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, October 29, 2007

Sweepers (1998)

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I bought this in a two-pack with The Peacekeeper. Together they cost a total of $10, and as far as I can tell, The Peacekeeper alone was worth more than that just for the part where they spell the country Chile Chili. That meant I was playing with the house's money with this bad boy.

Sweepers is about a land mine clearing specialist played by Dolph Lundgren, who crawls into a bottle of bad liquor after he sees his son die in Angola during a UNITA raid on his mine clearing efforts. In the meantime, a new stealth mine is found in the US, and it turns out it's being tested in the rebel warfare in Angola. The mine's creator is sent to Angola to find it, and she needs Dolph's help in dealing with it. Enter Bruce Payne as Dolph's old buddy and a doctor in a clinic helping Angola's sick. It doesn't take long before Bruce Payne becomes Bruce Payne, and shows his true colors as a bad guy. Luckily Dolph stops him, saves the girl (the mine's creator), and gets the mine off the streets.

This movie was intended to heighten awareness about the problem of land mines throughout the world. It's a noble notion, but unfortunately the film's kind of boring and not too good. On the other hand, I prefer the message that land mines are a global humanitarian crisis that needs attention, more than the conservative fear mongering I get from a Hunt for Eagle One or Second in Command.

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The Dolph in this is all right. In one scene, he's fighting a couple guys in a ring situated in a bar. This is where the mine's creator and Dolph's eventual love interest first sees him. For some reason his hands are tied in front of him. I can't for the life of me figure out why any of it was in the film. There's definitely much better Dolph out there, but this isn't bad if you want something you haven't seen before or want something different.

Overall the action lags. There're long periods of inactivity, and where there is something, it's not always that exciting. For a film about land mines, the explosions are a tad on the perfunctory side. Also, the bad guys are weak, especially this South African dude with a big beard who's supposed to be menacing, but just looks like a reject from The Red Green Show.

It takes over an hour before we find out Bruce Payne is a bad guy. I think that's a record for a Bruce Payne film. Anyone who's seen any amount of bad movies would know the moment he or she sees Bruce Payne's name on the box that he'll be a baddie eventually, so I thought it was interesting that this film kept up with the charade for so long. Another issue with their use of Bruce Payne was his bad Brooklyn accent. Why did they need this? As a character, no one would've had any issue with him using his own voice. The movie took place in Angola, so a doctor working in a clinic could as easily have been from England as he could've been from NYC. Maybe they intended to have the character be from Brooklyn, hired Bruce Payne, then didn't have the heart to tell him how ridiculous the accent sounded. Either way, it tarnished some of the Payne factor for me.

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The doctor angle of Bruce Payne's character troubled me too. I understand that it was kind of a conflict of interests that he was trafficking land mines while running a clinic, but at the same time, he was still saving lives, and doing it for no money. What kind of a front is that for a land mine trafficking operation? Working in a free clinic in Africa must be very stressful and involving. Where did he find the time to mastermind this scheme while treating women and children for malaria and AIDS?

One of the better lines in the film came when the land mine's creator went to Dolph for help, and he was less than willing. She asked him: "Have you always been this much of an asshole, or did you take lessons?" My buddy once asked his dad a similar question, only instead of "lessons", he said "night courses". It's a subtle difference, but I like the latter version better. If one takes "lessons", the idea is that he or she is adding a hobby or something: swimming lessons, karate lessons, tuba lessons. On the other hand, "night courses" implies an attempt to make a better life, or a career change: night courses to be a paralegal, or to get that masters in teaching. It's like the person is aspiring to be an asshole.

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The woman in this is hot in a different way from other bad action movie vixens. She's like the attractive bohemian woman behind the counter at the local organic food store, who's like way out of my league, and a little old for me. I can see her in like a cheap yet sophisticated tank top with some kind of Indian inspired long peasant skirt. I'd know going in I had no chance with her, but still would want to impress her with my purchases, and be totally tongue tied when she'd mention her husband liked the same kind of tea that I bought, and I'd say something moronic like "Yeah, it's really GREAT," then be kicking myself about it later. I'm not sure how that works in a movie like this. I can't see the burly South African guy and Bruce Payne having her tied to a pipe like she was in this, grilling her about the items in her market. "I thought you said this tea was Fair Trade!" "Go to hell!" Slap!

If you're looking for good Dolph, you may like this. There are probably like ten or fifteen you'll want to watch first, so I'd say only watch this if you're a long time Dolph fan, which would probably mean that you've already heard of this and don't need my review to tell what it's like. I'm not sure I'd have this at a gathering of a bunch of people for a bad movie night, because it is kind of boring. Maybe screen it first to see what your friends'll think.

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