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.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Submerged (2005)

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It's looking like a forgone conclusion that Steven Seagal will have his ticket to the DTVC Hall of Fame punched this October when we induct our new members. After seeing Mercenary for Justice, I wasn't so sure the selection committee (which includes myself) made the right decision. But here, with this film, I felt we had a great opportunity for the big fella (not a pun on his weight at all) to redeem himself in the eyes of the DTVC. In the opening credits, when I saw this co-starred not only English great Vinnie Jones, but also one of my personal faves, Gary Daniels, I felt Seagal's shot at redemption was all but certain.

Submerged, despite its title, spends very little time aboard a sub. It's more about some Army dudes (including Daniels) who were subjected by a mad scientist to some kind of mind control procedure. Since the US can't use the Army to take him down (because they're mind-controlled), they need to call in merc Seagal, and his merc boys, one of which is Vinnie Jones. They commandeer a sub, try to recapture the soldiers, but have to kill them on board the sub when they try to kill Seagal and his crew. Seagal then follows the bad guy to a South American country, where a businessman is buying his services. Seagal saves the day in very Seagalian fashion.

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I dug this. It had everything you'd want in a bad action flick. The fighting was nice, the explosions were great, there were solid car chase scenes, and the lead, played by Seagal, was everything you'd want a Seagal to be. The addition of Vinnie Jones was perfect, and as a connoisseur of the bad action genre, Gary Daniels was a nice familiar face.

Whereas in Mercenary for Justice, Seagal was omnipotent, here he was just the action hero. We knew he was going to win eventually, but at least he had to try. At the very end, when this big dude comes out of the elevator to confront him, I was like "this'll be good". Their fight was a little short for my taste, but it was fulfilling nonetheless. His performance here did everything to confirm mine and the other members of the selection committee in putting Seagal through to the Hall of Fame.

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The rest of the Seagal factor was in full effect here as well. He was definitely heavier, and when you first see him come in in shackles, you see that extra poundage. I'm just not sure why he's so self-conscious about it. You never saw Samo Hung worrying about it when he was acting opposite Arsenio Hall. I also love Seagal's new use of Ebonics in his acting. It was truly off the hook in Today You Die, and in this it was even better. I hope he continues to employ this speech in his future roles. It's too ridiculous not to.

If I had one issue with this film, it was the use of Gary Daniels. In my mind he was wasted. He was only in it for the first half, and he barely fought Seagal. For a man of his exceptional skill, I'd have liked to seen more. Don "The Dragon" Wilson and Daniels had a great end of movie fight in Bloodfist IV. Considering that movie came out way before this one, you'd think the film makers would see the potential for a extended scene between Seagal and Daniels, because for us who've seen enough of these films, that's what we were looking for, and we were sorely let down.

One of my favorite scenes involved the hot chic slash tough chic whose Seagal's old friend. In order to drive home to us the viewer that she's more than just a pretty face, we're introduced to her as she's beating a man much larger than her at arm wrestling. Her wrists and arms couldn't be much more than your average super model's, so I'm not sure where the muscle comes from to pull that off. I'm not sure the film makers did either.

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A quick paragraph on Vinnie Jones. He's sweet in this. He does exactly what you want Vinnie Jones to do. His best scene comes when he sneaks up on a mind-controlled sniper. The fight the two have is great, but when Jones finally gains the upper hand, he beats the guy to death with the butt end of his gun. With anyone else, I'd say that's obsessive, but it's Vinnie Jones. I guess the only thing better night have been him beating the guy to death by slamming his head repeatedly in a car door.

When you and your friends are having a bad movie watching night, this is the kind of movie you rent. It works for rookies and old pros; it works on its own, or after a couple other ones; and there's plenty to mock in this. It doesn't take itself that seriously, but it's serious enough that it's not in on the joke. Well worth the price of a rental.

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