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, October 17, 2007

Gangland (2000)

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I first saw this film on Encore Action. On my program guide it listed Sasha Mitchell and Costas Mandylor as its featured actors, which was enough for me. Upon watching it, I saw that it also has Coolio and Ice-T for about ten minutes at the very beginning, and the chick who plays Painkiller Jane for a few seconds somewhere in the middle. Now, seeing it again on DVD, I find out that it's selling itself, not on Sasha Mitchell and Costas Mandylor, the film's stars along with the chick from Renegade; but it's listing the three people who're in it for a total fifteen minutes of screen time. If I didn't like the idea of a Sasha Mitchell Costas Mandylor feature so much, I'd take the people who market this to small claims court for false advertising.

Gangland takes place three years from now in a post-apocalyptic future where a US dealing with nuclear fallout is also dealing with a flesh eating plague. Vincent Klyn (Warchild from Point Break) has a huge gang of dudes in leather jackets and pants that are threatening to take over what's left of the country. Tim Thomerson has developed a cure for the plague and plans to take it to the only safe zone in the country, Phoenix. Klyn catches him in an attempt to control the cure. While all this is happening, Costsas Mandylor meets Sasha Mitchell in jail (Klyn's reappropriated a local prison for his own ends.) They escape, bump into the chick from Renegade, and take down Klyn-doggy. All in a day's work.

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This movie would be sweet bad action accept for one thing that really irks me: constant fade-outs. I hate constant fade-outs. It's like they're always going to commercial or something. I know these aren't the best film makers in the world, but do they have to make it so obvious? I've seen better film making on YouTube. Doesn't it seem annoying to them too when they're editing? Maybe it's just me...

Sasha Mitchell's the bomb in this. His martial arts technique is almost identical to Guile from Street Fighter II. It was so cool watching him go to work on bad guys, I almost forgot he couldn't act. It's too bad he doesn't do more work, because, at least to me, it's evident in a movie like this that he can hold his own. Of course, it was hilarious when he was yelling in anger about his brother's killing. I think someone should make a movie where he plays Cody from Step By Step and kicks people's asses. Now that's a hit.

Kathleen Kinmont's in this as well. I have a bad habit of calling her the chick from Renegade, and considering this is the second, and probably not the last film I've reviewed that has her in it, I should probably start using her name. I didn't like her in this, because she was trying too hard to do dark and brooding. I know her sister, played by Painkiller Jane, was killed off, but as an actor she didn't do the part well. She's better doing the off-beat kind of stuff she did on Renegade. Leave the brooding to Costas Mandylor.

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I'm a huge Vincent Klyn guy. It's not like Man Crush level, but pretty close. No one else could pull off playing a character named Warchild in a movie like Point Break, and make it work. I think that's something pretty cool to hang your hat on. He's also a mainstay in newly inducted DTVC Hall of Famer Albert Pyun's films-- you may remember him especially in Cyborg. In this film, as in those other two, he does a great job playing an awesome baddie that we still don't want to root for. That's all we want in a bad guy, right?

Beyond the overuse of the fade-out technique, my other major issue was Klyn's second in command. He was some geeky ponytail guy who also was the film's writer and stuff. He didn't look like a kick ass bad guy, he looked like some creepy guy who might hit me with his sack of 8-sided dice to keep me and my friends from giving him a wedgie. He annoyed the piss out of me, and I was kind of disappointed that Costas Mandylor finally dispatched him by setting him on fire. He should've beat him to death with a keyboard in the middle of a LAN party or something. Who thought this guy worked on camera?

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The two best parts about this were the bad one-liners and the fact that everyone from Costas Mandylor down to Tim Thomerson the scientist could fight. Best one-liner: Klyn asks Mandylor if he thought it would be that easy to kill him, and Mandylor says "We had to give it the ol' college try." Yes! Best fight came when Tim Thomerson, with no prior mention of him having any fighting skills, takes out some baddies in hand-to-hand combat. It wasn't just like hit someone over the head with a vase when he's not looking, he was blocking punches and delivering expert blows to the gut. It was like just by virtue of being in the movie anyone could fight. I loved it.

Before I recommend this film, I must warn everyone that I'm not kidding about how little Coolio, Ice-T, and Painkiller Jane are in this film. The box may make it sound like they're the main characters, but it's the old fashioned Direct to Video bait and switch. On the other hand, for myself, being the Direct to Video Connoisseur, Sasha Mitchell, Vincent Klyn, and Costas Mandylor are plenty good to make the film worth while. If that sounds like a good time to you too, pick this bad boy up. Just don't pay too much for it.

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