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.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Russian Specialist aka The Mechanik (2005)


When my friends and I first got wind of this it was listed on imdb as The Mechanik. Whenever we referred to it after that, we called it Mechanic with a "K", and the name has stuck. I recently purchased this along with Direct Action, Army of One (or The Joshua Tree) and a too sweet The Minion poster, using my economic stimulus check. You could say I'm stimulating the economy Dolph style.

The Russian Specialist has Dolph as a former Russian special forces dude in Afghanistan who lived in a small town and saw his wife and son murdered by Russian mobsters. He exacts his revenge and moves to LA to become a car mechanic, thinking he's killed everyone involved. He's wrong, and he's hired to rescue a girl kidnapped by that same thought to be dead mobster. So Dolph heads over and recruits a bunch of dudes to help him. They get the girl, then have to flee to the Finnish border. The mobsters catch up with them and the movie finishes with a showdown in another small Russian town. Does Dolph have it in him to save the day in yet another movie?


This is the second of Dolph's three directorial efforts so far, and it might be his best. I lean a little more toward Defender because it has Jerry Springer in it, but that's just me. It's definitely better than Missionary Man. One thing that gets me about this, though, is his constant use of fade-outs. It ruins the flow of an otherwise solid action flick for me. You'd think he'd watch the movie in the screening room and see how much better scenes progress when they just bounce from one to the next. And it wasn't that he was using the fade-outs to show a long lapse of time, he was throwing them in to get from baddies storming an apartment to them getting to the doorknob. I'm not saying I expect Lundgren to be Bergman or anything, just to understand that less is more with fancy editing and whatnot: let the action and his awesome screen presence speak for itself.

And on that score, Dolph the actor is in full effect. I think I represent a lot of people when I say it's always fun to see him play a Russian. Here he kicks tons off ass, and he's pure Dolph doing it. It's funny now with him as the director, because he's the one making the decision to put himself in the sleeveless car mechanic's jumpsuit with no shirt underneath. It's like it's classier and subtler than the Van Damme buttcheeks, but he's showing off just the same. I think because it's classier and subtler, we don't begrudge him it, but rather respect and admire it on some levels. If I look half that good when I'm fifty, I'll be doing all right.


This movie uses a plot device I'm not sure I can remember ever being used before: Finland as a safe-haven. I loved it. The whole concept of Finland has always been awesome to me, and was made even more so when Conan O'Brian discovered the woman running for president there looked like him. From Teemu Selanne, to Nokia phones, to reindeer, Finland has it all. Dolph came up with the story for this, so he must on some level feel the same way I do. I know Swedes are supposed to hate Norwegians, but I guess that hatred doesn't move East to Finland as well. Go Helsinki baby.

One last thing I that feel is important to point out: this is the second film Dolph's directed where he dispatches the lead baddie with a shotgun blast to the head at close range. He did the same in his next film, Missionary Man. In that one, we saw the blast from the side and watched the brain matter spew on the road. Here, the holds the bad guy's head under water in a shallow pond, and then shoots, sending a geyser of brain matter into the air. This is the kind of thing that shows me Dolph has amazing potential as a Direct to Video action director. We need less superfluous fade-outs, less grainy white footage (Missionary Man) and more head explosions and ass kicking. In both this and Missionary Man, he's got the latter down, now he's gotta put together the former. It's a shame Missionary was a step in the wrong direction.


If you haven't seen this and you're a Dolph fan, put it at the top of your priorities: it's pretty solid. If my only complaint is too many fade-outs (and there really are), you know the rest of it is top drawer, and it is. This will definitely be a part of my Dolph Fest '08. I'm not sure if you can put it in that class of perennial faves, like Showdown or Bridge of Dragons, but it's better than a lot of other Dolph films, and I think that's saying quite a bit.

For more info:


  1. and lordi! finland has lordi!

  2. This was a great movie. I'd like to thank you for this blog as it made me seek out my first Dolph movies only a few days ago having never seen him in anything except Universal Soldier. I bought Diamond Dogs, Bridge of Dragons, Showdown in Little Tokyo, Detention, Missionary Man and The Mechanik all quite cheaply and watched the latter three today - the last two being the best. He is a hugely entertaining actor! I also bought more JCVD -Derailed, The Order and The Shepherd (which was awesome) - and took my first dip into Segal movies since Under Seige with Pistol Whipped. I just can't say no to Lance Henriksen flicks!

  3. I just saw a movie recently called Rapid Exchange with Lorenzo Lamas and Lance Henriksen that you might have to say no to, but that's for another time. I'm really glad to read that you dig the blog, and even happier to hear that you're a Dolph fan now. That is one the best parts about Dolph is that his films are relatively cheap to buy. Thanks again for your support.