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.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Substitute 3: Winner Take All (1999)

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One of the few holdovers from the old USA network (before characters were welcome) is the occassional direct to video action film they'll show on weekday afternoons. It's always interesting, because they air when kids are coming home school, and they're usually filled with gratuitous violence. I don't want to complain too much, because it's in these afternoon movies that I find gems like this one here, but wouldn't it be cooler if USA brought back the Cartoon Express for that time slot, and brought Up All Night back to Saturday night/Sunday Morning at 3am? Then I'd get bad action films and Wacky Races. A guy can dream, right?

Substitute 3: Winner Take All is about Treat Williams going to visit an old war buddy's daughter, who's a professor at a local ficticious college. I'm assuming he's visiting her, because she's hot (played by the chick who ran the PBS pledge drive on Seinfeld, and got pissed when Jerry threw out her card), but his booty call plans are dashed when she's viciously attacked. Treat suspects the 'roid heads on the football team who were upset when she wasn't playing ball and passing them in her English Lit class are to blame. Well, it just so happens Treat has a PhD in English Lit, so he substitutes while she's in the hospital, which is a long time (as in for some reason she stays there after she's healed). The mob gets involved, because they're selling the steroids, so Treat has to take them out too. Throw in a couple of his old buddy's who help out, and we've got an A-Team rip-off.

I'm still not convinced Treat's beefy enough to pull off the action hero lead thing. He just looks silly fighting brawnier men and winning. In one scene he beats up one of the football guys during the class he's teaching. Classy. At the same time, the Substitute sequels just wouldn't be the Substitute sequels without him, so I'm torn. I guess I'll keep him.

This film is rife with Seinfeld references. There's the aforementioned PBS chick, the dude who sells George and Kramer the wheelchair is the mob boss, and Treat sports Jake Jarmel (sp?) glasses when he substitutes. I thought Claudia Christian of Babylon 5 fame was also in a Seinfeld episode, but I couldn't find it on her imdb listing. Maybe I'm just confusing her with the woman that Jerry dated who thought the Dockers commercials were cool.

The bad action factor in this is great. There's the scene in the classroom, there's a scene where he takes some dudes out in a pizza parlor with dried red pepper, and there's one where he slits a dude's throat with a lens from the Jake Jarmel glasses. One of his friends is a ninja, just 'cause, and when he goes for the mob boss, he jumps on the roof of the car the guy's riding in and kills the driver by stabbing his sword through it. This is all the more funny when you factor in that the car is supposed to be bullet proof. I'm guessing that since he was such a small time boss he either A, skimped on bullet proofing the roof to save cash, or B, couldn't afford to go the next step and get the car ninja proofed.

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This bad action, though, is beaten to a pulp by the film makers with a long, drawn out surveillance turn in the plot, where Treat and his buddies stake out a bar with the help of an artificially enhanced Claudia Christian (her boobs are fake). It's a huge chunk in the center of the film, and it's completely worthless. This has the effect of making it unuseable for a bad movie night, because everyone's ADD will kick in and the next thing you know your buddies are playing Ghost Recon on their laptops (this happened to me with a film like this, Dolph's Last Warrior).

This movie, like it's friends The Substitutes 2 and 4, air rather frequently on USA and the like. Watch it on there if you've got nothing else going on. Maybe play Scrabble on the Internet during the middle when all that boring crap happens. By no means should you pay to watch this at all.

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