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.


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

China Strike Force (2000)

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I usually don't cover the myriad action movies that come out of Hong Kong here on the Direct to Video Connoisseur unless there's a special reason. This movie had a special reason. Actually it had two, but one was much bigger than the other. The little reason was Mark Dacascos, who is amassing a great resume for future consideration in the DTVC Hall of Fame. The second bigger reason is Coolio. Any time he's on the screen it's funny to me.

China Strike Force (Leui ting jin ging for you purists out there) is about two rookie cops, Alex and Darren, who are assigned to a special drug enforcement agency. At the same time Mark Dacascos, the only living relative to crime boss Uncle Ma, wants to smuggle drugs in with his childhood friend Coolio. Uncle Ma is opposed to the idea. He has a Japanese woman in town who wants her crime syndicate to do work with his. When Dacascos kills off Ma to carry out his plans, the Japanese woman is framed for the killing, and it is revealed she's working with the Japanese police. Finally she, Alex, and Darren work together to bring down Dacascos and Coolio before they can consummate their drug deal.

This has all the hallmarks of a quality Hong Kong action flick. Big stunts, well choreographed martial arts, very little to no computer enhancement. You've got guys riding dirt bikes onto the backs of trucks, a chase scene between a Lamborghini and an F-1 car, and a great finale with Coolio, the Japanese chick, and Darren balancing on a pane of glass however many stories up. Top that with a great fight between Darren and Dacascos, which was just the best of many well done fight scenes. Even Coolio fought well in this. It's hard to top the energy exuded in a movie like this.

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The Coolio factor got me. When we were in high school, Coolio was doing his "Fantastic Voyage"/"Gangsta's Paradise" thing. The whole deal was ridiculous for us. Now that he's doing bad action movies, it's even better. My friends and I can yell out things like "Who Dere?" or "We can't go to da beach, we ain't got no car! Quit cahwin' me!" What's great is he doesn't even seem to be acting, he just does Coolio. Not the angry Coolio ranting about Weird Al, but the fun Coolio on Yo! MTV Raps Today with Dr. Dre and Ed Lover. I guess in movies where he needs to be more serious, he does the "I'm mad at Weird Al" thing, but in this movie, you get the MTV Raps Coolio, and I like it.

Dacascos is great here too. I was disappointed in the Hunt for Eagle Ones, so it was good to catch a movie like this to remind myself just how good Dacascos can be. He's great as both the bad guy in this, and a good guy in other movies I've seen. I read on imdb that he's really cool to meet at an autograph session, so if you hear he's in your town, go and get your China Strike Force signed. Or maybe your Cradle 2 Grave. I'm hoping the post-Eagle One movies he does are as solid as this. I've heard rumors that he's not doing martial arts roles anymore, and if that's true, it'll be a huge loss for us all.

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The Japanese woman is extremely attractive. She's a model in Japan, and doesn't have a lot of movies listed on imdb. In this movie, she makes every scene she's in. It's surprising more directors haven't slotted her in films over here, just for the eye candy factor. I guess there are plenty of exotic Asian hotties already in the country for your various Jet Li, Jason Statham, and Jackie Chan films. Just the same, she's worth the price of admission.

This film's totally worth your time to rent or TiVo. Think of it as a great Hong Kong action movie, which in and of itself may not be enough to separate it from the plethora of action fare at your local video store, but one that has Coolio, giving it that added oompf to move it away from the pack. I can't imagine anyone who enjoys bad action not loving the Coolio factor. If you don't think he's as funny as I do, then pass this up. Also, if you hear Mark Dacascos is in town, and you need to grab a copy of this so he can sign, don't play full price, but go to your local Chinatown and buy a copy there.

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  1. China Strike Force is Awesome! It has the best line ever!:

    "Coolio Killed my Brother!"

    Why would they name Coolio's character "Coolio"?

  2. What you should be asking is "why not name Coolio's character Coolio? What else would you name him?"