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

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

American Kickboxer 2 (1993)

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I first saw this film way back, probably not long after it came out. I remembered it as good, but nothing really special. Recently, though, it was brought to my attention by a fellow bad movie fan (his site, Movies in the Attic, is listed on the links portion titled "Other Great Bad Movie Sites") that I needed to put a review for this gem on the blog as soon as possible. I decided to pop it on my Netflix queue and give it another whirl.

American Kickboxer 2 doesn't pick up where 1 left off-- in fact it has nothing to do with 1. It's about a woman who has her daughter kidnapped and her husband, played by the cop who wanted to eat instead of help Jerry cross the street when Crazy Joe Davola was outside, is not the kind of man to go out and get her back. For that she calls in the two men that might be the child's real father: a cop with a shitty disposition, and the all too awesome Evan Lurie. At first they don't get along, which makes sense because the cop's an asshole and Lurie shouldn't have to put up with that; but later they form a bond forged in all the fights they have in bringing their daughter home.

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This movie's straight up awesome. Where the first one's a sports movie, this one's a total actioner. The plot's simple, and what twist there was, we not only knew it was coming, but were stoked it in no way hindered the great fight scenes. Another improvement over the original was in those fight scenes: the fight choreography far surpassed the silly bouts in the ring in part 1. There's very little substitution for quality martial arts. This is an all around solid film.

Evan Lurie is the man. He's one of my new favorite action stars, even though he's been in very little and it's all pretty obscure. He sports this power mane of a mullet that is so sweet Andre Agassi would have to give it a thumbs up. You can tell Lurie understands the power of his hair, because he only ties it back in a ponytail when he has to fight, knowing that in tying it back it's as if he's caging a beautiful White Bengal Tiger. As an actor he does a great job speaking in a monotone voice, tossing in the occasional sarcastic remark, and making sure to show off his too-sweet pectorals when the time calls for it. How this guy hasn't had more and bigger roles is beyond me.

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On the other hand, his partner in this, played by Dale Cook, is an ass. For some reason he, instead of Lurie, is on the cover. I'm not saying Dale Cook himself is an asshole, I'm saying the character he was portraying was. He constantly made life difficult for Lurie by getting into fights at the wrong times and having no control over his temper. At the end he became somewhat redeemable, but only because Lurie gave him his stamp of approval, and for me if he's cool enough for Lurie, then begrudgingly, he's cool enough for me.

The head baddie is played by That Guy Ted Markland. I don't remember him in anything, but see that he's guest starred in tons of shows I've watched before, so I probably recognize him from those. Then, the mother of the daughter who's kidnapped's husband is played by the That Guy from the Seinfeld episode where Newman needs Kramer to go to court to get him out of a ticket. The guy plays the cop that Seinfeld asks at Monk's diner to help him cross the road so Crazy Joe Davola won't kill him. That guy's dead now, having suffered a heart attack in 2001.

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The fight choreography is stellar in this, as I mentioned above. There isn't a lot of guys putting their arms up waiting for the other guys to hit into their blocks. The scenes between Lurie and Cook might be the best ones, which makes sense, considering they're the two most seasoned fighters starring in the film. I make a big deal about the choreography, because many films from this time period mail this aspect of the movie in, especially if the film's set for a DTV release.

I feel like if I go into too much depth about such an amazing piece of cinema, I may ruin some of the awesome factor for anyone who hasn't seen it before. Go out and rent this, or bump it to the top of your Netflix queue, and prepare to be wowed. You won't be disappointed.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0164336/

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