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]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Announcement

Announcement

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.

--Matt

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Inferno aka Desert Heat (1999)

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A buddy of mine I went to grad school with left me a message on my Facebook wall about this film. He said something to the affect of it's a Van Damme movie with Jeff Kober and Danny Trejo in it. I knew with a ringing endorsement like that that I'd have to check it out.

Desert Heat is a remake of Kurosawa's Yojimbo set in the Southwest with Van Damme as the mysterious warrior who cleans a up town plagued by two battling gangs. Danny Trejo is his wise, Native American friend; Jame Pressly plays a hot waitress, but not the one Van Damme gets with, they have a more mature one for him; Pat Morita plays an old man who hangs around; Jeff Kober is like a second in command in one gang, while the bad guy from Darkman is the head of the other; finally, the film features the old guy that Jerry was assigned when he volunteered on Seinfeld (the one with all the records), the delivery guy in the Vehix commercial who thinks he has the magic ability to change the car in the driveway, the teacher in Fast Times at Ridgemont High who made the switch to Sanka, and Jim Hanks, Tom's brother.

The one thing that kind of irked me about this was at the very end, when Jim Hanks asks Jaime Pressly to go see Yojimbo with him. I can totally get behind a bunch of producers deciding to package a bunch of people with Van Damme in a crummy remake of Yojimbo set in the Southwest in a quick cash grab. But when the makers think they're so smart for remaking Yojimbo, as if they're making a tribute to Kurosawa or something, it just smacks me as crass. It's not that original an idea to set a Kurosawa film in the US Wild West, and others have done it much better.

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There were some great things, though. Van Damme dispatches the baddies very well. When he kills two guys that run a gun store at the beginning, it's the bomb. He takes out Kober with a frankensteiner, which I'm not sure I'd seen him do in one of his films before. Maybe a new wrinkle in his game. Danny Trejo gives Van Damme a foot massage. I'm not kidding, it's amazing. I don't know whose idea it was, but that person deserves a medal.

I didn't like the film's use of either Trejo or Kober overall, though. Trejo sacrifices himself for what appeared to be no apparent reason. After seeing how cool he was in Desperado, I was hoping he'd show up in the end and kill some baddies with those little knives. Instead, the producers went the racist route, and had Trejo play the Noble Savage. He deserved better.

Kober got it even worse. He's not first billed, and he has to play second in command to a lesser known dude in a gang. Kober makes such a great baddie. He should've been the end fight for Van Damme, instead of the guy they used. That guy was really annoying, and Kober isn't. I'm not sure who Kober's agent is, but if I knew anything about the biz, I'd work for him and work for less money. I believe in Kober, and I think he deserves better too.

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I'd be remiss if I didn't mention this film's treatment of Van Damme's trademark bump on his forehead. They put an "X" shaped cut on it, almost as if he took the knock from one of the baddies. Most films I've seen just ignore the bump. It's always struck me as something Van Damme must be kind of insecure about: I mean the guy's constantly showing off his butt (this film's no exception) and doing splits and stuff; he must be a narcissist. I can't imagine a guy like that would do well with a big bump on his forehead, and I wonder if this was his idea, or the film makers'.

I've seen this film in $5 sections at various DVD stores, and I'm not exactly convinced it's worth it. If you love bad action movies, and think this would be great in your collection to have whenever you need, then by all means. It's definitely a better rental option, but if you rent it more than three or four times, you might as well have just bought it. I just can't say for sure you'll want to watch it that often unless you really have a lot of friends that like bad movies.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0139151/

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