The Card Counter (Universal, Blu-ray or DVD, R, 111 min.). In the brief, sole extra, writer-director Paul Schrader says the film is another in his string of films about a loner in a room waiting for something to happen, a string that started with Robert De Niro in “Taxi Driver,” which was directed by Martin Scorsese, who executive produces here. Like De Niro’s Travis Bickle, Oscar Isaac’s William “Tell” Tellich, the card counter, is a diarist and gives the same type of voiceover of his writings.

Early in the film, Tell explains how to be a successful card counter – mostly used for blackjack – as well as how to be successful betting in casinos. He says that “red and black roulette is the only smart bet. You win, you walk away. You lose, you walk away.” Yet, for most of the film, Tell is playing poker rather than blackjack, which makes his choice of a last name more ironic, as a tell is the involuntary sign that is most poker players’ downfall.

The film is rather slow until the ending and Isaac (“Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi,” “Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker,” “Dune: Part One”) seems to have been given the instruction to show no emotion, even when recounting his eight-and-a-half years imprisoned in Leavenworth for his crimes against prisoners at Abu Ghraib. The three flashbacks – two of interrogating and beating prisoners at Abu Ghraib and the third of soldiers being trained to resist such interrogation themselves – are quite disturbing and earn the film its R rating.

As the viewer follows Tell from one casino to another – I have never been in a casino – it all looks more than a bit boring to me, but one stop has a lecture given by Major John Gordo (Willem Dafoe of “Spider-Man,” “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” “The Florida Project,” “The French Dispatch”), who was an outside training contractor at Abu Ghraib rather than U.S. military. Attending the same lecture is young Cirk Bauford (Tye Sheridan of “Ready Player One,” “Mud,” “Joe,” two “X-Men” films), whose father also served at Abu Ghraib and, like Tell, was convicted of mistreatment of prisoners, while Gordo, being non-military, was not. In Bauford’s case, however, it led to his suicide and Cirk has a plan for revenge, to kidnap Gordo, treat him like the prisoners were and then kill him.

Cirk tries to recruit Tell into his plans, but instead, Tell invites Cirk to accompany him on the gambling circuit. Tell’s ultimate plan is to wipe out Cirk’s debt, student and otherwise, and help him get back in school and get his life on the right path. None of this he tells Cirk, but Cirk accepts anyway, most likely due to boredom, but also because of the tenuous connection between his father and Tell.

The third major figure in the tale is La Linda (Tiffany Haddish of “Night School,” “Like a Boss”), who runs a “stable” of gamblers, that is, she gets her gamblers benefactors who put up their poker betting money and she shares part of the earnings with her gambler. Tell at first rejects her offer, but then accepts so he can use the earnings to help Cirk.

The film features several moody songs by Robert Levon Been, the former leader of the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club band and the son of Michael Been, whose similarly-toned songs filled Schrader’s 1994 film, “Light Sleeper,” which starred Dafoe.

The only extra is a brief making-of (5:13) that features Schrader, who points out that being a card player is Tell’s “mask,” as being a taxi driver was Bickle’s. Grade: film 2.5 stars; extra 1 star

Rating guide: 5 stars = classic; 4 stars = excellent; 3 stars = good; 2 stars = fair; dog = skip it

Copshop (Universal, Blu-ray + DVD, R, 107 min.). The film is a surprisingly effective take on the bad-guy-chasing-the-bad-guy and all-hell-breaks-loose scenario. Most of the action is confined to an obviously-undermanned police station. The director is Joe Carnahan (“Boss Level,” “The A-Team”), who cowrote the screenplay with Kurt McLeod, based on a story by Mark Williams.

The film opens with a highway chase through Nevada traffic. The fleeing car breaks down, forcing the driver to run. Coming across a couple of police officers, the fleeing man punches a rookie cop (Alexis Louder of “The Tomorrow War,” HBO’s “Watchmen” as Valerie Young) and gets arrested. That driver is Teddy Murretto (Frank Grillo of “Cosmic Sin,” two “Captain America” films) and he assaulted the cop because he wanted to get arrested, figuring a night in jail would keep him safe from his pursuer. Meanwhile, two state cops find Murretto’s shot-up, abandoned Crown Vic. They are almost run over by an apparently inebriated driver (Gerard Butler of “300,” “Greenland,” “Olympus Has Fallen” as Bob Viddick), who is taken to the same lockup. It turns out that Viddick is only faking being drunk, as he is the assassin who is after Murretto. (Butler and Grillo are both producers here, and Grillo also produced “Boss Level.”)

The two men are put is separate cells, but opposite each other, so some heavy trash-talking ensues. Around 39 minutes into the film, Murretto finally explains his story in flashbacks. Meanwhile, things are getting more complicated at the police station as Officer Huber (Ryan O’Nan) is trying to smuggle some drugs out of evidence for his drug-dealing buddies.

Then things go decidedly off-the-rails when Anthony Lamb (Toby Huss of TV’s “Halt and Catch Fire,” “Reno 911!”) arrives with a machine gun and kills four people – two ambulance paramedics and two cops – as soon as he enters the police station. It turns out that he is a second assassin after Murretto. While Young manages to change the security code and lock herself in the cell area with the two prisoners, she is wounded during a shootout with Lamb. I am not sure it ever is explained why Huber helps Lamb, but he does and that means Young and her two prisoners do not have much time to resolve the situation.

After a somewhat sedate first half, the film turns ultra-violent in its second half. There is some cleverness to the writing, but also one or two too many twists to the ending. There are no bonus features. Grade: film 3 stars

Surge (2020, MVD Visual, Blu-ray, NR, 100 min.). This film features a tremendous performance by Ben Whishaw (“Mary Poppins Returns,” the last 3 James Bond films, TV’s “Fargo,” “A Very English Scandal,” “London Spy”), who plays an airport security worker who suddenly suffers a mental breakdown that leads him to committing a series of bank robberies. Whishaw’s Joseph is in nearly every frame of the film, usually closeups of his head and shoulders.

The beginning of the film, directed by Aneil Karia (“Top Boy,” “The Long Goodbye”), who cowrote with Rupert Jones and Rita Kalnejais, shows Joseph’s mundane, albeit aggravating life of dealing with stressed-out travelers, co-workers to whom he is anonymous, aggravating parents (Ellie Haddington and Ian Gelder) and the young man who constantly runs his motorcycle beneath his flat’s window.

During one visit to his parents’, Joseph bites down too hard on his glass, which breaks, cutting his mouth. The blood seems to act as a trigger for the manic, 24-hour breakdown that follows, with Joseph constantly flexing his mouth and lower lip. The simple act of trying to connect a co-worker’s new laptop to her television leads to the frustration of his bank card being first declined when he tries to buy a connecting cable and then being swallowed by an ATM to his robbing the first bank to obtain the necessary $4.99. Of course, he did start to wig out a bit earlier at work. Later in the day, Joseph crashes a wedding reception at the hotel he has booked into.

A lot of the time, it seems the camera operator is running alongside Whishaw, which gives the film kind of a strange vibe. Whishaw does show another terrific level to his acting, one that won him the Special Jury Award for Acting at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.

The extras are a photo gallery and 4:47 of interviews with director Karia and Whishaw. Grade: film 3.5 stars; extras 1 star

Disciples of Shaolin (China, 1975, 88 Films/MVD Visual, Blu-ray, NR, 107 min.). From Shaw Brothers Studio and directed by Cheh Chang comes this kung fu classic that stars the charismatic Alexander Fu Sheng (“The Proud Twins,” “Shaolin Temple,” “The Shaolin Avengers”) as an unexpected master of kung fu. That is, his mastery is unexpected in the film, but not to the audience as the film’s first four minutes features a shirtless Fu Sheng practicing his kung fu movements against an all-yellow background. With no score, the sound is mostly the jangling of the metal rings on his arms, before he moves to practice on a set of Shaolin poles and some music finally sneaks in.

Fu Sheng plays cocky, but amiable Kuan Fung-I, who seems to be always smiling, as he comes to town and attempts to visit his brother Huang Han (Chi Kuan-Chun of “Golden Mask,” “The Eagle Fist”) at the Hsing Fa Lung Textile Mill where he works. While there, Kuan Fung-I notices that the kung fu being taught inside the factory to some of the workers is not very good; however, his brother warns him about showing off his kung fu skills and also warns him about the rival Kuei Lien T’ung Textile Mill.

This mill rivalry and the depiction of how mill workers were treated helps raise the film above just a kung fu action movie, although it is a great action movie. The workers were just about treated as slaves, with new workers having to turn over their first three months’ salary to their trainer boss. The Kuei Lien T’ung mill is constantly trying to recruit the Hsing Fa Lung workers – the latter mill produces the superior fabric – and, if they cannot recruit them, they beat them up, usually breaking their hands so they cannot continue to work.

Kuan Fung-I initially gets a job at the mill as a mover of heavy material, but soon his kung fu skills come in to play and he takes over the workers’ martial arts training. Much to his brother’s dismay, he actually eventually becomes manager of the mill. However, by this point he is constantly getting drunk and is seduced by the female companion of the other mill’s Boss Ha.

Two portions of the film are presented in sepia. The first is a flashback that shows why Huang Han has turned from practicing his own, probably superior martial arts skills. The second is during Kuan Fung-I’s climatic showdown fight with T’ung mill head bad guy and his fighters – one of two massive fights Kuan Fung-I has, despite having been stabbed in the intestines.

The fights, usually one verses a couple of dozen opponents, flow well, with Kuan Fung-I often having a nonchalant approach to them. Fe Shung proves not only a good fighter, but also offers some dramatic skill. Unfortunately, Fe Shung would die from a car accident in 1983 at age 28. He nonetheless acted in 39 films and was an extra in another five at the start of his career.

The film has been remastered from the original 35mm negatives. The Mandarin version has newly-translated English subtitles, while there also is an English-dubbed track. Extras include two new audio commentaries: one by critic and author Samm Deighan; the other by Asian cinema experts Mike Leeder and Arne Venema. There also is a 2005 interview with Shaw Brothers actor and director Jamie Luk (25:40; mostly in Chinese, but one section is in English). The 40-page booklet contains the articles “The Visceral Martial Arts Cinema of Chang Cheh’ by Matthew Edwards; an interview with Jamie Luk, who played a textile mill attendant in the film, by Edwards; “International Bright Young Thing,” a look back at the film and Fu Sheng by Andrew Graves; “Finding Fu Sheng” by Karl Newton; and numerous stills from the film. There also are a reversible sleeve with original Hong Kong poster artwork and a double-sided foldout poster. Grade: film and extras 4 stars

This is the special cover for “Disciples of Shaolin.”

My Stepmother Is an Alien (1988, Arrow Films, PG-13, 105 min.). In this Richard Benjamin (“The Last of Sheila”)-directed comedy, the tone is a bit uneven, but it does give us a young Alyson Hannigan in her second film, nine years before she would beguile us on TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and a shockingly small Seth Green, who had been mostly doing TV at that point. Hannigan plays wide-eyed Jessie, the 13-year-old daughter of Dan Aykroyd’s eccentric physicist Steve Mills, while Green has a cameo as her dance date.

Mills has been trying to send a signal outside of the solar system and an accident that boosts his lightning-charged experiment beyond expectations launches his “message, charge or whatever it was” to another galaxy, where it somehow – never properly explained – begins a destructive process on the receiving planet. Still unexplained, the same signal or whatever needs to be sent again to reverse the process. So, alien Celeste (Kim Basinger showing a good flair for comedy, including the slapstick, physical kind) is sent to Earth to get the signal sent again.

She somehow knows that she is looking for Mills, showing up at a party given by Mills’ brother (Jon Lovitz as Ron Mills). Of course, single-parent Steve immediately falls for Celeste, ultimately ending up in marriage and thus, the film’s title. Jessie catches on when she sees Celeste drinking from batteries. What neither dad nor daughter know is that Celeste’s purse is able to manufacture anything and has a robotic intelligence, appropriately called Bag and voiced by Benjamin’s sister-in-law Ann Prentiss. Bag looks like a snake with an eyeball for a face.

Where the comedy succeeds most is with Celeste’s mistakes in trying to adapt to human culture. Hannigan has little to do other than get occasionally hysterical and Aykroyd’s character is more befuddled than funny.

The film is presented in a new 2K restoration from the original camera negative. It has a new audio commentary by critic Bryan Reesman; an image gallery; and a new Benjamin interview about directing the film, which has special visual effects supervised by John Dykstra, just before he started doing the same for “Batman” and “Spider-Man” films (14:08). The first pressing comes with an illustrated collector’s booklet, with a new essay by Amanda Reyes. Grade: film 2.5 stars; extras 2 stars

Ivanhoe (1952, Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, NR, 106 min.). While there is a great storming of Castle Torquilstone in this faithful adaptation of Sir Walter Scott’s tale of the times of England’s King Richard the Lion-Hearted, I could not help noticing how flat and useless the storms of arrows shot at the castle were; most just bounce off. Much better are the ladders used to scale the walls and the defenders above throwing rocks on the climbers.

The film, directed by Richard Thorpe (“Knights of the Round Table”) is a Technicolor delight, with two beauties vying for the affection of hero Ivanhoe, who is played by Robert Taylor (“Quo Vadis,” “Camille”). The two women are Joan Fontaine (Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca” and “Suspicion”) as Lady Rowena, Ivanhoe’s longstanding love interest, and a truly beautiful Elizabeth Taylor (“Beau Brummell,” “Little Women,” an uncredited prisoner in “Quo Vadis”) as Rebecca, the daughter of the Jewish moneylender and treasurer (Felix Aylmer of “Knights of the Round Table,” “Quo Vadis” as Isaac of York), who falls for the man her father is trying to help.

Ivanhoe has asked Isaac to help raise the 150,000 marks of silver ransom that Leopold of Austria is demanding for the release of King Richard, who was captured while returning from the Crusades. The fact that the king is being held for ransom has been hidden by his brother, Prince John (Guy Rolfe of “Puppet Master 4,” whom one hates just by looking at him), who has been conspiring with the Norman knights so he can rule himself. Ivanhoe’s interactions with Isaac bright to light a subplot about how Jews are treated in what is a not-so-merry England for them.

Ivanhoe’s father Sir Cedric (Finlay Currie), a staunch Saxon and guardian of Rowena, has disowned Ivanhoe, but Ivanhoe sneaks inside the dining hall when two Norman knights are given hospitality. The two, who join Prince John as the prime bad guys, are Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert (the distinctive-voiced George Sanders of “Rebecca,” “The Picture of Dorian Gray”) and Sir Hugh De Bracy (Robert Douglas of “Helen of Troy,” “Tarzan, the Ape Man”), both of whom Ivanhoe eventually has combat with in jousting tournaments. A smaller role is Locksley (Harold Warrender), who is never called Robin Hood here, but does lead a band of forest raiders. Emlyn Williams is good as Ivanhoe’s emancipated squire Wamba.

The film has a rousing score by Miklos Rozsa, which was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe. The film also received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and Freddie Young’s cinematography. The sole bonus feature is the Tom & Jerry cartoon “The Two Mouseketeers,” which won an Oscar (7:24). Grade: film 3.5 stars; extra 1 star

World Series Champions 2021 (Shout! Factory, Blu-ray + DVD, NR, 90 min.). This is the official 2021 World Series Film from Major League Baseball, narrated by Grammy Award-winning recording artist Ludacris, who just happens to hail from Atlanta, home of the champion Atlanta Braves. The Braves won the championship, their first since 1995, in six games over the Houston Astros. Extras include season highlights, clinching moments and a “How They Got There” featurette. Also available is an 8-Blu-ray set, the “2021 World Series Collector’s Edition,” that includes the official film, all six complete games and a bonus disc of the clinching NLCS game six against the L.A. Dodgers. Each game includes four audio options, including the television broadcast, the Atlanta Braves Radio Network and a Spanish-language version of the broadcasts.