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.

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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.

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Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.

--Matt

Friday, December 14, 2007

On the Edge (2002)

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I found this at the video store while looking for other bad movie to rent. The prominently featured Ice-T scared off some of my friends who aren't big fans of his. I agreed on some levels, but I felt the Gary Busey and Fred Williamson factors superseded any misgivings about Ice-T.

On the Edge is about a young basketball player looking to make it into a big time college program and get off the bad streets of LA. He gets into some shady deals with Ice-T the pimp/drug dealer, and when a hit is put out on him, the two bumbling Italians sent to do the job mistakenly kill another young basketball player and his mom instead. This upsets a lot of people, including the husband and father (former pro-football player and Blaxploitation star Bernie Casey) now left family-less, so he investigates. At the same time, the boy who's still alive talks Fred Williamson into helping him get Ice-T off his back. Casey and Williamson, old friends from way back, team up to solve the murder of Casey's family, only to have Gary Busey, who's called in to clean up the mess of the bumbling Italians, kill Williamson's woman. Now the shit's hit the fan, and with the cops mysteriously silent throughout these heinous crimes, it's up to Williamson, Casey, and their ol' buddy Jim Brown to exact some street justice and clean up this neighborhood.

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I loved this movie. The music was great, the action was there, all the actors turned in solid performances, and best of all, it was plenty Abusive. My friends who were scared off by the Ice-T on the cover missed a great film. Fred Williamson outdid himself here as director.

In terms of Williamson, he'll be 70 in March of next year. Making this, he was 64, and you'd have never known it. He rocked his Tommy Bahama gear and licked the boobs of his younger female co-star like a man half his age. He also did all right in the action sequences. Many people have asked why Williamson isn't in the DTVC Hall of Fame, and really, we've never put him up for consideration because he's known more for his great 70s Blaxploitation work than his more recent Direct to Video roles. Lately, though, I've been forced to reconsider that stance, as Williamson has been killing it in a bunch of the films I've seen with him in them. This one stands out as probably the best.

Gary Busey is great as the professional killer called in by the bad guy to take care of business. According to imdb, there are four films that he did with Williamson. Crooked aka Soft Target has already been reviewed on here. Unlike Crooked, which had very little of either Williamson or Busey, this features both prominently. Williamson does a great job keeping the Abusive level at a solid number. He never dials it down too much, but he never over does it either. It's not quite Point Break, but what is, really? Good job.

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I must confess I liked Ice-T in this as well. As a pimp/drug dealer, he comes off much better than he did as martial arts wielding crime lord in Mean Guns. I'm not saying he should only play pimps and drug dealers, but considering he was also great as the host of The Player Hater's Ball on The Chappelle Show, maybe he should think about it. Unlike a lot of my friends, though, I do kind of like him on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. I guess you could say I don't hate him, I'm more in the realm of ambivalent.

This was the last film role for Ron O'Neal, who unfortunately succumbed to pancreatic cancer in 2004. He'll always be remembered as the great Super Fly. Swayze fans will also recognize him as Colonel Ernesto Bella in Red Dawn. Here he played the dad of the basketball player in trouble with the Ice-T. Unlike Williamson, Brown, and Casey, O'Neal started his career as an actor, not a pro football player, and it shows. He unfortunately never fully shook his reputation in Super Fly, and as such, seldom got the opportunity to play the roles his talents demanded.

The music in this was off the chain. Williamson contrasted hip hop with the soulful sounds of a band called The Love Machine to demonstrate the generational gap between today's African American youth and their parents. It might be an obvious choice to do that, but Jean-Claude Van Damme's The Hard Corps tried the same technique, and it came off as trite, where in this film, Williamson makes it apt. Also, it's just funny that a band would call themselves The Love Machine, and I can see them auditioning for Williamson, and him going "And they're called The Love Machine? They're perfect!"

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Jim Brown isn't in this too much. He plays a community leader running a local after school sports program trying to give disadvantaged kids a place to go to keep out of trouble. He did have one memorable scene where he and Williamson go to the bad guy's accountant to get some answers. There's an understood "It's just like old times"/"How much longer are we gonna keep doing this" between the two that anyone who's seen them in enough movies can appreciate. It added a level of fun, as if the two know their audience well enough to understand what we expect out of them when we see their names on the cover. A lot of ass kicking.

Feminist attorney and radio talk show host Gloria Allred has a cameo in this as councilwoman Gloria Johnson. She has just one scene, where she gives Williamson the scoop that there may be more than meets the eye with the local cops. I'm not sure if she and Williamson are old friends or if he just cast her, but it's one of only like three or four theatrical roles she's done where she doesn't play herself. I'd say it's one of the more fascinating cameos I've ever seen in movie.

This is worth watching. Beyond being a statement film about the issues between old and young black America and the conflict between the police establishment and the African American community, it's also a solid action flick. The music's there, the ass kicking's there, and the Fred Williamson and Gary Busey's there. What more do you want?

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0381469/

1 comment:

  1. personally didnt enjoy this, found it quite lackluster but gary busey was really good

    ReplyDelete