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]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Announcement

Announcement

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.

--Matt

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Moving Target (1997)

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A little less than ten years ago a friend and I were on a kick where we watched a bunch of Michael Dudikoff's two-word titled movies. We would sit back on a Sunday night, buy some Mississippi Mud black and tan jugs, and watch these gems of bad cinema until one or both of us were melting plastic bottles with lighters or throwing plastic lawn furniture on the roof of my dad's shed or cranking Culture Club's "Do You really Want To Hurt Me?" till the neighbors complained (or sometimes all three at once). If you look through the Dudikoff catalog, there're a lot of these two-word films: you have this one, Bounty Hunters, American Ninja, Strategic Command, Virtual Assassin, Soldier Boyz.... I wonder if any art house movie theaters have ever devoted a weekend to a Dudikoff two-word titled film fest. It'd be a hit, I think.

Moving Target, though unrelated to any of the Bounty Hunter movies, pits Dudikoff in the unfamiliar role of a man hunting people who have jumped bail. Here, he's got a pregnant fiancee that wants him to quit, but before he can, a nice Russian couple offers him big cash to find their son. Though he doesn't freelance, it's the holidays, and he knows he and his woman can use the extra scratch. Bad deal. Turns out he was used to find the guy so he could be assassinated by some rival Russian mobsters. Not only that, but he's framed for the hit. Now, with the help of a former cop and a detective buddy on the inside played by Billy Dee Williams, he's gotta clear his name, stay alive, and keep his fiancee from dumping his ass for not giving up the bounty hunting racket.

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This is pretty good. There's nothing spectacular that really stands out, but there's also nothing that really sucks about it either. It's a decent bad action movie. Dudikoff is solid and he gets the job done. Billy Dee doesn't mail it in, even though you wouldn't necessarily blame him if he did, because this wasn't exactly Star Wars. He turns in a great performance. The plot's fairly convoluted, but the movie doesn't get too wrapped up in it and make it take away from the action and ass kicking, which is what you want.

In terms of Dudikoff, this may not be as memorable as American Ninja, or as silly as Virtual Assassin or Soldier Boys, but this definitely reminds me of why I like him as an action star. He's more no-nonsense than flashy: you won't see any splits or his bare buttcheeks; yet he's equally as heroic and someone you want to root for to take out some baddies. This is quintessential Dudikoff, from the beatings he takes and gives out, to the faces he makes when he's in pain or stressed. Someone who hasn't seen his more renown films like the few I mentioned above may not appreciate this movie as much, but if you're familiar with his other work, you'll be satisfied with this performance.

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I believe this was the film where my buddy and I looked Billy Bee Williams up online (I think in the fledgling days of the imdb, actually), and found out his middle name, Dee, stands for December. William December Williams. As a child growing up with the original Star Wars trilogy (I'm only old enough to remember Jedi coming out in the theaters), Lando was always my favorite. Perhaps the best line in movie history is "Get goin', ya pirate!" Then there was his great Colt 45 ad campaign, which made him even cooler to me. Discovering his middle name's December, even though he was born in April, was just icing on the cake. He's not in this as much as Dudikoff, but he's in it enough to keep me, and I think other Williams fans, happy.

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One of the more interesting aspects of the film was the interplay between Dudikoff and his fiancee, who wanted him to take up a new line of work. Usually these films exploit this relationship so we have a damsel in distress situation with the hero saving her from the baddies. This never went that route. There was one scene where Dudikoff is attacked by some thugs at a high school during a la mas class with his wife in the evening. The wife was never in any real danger, and the issue was more her being upset that he wasn't straight with her about the trouble he was in. Though I also like the formulaic damsel in distress situation in a bad action movie, this take where the love interest isn't involved in any danger, and the hero doesn't have all the answers in how to fix their faltering relationship, was a refreshing take.

Don't get me wrong, there's plenty to make fun of in this too. If you've seen American Ninja, and are looking for more Dudikoff, you could do a lot worse than renting this. I'd probably watch Virtual Assassin (aka Cyberjack, as it's sometimes labeled) or Soldier Boyz first, just so you have a broader context to put Dudikoff in when you see this, but it's worth a look. Of all our DTVC Hall of Famers, I think Dudikoff gets the least attention from bad movie goers. That's partly our fault for not reviewing more of his films, and hopefully we'll rectify that in the future.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117096/

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