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New DVDs: ‘Saw III,’ ‘The Guardian’

Also: “Brokeback Mountain,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Yojimbo,” “Sanjuro”
/ Source: The Associated Press

“Saw III”
The third installment of the blood-and-guts horror franchise arrives in a variety of flavors on DVD and Blu-ray high-definition disc. This time out, the terminally ill nutcase Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) carries out his twisted morality games with the help of his apprentice (Shawnee Smith), targeting two detectives on his trail as the newest victims for his warped effort to test humanity’s weaknesses. The Blu-ray disc and an unrated DVD release offer a grislier version of the movie that adds five minutes of footage. The R-rated theatrical cut also is available on a separate DVD release, but only in full-screen format. The unrated version is accompanied by three commentary tracks with director Darren Lynn Bousman and collaborators, deleted scenes and featurettes on the director and the movie’s props and traps. The Blu-ray disc adds a few more behind-the-scenes segments. DVD, $29.95; Blu-Ray disc, $39.99. (Lionsgate)

“The Guardian”

Kevin Costner teams with Ashton Kutcher for an adventure drama following the exploits of dogged rescue swimmers off the coast of Alaska. Costner plays a veteran Coast Guard rescuer whose nerve is shattered by tragedy on a mission, prompting his reassignment as trainer of new recruits, including an overconfident competitive swimmer (Kutcher). The rescue footage is impressive, even if the drama drags on too long and limply. Along with four deleted scenes, the DVD has an alternate ending, a rosier conclusion that director Andrew Davis says was shot as a safety valve in case the sobering finale of the released version proved too downbeat for studio executives. Davis and screenwriter Ron L. Brinkerhoff provide audio commentary for the deleted scenes and the full movie, and the DVD has a making-of featurette and a segment on real-life Coast Guard rescue swimmers. DVD, $29.99; Blu-ray disc, $34.99. (Disney) Read the review

“Brokeback Mountain”

The 2005 Academy Awards favorite, which wound up losing in a best-picture upset to “Crash,” gets a DVD makeover with a two-disc set. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal star as sheep-tenders who share a summer of love then resume their affair years later as family men, the movie becoming a cultural phenomenon that prompted parodies and endless gay-cowboy jokes. Among the DVD extras is a segment on Gustavo Santaolalla’s Oscar-winning score, which also features interviews and background on the musicians and a look at Willie Nelson’s studio session recording a cover of Bob Dylan’s “He Was a Friend of Mine” for the film. There’s also a featurette on film’s cultural impact, plus eight postcards featuring scenes from the movie. DVD set, $26.98; HD DVD and DVD combo disc, $34.98. (Universal) Read the review

“Fiddler on the Roof”

Also getting new DVD treatment is the 1971 musical set among the humble Jewish citizens of a small town in pre-Revolution Russia. Topol stars as dairyman Tevye, who idly dreams of wealth while toiling away with a lame cart horse to support his outspoken wife (Norma Crane) and marry off his five daughters to good husbands, while anti-Jewish sentiment builds among the local authorities. The two-disc set has commentary with director Norman Jewison and Topol, a deleted song and a terrific range of background featurettes on the music, the director, production design and Tevye’s vivid dream sequence. Jewison also reads from the works of Sholom Aleichem, whose stories were the basis for the musical. DVD set, $26.98. (MGM)

“Yojimbo,” “Sanjuro”Two of Akira Kurosawa’s samurai classics receive DVD updates that offer new high-definition digital transfers of the early 1960s films. In “Yojimbo,” Kurosawa regular Toshiro Mifune stars as a wily samurai for hire who plays both sides of the feud between a town’s warring factions. The sequel “Sanjuro” has Mifune’s samurai helping a group of young warriors to expose the corruption of their leaders. While earlier DVD releases had just the films, the new versions include making-of documentaries on both movies, essays by film scholars and audio commentary from Kurosawa expert Stephen Prince. The films are available separately or in a boxed set. DVDs, $39.95 each, boxed set, $69.95. (Criterion)

TV on DVD:

“The Waltons: The Complete Fourth Season” — The Depression-era drama about a poor but loving Virginia family continues, with Year Four bringing a tragic fire and other major changes for John-Boy and his kin. A five-disc set has the season’s 24 episodes. DVD set, $39.98. (Warner Bros.)

“Walker, Texas Ranger: The Complete Second Season” — Chuck Norris is back on patrol as the modern-day lawman with an Old West style. Season two’s 23 episodes come in a seven-disc set. DVD set, $54.99. (Paramount)