum but Jordan navigates a clear path between past and present, drawing us into his heroines' unusual predicament, peppered with scenes of graphic violence when Clara or Eleanor sate their bloodlust. Almost 20 years after Interview With The Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, Jordan plants a stylish stake firmly back in the horror genre.

Rating: ***

Also released

Augustine (Cert 15, 97 mins, Studio Canal, Drama/Romance, also available to buy DVD £19.99 - see below)

Black Rock (Cert 15, 76 mins, Metrodome Distribution, Thriller/Horror, also available to buy DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £19.99 - see below)

Borrowed Time (Cert 15, 88 mins, Matchbox Films, Drama, also available to buy DVD £15.99 - see below)

Everybody Has A Plan (Cert 15, 118 mins, Metrodome Distribution, Thriller, also available to buy DVD £17.99 - see below)

From Up On Poppy Hill (Cert U, 90 mins, Studio Canal, Animation/Drama, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99/Collector's Edition Blu-ray & DVD Combi-pack £29.99 - see below)

Hard Rush (Cert 15, 93 mins, Signature Entertainment, Action/Thriller, also available to buy DVD £14.99/Blu-ray £19.99 - see below)

Hawking (Cert PG, 91 mins, 4DVD, Documentary, also available to buy DVD £19.99 - see below)

No One Lives (Cert 18, 82 mins, Anchor Bay Home Entertainment, Horror/Thriller/Action, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99 - see below)

Populaire (Cert 12, 106 mins, Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment, Comedy/Romance, also available to buy DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £19.99 - see below)

Stories We Tell (Cert 12, 104 mins, Artificial Eye, Documentary/Drama, also available to buy DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99 - see below)

New to buy on DVD/Blu-ray

Homeland - The Complete Second Season (Cert 15, 609 mins, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, DVD £34.99/Complete Seasons One And Two DVD Box Set £49.99/Blu-ray £39.99/Complete Seasons One And Two Blu-ray Box Set £59.99, Thriller/Action)

Claire Danes and Damian Lewis reprise their Golden Globe-winning roles as a CIA officer and a decorated war hero in 12 gripping episodes of the US drama, loosely based on the Israeli series Hatufim. This season, US Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Lewis) is a newly elected congressman and adjusts to responsibilities in the public eye. He is approached by Vice President Walden (Jamey Sheridan) as a potential running mate for the White House and gladly accepts. When US intelligence learns that al-Qaeda operative Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban) is planning a major terrorist plot, Carrie Mathison (Danes) is drafted back into the CIA fold to avert disaster. Once again, she defies her superiors to focus her attentions on Brody, certain that he is a traitor working for al-Qaeda.

Arrow - The Complete First Season (Cert 15, 989 mins, Warner Home Video, DVD £29.99/Blu-ray £39.99, Action/Fantasy)

Based on the DC Comics hero Green Arrow, this US action drama centres on millionaire playboy Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), who is shipwrecked on an island for five years. During his hiatus, Queen learns survival and fighting skills, which come in very handy when he returns home to Starling City and decides to wage war on corruption within his deceased father's business disguised as a hooded figure known as Arrow. Detective Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne), father of Oliver's old flame (Katie Cassidy), takes charge of the investigation to bring this vigilante to justice, putting the two men on a collision course. The five-disc set includes all 23 episodes.

From Up On Poppy Hill (Cert U, 90 mins, Studio Canal, DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99/Collector's Edition Blu-ray & DVD Combi-pack £29.99, Animation/Drama)

Scripted by Hayao Miyazaki, creator of Studio Ghibli's classic animations Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, From Up On Poppy Hill is a tender coming of age story set in 1963 Yokohama. Sixteen-year-old Umi Matsuzaki (voiced by Masami Nagasawa) is a model student at Isogo High School. She lives at the nearby Coquelicot Manor boarding house, where she looks after her grandmother Hana (Keiko Takeshita) and younger siblings Riku (Tsubasa Kobayashi) and Sora (Haruka Shiraishi). One day at school, Uni meets Shun Kazama (Junichi Okada), a member of the journalism club who writes for the student newspaper. They become friends and pool their resources to lead a campaign to renovate the old and dilapidated building used by the school's various clubs. A businessman called Tokumaru (Teruyuki Kagawa), who sits on the school board as chairman, intends to demolish the club house for a lucrative redevelopment so Umi and Shun fight tooth and nail to save the building from the bulldozers. A two-disc combi-pack packaged with four art cards is also available.

Populaire (Cert 12, 106 mins, Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment, DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £19.99, Comedy/Romance)

Taking its name from a brand of typewriter, Populaire is a romantic comedy, which charts the rise of a beautiful secretary and her smitten boss in late 1950s Normandy. Rose Pamphyle (Deborah Francois) works in the grocery store owned by her father but she doesn't want to be stuck behind a till for the rest of her life. When a secretarial position becomes vacant in a nearby insurance office run by the debonair Louis Echard (Romain Duris), Rose applies and leaves Louis in a swoon with her lightning-quick typing skills. He is so impressed that he puts Rose forward for a regional secretary competition and then moves her into his countryside mansion where he can oversee her intensive training. Romance blossoms between the couple but Louis is conflicted because he still holds a torch for old flame Marie (Berenice Bejo).

Big School (Cert 12, 150 mins, BBC DVD, DVD £19.99, Comedy/Romance)

Recently broadcast on BBC One, this six-part sitcom unfolds in the classrooms and corridors of Greybridge Secondary School where deputy head of chemistry, Mr Church (David Walliams), has come to the decision that he has fallen out of love with education and needs to leave. He quickly changes his mind when he catches a glimpse of the new French teacher, Miss Postern (Catherine Tate), and sets about wooing his colleague. Unfortunately, cocksure PE teacher Mr Gunn (Philip Glenister) and clinically depressed geography teacher Mr Barber (Steve Speirs) have the same amorous intentions and won't give up their pursuit of Miss Postern without a fight.

Stories We Tell (Cert 12, 104 mins, Artificial Eye, DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99, Documentary/Drama)

In 2006, Canadian actress Sarah Polley made the seamless transition behind the camera with her debut feature, Away From Her, starring Gordon Pinsent and Julie Christie about a long-time married couple, whose happiness is threatened by early Alzheimer's. The film won critical kudos and awards including an Oscar nomination for Polley for Best Adapted Screenplay. Her follow-up Take This Waltz with Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen was also showered with praise. For her third film, Polley chooses to move away from fiction into the realms of feature-length documentary, piecing together her family history through interviews with her loved ones, genuine home movies and specially shot segments, stylised to look like old Super 8 footage, which reveal that she was born as the result of an extra-marital affair. As Polley navigates past and present, she lays bare the web of secrets and explores her maelstrom of emotions about her biological father.

No One Lives (Cert 18, 82 mins, Anchor Bay Home Entertainment, DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99, Horror/Thriller/Action)

Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura slathers on the blood and gore in this incredibly violent horror about a couple that encounters terror on the roads of rural America. A nameless driver (Luke Evans) and his girlfriend attempt to patch up their faltering relationship on the road, stopping at a diner for food. There, they cross paths with Hoag (Lee Tergesen) and his degenerate gang, which includes hot-headed Flynn (Derek Magyar), Amber (Lindsey Shaw) and wet-behind-the-ears Denny (Beau Knapp). The couple head back on to the road and are attacked and apparently killed by Flynn, who takes their car as a prize. Little does the thug realise that the nameless driver is a tenacious serial killer, or that the car has a secret compartment containing a kidnapped heiress (Adelaide Clemens). She knows only too well the extreme lengths the driver will go to to sate his bloodlust.

Family Tree - Series One (Cert 15, 213 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, DVD £19.99, Comedy)

Filmed documentary-style by Christopher Guest of This Is Spinal Tap fame, this eight-part BBC Two comedy follows 30-year-old Tom Chadwick (Chris O'Dowd) as he embarks on a quest to unearth his lineage based on evidence handed down from a great aunt he never knew. Criss-crossing the globe, Tom tracks down his increasingly outlandish relatives on both sides of the Atlantic, aided by best friend Pete (Tom Bennett) and his kooky sister Bea (Nina Conti), who communicates her feelings through a hand puppet named Monk.

Everybody Has A Plan (Cert 15, 118 mins, Metrodome Distribution, DVD £17.99, Thriller)

Viggo Mortensen plays identical twins in Ana Piterbarg's taut crime thriller, which moves from the mean streets of Buenos Aires to the haunting beauty of the Tigre Delta. Agustin (Mortensen) works as a paediatrician in the Argentine capital. It's a thankless and unedifying existence, which gradually wears down Agustin and reduces him to an empty husk. When he learns that his twin Pedro has died, Agustin seizes the opportunity to escape the drudge by assuming Pedro's identity and inhabiting his brother's life in the childhood home they shared. Agustin surmises that Pedro was involved in shady dealings in this rural wilderness and if he is to continue the charade, he will have to follow Pedro's lead and meet resistance with violence and intimidation.

Borrowed Time (Cert 15, 88 mins, Matchbox Films, DVD £15.99, Drama)

A young burglar called Kevin (Theo Barklem-Biggs) needs to raise money fast to pay back local thug "Ninja" Nigel (Warren Brown) so he clumsily breaks into the house of eccentric pensioner Philip (Phil Davis) hoping to ransack the property of its valuables. Kevin finds Philip is no pushover and the old-timer holds him hostage at gunpoint, determined to protect his home and his belongings with deadly force if required. In the ensuing stand-off, Philip and Kevin strike up a conversation that reveals pain in their respective pasts and the two men form a bond that will help them to find a way out of their predicament.

Hawking (Cert PG, 91 mins, 4DVD, DVD £19.99, Documentary)

At 21-years-old during his final year at Oxford University, Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and given just two years to live. Against overwhelming odds, he defied the doctors to become a pre-eminent mind in the field of cosmology and raised a family with his wife Jane Wilde. In Stephen Finnigan's life-affirming and inspiring documentary, Hawking tells his incredible story in his own words, granting unprecedented access to his private life including tender and revealing scenes of the world-renowned physicist with his personal assistant and carers. Through testimonies from people, who have met and worked with Hawking, as well as dramatic reconstructions, his ascent through the academic firmament gradually comes into focus, revealing a brilliant yet flawed man who refuses to surrender to the disease.

Black Rock (Cert 15, 76 mins, Metrodome Distribution, DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £19.99, Thriller/Horror)

Based on a script by mumblecore actor and director Mark Duplass, Black Rock is a tense thriller about a battle for survival in the wilderness that tests the resolve of three female friends. Sarah (Kate Bosworth) is desperate to reconnect with her childhood pals Lou (Lake Bell) and Abby (Katie Aselton) so she suggests a trip to the remote island, where they shared some of their favourite memories. On the island, the women meet former soldiers Alex (Anslem Richardson), Derek (Jay Paulson) and Henry (Will Bouvier), who were dishonourably discharged and are spending the weekend hunting the local wildlife. A tragic accident leads to the death of one of the men and Abby, Lou and Sarah run for their lives from the remaining hunters, who resolve to stalk the women as if they were four-legged prey.

Hard Rush (Cert 15, 93 mins, Signature Entertainment, DVD £14.99/Blu-ray £19.99, Action/Thriller)

Dolph Lundgren and Vinnie Jones flex their respective muscles in Giorgio Serafini's explosive thriller. DEA Agent Maxwell (Lundgren) is in charge of an operation to bring down and convict ruthless druglord Vincent Camastra (Jones), who oversees the ring responsible for flooding the streets of Los Angeles with cocaine. Unbeknown to Camastra, DEA Agent Beverly Royce (Carly Pope) is working undercover within his operation, gathering the evidence that will secure his prosecution. When her cover is compromised, Maxwell must react swiftly to save Royce's life and ensure Camastra's criminal empire crumbles to its foundations.

Augustine (Cert 15, 97 mins, Studio Canal, DVD £19.99, Drama/Romance)

Nineteen-year-old illiterate housemaid Augustine (Soko) suffers a seizure while serving some guests and she recovers with paralysis down one side of her face. She is sent to the revered Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital in Paris where commanding French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot (Vincent Lindon) strikes fear into the hearts of other medics on the wards. He uses Augustine as a case study for his public lectures and a bond forms between doctor and patient. Charcot struggles to conceal his attraction to Augustine and as he begins to submit to his feelings, the patient assumes control over her life.

Shun Li And The Poet (Cert 15, 95 mins, Artificial Eye, DVD £15.99, Drama/Romance)

Shun Li (Zhao Tao) works long hours for meagre pay in a textile workshop not far from Rome in order to secure the necessary funds and documentation to bring her son to Italy. She is hopeful of being reunited with her boy but then suddenly, she is transferred from the outskirts of the capital to the remote island town of Chioggia, where she secures a new position as a tavern bartender. In this close-knit community, Shun Li catches the eye of Slavic poet and fisherman, Bepi (Rade Serbedzija), who frequents the tavern as a refuge from his thoughts. The burgeoning relationship between the Chinese immigrant and Bepi does not sit well with some of the residents and Shun Li encounters a wave of prejudice that threatens her status in her new home.

The Great Hip Hop Hoax (Cert 18, 88 mins, Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment, DVD £15.99, Documentary/Comedy)

Produced and directed by Jeanie Finlay, The Great Hip Hop Hoax is an amusing documentary about a quest for the American dream and a little white lie that epitomises the hunger for fame in modern culture. Silibil n' Brains are a hip-hop duo from California who believe they have the talent and the showmanship to cut a swathe through the American music scene. The duo know they will be massive and aren't afraid to tell it to anyone who will listen or help further their careers. Unbeknown to insiders, Silibil n' Brains are actually two students from Scotland with bogus identities and equally fake American accents. Their journey of self-discovery confirms that truth is stranger than fiction, and that success is not always earned, but can be pick-pocketed if you have the courage and daring.

Taking Off (Le Grand Depart) (Cert 15, 79 mins, Studio Canal, DVD £19.99, Drama)

Romain (Pio Marmai) has always been the emotional rock of his dysfunctional family. But as he approaches his 30th birthday, Romain begins to question his identity. With his domineering and cantankerous father Georges (Eddy Mitchell) in the throes of a neurodegenerative disease and his brother Luc (Jeremie Elkaim) battling manic depression, Romain decides that he can't run away from his problems any longer, so confronts them with surprising consequences in Nicolas Mercier's familial drama.

5 Souls (Cert 15, 75 mins, High Fliers Video Distribution, DVD £12.99, Horror/Thriller)

Brett Donowho directs this horror about a man who makes a pact he comes to regret. Talented architect Noah (Ian Bohen) falls into a coma shortly after a building he designed collapses and kills numerous people. Waking some time later in a hospital room, Noah is greeted by a mysterious figure, who tells the architect that he is destined to go to Hell unless he can trade five chosen souls with the Devil. Determined to avoid his grim fate, Noah hunts down the victims but when he reaches his fifth and final target, the architect realises he has entered into a dangerous bargain that may have graver consequences than death.

9.79* (Cert E, 83 mins, New Horizon Films, DVD £17.99, Documentary)

On September 24, 1988, the world held its breath as reigning champion Carl Lewis from America and chief rival Ben Johnson from Canada settled into their blocks for the final of the 100m at the Seoul Olympic Games. Less than 10 seconds later, Johnson claimed first place in a world record time of 9.79 seconds with Lewis is silver medal position and Linford Christie third. Three days later, the Olympic committee announced Johnson had failed a drug test and stripped him of his medal, promoting Lewis to the top of the podium. In the intervening years, six of the eight finalists have been linked with drug use and some maintain their innocence. Award-winning documentary filmmaker Daniel Gordon re-examines the controversial race, interviewing Johnson, Lewis, their competitors, coaches and members of the Olympics movement to unravel years of intrigue and suspicion.

Dead Sushi (Cert 18, 82 mins, Monster Pictures, DVD £12.99/Blu-ray £14.99, Horror/Comedy)

Lunch can literally kill you in Noboru Iguchi's surreal Japanese comedy horror. Keiko (Rina Takeda) is driven to distraction by her father and his twin passions: sushi-making and martial arts. So she moves into the countryside and seeks refuge at a rural inn where some of the other guests, who all work at a pharmaceutical company, make her the butt of their cruel jibes. The joke is on these vindictive men and women when a former worker of the same firm turns up at the inn with a re-animation serum that brings sushi back to life. Suddenly, the bite-size parcels of fish and rice develop a taste for human flesh and attack the residents of the inn. Keiko and a local sushi chef put their culinary and marital arts skills to the test to fend off the voracious delicacies.

Les Invisibles (Cert E, 113 mins, Peccadillo Pictures, DVD £12.99, Documentary)

Perhaps aside from the recent ITV1 sitcom Vicious starring Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi, older gay and lesbian representations in popular culture are conspicuous by their absence. Director Sebastien Lifshitz (Presque Rien) responds with a documentary that celebrates the lives of 11 gay men and women over the age of 70, who have charted very different paths. Laying bare their pasts, these colourful and endearing subjects disclose stories of coming out and impassioned political protest, youthful sexual exploits and moments of heartbreak and loss. Lifshitz paints vivid portraits of each man and woman, who are united by their homosexuality and separated by a lifetime of incredible experiences, triumph and sacrifice.

Wheeler Dealers - The Complete Series Ten (Cert E, 540 mins, 2entertain, DVD £19.99, Special Interest)

Broadcast on the Discovery Channel, this seven-part series follows one-time car trader Mike Brewer and mechanic Edd China as they purchase rundown classic cars, lovingly restore them to their former glory and resell the vehicles for profit. This series, the chosen cars are an Aston Martin DB7, a Ford Escort Mk 1, Range Rover Vogue TD6, Porsche Boxster S, Morris Minor 1000 Traveller, TVR Cerbera and Lamborghini Urraco P250S.

DVD retail top 10

1 (3) Iron Man 3

2 (2) Star Trek Into Darkness

3 (-) Fast & Furious 6

4 (-) The Little Mermaid

5 (2) The Big Bang Theory - Season 6

6 (4) Jillian Michaels: 30 Day Shred

7 (6) Breaking Bad - Season 1-4

8 (9) Downton Abbey: A Journey to the Highlands (Christmas Special 2012)

9 (5) Olympus Has Fallen

10 (-) Downton Abbey - Series 3

Chart supplied by Amazon.co.uk

DVD rental top 10

1 (-) Star Trek: Into Darkness

2 (-) Mud

3 (5) Olympus Has Fallen

4 (-) Cloud Atlas

5 (-) Iron Man 3

6 (1) Lincoln

7 (2) This is 40

8 (7) Zero Dark Thirty

9 (9) Side Effects

10 (8) Life of Pi

Chart supplied by www.LOVEFiLM.com

Film streaming top 10

1 (-) The Princes And The Frog

2 (-) The Sweeney

3 (3) Friends with Benefits

4 (1) The Smurfs

5 (4) X-Men - First Class

6 (6) Bridesmaids

7 (2) Alice in Wonderland

8 (7) Barbie - Princess Charm School

9 (5) Rio

10 (8) Red Riding Hood

Chart supplied by www.LOVEFiLM.com