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.

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

--Matt

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ticker (2001)

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This movie had Must Get written all over it: directed by Albert Pyun, starring Steven Seagal and Tom Sizemore, and Dennis Hopper listed as the bad guy. Considering Seagal and Pyun were both inducted into the DTVC Hall of Fame at the same time, I thought it would be sweet to review a film that had both of them. This is a dream bad movie lover pairing.

Ticker has Sizemore as a cop who, with his partner, rapper Nas, stumble upon Dennis Hopper, Jaime Pressley, and two Pyun mainstays, unloading some explosives. Nas bites it, and Sizemore's out for revenge. He calls on Seagal, who runs the bomb squad, to get help in tracking Hopper and his boys. At the same time, Pressley's in the can after the Nas killing, and Hopper wants her out, and he'll blow up a lot of stuff until the cops release her. Can Seagal and Sizemore track Hopper down before it's too late?

This movie was off the chain. The sheer volume of recognizable actors alone made it a hit for me. The action was mediocre, with Seagal barely flexing his martial arts muscles, and the explosions being a tad on the silly side. There's a scene where Hopper and Pressley are riding in a car, and out the window we can see a horribly obvious green screen effect. I think Pyun spent all his money on the cast, and I'm okay with that. The more great actors the better, as I always say.

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The list of stars is pretty long. You got the obvious Seagal, Sizemore, and Hopper. Then Pressley, Nas, TLC's Chilli, and the guy who played Waingro in Heat. There's also the guy who played MC Hammer in his VH-1 bio-pic, the FBI guy from Navy NCIS, and the bad guy from The Mask, Peter Greene. That doesn't even count the Pyun mainstays like Norbert Weisser (the android who gets his head knocked around in Omega Doom), Michael Halsey (the hero, so-to-speak, in Mean Guns), and cameos by Ice-T and Vincent Klyn (the latter uncredited, though he was listed as an associate producer). I'm sure a more discerning viewer may be able to pick up on a few I missed.

Seagal was pretty good as a co-main character with Sizemore. They never explain why he knows martial arts as a bomb specialist, we just see him at the end of the film dispatching baddies. I think that's better than making up some ludicrous explanation and wasting our time like some movies do, when I'm sure most viewers are cool with Seagal using martial arts, even if it may not fit his character. In one scene, when he's defusing a bomb, he wears these sweet grandfather glasses. It was like he got them off the rack at a drug store. He looked like my dad trying to read a phone book more than an action hero racing against the clock to prevent a deadly catastrophe. At the end of the movie, Sizemore needs him to talk him through another bomb defusal, and Seagal spends about 75% of the countdown giving Sizemore a life lesson on dealing with stress. We were all like: "Jesus, just tell him how to stop the bomb!"

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I didn't know what to make of Sizemore in this. His acting skills are head and shoulders above everyone else, including Hopper. It was like watching David Beckham play soccer on the same pitch as MLS players: the difference in talent was that palpable. I liked seeing him on the screen at the same time as Seagal, because Seagal seemed to understand just how good Sizemore is, and as opposed to the other actors, he didn't try to act at his level, andlook dumb in the process. Together they made the kind of buddy picture Rush Hour thinks it has, and it'd be cool if Pyun could maybe bring them together for another go 'round.

Dennis Hopper is ridiculous in this. For a chunk of the film he sports a bad Irish accent. I'm not sure if his character was faking it, or was supposed to have it, but it was silly all the same. There were times when he lost it, which left us even more perplexed. It was never clear if his dropping the accent was his character affecting an American one, or his character speaking in his real voice, or Hopper just being lazy. It may have been all of the above. Just the same, we got what we'd expect from Hopper playing a baddie: he definitely didn't mail it in. Like Sizemore, his struggles off the set have hurt his career, but been a bonus for us bad movie honks, because we get to see him in films like this.

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There was one lapse in continuity in this movie that made zero sense to me. It took place in San Francisco, and Pyun made that very clear, yet all the cars had Illinois plates. I'm not sure I got why they did that. There was nothing San Fran specific that couldn't have been shifted to make the film take place in Chicago. I just can't figure out why the film went on with that glaring mistake in it.

One final note about Ticker. In the beginning, Pyun splices in some scenes from Dolph Lundgren's Sweepers. It was very Agent Red of them. I noticed that the hostage scene looked very similar to the one in Sweepers where they first find the stealth mine. My suspicions were confirmed after a quick check of the film on imdb. These are the kind of film making techniques that make me a proud fan of bad movies. Do they teach taking entire scenes from other movies in film school? Is there a class called FILM 405: The Art of Using Other People's Movies?

If the preceding wasn't enough of a give away, I think this film's fantastic. It's well worth the money spent on a rental. I would totally center a bad movie night around it, it'll definitely deliver. This may be Seagal's best DTV work, and I think that's saying a lot considering some of the gems out there.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0196158/

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