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.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Wake of Death (2004)

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I've seen a lot of Dolph Lundgren and Jean-Claude Van Damme movies in my time. What's interesting about both actors is their calling cards in their films. In every Dolph film, he's shot in the left arm. It doesn't fail. In every Van Damme movie, he shows off his buttcheeks. Again, it doesn't fail. I think it's very telling.

Wake of Death has DTVC Hall of Famer Jean-Claude Van Damme as a bouncer whose wife and in-laws are murdered by the Triad crime boss whose daughter Van Damme's wife took in after she showed up on a ship of illegal immigrants. In the Wake of that Death, he kills a bunch of other people to get his revenge. Not a bad deal.

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This film gave me headache, and I have one man to blame for this: the director. He was so hung up on these MTV music video/car commercial style edits and jump cuts that they made me sick to my stomach. He ruined any of the good bad action in this film. He was like the grandmother who just can't let her daughter take care of her new baby. Someone should've gotten a hold of him and told him to stop, but like the overbearing grandmother, everyone was afraid of the backlash if they said anything.

The director also pulled a bad action no-no: he gave us some sweet action at the very beginning, then shut it down for a half hour of other crap. Considering the movie's 90 minutes long, that's too much inactivity. I think the director was suffering from an over-inflated ego, and he forgot he was doing a paint-by-numbers Van Damme action vehicle.

The action was solid-- what I could see of it. Had this been done by a better director: one who understands his or her audience, this could have rivaled some of Van Damme's early 90s stuff. All right, maybe not that good, but enough to be entertaining. He kicked a lot of ass, shot a lot of people, and blew up his share of cars. It was a solid effort.

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This movie also had Tony Schiena, who was in The Merchant of Venice as Leonardo. He's a solid martial artist, but he's underused in this. He gets his ass kicked by Philip Tan at the end, and Tan slices the hell out of him. Luckily Schiena stabs him in the crotch, and that kills Tan. I'm not sure how it works either, but it's the kind of thing that would be hilarious if the director didn't throw all these jump cuts in it.

This film is just not quite worth it. It's not as bad as In Hell, by any stretch, but it's not as good as Desert Heat or Derailed. I'd rent it before you buy it to see if you like it. I thought it was a tad too gruesome to make fun of (between Van Damme's family's slaughter and the dude who gets tortured with a power drill), and it wouldn't be my first choice if I wanted a bad action night with a Van Damme film.

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