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 21, 2007

The Punisher (1989)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

This was one of the movies I watched as a kid that made me appreciate the art form of the bad action film. Between DTVC Hall of Famer Dolph Lundgren, Oscar winner Louis Gossett jr., and the sheer volume of violence and bloodshed, it's a perfect ten in my book. The makers of the '04 version tried to make their film equally as pornographically violent, while distancing themselves from this amazing predecessor. What we got was a grimacing Thomas Jane, a disturbingly bad scene where Tucker from Flash Forward had his piercings ripped out, and the perpetually bad John Travolta reprising his role as the bad guy from Battlefield Earth. Ridiculous.

This version of The Punisher stars Dolph as the Marvel hero Frank Castle, who sees his family blown up by a mafia placed car bomb. Dolph survives, but only Louis Gossett jr. suspects this, as a vigilante known only as the Punisher starts gunning down mob members. When the Yakuza moves into town, the Punisher has to work with his old target dummies to take them down too.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

According to imdb, 91 people were killed in this film ( I knew there were a lot, so I wasn't surprised by that. The violence, though, is done in a sort of Robocop way that's more awesome than hard to watch (as opposed to a Hills Have Eyes, or Touristas per se). This is bad action at it's finest, and leaves many wondering why the '04 version was even made, let alone made so poorly with a template like this to work from. The mowing down of 20 ninjas at once is way better than Keanu Reeves beating up a bunch of karate dudes in The Matrix. He also crashes through a casino ceiling and mows down a bunch of people there at the beginning of the film, which is how the newer version of Ocean's 11 should have been. I mean, if you're going to remake a movie that had dudes like Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Cesar Romero, why do what Soderberg and Clooney did, when you can do what Dolph did.

This is one of two films where Dolph works with Oscar winner Louis Gossett jr., the other being Cover Up. I'd like to see more of these collaborations. Dolph needs more guys with moustaches to co-star with, and why not have it be the best. I mean, what else is LGJ up to nowadays anyway?


This is also Dolph's second dealing with the Yakuza, the other being Showdown in Little Tokyo. If I have on complaint with this film, it's that they, unlike Showdown, didn't cast Cary Tagawa as the head baddie. It was a missed opportunity that would have made a great film like this a Casablanca type.

In terms of the Dolph factor, I know when we first heard of this film, my friends and I were a little sceptical of him sporting a black-dyed dome. It didn't really matter, though, when he's hanging from the ceiling spraying a crowd of illegal gamblers with myriad bullets. I didn't mind him straying from his classic blond hair for one picture, especially with him doing such a faithful portrayal of one of my favorite comics.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

From what I've been able to find out, this film is out of print due to the crummy '04 version being in the market. If this is John Travolta's doing, it's just another reason to be pissed at Quentin Tarentino for creating this monster also known as the post-Pulp Fiction Travolta. Sure, he was great in Saturday Night Fever, but after that, not so much, and we shouldn't be subjected to his crummy Punisher when there's a great one out there with a real mensch like Dolph in the lead.

If you can find this film used, buy it. It's a must have for any action collection. It's a classic along the lines of Robocop, The Terminator, and Bloodsport. It wasn't a major theatrical release in the States because New World Pictures went bankrupt (ibid). If you've never seen this before, you can't honestly call yourself an action fan (just like you can't call yourself a Red Sox fan if you've never heard of Mike Greenwell-- but I digress). So if you like bad action and haven't seen this, you need to go out right now and find this. You won't be disappointed.

For more info:

1 comment:

  1. Great review Matt, another thing to note about this movie is that Lungdren choreographed his own fight sequences with his martial art instructor.

    Specifically that whole fight sequence that takes place inside of an amusement park.

    I know Ill have a hard time getting this one on dvd, but Ive been meaning to do it for a while!