The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at] I'd love to check out what you got.



Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

First and foremost, it appears a dubious site has claimed the old url, meaning any link in any review that goes to the old mattmovieguy url is corrupt. I'm in the process of trying to remove them all, but it's a lot! It's best not to click on any link without hovering over it first to make sure it doesn't have mattmovieguy in the url.

Second, it appears since my last trip to the blog, Photobucket has decided to charge for third party hosting, meaning none of my images are appearing anymore. That's simply an aesthetic issue, but still annoying.

Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.


Monday, May 7, 2007

The Hunt for Eagle One (2006)

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I found this movie after doing an imdb search of Rutger Hauer. This film and its sequel both were released in 2006, along with two other films Hauer did. He's quite the busy body, and it's that prolific canon of work that earned him a place in the DTVC Hall of Fame.

The Hunt for Eagle One is essentially a modern day version of Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress, set against the backdrop of the War on Terror. Spike Lee mainstay Theresa Randle plays a Marine aviator shot down by Philippine rebels, and taken hostage by their leader, the evil Abubaker (I think they meant Abu Baker, named for the Prophet Mohammed's close friend and the first of the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs in Sunni Islam). Mark Dacascos plays the Marine who's sent to lead a team in to get her out. Rutger Hauer plays the US military general helping the Philippine government deal with the insurgents in the south, insurgents that are aided by al-Qaeda.

As I said before, the film is essentially The Hidden Fortress, which makes Randle's character the damsel in distress. I think the film makers intended to have her be a battle hardened soldier like Dacascos' character, but it doesn't wash. She's a princess in battle fatigues that can handle a gun-- a Princess Laia, if you will.

This is a solid military film. If you or someone you know suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, be careful watching this, because the sound is very realistic, especially the gun shots and explosions. I really can't see, other than the cast and its direct to video status, what makes this film better or worse than say Tears of the Sun or We Were Soldiers.

On the other hand, this is a very monolithic war film, much like the anti-communists films of the past. There is no gray area here: we are forced to root for Dacascos because the rebel leader is so evil. It's difficult to watch as he beats and electrocutes Randle to try and get information out of her. In a year where Clint Eastwood gave us a much more holistic and sobering view of war in his two films, The Hunt for Eagle One comes off as extremely trite and John Wayne-ish. We have the heroic Dacascos saving the damsel Randle from the evil al-Qaeda. I mean, this was so ludicrous, none of the bad guys were listed in the end credits before the good guys, including people with a lot of screen time like Abubaker. I was surprised Jack Abramoff didn't produce this, a la Dolph's Red Scorpion.

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The Rutger Hauer factor is a very interesting ingredient. Unlike Klaus Kinski's small roles in myriad films, where he always gives us a solid, professional performance that we can contrast against the poorer actors; in this, we can see Rutger Hauer dip his pen in the ink well, write his role on a page in a kitchy Gothic script, fold it neatly, place it in an envelope, melt some red wax on the back, write the address of the film on the front, stick a first class stamp on it, and mail it in. I don't even know if he read the script more than ten minutes before they shot. We can almost see him rolling his eyes at the director.

From the Dacascos standpoint, this doesn't compare to Drive, Kickboxer 5, his Crow work, or his Iron Chef America work. He's good in it, but the role is pretty standard schlock hero faire. Also, I think Randle thought maybe she was signing on to play a tough military woman, as opposed to a helpless damsel in distress. I feel like I would've been less disappointed in it if it was made for the big screen with actors like Mel Gibson or Nicholas Cage, because at least then I would've understood it being so paint-by-numbers.

The final verdict: if you've got a Republican party fundraising dinner or hunting trip scheduled, this will go over well. Now I'm not saying I can't get behind a good propaganda flick, because I loved Red Scorpion and Henry V, but I just need a little more nuance or silliness-- one or the other. The Rutger Hauer and Mark Dacascos help, but they don't make up for Theresa Randle being tortured, or the straight, simple evilness of the rebels.

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