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.


Saturday, October 6, 2007

Blackjack (1998)

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I first saw this movie as a USA Original Pictures, I guess back in 1998 when imdb said it came out. A buddy of mine, who's also a Dolph Lundgren fanatic, hadn't seen it, I knew he needed to. Fortunately I found a used copy at a local record store for $1.98. Even though I didn't have the cash, they let me use my debit card. I think that's what Visa should have for it's commercials: people like me finding Dolph Lundgren films at really low prices without any cash on hand to buy them. That's way cooler than those stupid ads with bad music that show people holding up lines because they're not paying with Visa. But I totally digress.

Blackjack sees DTVC Hall of Famer Dolph Lundgren collaborating with famed action director John Woo. He's Jack Devlin, a former US Marshall or something who has a bad experience protecting a man and his family and now is afraid of white. Or maybe he was always afraid of it because the car he drove with his dad was white, and he got his dad killed by not seeing his signal. Or maybe it wasn't his fault because the Zippo used by the dad to signal Dolph was bad. I don't know, whatever. Anyway, Fred Williamson is a private bodyguard type who gets injured protecting a supermodel from a preposterously sophisticated stalker. Dolph, who's a close friend of Freddy's (who wouldn't be), takes over the case. In the meantime, he's taking care of the girl whose dad he couldn't protect earlier, which led to the whole not liking white thing. Finally he overcomes his fear and beats the absurdly sophisticated stalker.

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This movie's hilarious. From top to bottom. You know you're in for good times when Dolph's character's name is Jack Devlin. Or Tank Concrete. Or Lump Beef Broth (a guy can dream, right?). The whole being afraid of white is as funny as it sounds. John Woo delivers on the bad action, and though it's no Hard Boiled, and as such probably not up for selection on the Criterion Collection anytime soon, it gets us bad movie honks to the church on time.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Dolph Lundgren is the Babe Ruth of the Direct to Video Connoisseur. The guy is just amazing. It adds to the enjoyment when you realize he has a masters in chemical engineering. It's almost like he's wink-winking and nudge-nudging us as he does these hilarious scenes where he's afraid of white. And his interactions with his too-hot psychologist who smokes cigars and wants to do him was for me a nice slice of Acting 101. I also dug the way he was completely all right with how ludicrously sophisticated the stalker was. He's just that good.

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This film wasn't all roses though. For one, it pulls the Fred Williamson bait-and-switch. That was a major disappointment for me. If you go back a few posts, you'll see that we at the DTVC were victims of the same crime in the film Crooked. Come on people, you're better than that. If you're telling me Fred Williamson's in a movie, put him in the damn movie.

Another issue was the comedic foil. He's played by the guy who was dumped by Daphne on Fraser for Niles. After seeing him in this, we can see why she made the right choice. Why movies like this don't realize that they're the comic relief, and as such, shouldn't try to include their own, is beyond me. It's always more annoying than funny. I'm imploring bad action directors, and that includes you, Mr. Woo, to keep the goofy-played-for-laughs character out of the films. Again, you're movie isn't that good-- it provides all the laughs we need. Thank you.

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The baddie in this made zero sense. Unlike most stalkers who're just uncharismatic versions of romantic comedy leads trying to use the same tactics to get the girl, here we get a seriously sophisticated assassin. We never know why he's so well versed in covert warfare. We find out the supermodel was married before she became famous, and this dude was the husband. And then I guess he's also a superior sniper, expert bomb maker, and a black belt in several forms of martial arts. But what's great is it's a bad action movie. He's a stalker, so of course he'd be a well versed fighter too.

At $1.98 this movie is well worth the price. I'd probably only buy it if you can get it that cheap, or if you're as huge a Lundgren fan as I am. But renting it is totally worth it. You and your bad movie buddies will have no problem ripping this to shreds and loving every minute of it. I mean, come on, Dolph Lundgren as Jack Devlin, a guy whose afraid of white: that just sounds hot.

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