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 Shepherd: Border Patrol (2008)


This is Van Damme's latest release, and I threw it to the top of my Netflix queue so I could watch it and review it for the DTVC. I must say, I didn't have high hopes: I expected a Van Damme film about US border patrol to be as monolithic in dealing with the issue as Second in Command was about Russians and The Hard Corps was about African Americans living in the inner city.

The Shepherd has Van Damme as this cop from New Orleans (always a cop out for the out-of-place accent) who mysteriously shows up in this New Mexico border town with a pet rabbit to become a border patrol agent. While learning the ropes, he first beats up some people in a nearby bar who give him a hard time, then comes across these ex-Navy Seals who have taken their crack military training from fighting in Afghanistan and put it to use smuggling drugs from Mexico. Van Damme chases them back across the border, where he's captured by the Federales (sp?), then turned over to the Seals. It takes all his resourcefulness to escape and bring these dudes to justice.


Now, this is what I'm talking about. We saw flashes of it in Derailed and Wake of Death, but this time we got it full force: old school Van Damme-age. In the bar scene, he kicks a guy through the chair the guy's trying to hit him with, smashing it to pieces. The Navy Seals trying to smuggle the drugs use a bus that has a high-powered automatic assault weapon set on a turret at the top of it. How is that not awesome? This is how an action movie is supposed to be: kick ass first, worry about the plot later.

And where has this Van Damme been? I was getting worried that maybe his age had caught up with him. Not so here. This is extremely well choreographed, and looks like something from 1994 as opposed to 2008. Part of me is excited after this film to see what's next, but part of me is also frustrated, because he did do Second in Command and The Hard Corps and In Hell and Until Death. Come on dude, help us out here. I'm just glad he came through and gave one back to his fans.


There's another dude in this by the name of Scott Adkins. He plays the head baddie's right hand man, and he also is the most skilled in martial arts. He's pretty sweet here, and his final battle with Van Damme was good, but could've been better. My one complaint with the film was how prior to the fight, Van Damme narrowly avoids a concussion grenade or something, and is disoriented, like Bolo Yeung had thrown a crushed Alka Selzer tablet in his face. Why not have him and Adkins at 100%, and just do it? It was what we were waiting for for the whole movie, and I felt kind of cheated.

In terms of the subject matter, this film also did a great job. Instead of preaching about immigration issues, the film makers tried to put a human face on it, and then left it for us mull over. Then they blew shit up. The movie brought up Afghanistan as the forgotten war, and gave us the question of why Van Damme's character was hailed a hero, when the bad guys had risked their lives fighting for the US. Again, they just put it out there, left it to stew in our brains, then had Van Damme and Adkins kick the crap out of each other.


It's always interesting when I look these films up on imdb to see what kind of keywords people attribute to the film. For this one, I saw "Shirtless Male Bondage", which refers to the scene where the Seals have Van Damme, and they're hanging him upside-down, with no shirt on, and his hands tied behind his back, over a swimming pool charged with electricity. I chose the image for the blog because I thought Van Damme looked kind of like Robert Downey jr. upside-down like that, and I figured it'd be a funny thing to talk about. I never for a second considered I'd be posting eye candy for shirtless male bondage lovers. I guess we'll just call it my treat to you. You're welcome.

This movie far surpasses any of Van Damme's other DTV work. If you were having a Van Damme fest, where you're screening his more popular early 90s flicks like Bloodsport and Lionheart, you could throw this one in in the middle somewhere, and you'd be all right. This is the kind of thing bad action fans love, and you can't go wrong renting it.

For more info:

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Matt, for that shirtless male bondage pic. By the way, it's kind of funny that you think he looks like Robert Downey Jr. I saw a picture of him recently that made me think of Jean-Claude Van Damme.