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.


Friday, August 10, 2007

Crooked aka Soft Target (2006)

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When I spotted this gem in the video store, I was ecstatic, so much so that my friends found it comical. This film listed DTVC Hall of Famer Gary Busey, potential HOFer Don "The Dragon" Wilson, and former Kansas City Chiefs standout and blaxploitation hero Fred Williamson as its stars. I found out from the opening credits that it also had Martin Kove. Simply amazing.

Crooked starts with Fred Williamson playing poker with a fellow cop while watching a prisoner in protective custody. The prisoner orders hookers, and things get weird. They're ambushed, and it looks like an inside job, because Williamson would never let a bad guy kill him at close range, and he was killed at close range. Busey, the department head, smells a rat, and it would seem Martin Kove, just by who he is is that guy. Don and his partner, Savate's Olivier Gruner, go in search of a hooker that witnessed the hit. All the while the mob wants to get her so she can't talk. Who can Donny and Olivier trust? Does Donny care when he's doing the hooker after he and Olivier find her? And what's Busey's role? Who knows? The whole thing ends in a hail of gunfire.

This film almost completely delivers. Unfortunately, we are victims of a Fred Williamson bait-and-switch. He's dead early on. I'm not sure I dig that. Kill someone else off and give us more Fred. Well, don't kill off Don or Busey in lieu of Fred, we need them too. And Martin Kove needs to lurk. I just could've used more Fred smoking cigars and sleeping with blonds. Maybe that's just me.

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That aside, the rest of the star power was great. Don did his thing, even if this was a glorified Bloodfist with more people in it. A plot where Don doesn't know who he can trust and is all alone except for the girl he's protecting sounds like all the Bloodfists post III. The only difference here is that Donny has Olivier Gruner on his side. What Gruner did was add to the already high level of martial arts D "The D" Dubs brings to the table, which meant the action on the whole was better.

I've been receiving e-mails regarding the lack of Gary Busey films on the DTVC, and I must say I'm very sorry about this. With this review, he now only has two movies up, which is the fewest of any Hall of Famer. (Kinski only has three up). I feel really bad, and I'll try my best to rectify the problem in the coming weeks. This is the first of a few I've got on deck, and hopefully that will placate the Busey faithful.

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As far as this one went, the Busey was of excellent quality, making it very Abusive. His two best parts come close together near the end of the film. The first is a flashback Wilson has where Busey consoles him after the death of his father. You can tell there's a lot of ad libbing going on, which makes the scene especially authentic from an Abusive standpoint. Later, he's offing a cop in the force who he thinks is onto him. He calls her over and again seems to ad lib dialogue about what a great job she's been doing. Then he's like "I need a hug" and he pulls her close, and mid-embrace he shoots her. I loved it. You can look to the Busey voice-over at the beginning of the film as extremely Abusive as well.

Lastly, the ending was great. It had a plot twist that's only a plot twist to those who watch a lot of bad movies. The way they use Martin Kove was so unexpected based on all of his previous work in the genre. It's like he's expected to be a baddie so much, that when he's ever revealed to be anything different it feels like an ingenious plot twist.

This is so worth a rental when you and your friends have a bad movie night. I got it on a two-for-one night, so it was an even better deal for me. You'll see it at your video store as either Crooked or Soft Target, so be on the look out for both. You won't be disappointed, because this has it all: bad action stars, boobs, martial arts, explosions, and bad guys reacting in funny ways after they've been shot. I can't think of a better bad movie night movie.

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