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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--Matt

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

CIA Code Name: Alexa (1992)

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It's always weird to see a movie post 1994 that has OJ Simpson in it. At least it is to me. I know you can't Lucas him out of the films, and I wouldn't want anyone to, but when I turn on USA and see Naked Gun 33 and a 1/3 with OJ goofing around, it reminds me of a time when he was considered a really great guy in the American public. Watching this film, for instance, I have to take my mind back there in order to understand what the film makers were doing when they cast him.

CIA Code Name: Alexa is the first of two films that puts DTVC Hall of Famer Lorenzo Lamas in the lead role of CIA agent Mark Graver. Here he needs to use the lethal eponymous Alexa, played by Kathleen Kinmont, after local police officer OJ Simpson catches her carrying out a mission for her bad guy boss Victor Mahler (played by Alex Cord). In an homage to Hitchcock's Notorious, Lamas wants Kinmont to use Mahler's feelings for her to get her into his lair and get whatever it is he has that's a threat to national security. OJ wants in on the investigation, because his cop partner was killed by some of her ex-crime partners. Things don't go exactly as planned, and it's up to Lamas and The Juice to improvise if they wanna take the bad guys down.

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This was a pretty silly film, made sillier by the fact OJ's in it. It came out right around the trial, and it was big on cable at the time. The lack of anything resembling a budget puts the film in a weird context: it's hard to get past how cheap the CIA is and how little resources they have. Then you throw in that Lamas isn't all together that convincing as a top notch CIA agent, and the whole thing takes on an air of a bunch of grown up kids playing dress up. This is MST3K level stuff.

Lamas looks like he's playing a drug dealer from Miami Vice more than a CIA agent with his slick-backed ponytail and five o'clock shadow. I give him an A for effort, though. I'd say imagine a Renegade episode where the regular writers went on vacation, and Reno was in an alternate universe where he was in the CIA, and Cheyenne played a deadly assassin. Bobby Sixkiller I guess would've been replaced by OJ. If you watched Renegade because you thought it was funny, you'd dig Lamas in this. If you watched Renegade because you thought it was a solid TV show... well, then I'm sorry...

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OJ's in this a fair amount. He's supposed to be a "maverick" cop, but really he's a nice guy who does crazy things for no reason just so he can live up to his "maverick" moniker. The first time we see him he's at a stakeout with his partner, and he's hurting after a long night of drinking. He mixes Alka Seltzer in with his coffee in a move that's second only to Seizmore's use of beer on his cereal in Point Break in terms of depraved food pairings. With OJ being in the news again after he held some people at gun point, these movies are even weirder to me now. Hearing him on a tape yelling "Where's my shit!" and some scared guy replying "Mike took it.", it's hard to marry the new Juice with the beloved pre-1994 one. I guess he was always the bad OJ, though.

The bad guy, Mahler, doesn't make any sense. He's supposed to be really smart, like some kind of criminal mastermind, but he does ridiculously dumb things. His brother botches a mission, and to punish him, he cuts out one of his eyes. Then he sends him out on another mission so he can redeem himself. Now I've never run an international crime syndicate before, but I have to imagine the last thing I'd want is a man I'm sending out on delicate, extremely dangerous missions-- ones requiring experts to make sure everything's carried out perfectly-- to be sans one eye. Not only that, but I'd definitely not willfully cripple any of my henchmen. But I guess I'm not running an international crime syndicate.

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A dude named Michael Baily Smith plays the bad guy's top henchman. He was also Fred Williamson's top henchman in Whatever It Takes. You may remember him as Super Freddy in the fifth Nightmare on Elm Street, which marked the only time anyone other than Robert Englund played the classic horror mainstay. It also says that in 1994, right after this came out, he was in a bad Fantastic Four movie. I've never seen this thing before, and netflix and Amazon didn't have it. According to Amazon it's not out on DVD yet. It's definitely something I need to see, though.

This is the third Kathleen Kinmont film I've reviewed on here, the other two being Gangland and the Wings Hauser classic Art of Dying, where she had the nasty sex with food scene with the DTVC Hall of Famer. In the latter, as with Renegade (more so with Renegade), Kinmont's more off-beat than she is dead serious, which is how we find her in this film and Gangland. The off-beat plays much better from her. Maybe its because I first saw her in Renegade, but when she plays dead serious, it just seems forced, and when dead serious seems forced, it comes off silly and overbearing. As far as I can tell her best work was in Renegade, and I'm still waiting for her to shake me of that conception.

This is a solid rental for a bad movie night. It's silly enough on it's own that you won't need to be that good at mocking a bad film to enjoy this one, and the OJ factor gives it a wrinkle that other films of it's ilk that you might see at the video store won't have. This one's so dumb, it's can't disappoint.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103907/

2 comments:

  1. Perchance, you know the budget of this film?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I couldn't find it. I can't imagine it was much, though.

    ReplyDelete