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, September 12, 2007

Gale Force (2002)

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It's been a while since I've managed to get a Michael Dudikoff film up here. He's a card carrying member of the DTVC Hall of Fame, and with good reason. Unfortunately, though he is still alive, he hasn't made a film since 2002 (according to imdb, this is his second to last film.). Hopefully he will give us a little something something in the future. Maybe another American Ninja film. A guy can dream, right?

Gale Force is about Lifetime Movie mainstay Treat Williams as a cop who needs cash quick, and is in trouble with the force after he accuses the mayor's daughter of staging her own kidnapping. His boss has him do a reality show where he and the other contestants will go to some island and search for treasure. Meanwhile, the show's beleaguered host has set it up so mercenary Michael Dudikoff and his crew of soldiers, including 80s teen movie bully William Zabka, will steal the treasure and give him a cut. All of this is derailed when a hurricane sweeps through the area, and the executive producer is too money hungry to abandon making the show before it hits (I guess none of these people had ever heard of insurance). Anyway, it's up to Treat to save his fellow contestants from both the natural disaster and Dudikoff and Zabka.

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This movie has a bunch of people in it. It has Booger from Revenge of the Nerds, the hot chick from Dear John and The Big Easy (TV show, not movie), and Mr. Kotter's wife from Welcome Back Kotter. This is great when you add these types of people to a Michael Dudikoff and a William Zabka.

What's bad is when you have people like this, and you load the movie up with tons of Treat Williams. This would've been way better if Treat Williams played Dudikoff's role, and Dudikoff was the hero. Then switch it so Zabka plays Mr. Kotter's wife's part, and she plays Treat's second in command. That would've been way more awesomer. As it was, I'm still having trouble with Treat Williams as the main hero. It never worked in the Substitutes, and it doesn't work here. He's more the husband who doesn't believe his wife's being stalked at first, but then has a change of heart at about the 47 minute mark (with commercials) after her brake lines have been cut. The wife can be either Judith Light, Joanna Kerns, or Meredith Baxter-Birney.

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One thing the film did mitigate well was the Treat/Dudikoff final fight. I was afraid they'd have Treat kick his ass, which would've been a bitter pill to swallow. Luckily they had Dudikoff beat him down, then die in a helicopter accident. Under no circumstances should Treat Williams ever take down Michael Dudikoff, just on levels of awesomeness alone. I mean come on: American Ninja 2 vs. Deadly Matrimony or Every Mother's Worst Fear, it's no contest.

I loved the idea of the executive producer who, upon finding out a storm will threaten the lives of the people on the show, decides they need to stay where they are because he's afraid of losing money. Who comes up with this? The amount of money the studio would lose after all the lawsuits from family members of the deceased would far outweigh any gain from not evacuating the people. Of course, if the people were evacuated ahead of time, that would mean there'd be no movie. Maybe what they should've done was have Dudikoff go to the island, and find out an evil man is cloning ninja warriors, and have to work with William Zabka to take them down. I know what you're thinking, that's the plot of American Ninja 2. So what? It's better than this.

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I loved that William Zabka was in this, even if it was on a limited basis. He played almost the exact character he did in the Karate Kid movies, Just One of the Guys, and Back to School. It would've been a better movie for me if he'd just had a scene where he beat up Treat Williams and smashed his boom box. Or even better, he could've picked on Booger, allowing Booger to reprise his role from Revenge of the Nerds.

But I digress. This film is a waste of space. The lack of Zabka and Dudikoff coupled with the volume of Treat-age makes for a bitter formula. Instead of seeing this once, you should see American Ninja and Karate Kid again. This film is definitely not the way to get your Dudikoff/Zabka fix. If you're asking yourself "who actually needs to get a Dudikoff or Zabka fix?", feel good knowing you're a normal human being. I, on the other hand, probably am not.

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  1. You gotta love the stock footage of "Last Action Hero" in this flick. They just put Treat in the same brown jacket as Arnie to match the shots!

    Have you seen the William Zabka\Bolo Yeung classics "Shootfighter" and "Shootfighter II"?

  2. I have not seen either, but have been meaning to. Amazon has them for sale, but evry expensive. In my mind, anything with William Zabka is automatically a better movie.