DVDs: Sweden, Italy, and Hong Kong serve up crime with style

Angela Kovacs stars as the wife, mom, detective, and jujitsu champ in the Swedish TV show "Detective Inspector Irene Huss."
Angela Kovacs stars as the wife, mom, detective, and jujitsu champ in the Swedish TV show "Detective Inspector Irene Huss." (ALEXANDRA ARISTARHOVA)
Posted: July 20, 2013

Female TV cops have come a long way since Angie Dickinson's Police Woman and that 1980s staple Cagney & Lacey.

Witness Irene Huss, a detective in the Violent Crimes Unit in the Swedish city of Gothenburg. Sure, she's a dependable wife and mom - she's married to a chef and restaurateur with whom she has twin teenage girls.

But she's also a former European jujitsu champion who can disarm, take down, and restrain a muscle-bound biker in the blink of an eye.

Based on a series of novels by Helene Tursten, Detective Inspector Irene Huss is a brilliant Swedish TV series produced by the same company that brought us Wallander and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Each feature-length episode is a mini-saga with several narrative lines, embroiling Huss in complex, sometimes horrific crimes.

MHz Networks has been releasing the series in three-episode DVD sets. Volumes 3 and 4 (containing Episodes 7 to 9 and 10 to 12 respectively) are due on July 30. ( www.mhznetworks.org; $39.95 each; not rated)

Italian crime cinema

Corleone. The fact-based 10-hour Italian mini-series Il Capo dei Capi ( The Boss of the Bosses) stunned audiences in 2007 with its hard-hitting take on the exploits of Salvatore Riina, a mafioso boss from Corleone, Sicily, who turned to crime shortly after World War II and who built an empire that only began to unravel in the 1980s. It's finally available in America in a subtitled edition. ( www.bfsent.com; $39.98; not rated)

Detective De Luca. Alessandro Prezioni brings his matinee-idol looks to this highly intelligent crime drama, set during the 1930s, when Italy was under the thumb of fascist power brokers. The four feature-length mysteries in this volume show De Luca's growing anger at a regime he finds intolerable. Each case leads him invariably to political corruption. ( www.mhznetworks.org; $39.95; not rated)

Fernando Di Leo: The Italian Crime Collection, Vol. 2. One of Quentin Tarantino's influences, writer-director Fernando Di Leo was one of the most acclaimed creators of Euro-crime films popular in the 1970s. Spaghetti-ized takes on the noir and gangster pictures churned out by Hollywood in the 1940s and 1950s, Di Leo's movies had a dark, almost nihilistic edge and ultraviolent, bloody action. Due July 30 from Raro Video, this boxed set contains three of Di Leo's best pictures, Shoot First, Die Later (1974), Kidnap Syndicate (1975), and 1969's Naked Violence. ( www.rarovideousa.com/; $39.95 DVD; $49.95 Blu-ray; not rated)

Other DVDs of note

42.Green Zone director Brian Helgeland tells the story of baseball great Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) with genuine emotion unmarred by cheap sentiment. ( www.wbshop.com/; $35.99 DVD/Blu-ray/Ultraviolet Combo; rated PG-13)

Tai Chi Hero. Hong Kong-based actor-director Stephen Fung follows up his steampunk martial-arts saga Tai Chi Zero with this equally remarkable sequel about a young tai chi adept who helps a village stave off the inevitable march of progress and Westernization. ( www.wellgousa.com/; $24.98 DVD; $29.98 Blu-ray; not rated)

Solomon Kane. It's hard to pigeonhole this fabulous rollercoaster ride of a film. Part Lord of the Rings, part Marvel comic, it's set in a Middle Ages filled with magic and witches. James Purefoy, as a vicious pirate turned hero who battles the forces of evil to stop an evildoer, casts his dark shadow across the entire world. ( www.anchorbayentertainment.com; $22.98 DVD; $26.99 Blu-ray; rated R)

Contact Tirdad Derakhshani at 215-854-2736 or tirdad@phillynews.com.

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