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, June 4, 2008

American Kickboxer aka American Kickboxer 1 (1991)


When I was younger, it never crossed my mind as silly that a movie would be called "Anything: Part 1". All movies are technically a part one. It takes a sequel to make that official, but usually it's up to said sequel to distinguish itself from its predecessor with a "part 2". Anyway, this movie actually is packaged as American Kickboxer 1, but since imdb listed it simply as American Kickboxer, I felt both titles would be apt to head the blog entry.

American Kickboxer 1 is about the middleweight kickboxing champ, BJ Quinn. He's a mess, and wins a title fight under dubious circumstances. At the same time this young dandy of a Frenchman is climbing the ranks and wants a title shot. They both attend a party, and fisticuffs ensue. A drunk Quinn decks an innocent bystander trying to break up the fight, killing him. He luckily only gets twelve months in jail, cut to ten with good behavior, and he leaves prison to enter a world dominated by the French dandy. His life spirals out of control, until he gets it together after getting his ass kicked by the Frenchman at another party. With the help of a former rival, he gets back on his feet and bests the Frenchman in the ring.


I must stress before I go further that this is not an action film. It's a sports film, closer to Rocky, than it is to Kickboxer. Our hero never ends up fighting his way out of an alley, or escaping baddies in a car chase. This is about a gifted athlete who loses his confidence and tries to regain it. There were some cool allusions to Raging Bull, which I think is the best sports movie (after Pentathlon, of course!), but for the most part this was a poor Rocky retread of a plot.

The protagonist, BJ Quinn, was not at all likable. I'm not the only one who's said that, as a dude on imdb echoed that sentiment. He killed a man with his fists, which, considering he's a trained kickboxer, make that assault with a deadly weapon. He may not have intended to kill him, but involuntary manslaughter doesn't sound like too far fetched a charge. He should've done a few years at least, and he was upset he got twelve years. I think the writers wanted it to be like the French dandy had a hand in his conviction, because he lied in court, but it didn't come across that way. Quinn was guilty whether the Frenchman lied or not. They should've devised a way to have Quinn attacking the dandy and accidentally killing the guy: something that would've actually been the dandy's fault.


The dandy was awesome. I've talked about the Destro Effect in earlier posts, which stems from my childhood when I always thought COBRA was way cooler than GI JOE, and I wanted them to win, even though they never would. A scriptwriter needs to develop baddies in such a way that we never root for them. Because he failed, the director tried things like putting him in weird outfits, which worked somewhat, but not enough. My favorite scene with the dandy came when he entered the room and headbutted a gym locker shut. Awesome. I call him a dandy based on his fighting attire of spandex, a Speedo over that, and a tassel skirt over that. He was a dandy, but he was cool.

There was a guy in this named Ted le Plat, who played a bad sportswriter, and this guy looked almost identical to Owen Wilson. It was so uncanny I had to look him up on imdb. Strangely enough, he stopped making movies right around the time Bottle Rocket came out, which was Owen Wilson's first film role. Coincidence? Probably...

One of the greatest joys of being alive is The Mullet. It is a thing of pure beauty. And this film is chock full of them. You've got the I Just Got a Job as a Roadie for Styx This Summer Poodle Cut with matching mustache. Then there's the Southeast Asian Spiked Ape Drape (though honestly, it was a kind of weak representation: I'd give it a 5.9 in Mulletude). And most prevalent is the Total Business in Front Party in Back Beaver Pelt, again, in most cases, with matching mustache. I'd recommend this film on Mullet Watching alone.


The music in this great too. I think I mentioned in the Rage and Honor post that I love the synthesizer, and this film gives me that. Also, it has two great songs: there's a Monster Ballad that plays in the background of a flashback montage; then there's an original hit from some Journey cover band. With all the crap movies in theaters today giving me tons of overdone pretentious string orchestra stuff, it's nice to know I can go to the well with something like American Kickboxer 1. There's a Sam Adams commercial where a guy says "Drink that and know that's what beer's supposed to taste like." Well I say watch American Kickboxer 1 and know that's what movies are supposed to sound like.

If you haven't seen this, you need to. This is the kind of film that got us bad movie honks into pouring through bargain bins at local video stores and looking up names like Joe Estevez on imdb. Again, I must reiterate that this is not an action film. Just the same, it's tons of fun, and well worth a night in with a bunch of friends.

For more info:

1 comment:

  1. Matt - our blogs were made for one another! How about a link exchange? I'll be happy to post a link to your blog. I hope you'll do likewise for mine, "The Late Nite Landfill," which you can read here:

    You can email a reply to

    (Sorry this is a "comment" - couldn't figure out how to email you - feel free to remove the comment if you'd like).

    The Phantom of the Landfill