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

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Immortal Combat (1994)

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I actually picked this up thinking it was a Roddy Piper film I'd seen on TNT after Monday Night Nitro almost ten years ago. In turns out it wasn't, and I'm still not sure what that movie was. I need a bad movie journal like wine connoisseurs have to make notations on movies I've seen so I'll remember them in the future. It's funny, because I'm a big wine drinker too, and I often run into the same problem when I'm at a store trying to pick up a bottle. "Have I had this before? I think so... but was it that vintage...?" Then I buy it and it's not what I was looking for.

Immortal Combat has nothing to do with the classic arcade game Mortal Kombat, and was probably just an attempt to the boost sales of a bad DTV action film, because in 1994, Mortal Kombat was itas far as what kids 12-34 were doing. This movie is about two cops, DTVC Hall of Famer Rowdy Roddy Piper and famed action star Sonny Chiba, who try to bust some party or whatever. Their partner, some chick who was in the party undercover, is murdered by some psycho who may or may not have been shot to death, and Piper wants revenge. Chiba can't join him on the quest for revenge, because he hurt his arm in the bust. Anyway, Piper goes to a Pacific island in pursuit of the baddies at some dubious company's compound, and finds out they're making nearly immortal warriors out of deceased fighters, and plan on selling the technology to warring countries. It's up to Piper to take down the company, get revenge for his partner, save the girl reporter he's fallen in love with, and crack the case.

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This wasn't too bad, but it wasn't too good either. Chiba's not in it too much, as they have him back in the States recuperating from injuries he got in the opening scenes. That's too bad, because he an Piper have some great on-screen chemistry when they're together. I could see going this route if this film was like movie three in a series of Piper/Chiba buddy pictures, but it isn't, this is a one-time deal, and it's a shame the film makers couldn't see the opportunity they had. One of Piper's best assets is his sense of humor, and Chiba's a great straight man. They'd've been Rush Hour before Rush Hour.

Speaking of Piper, he definitely delivers. The first scenes with him are he and another guy telling their superior about the bust-went-bad the night before. As he describes it, we see it first hand with his tongue-in-cheek voice-overs. It's classic Piper as he delivers beatings and is funny as he does it. Later, when he gets to the Island to pursue the baddies, he meets this cute yet spunky reporter who's on the same trail. In order to melt her cool exterior, he invites her to dance in the water with him. It's spontaneous from the standpoint of the film, and romantic in the sense of the commercial for the Hugh Grant movie, where that scene is shown to try and get us to see the movie, but just seems trite and cliched. It works way more in the Piper DTV action film than the Hugh Grant Romantic comedy. Piper's the man.

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I dug Sonny Chiba in this bad boy, and as I said above, it was too bad he wasn't in it more. He's in the beginning, and does these great action scenes where he beats a bunch of guys with the flat side of a samurai sword. It's one of those things where you want more, but don't get it until the very end, when he dons some ninja gear and helps Piper invade the bad company's compound. I've always loved Sonny Chiba, from the time I saw him in the Street Fighter movies back when I was a kid. It was sweet seeing him recently in Tarentino's Kill Bill as Hattori Honzo. He's close to seventy now, putting him in that category with Billy Dee Williams and Fred Williamson as great actors who are getting up there a bit but still going strong. I hope more DTV guys, like maybe an Albert Pyun, get their hands on him and use him for good.

Tiny "Zeus" Lister is also in this, only instead of being a baddie he's a good guy. He wears this hilarious hat early on, and Piper spares no time in mocking it. Later, he's killed by the bad guys and turned into an immortal warrior, but the good in him won't allow him to kill Piper. I liked that. It's nice to see a guy like Lister shake his bad guy stripes for one film and let us like him for a ninety minutes or so. I wouldn't want it all the time, but once in a while is cool.

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I couldn't figure out who the bad guy in this was. I first thought he was the henchman in Whatever It Takes or CIA Codename: Alexa. Then I thought he might be one of the guys Bernhardt beats the crap out of in Bloodsport III. In fact he's none of these, but rather, Malibu from the old hit American Gladiators. In this he's sweet, because for whatever reason, he's dubbed, and the person doing his voice bears no resemblance to what's going on in the film. He'll laugh when his character doesn't seem to be laughing, or yell when it doesn't call for it. Just another one of those great things that makes bad DTV so charming.

If you're a Piper fan, this is probably worth a go to rent or whatever. Don't spend too much on it. I spent $5 on mine because I thought it was another film, and I'm not disappointed per se, but I certainly wouldn't recommend everyone spending that much on it. Renting it's the best option.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110117/

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